Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas in the Classroom?


It's that time again, where we're decking the halls and donning our gay apparel, the time of the year where Christians celebrate the birth of Christ and Jews celebrate their festival of lights. It's also probably the busiest time of year for the ACLU, or the American Civil Liberties Union. The more nativity scenes on display and the more school Christmas programs dusting off their Away in a Manger sheet music, the more atheists and holiday-hijackers are up in arms filing complaints. And now it seems they have a doozy on their hands.

The Tea Party movement has been spreading like a wildfire and they have been popping up everywhere. Self-proclaimed protectors of the Constitution, they're organizing protests nationwide fighting big government, Obama, the stimulus package, and health care reform. Now, one of the tea party patriots is ironically pushing big government into our faces and ignoring separation of church and state as declared in the Constitution they claim to protect. Merry Hyatt, a substitute teacher in California is pushing a bill that will make singing religiously based-Christmas carols mandatory in public schools.

Now I respect everyone's rights to practice religion how, when, and where they choose. However, I also respect everyone's rights to not have someone else's religion crammed down their throats, especially in a public school system where no singular religious group foots the bill, but where everyone pays taxes to keep such facilities running. Will I stop a Christian child from reading the bible at school? No. Will I tell a Muslim they can't do a few of their five daily prayers on school grounds? Hell no. Will I tell a Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, Buddhist, or atheist child they have to sing the holiday praises to the Christian God and his son? Absolutely not.

As previously mentioned, in the US, we have a theoretical standard of separation between religion and state. Theoretical because it's rarely true but standard because it's in the Constitution. This is generally in place to keep major religions (Judaism and Christianity) from overpowering the minority (everyone else). And Christians are not happy about it. They stand firm on their beliefs that this country was founded on Christian roots and that above all else this is a Christian country, everyone else is just along for the ride. Christian activists in Cobb County, GA were able to strong arm their school district into teaching the Christian belief of creationism alongside the scientifically-driven theory of evolution. Many activists have been pushing for specified prayer times in classrooms for years. Now we're pushing for Christian hymns to be sung in school, simply because they embody the holiday of the season.

I am in no way against religion in public schools specifically, but my beef lies in the fact that when we say "allow prayer in school" or "allow holiday songs in school", we are not talking about the mosaic of religions that comprise the US and its public school systems. We are not talking about prayer times for every religion, nor are we talking about holiday programs for every religious holiday of every student. We are simply talking Christianity. Christian prayer, Christian songs. Their recommendation for everyone else? "During prayer time, if your child isn't Christian, they can put their heads down on their desks until we're done praying". Why should their time, time specified for education, be wasted while waiting for others to practice their religions? As for Christmas programs, non-Christians "can leave the classroom while the Christian students rehearse, and stay at home the night of the big show". As if kids needed one more reason to feel different, excluded, separate from their peers. For the majority of Christian parents, this is not a problem to them, because it's their religion being observed. But what if your child's education was placed on hold two or three times a day while Muslim children prayed? Or if holiday and birthday parties were suspended altogether because there's more Jehovah's Witnesses in your child's class than Christians?

Now one could argue that allowances could be made for every religion. Prayer time for all, holiday celebrations for all, teachings of all religious perspectives, etc. Some countries have mastered the art of religious compromise. Jordan's Queen Rania recently posted a photo of her son's Christmas concert via Twitter (above), presumably taking place at school. The royal family of Jordan is a devout Islamic family, but exceptions are made to observe the main holiday of the mere 6% of Christians in the country. However, here in America, this would infringe upon the rights of atheistic children in this country. And school schedules are so tight these days, teachers barely have time to teach the basics, let alone have parties for every holiday or cut time out of the busy day for various prayers.

The only solution? Keep it out altogether. School is for learning, church is for praying and singing religious songs. If you want to mix the two, send your child to a religious school or home-school them. But it's time we stop smearing the line between church and state, because no matter what is done, someone's civil liberties are going to be trampled.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pulling that Damn Gay Card


So most of us have either caught the Adam Lambert American Music Awards performance or have seen snippets of it plastered on the net. Overflowing with explicit homosexuality, the performance included Lambert groping dancers, kissing one male band member on the lips, and grinding another male dancer's face into his crotch at point-blank range. None of these acts were approved by the show and Lambert claimed they were "spur of the moment" moves. It was over the top, crude, and tasteless. In other words, a pathetic attempt to score a "shock" moment and to gain some undeserved publicity.

Now, he had to have known that such a shockfest would elicit some unpleasant responses from more conservative groups and people. ABC reported they received over 1,500 complaints regarding the incident, which, due to a live broadcast on the east coast, was not censored. Lambert claimed homophobia when ABC opted to censor the AMA performance for the west coast airing, as if he hadn't expected the backlash. We're not stupid here, Glambert. As my psych professor proclaims: Every behavior has a purpose and meets a need. Your purpose was to piss people off, and your need was to get some attention. Why so upset now that your expectations have been met?

