Category Archives: Media
So the other night, I figure it’s about time I watch a movie. While running errands, I pick up a copy of The Town from my nearest Blockbuster. I heard it got good reviews, and it was written by Ben Affleck, who generally writes pretty good movies.
And it was a decent movie. Not something that you want to rant and rave how amazing it was, but it was alright, and mildly entertaining. I saw the ending coming up a mile away though, particularly since they really didn’t bother to develop the characters of anyone but the protagonist, his roommate/partner-in-crime, and his girlfriend. Spoilers: Protagonist gets away, roommate (who is not as attractive) dies, girlfriend waves teary good-bye to troubled dude who lied to her, but has a heart of gold. Yeah, real original, I know.
I say the movie is good, though, because it got me thinking. I like thinking. But first, The Town is a movie about some guys who work for a mysterious “Florist” who gives them tips on which armored trucks and banks can be robbed successfully. They’re all very thorough at their job—by scrubbing fingerprints, not leaving the banks with the tracers and dye packs, and never taking hostages or killing anyone they manage to stay under the radar.
Of course, they have to fuck up for the movie to have any sort of plot. Long story short, they take a hostage at a large bank heist, who one of the guys (Ben Affleck, naturally) finds a pretense to “date” in order to see if she remembers anything about her kidnappers, who were wearing a mask at the time of the heist. She doesn’t remember much (what she does becomes a plot point that disappointingly goes nowhere), and her and her kidnapper start a loving relationship based on mutual respect and honesty. I’m totally kidding about the respect and honesty, by the way.
Shit continues to hit the fan because the protagonist’s roommate, who is also the husband/boyfriend/brother (I wasn’t clear on the details) of the girl the protagonist is sort of kind of fucking on the side (who might have a daughter by him, and doesn’t know he’s seeing the hostage that doesn’t know he’s her kidnapper, oy!) is basically a loose cannon, and does dumb shit like shoot people at robberies, take hostages, and kill people for funsies.
Basically, they fuck up a huge heist, and everyone dies but the protagonist and his girlfriend. The fate of his fuckbuddy/baby mama is unknown, but we’re supposed to think she’s a dumb whore or whatever because she sold them out to the police. Of course, the police were threatening to take her kid away from her if she didn’t cooperate, she just found out that her “boyfriend” has been seeing someone else, and oh, she lives with a couple of violent, unhinged bank robbers. But she’s a bitch that ruined their brotherhood. Whatever, right?
Anywho, the plot is fairly dumb. But it’s well-acted, even if the characters are basically impossible to relate to. Basically everyone is either (a) dumb, (b) an asshole, or (c) a dumb asshole. That’s the problem with 99% of movies though, so I’m going to give The Town an 8 out of 10, because it kept my interest without wanting to make me roll my eyes in exasperation until the very end, and only then did I roll them. I didn’t even roll them hard either (high praise!).
But what really struck me is how much time and money people waste protecting the money of rich fucks who own banks. Seriously, who cares if dudes rob a bank? Yeah, I’m a dirty pinko commie, what the fuck do I know, but let’s face it: American banks don’t give a shit about anyone but their CEOs and shareholders. So a bunch of schmucks from the Boston projects make off with $3 million, who gives a shit? So a CEO might get a $5 million bonus that year instead of $6 million. Yeah, boo hoo, right?
I get why dudes want to rob a bank. It’s money: you have it, or you die. It takes money to live, money to live well, and money to do anything worth doing. You live in some shit-heap, you have a crappy education, and no daddy to get you a job at his fancy firm (for reals, the protagonist’s dad was totes in jail and shit for—get this—robbing banks), so you steal to get by. I gather that most petty criminals who steal shit might stop stealing shit if, I don’t know, they could make an honest living and afford what needs buying, you know? Of course, it’s the petty criminals who steal things like cigarettes, money for their addictions, and food that get to jail, while rich dudes get to live the high live, snorting stolen blow off the backs of underage trafficked girls in a house paid for by what amounts to slave labor and employment law violations.
Unsurprisingly, what happens in the end of The Town is pretty mundane: poor dudes all die trying to take shortcuts to the high life (protip: which is basically impossible to obtain, by the way, since the game is rigged by the ones who are winning it).
So, now I’m thinking, “what kind of asshole shoots a dude for robbing a bank?” Seriously, why the fuck would anyone use deadly force to defend the property of rich douches that have enough stolen cash to play high-speed bumper cars Lambos for funsies?
Which is hilarious, in a LOLSOB kind of why when you think about how much time and money poor slobs (dude, it’s not like policemen get paid all that much to take bullets for the property rights of rich dudes) spend defending the grotesque wealth of the haves from the have-nots. Because I guarantee that those haves consume the lion’s share of public funding of law enforcement, all the while moaning from their gilded toilet seats about how those horrible brown people are taking our jobs and how taxes are evil and they shouldn’t have to pay a penny per every eleventy million dollars they earn/steal to do shit like keep people from dying from preventable diseases or starvation.
