Archive for the 'Our Little Series of Tubes' Category

17
Jun
13

Women in Opposition to Mommy Blogging: A Modest Proposal for a Mini Revolution

As a followup to Father’s Day, I thought I’d propose something: an end to Mommy Blogging. Why is this a followup to Father’s Day? I read an article yesterday about Daddy Wars being imminent, which of course made me think (a) awesome (100% of the workforce feeling there are unfair demands on their time is a heck of a lot more compelling a reason to change “time macho” policies than 50%), and (b) God, can’t we stop with the Mommy Wars before branching out into both genders?

At the center of Mommy Wars are, of course, the Mommy Bloggers: people who have decided to take it upon themselves to chronicle every piddly thing their kids do (or they do with/for their kids) and publish it. The idea is a nice enough one. The results, however, have arguably been divisive and injurious to blogging in general, women’s psyches, and kids’ futures. Let’s take each argument on a case-by-case basis:

1. Mommy Blogging is Bad Blogging:

This is a fact, full-stop. Why? Because Mommy Blogs are insanely boring to read. Who gives a shit about your kids’ every move, and about your every move as a parent? Nobody. Which is why you’re blogging, because even the kids’ grandparents are avoiding your calls at this point.

There is something fantastically freeing about being able to write about anything you want in any style you want. That is why we love blogging. But not every Courtesy www.psychologytoday.comthought that enters into your head (or your kids’ head) is worthy of being memorialized on the internet. If you want to tell someone about every little thing your kid does, get a dog and talk your fool head off all day.

Quick note: Why, you may ask, are Mommy Blogs so powerful and well-read if they’re so terrifically boring? Moms feel guilty about not doing enough, so we tend to seek out proof that we are in fact as terrible/lazy a human being as we’d suspected.

2. Mommy Blogging is Bad For Kids:

This is another easy-to-prove one. Your kids are probably awesome little people. But even the awesomest little people don’t need everything they do validated/commemorated in order to know they’re awesome. On the contrary, beginning early with a constant need for validation with your kids is one of the best ways to ensure they never grow up. If that’s your goal, great. But if you want to raise confident, independent young people, psychologists agree that constant validation of every action may not be the way to go (at any age).

Not the most interesting thing he did all day.

Plus, if your kid really requires that every meal he eats be something organically farmed at home, then lovingly prepared and presented inside a modified bento box, then you may be in danger of raising a total asshole.

3. Mommy Blogging is Bad For Women:

“But Mommy Bloggers seem so sweet! And they’re so aspirational!” Feh. Granted, some people who engage in basically any activity are nice, and then there are some assholes. But there are two problems here: (1) anonymity exacerbates the assholery (Don’t believe me? Check out Urban Baby’s message boards, on which you will find, as Tina Fey so expertly put it, “some of the worst human behavior I’ve ever seen in my life.” Really. Those boards, which masquerade as something aspirational and helpful, are just excuses for racist and classist assholes to get together and be racist and classist. And (2) the “Mommy” moniker makes it seem as though these people are all united under a single umbrella. The truth is that there are dicks who are moms, and there are awesome people who are moms. Forcing a community out of the name your kids call you is ridiculous.

As for the “nice, aspirational” sites, the problem is that they’re too white-washed. All the problems are so relatable and sweet, and all the solutions are so easy and perfect. Mommy Blogs have done for motherhood what Photoshop has done for body image in this country: it’s taken a problem and made it exponentially worse, simply by whitewashing it too much. I think of it like Botox for the internet: incapable of showing displeasure, lest it seem less appealing.