However, the event has also garnered some unexpected responses, such as ABC's sudden cancellation of his scheduled Good Morning America concert. Many have jumped to his defense and have quickly pulled that gay card, citing homophobic motives for the television station's decision. A Glambert movement on Twitter has evoked claims of "bigotry" and "double standards" along with calls to "end homophobia", but has homophobia really taken place here?

I have to admit, sometimes I tire of people pulling the race card for whatever reasons, "everything happens because I'm this or because you're that", and its all I can do to bite my tongue when people start pulling the gay instead I blog. Now, I am not in any way a prude, but I do have my limitations, and simulating oral sex on an award show, whether it's male on male or female on male, is far beyond appropriate. Never mind the fact that this is a prime time show, that young children are still up watching, and this is airing on an extremely family friendly network; few situations on live television are appropriate for sexual subtleties, much less in-your-face borderline softcore pornography.

Likewise, in a time where gays are struggling for equal rights all over the country, I've found that those on the fence of the HRM and those just slightly to one side of it don't respond well to such extreme showings of crude homosexuality. It perpetuates the impression of homosexuals being disgusting and immoral and just looks bad for everyone involved. This inevitably hurts the cause as a whole, but those screaming homophobia seem to think if you force the world to sit down and watch a gay porno they'll let you marry. Sorry, Adam, this was not artistic, you are not Heath Ledger, and this is not Brokeback Mountain.

I also find it ironic that ABC, which is owned by Disney Productions, is being labeled as homophobic. Disney is one of the largest gay-friendly corporations in the world, allowing "gay days" at their parks where the facilities are opened exclusively to homosexuals and their families, producing many television shows that supported the gay movement ("Ellen") and even being one of the first companies to provide same-sex benefits to their employees and their partners. One Christian group even accuses Disney of being "too gay friendly" how did we make the jump from too gay friendly to homophobic? Anyone else wanting to shove that gay card back into its envelope?

Despite his "take me as I am" attitude, this flaming gay persona Lambert's taken on is a far cry from once refusing to admit he's gay and refusing to take part in a homosexual magazine publication if they made him look "too gay" (I guess he didn't want his obscenely gay CD cover to be outdone). So chill Adam, put out the flame and be a normal gaybug like everyone else.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When Rape Crimes Expire


Oh my Lord Hollywood, what is wrong with you?! Apparently every day American citizens aren't the only ones who want to forgive their favorite celebrities, celebrities are doing it too! And in the worst case scenario possible.

Just a few days ago, Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland after being on the run from the American justice system for over 30 years. Why was he evading? Because he was convicted of intoxicating, sedating, and sodomizing a 13 year old girl. Though Polanski served 42 days in a mental institution while awaiting trial, he claims he was led to believe his sentence would be reduced to time served, and he would be released. When he heard that he might actually spend a few years in jail, he fled to France.

It is unknown why US prosecutors have decided to finally track Polanski down and detain him for the 1978 crime. Perhaps someone down at the Los Angeles DA office blew some dust off an old file, perhaps it was because they had a guaranteed location to intercept him, a film festival where he would be honored. Whatever the reason, the sudden vehemence to finally pin a sentence on the convicted rapist elicited demands from all over Hollywood for his immediate release.

Celebrities such as Harrison Ford, Debra Winger, Martin Scorsese, producer Harvey Weinstein, and Woody Allen [insert pedophile joke here] all signed petitions and are leading the march in getting Polanski freed. Weinstein argues that he has contacted "everyone he knows and is not afraid to go to the Governor of California himself to fight for Polanski". Even some tabloids are taking it easy on the old bastard. Senior Editor of In Touch magazine couldn't believe the DA would pursue charges after such a long time, arguing that they had trouble "letting it go" after all these years. Let it go? What the hell? Like it was a fight over the last slice of pizza? And really, what would happen to our country, our criminal system, and justice as a whole if we simply let everyone run away because they thought they were getting an unfair sentence? However, thankfully, the Los Angeles DA has made it very clear that the Hollywood heavyweights hold no influence over their proceedings and intend to close this case once and for all.

While celebrities simply seem to be coming to their friend's defense for no other reason than blind loyalty, some people are arguing for the victim, who has publicly forgiven her rapist and asked that the charges be dropped. Though she claims that she is "over" the incident, in letters and interviews she gave years ago, she seemed to be more adverse to the media attention that the matter will bring to her door rather than a proper sentencing. Granted it's not easy to be in the public eye for such a tragedy, and no one wants to make the victim suffer more than she already has, but why should a rapist be excused from his actions? Why should he be exempt from a horrible crime simply to avoid embarrassment for the victim? What if all victims excused criminals to save themselves the trouble? Someone has to have the courage to face their perpetrators, if only to keep them off the streets for everyone else's sake.

