Category Archives: pop culture

Not Really Giving A Shit About Miss America, Sorry

Please stop telling me to give two shits about Miss America. Because I don’t. And I won’t.

I’m sorry some people on the dark corners of the internet were mean to her because she’s of Southeast Southwest Asian heritage, and they thought that meant Muslim. This is what the internet is for: to give equal voice to the stupids and extremists of the discourse. They are the minority. I’m sure most people don’t care and those who do were fine with Nina Davuluri. She seems perfectly fine.

What I find offensive is the entire concept of women “competing” for a meaningless title based on how they look in a swimsuit, formal wear and similarly superficial judgments. Whether she’s white, brown, caramel, yellow, or purple really is immaterial to me. I just find the whole spectacle offensive. Surely there’s an easier way to get a job on morning television.

But it’s all Kabuki. Seems like all of this is ginned up to bring some much-needed relevance to a completely outdated relic of our pre-feminist culture.


Filed under feminism, Media, pop culture, racism

Horrible Movies

Last night we watched “Identity Thief” on DVD, which was a truly horrible movie. That got me thinking of all the horrible movies I’ve seen recently, and trust me: there have been a lot. “Iron Man 3” was pretty horrible. So was “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” I’m pretty sure any movie based on a comic book is going to be horrible these days.

Hollywood: WTF is wrong with you?

So I wonder: what is the best most horrible movie you’ve seen recently?

By horrible I mean a movie that is supposed to be good, but isn’t. Movies with a strong cast or a good director or that even maybe got nominated for some awards for some inexplicable reason. I’m not talking true schlock like Saw IV or Friday the 13th Part 1,072. I’m talking a movie that everyone thought would be good until it all went horribly, horribly wrong.

I think by far the worst movie I’ve ever seen which fits that criteria is “Les Miserables.” Good lord, that was torture. Impossibly long, horribly overwrought, no one in the entire film looked like they’d taken a bath. Everyone looked like they smelled. I like musicals, but I didn’t like any of the songs in this one. And every time I thought we’d reached the end and I could finally go to the bathroom I’d find out nooooo! It’s not over yet! That movie was my Gitmo, it broke me, and when I was finally allowed to leave I crawled out of the theater ready to kiss the ground of the parking lot, amazed that I had survived. And you know, I have only myself to blame: after all, the word “miserable” was in the damn title.

The other horrible movie which runs a close second is “Incredibly Loud And Extremely Close.” I hated that movie so much I wanted to punch it. I could not believe it was nomninated for an Oscar. The little kid in the movie was incredibly annoying and unsympathetic, and I kept wondering, “where the hell is the mother?” And then when you find out at the end — spoiler alert ahead — that mom had been following along the whole time, unseen, clearing his path, softening the ground ahead of him like some kind of Holy Ghost, I just wanted to shout, “No fucking way!” I mean, it just defied credibility. Didn’t she have a job? I felt like that was the laziest, stupidest thing in the world — as if the movie wasn’t testing well and someone decided to tack on this 10 minute explanation at the end to make it seem more believable.

So, what’s your favorite horrible movie?


Filed under movies, pop culture

The Newsroom Is Back

Yesterday Mr. Beale and I re-watched the entire first season of HBO’s The Newsroom in preparation for the season debut last night. And it took me a while but I finally figured out what annoys me about this show.

All the characters are the same. They all talk the same, they all have the same quirks, they’re all hipster nerds, and so they’re all almost 100% identical.

This is the problem with having just one writer. I find a little of Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire, glib dialogue goes a long way. I didn’t like it on the West Wing, but I don’t remember every single character being that way, either. But all of The Newsroom’s characters talk using that glib, hyper-intellectual, rapid-fire patter, and I find it really insufferable.

So, that’s my big beef with The Newsroom.

Also, I find it annoying that I’m having to relive all of the political battles from a year ago, only this time we have a real national cable news channel that people actually watch asking the hard questions. In real life we don’t have that thing that would be wonderful to have, so stop reminding me how “a real news network” would have handled the X, Y, Z affair. They don’t exist.