In the face of this 24-hour-a-day saccharine facade, women of my generation have been assaulted by these constant reminders that we’re not doing enough. The result has been depression rates that are not only double those of men, but also higher than women have ever experienced before. I’m not saying that this depression rate is due to Mommy Bloggers, but they are certainly part of the problem, and the easiest one to fix (i.e. don’t read them, and tell other people to stop reading them). There is no earthly reason why, after spending all day feeling like you haven’t spent enough time on your husband/job/kids/house, you should “relax” by reading about how somebody else woke up, dressed her kids in clothes she made herself from hand-dyed fabric, spent all day wowing her employees with her amazing capacity to be both a high-powered boss and a great friend, then welcomed hubby and kids home with a fire-grilled organic pizza made from home-ground wheat and tomatoes from the organic garden, spent all night painting with the kids, then sent them to bed, ran 10 miles, and blew her husband for hours. Oh, and that reminds me of an important point, all-too-seldom pointed out:

4. They’re Lying

That day above is hyperbolic, to be sure, but it is also exactly the kind of thing that people like Gwyneth Paltrow are trying to market. It’s important to look critically at these lifestyle websites, because it is 100% true that they are great publicity, but total and utter bullshit. There are simply not enough hours in the day to have completed the aforementioned hyperbolic day, and no one should therefore feel bad if they don’t. Even Dame Goop is full of shit. According to her own schedule“I wake up at 7 a.m., I get [the kids] fed, and I get them dressed in their uniforms, any bits of homework are finished,” Paltrow explained. “I take them to school. She [Apple, now 9] gets dropped off at 8:25 a.m., and he [Moses, now 7] gets dropped off at 8:45 a.m., so we have a croissant together in his school dining room and we do reading together. Then I go home and I work for one hour on all the e-mails that come in overnight from L.A. Then I exercise from about 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Then I work on Goop [the digital media and e-commerce company she founded] pretty much the rest of the day until I pick up my kids and then they have various activities.”

In other words, she works (blogs) for about 3 hours every day, if she doesn’t shower. Also not included in the schedule: cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and spending time with her husband. Now I don’t mean to tear only Gwyneth Paltrow apart, but she’s really the best target, since she’s (a) not going to read this, and (b) not going to care if she does (how many people who have Beyonce on speed dial give a shit if someone thinks they’re insufferable?). But she’s the perfect illustration of my point: she’s aggressively marketing herself as perfect, and is chiding those of us who are less than that to do as she does. But she doesn’t take into account the fact that even she doesn’t do as she does.

Long story short (too late):

Mommy Blogs need to stop being a thing. Which is why I am founding the Women in Opposition to Mommy Blogging group (obnoxiously acronymed WOMB). After all, a WOMB should be a safe place, and a comfortable one, one in which no one will judge you for feeding your kids formula or skipping piano lessons because you’re exhausted after a long day.

So let’s put an end to a competition in which none of the competitors could possibly fight (or win) honestly, set some realistic goals for ourselves and our families, and stop defining ourselves by what has or has not been through our vaginas.*

*end of rant**

**for now

17
Jan
12

Strike! Strike!

Click here to protest SOPA.

17
Jul
09

On Heckler, Hecklers, and Critics

I was watching Jamie Kennedy’s movie Heckler last night, something I still think is a brilliant response to the savage critiques he received after Malibu’s Most Wanted and Son of the Mask. I think it’s a great bit of revenge to, in the face of cruel and inhuman criticism, show a comedian (and interview many others) ingesting said criticism, wincing at personal slights, and looking hurt at the extent of the savagery.

And, yes, I absolutely agree that, if you don’t like a movie or comedy show, you should just leave. Change the channel. I let Carlos Mencia be Carlos Mencia, and I just go have a cocktail at the bar. Done.

It was when the documentary got into savaging critics and bloggers that I (predictably) began to lose some of my sympathy for the characters. I concede that I also yearn for the days of serious film/dramatic criticism (where are today’s Dorothy Parkers, who are knowledgeable and empathetic enough to the performers and writers to know just how to slice them up, without actually breaking them down?). Gene Shalit, Leonard Maltin, the staff of the NY Times these days…feh. And, yes, I think they should all be replaced by people who actually make movies for a living, much as the book reviews that are always the most spot-on and interesting are essayed by fellow writers.