So, now back to the The Town. I figure I was supposed to get the message that robbing banks is not good for your life expectancy, but all I got from it was fuck rich people and the deluded assholes who would die and kill for them and their grotesque entitlement to the world’s wealth.
One thing I like to do is be meta. I’m meta like woah. You see that shit over there? I can relate it back to five social trends you’ve never heard of, then I’ll make a sarcastic joke about it tomorrow. In other words, I’m a kill-joy and I point out how deeply unoriginal shit is.
Know what is unoriginal? “Darkier and Edgier” plotlines. In the space of time between the ages of twelve and eighteen, shit gets real. We trade in cartoons and cute time-wasters for two-hour long epic movies about violence, violence, sex, how cool shit can look with CGI, boobies, violence, and more sex. If you follow this completely transparent and overdone formula, you’re guaranteed a high-grossing block-buster or an action movie so predictably awesome that the Oscar committee will totally suck your dick.
In short, as we age it seems that we demand our entertainment “age” with us. We want it to be more “mature”. What results is anything but. Advertising usually promises that reboots of old classics will be edgier and darker. They’re supposed to be more cynical, and acknowledge the complications and moral ambiguities of adult life. But time and time again, this isn’t what results. What we typically get is pure escapism: immature, fantastic, and utterly decadent satisfaction of our most infantile impulses. Jungian psychoanalysts could have a field-day with this shit.
As with Michael Bay’s clusterfuck of the Transformers reboot, the finished product is something that takes out the emotional and complex parts of the plot-lines that we all loved as children and replaces them with asinine dick jokes that only impress the likes of Beavis, Butthead, and their cabal of like-minded dude bros.
Sure, there’s movies that do touch on the many nuanced difficulties of adult life. These used to be Oscar-bait, but now they’re typically side-lined into the category of “indie” and never heard of again. For instance, the indie flick 500 Days of Summer offers a very realistic portrait of the life of a relationship, and includes a meaningful ending far more poignant than the typical rom-com. Instead, accolades are now showered upon movies like The Departed — an orgy of mobster violence — Avatar — a CGI masterpiece of a guilty liberal white fantasy — and The Blind Side — the story of a rich white woman and her large black plot device.
Sometimes, a plot will get a makeover by having several bad things happen to characters that are totally unlikely. These bad things are then used to force emotional tension and ham-handed character growth. A perfect example of such a Deux Angst Machina is the latest Spider Man’s veritable orgy of super villains packed into a single movie, or basically every disaster movie ever made. This may or may not be coupled with the usual Stuffed in A Fridge plot line, where the death or rape of a character, usually female — seen briefly or never on camera — is used to facilitate the character growth of another. Take Avatar, in which the male protagonist is motivated to go to Pandora because of the death of his twin. The twin, on the other hand, and his mourning for the loss of such an important figure in his life, is never fully developed. Actual emotional responses to death that don’t inspire gratitude displays of violent heroic angst — such as, you know, actually crying — have no place in “adult” media. Only fags cry.
Probably the most offensive manifestation of the larger phenomenon is the tendency to simply turn the sex, violence, misogyny, racism, and homophobia up to 11 and forget to hire a good writer. Bay’s Transformers is probably one of the best examples of this, but others include women-hating gun-happy action fests like Wanted, Dude Bro comedies featuring Seth Rogen, Michael Cera, Judd Apatow, or Tucker Max, and every single James Bond movie ever made.
In the end, what separates adult entertainment from family-friendly fare is the level of maturity. If it features even slightly plausible writing, advocates some sort of positive ethics, and requires protagonists that are more than one-dimensional manifestations of massive self-entitlement — chances are that you’re either watching a movie rated no higher than PG-13 or some sort of artsy indie flick. If the bigotry is palpable, the plot nonexistent, the gore plentiful, the CGI gratuitous , and every single cast member that isn’t white, male, and heterosexual is used as a plot device, villain, or reward, then you’re watching a “mature” and “adult” movie.
Bottom-line: when you’re a kid, you’re expected to work hard, play fair, and learn things. When you’re an adult, you get to do whatever the fuck you please, cuss a lot, have sex with unrealistically good-looking women who only exist to further your shallow development or reward you for your self-entitlement, and reduce moral dilemmas to just doing incredibly illegal and totally immoral things because they look really cool.
Note: This post contains big spoilers for a movie that you probably shouldn’t want to see anyway.
Nobody caters to the easily nauseated. Here at XXBlaze, I like to pride myself at catering to really unpopular abnormalities. Being about as abnormal and unfit for civilized society as I unwillingly can seems to be my niche. According to the powers that be, there really isn’t a bigger crime against nature than being a educated opinionated fat gay woman.
So right here, I’m declaring a new series. I’ll call it, “Movies to Throw Up To”. I figure with the popularity of playlists such as “Songs to Have Heterosexual Church-Sanctioned Sex To” and “Songs to Get in Shape So as to be Suitably Fuckable To”, I might ride their coattails a little. In the name of feminism, squeamishness, and informing the public of what to avoid, you understand.
