Friday, October 23, 2009

"There's the old boys club again."

Obama: As A Woman, Michelle Had To Make Sacrifices I Didn't Have To, Huffington Post. Emphases mine.

President Barack Obama says his family is like a lot of others -- in which the men "need to be knocked across the head every once in a while" in order to see imbalances between the time moms and dads put into raising children.

"There's no doubt that our family, like a lot of families out there, were ones in which the men are still a little obtuse about this stuff," Obama said Wednesday in an interview with NBC.

He acknowledged things are different now for his wife, Michelle, and him given that they live in the White House with all its creature comforts and army of residence staff.

"Today's Obama family is obviously not typical," he said. "Five years ago, six years ago, though, we were having a lot of negotiations. Because Michelle was trying to figure out, OK, if the kids get sick why is it that she's the one who has to take time off of her job to go pick them up from school, as opposed to me? If, you know, the girls need to shop for clothes. You know, why is it that it's her burden and not mine."

The president said he tried to learn to be better -- "to be thoughtful enough and introspective enough that I wasn't always having to be told that things were unfair. That once in a while, I'd actually voluntarily say, 'You know what? Let me relieve this burden on you. Let me make some sacrifices, in terms of how I'm using my time.'"

He's the first to acknowledge his efforts weren't entirely successful.

"The truth is that Michelle still had to make sacrifices of the sort that I did not have to make," Obama said.

So let me get this straight. Just like in his book, The Audacity of Hope, President Obama acknowledged that there was a unfair division of household and child-rearing between him and his wife. Yet again, he decided to do nothing significant about it.

I resent the suggestion that someone needs to remind men to be functioning parents. No. Men should take care of the children that they decided to bring into the world in the first place. President Obama didn't accidentally have two children. He and the First Lady decided to have children together. And then he decided for some reason that raising the children was not his responsibility . . . because he was the one with the penis?

President Obama says that "Michelle still had to make sacrifices of the sort that [he] did not have to make", but he doesn't explain why his wife allegedly had to make them. Why did she have to be the one to disrupt her career to pick up the sick children and buy them clothes? If President Obama's children were sick, why wouldn't he pick them up from school? They are his children.

You don't deserve a medal for occasionally taking care of your own children. You can call it "obtuse"; I call it bleeping selfish. Add your own expletive, readers.

Obama also played down a recent basketball game with male members of his Cabinet and lawmakers. No women were listed as participants in the game, played on a White House court.

The president said it was a standing game among House members that simply relocated to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. He faced criticism for the all-guys game; Obama brushed it off and said it was nothing more than basketball.

"I think this is bunk," he said.

If you watch the video, the interviewer asks whether the game could have been seen as a networking opportunity with the President. However, President Obama does not buy into the notion that it was "something more than basketball."

Right. As if a group of politicians, who all happened to be men, showed up at the White House purely for the love of the game. No networking went on whatsoever. Just a bunch of grown men sweating it up together on a court.

Insert exaggerated eyeroll here.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Rhymes with Witch"

Four chapters completed in Hot Penguin Action! An excerpt from Ch. 09:

So.” Mike paused. “That interview was something, huh? On the show tonight?”

“It was something, indeed.” I nodded through the phone.

“We’re already getting negative feedback on the major news blogs.”

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” I assured him.

“I don’t know why Lexie didn’t focus on the book.”

“She did ask The Good Senator about his book. She brought up his many other accomplishments as well.”

“Yes, but then she focused on the health care bill. That wasn’t the purpose of The Good Senator’s visit to her show. Our pre-interview material was only about his Gulf War service, his Presidential campaign, and why he wrote the book.”

“Which she did ask about.”

Mike kept going. “No other talk show hosts asked about that bill, or about any bill The Good Senator sponsored or voted for.”

“Lexie isn’t just another talk show host. Haven’t you seen The Rec Room before?”

“Of course we’ve seen it. It’s supposed to be a comedy show. That’s why I wrote some jokes for The Good Senator.”

You wrote jokes, Mikkel Jones?”

“You’re acting like I said I cured cancer.”

“Curing cancer I could believe.”

“So I’m smart, but not funny?”

“Can I get a third option?”

“Oh! You’re killing me, Smalls.”


“The jokes were good,” Mike insisted. “He didn’t get a chance to use most of them, but—”

“Yes, the show is funny,” I concurred. “But Lexie challenges all of her guests with tough questions. Furthermore, her questions were not inappropriate.”

“Condom dispensers in every high school and middle school?” Mike sputtered. “Was she serious? How were we supposed to respond to that?”