And yet…well, the thing is…I couldn’t help but think of that line from Godfather II: “This is the business [you’ve] chosen.” It’s not like you made this movie, then released it, only to find that the entire world of film criticism had changed from an erudite circle of polite former screenwriters, into a gaggle of snarling beasts. And, in order to put up with said snarling beasts, you got paid. Well. Better than said snarling beasts, and sure as shit better than most of the country.

And, as far as mean “fans” go, while I think it’s rude that people go up to celebrities and tell them their movies suck when the poor people are just trying to enjoy a meal, I also think it’s enormously arrogant to think that people will never have unfavorable opinions about your work, and will instead just sit in slack-jawed wonderment at the talking pictures proferred for their enjoyment. Unfortunately, it’s a fact that the most likely response you will get will be the most negative, with the most positive following behind. It’s just how our psyches work; many studies have confirmed that we humans like to bitch about things we hate more than admire things we love.

As for the blogosphere: Yes, the internet is home to the meannest of the mean, in both senses of the word. However, it is written by the general public, and these are all people who, unlike “real critics,” paid to see your movie. If you don’t want to listen to their opinions, fine: Don’t log on and Google yourself. But don’t bitch because they have opinions that are contrary to your own, and say so.

As far as the language of online reviews goes, it has indeed gotten more and more violent and crude, especially when writing reviews of things and/or celebrities. Why, you wonder, the animosity? The answer is: It has nothing to do with animosity, and everything to do with anonymity. The internet is huge, and the blogosphere is chock-a-block with people who like to write their opinions. In order to differentiate yourself, you have to make something in your headline or tags stand out. For whatever reason, I’ve noticed that any headline of mine that includes cursing and/or references to various sorts of perversions gets TONS of hits; those that are more thoughtful get almost none.

I don’t blame readers for this. There are myriad ways to get news and information these days, and civil discourses can get lost in the shuffle. Take the awesome postings at synthesis: They are well-thought-out, highly intellectual, and, above all, well-written. That blog, along with other similar ones, consistently gets rated among the top of the internet. And yet, I will bet all my savings that Gawker beats them in page hits and ad sales. So, there’s that: Blame human nature and its love of watching brutality, but don’t blame the people trying to be heard.

And, while I’m on the subject, there is absolutely no difference between a blogger cruelly mocking a movie, and said movie star saying that the blogger is some basement-dwelling fatass who’s never held a job or gotten laid. Except the amount of people who get to see/hear the movie star say that, versus the small number of people who read the snarky blog. That balances out the comparative anonymity (and security) bloggers feel, yes? And when they lose said anonymity (like Andrew Sullivan, or others), they get well compensated for it. Just like other public figures. So they can buy bigger pillows to cushion the blows of public criticism.

So, in conclusion, here’s my advice to Jamie Kennedy:

1. Just as you say to hecklers in comedy clubs: If you don’t like what you read on the Internet about yourself, don’t look.
2. Buck up, buttercup. Those meanies out there don’t really hate you; they just love colorful language and page views.
3. Go take a look around your nice house, cuddle up to your pretty girlfriend, and remind yourself that you’re doing alright, regardless.

Thus endeth the lesson. Dick jokes soon!

02
Jun
09

Maybe The Coolest Thing I’ve Ever Seen

I think…no, wait, I’m fairly sure this clip is so goddamned awesome that I am sexually aroused.

(courtesy of this awesome blog)

29
May
09

National Review Guy Cold Refuses To Say Sotomayor’s Name The Way “THEY” WANT US TO. For Freedom.

Oh, Happy Friday to me!!! Wonkette has once again proven why I go there to get teh happeez with a post about why grammar nerds are the coolest nerds ever. And also columnists at the National Review are crazy.

It Sticks in My Craw [Mark Krikorian] [Ed. note: This should be the title of every wingnut blog ever.]