Let us not forget: crimes do not have expiration dates. Nearly three weeks ago, a man was arrested in LA on charges of rape and murder 34 years after the crime was committed. Another man in Arizona was recently arrested for the same crime 32 years later. No one is kicking up dust over these two. Perhaps because they involved murder? Well rape has no expiration date either, and the loss of innocence, security, self-esteem, and overall well-being has no definite end for the victim. No matter how many years have passed, you are still responsible for your crime, you still have to serve your time. No matter what your stupid ass celebrity friends have to say.

Currently, Polanski is detained in Switzerland, awaiting extradition orders, but is attempting to fight the order on the grounds that he is concerned he will "be imprisoned upon return". Yeah...that's kinda what we're going for here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

American Media: Feeding the Fear

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from 9/11, nothing quite sells like fear. The fear that this horrible tragedy generated led us into a fabricated war with Iraq, the sacrifice of our personal rights and freedoms with the Patriot Act, the isolating hatred of an otherwise peaceful religious group, and consumption; buying useless products we didn’t need, we bought our way into a false sense of security.

And how does one spread fear the fastest? Through the media, of course! With lightning quick precision and the invention of the internet and internet-access cell phones, we can receive up to the minute news stories at home, work, and even on the toilet for you potty-texters and chatters. The media has been the best device any politician or corporation with an agenda could possibly ask for.

It’s obvious what agendas corporations push: making money, selling products, achieving some self-serving means. And, nothing sells quite like fear. When the world was on the brink of Y2K, people flew into an all-encompassing panic, rushing to the local stores, buying in gross, preparing for Armageddon. After 9/11, the sales of guns, security systems, even pepper spray increased significantly, and products like biohazard suits, gas masks, gloves and boots were flying off the shelves. Even today, we have been frightened and guilted into consumption for a “greener” world. Horrific images of global warming have been burned into our retinas: melting ice caps, surging oceans, dead polar bears, a future of fire and brimstone. These images have pushed Americans into an entirely new expensive market of hybrid cars, biodegradable products, organic clothing, and efficient (albeit poisonous) lighting.

Never mind the fact that technical companies had the Y2K bug under control, or that we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on security products and anti-terrorism gadgets to defend ourselves against terrorists with simple box cutters. Never mind the fact that, despite popular beliefs, only roughly 50% of scientists believe there’s a link between pollution and global warming (all the planets in the solar system are increasing in temperature, and I didn’t see ET up there with a Hummer). Don’t get me wrong, pollution is a serious matter, but is it fair to sell these outrageously priced products on environmental hysteria? Remember, if there’s something to be scared of, there’s money to be made.

Likewise, political groups have their agendas, and nothing could illustrate this better than the last eight years of Bush’s administration. With Americans still aching, devastated and angry over the 9/11 attacks, we were vulnerable and emotional. Rational thinking had flown out the window and Bush took full advantage. Throughout the day of 9/11, the news media aired repeated showings of middle easterners and Muslims celebrating the attacks on the World Trade Centers: dancing in the streets, throwing candies to children, firing guns in celebration. But it was only one video, of one town. This was not the world-wide reaction Muslims had to our tragedy. Unfortunately we never saw the Muslims who held memorials, lit candles, and cried for the victims of our country. Of course we wouldn’t. When America is about to go to war with religious extremists, we certainly wouldn’t want to see anyone from that religion showing compassion or kindness, or any signs of peace.

Supported by the building hatred toward Muslims, false reports of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq riled Americans enough to fully support a full-scale attack on the harmless country, a country Bush had truly planned to invade before he took office. When support of the war began to wane, scare tactics such as new threats of attack, new weaponry, and a lovely color-coded chart were introduced. Playing the American people like a fiddle, once we started to settle down and feel a bit safer in our homes and country, the color code rose to yellow or orange, though intelligence never supported the claims of risk. An official who worked for the Homeland Security Department recently admitted he was pressured to raise the color code when no risks were being reported. Fear of terrorists equaled support for the war. Focus on the war allowed Bush to work on gaining control of oil and natural gas lines without much notice.

Sensationalism, misinformation, and complete fabrications have overtaken our media sources, from television, newspapers, and computer screens, it’s hard to find a report that hasn’t been exaggerated or made up. The problem with this is the obvious abuse of power and trust the media is exercising. With limited sources of information and most if not all controlled by some force (conservatism, liberalism, corporate America), the American people have no choice in what they’re shown, and most media outlets have little choice in what they show. Under the Bush administration, the freedom of the press gave way to government restrictions on war coverage, with news sources falsely reporting successes and a nationwide ban on images of dead soldiers returning home. Likewise, the American people have placed an immeasurable amount of trust in news outlets, expecting the cold hard truth, nothing more, nothing less. Many blindly take information presented to them as pure fact, and why shouldn’t they? It’s the news, not reality television! Their job is to present information, not provide entertainment! It’s not about ratings…right?