Right, so Movies to Throw Up To. First up is the movie I reluctantly saw this Halloween: Paranormal Activity. When it comes to riding coattails, this flick has got it in the bag. Cashing in on the popularity of other really fucking stupid movies like Cloverfield and The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity captures suspense with a camera technique I’d like to call “I paid $10 to see a movie costing a more money than I’ll ever see that looks like it was shot by a $50 camera attached to a run-away washer”.
In other words, the movie is much more likely to make you physically sick than to scare you.
So like Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity required that I take several short breaks in the middle of the film to step out into the hall. Not because it was too scary or intense, you understand, but because I was really fucking nauseous and had to go learn over a trash can until I figured I was fine enough to return to indulging my masochistic taste in cinema.
But unlike Cloverfield, I actually made it through the entire movie. I really wish I hadn’t.
Paranormal Activity reminds me of being eight years old at a slumber party and telling creepy stories to friends to see who would get more freaked out. We’d sit around in our Barbie sleeping bags and tell stories about white vans and creepy coincidences. Funny enough, all those stories were total bullshit and the product of sugar binges and reading too much Goosebumps. We were all more frightened of a totally innocent white van parked by a telephone pole than we were of the dude that showed us his penis in the public library.
Being a big girl now, I’m a bit more concerned with 40-year old sex offenders than demons and ghosts. I wish I could say that the rest of the world shares my good sense of priorities, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Thus, the thriving popularity of movies like Paranormal Activity: movies that don’t scare you once you grow the fuck up and figure out that demons are the dudes who run the fucking world or who fly under the radar because the people they hurt are just blamed for being victimized.
Which brings me to my next point: that douche Micah, Kate’s, the protagonist’s, boyfriend.
The scariest part of the movie, aside from how close I got to throwing up the chili I had for dinner, was how much of an unsympathetic misogynist asshole Katie’s live-in boyfriend is. She tells him to stop doing something, he does it anyway. She pleads with him to do things her way, and he blows her off. She tells him to turn off the camera when, he keeps it on. He even tries to keep it on while they have sex.
Katie quickly figures out, however, that the demon that has been haunting her since she was eight is angered by a dude stepping in on his territory. Because, ya know, women are totally the property of whatever paranormal shit is out there or a dude. Match-up: Demon From Hell versus Misogynistic Boyfriend. Who will win the ownership of a vagina? Very original. My third favorite part is when Micah gets pissed off at the demon and starts yelling about “his house” and “his girlfriend” and how he’s “going to take care of it”. Yeah dude, you’re going kick the ass of something that doesn’t have a corporeal form. Good luck with that.
Obviously, everything that Micah does to “take care of it” pisses the demon off. Katie doesn’t want him to do it, he does it anyways, the demon gets angry and does more crazy shit when they sleep. There, I just ruined the plot of the whole movie. You’re welcome.
Coming in a close second for my favorite scene is when Micah gets pissed off (good acting dude: varying between ineffectual pissed off he-man and dismissive surly ineffectual he-man for two hours) at Katie because she tells him that she’s really mad at him for getting an Ouiji board, after everyone told him not too and he promised Katie that he wouldn’t, that she needs to “go upstairs and hang out with her demon boyfriend”. Silly bitches, putting their needs and safety above listening to the Man of the House. They should just go upstairs and hang with the demon that wants to kill them, if they’re going to be uppity like that and think that they know better about how to deal with the shit that haunted them for like, most of their lives.
So Katie goes upstairs and slams the door. The camera shuts off, then turns on again to a scene of Micah holding Katie on the floor of the upstairs hall while she cries and tells him she’s sorry. He replies, “it’s not your fault”. Which, funny enough, it isn’t. See, the demon has been haunting Katie since she was eight. It even burnt down her childhood home. This demon is Serious Business. All the demon did, until Micah got his camera, against her wishes, and put powder on the floor to track its footprints, against her wishes, and trying to contact it with an Ouiji board, against her wishes, is burn down a house and breathe on her while she slept. Creepy dangerous shit, you understand, but not anything close to what it’s been doing now. Probably because Micah thinks that his pride and chest-beating he-man antics are more important than not pissing off the thing that you can’t hurt but has really evil intentions towards someone you supposedly love. To get back at Katie for involving her boyfriend, the demon basically does creepy shit every single night instead of just sometimes, which escalates to leaving supposedly irretrievable mementos from her childhood burnt-down home around her house and dragging her down the hall while she sleeps and biting her.
Instead of this being a good indication that Micah really ought to listen to his girlfriend and stop doing shit she knows will piss the demon off, he gets it into his head that’s it’s a good idea for him and Katie to leave the house. Even though the medium (whom he predictably thinks is a quack), Katie, and her best friend all told him that the demon will just follow and get more pissed off. Just like it has been following her since she was little. Micah doesn’t listen though, because he’s smarter than the quack physic and all those silly bitches with their vaginas. He packs up, and prepares to leave the next day when Katie stops protesting.
