Monday, March 30, 2009

The Television Media

The most ludicrous, sickening, shrieking, paranoid, judgmental, shallow, contentious, ridiculous expression of the American culture. Hands down. At least reality television trash doesn't try to sell itself as being anything other than outrageous and idiotic. Television "news" media acts like it serves some higher calling to the American public. Ha! I despise it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ipod shuffle

I am bored and nothing's on TV tonight; I read all my books; I should be working on my short story for my writing class, but I cannot write at home anyway, so I'm going to do this pointless exercise: writing down the first 25 songs on my MP3 player, which is actually not an ipod, rather a ZEN by Creative. ooooh

1. Little Heaven, Toad the Wet Sprocket.
2. Head Down, Soundgarden
3. Everything I Touch, Stabbing Westward
4. Big Love, Fleetwood Mac
5. So Much to Say, Dave Matthews Band
6. Don't Stay, Lincoln Park
7. Iris, Goo Goo Dolls
8. Reunion, Collective Soul
9. Down Poison, Three Doors Down
10. Crazy On You, Heart
11. One, Creed
12. The Line Begins to Blur, Nine Inch Nails
13. Principles of Lust, Enigma
14. Over My Head (Cable Car), The Fray
15. Last Chance, Jet
16. I love you, Sarah McLachlan
17. Insomnia and the Hole in my head, Live
18. True Men Don't Kill Coyotes, Red Hot Chili Peppers
19. Sullivan Street, Counting Crows
20. Ridiculous Thoughts, The Cranberries
21. So Long, Goodbye, 10 Years
22. New Thing, Fuel
23. Big Casino, Jimmy Eat World
24. This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race, Fall Out Boy
25. Thinking of You, A Perfect Circle

Go ahead, judge me by my musical tastes. I don't have sophisticated taste in music; I won't argue with you. Just don't try to argue with me about which books are good, because I will throw down!

Friday, February 27, 2009


I have felt that in the past few years an insidiousness has crept into our media's portrayal of women, and the expectations on women and what they should be has grown even more ridiculous and unattainable.

I feel the need to negate the first assumption many people assume when they hear the word "feminism", that is, that women who call themselves feminist are man-hating, children-hating, selfish, overly-ambitious career women who suffer massive cases of penis-envy; that, or they are super-leftist hippies who don't shave their armpits and wear all organic clothing.

I can't speak for others, for as for myself, I certainly don't hate men, or children, have goals that specifically DO pertain to a career, do shave my armpits, probably am selfish sometimes, and suffer a mild case of penis-envy. Because, how cool would it be to have a penis? SO much better than having a vag, really. I admit, I'm a little jealous of men, because they seem to be less judged for their choices as adults (although I could be wrong, after all, I'm not a man, and I'm sure they have pressures and issues that as a woman I am completely unaware of), plus they are lower-maintenance, have a relatively easy time when it comes to selecting clothing, can buzz off their hair whenever it bothers them and still look ok, don't have a biological clock, and are all strong and tall and think they drive better (hee hee).

I give feminism a lot of credit, for getting women the vote and trying to get us equal pay, for giving us the freedom to make choices that women in the past couldn't make, but there is one freedom I have issue with. One thing I think women fought for without really knowing what they were getting into. One thing that has come back to bite us in the ass (both literally and figuratively, as it were).

That thing is the so-called "sexual revolution." When women made they decision they wanted to be able to have sex before marriage, have multiple sexual partners, and be able to sleep with men without any sort of commitment, we really didn't know what we were getting into.

Women are not men and we cannot have sex like men. There may be a few women out there (I've never met any) who can sleep with guys and have it not mean anything and it be just about the physical experience, etc etc etc. But let me say this again, I have not met any. I have tried to fool myself into thinking I could have sex without any emotional involvement, but I was wrong.

The fact is, the sexual revolution benefited men far more than it benefited women. Everyone knows that the majority of men can sleep with a girl without feeling any sort of attachment to her whatsoever. I'm not trying to say that men never feel attachment to women, far from it, but they are capable of removing emotional involvement from the physical act of sex. Women, at least in my experience, are not.