While we would like to think news shows are independently run and just there as a source of information, these shows run on ratings and compete with one another. Studies have shown that the more dramatic stories seem, the more people watch. And let’s be real here, we like drama. We like excitement; we’re more likely to watch a story on a shoot-out than a local church fundraiser. Unfortunately, the more drama we like to see, the more fearful we become. Even though we want to see that shoot-out, we suddenly have the image of lurking evil embedded in our minds. Because we’re too bored to see that church fundraiser story, we’re more likely to forget there are still a lot of good people helping one another in this world.

Why can’t the media act more responsibly toward the public that relies on them so much for truth? Like any other business they are slaves to money, ratings, and the need to survive as a corporation. Since we can’t rely on the news and can’t expect an independent news source with a conscience to surface any time soon, it is our responsibility to receive the news responsibly. It is our job to question: What are they trying to make me afraid of? Why? And who will gain what if I allow myself to be manipulated with fear?

Recognizing that sensationalism and lies are an automatic part of the media and being more objective with the stories they present, we will be able to regain control of our perceptions of this world and our own existence within it. Feelings of fear and insecurity will not completely disappear, but why should we let politicians and corporations decide for us when to be afraid?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just to Add...

Nothing is bigger in Hollywood scandals right now than Kanye West's behavior at the MTV Video Music Awards when starlet Taylor Swift won her moon man. Kanye, who jumped on the stage at the beginning of Taylor's acceptance speech, declared Beyonce's video the best of the year, thereby not only stealing Taylor's moment but virtually slapping her in the face by stating, in essence, that she did not deserve her first MTV award. Taylor stood by shocked, MTV hurried to move on to the next clip, and Taylor was escorted off the stage to cry on her mother's shoulder while the audience attempted to mend the moment with a standing ovation.

Now in fashion with my previous post of America forgiving too easily, this is not Kanye's first public embarrassment. From

2004: West also stole the spotlight from country singer Gretchen Wilson at the 2004 American Music Awards when she won Best New Artist of the Year by storming out of the auditorium with his entourage during her acceptance speech. He claimed he was robbed and deserved the award, but he later apologized to Wilson.

2006: He crashed the stage at the MTV Europe Music Awards when he lost Best Video to a foreign band. He stole the mic, cursed and declared himself the rightful winner because his video cost one million dollars to make and had Pamela Anderson in it.

2007: At these MTV VMAs he lost five nominations and threw a tantrum backstage, shouting and cursing because the award show wouldn't "give a black man a chance". He vowed never to return to an MTV show...good thing he held to that.

After a massive backlash from the music world and fans alike (Pink attempted a physical confrontation with him the night of the incident before being escorted away by security, and other celebs tweeted with various obscenities toward him), Kanye is feeling the heat to apologize. While some chalk it up to the large bottle of Hennessey he brought to the show and was seen chugging, others know its just Kanye with his usual fashion of martyrdom and superiority complex. He spewed out a quick apology via his blog shortly after, but in a manner of written Tourette's, in the middle of the apology blurted out the declaration of Beyonce's video still being the best. Then he offered up a more emotional apology on Leno, somewhat alluding that his behavior is related to his pain of losing his mother. Loss of mother does not equal being an asshole two years later to a 19-year old girl. Taylor announced on The View this morning that he had not called to personally apologize to her, and magically, shortly after the show, the call came. She claimed his apology was genuine and she accepted it.

Now let's review: Biggest blunder of the year: embarrassed a young aspiring singer and moved her to tears, everyone, EVERYONE in the music industry pissed at him, MTV, the main supporter of his videos, forced him to leave the show, and his nominations, which he all lost, were booed by the crowd as his name was read. Oh yeah, I'd say its time to squeeze out some tears and make an apology. Is he sorry? Of course not. Kanye, who once compared himself to Jesus Christ, cannot handle anyone outdoing him, and apparently, his friends either. He's done this time and time again, and it's a wonder people keep loving him. No more, Kanye, you've made your bed, now lay in it. I have no doubt he will move on and continue to be successful no matter how much of a bastard he is, and this is what makes me sick about America and their unfailing love for their celebrity heroes.

P.S.: Don't think we forgot about you, Serena, and your spotlight stealing tantrums and delayed half-assed apologies...they were so in sync, I wonder if she and Kanye planned this weekend.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

We're Not Ready to Make Nice

OK so granted the fact that Chris Brown battered his girlfriend Rihanna is not exactly breaking news at this point, so why bring it up? Well, besides the fact that its not "new" news, its on-going news with constant new developments. One being his sentencing (Brown received 5 year probation, 1400 hours of community service, and a 50 yard restraining order, which is reduced to 10 yrds if they need to attend the Grammys at the same time). The other being Chris' carefully planned road back to his success. With a new album release just on the horizon, Chris has already issued a public apology (more than 5 months after the incident), has shown his pathetic "I'm so sorry" face in court, and has even posted images of himself in a youthful fantasy room painted up in a comic book decor with a child's skateboard and bike (all that was missing was the training wheels before we puked at this failed attempt to capture his childlike innocence).

