Archive

Archive for the ‘pissed off and totally ranty’ Category

On Shonda Rhimes, Race, and the New York Times

September 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Let me start off by saying this: I’ve been a fan of Shonda Rhimes’ shows since Grey’s Anatomy first debuted. I was all over the tequila, the Mer/Der romance, and the awesomeness that is Cristina Yang. I loved how Bailey was teeny tiny, but commanded respect. I’ve watched Private Practice, and Scandal. And yes, I’m totally THERE for How to Get Away With Murder. Because I haven’t found a Shondaland show that doesn’t appeal to me.

Here’s my second confession: I’m a five-foot-five white girl. I love Olivia Pope. I never once looked at her and thought she was an angry black woman. Does the show address race? Sometimes, yes. In a way that has importance and relevance, reminding us that it is still an issue in society today. Because it is. Anyone who tells you differently isn’t paying attention.

So, imagine my surprise when I was reading this article in the NYTimes, when I discovered the insane analysis and reduction of the characters, by the writer. Let’s just take a look at the first line, okay? Here:

            When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.”

Are you kidding me? Are you KIDDING me? No. NOPE. That is not okay. It’s insanely offensive. First of all, if you reduce characters to be ONE stereotypical thing, you’re clearly not paying enough attention. What I find incredibly appealing about ALL of Rhimes’ characters is that they’re multifaceted. No one is all good or all bad. They’re FLAWED. And they’re human. To imply that Rhimes simple writes angry black women is derogative and shortsighted at best.

Let’s look at another quote, shall we? Behold:

             Be it Kerry Washington on “Scandal” or Chandra Wilson on “Grey’s Anatomy,” they can and do get angry.

Okay, hold up. Find me a character on either of those shows who DOESN’T get angry at some point. Why is anger the defining characteristic? This isn’t reinventing the wheel, guys. Characters do things. They have feelings, and they’re not always pretty. No one gets angry more spectacularly that Cyrus Beene (Scandal).

Now, there’s also this:

            One of the more volcanic meltdowns in soap opera history was Olivia’s “Earn me” rant on “Scandal.”

First of all, as a longtime fan of the show (and a Scandal-Thursday tweeter), let me explain someone about Liv, as a character: she never reacts for no reason. This “rant” wasn’t a meltdown. It was a woman standing up for herself in a relationship, drawing lines and boundaries. There was nothing tantrum-like about it. To reduce it to such a definition is unobservant at best.

When I got to this part, though, I felt like the top of my head was going to pop off:

            Even now, six years into the Obama presidency, race remains a sensitive, incendiary issue not only in Ferguson, Mo., but also just about everywhere except ShondaLand, as her production company is called.

First of all, Scandal does address race in the context of both the character and the plotlines. It’s not freakin’ utopia. Second of all, you know why race may appear to be less of an issue in Rhimes’ shows? Because she casts widely and diversely. And it’s pretty damn wonderful.

I’m skipping ahead in the article, because a large chunk of it made me apoplectic. I can’t even comment on it without cursing every other word. Let’s address this little gem:

            [Rhimes’ characters] struggle with everything except their own identities, so unconcerned about race that it is barely ever mentioned.

Um, what? First of all, all of the characters (at some point) struggle with identity. Otherwise, it would be a very boring show. Again, Cyrus had a complicated backstory and though gay was once married to a woman. So, if that’s not an identity struggle, I don’t know what is. Additionally, on Scandal, several scenes between Liv and her dad effectively illustrate how race has affected Liv’s identity. Go watch this, especially the ‘twice as good’ part. I’ll wait. I’m pretty sure that scene invalidates the abovementioned statement.

I have to wonder, honestly, why the Times thought that steaming pile of bullshit was fit to print. I have no clever closing line for this post. I’m just furious that something like that was thought to be good reporting.

I am Deliberate: On Not Being Silent

September 12, 2014 Leave a comment

So, yesterday, I was chatting with my friend Kristine Wyllys. You know her, right? Fabulous badass, author extraordinaire? Well, she’s awesome. Anyway, we were talking on Twitter about how people can be assholes, and while it isn’t socially acceptable in everyday life to walk away from awful conversations, one good thing about conversations on the internet (Twitter, Facebook, etc) is that you CAN walk away. Better you, you can mute, block, unfollow, or unfriend. Someone says something horrendously stupid? You can disentangle without any consequences. You cannot do that at, say, a dinner party. People don’t have mute buttons. And getting rid of someone in face-to-face life is frowned upon for legal and moral reasons.

Just as a made the point that I realllly wished people HAD mute buttons, a stranger chimed in on our conversation. He said the following:

They do. For men it’s the sentence “I’m pregnant.” For women…em…er…em

Grammatically horrors aside (missing commas abound!), this is insulting, unacceptable, and offensive on SO MANY LEVELS. So many that I’ve resorted to shouty caps. First of all, neither Kristine or myself were basing on conversation on gender. Second, the implication that they only way to silence a man is through the THREAT of pregnancy boils my blood so much that if I ate coffee grounds, I’m pretty sure my veins would fill with Starbucks. Third, the statement that there is no way to SILENCE women (because heaven fucking forbid we have a voice! Oh, no! The patriarchy and humanity will dissolve into nothingness! The world will end!) is so vile because it implies a) that women talk too much and b) that women should be silent.

