Words By S.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

My Love Affair With Johnny Weir.

Everyone and their mother is discussing Johnny Weir these days.  He is very much in the spotlight and consistently polarizes people, even more so with his ever popular television show, Be Good Johnny Weir.  My foray into his world is a very new and recent one – and I wish to share my story of Johnny discovery with you all.  It is one of gross misconception, ignorance, and finally becoming enlightened and enthralled. (more…)

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Monday, 7 June 2010

In Which S. Joins the “Race Debate”

Filed under: Life,Politics,Popular Culture,Race Relations — S @ 12:00 am

I have a tendency to push buttons, to not shy away from controversial topics, to speak my mind without worrying (nor caring) about the opinions of others.  I’ve blogged about everything from my Atheism, to tattoos and piercings, to immigration.  One topic that I’ve never blogged about has been race.

Race is something I’ve never been terribly comfortable discussing.  As a multi-ethnicitied Woman Of Color (WOC), it should be the exact opposite for me.  I’ve spent a lot of my life (and continually do so) trying to “discover” myself and find my niche within my own race.

I am a Black Woman (BW).  I look at my brown face in the mirror every day; look at my brown arms and legs.  When I enter into public, I am seen as a Black Woman.  I’ve never been mistaken or passed as anything other than a Dark Skinned Black Woman.  It’s who I am.  Or rather, one facet of Who I Am.

I never thought much about the Black Experience, nor my own personal experience in being Black.  I’m “hip” to the lingo, a little with the experiences of others, and how the Blackness of others has affected me (which I will get into soon), but I’ve never sat and actually analyzed it.  At least, not in the way I’ve sat and thought about humanity and religion.

I grew up in a bubble.  A very suburban, celebrate diversity, 30% Jewish middle-class bubble.  My Experience, from the start, was much different from that of a large number of other Black Americans (BAs).  I always had a largely diverse group of friends, had eclectic tastes in everything, and had a privileged childhood.  I will be the first to admit that I led a charmed life.

In my family, there was a mixed dynamic.  On the one hand, I had my parents, my aunt, and my grandfather (mother’s side) who never really put any sort of emphasis on what it means to be Black in America.  Sure, we had discussions about what it was like when they were young, and how lucky I am to never have to experience outright, in-your-face racism.  I was given the basic equipment for how to handle the inevitable covert and institutional racism.  But, beyond that, nothing.  And then there was my extended family.

I was constantly “othered” when it came to my large group of cousins.  I was the “outsider”.  The one who lived middle-class, who was interested in learning, who got good grades and read all the time.  Later, who watched and listened to a wide array of movies and music.  Who enunciated my words.  To my cousins, I wasn’t Black enough.

The lessons that I was taught by my immediate family never equipped me for how I would inevitably be viewed within my own culture.  For a time, I secretly rejected my Black heritage and embraced what I had learned about my Blackfoot Great-grandmother, and later my partially Irish Grandmother, and German Great-grandfather.  I did it quietly and in such a way that no one was the wiser.  When I took standardized tests, I wasn’t S. the Black American, I was S. the “Native American” or S. the “Other-with-each-ethnicity-listed-careful-to-specify-my-Blackfootness”.

And then I entered high school.

In my high school, we had a student group (or club, if you will) specifically for the purpose of learning about and teaching younger kids about race relations and diversity.  In joining that group, I learned that it was okay that I enunciated and enjoyed learning and reading, and watching foreign films, and listening to different types of music.  I learned to celebrate the fact that I grew up differently and had different interests, and that I don’t need to have a homogenized BA experience.

In fact, it was in high school that my friends started to change and we embraced those changes and learned even more about one another.  It was also in high school that I would befriend a BW who had even more “bizarre” interests than I did (namely, NASCAR).  We would drag each other to see shows of our favorite bands and we would play “Count the Black People”.  That game also served as a real eye-opener, to know that there was a whole world of POCs that had interests like mine, and were probably “othered” at some time.

By the end of my high school career, I felt confident in who I was and well-equipped to deal with anything that could possibly be thrown my way.  Or so I thought.

