6th Blog Post: Response to “Dear White People” & Thursday’s Class Discussion

Race isn’t exactly an issue you could say I’m well versed in. My mentality of my race…identifies more with the thoughts of Louis C.K., “I’m a white man…you can’t even hurt my feelings!” Oh no, he called me a cracker. Reminds me of times were we owned land and people.

Bottom-line is: in the arena of race-relations I am really not one to raise my voice about these things.

I’m appalled at what I see going on in this country. It’s disgusting to know at the University of Missouri, that there is a person or group of white people, that would smear feces on the wall in the name of white supremacy, Adolf Hitler and the Aryan Nation. That is what they believe, and sadly we all share the same Earth. We all come from the same place. We are the mass collection of atoms and molecules stuck together through one energy. I don’t exactly know what to call it…I’m sure scientists do… despite being completely different, and despite my resentment and hatred for those types of people we are all brothers and sisters in humanity.

And I don’t believe this is human nature either…if we were all barbarians living off the land, hunting and gathering in caves before civilization, even if there was race or not – is it possible that the cavemen and women could hate one another based on the color of their skin?

Hatred is real. Hatred is inside all of us. We are all capable of hating one another. For a lot of us, hatred comes and goes. For others, hated is a cage. The cage is built up in many different forms. Your environment, your childhood (nature and nurture), life experiences, peer pressure, societal pressure, or an inner-voice that never stop whispering in your ear, “Cunt. Nigger. Chink. Bitch. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK!”

I’m sorry for the language but all of you, ALL OF YOU, have used this language at some point in your life. It’s not the word that matters (even though the word does matter), it’s the hatred that produces it.

Last week, we watched Dear White People. It’s third time I’ve seen the film – I quite like it. Over-exaggeration is one of the first rules to comedy. Some of the interpersonal reactions between characters seemed a little much. I reviewed the film for my internship at the Jamestown Gazette, you can find a more in-depth analysis here: http://jamestowngazette.com/dear-white-people/

As much about the movie i would like to have my word about class last Thursday. An older classmate came forward and had the courage to speak his mind. He had the courage to come forward with his thoughts and feelings about racism, and yes I do say courage, because he came forward with a dissenting opinion in an American Studies class in a Liberal Arts College classroom… how many of you would speak up, knowing that your opinion would be immediately scrutinized? I would say, very few of you, probably none of you.

But he did it.

I’m not saying racism doesn’t exist, but racism exists because hatred exists.

In response to that student, many of you came forward with your respectful rebuttals to his claim. There was one story that really hit me, because I’ve never experience this particular brand of hatred, “I’m a white man…you can’t even hurt my feelings…” Near the end of this student’s story, about being discriminated against for solely being homosexual, someone from the back of the room (it does not matter whom…) commented, “but racism and sexism doesn’t exist, right?”

So sarcastic… another Louis C.K. special comes to mind – Hilarious. You want to know what I saw? I saw the entire classroom break out LAUGHING. Laughing in unison at the opinions and ideas of this man. Nearly all of you OR ALL OF YOU, basking in your goodness: above the ideas, above this man who had the gall to say something you didn’t agree with.

You may not agree with his thoughts, you may feel is out of touch with the issue, but damn it – NONE OF YOU ARE ANY BETTER THAN HE IS! None of you!

That shows lack of respect, that shows an unwillingness to listen to another Person. Where does that get us? It doesn’t bring anyone closer together, it creates that rift. That rift that disbands us from the matter and the miracle that holds us together. That rift that leads to one person looking at another from a pedestal. That rift that leads to – hatred.

I wasn’t laughing that day. I was incredibly disappointed; And I too, am no better than every single one of you! I’m not preaching from a pedestal here. I just wish you all could’ve seen our class through my eyes that day…

I hate.

I hate everyday.

It could be meaningless hate, like the hate that Bills fans have for Tom Brady. It could be the hate I feel for others: the words they use, the things they do. It could be self-hatred; something that right now, I know all too much about. That’s what my fight is against now…

Racism exists because hate exists. It existed in the ’60s, it exists NOW. We all can agree on that.

I believe we all owe this man an apology. We’re all brothers and sisters at our core. What prevents that from being a reality can only be hatred. If there was no hatred, what kind of world would we live in?

Did the cavemen hate?

What if they didn’t.

Have we evolved, or have we become the barbarians?

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TV Tropes: World War Zimmerman (5th Blog Post)

Since 6th Grade, I have one constant. My favorite among favorites in television, and that is South Park. For more than a decade now I’ve considered Matt Stone and Trey Parker to be quite honestly, the most in-genius television writers I have ever known.