To complicate this insult of ridiculous proportions, this was tweeted by someone she and I don’t know from Adam. Essentially, it proved the point that, hey, people are assholes. And yes, it’s the internet, so theoretically, I could walk away and not light something on fire.

But, honey, sweetie, darling – the second you imply that I should be seen and not heard is the second you ensure that I will not shut up. This brief interaction was an illustration that not only are people raging asshats, sometimes, sexism is alive and well. And #YesAllWomen. Because the gender implications and insults couldn’t be clearer (or more revolting).

So, perfect stranger dude (who happens to be an author – great. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS), you are what’s wrong humanity. You’ve implied that all men are terrified by pregnancy – and given that implication, it doesn’t seem like you’d take responsibility for the actions of your own penis. Because, hey, when a woman gets pregnant, it’s totally her fault. You and your helpless sperm were just minding your own business, right?

Excuse me, I need a moment to compose myself, because I can’t stop laughing. *ahem*

Let’s look at this from a different angle. Pretend that this was everyday life, would a man walk up to a woman and say something like this? You want to say no, don’t you? You want to believe that it wouldn’t happen to a woman in person, face-to-face? You want to blame it on the faceless internet, which enables cowards to be dickbags at record level?

Well, I’ve got unfortunate news: this DOES happen in everyday life. Once, I had a man tell me that I should I be seen and not heard, because I’m a woman. Once, I had a different man tell me that I couldn’t be part of something because I’m a woman.

I didn’t realize that having a vagina meant that a) I shouldn’t have an opinion and b) that it rendered me incapable.

Oh, right. It doesn’t. That’s just something shitty people say.

So, to sum up: this weird and offensive thing happened. This was a thing that some random person felt compelled to put in writing. This man thought it was okay to be a sexist schmuck. I considered letting it go. I considered not saying a word. But you know what? No. This is unacceptable. And the only way to change things, even one instance at a time, is to talk about it. Because awareness matters. Because things like this happen all the time.

And because I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to just lie back and think of England, darlings.

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” ― Audre Lorde

* “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.” (Title credit)
Audre Lorde

My Uterus, My Monkeys: Why is There Suddenly Church in My Lady Parts?

July 3, 2014 3 comments

            I’ve been trying, for days, to write about the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby ruling. It’s difficult to remain levelheaded, because I really cannot believe that we’re still having this discussion. I cannot believe that people are still trying to legislate uteruses. I don’t understand why a corporation seems to have more rights than I do. And I cannot comprehend the rampant misunderstanding regarding IUD and Plan B. Guys, these are no magic abortive devices that oust poor innocent babies with the proverbial bathwater. These items prevent pregnancies. That is not a debatable issue. That’s a fact. Of course, Alito seems to think that if people believe something is abortive, than the government has to accept that. And in other news, the world is flat, tooth pain is caused by tiny demons in your jaw, and the best way to get rid of a headache is to bore holes into your skull to release the evil spirits. Oh, wait, right: none of that is true.

            There are plenty of women who do not want to be mothers. That is a personal choice. But this ruling has made things highly problematic, because a corporation can now choose to deny women access to birth control that it deems against its religious beliefs. Yes, its – because this is a company, not a person. But that company seems to matter more, doesn’t it?

            As of this minute, a corporation can decide, “Hey, I don’t like this thing. It’s against my religious beliefs. DENIED.” This is circumventing a woman’s rights. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg pointed out, this ruling could hideously far-reaching. Don’t believe in vaccinations? Think epilepsy is caused by demons? Good news, then: if we continue down this path of Not Science, then you might be able to opt-out in the near future.

            Guys, we are living in a world where our politicians use the phrase “legitimate rape.” Hell, we live in a world where people commonly refer to the vulva as the vagina. Because, hi, basic anatomy isn’t a thing anymore. I think that I’ll randomly start referring to a man’s testicles as the shaft, because – hey, what not? If we’re just going to ignore science altogether, it sounds around right.

            But, seriously, guys – this “war on women” isn’t a myth. Consider, also, the recent court case seeking to abolish the buffer zone outside of clinics. The case, in Massachusetts, led to this as a result. Read that article. You need to. That is a dangerous thing, too – because anyone who two eyes and half a brain can see how confrontational and abusive anti-choice protestors can be. A woman should not need an escort to get a medical procedure done. A woman should not have to fear making her own choices, only to be harassed and bullied by people who don’t agree with them. Last summer, I attended a state fair in which a pro-life group set up a booth and harassed me, randomly, as a walked by. There were figures and models that I could’ve done without seeing. There was also no way to avoid this particular booth, if I wanted to get from Point A to Point B.

            I’m all for freedom of religion. Believe what you want to believe. Practice the faith you want to practice. But your faith doesn’t belong on my doorstep. And it certainly doesn’t belong in my uterus. You know that Polish saying – not my circus, not my monkeys? Well, my uterus, my monkeys.