Now, our concern is that he might actually succeed in burying this tragic incident and go on to make millions of dollars on this new album and continue living his life as if nothing had happened. Personally, I don't quite feel he's ready for a comeback, I think he needs to spend a little time crawling on his belly before he gets back on his feet, to know and understand true shame. However, I lack faith in the American people, or more specifically, his unfailing fan base, which consists of mainly ignorant teenage girls whose mothers haven't taught them better, countless young men who don't care which woman he hit because he's still rich and they still want to be him, and the numerous celebrities who came to his defense when he bludgeoned his girlfriend in his car.

America yearns to forgive its celebrities. After all, they seem like good people, right? What with all those charities they write checks to, and that one song or film they made that really spoke to you. We forgave Bill Clinton for getting that lecherous trouser-friendly kiss from intern Monica Lewinsky, we apparently forgave Mel Gibson after his infamous "blame the jews" drunken rant (we must've, the man made over $300 million on Apocalypto, which came out shortly thereafter), and we'll forgive this woman beating bastard too. Many forgave him before we knew what happened. Most celebrities pulled out the "he's young" excuse, insinuating that the 19 year old singer didn't know any better. My 5 year old nephew knows better, how old do you have to be to grasp the concept of "no hitting"? Others tried the "he made a mistake" route, rapper T.I. explaining that we're "all human, all make mistakes, so what right do we have to judge?" Granted we are in fact, human, and make mistakes, but when was the last time any of us made the mistake of beating our girlfriends to hell? I'm sure Charles Manson simply "made a mistake" in ordering his followers to slaughter 6 innocent people. He's human too!

Fact: domestic abusers don't simply make sudden mistakes, and you can bet your ass this wasn't the first "mistake" Brown made, it was simply the first time he got caught. Court documents cited an incident a few months prior to the beating where he got into an argument with Rihanna and threw her into a wall. Domestic abusers do not suddenly explode without warning or any signs. They cannot become successful abusers this way. Abusers must build their way up to beat downs, this is how they slowly break their partners down in order to keep and control them in the relationship. They begin with smaller, manipulative psychological blows. Perhaps they're a little controlling, or possessive, maybe they get jealous easily. Slowly they begin to isolate their partners from their friends and family. Then there might be short bursts of anger, and then small physical incidents; perhaps a light push or a grabbing of the arm. The next stage is probably light blows, harder pushes, a slap across the face, and then finally a graduation to straight up beat downs. By then the abused partner has been so worn down mentally they've come to believe they don't deserve anything better and will never get it anyways, so they stay right where they are.

Unfortunately, such was the case for Rihanna. Shortly after the incident, she was reported to be secretly meeting up with Brown again in various locations, one being P. Diddy's house. He claimed he was "doing the couple a favor" by opening his home to them where they can rejoin and possibly reconcile (Brown was photographed jet-skiing at the Miami mansion, above, appropriately flexing his muscles for the paparazzi). Diddy added he was "being a friend" to the pair. What a great friend, reuniting a woman beater and his girl for a hopeful future of more bruises and perhaps broken bones. As their reunification became more public, Rihanna withdrew from the singer, and consequently, after the restraining order was placed, she claimed she "never asked for" the order. Thank God the courts are in place to protect this woman from herself. Such willingness to continue this horrific charade and return to her abuser without hesitation only indicates exactly how long this abuse has gone on and how much time Brown really had to convince her to stay, no matter what.

Chris continues his campaign, claiming he's ready for counseling, prepared to take responsibility by cleaning up trash on the highway, and even enlisting his mother to speak out for him. Mama Brown, who ironically was also a victim of domestic abuse by Chris' father (transgenerational cycles at best?) claimed her son had never shown any signs of violence before, that he was her "little angel". She obviously didn't know about the incident three weeks before the famed dispute when her little angel got into an argument with Rihanna in a rented car, stepped out of the car, and smashed the windows with his fist.

We need to ensure that, for once in America, the bad guys don't finish first. There is no reason for this "child"'s career to continue at this point and time, and what with all those hard labor community service hours, I sincerely doubt he'll have the time to promote or tour for the album anyways. Domestic violence is no joke, and forgiveness doesn't come after a far too late apology and a little graffiti washing. You need to learn, my little friend, and methinks the best way to learn this lesson is to lose everything, if only temporarily. America, don't support domestic violence and don't support the bastards who commit it. When you walk by Brown's new album in the store, keep walking. When you spot his video or an interview on TV, change the channel. No matter the circumstances, no matter the excuses, he beat a woman, and beat her badly.