Most e-mailers were with me on the post on the pronunciation of Judge Sotomayor’s name (and a couple griped about the whole Latina/Latino thing — English dropped gender in nouns, what, 1,000 years ago?). But a couple said we should just pronounce it the way the bearer of the name prefers, including one who pronounces her name “freed” even though it’s spelled “fried,” like fried rice. (I think Cathy Seipp of blessed memory did the reverse — “sipe” instead of “seep.”) Deferring to people’s own pronunciation of their names should obviously be our first inclination, but there ought to be limits. Putting the emphasis on the final syllable of Sotomayor is unnatural in English (which is why the president stopped doing it after the first time at his press conference), unlike my correspondent’s simple preference for a monophthong over a diphthong, and insisting on an unnatural pronunciation is something we shouldn’t be giving in to.

Right-o! There are literally no words in the English language that veritably FORCE you to put some kind of unnatural emphasis on the final syllable, which is why there is no such thing as an iamb or any such nonsense in our grammatical history.

So, yes, Virginia: Shakespeare was a French Nazi, and his sonnets were communist propaganda bullshit that were meant to make your mouth gay with their sodomite rhythms.

17
May
09

NY Times Doesn’t Want Any Part Of Geffen’s Communist Bullpucky

So, last week David Geffen was outed as having perhaps the best idea ever to save the newspapaer industry, starting with the the NY Times. In a fashion that makes transparent the reasons they are so publicly f(l)ailing, Times editor Bill Keller has countered with the worst idea ever.

A “meter system,” in which the reader can roam freely on the Web site until hitting a predetermined limit of word-count or pageviews, after which a meter will start running and the reader is charged for movement on the site thereafter.

Yup, you read that right: They want to charge internet readers by the word. What better way to counteract the nefarious insurgence of communism (i.e. “non-profit” *shudder*) than to profit off the free-est part of your precious free market?

Oh, and he had another idea too:

Mr. Keller described the second proposal as a “membership” system…Mr. Keller described the second proposal as a “membership” system.

That one sounds suspiciously like PBS, no?

I say it’s time the Sulzbergers give up their stranglehold on media beholden to advertising lords and masters already. They have enough money to last for generations’ worth of loquacious scallawagging through the Upper East Side as is, and a city about to rescind terms limits for the highest-bidding mayor (hint: Bloomberg) could use a reliable news source (besides…well, Bloomberg).

14
May
09

It’s The Economy, Faggot

Let’s hope the Obama administration really does, as is rumored, read Andrew Sullivan. His column on Obama’s gay rights bullshit no-stances is powerful stuff, and everyone should read it. Which is why I’m going to post it in its entirety:


The Fierce Urgency Of Whenever

I lived through eight years of the Clintons and then eight years of Bush. Through it all, gay people were treated at the federal level like embarrassments or impediments. With Clinton, we were the means to raise money. With Bush, we were the means to leverage votes by exploiting bigotry. Obama seemed in the campaign to promise something else. I listened to him in the early days and found him sincere about ending discrimination by the government; and I came to respect, while vehemently disagreeing with, his position on federal civil unions. He seemed genuinely distressed that gay servicemembers should be treated with contempt and persecution by their commander-in-chief, that gay couples should have to fight for basic human treatment – like entry to hospital rooms, or being able to stay in the same apartment as their late spouse, or forced into cruel separation by immigration laws that treat gay couples as threats, rather than assets, or if you had the temerity to survive HIV, being treated at the US border the way Jesse Helms always wanted people with HIV to be treated – like perverts and pariahs and threats.

It is quite something to have a government stamp in your passport, as I do, that will tell any immigration or police officer with a connection to a government database that I have HIV, that I am therefore a threat and can be arrested and detained and deported at the border if necessary. I’m a big boy with money and a robust self-esteem as an HIV-positive survivor, but I think of thousands of others far less powerful and wealthy than I am who are afraid to enter or leave the US because their HIV status renders them criminals. I think of how the US is the only developed country – and one of only a handful of undeveloped countries – that still tells the world that people with HIV are dangerous pariahs, who need policing at borders and deporting if discovered. And yet this is the current policy of the Obama administration on global HIV and AIDS.