            I wonder, lately, what someone like Alice Paul would’ve thought about our society, which is trying to cull women’s rights at every turn. Yes, she fought for the right to vote, but she Women still get paid a hell of lot less for our distinct lack of penises. Slut-shaming is a rampant thing. When watching tv for an hour, I see approximately 87 different commercials for drugs to treat impotence. I can’t even remember the last time I saw an ad for birth control. And until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know that a copper IUD existed – which is non-hormonal.

            Freedom of religion means that we all have the freedom to choose which religion we practice – or don’t. It doesn’t mean someone else’s religion is supposed to govern or dictate my life/choices. If that was the case, we’d have to force Quakers to dance, Muslims to eat pork, and during Lent, I suppose Catholics would be forced to eat meat on Fridays.

            I honestly don’t know where we go from here. But I do know that we, as a nation, need to stop backpedalling. 

Maybe I just don’t care if you imagine me naked.

September 5, 2013 4 comments

Here’s the thing. Yesterday, there was a blog post circulating around the interwebs. Usually, those things are a dime a dozen (which, given this economy, should tell you a hell of a lot). But this particular post stuck in my craw like bad sushi.

In case you’re interesting in raising your blood pressure, it’s here.

So, the tl; dr version is that a woman, with teenage sons, wrote a letter to teenage girls on the internet. Basically, it was a fire-and-brimstone bit of professed morality, wherein the responsibility for shielding the teenage male persuasion from bare shoulders and selfies rested on the shoulders of the female population. The thesis, generally speaking, is that it is a girl’s duty to protect the boys from themselves, by bundling up and being as unassuming as possible. Because, clearly, there’s something squicky about being proud of your femininity. Because, clearly, the male sex should have absolutely NO responsibility for themselves. Because temptation, thy name is woman. (And, you know, there’s a sexual orientation bias, here. No mention of gay or bisexuality. I suppose there’s also a ban on shellfish, then.)

Today, the internet opens up the world in a way that I only experienced in a limited manner, as a teen. It was before Facebook and Twitter, but after AOL and chat rooms. Yes, I’m old. And in other news, kids: get off my lawn. But, seriously, the internet and social media tends to pull down the communication fourth way, ripping away the limits of geography. Social media opens up new avenues. But it also opens the door to a lot of bullying, too. And that post? It feels like bullying, in a soft tone, so that maybe don’t smell the bullshit.

On that post, I call bullshit.

So, it’s been a while since I was a teenage girl. I always wore a tank top when it was hot out. And, when I was brave enough, I’d even wear a bikini on the beach or by the pool. There are family photos, somewhere, of me at a BBQ wearing a bikini with freakin’ tweetie bird on it, folks. I never considered any of these things offensive, because…they aren’t.

And yet, that post body-shames teenage girls for posting selfies of themselves in tank tops and bathing suits. Even, in one instance, in a bathing suit. LE GASP. Because, clearly, bikinis are the gateway clothing item to Satan. And, clearly, no boy will EVER see a girl on a bikini at, say, the beach or the pool. But, um, wait – the post happens to include family pictures at the beach, where they (boys) are wearing bathing suits. Um, hello pot. This is kettle. What up?

Now, I’m not a parent, but I don’t think you have to be a parent to know a double-standard (or shaming tactics) when you see it. The blogger isn’t telling her boys to put a t-shirt on at the beach, is she? Personally, I think hiding behind the idea of a moral compass and trumped up integrity is somewhat…limiting. For one thing, there’s nothing morally bankrupt about anyone who is proud of her body. And, last time I checked, every person is entitled to his/her sexuality – but unless a girl is wearing lingerie and stilettos, I’m pretty sure her selfie isn’t an outbreak monkey of moral corruption or some sort of sly trick to tempt unsuspecting men folk. To see it that way is to hypersexualize something that isn’t necessarily sexual at all. Sure, if a guy sees me in a towel, he probably won’t forget it. But that isn’t a gateway to moral questionability. (Side-note: morals, as much as folks don’t want to admit it, are relative to each person. Your mileage may vary.) Because, speaking as a woman, if someone has a problem with my selfies, or the cut of my shirt, or the fact that I wear a bikini – that’s not my problem. It belongs to the other person. But kids/teenagers cannot always make that distinct. They take things to heart and perhaps more so if that opinion is coming from an adult.

Why are we telling our daughters that they are responsible for the actions and thoughts of boys? Why are we shaming, instead of celebrating?

Entertaining the idea that it is a burden, for a moment, why is the responsibility not being shared equally? If this is such a horrifying thing (girls wearing two-piece bathing suits etc.) for the aforementioned blogger, it seem most logical that she parent her own children – not police and berate those of others. Especially considering that the overall tone of the post is one of condescension and condemnation, which isn’t really a tone/tactic an adult should employ with teenagers – again, especially other people’s.

I’m well-aware of the fact that a person’s religion shapes his/her worldview. If you’re Christian, you might be appalled by the fact that I often take the lord’s name in vain – or that I didn’t capitalize lord just then. You might find me to be a bit morally reprehensible, because I expect to dress and speak freely. I’m kind and a good person, but if you judge me by my stripper shoes or low-cut top, doesn’t that say more about your narrow view than it does about me?