It seems in the past ten years that women have lost more than they have gained in terms of finding the fulfillment, happiness, respect, and treatment that many of the feminists of the 70's had hoped for. I can't figure out if its the result of the sexual revolution, which made it ok for women to be openly sexualized in our cultural outlets, or just a progression of our culture. Either way, it's troublesome to me.

The standards that the mainstream media and cultural outlets have been presenting to women are so outrageous as to be laughable, if only you didn't get the sense that all of these outlets take themselves seriously. Even magazines that are purportedly not trash (Elle and Vogue, in particular) are hocking these ideals.

The first ideal that has gotten insanely ridiculous is beauty. Beauty has always been an extremely emotional and often political topic for women. Over the past decade, there has been a huge movement in women's mags and television shows to say that "all women are beautiful", that the blond-blue-eyed, skeletally skinny (but somehow with big breasts) standard of beauty was wrong, that different, more realistic ideas of beauty needed to be presented, that women of all shapes and sizes should be portrayed in our culture as sexy and beautiful and desirable. What a great thing, to finally have realistic portrayals of beautiful women in our culture. How positive and refreshing! Go women! However, the problem is none of these outlets actually present these images to women.

I had a subscription to Vogue for awhile, and when I worked at Borders I had access to all the women's mags, and would usually read them on my breaks. All of these magazines are structured formulaically, and most are interchangeable, although each of the magazines has some sort of demographic they are aiming for that slightly distinguishes them. All of these mags open with a Letter From the Editor, where the editor talks about the month's issue and how great it is, how all the celebrities interviewed were so amazing, about how they are balancing all the stress of being a women in modern society, how they understand exactly what you, as a woman, are going through, and how you need to be confident and value yourself as a person, rah rah rah! And yet, nearly every article is about how to change some (or every) aspect about yourself so you can be "better". Nearly every article is about how to be skinnier, prettier and younger-looking. Wait, where did all the celebrate yourself stuff go?

Case in point, about a year ago I was flipping through an edition of Vogue. The full-length articles were about the following: a women who goes through a series of "anti-aging" regimes and the results there-of. An article examining new diet trends and the benefits thereof. We have a whole industry of magazines, of media, that heralds themselves as providing information for women to feel good about themselves and their lives, yet the majority of the articles are about living up to certain standards of beauty and lifestyle, often so complicated and contradictory that you would have to be the most disciplined person on the planet to follow all of their "advice" on how to lead a healthy, "happy" life.

The most hypocritical thing about all this? The imagery. All the photography features 16-year-old, primarily white, women who are incredibly thin. Or celebrities who are incredibly thin. How can all these magazines, which proudly proclaim they are "pro-women" feature images and articles designed to make women feel inadequate? The answer? Because we women continue to buy these magazines! And I really don't know why.

This blatant hypocrisy is easy to spot in women's mags, and entertainment mags, but I find it even more sinister in movies, precisely for the fact it is subtle, and therefore more insidious.

In the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith there is a scene where Brad Pitt has just discovered his wife, Angelina Jolie, is an assassin. He is watching her running around being all action-starry and riding a four-wheeler in the desert. He turns to another guy (I forget who) and says something to the effect of "You see the brunette? About 5'7" and a buck twelve? That's my wife."

This comment has stuck with me because it is so wrong. Angeline Jolie is obviously one of the most beautiful women in the world. But a 112 lbs on a 5'7" frame? Not happening. Maybe when she was all yucky and heroin-looking in Wanted, but certainly not in that movie, where she was toned and relatively normal-looking. I am 5'7", and I haven't weighed 112 lbs since I was in the eighth grade. And ten-plus years later, at about 130 lbs (give or take 5 pounds or so, depending on the time of year), people still comment on how thin I am. I am utterly flabbergasted why, in a movie with a fictional character talking about another fictional character, they still cannot refer to a woman's actual weight. They had to shave off a good ten pounds and for what purpose? I just don't get it.