Besides, he's "so sorry" for what he's done, he spent time reflecting on his mistakes at the local club the night of his sentencing. Yeah, he's remorseful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Kids Aren't Alright

So little Tallulah Willis is growing up a little too fast, and whose to blame? Why, Perez Hilton of course! Yet again, one (sorry, two) celebrities are lashing out at the gossip glutton, this time for posting photos of Demi Moore's 15 year old daughter wearing too less of something that shows too much, and Demi (along with her partner in crime, Kirstie Alley) are hopping mad.

Little 15 year old Tallulah (yes, she's only 15, as Demi will let no one forget) was photographed at a night club wearing a very revealing top that showed an extreme amount of cleavage, but nothing else. Hilton posted the photo on his site, prompting Demi to throw slanders at him via Twitter, calling him a pedophile and accusing him of violating child pornography laws. Kirstie quickly followed suit threatening to have him "followed" and calling him a child molester.

Now, I really, really can't stand Perez and I am beyond annoyed that Demi has placed me in a position to defend this monstrous media whore, but here we go. Asking all the obvious questions that many seem to be doing lately, #1) Why is 15 year old Tallulah in ANY night club? #2) Where were you, Demi, when your 15 year old was walking out of the house wearing that shirt that showed too much? #3) Why is Demi so quick to blame Hilton for her child's and inevitably her mistakes?

Though this is not a new trend, parents in today's society seem less and less likely to accept blame for their children's mistakes. Perhaps this is the backlash of a time when mothers were blamed for everything (whether or not they were indeed, responsible). However, much like a swinging pendulum, we never quite find the healthy median we need, we simply sway from one extreme to the next, and we are currently in "Its not my fault" mode. Children have seemed to develop from lumps of clay molded by their immediate caregivers to mindless drones influenced purely by outside forces designed to victimize our children and make them do dumb, irresponsible, terrible things.

Case in point: recently a 13 year old boy and a group of friends saw a video on YouTube of a man setting himself on fire for a stunt. Finding this entertaining, the boys decided to mimic it. If you believe the victim's tale, he was an innocent bystander who made a stupid mistake. If you believe your gut, he and his friends concocted a moronic stunt a la Jackass and didn't think it through. All in all, this boy ended up with second and third degree burns. Who was to blame? You bet! YouTube! While the boy's mother chalked it up to lack of parental supervision at a friend's house, some pointed the finger at the popular video hosting site for publishing videos that influential young minds may imitate without comprehending the consequences. I blame idiotic parents who spawn dumb teenagers that can't seem to figure out gasoline and a lighter don't go together. But you can bet, in television interviews and news articles, never was the finger pointed at the victim or his mother. Why would anyone pass up a golden opportunity to blame the media and push for harsher censorship?

Now I'm not going to argue that kids are not influenced by pop culture or the media, but to a certain extent, all it takes is a little parental intervention and a dash of common sense for children to understand that what they see on TV and in movies is not real, and what they see on Jackass and YouTube is not safe. I would love more than anything for real consequences to be shown in these contexts, that children see the broken bones and blood and even death, but since its not bound to happen any time soon, it would be my job to sit down as a parent and explain to my child the reality of these things.

Likewise, when your 15 year old daughter is hanging out at a night club for any reason, it is your job to ensure she is properly dressed. If you don't want her breasts shown off all over the internet, you need to buy her clothes that cover them. If she buys it on her own, you need to be there before she leaves the house to send her skanky ass back upstairs to change, as our mothers have all done to us. If she shows up at the club wearing what she chooses, and gets photographed in it, you need to sit her down and talk to her before you start the mudslinging tweets blaming everyone else for essentially "outing" your slutty daughter. Take responsibility for your own child and your lacking parenting skills. Remember Demi: she put the image out there, someone else just captured it on film.

And I would like to add, I, as many of us do, take pedophile and child pornography claims very seriously, and to extraneously accuse someone of such crimes is horrific, scarring, and downright irresponsible, even if it is Perez Hilton. I hope Demi and Kirstie get their asses sued off for libel.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Art of Selling Out


So selling out is not exactly a new development, celebrities have been whoring out their faces and names for years advertising products they don't use for money they don't need so they can keep playing that game called fame. But when does it become too much?

Advertising companies are good at their jobs and we can't blame them for this. They utilize the Appeal to Authority to the fullest and benefit greatly. It was discovered long ago that if products were presented by figures the public could relate to, respect, and even trust, products would sell. Unfortunately these days having products sold by professionals like doctors (real docs, not those 'I'm a doctor and I approve this diet pill' docs), scientists, and experts don't appeal to the public as much as your favorite celebs. We trust Jamie Lee Curtis to sell us poop yogurt more than we trust a proctologist! Which speaks volumes for the value system of our society, but that's another blog.