If my immediate family taught me about what to do in instances of covert racism, my extended family taught me that I will always be “othered” by people within my own race.  The summer going into my freshman year of college gave me that firsthand experience.

At my college, we were assigned first year roommates based on “like” factors.  Judging by who I was paired with, my only guess would be that our “on paper” similarity ended with us both being black.  The first conversation I had with my college roommate was via telephone where we were both thrilled to get to know each other.  My excitement soon ended, however, when I got asked (almost immediately), “Are you sure you’re black?”

It was like my newly found confident world had come crashing down, and I was back to being “Not-Black-Enough-S., the Other-with-each-ethnicity-listed-careful-to-specify-my-Blackfootness”.   The first two months of college were absolutely miserable for me, until I the day I got to change my roommate and moved out.

It was also during this time that I moved, on my own, to a brand new city that didn’t have the protective bubble that my suburban home did.  It was then that I, not only got to experience being Othered by non-family members, but that I got to experience that covert racism that my beloved family told me all about.  That first year of being on my own was hellish, to say the least.

What is the point in giving all of this background?  What does my personal history of Living While Black have to do with anything?

In a word, Everything.

You see, my experiences have all occurred during this “post-racial America” that we’ve been experiencing.  My experiences tie into the experiences of so many others who are now being targeted overtly.  Each person who is affected by a racist bill, or a racist decision made by local politicians has been told by some deluded person that this is a “post-racial America”.

In addition to those isolated occurrences are the ones on a larger scale.  The studies that have been done, time after time; the racist e-mails that have been put under public scrutiny; the racist comments from the likes of Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and the Tea Party.  The fact that there are television shows and bands that glorify racist stereotypes.  The fact that the Tea Party even exists.

All of these are occurring during a so-called “post-racial” period in American history.

If we lived in a truly post-racial society, there wouldn’t be a need for blog after blog after blog to exist just to point out that racism is very much still occurring.  So, how do we combat a very serious problem?  Is making people aware merely enough?

And if it’s not enough, how does one go about making people take action on a wide scale?  Do we need more programs like the one I was lucky enough to take part in when I was in high school?

Or, is it merely too hopeless of a cause?

Think about it…

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Method: The Latest Company to Promote Rape Culture.

Filed under: Feminism,Popular Culture,Women's Health — S @ 12:04 am

I was e-mailed this disgusting and disturbing video today (by a friend who was absolutely mortified and outraged that such an ad could possibly exist):

After I watched it, I was equally enraged and disgusted.  How dare Method cheapen the instances of sexual assault/harassment/trauma that women face by turning it into a joke to push their agenda.

In no way is sexual violence anything to ever make light of.  And, I continue to feel equally enraged that this is a company that I have supported and given money to – by buying their products.

Never again.

Fuck you, Method, and the misogynist horse you rode in on.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Dina Goldstein’s ‘Fallen Princesses’ Series.

Filed under: Art,Creativity,Feminism,Popular Culture — S @ 6:53 am

Perhaps a little late to the game, I familiarized myself with Dina Goldstein‘s photography series, “Fallen Princesses“, yesterday.  In this series, Dina seeks to show what happens to Disney’s princesses after the “…happily ever after”, by placing them in what she perceives to be real world settings.

I find the series to be quite interesting, and some of the images are quite powerful.

Cinderella

Rapunzel

Snow White

Belle

Aurora (of Sleeping Beauty)

Jasmine

Ariel

Little Red Riding Hood

Princess from Princess & The Pea

Depicted are what Dina considers “…real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.”

While I enjoy the concept of the series, I have a couple problems with it.

1) Not all of the princesses she chose are Disney.  If she were to just say that she chose “fairy tale princesses” for her series, it would have made much more sense.  But, she didn’t.  She specifically said she was focusing on Disney’s representation of the “happily ever after” – in such, she left out some actual Disney princesses in order to include other, non-Disney princesses.

2) Red Riding Hood is not a princess.  As such, I am baffled as to why she is included in this series.

3) While I can understand, and climb on board with some of these depictions, how on earth is Jasmine’s supposed to be “fallen”?