It's not only how women are being referred to in some movies. It's the actresses who are being cast. So many Hollywood actresses have spoken out against the skinny standards, yet so many of these actresses are pin-thin. And they are still cast in major movie roles. I'm thinking Kate Bosworth in Superman Returns, who is so skinny she can't fill out a pair of pants, and Keira Knightley in The Duchess, which is a movie I loved, but you can see her ribs through her back in that movie. Claire Danes, Anne Hathaway, Blake Lively, Evan Rachel Wood and several others actresses I have noticed are all that uncomfortably skinny, the collar-bone-sticking-out-abnormally-far skinny. And the cosmetic surgery that so many of these celebrities get is sad too, not only because it's obvious (for the most part), but because of how vehemently most of the women who have gotten it have denied it. Not only do they deny it, but then talk about how "naturally beautiful" is so important.

That's why I love older movies. Even movies from the 80's. Women looked so real then. You see a movie from the 30's, 40's and 50's and the difference is even more pronounced. You see these women, and they're beautiful, but they also look alot like women who you see walking around on the streets. Their bodies are so, well, normal-looking. I don't know if its just me, but cosmetic surgery enhanced faces are so obvious and boring. Symmetrical perfection doesn't necessarily translate into striking beauty.

I guess I could handle it when all women had to worry about was ridiculous beauty standards. It's relatively easy to dismiss pictures in a magazines. But its pervaded to every aspect of women's lives. Suddenly, every twenty-to-thirty something woman in the public eye is on "pregnancy watch."

It's like, they said "we have made the standard of youth and beauty so impossible that it is becoming a caricature of itself. We've got to find something else: that's it "motherhood!"

It seems like it used to be a woman had children at the time in her life when she was ready and that was that.

But now, oh no. Suddenly, it's "trendy" to be pregnant. Suddenly, every magazine is displaying proud celeb mommies who gush about how wonderful motherhood is, and how their lives have changed and they never knew what love was before they had a baby, how their lives were an empty, barren, selfish wasteland of existence before they had a kid, etc etc etc. And how its just "so easy" to skinny get weeks after giving birth, and how great dad is, and how wonderful the relationship with dad is and always will be (ha!).

I'm sure motherhood is as life-changing and important and incredible as described; however, doesn't it all seem just a little bit too much life a created fairy tale? To me it does. The constant pregnancy speculation about every 20-something women bothers me, not because I think women shouldn't be openly discussing this things, but because of the judgment that is behind it.

When someone is asking you "when are you going to have children?" They don't mean "at what age and time in your life do you think you will have children?" They really mean "why aren't you having children now?" and they also mean "as a woman of a certain age, according to our vision of society and what a woman should be, you really should be having children. why aren't you? and when do you think that will happen?"

The message I'm getting, and I could be wrong, but what I truly feel the message our cultural outlets are sending to women now, is "if you aren't having a baby, you're not a complete woman."

And I have a huge problem with that.

And don't get me started on how politicized and preachy our culture is getting to mothers and about how they "should be" raising their kids.

I'm hoping that in the next decade women will say enough is enough. These images, these so-called "self-help" articles, and these constant discussions on what women should and should not be doing in every aspect of our lives will go away. If I have a daughter, I'm going to be extremely anxious about her growing up in this environment.

I love the following quote:

The fiery Ditto, named one of Spinner's 'Top Women Who Rock,' spoke to the rock site last year while promoting the Gossip's concert album 'Live in Liverpool' about the challenges of weight in rock.
"TV single-handedly ruined good music. Bessie Smith could never be a star now. Aretha Franklin could never be what she was, now. It's the image -- everybody looks really cool, everybody looks amazing. It's the image that people needed to sell to keep TV alive. That's why indie scenes -- punks scenes -- exist, because it's a rebellion against that idea. I feel like bringing up the body is using sexism to my advantage. It's good to get that conversation started. Even amongst feminists, people would be like, "Don't you think [posing nude] is a new kind of sexism?" And I'm like, "Well, at least it's new." I guess it could be the old sexism and we could be the old feminists. But new means change, and change leaves room for dialogue."