Lately, I have grown tired of seeing the greed of Hollywood embodied in the picturesque stars flooding my magazines and television commercials. These celebrities get paid millions of dollars to pimp these products and their faces out all over the advert world. Do they need the money? Hell no! Only popular celebrities sell, and popular celebs are making plenty of money in their own industry! Note Forbes' top ten paid actresses of 2009: of the 10, only 2, count them, TWO have not sold their faces to any product nor their souls to any company. Oddly, of the top ten actors, only two have. I don't know if this represents a gender difference in terms of values (men don't sell out)*yeah right*, or just appeal (women sell better) *Mmhmm*. The point being, these people are not on the brink of financial ruin selling their names to feed their children. And none of them are pimping for altruism or any worthy cause other than their genuine concern for your yellow teeth and grotesque pasty make-up-less mug.

And selling out isn't happening just in Hollywood. Imagine my devastation as a Sugarland fan when an Applebee's commercial came on and their music was narrating the flurry of artery-clogging, just-a-step-above-McDonald's quality burgers. But don't worry, they're still smiling bright and white with Listerine White Strips. My final breaking point came when I stumbled upon the biggest travesty of musical sell-out, Mariah Carey. Once a diehard fan of the siren who once claimed "it was all only about the music", my heart has slowly been torn into confetti in the years since her much publicized breakdown and comeback, which, in the hands of musical connoisseur LA Reid, has been littered with Pepsi and Intel Processor ads. Now LA's latest brain child? A magazine-style CD booklet for her new album that will come with editorials and photos of the singer, and of course, advertisements. LA contacted big perfume, make-up, and clothing companies to advertise in Mariah's "CD-Mag", and they will be making cash hand over fist on this latest scheme that some predict will spread like a wildfire in the money-hungry music industry.

In stepping back and examining the larger picture, those of us without money can easily see the temptation of getting paid millions to put on some Covergirl lipstick and smile. But what about contractual obligations and the restrictions that apply? A few years ago, Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron were reminded of the shackles fastened to their wrists by their companies. Theron, who had signed on to advertise one brand of watch was photographed wearing a competitor's brand and was sued by the company she advertised for $100 million for breaking contract. Kidman nearly became the subject of a heated lawsuit with Chanel when a tabloid falsely reported she was seen buying a competitor's perfume at a store. My question: is it worth it? When you're making $20+ million a film, is that extra couple of million worth it when you can't enter a store and pick up any bottle of perfume you want without being sued? Is it worth it when you have to sift through your jewelry box and set aside the accessories you can't wear because you want to avoid a lawsuit? These celebrities have effectively sold their souls and very basic freedoms to these companies for a little more cash and face time on TV and paper.

What happened to the art? What happened to doing what you're doing because you love it and not worrying about the fame game or the money? What happened to integrity and working for personal fulfillment? Would Da Vinci have given Mona Lisa fuller lips and a bigger smile if she could have advertised long-lasting color stay lipstick? Would Shakespeare have allowed the Goodyear blimp to fly around The Globe during his productions? Imagine Mozart presented by Nokia.

I mentioned earlier, two of the top ten actresses have never sold out to any company. You may have wondered who they are? The fantastically delectable Meryl Streep, always a slave to her art and nothing more, and my love of loves, the fabulous Renee Zellweger. Now Renee has actually advertised for companies twice, once for Ford cars, and once for a combination of Mercedes Benz, Saks 5th Avenue, and Juicy Couture. However, both were in fact, pimping for altruism as both ads were in connection with Breast Cancer Research and Awareness, and as far as I know, Renee accepted no money for these campaigns. If you gotta pimp, pimp for good, not for you.

I love Renee

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Twitter Tweakers

OK so I must admit I never much liked the idea of Twitter...why? Mainly because it was popular and I labor under the fantasy that I am a non-conformist (and yes, I'm aware I'm on MySpace and Facebook and I have a worthless blog, this is why it's a fantasy). But, at least MySpace and Facebook have other applications...I can add music on MySpace, post photos, videos, blog, keep in touch with friends on these networking sites. What is the point of Twitter? So I can obsessively follow every footstep of my favorite celebs? So I can stay abreast of each mundane task of my friends' daily lives? Do I care if you're going to the doctor for something that looks infected? Am I really interested in the fact that John Mayer's penis fell asleep when he crossed his legs for too long?

Twitter feeds into many negative aspects of the internet. Number one being the ever-growing celebrity obsession. It's not enough that we have, at times, moment by moment paparazzi photos of these people, that we have TMZ lurking on every corner waiting for that crucial moment when the celebs exit a fancy restaurant so we can, in a sense, tie off and get a celeb-fix. And what's worse, these celebs are actually posting on themselves (don't complain about wanting your privacy anymore, Hollywood, you sold it out to Twitter).