The issues of Red’s obesity and Jasmine’s racial stereotyping have been brought up and flogged to death, so I will not discuss them at length here.  I will, however, touch on them – as they do fall in line with my initial reactions to seeing the photos.

Cinderella, while thought provoking, is a little hard to wrap my head around.  I understand that it is supposed to depict alcoholism, but it is poorly executed.  Placing her in the center of a bar full of old men, looking glum (yet not intoxicated), to me, does not portray alcoholism.  Perhaps if she wanted to portray the instances of self-medicating your woes with alcohol as her issue, rather than alcoholism, it would have been much stronger.  To me, this photo simply makes Cinderella appear to be “fallen” because she is having one drink and is lonely.

In the case of Red, I can understand the outcry – how much more fat shaming do we really need to see go on?  Fat people are aware of the fact that they are fat, there’s no need for the frequent reminders.  But, the issue is depicting her obesity in such a manner.  I understand both sides of the argument: on the one hand, gross overeating is not the only (and hardly the primary) cause of one’s obesity, and to depict it as such is really careless.  On the other hand, depicting overeating is the most accessible and most fixable cause of obesity.  That said, titling the photo “‘Not So Little’ Red Riding Hood” is really juvenile and takes away from the message that the image is trying to convey – particularly when your other photos just uses the character or story names.

In the case of Jasmine, the depiction is also lazy.  Giving her a rifle and sticking her in the middle of a war zone is too easy.  She may as well have strapped explosives to her chest, or stuck her in a nose-diving airplane.  The others attempted to deconstruct the lives of the princesses, and I think that the problem here is that, she’s not deconstructing anything.  She’s playing up a harmful stereotype of a culture that has a lot more going for it than being a sand-filled war zone.  I would also like to reiterate that Jasmine’s depiction of a woman in combat also is not “fallen”.  If anything, it’s the opposite.

I also had a real problem with Belle’s depiction.  Again, I think it is way too easy.  It also strays very far away from the essence of who Belle is.  The whole point to her character is the internal beauty, and how she doesn’t care about superficial qualities.  She grew up modest, and a sudden change to royalty likely wouldn’t mar the essence of who she is.  There were so many other things Goldstein could have done with that character that it’s a shame that she went for the obvious.

Aurora, I don’t understand.  She wakes up upon being kissed by the prince in the end.  Therefore, why is she asleep while he is in a retirement home?  What is that possibly saying about real women’s issues?  Also, how does this depict life after her “happily ever after”?  If anything, this depicts what would happen if her “happily ever after” never occurred.  In the same vain, the princess of Princess & The Pea depicts life if her “happily ever after” never occurred, but does not portray her in any real scenario.

Another issue that I have, with the series as a whole, is that these are the “real issues” that she perceives women’s issues to be.  Of all of them, I find Rapunzel and Snow White to be most striking and saying the most about real women’s issues.  I feel that, in all, the message that she was attempting to get across was a good one, and the idea was fantastic.  But, as far as execution, it was just poor and lazy.

She states that there are two more to be added to the series, let’s hope that she gets to the heart of real women’s issues with those.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

In the news today…

Filed under: News,Politics,Popular Culture — S @ 9:41 am

Study recommends total ban on smoking for soldiers

  • Story Highlights
  • Military health experts propose ban on tobacco use by soldiers
  • Study: Tobacco use impairs military readiness, later lead to serious health issues
  • New study also calls for ban on the sale of tobacco products on bases
From Chris Lawrence
CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) — You’ve seen the iconic picture of a soldier with a cigarette dangling from his mouth, but that could soon be a thing of the past.

The Pentagon is considering a ban on the sale and use of tobacco in the military.

The Pentagon is considering a ban on the sale and use of tobacco in the military.

A new study commissioned by the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs recommends a complete ban on tobacco, which would end tobacco sales on military bases and prohibit smoking by anyone in uniform, not even combat troops in the thick of battle.

According to the study, tobacco use impairs military readiness in the short term. Over the long term, it can cause serious health problems, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. The study also says smokeless tobacco use can lead to oral and pancreatic cancer.

The Defense Department’s top health officials are studying the report’s suggestions and will make recommendations to the Pentagon’s policy team and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The study recommends phasing out tobacco products such as cigarettes and cigars over a five- to 10-year period.