Ever since the first season passed, they have steered away from their foundation of toilet-humor (hilarious toilet-humor if you ask me), and have turned to exaggerated metaphor,  shock value, and social/political commentary. Today (along with The Boondocks) I consider South Park to be one of the most thought-provoking animated shows on television, today and possibly all-time.

One example that proves this and ties class (and iZombie) along with it is their episode titled World War Zimmerman. A spoof of the very recent zombie apocalypse-inspired film World War Z starring Brad Pitt. Needless to say, they had a field day with it. Of course, it is only fitting that Cartman is their Brad Pitt

It’s funny how we discussed the Haitian zombies in class, and how they were slaves and the fear derived from them was rebelling over their masters, the white man. You take a look here, and it appears to not have moved far from that original narrative:

south-park-s17e03c03-cartmans-nightmare-16x9These New York zombies, are apart of a nightmare Cartman is having, a nightmare where he is Brad Pitt.  In the nightmare, they are fueled, gone feral with “Black Rage” in response to they Trayvon Martin verdict where George Zimmerman was found not guilty of any wrong-doing. All they are capable of saying in the episode is, “F*** you Brad Pitt!”

Eventually, Cartman wakes up and the manifestation of his fears are realized when he has an argument with his classmate Token; South Park’s “Token” black character.

What ensues afterwards is just an absolute cluster-fuck of scared white people, plane crashes, nuances of the “stand your ground” law and a fair ending to the madness started by a “Patient Zero”.

Some of the tropes in the episode are as follows:

Artistic License Law: South Park makes toilet paper out of the Stand Your Ground law with Cartman drawing a circle around himself (his ground). he does this because he is scared to confront Token based on his race. Cartman asks Token to bump fists throughout the episode, the very last time he does this, Token gives in – enters the circle – and the gets shot by Cartman. In justification, Cartman says, “He stepped on my ground…it’s my ground.”

Double Standard: George Zimmerman, who is the theme to the episode, shoots Cartman outside his house. Cartman was dressed in black-face. The police and Zimmerman thought everything would be okay, until they discovered Cartman was actually white. Zimmerman was executed, immediately.

What the hell, hero?: Kyle, the character of moral high ground. calls out Cartman after shooting Token in the following way:

Cartman: *defensive* The jury found me innocent, Kyle!
Kyle: But you’re a murderer.
Here We Go Again: Not soon after everything has ended, and Token goes back to school. Token makes a comment about how Cartman wouldn’t have been able to do what he had done if he were white. Thereafter, Cartman runs right out of the room started the running gag of crashing planes (reference to World War Z) all over again.
In retrospect of what we have been reading/discussion in class, South Park, in this episode stuck to the classical representation of where/what zombies come from. The form however, black rage, is now more apparent to the times, as slavery no longer exists. However, black rage is still an attitude that is feared by white people in America. The patient zero no longer being an infectious virus, but the personification of revenge upon whites via black America (George Zimmerman).
So if you’re white, and scared for your own life the next time our inherently prejudiced judicial/political system opens another can of worms, make sure you got your Brad Pitt Survival Gear handy.
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From Personal to Possesive: “The Breakfast Club” versus “Mean Girls”

AMST 201 American Mass & Pop Culture ~ State University of New York at Fredonia

Topic: Discuss Mean Girls as American tropes specific to its time and era.

Don’t get me wrong here. Being the 22-year-old Generational that I am, I will admittedly say that I love Mean Girls as much as the next guy. I mean literally, it’s  Lindsay Lohan in her prime, and I love that just as much as the next guy…

But that is besides the point. What I want to discuss is the significant flip-flopping of the tropes that once created the classical American high-school melodrama, going from The Breakfast Club to Mean Girls of which I feel are the two films that epitomizes this sub-genre of American film.

Upon my first viewing of The Breakfast Club and my prior and vast experiences of viewing Mean Girls, it seems to me that the culture of the genre, the stars of the show, the perceived High School populace has become a much more shallow and materialistic culture.

Now that is going a little far… Molly Ringwald was labeled a “prude” or a “tease” being the “Princess” of her environment. But these archetypes have existed for some time now. Simply put, “The Brain”, “The Athlete”, “The Basket-Case”, “The Princess”, and “The Criminal” almost fit the same exact narrative painted by Mean Girls. Just change the terminology around a bit, and you have “The New Kid”, “The Jock”, “The Outcast”, “The Queen Bee”, and “The Gay Kid”. They’re different labels that apply to the same narrative.

What it is that I am arguing, is that these tropes, archetypes, whatever you want to call them. Have become increasingly shallow, as so has the culture. Mean Girls, as beloved a story as it may be, is well-crafted result of what we refer to as a “slippery slope”. The cause of which I do not want to get into (capitalism, social trends, generational), it doesn’t matter at the moment. What does matter, is the comparison between point A and point B (THB to Mean Girls) and observing that there is a noticeable decline in the character of the films.

