Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Dolly Parton For the Win


It's always refreshing to see someone act like an informed adult in public:
On the topic of BLM, the 74-year-old proved that she’s definitely aligned with the times and fully onboard with the protests that have carried on since George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police. “I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,” said Parton. “And of course, Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!” The Queen of Nashville has officially spoken.
Parton also engaged in a discussion about how racist monuments and other antiquated Confederacy statues have been taken down in the last few months. The iconic artist actually did something similar in 2018, when she renamed her “Dixie Stampede” Civil War-themed attraction to “Dolly Parton’s Stampede”. Although she was clearly ahead of her time — The Dixie Chicks only changed their name this past June — Parton admitted that she was guilty of “innocent ignorance” back then.
She spoke further on her decision to rename the attraction:
"When they said ‘Dixie’ was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it The Stampede.’ As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose.”
Elsewhere in the sprawling profile, Parton makes it clear she has no plans to slow down or exit the entertainment industry anytime soon. (In fact, earlier today she announced a new Christmas album featuring contributions from Miley Cyrus, Willie Nelson, Michael Bublé, Jimmy Fallon, and more.) Even so, Parton said she still wants to get her estate and her will in order just in case tragedy strikes — mostly to ease the burden on her family.
“I would not want to leave that mess to somebody else,” commented Parton. “A word to all the other artists out there: If you haven’t made those provisions, do that. You don’t want to leave that mess to your family for people to have to fight over. You need to take care of that yourself, even if it’s a pain in the ass — and it is.” As anyone that’s followed the music industry knows, an artist’s death can often lead to plenty of squabbles over ownership and rights.
There is no compelling reason for her to stick her neck out like this. The Dollywood amusement park  relies on a clientele that is mostly Southern and probably sympathetic to Trump and to right wing politics. Where it sits makes it a destination for a significant number of visitors and it employs a vast number of people who would be hard pressed to find comparable work. These people are being taken care of because of Dolly's generosity and entrepreneurial spirit.

For her to go out and speak her mind against her own business interests is brave, in and of itself. But here's the thing--Dolly is such an icon, she may be able to change a few hearts and minds over to the idea that we really do need to be decent and understanding of the feelings of others.

In this whole entire country right now, she might be one of a handful of people who could get people to moderate their views and come over to her way of thinking.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Why Does Daniel Radcliffe Have to Say This?


Why does Daniel Radcliffe have to ride to the rescue of J.K. Rowling?
Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the "Harry Potter" franchise, on Monday responded to franchise creator J.K. Rowling's controversial tweets about gender identity, directly addressing fans who may have felt pain reading the author's comments, which some labeled as transphobic.
Rowling, who has often come under fire by the large Potter fandom for her social media posts, sparked backlash over the weekend after mocking a headline about "people who menstruate."
"'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people," she tweeted on Saturday. "Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

Shortly after, the author's name was trending on Twitter, with many accusing her of transphobia -- which she's been accused of before.
Rowling is a grown woman who has repeatedly taken shots at trans people.  She has some emotional need to share her distaste for trans people with a vast global audience. She's done this again and again, and it speaks to her state of mind that, when she does it, there is no real apology or acknowledgement of the pain she is causing others.

Radcliffe should not have to defend her or try to maintain the respectability of the Harry Potter franchise. It would probably be wiser for him to create some distance between himself and Rowling and do what he can behind the scenes to let her know that she needs to get help for her issues. Barring that, it's not his responsibility to cushion the blows that she rains down.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

The French Dispatch


There are only a handful of films that I really wanted to see this year, and The French Dispatch is at the top of the list.
The message from the Cannes Film Festival is: Corona or not, the show must go on. The iconic French festival, which was as scheduled to run May 12-23 but was forced to cancel its physical event due to the coronavirus pandemic, on Wednesday unveiled its lineup for Cannes 2020, a selection of films that will carry the Cannes brand to screen at other events around the world.
The Cannes 2020 program includes many of the year's buzziest art house and indie titles — among them Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch, Naomi Kawase's True Mothers, François Ozon's Summer of '85, ADN aka DNA, directed by, and starring French filmmaker Maïwenn (Polisse) and Thomas Vinterberg’s pro-drinking drama Another Round. (Scroll down for the full line-up).