However, the suggested ban does not sit well with many in uniform, including retired Gen. Russel Honore, best known for coordinating military relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina-affected areas with an ever-present stogie. He said soldiers at war need to puff.

“When you’re tired and you’ve been going days on end with minimum sleep, and you are not getting the proper meals on time, that hit of tobacco can make a difference,” said Honore, who was in charge of the Army’s training programs before he retired.

Other soldiers questioned whether this was a good time to stamp out smoking, given the Army’s concern with a high suicide rate.

“For some, unfortunately, they feel that smoking is their stress relief. Well if you take it away, what is the replacement?” said Sgt. 1st Class Gary Johnson.

The Pentagon supports the goal of a tobacco-free military, said spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

“However, achieving that goal will depend on coincident reductions of tobacco use in the civilian population,” she said.

Dr. Ken Kizer, the author of the study, found that civilians don’t smoke as much as soldiers. One in three active duty soldiers smoke, he said, adding that among the general population, that number is less than one in five.

The Pentagon banned smoking in buildings on bases years ago. It has counselors on call to help service members quit. But while local governments have heavily taxed tobacco, the commissaries often sell it at deeply discounted prices.

“The military sends very mixed signals,” Kizer said. “This is what’s confusing to people.”

The study found that profits from those tobacco sales — $80 million to $90 million — often pay for recreation and family programs on base.

Article found at: http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/07/12/military.smoking.ban/index.html

———————

Where do I even begin with this one?

Well, to start:

– I am not a regular smoker – meaning I only smoke when I am under extreme stress or when I am socially drinking.

– I have never (nor will I ever) been in the military

That said, I do not agree at all with the idea of this.

You want to take smoking out of bars, clubs, and restaurants?  Fine, great!  It makes my meal better not having to be around clouds of smoke, and when I go out (and don’t partake in tobacco puffing), I enjoy not smelling of smoke after.

You want to take smoking out of the vicinity of hospitals, fantastic.  But wait… with that comes banning it from locked, inpatient, psychiatric facilities where patients don’t want to be, and use nicotine as a stress reliever from their problems?  Weeeeeell… okay.

You want to limit outdoor places people can smoke?  I guess that’s okay.

You want to ban smoking from the military?  Huh?!

That about sums up my reaction to the multiple stages in the smoking ban saga.

The reason I feel that tobacco, in any form, shouldn’t even be raised as an issue in the military is quite simple, really – these are people being sent into harm’s way, knowing that at any moment, they may never return to their families.  If ever there were a time to smoke like your life depended on it, well… I would think that would be it.

There are a couple of quotes from the article that screamed at me, and I will highlight them here:

Dr. Ken Kizer, the author of the study, found that civilians don’t smoke as much as soldiers. One in three active duty soldiers smoke, he said, adding that among the general population, that number is less than one in five.

Well, Dr. Ken Kizer, OF COURSE civilians don’t smoke nearly as much as active duty soldiers!  I think that the stress that I consider to be extreme is absolutely nothing compared to what stresses soldiers face.  After all, I’m not removed my friends and family to be sent somewhere where I will be shot at, spat at, unappreciated for my efforts, and what have you.  Nor am I ever in the place to be used as a pawn for my government’s agenda.

The Pentagon supports the goal of a tobacco-free military, said spokeswoman Cynthia Smith.

Of course “the pentagon” would.  It’s a giant office building on US grounds where their inhabitants don’t actually face the dangers of combat.

The study found that profits from those tobacco sales — $80 million to $90 million — often pay for recreation and family programs on base

Right, so let’s just rip that away.  Who else is going to pay for those programs?  Certainly not the Pentagon.

I’m quite certain that every single person with the ability to read and comprehend is fully aware of the dangers of smoking.  Using that as a reason for putting a ban on the activity is fairly weak.

I would like to know the real reasoning behind this idea.

Clearly, the people who propose ideas like this don’t think about the factors that contribute to why smoking is done in venues as mentioned above.   And I have to wonder, why the government jumps on the agenda pushing of these groups.