Lastly, I just want to address a small bit of contradictory information. At one point, the blogger wrote, “If you try to post a sexy selfie, or an inappropriate YouTube video – even once – you’ll be booted off our on-line island.” Overlooking the hilarity of the word try (because if it’s even a thought that you were attempting to look sexy, you’re off the island, darling. The judge and jury are jumping to conclusions, and you’re out. Think about that statement. If you make ONE supposed mistake, you’re done. That’s it. One error, and that’s it. No second chances.

Except a paragraph later, there’s this: Girls, it’s not too late! If you think you’ve made an on-line mistake (we all do – don’t fret – I’ve made some doozies), RUN to your accounts and take down  anything that makes it easy for your male friends to imagine you naked in your bedroom.

So, wait. Which is it: mistakes are unforgivable OR quick, fix it, and all will be alright. Panic or don’t fret? Condemn or forgive?

Like I said, I’m not a parent. But I am a person. And I am a girl. I remember what it was like to be a teenager. I’ve grown since then, and I care less about what people think. I won’t be held back by the hobgoblin of a small mind (thanks for the phrasing, Emerson). I won’t let you dictate me.

And maybe I just don’t care if you imagine me naked.

…but it’s still not an invitation for you to harass me or do anything non-consensual. SO DON’T BE A FUCKING JERK. (line courtesy of C. Finlay)

Step Right Up, and Lose Your Dignity: On Buying a Date

February 17, 2013 1 comment

The other day, I was watching television, when my eyes were accosted by an ad for whatsyourprice.com. It is, for the love of all that is holy, a dating site in which “generous” people bid on dates with “beautiful” people. So, that narrows it down. Because if you’re cheap and ugly, you’re out of luck.

…seriously, WHAT? Go ahead and take a look at that site. Prepare for your IQ to drop at least twenty points, your blood pressure to skyrocket, and your sense of indignation to hit its zenith. Basically, how it works is you upload a profile, a person bids on a first date, and you accept it. I suppose if you are one of the generous folks, you troll for a date, place a bid and wait.

Because nothing says HEALTH RELATIONSHIP like having to PAY FOR IT. And, ladies, if you’re worried about a Date Fail, fear not! The About section quells your terrors, “Even if your date turns out to be a dud, you will be compensated for your time.” Essentially, you are a HOOKER. So, haul out your Vivian boots, slap on a blonde wig, and get thee to the Regent Beverly Wilshire.

First of all, this just makes me sad. It says terrible things about self-worth on all sides. It commodifies beauty in a strange, insulting way. This also implies that there is less of an emphasis on the appearance of a “generous” person, because he/s she has money. So, it doesn’t matter if your personality is wretched, as long as you’ve got a big wallet or a pretty face.

The website also has a section for testimonials, where you can read what “real people are saying.” Thanks for clarifying that, because I was TOTALLY thinking that there would be a testimonial section for robots, chairs, and mannequins. (Which makes sense, because this feels like a messed up episode of the Twilight Zone. Eye of the Beholder on CRACK.) In the section, the word “gentleman” was thrown around a lot, to the point where I am certain it did not mean what they thought it meant. One woman talks about how her date paid her $200, flew her to the state in which he lived, and paid for a hotel room. This is a stranger, flying you around. A person you do not know. Guys, this is how a bad Lifetime movie starts, where a girl gets murdered and everyone talks about how the guy was such a sweet GENTLEMAN, you never would’ve suspected he secretly ate BABIES. This kind of thing is romanticized stupidity. The thing your mother warns you about. This is getting into a van with a stranger to help him find his lost puppy. And puppy is a euphemism.

The site advises the users to pay half of the agreed upon amount up front and half after the date. Because nothing says CLASSY like trying ensure that your date doesn’t dine and dash! Also, CASH is KING (their phrasing – I shit you not!), and one is advised not to accept personal checks. Maybe because this is tantamount to prostitution and that’s illegal, except at the Bunny Ranch.

Lastly, the website boasts that it isn’t a new concept by any means, implying that it is merely incentive dating. (Anyone want a biscuit? Sit. Stay. Roll over.) The site wants you to think that this is totally awesome, even wholesome, because hey! It’s just like a charity auction: This isn’t a new concept, celebrities and firemen have been participating in dating auctions for decades. The only difference here is that the money isn’t going to charity.” But, um, isn’t the charity party the whole redeeming aspect? Otherwise, you are a hooker. GUYS. LADIES. WHAT THE HELL?

Going on a dating site is one thing. BIDDING ON WOMEN IS DIFFERENT. I would be just as livid if the reverse was true: if “generous” (read: rich) women were bidding on hot guys? It is still outrageous. And not in a good, Jem and the Holograms kind of way. People aren’t meant to be purchased. We are not cows. We are not slaves. And sure, signing up is voluntary. It’s not as if you’re being forced, but I cannot imagine a justifiable reason to do this. You go on a date with someone to enjoy their company, to get to know them – NOT to earn extra pocket cash and get a free meal. That’s not dating. That’s Hot Girl ebay. And it is a WORLD of NO.

To answer the question, “What’s your price?” Honey, you couldn’t fucking afford me.