Also, I really don’t care if Maggie and Jim get together. Maybe that’s me being an old married person or something, but young people’s romantic lives is really not that interesting to me.

I think Sorkin needs to work with another writer to put some daylight between his characters. They can’t all have the same hyper-intellectual speech patterns. That’s just not normal.

Incidentally, Mr. Sorkin, I hear there’s a writer in Nashville, Tennessee available for hire. And did I mention how much I admired your work on The Farnsworth Invention?


Filed under HBO, pop culture

How To Tell You’re In The Wrong Church


Shocked finally responds:

On Wednesday, the singer made a statement (e-mailed to news outlets, and me in response to my inquiry): “I do not, nor have I ever, said or believed that God hates homosexuals (or anyone else). I said that some of His followers believe that. … When I said, ‘Twitter that Michelle Shocked says, “God hates faggots,” ‘ I was predicting the absurd way my description of, my apology for, the intolerant would no doubt be misinterpreted. … And to those fans who are disappointed … I’m very sorry: I don’t always express myself as clearly as I should. … And my statement equating repeal of Prop. 8 with the coming of the End Times was neither literal nor ironic: It was a description of how some folks – not me – feel about gay marriage.”

Shocked said her own sexuality isn’t an issue here. “I’d like to say this was a publicity stunt, but I’m really not that clever, and I’m definitely not that cynical. But I am damn sorry. If I could repeat the evening, I would make a clearer distinction between a set of beliefs I abhor and my human sympathy for the folks who hold them.”

Well, I sure would love to see a YouTube video of that concert. I wasn’t there so it’s hard to say how her comments were construed, but the fact that people left in droves and the club staff had to literally pull the plug and turn off the lights lets me think she was pretty damn clear at the time.

For you folks who say you haven’t heard of her, she was big back in the 90s when the whole singer-songwriter thing exploded. You might have heard this song.


When your church makes you say stupid shit that alienates a huge chunk of your core fans, maybe you’re in the wrong church.

Seriously, WTF Michelle Shocked? While I can’t say I was ever a huge fan — somewhere I’ve got a box with the CD containing “Anchored Down In Anchorage” on it, and that’s about it — for some reason I’d always believed Michelle Shocked was a lesbian. I lumped her in with the rest of the late-90s Lilith Fair era of women’s music — you know, Indigo Girls and all that. I guess I haven’t kept up because according to the New York Times, somewhere along the way Shocked became a born-again Christian of the holy roller, Pentecostal persuasion.

There are two kinds of churches in the world: the kind peddling love and hope, and the kind peddling hate and fear. I’ve always been fiercely allergic to the latter kind. I really don’t understand why someone would attend a church that makes a person feel bad about who they are, who their friends are, fills them with fear, and alienates them from those who support their creative endeavors. I also don’t understand people who pay more attention to a handful of passages from the Old Testament while ignoring 99.9% of the New Testament:

Michelle Shocked cited Old Testament verses condemning homosexuality and told the audience she hoped the courts would uphold Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, according to Yahoo Music. “I live in fear that the world will be destroyed if gays are allowed to marry,” she said. Then she also told the audience to go on Twitter and report that she had said God hates homosexuals, though it is unclear whether that remark was sardonic.

Much of the audience walked out after her remarks. The club’s manager tried to end the show, but she continued playing until staff members pulled the plug and turned off the stage lights.

The thing is, gays are already allowed to marry in about a dozen countries around the world, and in portions of half a dozen others. Yet we’ve continued to dodge asteroids, while Harold Camping’s end-times predictions have been one huge failure after another. Meanwhile, we continue on in our foolish, carbon-chugging, earth-polluting ways. It seems pretty obvious that if the earth is destroyed, it won’t be the fault of gays.

I do think the Bible is full of lots of eternal truths, one of them being, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Right now, Shocked is sowing a very bitter harvest. There’s anger and cancelled gigs and people walking out of shows because she’s repeating what her church told her. The good news is, there are plenty of churches out there of the “love and hope” persuasion, that don’t make you feel bad for who you are or who your friends are or the things you’ve done or believed.