I’d be curious to know what anyone who is or has ever been in the military thinks about this.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

First Time For Everything.

Filed under: News,Odd news,Pets,Politics,Popular Culture — S @ 1:55 pm

As disturbing as this confession is, I have to admit that for the first time ever, I actually agree with Newt Gingrich’s sentiments on an issue.

Though, as far as why it’s a news headline and an issue, I am not entirely sure.

Posted: 01:06 PM ET
From

News of the arrival of the new first puppy has already caused a partisan split between Newt Gingrich and CNN Contributor Donna Brazile.

News of the arrival of the new first puppy has already caused a partisan split between Newt Gingrich and CNN Contributor Donna Brazile.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich weighed in Sunday on news that the first family has finally settled on a new puppy for daughters Malia and Sasha.

“I hope that the girls love the dog,” Gingrich said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I hope the family – and all the pressure they’re going to be in – finds it useful. And I think that this whole thing is fairly stupid.”

The six-month-old puppy is a Portuguese water dog that the Obamas have decided to name Bo. The dog is a gift to the first family from Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, a longtime Obama political ally who also owns several dogs of the breed.

“It’s great that they have a dog. It’s great that the kids are adjusting,” Gingrich said. “And where they got it from – who cares? It’s a nice gesture on Senator Kennedy’s part to give it to them but who cares?” Gingrich added.

Perhaps it was a partisan difference, but Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Donna Brazile had kinder words for the new first puppy.

“What’s not to like about this dog?” Brazile said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “He’s cute. He’s adorable. But, I hope he’s potty trained,” she joked.

Isn’t there plenty of actual news to be reporting about – rather than that the Obamas got a dog and that Gingrich feels all the media buzz surrounding the fact that the Obamas got a dog is stupid?

Just a thought.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Politics, Politicians, Political Mindedness… and S.

The media is buzzing with US politics, everywhere you turn.  This is the month for debates and finalizing decisions as, in a matter of weeks, we will be choosing our next “man for the job”.

Everyone is saying, “I’m so tired of this Bush fiasco”, “McCain = 4 more Bush years”, “Is Obama really the man for the job?” and let’s not even start on Sarah Palin.  Ugh.

During the past few months, I have been approached by a multitude of canvassers getting those last minute voter registrations done.  I have been asked a multitude of times whether or not I am an Obama supporter.  I get looks of shock when I reply…

…No!

I will repeat it again and again and again: I will not be voting for Barack Obama.  I will also not be voting for McCain.

I will, in fact, be voting for Ralph Nader (and Matt Gonzalez).

Watching the debates, reading platforms, educating myself on the candidates and their running-mates has sold me more and more on Nader than I had previously been.

It has also made me loathe the two-part system more and more.  In particular, when I get the response, “he’s running again?!”

 

I recently happened upon an “alternative news source” during the Biden/Palin debate called The Grist.  The Grist is an environmentally conscious online newspaper with a different, fresh spin on the world’s happenings, as well as election ’08 coverage.  And in this online newspaper are several interviews – each one with a major candidate from the democratic, republican, independent, and green parties.

Among the poignant questions that the interviews have asked, is the following (asked of each candidate interviewed): “What do you do personally to lighten your environmental footprint?”

For some reason, I find this question to be of particular importance.  I honestly think that the way this question is answered speaks very much about how a person views the world and says where their priorities are.  It essentially asks, how do you live your life and what is your world like?

McCain (R): We just moved from a very large house with swimming pool and grounds into a condominium, so we made a dramatic change. My daughter has a Prius. And we have a place up north where we have solar panels in some of the buildings. But we haven’t done enough, and we intend to do more.

Obama (D): We just bought a Ford Escape, so I traded in a non-hybrid for a hybrid. We are in the process of replacing our light bulbs in our house and trying to limit the use of our air conditioning, trying to make sure that we unplug and turn off all of our appliances when we’re not using them. It’s a fun project to work on with my 9-year-old and my 6-year-old.

McKinney (G): Well, I don’t consume very much. Where possible, I’m changing my shopping habits, in terms of the food that I buy. I choose to buy from the local folks as opposed to the mega folks. Of course, you have to go to the supermarket every once in a while to get stuff. I’m trying to live within the 200-mile rule of thumb in terms of my food consumption. As a black person, there’s a dearth of services generally and a lack of healthy food in the black community, so that’s been a challenge.