Drive more — wrinkle less! Some Words on Honda’s New Lady Car

October 26, 2012 4 comments

First, they came for the pens – and I didn’t say a word. Okay, that’s a lie, because those BIC pens for girls? Total bullcrap. Just ask Ellen DeGeneres, as she kicks ass. Then they tried to put me in a BINDER, and I did not say a word. Actually, that’s not true either. Because nobody puts Baby in a Binder.

And now, there’s a GIRL CAR. And, my dear gentle uteruses, it comes in PINK. So, gather your ovaries and get yourself (accompanied, of course, by your husband or other suitable adult male chaperon.) to your nearest Honda dealership. Because, come on: what woman doesn’t want a PINK CAR?

Honda folks? This is the WORST marketing campaign since the Teleflora flowers ad, which insulted women, degraded relationships, and suggested that flowers are a kind of sexual commerce — during the Superbowl. But, ladies, who could resist the shiny pink color and the lovely pink stitching? It is like lady catnip, isn’t it? I think I’m swooning. Let’s just take a gander at all the features in this Barbie doll-esque pink miracle, shall we?

No, we only need to discuss two. It has a windshield MADE OF MAGIC. Or as close to magic as one can get, because it’s “designed to block skin-wrinkling ultraviolet rays.” But it gets BETTER, my darling menstruating divas. It also has a “ ‘Plasmacluster’ air conditioning system that Honda claims can improve a driver’s skin quality.”

My sweet mindless brethren, isn’t this divine? Drive more — wrinkle less! Forget silly things like road safety and traction control. Your skin will look FABULOUS. Isn’t that what’s always been missing from your car? Praise Buddy Christ! Let me go fix Don Draper a cocktail, okay?

…hold on a second, ok? *takes off pearls* *steps OUT of the 1950s* *tucks away birth control* WHAT THE EVER LOVING HELL? I do not need a pretty pink car, with magic air conditioning and a HEART in the pink SHE’S on its side. While I admire her greatly, my name isn’t actually JEM – for whom this car would be appropriate, because she is a cartoon.

Here’s the problem, people: while our sex is biologically determined, our gender is performative. A boy can like PINK, just as well as a girl. Our sex doesn’t predispose us to like certain things; society might. Society encourages certain behaviors and tastes – which is where open-minded folks usually step in and say, “Hey, wait a minute – my daughter can certainly play with GI Joe and Barbie.” Or “my son’s favorite color is purple.” Because, hey, everyone is entitled to like what he/she likes – to develop his/her own tastes. Creating products that are supposedly gender-specific is a losing game. Our gender – hell, our sexual orientation – does not determine our tastes, just like my hormones don’t interfere with my election preferences.

We are people. Some of us have a uterus. Some of us have a penis. There are a few who have both. But at the end of the day, we’re still people. We put our pants on one leg at a time (when we wear pants). We drink our coffee or our tea. We like sports. We like ballet. We like whatever we like. This is not determined by our sex.

And I’m fairly certain this ensured that I will never, ever buy a Honda. Because my uterus is offending. Oh, wait – no, I am offended.

Stay Classy, America: You’re Acting like a Five Year Old

October 23, 2012 5 comments

So, full confession: I hate politics. I wish there was an app that removed all the political ads from my television. I wish that the debates were actually moderated, by folks who actually…moderate? I wish that those participating in the debates had enough courtesy not to trounce all over said moderators. I also really wish they’d let Jon Stewart moderate one.

The truth is that I don’t care you who vote for. That isn’t my business. I watched two of the three debates, and yes, one of them was the Binders Full of Women – and the other was the Bayonets and Horses debate. (“The 80s called it wants its foreign policy back.” I’ll admit it: I chuckled. But I’d also like to say: my ten year old self called, and she’d like her pithy sense of humor back.) Apparently, no one watched the first debate, including the President.

Last night, Ann Coulter said some pretty stupid shit. I know this, because Twitter told me so. The folks are in a tizzy and rightly so. Regardless of political affiliations, the stuff in uncool. But this is, unfortunately, par for the Coulter crazy course. It’s her schtick. It’s what she does to get attention. And you know what? It’s working, as long as we keep talking about it. So, I’m not talking about it anymore.

You know what I’m going to talk about? The anti-The Other Guy hate. Coulter says something tremendously stupid, and people respond, “Punch the cunt in the neck! Or kill her!” And a part of my happy little soul shrivels up in horror. First of all, it’s never ok to call a woman a cunt. Second of all, even in a joking manner, that shit’s not funny. It makes you look like an asshat for a whole host of reasons, none of which you’re going to like. If you’re a man and you say that, it opens up a can of gender troubles that you probably don’t want to get into. Talking like that also undermines whatever statement you’re trying to make. Because sometimes, all people can hear is the hate seething out of your words – which, hey, way to stoop down a few levels.

I’ll be fair and say that a remarkable number of people in the Republican party have said appallingly insane things this election season. The fact that we’ve actually said the term ‘legitimate rape’ makes me angrier than I can even convey. However, when you start attacking people based on party affiliation (terms like repug, for example) – you lose credibility. You lose whatever higher ground you might’ve had. Because you’re acting like a five year old, throwing sand and pulling hair on the playground. Except a five year old is expected to do those things because THEY’RE FIVE.