There will inevitably be those tempted to compare this incident to the Dixie Chicks’ infamous public flogging after Natalie Maines said she was against the Iraq War and ashamed President Bush was from Texas. There are similarities, but they’re thin. For one thing, the Dixie Chicks were at the peak of a red-hot career — they had the number one single on the charts, fer crissakes — when they were attacked by their own very clubby industry. The Dixie Chicks’ words were greeted with cheers at the time; only later was a controversy manufactured by the suits on Music Row and at corporate radio.

Someday we’ll find out the full story behind what was an organized, industry-directed campaign ginning up outrage for fun and profit. Few people remember this today, but at the time the ‘Chicks had just emerged victorious in a major, very public battle with their powerful record company, Sony. From the memory hole:

The war with Sony started in 2001, after the group’s first two albums, Wide Open Spaces and Fly, sold more than 10 million copies apiece. In an interview with Dan Rather that aired on CBS, the Chicks announced that by their math, Sony had made $200 million off them but that individually they had yet to gross seven figures. Then, in a move that sent shock waves through Nashville (admittedly it’s a town that’s easily shocked), the Chicks served Sony with papers claiming that because of the company’s alleged accounting misdeeds, they were declaring themselves free agents. “We all know there are some major problems in the music industry,” says Maguire. “Every new act signs a bad deal. But we never dreamed that the s_____ deal we signed wouldn’t even be honored.”

Sony sued the group for breach of contract; the Chicks countersued, alleging “systematic thievery.” As the charges escalated, the Chicks found themselves Nashville pariahs. For country acts, the relationship between label and band has historically been in loco parentis; bands presumed the label always knew best. “Everyone in the country industry kept telling us, ‘Keep your mouths shut. Why don’t you appreciate what you have?'” says Maguire.

That’s the context that’s always ignored when people talk about how the Nashville music industry turned on its own stars. Despite all of this, they still had a Number One radio single and a Number One album. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the whole Iraq War fauxtroversy popped up on their first post-Sony endeavor. It was a way of teaching the Chicks a lesson by a hubris-filled entertainment industry. That this lesson veered way out of control and ended up ultimately hurting the industry itself is just par for the course.

All of this is water under the bridge, and it’s a little off topic, but I figured some wingnut is going to go all “liberals-are-hypocrites” on this story, so I thought I’d get ahead of the game.

Anyway, Michelle Shocked is entitled to her opinion, as misguided as it may be, but her fans don’t have to subject themselves to it. And I don’t see any coordinated, industry-generated campaign to ruin her career as happened with the Dixie Chicks. I see an artist engaging in some very public self-sabotage for reasons I can’t begin to fathom but are probably rooted in the very toxic, negative messaging she’s been getting every Sunday.


Filed under gay equality, marriage, music and politics, pop culture

IOKIYAR, Nudie Pitchers Edition

Since we’re picking on The Daily Failure today, I’ve just got this one extra thing to add:

It's Okay If You're A Republican!

It’s Okay If You’re A Republican!

Yes, Tucker Carlson, do tell me how Ashley Judd’s film nudity disqualifies her from the U.S. Senate. I’m all ears.

I really hope she runs, I do. The way Republicans are going apeshit over even the suggestion tells me she scares the bejeezus out of them.

My in-laws all live in Kentucky and I asked my mother-in-law if she thought Judd had a chance. She said yes, because Judd is more associated with Kentucky Wildcats basketball than Hollywood. And people in Kentucky take their college basketball very, very seriously. I’m not sure how you can go from years of cheering your team’s most renowned superfan to seeing her as the devil incarnate without something else to bridge the gap. And “Hollywood” ain’t gonna cut it, not when Republicans have lionized Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Hell, they even sent Gopher from the Love Boat to Congress. If Republicans can make the leap from the screen to Washington, D.C., so can Democrats.

How Kentuckians Know Ashley Judd

How Kentuckians Know Ashley Judd

Suckit, Republicans. Ashley Judd is smart, articulate, educated, and she scares the shit out of you. Bwaahaaa.