Monday, February 2, 2009

The anti-me

It seems like when something comes along that people love and rave about, I automatically hate (especially if its something people in my generation like) Then when the hype dies down, I will start liking it.
For example: The iphones piss me off. The iphone users in the commericals are arrogant know-it-alls. "My iphone can find out where I parked my car and knows all the songs playing on the radio and can cure cancer while I play my pinball app, blah blah blah." So what? I don't need an iphone to run my life. I have a thing called a brain. So there. thbpppt!!!!
Of course, if I got one, I would think it was the coolest thing ever.

I consider myself a loyal liberal but when everyone was trashing Bush there at the end, I actually felt sorry for him. And I hated Bush during his presidency; I especially hated him after 9-11, when most of the country still liked him. I never agreed with the Patriot Act (let's respond to terrorism by taking away our own freedoms. Isn't that what they wanted? And all the censorship around that time, plus the whole "if you don't believe in exactly what we believe you're no better than a terrorist" mentality disgusted me. But there this past year when people were trashing him I found myself thinking, come on, he's still the President, and wanting to like him, only because the majority of people in my age group didn't.

If I read in magazines that short hair is in, then I keep mine long, if everyone's growing it out, I'm cutting it. The whole boots-tucked-into the jeans look? Right now, I scorn it, but a year from now I'll be doing it. I don't like the hipster-favorite peacoat now yet I used to wear one in college! I have always considered myself an environmentalist and was shopping at organic grocery stores 5 years ago, but now all the people talking about recycling and living green have started to annoy me-
If there is a psychological disorder that centers around being a contrarian, then I'm the textbook subject-

Saturday, January 17, 2009

So I follow this blog called One-Minute Writer, which gives a daily topic to write about for one minute. I don't know why I follow this blog because I never write about any of the suggestions or bother to read most of them, but this particular suggestion got my attention:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Today's Writing Prompt: Chicken
Why did the chicken cross the road?

Are you fucking kidding me? Really? Really? You want me to write about why the chicken crossed the road? Seriously? Really?

Friday, January 16, 2009

whiny me

I feel like this whole thing has just been me bitching about everything. Which is fun and all, but everything I write can't be negative. That would just be wrong. I do have other feelings besides exasperation, rage, contempt, self-loathing wrapped up in a package of mockery and derision, disappointment, unhappiness, cynicism, and so on...

I feel the need to list a few things that make me happy:

COFFEE! Yay!!!!!!!!!

Chewy New York Bagels

When I get home from work, and my cat gets all evil and big-eyed and stalks me around the apt for about 30 minutes, taking random swipes at me and then tearing off to go hide under the bed

Making fart sounds. I'm serious. Purse your lips and blow. The sounds that come out are some funny funny shit. You can entertain yourself for an hour doing this.

Engaging my roommate in our ritual of insulting each other. Talking shit is just fun.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I think I've lived here too long-

Because the only thoughts running through my head as people brush by me in the subway grottos (they are unworthy to be deemed "stations"), (physically touching me as they brush by me, by the way, which is a big No-No. I have a personal bubble the size of Texas) are:

1. Everybody can EAT ME! I hate all you fuckers!

2. Why is everybody in such a rush? I could care less if I'm 10 minutes late to work. Sheep! You are all sheep! (to steal a line from one of my favorite teen movies)

3. Can the subway get even more crowded than this? (Answer: yes)

4. I don't need a $400.00 iphone to entertain myself. The voices in my head are entertaining enough....

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Ms. Pessimist of 2009

Every year since 2003 I've told myself that the next year was bound to better...and every year I have been wrong (except for the summer of 2006. That summer was fucking AMAZING). It's not that anything bad has happened (which I am grateful for), but nothing particularly good has happened either. So for 2009...I have no expectations

Friday, January 2, 2009

rambling thoughts about being a product of the 80's and 90's

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like become an adult has been the biggest letdown. I didn't sign up for this!!! I remember how great I thought everything would be when I got into my twenties. Ha! Since we live in a society of victimhood and blame, I am going to blame the fact that I am a product of the 80's and 90's for the fact that my adult life is disappointing, particularly my relationships

The first round of this attack will be aimed at Disney. Bad enough that they anthropomorphized animals so much that I have found myself fretting over the emotional state of my cat on numerous occasions. And it's also their fault that I have to say "Waaah!Bebe!" everytime I see roadkill (they are also the cause of me calling any and every cute animal "bebe").