The Breakfast Club, I feel promoted individualism, communication and critical thinking. It promoted its relationships in an intimate, and more personal way. It promoted reaching out of your comfort zone, which ever comfort zone that may be, and reaching out to people perceived to be different that yourself. When the film digs into the personal lives of these kids eventually they form a union through better understanding of themselves and one another.

That’s a good story, and its very touching. It’s “touching” exploring these kids labeled the way they are, and then coming to find that they are indeed more than that particular label. It’s quite touching…

Mean Girls portrays high school teens as the most savage, and vicious beings on the face of the Earth. Katie (Lohan) literally looks into the High School cafeteria, and envisions a jungle! The story, is based around a revenge plot, by which the know-all-end-all is being with a cute boy, who really just showcases his hot bod and charming smile throughout the movie.

Not the introspective “Who do you think you are?” narrative that spurred the genre is it?

I mean, for the love of God, the “Mean Girls”, Regina George and her crew were called “The Plastics”.

Say I wiped the slate clean, and had to base my entire perception of American Youth around 1 movie. Can you see the difference with the perceived nature of teenagers from Point A to Point B? It’s astounding. If I based my entire perception of Americans on Mean Girls, I would think that they’re horrible fucking people. Materialistic, inconsiderate, plastic beings.

There is depth within The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls is all surface area.

So what tropes have changed? I’m not so sure if they’ve changed per se, but comparatively speaking, a lot of the good tropes have been covered up. On the surface, the kids of The Breakfast we’re no better than The Plastics in Mean Girls. The depth is just gone – absent in Mean Girls…

However, throughout the nearly 20 year span, I believe one trope has sustained itself – and that is that these kids have no idea of who they really are. Insecurities and misdirected anger are present within both film, and those elements stem from that truth. High School youth’s are not sure of themselves, so it creates a jungle-like society. They broke those barriers down in The Breakfast Club. And Mean Girls, beloved as it is, I believe did not even attempt to do so. Not only that, but they shined a negative light on our youth culture, and forgot to turn it off.

Hurts so bad, but tastes so sweet – Ashley Madison dotcom.

 

Reading: “The Modernization of Magic,” from The Reconfiguration of Wealth

Honestly, if I shared the foresight, wherewithal and moral emptiness that Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman had/has….I would’ve  followed the exact same scandalous and destructive path just to be as filthy fuckin’ rich as he is.

With a net worth of estimated at $100 million, Biderman embodies the successes of selling inherent vices that appeal to the common man, almost in the same exact fashion as the itinerant propagandists of the United States during the Victorian Era.

Be honest with yourself…

*guitar strums*

“I’m looking for someone other than my wife,

other than my wife. Other than my wi-ife.

Ashley Madison is r-iiiight!”

…That is one catchy jingle.

I’ll bet you a hypothetical buck that guitar is strumming through your brain right now. That catchy jingle, that I’m sure you’re singing to yourself by now… is the same carnivalesque sales technique used by James Whitcomb Riley and S.B. McCrillus. The hedonism of our own culture back then, was being appealed to by salesman. Propagandists who made empty (but intriguing) promises who also put on a show.

Ashley Madison is no different.

Carnivale is escapism. It is a fulfilled fantasy stemming from the plight of the average, under-stimulated man. This is not justification for their actions, but it is the manifestation of unfulfilled desires in a socially acceptable setting. Though it goes directly against our moral and religious dogma, no person will cast a stone at the man who buys and gets wasted off the “Magic Elixir” he purchased from the “doctor” who titles himself, “The Minister of Magic” at a Medical Exposition. It is the setting, and the culture for that matter, that allows man to feel like he can sip the forbidden elixir, or take part in tasting the forbidden fruit.

Society has provided the proper setting and developed the moral negligence that allows men to behave this way so freely.

Adultery in American society has been celebrated for years. A man who’s been married 3 different times is running for President, and one of American’s most captivating cultural icons, Marilyn Monroe, was sleeping with one of those Presidents, a Catholic for that matter.

(I didn’t even get into the Television/Film industry.)

(Question: How many shows/movies have you seen who’s plot partially revoloved around adultery? My Answer: Too many to count.)

America is the quintessential “Chapel on the Hill”, but it also houses the burnt city of Sodom, where folks of all creeds and classes engaged in sinful temptation of all forms. Ashley Madison is American duality at its finest.

Ashley Madison is a site exclusive to married men only. Marriage is a practice of Christianity.

Carnivale (de Venezia) was celebration for everyone (mostly Catholic). People (likely Christian) wore masks in complete anonymity as they engaged in sin. They gave in to their darker/unfulfilled desires during this time, because that was the time society dictated that it was acceptable to do so. And it’s still celebrated!