Don't take this to mean that it is the only thing I wanted to see. I suppose there are a few others, we don't get a Wes Anderson movie like this one often enough.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not just delaying the release of movies that are already made but it is also delaying the filming and production of movies that had been planned. And we all know how things fall apart--funding, whatever and what have you dries up when there is a delay. Add to that the struggles of everyone who works on films and you have a perfect storm for when we might have to settle for re-releases and encore presentations.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Up in Horsey Heaven


The Parks and Recreation reunion episode was perfect, and they capped it off with one of the greatest songs ever written about a miniature horse.


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Parks and Recreation


What's funny is that I never thought they would have a reunion on Parks and Recreation. either:
Parks and Recreation co-creator Mike Schur never wanted to do a revival, reboot or any sort of reunion for his beloved and star-studded former NBC comedy. Then the novel coronavirus shut down the world and changed everything.
"I didn't think Parks and Recreation would ever reunite; the show had a point to make and we made it and it ended and there was no compelling reason to do it — but this is as compelling a reason as there is," Schur told press, including The Hollywood Reporter, during a 45-minute conference call Tuesday, mere days before Amy Poehler's brilliantly optimistic Leslie Knope returns to the network in a special that doubles as a fundraiser for Feeding America.

Parks and Recreation, Schur recalled, was forged during the economic recession in 2007-08, when it was clear the government would have to play an active role in people's lives. That same need is true today, with people across the world turning to local and national governments to navigate the novel coronavirus and its economic fallout as many look for food assistance, financial aid to cover rent/mortgages and so on.
It was an amazing show. It was crippled by a couple of things early on and it always seemed that NBC was looking for a way to cancel it. Thirty episodes into the series, they wrote Paul Schneider off of the show and tried to bring in a new romantic lead. And then there was the writers strike, which hobbled numerous shows and shorted us a fair number of great episodes of TV.

I'll watch this. Really, what else is there to do?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Real Nazis Are Mad That Everyone Likes to Kill Nazis




Cool story, bro:

Welcome to 2017, when you can track the steady, civilization-sinking-into-the-mud decline of American politics by the number of people angrily shouting, “Hey, what gives?!” about a video game where you take back America from actual, genocidal Nazis. That’s the reaction that’s met the trailer for Bethesda’s latest shooter, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus today, with YouTube comments and 4chan posts filling up with people protesting the game for its “anti-white” politics, which involve such offenses as suggesting that the KKK and Nazis might have gotten along—given their shared mutual interests—and having a black character call the hero “white boy.”

Because this is the internet—a melting pot of ideas, irony, and creative expression that now seems increasingly like a mistake—the comments on the trailer have now descended into a mix of “Hey, get a look at these comments,” people calling each other snowflakes, and actual vitriol and right-wing memes. A number of people have logged on to suggest, for instance, that the Nazi-controlled America—full of happy, cheering white people and absolutely no minorities—shown in the trailer seems like a pretty nice place to live, while others are angry that Nazi-slaughtering protagonist B.J. Blazkowicz teams up with communists in his efforts to start a new American revolution. Many are decrying the game’s designers for “politicizing” Nazi murder or trying to push a particular political viewpoint, an argument that falls a little flat when applied to a series that once asked players to bust out of a literal Nazi labor camp in a robotic golem powered by Jewish science magic.

In the age of Trump, creating and marketing a video game that lets you run around in America and kill Nazis is just the marketplace talking to the consumer. In the words of the immortal Jello Biafra, Nazi Punks Fuck Off.













Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Kiester




You can't laugh at the town of Kiester anymore because, well, the joke got old a long time ago:

The small Faribault County town of Kiester, population 501, is going to soon have some national recognition.

Some residents, however, are not so sure they want the notoriety.

A New York advertising agency is coming to the town to film scenes for a new Preparation-H hemorrhoids medicine television commercial.

“Yes, we know. They are doing it here because of the name of the town,” said Kiester mayor Doug Trytten. “And some of our residents don’t like that.”

But, said Trytten, joked about the town having the same name as a euphemism for a person’s backside have been going on for years.

“They (the ad agency) approached the City Council basically asking permission to come and use the town for the commercial,” Trytten said. “We (the council) chuckled about it, then voted to allow them to go ahead.”