There’s something to be said for conducting yourself with a bit of grace and dignity. There’s something to be said for taking the high road. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good joke, dirty or otherwise. In fact, I spent most of the debate last night snarking my ever-loving snark out. And it filled me with joy. Because politics, my friends, is perfect comedic fodder. Yes, Romney called the United States the “hope of the earth.” And yes, I want to know where the One Ring is – and if we’re going to Mordor soon. Poor, poor Frodo. And sure, I’ve only now heard about this newfangled thing called a SUBMARINE – and GUYS! It goes under WATER. How cool is THAT?

But you know what you are, when you act like an idiot and say you want to punch someone in the neck? Congratulations, you’re right on the level with Romney’s SON, who supposedly wanted to punch the President. So, stay classy, America. Until next time, I’ll be sitting in the back, making references to the Breakfast Club, as soon as I decipher what the frakkin’ hell a DEBT BURDEN is. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to figure out where the FUN debts are.

What Not to Do with a Heart

August 28, 2012 10 comments

Imagine that you like someone in a big way. Your pulse won’t stop bouncing around. Your mouth goes dry. You feel like your heart is trying to extract itself from your chest. You smile when the other person is around. You try to be witty. Basically, this person makes you do the Happy. (Buffy-esque phrasing, for the win.)

You do this mad, bad tango flirting thing. You think it’s going somewhere, because it seems like it is. This other person matches you stride for stride, intention for intention, then at some point asks for your number. BAM! You feel like you hit the romantic lottery. You practically skip down the street, barely feeling your own feet. You grin like a moron. You sing uncontrollably. You’re totally done for, seduced by the total glee that is adoration and attraction. Awesome, right?

Now, imagine that you discover that this person you’re head-over-heels for is simply fucking with you. Imagine that it’s just a cruel joke caught somewhere between emotionally deficient toddler and emotionally stunted high school student.

You know what that equals? You, standing there in the middle of prom, doused in pig’s blood. Congratulations, asshats of the world, you’ve just taken someone’s heart – smashed it without mercy or provocation – and turned someone’s hopes into a special circle in hell. This kind of emotional manipulation is a supremely shitty level of craptastic. Now, you can argue that adults don’t behave like this, that after high school people mature. But the fun fact is that some don’t. Some people get their sadistic jollies by hurting others, by tossing hearts into blenders and unceremoniously hitting FRAPPE.

Twice in the past 24 hours I’ve heard stories like this. I’ve heard accounts, one from a very dear friend, of such ninny-headed cruelty that I would like to SMASH things. Because life and love are difficult enough, without idiots mucking up the already hard-to-decipher, challenging-to-navigate waters. Love and dating? They’re not easy. They’re not math equations with a right answer. And, you know, it’s not always easy to put yourself out there. In fact, it never is. Doing so is always an act of courage. It should be respected as such.

But screwing with someone’s heart for sport? Oh, sweetie, that’s cowardice and meanness in its rawest, most craven form. And anyone who dares to conduct themselves in such a manner is a troglodyte asshat of the lowest order of mortals. One that should be tossed into the Bog of Eternal stench, before being fed to the Great Pit of Carkoon.

You know what happens to someone who is dealt with so horribly? It hurts. It hurts beyond the telling of it. It undermines a person’s emotional strength. It makes them questions themselves, thinking “How could I have been so stupid? Was it me? Was it something I did?”

Right now, if that’s you? Let me answer: you are not the stupid one. It isn’t you. You opened yourself up, which is brave. It is a thing of hope. That other person doesn’t deserve you, because he/she is has the emotional maturity of a blueberry scone.

The best advice I can give is this: feel the pain, dance, sing, drink wine, and eat chocolate. Then go out there and let that person know they didn’t win. Smile big. Or tell them off. Whatever feels right. Because you are awesome. Because you care. Because you can care, whereas that other person’s heart is made of rocks and emptiness. At some point, that hollowness will be all that person has. But you? You’ll always be made of heart and strength. Remember that.

If all else fails, point me in the direction of the offending jerk, and I will promise to verbally eviscerate them for crimes against humanity.

Certain Dark Things: On Cheating and the Media

July 25, 2012 2 comments

 

I wonder what would’ve happened if Twitter had been around during JFK’s administration. Would there be twitpics of JFK in his underwear, illicitly (and accidentally) tweeting them to Marilyn where the whole world could see it? Would there be grainy photos of Marilyn and John meeting at a hotel? (Probably not. Because no one messed with Frank Sinatra or his friends. But still.) If tabloid journalism was so rampant and ruthless when Hepburn met Tracey, what would’ve become of them and their relationship? Would the constant media attention have broken them apart? Would one of them have broken underneath the scrutiny? Hepburn and Tracey were an iconic couple, certainly. But Tracey never left his wife, and Hepburn avoided his funeral out of respect for his family. Imagine the tractive headlines. Would they have called Hepburn a slut? A homewrecker? A whore? (She, being progressive and strong, probably wouldn’t have cared.)