Filed under politics, politics and film, pop culture

OMG It’s Oscar Time, Y’all

I was going to say this is my obligatory Oscar post, but it appears in nearly six years of blogging I’ve neglected to write one.

Ooops, my bad. Ah well, this is my chance to rectify that oversight. Let me first say, there may be some spoilers ahead. So consider yourself warned.

Mr. Beale and I are huge movie buffs. Oscar night is like our Super Bowl. We’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees this year, with the exception of “Les Miserables.” However, we saw that “no one’s ever tried it this way before!” promotional featurette so many times, I feel like I’ve seen the movie. Really!

We kept saying we needed to go, and yet, we just couldn’t manage to do it. We finally realized that we just … weren’t interested. Isn’t that awful? I don’t know why, but we just didn’t want to see it. And I really, really love musicals. I loved “Rent” on the big screen. Whenever we go to New York, which is often, I always make sure a musical is on our theater schedule. In January we saw “Once,” which I loved. So, I don’t know why we just couldn’t drag ourselves to “Les Miserables,” except it just looked like a real downer. But plenty of other movies this year were downers, I mean Jesus, “Amour” is about old people who die. Yikes. So I don’t know why we just didn’t want to go.

For me, the Best Picture is one which transports me to another world, touches me on a deep emotional or spiritual level, makes me think differently about something, and uses all the amazing storytelling devices a film maker has at their disposal to make a larger point about our world. While there are a lot of really good films nominated for Best Picture this year, the only nominee that really stood out as Best Picture for me was “Beasts Of The Southern Wild.” That film was magical, mystical, spiritual, beautiful, and everything else I want in a movie. I loved that movie so much I wanted to hug it. It probably won’t win because it was a small, low-budget independent film made by unknowns, but for my money, it should.

A movie which met all of my Best Picture criteria yet wasn’t nominated was “The Sessions.” It really should have been. If you haven’t seen that movie, by all means go. But bring a box of tissues with you, you’ll need them.

“Life of Pi” surprised me. That is one of my all-time favorite books, ever. I thought I would hate the film for that reason alone, as I just couldn’t imagine it ever being turned into a movie. But I thought it was excellent, really, really excellent.

Something about this film really sticks with me and it has to do with that horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a Delhi bus last December. I had read that the young woman and her male friend were on their way home from seeing “Life of Pi” at the theater when the attack occured. That information just breaks my heart in so many ways. “Life of Pi” is an allegory. It’s about human nature’s struggle with the animal savagery that lives inside us all — the very brutality that this woman and her friend met on that Delhi bus. The very savagery that fills our newspapers every day. It bothers me that every discussion of this film focuses on the amazing special effects. The larger message seems to have been lost, even when a shocking news event like what happened in India points us to it in such a huge way.

By the same token, the larger message of a film like “Silver Linings Playbook” seems to be overplayed for me. Okay, I get that it’s supposed to be about mental illness and all that but, erm, it’s really not. It’s a quirky love story and it really didn’t delve much deeper than that.

I just didn’t like that movie all that much. Maybe it hit too many buttons for me; I just felt like these two characters were way too unstable and way too early in their recovery to make responsible relationship decisions. And there really wasn’t much time devoted to exploring their issues at all. I wanted to tell them both to go to a Zen retreat and meditate for a year or something. (Let me add, Mr. Beale adored “Silver Linings Playbook,” and completely disagrees with me. Duly noted.) I wanted to tell Jennifer Lawrence that any guy with these kinds of anger issues is not a guy you want to date.

I also didn’t love “Lincoln.” I liked it, but didn’t love it. Steven Spielberg’s direction always seems a little too emotionally manipulative to me. I am the only person in the world who hated “E.T.”

“Lincoln” had too many obvious awards-baiting scenes for me. Every time Daniel Day Lewis, or any character really, started a speech, it’s as if there were blaring sirens screaming, “ATTENTION MEMBERS OF THE ACADEMY!” The color palette was all cold, gray, and dour, which gave the whole film a washed-out feel to me. I felt like I was supposed to be uplifted by the film, but I never felt that way. That said, I’ve already made peace with the idea of “Lincoln” raking in the awards this year. It just seems like the kind of film that the Academy adores.