The ad agency crew had planned to start filming this past week, but postponed it for a couple of weeks due to the weather, according to city clerk Doris Troll.

I have been loosely familiar with a thing called Faribault County my whole life. I was born and raised in Freeborn County, which is exactly the same shape and sits slightly to the right of Faribault County. This has convinced me that I am superior somehow, but not as superior as someone from the aptly name Mower County, which is slightly to the right of Freeborn County. In Southern Minnesota, as long as you aren't from Winona County, you're just alright by me.

We have laughed our whole lives at Kiester, which is somewhat like Conger and nothing like Bricelyn, which is a hotbed of sedition and confusion. Or is that Alden? I used to know a lot about these places and then I up and left like I should have. Here's how these towns work--a lot of old people live there. A few people live there and they have small kids. There's a pop machine, a guy trying to sell something, and a couple of places that are boarded up and used to be things. Someone works on cars and someone else put in a place where you can get a handful of overprices groceries. If you can't make it to Hy-Vee, you get something in town, you know. Did you read all of that? Well, congratulations, because if we were in a car going 30 miles and hour, you and I just passed thrown Kiester in a blink of an eye.

Anyone going from a New York City ad agency to Kiester is going to have their mind blown by the culture shock that awaits them. Perhaps they should ease into it and stop off in Albert Lea so they can be beaten up at the Nasty Habit and have their credit card skimmed on South Broadway.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Microagressions Suck





Just by writing this, Emily Shire committed a microagression!

Before 2015, playing beer pong and pulling all-nighters were the activities most associated with the college experience. That all changed this year.


From large public universities in America’s heartland, like the University of Missouri, to small private colleges along the coasts, like Claremont McKenna College in California, student outrage spread like mono at a frat party.


A new lexicon to cover hot-button campus issues—“microaggressions,” “safe spaces,” “yes means yes”—entered the mainstream as college protests earned increasing national interest, far beyond the academic bubble.


Student outrage doesn't bother me and it shouldn't bother you, either. Let them get spun up about these things--it's not like there aren't people being shot and it's not like women just stopped being raped. Let them have their moment within the safe environment of college to learn how the world really works, and, oh by the way, let them change society for the better by redefining what we can and cannot talk about. Deriding someone's opposition to racism or gender inequality means you're getting a taste of what's around the corner. Eventually, we'll all stop offending one another, even if it means giving up a banh mi sandwich, whatever the hell that is.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Reasonable Language of the War on Women

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="900.0"]  Scott Walker  Scott Walker [/caption]


If it's Wednesday, someone thinking about running for the Republican nomination for president just said something dumb:

Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said in an interview on Friday that mandatory ultrasounds for women hoping to get an abortion was "just a cool thing."

During the interview with conservative radio host Dana Loesch, Walker defended a bill he’d signed in 2013 that required women get the ultrasounds.

“The thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” Walker said. “Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons who are 19 and 20, and we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”

Walker sounds so reasonable and that's how you know when someone wants to take rights away from women. It's as if he's living in a state divorced from reality.  It's as if he doesn't have a single competent adviser who can help him steer clear of giving away too much when it comes to taking away a woman's right to choose. When he defends the creation of a law that intrudes on the liberty of others and forces doctors to perform an unnecessary and invasive test procedure, he doesn't seem to understand that he's violating every tenet of conservatism:

“We just knew if we signed that law, if we provided the information, that more people if they saw that unborn child would make a decision to protect and keep the life of that unborn child,” Walker said.

That's the thing with white male conservative men--your liberty is meaningless. Your liberty--your legal right to get an abortion--means nothing to them. They will invade your space and force doctors to perform an unnecessary test in order to maintain their dominance. They want to tell people what to do with their bodies, and all you can do is note that they keep winning elections and they pay no political price for such things.

It would be easy to mock Scott Walker but, really, you have to question the wisdom of the Wisconsin voting public. They elected this man twice (three times if you count the recall) and they don't seem to mind having their liberty used as a doormat.

Do the voters hate the idea of giving women the right to choose what to do with their bodies? Plenty of them seem to love it when a conservative goes against conservative values just to confiscate liberty and throw it away.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Leave People Alone


I know I am a jackass for saying this, but the best thing that a policeman can do is leave people alone.