And here comes my favorite part of the movie: the end. I loved the end because I got to stop watching the totally asinine antics of the Man Who Hasn’t Got a Fucking Clue through the lens of a camera attached to some sadistic machine hell-bent on making me as motion sick as possible.
Additionally, the end was sweet because Micah finally shuts the fuck up. Yep, the Demon From Hell figures that Micah has stepped in on his territory for the last time. As they sleep, it possesses Katie, makes her stand over her boyfriend and watch him as he sleeps for three hours, then walks her down the hall, down the stairs, and makes her scream for her boyfriend.
Micah, like a fucking champ, wakes from a dead sleep with an instant woody at the idea of saving his damsel, vaults over the bed, and runs down the stairs. There’s a bunch of screaming, and then silence. Then, in the only part of the movie that made me jump, something is thrown at the camera, knocking it off the tripod.
That something is Micah’s lifeless body. Fuck yeah. And then Katie just kinda stands there, with her blood-stained pajamas, walks over and calmly smells him. Apparently being possessed by a demon makes the boyfriend you just killed smell good. Okay. Then she makes the patented creepy horror face, lunges at the camera, and everything goes dark.
So I stumble out of the theater, glad to be able to stand outside in the cold night air and let the combined motion sickness and the nausea of the totally asinine acting and plot fade. Just for an idea of how dumb the plot was, I spent at least 80% of the movie with my eyes closed trying not to throw up, and an additional 10% outside the theater and I didn’t miss a goddamned thing.
After returning home, I figure that I’m going to do this post. I sit down to do it, but as I start to type the first part of it, I am totally stumped on how to spell “Micah”. So I pull up IMDB and look it up.
What really killed me, and just hit home how much I fucking hate this movie, is that the most discussed thing in the movie’s forums was not the shitty camera angles. It wasn’t what a big stupid douche Micah is. It wasn’t that I was exchanged $10 for a ticket and an assumption of being entertained and got ripped off.
Nope, it was how “fat” the actress who played Katie was. Yep, the woman who walked around in barely-there pajamas for most of the movie, with nary a love handle or Buddha belly in sight, is a fucking whale. She’s just such an offense against the patriarchal standards of fuckability that the entire board is buzzing about what a goddamn fat ass she is.
Moral of the story: you can attach a camera to a washer and make a good portion of your audience want to hurl. You can make your secondary character an annoying macho butt nugget. You can cash in on the ever-so-popular horror genre of “hurting women for funsies”. You can forget to include that thing called a plot.
But all that anyone will notice is that the actress isn’t a size 0.
The verdict: I give this movie a 10 out of 10 on the nausea scale for finding a way to make me simultaneously physically and mentally sick, even an hour after I leave the theater. Well done.
Fuck you Disney Princesses. Out of all the things in my anti-feminist childhood, I have to say that I dislike you the most. Your perfect hair and submissive mannerisms were never the most sexist thing on the block, but you certainly were the most influential. Even though I found that I had a hard time relating to most of you, you still stood alongside Barbie as the most available commercial female role models. You were pretty, nice, and got to have magical adventures. You always fulfilled the things demanded of you by society eventually, and got together with a very charming handsome prince. Or at least you snagged a man who eventually became a prince or someone of equal importance.
To a hopelessly nerdy tom-boyish girl who related to books better than she related to girls and boys her age, you represented an ideal that I know I ought to meet, but found myself unable to. My hair was always too short, my figure too stocky, and the boys seemed to prefer girls more like you than like me. Since having a boyfriend was the best indication of social standing by the time I hit nine, I was equal parts envious and awe-stricken. I even dressed up as both Jasmine and Pocahontas several times each for Halloween, and lovingly kept the costumes even when I grew out of them. Today, I try to tell myself that at least I was unconsciously progressive enough as a child to choose the non-white and more rebellious princesses as my favorites, but the fact still remained that I looked up to you, the childhood scions of anti-feminist lore.
You taught me a lot of things; most of which were incredibly damaging. You taught me that it’s only appropriate to look up to men, and that all older women are inevitably evil, unless they are fairies. You taught me that mothers are useless, and better off dead, and that fathers are well-meaning tyrants that must be defied in small ways because they were understandably hesitant to hand over their power over you to another man.
You taught me that I must be nice to even the meanest of men, in case they were a prince and my kindness and resemblance to a door-mat could redeem them. If they were genuinely mean, I ought to know instinctively, or at least suffer silently until a prince rescued me. If I tried to rescue myself, I would inevitably end up in more trouble. You taught me that good girls always enjoy housework, caring for children, and sacrificing themselves for the sake of a man.
You taught me that that sacrificing myself for the sake of men may involve using my sexuality to seduce villains that I want absolutely nothing to do with, putting my life on the line, allowing myself to be imprisoned and abused, and giving up all the hobbies and talents that defined who I was. Those hobbies and talents didn’t really matter anyways, because they were only bargaining chips for snagging a prince, who cared more for my physical beauty then anything I was capable of or enjoyed doing.