Nader (I): I consume very little except newspapers, and I recycle them. I don’t have a car. I’m the antithesis of the over-consumer.

Like most people (I would imagine), I want the person who is to make the large decisions about my world to be someone I can relate to and to be someone I can imagine walking in the shoes of.  To me, that gives me a little bit of ensurance that, were I to be in a position where I had to make a similar decision, there is a little hope that this person would come to a similar to conclusion.

As someone who chooses not to own a car, recycles as many goods as possible, and makes my own paper, I feel that Nader is that candidate.  And, as long as his values are the way that they are, he will be for a very long time.

Nader/Gonzalez 08

 

I also leave you with this little Grist/Nader goodie:

question If George Bush were a plant or an animal, what kind of plant or animal would he be?
answer Poison ivy. As for an animal, I wouldn’t demean any animal species that way. It’s easy to say coyote, but that’s a stereotype of animals. What carnivore has ever, as a species, done what Bush has done to the Iraqis?

Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Role of Sex in the Art House Film.

Filed under: Film,Popular Culture — S @ 7:38 pm
Tags: , ,

One evening, I decided to watch a documentary about sex in the indie film world.  The documentary was all about the use of real sex in art house films, as opposed to simulated sex.  It had the major art film players making commentary on the importance of using real sex and how it makes these films different from, not only their big budgeted Hollywood counterparts with their simulated sex, but also from pornography.

While I found it to be very interesting, subject matter-wise, the whole thing felt trite and pretentious (much like your average art house film).  For one, it left you with such statements as:

“In porn, you have the pizza boy who comes to the door and has sex with the lonely housewife, and that’s it. In an art film, you might have the pizza boy who comes to the door and is turmoiled and finds out who he is and his meaning through having sex with the lonely housewife.”

Therefore the difference between an art film and porn is… plot.  The pretentious filmmakers also used the documentary as a soapbox to make social commentary and assumed that anyone who opposes their use of real sex in films is “afraid of sex”:

“I hope that people will be less afraid of sex in movies and less afraid of sex in their own lives.”

Really?

How typical/predictable/any other synonym you can think of.

I didn’t like your piece of crap film that was sex-laden and weak-plotted, therefore I must be afraid of sex.  Your film couldn’t have just sucked.

The best example of an art film that utilizes actor/actress actually engaging in intercourse is Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs.  I was intrigued when it was initially released, however I never went to see it.   Normally, I am one for forming my own opinion after watching a film, however this time I allowed numerous reviews (both positive and negative) do the dirty work – so to speak.

The plot of 9 Songs, for those that don’t know, is: American girl goes to study at a school in England, and she and English lad “fall in love”.  The entire story is told through the young man’s fond memories of his first love.  They include nine indie rock shows (hence the title), and lots of sex.   From what I understand, there is not much acting in this film – the minimal dialogue that is in the film is 100% improvised, the concerts come from stock footage, and the sex comprises probably about 90% of the film.

The selling point of the film is supposed to be the “real sex” – even highlighted by the movie poster:

Essentially, what Michael Winterbottom appears to have done is to attempt to see just how much sex and nudity he could get away with by creating a 69 (get it?) minute amateur porn under the guise of “art film;” and naturally, Winterbottom fans sopped it up as a “great/important/beautiful work of art”.

From what I understand, the actress (Margo Stilley) has attempted to remove her name from this film.  I guess she must be afraid of sex too, huh?

The documentary didn’t make me feel one way or another about the use of real versus simulated sex in film, but it did make me highly irritated with the pretension and self-importance of indie filmmakers.  For one, I can fully understand when sex (real or not) is used to aid a story (i.e. Requiem For A Dream), but not when sex is used as a shock factor in a film that has no real story or a weak plot.  Lastly, I find it highly insulting for anyone, let alone a filmmaker, to assume that his consumer is closed-minded or afraid of sex just because they don’t eat up the product.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

New Years, Redux.

