Tag Archives: culture

Jack Skellington and Cultural Misappropriation

Explaining culture misappropriation with The Nightmare Before Christmas:

When I explain cultural misappropriation to children, I use the example of The Nightmare Before Christmas. It’s effective because especially for children, who don’t have enough historical context to understand much of the concept, you can still fully grasp the idea.

There was nothing wrong with Jack seeing the beauty and differences in Christmas town, it’s when he tried to take what is unique about Christmas town away from those it originally belonged to without understanding the full context of Christmas things is when everything went wrong.

When Jack tries to get the folk of Halloween town to make Christmas gifts for children, etc., children understand that the Halloween town folk do not have the full context for the objects they are making, and they are able to see that the direct repercussions and consequences are very harmful.

Full post.

Diane Freeleng, Feminist Horror Movie Icon

My sister and I are HUGE HUGE HUGE fans of Poltergeist. It was one of the movies that played 24/7 the summer that we had cable as kids. Schlock Corridor makes the case for a feminist reading of Poltergeist (1982) – focusing on JoBeth Williams’s portrayal of Diane Freeleng as the take charge one:

“While Steven has a mock gun battle with his neighbor, Diane is giving Carol Anne her first understanding of mortality, creating an almost Egyptian-level sarcophagus for the corpse of Tweety.

“This is the first time the film presents us with one of its themes: only women can get things done. Throughout the movie it’s female characters who are forced to actually effect change, and it all begins with Diane’s tender ceremony for Tweety. Later Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Strait) is the glue that holds the parapsychology team together, then Tangina is the key to the final rescue of Carol Anne – which Diane must do herself while Steven can’t even hold the rope correctly.

She’s a cool mom who seems to understand where Dana is coming from as she goes through her adolescent angst – possibly because she was around Dana’s age when she got knocked up. She’s also a stay at home mom. In 2012 this character probably couldn’t exist – she would have to be a writer or a painter or sell crafts on Etsy because the modern movie world doesn’t truly respect stay at home moms. But for all of her fond remembrances of ‘the old days,’ Diane doesn’t seem unhappy to be at home with the kids. Steven’s adulthood has turned him into a person he doesn’t truly recognize – it’s turning him into James Karen, in fact – but adulthood has been better to Diane.

I like to think that it was Carol Anne’s birth that started it all, though. It certainly fits thematically with what comes later – her closet turns into a huge vagina, and she is returned from the Other Side in an ectoplasmic birth caul. The rescue of Carol Anne is a rebirth, almost quite literally when she and Diane aren’t breathing in the tub. It also helps explain why The Beast is interested in the girl. It seems unlikely that the Freeling’s pool is the first serious digging in Cuesta Verde, but it is plausible that Carol Anne was the first baby born on the development. That makes Carol Anne’s rebirth a cleansing new start, a reclamation of the birth process.

“Carol Anne as the focus also feeds into the film’s essential feminism. The Beast wants to use Carol Anne as a beacon to attract the souls trapped between this side and the other; it’s her life force – something that comes from the feminine – that attracts them. The Beast is specifically said to be male – a male entity that is abusing the warmth of femininity to devour innocent souls.

The diminutive psychic is the final element of the film’s feminist trilogy – the cool mom, smart doctor and tough as nails medium seem to make up the life cycle of childhood.”

Here’s the trailer for the new remake (with a male psychic – boo!!!):

Millennials Will Become Their Parents, Too

From Reddit:

“Yeah, you don’t read tabloids but you check out TMZ and Buzzfeed articles, or juicy gossip about celebrities on reddit.

“You don’t listen to talk radio but you listen to podcasts.

“You don’t write a newsletter or a “zine” but you’ve got a blog.

“You don’t watch cheesy TV shows like Dynasty, Hawaii five o, or V and you didn’t fall for the remakes, no you watch edgy shit like the walking dead, homeland, game of thrones and breaking bad.

“Of course you’re not going to clip coupons, but that trendy breakfast place has a groupon this week.

“No you don’t order stupid shit off TV or from magazine ads, you order subscription boxes or stuff off amazon that you heard about on a podcast or reddit.

“You don’t fall for fad diets or fitness trends, slim fast shakes, hanging upside down, exerciser belts, trampolines, low fat diets, Atkins, buns of steel, aspartame, ha! But you switched from sugar to stevia, you lost like 15 pounds on Keto, but you switched to the slow carb diet because it made a lot more sense, but it was sort of hard so now you’re pretty much just doing paleo with a cheat day once a week (still waiting for your soylent order) but it’s okay because you’re doing kettle bells on your vibration plate and running a lot since you got your open toed shoes, not to mention your bosu ball and battle ropes.