You taught me that men knew better than me, even if they were abusive, angry, immature, and foolhardy. You taught me that the most important thing in a man is his legacy and royalty, his physical attractiveness, and his charm and wit. If he wasn’t royal, he must fake it, even if a show of material things didn’t really impress me. For a prince charming must buy me, even if I don’t wish to be bought. A proper man, you see, always pays for me, because women are objects.
You taught me that men go out and do things, and that I’m just there as a prize to be won or a silently suffering support system who is always waiting, never doing.
You taught me that I must wait for “true love” and never waste myself on short but enjoyable flings. True love was always the product of a simple kiss, by which I could determine the course of the rest of my life. You taught me that there was no divorce, no uncertainty, and no break-ups. A princess stays with one man, the first man, forever. You taught me that a whore moves on and does what she think is best for herself. A whore leaves a man who is abusive and angry instead of sacrificing her comfort and pride to turn him into a prince. You taught me that all men are redeemable by the charm of my physical beauty, naïve optimism, and willingness to put up with anything.
You taught me that if I somehow erred and found myself with a man who was not redeemable, it was because he was a villain that I must stay with until a true price comes and saves the day. If said prince never came, it was because I was not sufficiently beautiful and forgiving to the man I was with, and that if I tried harder, he would stop being so abusive. You taught me a that a good girl is never single, and never happy being single. Her entire life revolves around men and self-sacrificing relationships.
You taught me that good men will overlook me if I’m poor, too homely, or insufficiently wealthy. I must wait for someone to grant me with the material objects to fake being wealthy instead of seeking them myself. You taught me that if a prince only notices me if I doll myself up and meet his expectations of womanhood, that he isn’t a materialistic shallow jerk, but that I must follow certain rules and never question status-quo in order to be happy and taken seriously.
You taught me that men blinded by their incredibly lofty, but never wrong or shallow, standards for the opposite sex, and are therefore easily manipulated by the physical beauty of evil women, and thus that I must “save him” by being even more physically beautiful than them. You taught me that if I was richer or more beautiful than a man, that my wealth and power and standards of physical beauty were erroneous, and that I should be happy to marry a thief or someone cursed or disfigured. You taught me that I must meet his standards, whether he is a prince or a pauper, and that his standards are always right, and mine are always wrong.
You taught me that a princess is never gay, fat, anything less than absolutely stunning, or a tomboy out of anything other than desperation. You taught me that inter-racial relationships are only allowable if my prince is conquering or colonizing my hopelessly backwards and savage ethnicity; an ethnicity that is always somehow more sexist than his. You taught me that only then is it fine if I wish myself to be his “prize” for showing the savages the benevolence of the white man.
You taught me that good girls only marry for love, but somehow inexplicably only fall in love with conquerors, princes, and men who could suitably become royalty.
Disney princesses, you taught me a lot of things, but never how to be true to myself. You never taught me how to love my mother or have good female friends. You never taught me how to look up to anyone who didn’t have a penis. You never taught me how to be successful by not waiting for the heavens to open up and hand things to me because I was beautiful or because I existed only to make myself beautiful. You never taught me how to deal with what I was given instead of wishing for a man to save me and bring me back into line with the status-quo. You never taught me how to fall in love with someone I was actually attracted to or someone that was good for more than trying to save me when I was perfectly capable of saving myself. You never taught me how to say no to anyone. You never taught me how to watch my ass, protect my self-esteem, and judge standards for myself. You never taught me how to think for myself. You never taught me about things that mattered like politics, ethics, or anything else but fashion and a narrow definition of love. You never taught me to get out of tight spots by my own wit and force of will. You never taught me that my sexuality wasn’t a bargaining tool, a prize to be won, or the only thing about me that was worth two shits.
Out of all the things you didn’t teach me, you didn’t teach me that being a chubby bookish gay girl who didn’t take shit from anyone was perfectly okay. You did teach me, however, that I was a freak of nature. You taught me that I ought to put down the books, shut my mouth, and take up putting on makeup and doing laundry as my hobbies instead. You taught me that I should fumble my way through several ill-fated abusive or uncomfortable relationships with men instead of looking for love where I was endlessly more likely to find it. You taught me that my body was an unruly tool, and that by viciously controlling it with eating-disordered behaviors and self-hatred I might become a woman worth anything but scorn.
But you only succeeded in teaching me these things because you weren’t alone. You were a bullhorn in a room of sympathizers. There were healthier less damaging whispers around the outskirts, but you and the like-minded denounced them as social pariahs, sexual deviants, mentally disturbed, and political extremists. As a girl desperately just wanting to disappear and fit it, I never really had a chance. Neither, I gather, did the majority of my peers.
In short, fuck you Disney princesses. I will not pay to see your regressive movies, I will not look up to your flawless beauty-standard-compliant faces. Additionally, I will live my life telling everyone who will listen that we’ve got it all wrong. You and your clique of impossibly beautiful peers are the ones that ought to be silenced and ostracized. Not me, and not all those other beautiful and achingly real girls who desperately need to be heard and appreciated for how they are, not scorned for how they fail to be just like you: the perfectly useless, silent, submissive princess.