Filed under: Popular Culture,Seasonal — S @ 12:44 pm

I am not a very big magazine reader. I mostly pop them open when there’s a lull period at work, or when I am in a waiting room for the doctor or dentist.

When I was a young, impressionable youth, I had subscriptions to Seventeen and YM. This was mostly because I loved to read embarrassing tales from other teens – they were all the same, “my pad became exposed!”, “I embarrassed myself in front of my crush in these number of ways!” etc., etc., etc. And, although I knew the stories never changed, they filled me with hours of comedy.

I look at the “grown up” magazines in very much the same manner as YM and Seventeen – the content is always the same, the problems that need advice are always the same. The major difference is that now, instead of having an exposed pad or a gnarly pimple, women want to know “how to please my man the most” and “how you know it’s time to move in together”. However, in the New Years editions, the content is always about the brand new diet and exercise regimes, having a fulfilling sex life, the New Years’ fashion and make up trends, and et all.

Being that I only read these types of magazines at work, or waiting rooms before getting poked and prodded, some of the volumes are from years before. And yet, the relic issues are always the same as the brand new, bright and shiny ones.

Always.

This got me to thinking, why is it that New Years resolutions never change? Why is it that everything gets recycled?

If your resolution is always some lofty, nearly unattainable goal – why even bother?

Why are the resolutions always appearance or money related?

Who cares if you lose 10 pounds by Valentine’s so that you can buy a new red dress (because Red is the new Blue)? Who cares if you have that credit card paid off by January 30th, just so you can max it out again?

Why not make a resolution to broaden yourself in some way? Why not make a resolution to pick up a new hobby, accomplish something tangible – such as read a handful of classics this year or get a pen pal with whom to practice letter writing?

I thought that was the original point of the New Years Resolution – to enhance yourself, and to change for the better every year. Instead, New Years has turned into debt and starvation.

If your New Years goal is the same year after year after year, why even bother making a resolution at all?

And so, my New Years resolution is to have no resolution at all.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

First World Problems.

Filed under: Life,Popular Culture,Relationships — S @ 9:04 am

I was skimming the titles on my dashboard, as I am want to do when I log in or am bored and I happened upon this, “My brother: Cheapskate? Or just Frugal?” Reading it, along with so many of the comments, really just made my stomach turn. I wish I were able to say that I was “shocked” and “appalled” by what I read; but really, I wasn’t surprised, shocked or appalled. In fact, what I read there was about what I expected to come across.

It really is pathetic, to me, that “first world problems” such as this are seen as the utmost of importance. “My brother doesn’t spend as much money as I do!” “Paris Hilton finds god in her one week in jail!” “Which celebrity is spawning now?” “Who is the next big celebrity to become bulimic/anorexic/fat?” “Help! I need to lose those extra pounds so that I can wear a skimpy bikini and attract sleazy men!” It’s simply pathetic. In the days when Bradgelina, Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes, coke addicted Kate Moss, Lindsay Lohan, etc. are constantly in the tabloids and on front pages bombarding the general public everywhere, and shows like Super Sweet 16 are gracing the television left and right, it’s no wonder that people can lose sight of the bigger picture.

Perhaps the most disturbing comment in the “frugal brother” article was the one that said this:
One of the blessings of being part of a large family is that I have learned that one of my siblings is a jerk. I am under no obligation to associate with him. If “Mr. Frugal-Cheapskate” doesn’t behave the way you want him to, simply stop having anything to do with him.

To me, this statement epitomizes the state of the current Capitalist society. Person A is a “jerk” because he will not spend, therefore Person B will end relationship. How has it come to be that a monetary value can be placed on even familial relationships? And how do people not realize how ridiculous they are being?

In a place where people do not have family due to a number of different circumstances, how can a person be so willing to withdraw from a relationship simply because this person won’t behave in a particular fashion? How has money become so powerful that the amount you spend directly correlates to what type of person you are perceived to be?

It’s a shame that so many “first world problems” revolve around greed, selfishness, power and corruption. It’s hard to stomach a culture that is so easily influenced by these factors. Perhaps if more first world inhabitants were forced to face real problems, there’d be less instances of “my brother is cheap, what do I do?

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