If you're not breaking the law, you expect to be left alone. That moment of uncertainty when a policeman stops you or approaches you is stressful enough. There are times when you don't want to inadvertently scare people by introducing authority figures into their daily routine.

Really, free stuff is just not worth the aggravation. Leaving people alone is a priceless practice in modern American society.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Snow White is a Nerd?




A great idea and a great piece of pop art (if I'm allowed to call it that).

I would put a little bit of white tape on the glasses, though. But, remember. I have next to no talent.

Friday, February 6, 2015

We're All Eleventh Cousins With Somebody




Jane Austen

This is a little ridiculous:

Jane Austen wrote the ultimate fairy tales, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is living one herself. But that's not all these two women have in common. 


The famed romance author (1775-1817) and the newly-minted royal, 29, have family ties, according to findings from Ancestry.com


The ladies are eleventh cousins, six times removed, according to the site, and they are linked through Henry Percy, the second Earl of Northumberland, who was born in 1392. 


We all have family ties with royalty or the historically famous or both. I don't think this is newsworthy at all.


The very nature of modern life dictates that we all come from common ancestors and a bloodline that traces back to someone notable in history, and this is true for all of the cultures of the Earth as well. This is not a white European fact; it's true for people from all over. The fact that they had to go back to 1392 to find a common ancestor is enough for a good laugh. And I don't know what's funnier--going back 619 years or expecting useful information out of People magazine.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

This is Sexist




Veev vodka is hoping you'll accept the joke here. Unfortunately, it's a transparently sexist and somewhat culturally insensitive ad.

The stereotypically harsh and unattractive Russian/Slavic/Eastern European depiction of a hectoring wife is supposed to sell alcohol to who, exactly? I'm not sure who the target audience is but any man married to a "beast like this" (which is what the advertiser is signaling here) must want to drink themselves into a state of unconsciousness.

When you're using humor to kick down here, you have to remember that there is a fine line between satire and being stupid about cultural signifiers. You're not supposed to link your product to something that doesn't have some sort of redeeming quality. Being smashed, cheating on your wife, and fostering a stereotype isn't exactly the smart or uplifting quality being sought here.

Veev makes a vodka that is useful for your suicide by drinking because your horrible wife is a sexless babushka? Really? And now that means you gotta get a third or fourth bottle for your bros?

Stupid. And, of course, sexist.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Wal-Mart Gives Itself a Tax Cut




Did you know that Wal-Mart can give itself a tax cut?

The act of dropping health care coverage for 30,000 workers amounts to a savings of $500 million dollars per year. I think that that number is low because Wal-Mart is going to make a whole lot more of their employees fall into that category in order to boost their savings (which are not needed, of course, because Wal-Mart is an insanely profitable business).

Your taxes will have to cover that difference because those workers will now have to rely on government benefits or emergency room services or some other form of funding for their health care costs. In many cases, they'll just pay more out of pocket, thereby receiving a pay cut on top of the tax increase you'll get in order to help make up the difference.

Wal-Mart takes the savings and passes them on to you. Only you're not making more money, either.

What I don't understand is, how much longer can we continue to pretend that Wal-Mart has been good for America in any way, shape or form? We're now addicted to cheap consumer goods made elsewhere. We're used to covering the costs of feeding and sheltering people who work for Wal-Mart and receive low pay and can't make ends meet. Now we're going to be handed another segment of the gainfully-employed population that will require health care coverage.

It's awful.

And, what's more, Wal-Mart managers are going to be under pressure to arbitrarily and unfairly cut hours and put more people in the cohort that is losing health care coverage. They'll do that by quietly reducing hours for people who are already on the bubble. Shopping there is already more of a nightmare than it was twenty years ago precisely because they cut the hours of the very same people who are there to help customers and get them through the check stands. The very definition of hell is Wal-Mart on a Friday night at 10:30.

The margins are incredibly thin now--disaster awaits anyone who is unlucky enough to lose a few hours a week or a little bit of insurance.

A one billion dollar a year tax increase on Wal-Mart would be welcome. Good luck ever seeing that in your lifetime.