As anyone with an internet connection will know, the last week has been a series of failures when it comes to male celebrities breaking the law and treating women and girls like shit. Everything I could say about Polanski, however, has already been said.
With Polanski, however, it seems like few people outside of Hollywood are engaging in overt rape-apologetics. The people I happen to run into on a daily basis are mostly in agreement that Polanski is a filthy fucking rapist and that the portion of Hollywood signing that “Free Polanski” petition have all lost their fucking minds.
So, I at least have some faith in humanity.
Although it is very shaken when it comes to Letterman. I was always of the opinion that he was a swarmy asshole. Most men in power tend to be, and there were no indications that he was an exception to the rule.
Thus, the news story about how he slept with many female staffers in his long tenure as a talk-show host didn’t surprise me at all. Hey, another famous male abusing his power to harass, rape, or exploit women. In other obvious news, the sky is blue. I bet you would have never guessed that! What really bugged me about the story, however, wasn’t really that Letterman was an unadulterated douchebag of the highest order. It’s the public reaction to his revelation that got my panties in a twist, so to speak.
Unlike Polanski, most people seem to have filed Letterman’s shenanigans either under the “ha ha, that’s funny” category, or moved right into “bitches blackmail men because they didn’t get what they wanted out of seducing them, the whores”.
And the second assumption bugs the ever-living shit out of me. It’s like the entire world has no idea of what power imbalances are created when your boss is a very famous man hell-bent on seducing you, or the fact that sexual harassment in the work place is illegal.
Because that’s what Letterman did: he sexually harassed, coerced, and exploited the women and men under him. He turned the staff of his entire show from the meritocracy it was supposed to be into a harem of peons he assumed were only there to assuage his massive self of self-entitlement and/or his prick. He deprived women of the positions they’ve earned because they wouldn’t sleep with him or he wouldn’t want to sleep with them. He deprived men of the same, because sleeping with him was not an option, and that seemed to be the most sure-fire way of climbing the ranks quickly.
In short, Letterman poisoned the well. He forever twisted the fair and equal power structure that he was legally and duty-bound to uphold into whatever suited his overwhelming sense of narcissism.
And when he revealed what he did to the public, they laughed.
They laughed like it was not a big deal. Like he wasn’t responsible or that an offense against morality hadn’t been committed. They laughed like every powerful man is entitled to behave as such because such men have “earned” the right to viciously undermine fairness and exploit everyone around them, especially if the exploited are women.
Honestly, that scares the crap out of me. What Letterman did isn’t rare or uncommon. It’s very prevalent. People in power use that power, and the threat inherent when they have that power and other people don’t, to do all sorts of unconscionable shit. It’s an endless cycle of cronyism and exploitation/corruption that irrevocably taints most power structures.
Yes, most. Corruption underlies most hierarchical structures in most societies. Letterman’s actions are just more evidence of the same. They’re not a laughing matter.
For shit’s sake, when are people going to stop laughing at corruption and demand some goddamn accountability? Whether it’s Polanski or Letterman or George W. Bush, it should be really fucking obvious by now that most people in power behave as if that power gave them carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want.
Furthermore, this shit doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When Letterman uses how well women please his cock to determine his advancement policies, people who deserve it don’t advance. When Polanski uses the promises of fame to rape girls, girls don’t have a safe way to get fame or trust those that could help them achieve it. When George W. Bush uses how much contractors are chummy with his interests to determine who does what in Iraq, billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars just disappear and resurface in generous Halliburton compensation packages or are spent on mercenaries that slaughter civilians.
When corruption earns laughter rather than moral culpability, corruption flourishes. It undermines every concept of fairness and justice we think we have. It poisons the well and engages in behavior like rape, sexual exploitation, or outright murder.
So when you think of Letterman, don’t laugh. What corruption does isn’t funny. And it’s about time that we stopped laughing at men who abused power, and started demanding some fucking accountability.
South Park is my guilty pleasure. I remember turning the volume down really low at night so that I could watch it without my parents hearing. It was so deliciously foul—and it horrified my parents. What wasn’t to like?
Recent episodes have rekindled that warm feeling that deliberately foul and excessive toilet humor inspires. I thought that it really couldn’t get much better than when they parodied the bailout by turning the Treasury Department into a gaggle of idiots.
I suppose I was wrong.
For April 1, South Park released it’s newest episode, “Eat, Pray, Queef”. Which is exactly what it sounds like: 30 minutes of jokes about the sound air makes when it is expelled from a woman’s vagina.
In the episode, the men of South Park overreact to the queef, and the women in their lives that find it funny. Culminating in a Senate hearing in which a female senator queefs a monologue to Roadwarrior, the funniest part of the show was how my brother, who watched it with me, didn’t think queefing was as funny as I did. It made him a tad uncomfortable.
Most astounding though, By the end, when the men ban queefing, one of the female characters has a monologue that is undoubtedly the most feminist thing I’ve ever heard on television, bar none. My jaw literally dropped. It wasn’t tongue-in-cheek, it didn’t reference bra-burning or any of the other anti-feminist bullshit memes.