And it’s tedious to whine and jump up and down and complain when a wand isn’t waved and everything is made right by the first candidate who really seemed to get it, who was even able to address black church congregations about homophobia. And obviously patience is necessary; and legislative work takes time; and there are real challenges on so many fronts, especially the economy and the legacy of war crimes and the permanently restive Iraqi and Afghan regions we are constantly in the process of liberating from themselves. No one expects a president to be grappling with all this early on, or, God help us, actually leading on civil rights. That’s our job, not his.

But I have a sickeningly familiar feeling in my stomach, and the feeling deepens with every interaction with the Obama team on these issues. They want them to go away. They want us to go away.

Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all).

And what is Obama doing about any of these things? What is he even intending at some point to do about these things? So far as I can read the administration, the answer is: nada. We’re firing Arab linguists? So sorry. We won’t recognize in any way a tiny minority of legally married couples in several states because they’re, ugh, gay? We had no idea. There’s a ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants? Really? Thanks for letting us know. Would you like to join Joe Solmonese and John Berry for cocktails? The inside of the White House is fabulous these days.

Yesterday, Robert Gibbs gave non-answer after non-answer on civil unions and Obama’s clear campaign pledge to grant equal federal rights for gay couples; non-answer after non-answer on the military’s remaining ban on honest servicemembers. What was once a categorical pledge is now – well let’s call it the toilet paper that it is. I spent yesterday trying to get a better idea of what’s intended on all fronts, and the overwhelming sense – apart from a terror of saying anything about gay people on the record – is that we are in the same spot as in every Democratic administration: the well-paid leaders of the established groups get jobs and invites, and that’s about it. Worse: we will get a purely symbolic, practically useless hate crimes bill that they will then wave in our faces to prove they need do nothing more.

As for the HIV ban, legislatively lifted by overwhelming numbers of Republicans and Democrats almost a year ago, this is the state of play from an Obama HHS spokesman:

“The Department of Health and Human Services has submitted for OMB review a notice of proposed rule-making to implement this change.”

Translation: we’re doing the bare minimum to make us look no worse than Bush, but we have no real interest in this and are letting the bureaucracy handle it, and we guarantee nothing. On gay servicemembers, the president is writing personal notes to those he has fired and intends to continue firing. Will he write some personal notes to the people with HIV he deports? Will he write personal notes to the gay spouses suddenly without a home or their late spouse’s savings or forced by his administration to relocate abroad because he has no intention of actually fulfilling his promises?

I recall my old, now dead, friend Bob Hattoy, who toiled in the Clinton administration. He was going to write a memoir of working with people who thought of homosexual rights as wonderful things to say you support (especially if you’re fundraising or at a Hollywood dinner party) but far, far too controversial to ever do anything about, let alone risk anything for. In the end, of course, the Clintons enacted a slew of brutally anti-gay measures – passing DOMA, doubling the rate of gay discharges from the military, signing the ban on HIV-positive tourists and immigrants – and expected standing ovations as pioneers of civil rights. The pathetic gay rights leaders gave it to them, so delighted were they to have their checks cashed. The proposed title of Bob’s book was a summary of the priorities of the Clinton years:

It’s The Economy, Faggot.

I have a feeling he died laughing. What else are you gonna do?

I agree 100%. Gay rights are civil rights. Period. Using a community’s desperation to only be partially marginalized and discriminated against (as opposed to forcibly extricated from “polite society”) in order to get elected is disgusting. Especially for beneficiaries of the movement. And I’m not just talking Obama here: Women, Jews, Catholics, all minorities, and sometimes majorities…we all benefit together, or perish alone.