“I don’t see a problem with the idea.”

“You don’t?”

I could have stopped then. I wanted Mike to like me, and if I agreed with him, he would. Maybe If I mirrored everything he said, he might think we had a psychic bond. That would make him feel secure in his points of view.

I could have surreptitiously kowtowed to Mike’s myopic arguments. I could have suppressed my instincts to share my counter perspectives. I could let him continue his circular logic until he ran out of steam. Then I could stroke his ego by complementing his repetitive monologue, and beg for more of his faulty assumptions.

Or . . .


Thursday, October 15, 2009

My main problem with Republicans

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is that they actively support and vote for people like these: 30 GOP Senators Vote to Defend Gang Rape.

Please note that former Presidential candidate John McCain is one of the 30, now putting him in the same moral league as former Presidential candidate David Duke.

I have problems with Democrats, too, but so far, my problems with them have not included the phrase "defending gang rape."

Republican readers (all two of you, maybe), can you explain this situation?


I agree, Amanda.

In his review of Chris Rock's latest film Good Hair, Brian Prisco of Pajiba wrote the following. Emphases mine:

Good Hair follows a smart path from a simple question: what does it mean for a black person to have good hair? Make no mistake, this question — and this film — is meant for a black audience. That’s not to say a person of a different race couldn’t enjoy or appreciate it, but Rock is making the active decision to put the question to his people for his people.

Then there was Bob Cannon's concern in his review for Moviefone:

The question is, can a film this ethnocentric cross enough racial and social lines to approach the box office numbers of Michael Moore, the gold standard in successful documentary filmmaking?

Oh, was that the question?

My first reaction was, I have never seen a review of any of the majority of American movies that states, "this film is meant for a white audience," even though that statement would be accurate. Chris Rock, along with any other multi-million earning black performer, is not successful solely because of a black audience. Case in point: the first people I ever heard quoting Chris Rock in my presence were two white male teenagers in the late 90s. I don't think any of my black female friends have ever quoted Chris Rock to me.

My second reaction was akin to the feelings of Margaret from Jezebel. Emphases mine:

Almost every critic praises Good Hair, but for the most part, their reviews stick to a summary of the film and analysis of Rock as host/narrator. Several say they found themselves surprised by the information presented - possibly because, judging from photos found online, none of them reviewers actually have black hair. While this latter fact doesn't disqualify them from critiquing the quality of the film, the reviews do come from an outsider's perspective, like The New York Times' take, which notes, "One of the happy consequences of Good Hair should be a radical increase in white-woman empathy for their black sisters."

However, unlike Margaret, I do think that the reviewers' lack of black hair, or more precisely, their lack of knowledge about and historical perspective on black hair, does disqualify them from accurate critiquing the quality of the film. For instance, when Brian writes the following,

There’s a heartrending scene where Rock interviews five high school girls about what it means to look successful. Four of the girls are overweight with shiny straight tresses, and one adorable gal who looks like a young Jill Scott sits in the center with a subdued Afro. The larger girls then use her as an example — “no offense, you look cute but…” — of how to look unprofessional. As the girls explain how women with Afros don’t look trustworthy or successful and how they imply a disregard for rules or proper fashion, the camera pans in on the young girl quietly sitting sadly.

he doesn't notice that Chris Rock doesn't bother to question who decides what is "trustworthy or successful" or what is in "proper fashion." It's not like black women are running Fortune 500 companies. Okay, except for one Ursula Burns, who seems to have been successful in her ascent to the top of Xerox. And her hair also happens to be natural.

Also, thanks for the "overweight" qualifier. Always relevant when writing about black women.

Or when Brian writes,

Rock bookends his movie with the Bronner Brothers International Hair Show in Atlanta, GA. Having seen Blow Dry, I knew that hairstylists would go to ape-shit lengths to sculpt Barbies like a Food Network Cake Challenge. Having also seen Stomp the Yard, Drumline, and Snaps, I should have known that black people would take this to levels of sublime showoffsmanship which would make a peacock blush. But you’ve also seen those films and shows. Can you blame them? That shit’s bananas. (I don’t speak jive.)

he shows his behind by asserting that he knows black people because he saw and Stomp the Yard and Drumline? In the words of Angry Asian Man, that's racist! FYI, I don't speak jive either, turkey.

As if I know about white people because I saw Fired Up or Juno or Never Been Kissed. If Brian or Bob, or any reviewer, had mentioned School Daze, I would give them partial credit. Brian also neglects to mention Jason Griggers, the blindingly white stylist in the movie, who is favored to win the hair styling competition.