Even more hilarious is how disturbed by the episode fans are on IMDb and elsewhere. I came across numerous posts about how queefs are “disgusting” (but apparently a talking piece of shit isn’t) and how vaginas are gross and look like “gun shot wounds”. Rather than just say that they didn’t like the episode though, numerous viewers gave it a 0/10 when asked. Me thinks this might be because they’re just mad that South Park pulled off a joke at their expense. I have to say, the reaction of people to this episode is even funnier than the episode itself. When pushed, the commentors will eventually resort to excuses such as “vaginas are gross” or “feminism is stupid”. Excuse me, wasn’t the point of satire to laugh at yourself? After being bogged down by the minuta of the bailout, an episode on how stupid it all was made me laugh at myself for taking it so seriously. Would it fucking kill people to laugh at themselves instead of other people? Apparently not. Which is extremely funny in a very dark way.
All in all, South Park still isn’t outwardly feminist, and still does have its problems (jokes about rape anyone?), but it was still the most feminist thing I’ve seen on television, for a general audience, ever. How sad is that? Even sadder, how many men are complaining on the IMDb boards about their butthurt that sexism isn’t funny? Way to get a joke, morons.
My mother is the queen of bad television. Thus, it was no surprise to find her watching American Idol when I finished my shift tonight. The season kicked off in our hometown, so it was amusing to watch Seacrest suffer in the Phoenix sun.
As usual, the judges made it plain that they’re the same old sexist, homophobic, fat-hating idiots. Fat girls were demonized. A gay teenager with an amazing voice was told that his voice didn’t match his “look” (you know, that gay look. Ewww homo cooties!). And last, but not least, we had this:
Yes, that is a girl fully made up in a bikini and high heels. What is she doing? She’s auditioning for the squeaky clean American Idol contest on the most conservative network ever, FOX!
Oh silly, when I say FOX is conservative, I don’t mean in the sense that women need to be silent and covered. I mean in the sense that women need to be seen, belittled, objectified, and treated like meat:
It’s pretty plain that the girl is a decent singer, but not fantastic. If anyone who wasn’t a perfect fit for the pornoriffic model of “femininity” tried to audition in a bikini, they would be demonized for being fat and ugly, regardless of their voice. What happens here, though, is Simon and Randy—pigs that they are—immediately voice their approval and give her a yes.
Why? Well, she pleases them. She is sexually attractive and willing to bare it all for men in charge; what’s not to like? This sends a horrendous message. American Idol is an extremely popular show, and one of its biggest target audiences is teenage and preteen girls. The last thing they need is another message telling them how sex appeal is more important than personality, talent, and their ambition.
Witness the how newer judge, Kara DioGuardi, has to qualify her critique of her with the disclaimer, “I’m not saying this because you’re a pretty girl…” Because, honestly, we all know that women are just a collection of holes, sexy fat deposits, and beauty products. If one woman is critiquing another women, it must be because she’s hotter than her and she’s jealous!
Not that Kara is the hero of this: far from it. After Bikini Girl rudely throws the judge’s critique back in her face (Simon and Randy laugh, because they don’t care about people disrespecting the female judges after they’ve already made up their minds: you please my dick, you’re in!)—a huge no-no of talent competitions—Kara calls her a “bitch” and asks her to “come back naked next time”. Very nice. At this point, I’m cringing, knowing that now every man in America thinks that the new judge is a bitter old harpy, and deciding whether or not to masturbate in the bathroom during commerical over the thought of them having a cat fight.
Poor Paula, on the other hand, just sits there and says nothing. She interjects a time or two that the girl isn’t up to par, but she’s quickly shut up by Randy and Simon’s great approval of masturbation fodder and Kara’s self destructive display of her own brand of misogyny (yeah, calling another woman a bitch is not cool, even if she is asking for it).
In the end, the girl goes to Hollywood, even though two of the four judges were against it. Why? Well, because teh menz are in charge and teh menz want more boner material! Now, before we cut to commercial, let’s play the parts where you get to see Bikini Girl’s ass twice more, followed by a montage of her jumping up and down.
Right there, in five minutes, is about the sickest, most destructive sexist message I think I’ve seen all week. Talent is meaningless. Just show the men in charge your boobies and that’s all you need to do! Who cares if you insult the female judge of your audition? Who cares if two out of your four judges don’t like you? Hey, you’re hot, and teh menz approve! Jump up and down some more for the camera. That’s a good girl.
Now, before all you women out there think that you can go out and win American Idol if you just take it all off, check yourself. Do you look like a porn star? Are you perfectly groomed and possess a Dude Nation approved body? Just good old self-confidence and vocal talent alone will not do. Make sure that you’re perfectly attractive, vapid, and willing to crush your own will to reflect everyone else’s, or the sexpot act will crash and burn. You see, it’s not about enjoying your body, it’s about how much others enjoy your looking at your body. What, like you expected some respect and recognition of your humanity?