Number two is that Twitter feeds into our self-serving narcissism. Do we really think we are that important that there are enough people out there who care to read about our every move? I have no delusions about the popularity of my blog, I know my words fall on deaf ears (or in this case, averted eyes), I know my place in this digital abyss. No one cares. Twitter maintains that it's a new way to keep in touch with friends and family...I have a phone. Anything worth knowing is worth calling you for. Twitter is an excuse to share those annoying details that we're frankly too embarrassed to call our friends and family members about because they'll just hang up. So someone created a website for those tedious facts. Great.

Number three could be the antithesis of number two in that perhaps you're not narcissistic at all but longing for a sense of importance. You tweet and send your 140 characters flittering through binary space hoping someone, anyone, cares enough to read. And nothing quite boosts your digital ego like gaining a follower, even if they're Twitter whores adding anyone and everyone to boost their own numbers. The internet is no place to seek out personal affirmation.

Of course, as some of you may know, I am a huge fan of Queen Rania of Jordan. I came across her during an intercultural study and am fascinated (and admittedly a little turned on) by this woman. If you haven't seen her, Google her...I'll wait, go on...........OMG ISN'T SHE HOT?! OK so anyways, this woman, going against the grain has broken away from traditional royals and busted head first into the digital world. She pulled me into YT, forcing me to create my own channel and videos, and now she's dragging me kicking and screaming onto Twitter. Now I am human and a little hypocritical, so I'm going to call myself out and admit I'm suffering from numbers 1 and 3 of the preceding points. I joined to read her posts and now I have regrettably tweeted twice. I feel so dirty. I posted on my lack-luster activities and loudly pronounced my disgust for the site (while in turn conforming and supporting the's a plague!). I will do my best to avoid it or at least tweet about significant moments (i.e. QR posted, "met the pope"...oh yeah, much better than John's sleepy little john).

If you must conform, stalk, self-indulge, or self-destruct, please keep in mind...tweet responsibly.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why is discrimination OK when it's against gays?

OK so I'm back for what has apparently become my annual post...I'm sure all the readers I don't have missed me.

The topic of discussion for the past year has been gay rights since gay marriage was legalized in the state of California, over 18,000 couples married, then the right to marry was almost immediately revoked due to the fabulous Prop 8, which is now undergoing careful examination at the state supreme court to determine it's validity.

However, what brings this ongoing topic to the forefront today is a glamorized puffed up painted on bleach bottle blonde bimbo (yay tongue twisters!) who represented the state of Cali in the ultimate reminder that looks are in fact, everything, the Miss USA pageant. Asked by famed celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, an openly gay web icon (whom no one knows how he became an icon in the first place), if she felt gay marriage should be legalized, she replied "In my country, and in my family, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman." She lost the crown. Ha! But later came to her own defense by claiming "...I see the audience would have wanted me to be more politically correct, but I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs or opinions for anything."

Does she have a point in her last statement? Yes. No one should compromise themselves to succeed, it taints whatever success may come as a result and you sold yourself out. However, I truly believe that if you are in fact, a bigot, you might want to invest some time in changing those beliefs and opinions for something a little more 21st century. And I hope those gays who do your hair and make-up don't find your "opinions" so offensive that they burn off your extensions while they're still attached to your scalp.

My question is, why is it OK to discriminate when its against gays? In a country that's so politically correct that a teen pop star can't pull her eyelids down in a personal photo without getting sued for billions, why is it OK to openly state that gays are not equal and don't deserve equal rights? And why is family, religion, and way of life a legitimate excuse for that hatred? "It's just the way I was raised". Would that excuse have flown when Mel Gibson accused Jews of everything? Does that excuse fly for the KKK, the Aryan Brotherhood? So why does it fly for anti-gays and homphobes? Why is it, when Halle Berry makes a jewish nose joke, or Rosie O'Donnell says 'ching-chong' on The View, the jews and asians are up in arms demanding public apologies and even financial restitutions, but people who are true bigots and anti-gays are not only getting away with it, but being celebrated for standing up for their own beliefs? Granted, this is America, we have freedom of speech, but there are limitations to what is decent and acceptable. And even though you have the right to say what you want, if you say the wrong thing, you're going to get your ass kicked. If a white man walked down the street with a bullhorn claiming "all blacks should be hanging from the nearest tree", he's going to get shot. If a blonde bimbo stands up and says gays are inferior human beings, half the country agrees with her and applauds her.

I often say that gay is the new black. Granted we are not enslaved and picking cotton, but drawn to scale, in the progress that we've made in this country since slavery (hey, there's a black guy in the white house) the process of discrimination has only become more civilized. "You still don't get equal rights but we promise not to tie you up and whip you", (which still happens to gays in some states). In all but two states we don't have the right to marry. In the majority of states, we don't have the right to adopt. In many states, you can lose your job if your employer finds out you're gay (but they'll find another reason to fire you so you can't sue).

When will discrimination be wrong for everyone? Sorry Miss California, you missed the point of America, and you cannot be Miss USA. You refused to compromise your beliefs and you gave up your dream for your own hatred.