Let's get started on those damn Disney princesses. Ariel was a strong-willed girl who knew what she wanted (Prince Eric) to and was going to go to any amount of lengths to get it (or in this case, him). She gives up everything important to her and gets the guy. You know, the whole non-talking thing? Every man's fantasy. So listen up, little girls, if you give up everything you love and don't talk, you will get a prince. (Eric was also the hottest of the Disney princes)

Jasmine was smart, cynical, and didn't fall for the those rich douche-bag princes with their one liners. My kind of princess. She falls for Aladdin because he's "himself" (kinda) around her. The lesson of Jasmine is having a personality (but being incredibly gorgeous on top of that won't hurt) will get you the love of your life. That's actually a good message. I guess I don't have really any bone to pick with this movie. However, I do have a strong personality and low bs tolerance, just like Jasmine, and I just get told that I'm obnoxious and an ice queen. Go figure.

And then there's Belle. Beauty and the Beast has to be my favorite Disney flick. Belle loved to read (!). She was intelligent (!). She was caring, selfless, and not shallow (!). Beast was like that really good friend she wasn't attracted to but enjoyed spending time with. Eventually she does come to love him, and POOF! He becomes a gorgeous prince! Yeah right!

Although most of my friends think he was hotter as the beast...but STILL.

And let's not get started on all those princesses in the golden-era Disney flicks (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty). How dare Disney put all these happily-ever-after-there is one person for everyone-love lasts forever -visions into my pliant -already way too into stories and fairy tales-mousy-haired little head?

But Disney is a mere parcel of the 80's and 90's culture that ruined my life. (me, melodramatic?never!)

What about all those 80's teen movies where the nerdy unpopular people got the girl/guy of their dreams?

Growing up in the 80's and 90's we were fed a diet of pop culture and consumerism. Every cultural aspect of our lives was tied up with commercialism..Christmas became all about the toys (remember the cabbage patch craze? And Nintendo?) McDonald's Happy Meal was "happy" because it came with a toy (because it sure as hell wasn't about the food)

As we entered the 90's and into our teen years, the milestones of our youth were tied up into what we wore, what type of accessories we had (bags, electronics (remember pagers, precursors to our obssession with what cell phones we now carry), what cars we wanted to drive. The standards for beauty and success became more ridiculous. What were we told to attain but accumulation of more wealth? There was no longer any higher ideal to live up to, no better life to achieve (we were living the better life). All the messages, the stuff to get, the image to be, was tied up in trying to be happier and more fulfilled.

All this 80's and 90's American culture led me to dream big, to expect love, and to stay true to who I was. Most will agree that these are pretty good messages. But we can't expect all our dreams to come true.... If everyone's dreams came true poverty wouldn't exist. Some work harder, some want it more, and some are just damn lucky. But what of the rest of us? Those of us who slosh through our adult lives, working at mundane jobs, always in a hurry, stuck in the glut of other people going to their mundane jobs, waiting in line constantly (or on line, if you're on the east coast), perptually navigating through impersonal, ugly spaces. Maybe its just that the world of my childhood was painted as a vast and wonderful place full of hope, excitement, and possiblity. The real "adult" world I'm now a part of doesn't seem so wonderful. In fact, it seems quite the opposite.

And the most fractured part of our society seems to be relationships. The divorce rate is still at roughly 50 percent. Nearly everyone I know lives in a family of divorce. I'll be the first to say I don't think this is a tragic statistic, but merely illuminates that fact that the reality of our adult love lives is a sharp contrast to what we are led to expect as children. I am beginning to think marriage is more a lifetime friendship than a the passionate "one soul mate for everyone" type of love that is so prevalent in our stories.