We liked “Argo,” but it was like a thriller movie, not really a Best Picture-caliber film. It was interesting for me, since I well remember the Iran hostage crisis, and it was a little time-trip for me. I’ve heard President Carter say that the real heroes of the Argo story were the Canadians, who were really the ones responsible for getting our six embassy staffers out of Iran. It bothers me that the film took those liberties with the story, as if the story wouldn’t be as powerful if the heroes were Canadians.

“Zero Dark Thirty” was kind of the same way, a gripping thriller and really good film but maybe not Best Picture. Liberals are mad at “Zero Dark Thirty” because it depicts torture as actually being an effective way to get intelligence, and the left’s talking point has always been that torture doesn’t work. That doesn’t really bother me about the film, as it does show that faulty intel was obtained through torture and it shows that there were other tools used to obtain intel that were just as effective. I think the left needs to take a steaming cup of STFU and give Kathryn Bigelow a break.

I thought I would hate “Django Unchained,” because I really hate gratuitous violence in films, which means I am not a Quentin Tarantino fan at all, ever, full stop. I usually want to tell him to grow the fuck up, he’s like a little kid. But honestly, the violence in “Django Unchained” was so over the top and the entire film was so stylized and such a caricature that I was able to handle it. I’m not sure it deserved a Best Picture nomination; I think the Academy voters were more attached to the filmmaking than the film.

And that brings us to “Amour,” which I dragged Mr. Beale to when we were in New York. I saw this film after reading the book “Me Before You,” which also takes up the issue of assisted suicide and disabled people. I really, absolutely hated that book for reasons I won’t go into here, but which dovetailed with my view of “Amour.” I just don’t get the European view of people with disabilities. As someone whose mother was incapacitated by several strokes and so who has kind of been through this, I found myself puzzled by Anne’s desire to die. She really seemed to be in pretty good shape for a stroke patient. Hell, my mom was in worse shape than Anne, and we took her to Las Vegas for her birthday. We packed up her wheelchair and took her to movies and concerts and festivals. We made big outings out of a trip to the grocery store. She went all sorts of places, even though she could barely talk and was fed through a tube in her stomach.

I find the European approach to disabled people, at least as depicted in this film and that book, very backwards. Life doesn’t end because you’re in a wheelchair.

Alright, I’m gonna wrap this up. What was your favorite movie of the year?


Filed under movies, pop culture

The Politico-Industrial Complex

Don’t know if anyone saw Stephen Colbert (the satirist not the character) talk to David Gregory this weekend but it’s a must-see (sorry, but WordPress won’t let me embed the video for some reason … you’ll have to click on the link).

What’s I most appreciated was hearing him talk about what he calls the “Politico-Industrial Complex.” He says:

The Super Pac was an act of discovery because I didn’t intend to have a Super Pac […] What I found out is that there’s an entire industry in politics — which I didn’t know, I suspected — but there’s an entire industry, there’s a “politico-industrial complex” that is not just raising money, but is built around making money off of the fact that there is so much money in politics. And there are almost no rules.

Yes, yes, yes. An entire industry built around making money off of money in politics. Where there’s shit there’s always flies.

If there’s an untold story of American politics, and this election in particular, it is this. Michael Moore has touched on this a little bit in some of his films, and documentaries like “Casino Jack” have touched on it as well. But I think the real scope of this, the idea there is a “Politico-Industrial Complex” influencing and corrupting our system of governance, is still a foreign idea to most American voters. And I also think that’s by design because I remain convinced that the media is complicit in this — after all, most of the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by these campaigns ends up on their balance sheet in the form of TV advertising. So the media comprises a substantial portion of the “Politico-Industrial Complex.”

How this changes I have no clue, but it’s a natural law that the larger something gets, the more unstable it gets. I’d say the next few years will see the collapse of a lot of this stuff — headlines like this one are a big reason why.

Hope it’s not just wishful thinking on my part.


Filed under campaign finance, Media, politics, pop culture, Stephen Colbert



HBO has posted the first episode on YouTube.