As long as you please Simon and Randy’s dicks, you can even get away with being a subpar singer and insulting your judge. FOX wants you to know, women and girls of America, that’s not about talent, poise, ambition, intelligence, and individuality. You are a woman, and therefore the only things that matter are how hot you are, how far you’re willing to go to please other people with your body, and if the men in charge like it when you twirl around and show off your ass.
Now, remind me again: why is feminism needed?
Yes and no. It’s true that things like the rape culture or horrible exploitation of women around the world look obviously more dire and disgusting than the American beauty double standard. It’s also true that they ultimately result in more death and abject misery.
But this sort of brush-off of the beauty double standard entirely misses the point: sexism is pervasive and maintained by things as meaningless as grooming regimens. The reason women are required to wear makeup, and men are not, and the reason why women own less than 1% of the world’s wealth while working two-thirds of the world’s working hours—paid and unpaid—are exactly the same. That reason is patriarchy, sexism, bigotry, and chauvinism. Whatever the name, it’s all just hatred of women.
Talking about make-up is a big no-no among the liberal feminist crowd. Even those that are not adherents of “SexyFun Feminism” ask those man-hating radical dykes to lay off their precious powders lest they be painted with the same brush as those disgusting radical feminists or lesbian separatists.
I’ll be honest here: talking about make-up and plucking my eye brows seems completely and totally irrelevant and superficial. I catch myself making that assumption based on a sort of “common sense”. Well this common sense might be common, but it’s certainly not sensible.
The mechanics of how and why the beauty and fashion industries operate the way they do—here and elsewhere—all return back to the fact that the natural state of a woman is something that is vile, disgusting, and dirty in this world. Like Dworkin postulates in Pornography, women are regarded as nothing more than “cunt”. By cunt, she means an object whose entire nature is encompassed by a sexuality that is sinful and wrong and an object which is hurt because it wants it, and must be hurt because the aggressor has no choice… being manipulated by the object the way that he is.
Women are naturally cunts, or so the dominate social doctrine goes. Our bodies are shameful. All of are parts may be dissected and separated from our individuality, because they all—in sum or in parts—have the mysterious power of sexual arousal in the male viewer. We cover our breasts, the center of substance production for infants, because their purpose has been usurped by the unwanted reaction of the male gaze to that which they deem dirty. We carefully groom our body hair into pleasing shapes, or remove it all together, because of its socially-defined connection to filth, to smell, to age, to masculinity—all things a woman cannot possess. We cover our acne, painfully groom our eyebrows, lengthen our lashes, and paint our lips with a cocktail of chemicals considered, by some, too toxic to even test on animals.
Probably the worst thing about being a very musically-inclined person is that most music sucks. Not only that, the people who are into music, maybe even the same music as you, are probably assholes.
There is some law of the universe that the intellectualism or popularity of an activity increases the assholes attracted to doing that activity. Music is both something that is very popular and something that requires a bit of technical knowledge and practice to perform (or interpret, if you’re a dancer). Thus, the amount of assholes interested in music, performing music, and dancing to music is truly astronomical. I reference radio DJs and the Body Police dancers for all the evidence I need.
Regardless, I just used to skip from station to station when the commercials were over and the DJs started talking to avoid hearing the stupid racist, classist, homophobic, sexist shit they’d inevitably spew.
Now I have to switch stations because of the actual music lyrics, and I don’t even listen to rap or hip-hop. These are the song that I encountered just in my commute this week:
What is clear from clips like these is the rewards for capitulation. Hillary Clinton was defeated partly by the vile and pervasive sexist media, and nobody believed her. She was belittled and shamed by cartoonists, other politicians, newspapers, and her own party. Clinton, however, was the closest thing to a feminist in a town serving as the American bastion of male privilege.
What about Palin? Palin is anti-choice. Palin supports prayer in schools. Palin is a veritable mouthpiece for the ultra-conservative Republican party who hold in the very highest esteem violent white heterosexual Christian wealthy men before anyone else. The message is clear: oppose men and you will be destroyed. Support men and the patriarchy and the state ownership of women’s bodies and you will be rewarded and defended. America is obviously no place for strong women.
If this election is anything to go by, I’d suppose that the glass ceiling has an entire posse–liberals and conservatives alike–repairing the cracks our sisters put in it decades ago. They will fortify it and guard it zealously, and only tentatively lift women near it if they promise to oppose all real power and agency for all other women. They will grease the sides of our great gilded cage anew, and clap merrily when some claim empowerment by taking off their clothes or becoming a false symbol of “progress” held as evidence of our country’s progressiveness whilst they are tapped to tear down the foundations that feminists labored for decades to lay. You please The Man’s politics of oppression or his throbbing
cock superiority and you are rewarded with a false throne. You oppose The Man and you are mocked, belittled, and torn down. Your accomplishments are nullified. Your positions are ignored. Your character is warped. And they cross their legs and fear for their genitals in your presence while they and their cabal of media chauvinists collaborate for your destruction with the false invocation of comedy.
They should fear. For I hope that one day soon, the only thing that is torn down is their edifice of lies and misogyny. I hope it is cast into the dirt and their ideology is rent to pieces.