Standards of Beauty… and the Beast

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The star of the upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast film Emma Watson has caught a bit of flack for a recent photo shoot she did with the magazine Vanity Fair.  Watson has been known for the past few years as an outspoken feminist and her recent photos have been met with cries of hypocrisy from some circles.  How could she take photos like these when she once criticized Beyonce for doing the same thing?  Doesn’t taking sexualized photos like these undermine her feminist message?

The short answer is no.

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Standards of Beauty… and the Beast

Off-Topic: The Conspiracy!!11!!1!!! #illuminati #fakenews

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In light of the proliferation of fake news in the past several years, I wanted to take this time to address a pernicious rumor that the conspiratorial radio show host Alex Jones is the same person as the believed to be departed stand-up comedian Bill Hicks.

Let me just spell this out as bluntly as I can.  Bill Hicks is really dead and has been for 23 years.  He is not living on as some persona he made up that he calls Alex Jones.  C’mon, people.

I mean, how is it not obvious to everyone that Alex Jones is actually Andy Kaufman?  Geez!

Off-Topic: The Conspiracy!!11!!1!!! #illuminati #fakenews

Ralph Wiggum 2020

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Back in 2008, there was a Simpsons episode called “E Pluribus Wiggum” that poked fun at the presidential primaries.  In the episode, Springfield pushed up its primaries before New Hampshire so the candidates in both parties and the press descended onto the town.  Disillusioned by the phoniness and cynicism of the presidential candidates, the citizens of Springfield elected a write-in candidate, Chief Wiggum’s eight-year-old son Ralph, as a mass protest vote.  In response, both the Democratic and Republican parties badgered Ralph in order to convince him to run for president in their party.

The absurdity of the situation is obvious, right?  Both of America’s major political parties seeking to pick not just a second grader, but this second grader as their presidential candidate is obviously ridiculous to everyone, right?

I have to pose this as a question because it feels like a lot of what would have been considered over-the-top absurd sitcommy scenarios back when The Simpsons was at its peak are now within the realm of reality if not already reality.

Who remembers The Boondocks episode “Return of the King”?  Remember the way that episode ended?

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Ralph Wiggum 2020

Pissing People Off as a Political Ideology

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 I may not show it very much on this blog, but I have a sense of humor.  As a matter of fact, my sense of humor is often very dark.  A couple of examples of my dark sense of humor were in the short animated films I created for my undergraduate and graduate degrees in college.  One of those films was about an old tiger in a zoo bitterly retelling the story of her tumultuous life and the other was about an artist’s dive into madness through his dogged attempts to impress a critic with his painting.

I got interested in dark comedy in my early to mid teens.  Around this time, I started watching South Park, I rediscovered Family Guy when it began airing again on Adult Swim, The Boondocks TV series premiered, and I started to get interested in stand-up comedians.  Some of my favorite comedians became, but aren’t limited to, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Sam Kinison, and Rodney Dangerfield.

Some of the examples I’ve brought up have found humor in subjects like murder, suicide, dismemberment, rape, bigotry, psychological abuse, addiction, etc.  Who in God’s name would look at subjects like these and find something to laugh about?

Without getting into comedy’s history or Aristotle’s definitions of it, one would have to understand where this kind of sense of humor comes from.

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Pissing People Off as a Political Ideology

A Short Reminder on Neoliberalism

I just want to quickly address something that has sticking in my craw a little bit.  Over the past year, I’ve witnessed the use of the term “neoliberalism” go beyond academia.  I’ve heard it mostly used (derisively) to describe entrenched establishment Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, etc.

Although it is an accurate description for the Democratic Party’s politics, I just want to remind folks that it doesn’t just apply to Democrats you or I don’t like, or Democrats in general.

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The two Western heads of state on this cover are the mother and father of current-day nationwide neoliberal politics, conservative icons Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US.  Neoliberalism is a term that applies to Republicans too.  This term applies to Reagan, both George Bushes, and Donald Trump and his cabinet just as much as it applies to the Clintons and Barack Obama.  The whole Republican Party has been neoliberal for a long time, especially nowadays with leaders like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell.

Just a reminder, y’all.

A Short Reminder on Neoliberalism

Represent? Pt. 2

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As frustrating as I found the political discourse during the 2016 presidential election, I have found the a lot of discourse after the election very frustrating too.  As part of the Democratic Party’s postmortem after their major loss this past November is that their platform didn’t do enough to address the economic issues of the working class and poor.  I agree that Hillary Clinton’s campaign didn’t do enough to discuss those issues, but almost everyone that has brought up this criticism has mentioned it in opposition to the identity politics that the campaign did address.  In fact, many of them have dismissed those identity politics issues as some sort of trivial “political correctness”.  Goddammit, that’s wrong, wrong, wrong!  Social issues relating to racial, gender, or sexual identity aren’t in opposition to economic issues so framing it that way is so wrong.  They’re not even separate from each other; they’re deeply intertwined.  It made me mad to see Clinton’s wealthy surrogates frame economics as a “white” issue in their criticisms of Bernie Sanders and it makes me mad to see other liberals offering hindsight critiques of Clinton’s campaign dismiss issues relating to identity as “political correctness”, especially because neither side forgot this point in their takedowns of the libertarian “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” philosophy years prior to the election.

I begin with this point to discuss how I think those of us concerned with more multicultural representation in media should approach our advocacy for it.  I think we need to deepen the discussion about it, even if we’re just talking about some cartoon character rather than a particular politician or a specific policy.  This will help us recognize all of the intersections in these issues.

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Represent? Pt. 2

Represent?

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I apologize in advance for the longer breaks I have taken in between posts.  The 2016 US presidential elections disillusioned me as a writer a lot and I don’t think that disillusionment is going to go away.  I was and still am highly offended by the victory of the troglodyte resurrection of P.T. Barnum, but I was just as offended by the cynical way that Hillary Clinton’s campaign misappropriated intersectional politics.  I’m not saying that US electing its first female president doesn’t matter, but I don’t believe such a symbolic goal justifies disregarding the valid concerns expressed towards the candidate’s checkered history within that candidate’s base, or purposely misattributing those concerns as bile from white male bigots.  Her campaign seemed more interested in marketing itself as intersectional rather than actually being intersectional.

The offensive shortcomings of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign don’t exist in a vacuum.  That campaign’s sense of entitlement and refusal towards self-reflection is endemic within the whole Democratic party.  It goes beyond electoral politics too.  I think the most dominant liberal/progressive-minded discourse around intersectional subjects has been effected by the same shortcomings the Democratic party has about them.  Where did it all go wrong?

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Represent?