So who is the Amanda starring in the title of this post? She is one of the people who commented under Brian's review, and I share her sentiments. Emphases mine:

. . . My only concern is that you (apparently) asserted that the movie is meant for a black audience, basically just because it focuses on the cult of Good Hair as it relates to black people. (That is, if my interpretation of those paragraphs is correct.)

I'd like to offer that it would be valuable for all races and ethnicities to see a film like this so that we can understand the very particular effect that the "straight hair ideal" has on black women. In my humble opinion, saying that this movie is only for black people is a disservice to the message of the film. Good Hair might very well have a message of empowerment that is intended for a black audience, but I think that it is equally if not more important for other races/ethnicities - I'm going to venture that it's particularly important for whites - to see the time and effort black women spend on their hair. We need to have our eyes opened to the fact that society's projection of straight hair as more beautiful and professional is inherently discriminatory, and it forces black women to spend outrageous amounts of money at salons if they want to be taken seriously - both as professionals and as *beautiful* women.

If only blacks see this film, they may feel empowered, and they may experience some kind of epiphany about their relationships with their hair. Maybe. I can't claim to know, as I'm not black myself. But it is not up to black people to change society's perceptions about their hair - it's up to everyone else. That's why I think that the message is best received by people of all racial and ethnic groups, not just by a black audience.

And here is another comment I enjoyed, under Margaret's review:

@nyc-caribbean-ragazza: "I was talking to a friend of mine (black) who wondered if Chris Rock explained to his daughter that the reason her hair did not look like Mommy's is because Mommy wears a weave."

What. You. Said.
Times like, a kabillion.

It just staggers me the way everyone, including Mr. Documentary himself -- and I've met him, and he's cool, and can you tell, I'm really really disappointed -- is manifestly, steadfastly, resolutely ignoring this.

Considering that their two daughters were prominently featured, Malaak Compton-Rock, Chris Rock's wife, was glaringly absent from the film. I wouldn't assume she has a weave, but her hair has definitely been straightened. Chris never talks about his wife in the film, nor does he talk about his own decision to marry a black woman, not who has natural hair, but who has straightened hair. His decision comes off as hypocritical, considering the lengths he goes to in the film to show how harmful the straightening process can be, and how exploitative the weave business is. As Beet at Feministing Community puts it,

. . . it seems Chris Rock is criticizing black women who modify their hair to look straight yet he hardly even dents the larger issue of beauty standards shaped by society that constrict black women and contribute to their "need" to do this in the first place. This movie can be used as a reason to criticize black women who wear a weave but it doesn't really answer the question that if black women wore their hair more naturally, would they be accepted? . . .

I will leave you with this quote from actor Tracie Thoms, whose hair I would love to have growing out of my head:

"To keep my hair the same texture as it grows out of my head is looked at as revolutionary. Why is that?"

Why indeed. :|

Ooh, here is my favorite part of the movie:

Chris Rock: How old were you the first time you got a relaxer?

Maya Angelou: Ooh god. About 70.

Chris Rock: 70?

Maya Angelou: Mmhmm.

Chris Rock: You went your whole life?

Maya Angelou: Not my whole life. I'm still alive!


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"The temperature is 54. Yes!"

You should follow your dreams now. Because as Rent reminds us, there is no day but today.

Also, it's good to see Scott Bakula is still working. I would like to see a similar project for women of a certain age, with their wisdom showing through their wrinkles, exploring what happens after you turn 40. But alas, as always, I will have to settle for reruns of The Golden Girls.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

"Is that the show with the black guy?"

The black guy?

"The one where he solves crimes with a white guy? And he is reluctant to participate?"

Yes, Mummy. That does describe Psych. That also describes almost every procedural drama on television right now, and half the movies from the 1980s.

I also enjoy watching that competitive dancing show with the unstable judge, that makeover show with the snarky host, that teen drama with the conveniently absent parents, and that funny reality show with all the cakes. Yum!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Backstreet Boys on Conan!

Of course I missed it last night, since I learned about it today on Best Day Ever. But I did like the above Three Questions with Howie and AJ. Howie's my favorite, but AJ has the most fervent fan base.

I agree with the interviewer: what is up with letting T-Pain use autotune on your album? I thought that was so over.


Data that should help me when I complain to my friends.

Your Race Affects Whether People Write You Back, by christian at OkTrends via Racialicious. Emphases mine, proving that it's not just me being a paranoid weirdo. Have some empathy, readers.