These days, anything and everything seems up for grabs; a person’s worst day is fodder for a story. The end goal, it seems, isn’t to tell a story worth telling. It’s to move copies, while trading on sensationalism and heartbreak.

Yesterday, I read a headline that Kristen Stewart cheated on her longtime boyfriend and costar, Robert Pattinson, with the director of Snow White and the Huntsman. Rupert Sanders is, unfortunately, married. This all came out in a hail of hastily snapped photos, finger-pointing, and shame. US Weekly ran the story first, and shortly thereafter, KStew issued an apology – and Sanders filed suit. Everything about that was difficult to read, because that is someone’s worst moment. That is someone’s worst day. That is the sound of the world crashing, swallowing up so many things.

Which is why I say: leave the worst moments in shadow.

People screw up. People fall in love. People fall in lust. Slips and shit happen. Pretending otherwise doesn’t make you better than anyone else. It doesn’t make you more moral or well-positioned upon the throne of judgment. It doesn’t automatically give you a white hat, while handing someone a black one.

These are people. And no one is perfect. Certainly not celebrities who live their lives under a microscope. When something bad comes to light, in a layperson’s life, the world does not point fingers or gasp. The world doesn’t even really notice. Some people immediately involved might. There will, inevitably, be rumors and gossip. But chances are, our follies won’t end up in a newspaper. They won’t end up online or on tv. We get to live out our mistakes in relative private.

In the pursuit of selling a product (like a magazine), humanity is often forgotten. There’s no integrity is dragging out someone’s secret, just to sell something. There’s no honor in it. There’s only greed. (Hello there, Gordon Gekko.)

The reaction that I’ve seen to the Stewart-Sanders debacle is almost as obnoxious as the magazine that broke the story. People are judging, finger-pointing, and generally reaching for the smelling salts. Because CLEARLY this is the first time someone’s had a fling with their director/costar/makeup artist – WHATEVER. Clearly, this is the first time in history a person has had a moment of weakness that ended up a walk of shame. Clearly, this is the first time someone’s ever slept with someone else’s spouse. Surely we are above all that, us good little puritans (who, btw, had a rather liberal view on sex).

(Yes, that I unadulterated sarcasm.)

Imagine your very worst day. Recall that time you sent naked photos to an ex or a stranger. Remember cheating on a test, on a boyfriend, on your bar exam. Remember getting high, getting a bad tattoo, saying terrible and untrue things to a good person. Remember lying. Remember doing nothing when someone got hurt right in front of you. Remember the underside of your humanity: your flaws.

We are, every one of us, flawed. The difference is that when you and I do something wrong? It doesn’t end up all over People magazine. It isn’t enough to sell copies. Yes, it’s a business, but a business isn’t without integrity. It’s not without honor. It’s not without compassion. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be.

Do I, personally, give a damn about Kristen Stewart? Not exactly, no. I don’t know her. She never hangs out at my house. And neither of us has braided the other’s hair. But I can look through the persona and see the person. I can feel for her, because she did something bad – and there’s a big garish spotlight on it. The spotlight doesn’t just hurt her; it hurts everyone involved, even those indirectly involved – like Sanders’s family. Like Pattinson. Shouldn’t they be able to tackle this – a personal issue – out of the public eye? God, yes. This has no bearing on their art. It has nothing to do with making movies. And yet, we care. And yet, it’s everywhere.

Leave the worst moments in shadow.

(Nota bene: yes, there’s irony here, because I’m WRITING about the issue. Let me acknowledge that. But instead of writing about Sanders being an asshole or Stewart being some kind of bitch – I’m not commenting on them as PEOPLE. I’m not sensationalizing their pain.)

Being an Artist Doesn’t Give You Carte Blanche to Be an Asshole

July 11, 2012 14 comments

Imagine you are sitting in a crowded comedy club. You are purposefully not sitting in the front. You are there to have a good time.

Then the comedian makes a joke. A bad joke. Maybe it’s a joke about murdering a baby. Or killing someone. Or somebody blowing something up. Let’s say he starts ranting about how it’s always funny to make a joke about a kid getting murdered. (I think we can all agree that’s pretty frakked up.)

It gives you goosebumps, but not the good kind.

Maybe you know someone whose child was murdered. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you just watched a story unfold on the news. Maybe you just have a heart and a sense of right/wrong. The comedian keeps talking and talking about it, until you’re too uncomfortable to stay. But you want to say SOMETHING. So, taking a deep breath, you do the only thing you can think of – you heckle. Actually jokes about murdering a child aren’t funny.

After a pause, the comedian quips, “Wouldn’t it be funny if she were murdered right now? Or her kid? I mean, wouldn’t that be fucking hilarious?”

You’re in a crowded room. People snicker and laugh, nervously or otherwise. What do you do? You continue to leave, because you were uncomfortable to begin with – but now? You’ve just been threatened.