Did you watch HBO’s new show last night? We did. I loved it. Yes, it’s got all of that Aaron Sorkin rapid-fire glib banter. That dialogue is a Sorkin hallmark and I wouldn’t have expected anything else. I found it made me nostalgic for The West Wing.

Anyway, leading into last night’s premiere the show was getting vicious reviews. I don’t think the media likes being told it’s Doing It Wrong — not by viewers (I’ve been told by a local news anchor to “stop attacking my profession”), and not by a fancy-pants Hollywood writer. Just a guess.

As readers of this blog well know, I have a very low opinion of our modern news media. So I’m playing the world’s tiniest violin for critics with such tepid complaints as this one:

Sadly, Sorkin flips this formula on The Newsroom, pumping his creations so full of media-critic talking points that they almost suffocate. And while Sorkin is right about the false bias toward balance that plagues the postmodern press, his decision to center the series on the real events of 2010 prevents him from dramatizing how that bias could actually be combated. When the Deepwater Horizon explodes, McAvoy’s team immediately intuits that the real story is the size of the coming oil spill rather than the ongoing search-and-rescue mission—even though in real life it took days for anyone to -report that oil was leaking.

Umm … dudes, I think that’s the point? On the show they didn’t “intuit” that the real story was the size of the oil spill. A producer had contacts inside BP and Halliburton who told them what the real story was. You know … contacts? Reporting? Like how they used to do it?

Sigh. Whatever.


Filed under Media, pop culture

The Sorest Losers

As I’ve mentioned here before, one of my guilty sorta-pleasures is NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” I say “sorta” because I really hate a lot about the show, too. So I DVR it and fast forward through all of the crap — the product placement stupidity (“Extra Sugar Free Gum instead of dessert! Your key to weight loss!”) and dumb challenges and other stupid stuff. Increasingly this is most of the show, so this is probably my last season.

And this season has been a real disappointment. Few of the contestants have been likeable or even inspirational. I can’t imagine actually living in a house with any of them; it’s been hard enough spending an hour or so with them once a week.

I finally got around to watching Tuesday’s show last night. This was the big one we’d been hearing about, where the remaining five cast members threatened to quit in a fit of pique over a “surprise” allowing eliminated players a chance to rejoin the show for the final weigh-in — and a shot at the $250,000 prize. This is something that happens every season, and in fact is spelled out in the contract they sign before the show. But for some reason the remaining five contestants decided that it wasn’t “fair” (I think the horrid Conda even used the word “moral”) and so they all bailed. Eventually two contestants did leave the show, while three chose to remain.

I write about this because it just seems the perfect illustration of American attitudes these days. A bunch of people who have been handed every shiny, sparkly bauble in the toy box — not just trainers, nutritionists and medical support, but also a trip to Hawaii, a makeover, new clothes, and a trip to Washington, D.C., where they met with First Lady Michelle Obama. And they’re acting like this is something they’re entitled to, that they earned it. Indeed, there was much discussion about who “deserved” to be in the finale; of course they found themselves worthy. Bootstraps, y’all! Meanwhile the people losing weight at home without all those benefits and life experiences were somehow the cheaters.

We got a preview of this attitude earlier in the season, when a team eliminated in the first episode was brought back because they’d lost over 50 pounds. They were summarily shunned by the remaining contestants, who didn’t think this team “deserved” to be there, having lost a footrace in week one. Faced with what amounts to psychological torture, the team cracked and were quickly sent home.

This is such a reprehensible attitude pervasive among so many people today. “I earned my place and you didn’t so nyah!” Did Conda forget she’s only still there because her brother gave her immunity one week? Did everyone else forget the weeks they were nearly eliminated, but were saved by alliances and luck? I mean yes, in a certain sense, the five contestants are there because they lost a lot of weight, but there’s not a one among them whose ass wasn’t on the line at one point or another. They were spared because someone else was sent home, and it could have just as easily been them. But no, they’re all like “mine, mine, mine!”

