Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Peace Love the Gap (or One of These Things is not like the Others)
Joey Ramone, who has a lot in common with Jesus as it turns out, wears Doc Martens
Pepsi, Obama, whatever. It's all about the Hope.
Che, who wears Converse on his neck like all good revolutionaries
But I'm not sure what to think of this one. It certainly is an example of blatant co-opting of cultural (religious) iconography. But there are a couple of significant differences. For one thing, this example is meant to serve a political rather than economic goal. And the political goal is a worthy one in and of itself. It's true that political representation and funding for social services are allotted based on the census, so getting underrepresented populations to participate in the census is a respectable cause. And it may also be true (as the creator of this ad campaign says) that religion is the best way to reach this demographic. But it's still an appropriation of something with great cultural significance for political purposes. And that doesn't sit well with me. I'm interested to hear your take on this.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Flight of the Conchords...'nuff said.
Have a great weekend y'all.
Yesterday Ronald Gold published this article on Bilerico that can't really be described as anything other than hateful toward trans people. In it he basically dismisses the lived experience of transgendered and transsexual people, and suggests that they're just girls who want to play with boy toys and boys who want to play with girl toys. More or less. Many insightful and powerful things have been said in response, both in the comments on that post and in other places. Here are a few that I would recommend:
The thing is, Gold's view - or a slight variation of it - is incredibly common. Teaching classes that cover gender issues can be a sobering experience in this regard. I don't have any official statistics, but I'm sure a substantial chunk of the American public has this kind of view on the transgender and transsexual experience. And this is puzzling to me, given the reality of living as a trans person in our culture. For one thing, think about all that goes into transitioning: the social pressure and judgment and ostracism and potential for losing relationships and jobs and social acceptance. It's preposterous to think of anyone putting themselves through this flippantly or based on some simple urge to dress a certain way.
Secondly, look at the stats that characterize the trans experience. Depression and suicide are prevalent in the trans community. And why wouldn't they be? This is a normal response to being pressured to live in a box that doesn't fit. This is a normal response to facing the daily disapproval of peers and loved ones, to being viewed as less-than, deviant, dangerous, perverted. I've always thought that the rates of depression and suicidal thoughts among a demographic tell you a lot about how we value that group, what kind of treatment they receive, and how they've been taught to view themselves. If it were as simple as Gold suggests, it would be something that trans individuals could just let go of and move on with their lives - an irritation that they could nevertheless live with. But even a casual observer who knows little of the political and cultural framework can see that this is most definitely not the case. If nothing else, these deep and lasting issues belie Gold's words in an obvious and straightforward way.
Unfortunately, I don't think this is about making sense, or choosing the most plausible view. It's more about political agendas and historical tensions and theoretical clashes. The tragedy is that what's at stake is the lives of real people, and for some reason, realizing that seems to be impossible for someone like Gold.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
This kind of news story makes me want to get back onto my rant about class warfare.
Remember back when the Obamas had just moved to Washington, and the media was reporting on the school they had chosen for their kids? For several nights in a row, that school's lunch menu was featured on the news. Of course, it didn't contain any of this kind of meat. It was all organic, free of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, delicious and inviting. And kids whose parents are nutrition geeks (like me) don't eat this kind of meat either, because we send healthy food in their lunches and don't let them eat the school cafeteria food. But that's also based on the reality that we can afford to buy healthy food and have time to make lunches in the morning. For those who don't? The lunch (and sometimes breakfast) served at school is often billed as "the only healthy meal these kids might get all day." This is certainly the way it was viewed at the alternative school when I taught there. When I heard people say this I would think to myself "what do you mean by 'healthy'?"
And that's where it's hard to draw the line and choose your battles. It's true that the food provided by government programs will prevent you from starving. But that's about all you can say for it. And you know this isn't going to change anytime soon, because the people who are on the receiving end of this kind of treatment are the very people who have no voice, are less likely to be educated on nutrition, and often have much bigger problems to deal with than this. And that's how class warfare works, and what perpetuates the cycle.
More on class warfare:
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
"Oh baby, thanks for protecting me with this giant diamond from this scary, scary storm that made me spin around and make my hair all twirly. Now I'll give you some pussy in exchange..."
or something like that.
Bake Some Love. Cause love is the kind of thing that can be baked and fed to your family.
Nestle ad courtesy of commenter VG.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
I hate shit like this. I remember hating shit like this as a kid. I don't want people telling my kid stuff like this, although I know it's inevitable. I also don't want to be that parent who raises hell about every little thing.
The thing is, I don't really think this is a little thing. I think this kind of message, taken together with all the other little lies found in motivational materials for kids, sends a clear message to kids that adults are full of crap. And if there's anything I want to succeed at, it's having an honest and close relationship with my kid. I want her to be able to talk to me about anything, and to trust me and believe what I say. And feeding them shit like this from the very beginning seems like the last thing you should do to accomplish this.
Of course, that doesn't mean that I think we should be soul-crushingly honest and cynical and discourage them from exploring their world and taking on their own projects and being creative and searching for their own passions. And I also think that we have to be age-appropriate and be careful to discuss things with them when they're ready. But that doesn't mean we should outright lie to them when they're young. I just don't think we should tell them that somehow everything will magically fall into their laps if they just think positively enough or work hard enough or are pretty/smart/witty/popular enough. Because life just isn't like that, and the more honest adults are with you about the things they've learned and the mistakes they've made and the realities they've encountered in their lives the better off you'll be. And if nothing else, at least you'll have one person in your life who's consistently honest with you, and doesn't just tell you what they think you want to hear. There's gotta be some value in that.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
You Are What You _________ (Own/Drive/Wear/Etc)
As the Christmas season approaches I'm basically turning into a grumpy old codger. Things that usually just irritate me are downright pissing me off. Things like jewelry ads and gendered toys and the talking heads yammering on ad nauseum about retail sales and "black Friday" (which isn't now and never was the biggest sales day of the year, I'm here to tell you). Next thing you know I'll be yelling at the neighborhood kids from my creakity rocking chair on the front porch. But since it's too cold to sit on the front porch grumbling and shaking my fist at the world, I’ve decided to begin a series of posts that illustrate, on their own and with no additional commentary needed, what’s wrong with our consumer culture. Enjoy.
I Am Jeep.
Life. Well Spent.
Everyone will worship you.