I’m not disgusted by Ashley Madison’s existence. In fact, I believe its perfectly appropriate for our time. If it’s not Ashley Madison doing then it would’ve been Madison Ashley instead.

Did you notice Ashley Madison actually utilizes Carnivale masks on their site?

It’s an homage to Carnivale de Venezia! It’s the idea of satisfying and  giving in to our inner-most/shitty human desires without consequence. Now that it’s virtual, it only makes it that much easier. Carnivale is 1 click away.

As far as the ad goes…there’s a catchy jingle that’s entertaining. It’s light, feel good.

There’s solidarity. 1 man turns to 2 men. Those 2 men become a thousand.

There’s the promise of results without consequences — It’s Noel Biderman’s Magical Elixir, and the people involved are taking part in Magical Thinking. Biderman, fulfills those desires for these men, but he is only who profits from them.

“Peep Game.” – Tupac Shakur

American Mass Popular Culture (Fredonia, NY) — Reading: Blackface Minstrelsy and Jacksonian Ideology

Reading: Blackface Minstrelsy and Jacksonian Ideology

Author(s): Alexander Saxton

MY QUESTION: WHAT IS MY “EXPRERIENCE” OF RACE?

For the overwhelming majority of my life…I’ve been aware of the color of my own skin. If i ever I had to have been reminded of that, one good look at me in a mirror in the midst of January; there’d be no denying: my skin is as white as the driven snow.

but that’s easy…

However, if the question were geared towards my experience of rac-ism, my first noteworthy experience would be with some old friends back in the 7th Grade. My two friends: Fitz and Fonzie, and I all had computer lab together. And like a typical group of kids, we were basically nothing but trouble.

The way i remember it was, conversation first would become heated (because children take things to seriously); and then that would lead to insults (because kids say terrible things).

Me and my closer friend, Fitz, developed an inside-joke against Fonzie. We always thought Fonzie was so mean (rude, weird, illogical, some dumb made up reason…), so we decided to “name” him “Bubbles”; after Michael Jackson’s pet monkey…

Not to long (perhaps a week) after that regretful joke began, Fitz and I were called into the principal’s office. The Principal, Mr. Feng  told us a “student” came forward, and told him about our little joke. He mentioned the name-calling, “‘Bubbles’. ‘Monkey…'”

We told him the truth.

I remember thinking/saying something along the lines, “Well Fonzie is just so mean all the time… he’s not even acting like a human being.” It was a then-genuine response as I personally recall.

Then our principal leaned toward us behind his desk and sternly said, “Did you know ‘Monkey’ is a RACIAL term?”

I remember the feeling I had when i heard that. My gut sank instantly. It was as if my gonads became swallowed up inside me from the shame I had for myself.

I had no idea.

It was as if it were like Kindergarten all over again: the time where I got in trouble for saying “bitch” because i repeated what another girl in the cafeteria said, AND I QUOTE, “My brother called my mother a ‘Witch’ last night, but instead of the ‘W” he used a ‘B’.”

Silly me… but I knew what I had now done was much worse.

Once I was informed, amends were made. Fonzie, whom I (and many of my friends) refer to as “Denzel” was a part of my group of good friends throughout all of high school – middle school included.

I really haven’t had any issue in that sort of regard since that day. Although, in 9th Grade Spanish class, ironicallly enough, myself and a kid who I thought to be a bully of sorts, Francis, got into a comedic/hurtful spat. I had the last word: “Wetback”.

There was no conflict after the fact; but truth be told – I deserved smack right in the fuckin’ face.

Kids: when will they ever learn, right? Ha-ha ha.

Could it  have possible that racist association of “Bubble” and “Monkey” was inherent in my way of thinking? Without even realiizing it?

In regards to the reading…it is evident that racial propagation is not only inherent to the history of American Entertainment, but it is also one of the foundations, and building blocks of American Mass Culture.

What initialized the country-wide spread of Minstrelsy was the culmination of political parties and mass communication via printed newspapers and magazines – Media.

Not only did a more advanced manufacturing of media propagate the endorsement of minstrel entertainment and humor, but minstrel entertainment and humor was also widely identifiable to the ideas of hundreds of groups of people, namely the working-class white men of middle America.

The extreme popularity of the show, which Mark Twain recalled as, “the most popular form of entertainment in the United States.” Was a natural movement of an that was idea (Minstrelsy) that formulated by the few (Thomas Rice, Dan Emitt, E.P. Christy, and Stephen Foster) that appealed to the common people on a nation-wide scale. Not so long after that, they’re performing at venues in the biggest cities to the broadest audiences.

It’s only fitting in that these men I’ve fore-mentioned all appropriated their practices from tunes and dances stolen from their slave race of people whose bones we’ve built our homes on.

I am not perfect. I observe and perceive. I am human.