Yesterday, a story came to light about comedian Daniel Tosh. Apparently, at the Laugh Factory, part of his routine was to go on and on about rape jokes. When a female in the crowd (who found his material offensive) yelled that such jokes weren’t funny (because she felt that she had to say SOMETHING), he pressed on, singling her out – saying “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her…”

As someone who’s never been raped, I find that offensive. I find that offensive as a woman and human being. I find it unacceptable, because I have friends who have been raped and abused. And honestly? That just isn’t funny. None of it is. Rape is a serious crime. To diminish and undercut the severity of it, especially in this society where the first reaction is usually to lay blame at the feet of the victim (oh, she was asking for it, look at how she dressed, why wasn’t she more careful?) – it is reprehensible.

It reminded of the other week, when I was in a convenience store. A guy got a ticket for his order, and it was 911. He, apparently, was from NY. He asked the girl making the sandwiches if she could just call his name or something else, because the number really bothered him. She agreed, and then mocked him while he went to the register to pay. Her behavior wasn’t threatening, but it was disrespectful and ripe with blatant disregard for humanity. While the situation is completely different, the principle is very much the same: some things just aren’t funny.

The Tosh situation was disturbing enough, until I found out that there are people out there defending the comedian. The argument, basically, is that he’s an artist. It’s free speech. Art gives you license to be offensive.

My response would be: yes, if you are an asshole. (Eloquent, right?) I’m all for art being everything from beautiful to disturbing. But I also do not think that being an artist means you have carte blanche to act like a jerk, to threaten other people, or cross all lines. Yes, there are lines. Sometimes, it’s tough to figure out where they are. Sometimes, one misstep can cost you a lot. See, Gilbert Gottfried and the joke he made after the tsunami. That cost money and respect. Yes, you can argue similarly to Tosh, that Gottfried is a comedian, and he was just trying to be funny. But what the hell was funny about what he said? Nothing. The same goes for Tosh, except some people don’t quite see that.

At point one, I saw a man arguing that Tosh has a right to say whatever he wants. He has free speech. And that’s true. He does. But he also cannot yell FIRE in the middle of a crowded movie theater, unless there is actually a fucking fire. Free speech does, indeed, have decency limits. All things cannot be excused with a shrug, mumbling, “Well, he’s an artist.” You know who else was an artist? Hitler. That didn’t make him anything less than a mass-murdering megalomaniac of epically horrible proportions. I’m pretty sure the Louvre didn’t hang up any of his painting, excusing his tendency toward genocide, because he’s an artist.

*ahem* Back to the point. Another argument was that if you find Tosh offensive, the answer is simple: don’t go to his shows. And yes, that’s a valid point. After this whole debacle, I’m 100% certain that I’d never choose to see him perform live, even if accompanied by Muppets. However, avoiding him doesn’t remove meaning from Tosh’s words (this suggestion was made, verbatim: you, as the consumer, need to educate yourself on who you pay attention to, in order to avoid being offended.). *blinks* What’s this now? In order to avoid things that might be offensive, I have to smart enough to know what to avoid? The condescending attitude aside, what the frak? Avoiding something doesn’t invalidate another person’s actions/statements in the least. What Tosh did, and said, is still very wrong – regardless of whether or not I plunked down money to attend one of his shows. Consider Mel Gibson’s anti-semiotic rant that most of us either read or heard about. None of us were there. We didn’t choose to hear it. We didn’t walk up to Gibson and say, “Gee, Mel, what ARE your feelings on Jewish people?” But what he said was still what he said. Not being there, personally, is irrelevant. Actions and words, especially of a public figure, are a measure of who we are. If something is said, it’s put out into the world – and in the case of a celebrity, it’s pretty much there for all eternity. Gibson’s oeuvre is still impressive; he’s got Braveheart and The Patriot. But he also is that guy who got sloshed and spewed hate speech.

Also, there is the suggestion that Tosh regularly employs black humor. Great. Awesome. I like black humor. There is a wide-spectrum of humors that I appreciate it. But I’ll say it again: threatening someone, like Tosh did, is never frakkin’ funny. What if that person was your sister? Your cousin? Your mother? Your friend? Your wife? That shouldn’t need to be personally contextualized to matter, but let’s do that, anyway. What if that girl who stood up in the club was someone you cared about?

Someone pointed out that she should’ve kept her mouth shut. That the woman should’ve known better than the heckle a guy who is famous for his “black humor.” (Are rape jokes really black humor? I don’t know.) “I definitely wouldn’t heckle someone who has gotten famous off of black humor if I was easily offended by the topic of his bit.” Basically, this insinuates that the woman is to blame, that she brought it on herself, and that if she had only kept her mouth shut, things would’ve been fine. She was, essentially, an idiot. But I’d argue that she was brave, as every person is who takes a stand against something or someone that’s wrong. The kid who stands up for someone getting picked up. The person who helps someone up after they’ve fallen. The woman who puts her foot down and says, enough, this is wrong. All brave things. Because if you stand by and let something slide, it makes you culpable, in a way, for knowing it’s wrong and ignoring it.

Being an artist doesn’t give someone a license to be a total asshat. It doesn’t mean that he can say whatever he wants without consequences. Yes, Tosh has freedom of speech – but you cannot blame people for finding what he said/did offensive. No one is arguing that comedians should be censored by some kind of Oversight of Humor section of the government. But it is important to acknowledge that what he did was awful and that chalking it up to art is nothing more than a shameful cop-out, a misdirection of wrongdoing and responsibility.