And how perfect that the ringleader of this revolt was Mark, a person I’ve found particularly obnoxious and unsympathetic. Big shocker that he’s a Texas pastor, who has now taken to Facebook to cherry-pick Biblical passages to justify his horrible actions. Mark behaved reprehensibly to the other team I mentioned — the people brought back and then shunned. I have to say, this guy’s behavior really makes me question what kind of church he’s running. What a jerk.

Anyway, sometimes I think reality TV is a window on America’s dark soul, and this season of TBL is certainly the perfect example. The sanctimonious asshole issuing judgment on those he deems unworthy, selectively picking Bible verses to support his actions while conveniently ignoring all of the other stuff; the pampered princes and princesses who got a big hand up, and are now pulling the ladders up. We see this all the time in our public discourse, don’t we? This unwarranted attitude of entitlement, as if no one got any help along the way — including help from the eliminated folks now showing up for their contractually-promised shot at returning.

I don’t know whether to thank NBC for revealing this dark side of the American psyche to the rest of the country or be ashamed.


God I love Television Without Pity:

We head to commercials, and I am left to reflect on the fact that I am siding with The Man, on a show that I think probably does horrible and unhealthy things to people. I was even super excited when a lawyer schooled people about the details of their contract!

Yeah I’m pretty sure we’re witnessing the beginning of the end of reality television …


Filed under pop culture, The Biggest Loser

Scary Vagina


Gosh I hate it when I’m right about this stuff.


Yes, and no:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Once the word “transvaginal” became a big joke on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” it wasn’t long before Virginia’s conservative Republicans realized they had overreached on abortion.

Gov. Bob McDonnell and GOP state lawmakers Wednesday abandoned a bill requiring women to undergo an intrusive type of sonogram before an abortion — an abrupt reversal that demonstrated the power of political satire and illustrated again how combustible the issue of women’s reproductive health has become over the past few weeks.

“You never want to get on the wrong side of popular culture,” said Steve Jarding, a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a Democratic consultant who has run campaigns in Virginia. He added: “When people are laughing at you, you know you’ve gone too far.”

First of all, conservatives’ entire reason for existence is to be on the wrong side of pop culture. Everything they do, from slamming “liberal Hollywood values” to their state and national legislative efforts, is because conservatism by its very definition is a knee-jerk reaction to pop culture. Every single thing the culture has embraced — being educated, protecting the environment, providing for the needy, birth control fer crissakes — has in recent years been labeled elitist, liberal, and therefore, bad. American conservatives have valiantly fought against pop culture since it was invented, since the first parent railed against that evil rock and roll music, the PTA held its first book barbecue, and the first school principal initiated a dress code.

But I do agree that mockery works and words have power. I really believe what sunk the Virginia ultrasound legislation was the word “transvaginal.” The word “vagina,” as Eve Ensler well knows, is a cultural sand pit. It’s a veritable, um, booby trap of icky associations and images of the nasty. So no, it’s not that Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live mocked Virginia conservatives: let’s face it, those folks have been mocking conservatives for years. No, it’s that they did so by screaming the word “TRANSVAGINAL” at the top of their lungs.

And here is how we win, liberals. The left is not nearly as good at political linguistics as is the right; we don’t have a Frank Luntz. So listen to Southern Beale: Attach the word “vagina” to anything conservatives want to do and I guarantee they will run for the hills like the scared little babies they are. It’s not a war on women’s reproductive freedom, it’s a war on VAGINAS. You’re not defunding Planned Parenthood, you’re threatening VAGINAS. And hell, why stop there? It’s not Social Security, it’s VAGINA Security. Global Vagina Warming. National Vagina Security. Why the hell not.

Years ago someone in the lefty blogosphere coined the phrase “SCARY VAGINA” — it might have been Atrios, heck he’s the source of pretty much every blog meme we have. It’s a euphemism for politicians’ fear of women in power, and it ironically started as an attack on Democrats who were too afraid of the abortion issue to stand up for women’s reproductive rights. But it grew to encompass conservatives when they developed Hillary Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

So now I ask you this: who’s afraid of Vagina Wolf? Democrats have learned a powerful lesson here: stop worrying and love the vagina. Because Republicans haven’t, and they won’t.


Filed under conservatives, pop culture, women's rights