I used to think marriage was the penulatimate in a relationship. That "Mr. Right" or "Prince Charming", "The One", my "Knight in Shining Armor", was just waiting around the corner to sweep me off my feet. And I still love watching those Disney flicks, and sighing, and reading romances, and watching great male characters, but I'm beginning to realize that is all just fantasy, and not a mirror of what love is supposed to be.

With weddings now becoming more of a spectacle than a sacred ceremony all about "the dress", "the ring" and what food is being served, and easily costing tens of thousands of dollars(although I have to give my friends and family credit, their weddings have been primarily about having their friends and family brought together in celebration), I am becoming more and more against the idea of having a wedding, and of getting married.

And I can't decide if this is just a bitter, cynical rejection of everything I looked forward to as a young girl, or a realistic decision based on my observations about how modern relationships work-or don't, in my case.

As we go into the next decade, as my generation comes out of our spoiled, idealistic, Disney-themed youths, what messages will we create for our children? Can we really say that everyone has a one true love with a straight face? Will anything ever be sacred and holy anymore, or will all or our ceremonies (especially marriage) continue to be commercialized?

It will be interesting to see what happens. I think (and I already see this) that there's going to be huge backlash towards all the fakeness that has overtaken our culture. That as our ability to purchase status items, status vehicles, and status lives dwindles, instead of looking to icons of our consumerism (goodbye, plastic barbie faces and bodies, goodbye designer handbags. The concept of cellphones as a reflection of who we are will, alas, never die) to define ourselves, perhaps will we find something more meaningful to care about. That last statement is an exagerration. There are a lot of really positive things going on right now and I think our generation still cares the most about family and friends, and the world in general, but still.....

Another one of my perceptions is that our generation is lacking one major thing it seems our predecessors had: belief that the world of the future would be better than the current world. That the world their children inherited would be better than the one they grew up in. Wasn't that the reason our grandparents (the greatest generation, hands down) fought in the World Wars? Wasn't that the underlying belief in the counterculture movement of the 60's? I have heard from many people in my parents generation stating that they "wanted to give their kids everything they didn't have." My generation was the first to reap from this philosophy, showered in material goods and fed messages that we were "special" and deserved the best of everything. I think the past decade has shown these ideals will not sustain our society through the next 50 years or so.

With the resources continuing to dwindle as world populations swell, with technology that's supposed to connect us isolating us from each other even more (in my opinion), and with violence, hatred, and religious strife continuing, I honestly do not know if the world 50 years for now is a place I want to live in. Does anyone in my generation believe the world our children will inherit will be a better, cleaner, more peaceful one? My faith in the future being a wonderful place is fragile and hesitant, at best. All of us has witnessed the glory and the darkness that marks our civilization; we know what we are capable of, for good and for bad.

I have issues with organized religion, but at least it gave us something to believe in that was greater than ourselves.

The one thing I will give this culture is that the ideal of hope has always been the underlying theme. And it is this theme which won Barack Obama the presidency. Where this hope will take us, I don't know. The era of decadence fueled by our 80's and 90's culture, and its attempt to sell us into better lives is ending. The ideals of true love, of individual specialness, and dreams coming true will never leave us, but hopefully the fact that we have to buy into a certain lifestyle in order to achieve these things will. If we can look at relationships and marriage, hell, if we can look at our lives as something better than a movie, or a fairy tale, or a product...

Art will, and should, always be important. Films, tv, music, all this culture enriches our lives. But I don't think it should soley define us.

I don't know what I want anymore. I think I have too many choices. I have been given everything I could ever need in life. I have had the freedom to do whatever I want and become whatever I have wished to be. And for the most part, I have partaken in all the freedom and choices I could. I am grateful for the life and country I have been born into, and am thankful for the generations before me.

Call me ungrateful, call me pessimisstic, but most of the time, I don't really like the world.

And I have no idea whatsoever how to find happiness in it. All the neat stuff, all the choices, all the freedoms, all the great ideals, all the hope and promise of love, of children, of white picket fences and subarban pardise, none of it, none of it has made me feel content, or made my life feel like it had meaning or a purpose. And as alone and isolated I often I feel, I have the feeling that the above stated sentiments are feelings that many people out there in my generation share.