. . . [We at] processed the messaging habits of almost a million people and are about to basically prove that, despite what you might’ve heard from the Obama campaign and organic cereal commercials, racism is alive and well. It would be awesome if the other major online dating players would go out on a limb and release their own race data, too. I can’t imagine they will: multi-million dollar enterprises rarely like to admit that the people paying them those millions act like turds. But being poor gives us a certain freedom. To alienate all our users. So there.

[ . . . ]

  • Black women are sweethearts. Or just talkative. But either way, they are by far the most likely to reply to your first message. In many cases, their response rate is one and a half times the average, and overall black women reply about a quarter more often.

  • White men get more responses. Whatever it is, white males just get more replies from almost every group. We were careful to preselect our data pool so that physical attractiveness (as measured by our site picture-rating utility) was roughly even across all the race/gender slices. For guys, we did likewise with height.

  • White women prefer white men to the exclusion of everyone else—and Asian and Hispanic women prefer them even more exclusively. These three types of women only respond well to white men. More significantly, these groups’ reply rates to non-whites is terrible. Asian women write back non-white males at 21.9%, Hispanic women at 22.9%, and white women at 23.0%. It’s here where things get interesting, for white women in particular. If you look at the match-by-race table before this one, the “should-look-like” one, you see that white women have an above-average compatibility with almost every group. Yet they only reply well to guys who look like them. There’s more data on this towards the end of the post.

  • Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race—including other blacks—singles them out for the cold shoulder.

  • White guys are shitty, but fairly even-handed about it. [I didn't write this; the OkCupid person did. Hello, nice white readers! Keep visiting my blog!] The average reply rate of non-white males is 48.1%, while white guys’ is only 40.5%. Basically, they write back about 20% less often. It’s ironic that white guys are worst responders, because as we saw above they get the most replies. That has apparently made them very self-absorbed. It’s interesting that white males do manage to reply to Middle Eastern women. Is there some kind of emergent fetish there? As Middle Easterners are becoming America’s next racial bogeyman, maybe there’s some kind of forbidden fruit thing going on. (Perhaps a reader more up-to-date on his or her Post-Colonial Theory can step in here? Just kidding. Don’t.)

[Edit: 10/11/2009] I have been reading through the comments on the above article and on websites where the OkCupid findings have been reposted. The comments range from agreement to vehement denial of the results. Many of the commenters don't think that excluding people from your dating pool based on race is racist. These commenters also insist that other factors have influenced the results, like income level, weight, education, and the ability to use correct English and grammar? Hmm. Maybe my chunkiness is overwhelming my bachelors degree, my upward mobility, and my penchant for crafting well-written posts.

Commenter PinkRanger, who happens to be white, says it best on The Frisky:

I find it curious that there are subtle notes throughout this post that imply minorities don’t have good grammer, english, or communication skills….....I find that unnerving.


Monday, October 05, 2009

This commercial turned out well, but

it could have led to an episode of SVU. Kids, don't talk to strangers, even if they helped you find your puppy.


"Normal Asian family on TV!"

[found via Racialicious]

Or more precisely, an average family on TV, who happens to look Asian. My favorite part is the two gray-haired members of the family enjoying the beatboxing and dancing.

I like this commercial, too, for similar reasons:

This one, too!


Sunday, October 04, 2009

"Our TV show's like a family!"

Speak the word, Kathy Griffin. Some people don't know what to do with me, either.


Saturday, October 03, 2009

"That's one counter-example."

"Look. Dark-skinned people with funny-sounding Muslim names, they just aren't going to make it very far in politics."

Oh, really?

I knew Martin Sheen didn't have to change his name to become President.


"I'm sorry I got sexually assaulted"?

That's what I learned from Fame. The 2009 version, not the good one. According to the writers of Fame, if you visit an alum from your school at his workplace after he offers to introduce you to his hiring manager, it's your fault if he assaults you and videotapes it. And if your boyfriend breaks up with you because you told him about the assault, find him in a smoky club a year later, and apologize to him for being attacked. After all, who cares about your feelings about being victimized? First and foremost, make that your unsupportive boyfriend feels secure about himself.

How could this remake have gone so wrong?

Dancing? Check!

Vibrant characters? Check!

Colorful actors? Check!

Talented artists over 40? Check!

Former member of the Mickey Mouse Club? Check!

Unfortunately, most of the characters didn't have any storylines, which is something I look for in my films. Also, to the chagrin of my friend Chrissy, the filmmakers cut out the scene in which the students stop traffic and dance in the street. What the who what? Egregious.


"Am I Krumping?"

You are now!