“Groovy? More like epic.

“You’re too smart for pyramid schemes and Amway and don’t give a shit about tupperware or mary kay parties, but you did just fund a couple awesome kickstarters, one for potato salad, another for some metal beans that keep your coffee hot and one for a phone that looks like it’d be cool if somebody built it and you now realize the campaign was to raise awareness so somebody would build it someday, hopefully (do I still get one if google bought the idea?).
Those old photos of your mom with feathered bangs and crimped hair are hilarious, unlike the super cool shaved patch on the side of your head.

“Chia pets? Dancing cans? Singing fish? Pet rocks? Please. Oh by the way your dancing groot, useless box, mine craft torch lamp and usb portal turret just arrived.

“Who actually writes letters to the editor? Who actually writes a response to somebody who wrote a letter to the editor? But seriously most of the comments in this thread are wrong if not downright hilarious and here’s why…  We all become our parents one way or another, even if you become the exact opposite you just become the yin to their yang.”

Full discussion http://np.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/comments/2lobk0/the_reddit_front_page_is_the_millenials_morning/clwp73e?context=3

Infographic from http://thecharisgroup.org/2013/07/20/what-your-church-must-do-to-connect-with-millennials/

Why Clowns Are Scary

From Metafilter:

“In all seriousness, though, there’s something elementally unnerving about the sort of unrestrained jouissance that clowns represent. I’m not quite willing to say it’s universal, but we go way out of our way to set limits to enjoyment, pleasure, happiness, joy—and you don’t have to agree with me, but this doesn’t strike me as absurd. Every primal force is terrible. At some point silliness and happiness and fun and joy start to transgress itself and display its horror: the snake eats its own tail.

I mean, we hardly know much at all about the Bacchic and Dionysian ecstatic rituals because the first rule about Pleasure Club is that we will fucking kill you if you talk about Pleasure club. A corpse’s rictus grin; la petite mort of orgasm, especially autoasphixiation, where the link between death the pleasure of sex could not be more apparent; DFW’s entertainment so powerful it kills you in Infinite Jest; overdose as outcome of pleasure-seeking; Christ’s suffering on the cross as the representation of God’s love for humankind. And didn’t I read somewhere that disorders that evoke near-constant orgasms are nigh unto unbearable.

I couldn’t say when clowns in particular came to be creepy, but it does seem to me that the link between the pleasurable (the fun) and the terrible has been around a long, long time. So it seems to me only natural that our culture’s archetypal evocation of The Fun should also lend itself to an enantiodromia wherein The Fun gnaws away at itself and shows The Fear within.”

Full thread http://www.metafilter.com/141576/They-Float-and-when-youre-down-here-with-me-YOU-FLOAT-TOO#5666808

Chinese Seniors and Life After Deng Xiaoping

From a Reddit thread about collect psychology of older Chinese people:

“Imagine you were born in 1955, so now you’re 59 years old. Your youth was quite possibly affected by the GLF famine, where you either witnessed or at least heard about people fighting almost literally like animals for survival, often having to compete with their neighbors and “do whatever it takes” to ensure food for their family. These experiences will never really leave you, and their effects will linger with you subconsciously.

You also grew up hearing lots of stories about the wars with Japan and the civil war from your parents, and your education was full of hardline leftist theory. Around the age of high school or university, the WHGM hits and you either become a Guard, a potential target, or try to just hide until the madness is over. The educational system itself melts down for nearly a decade when you were essentially going through your transition to adulthood. Meanwhile, your country essentially commits cultural suicide, leaving a massive hole in your values system, heritage, and sense of identity that still hasn’t even been fully realized.

Then it’s just…over. Deng takes over, and all of a sudden basically pulls a total 180 degree turn from the whole hardline leftist thing. You just go straight from wearing red scarves in your teenage years to becoming a super-competitive business tycoon (or lackey) in what will soon become the fastest-growing economy ever, anywhere, at any time. All the Marxist stuff basically gets gently bumped out of the picture as GGKF evolves, and suddenly you go from being trained to avoid foreign spies and celebrate the proletariat to buying Japanese TVs and working for HSBC, or at a factory making Happy Meal toys for obese American children.

Now you’re flooded with foreign images of wealth you’d never imagined, and money seems to be pouring in. In two decades you go from being excited about your first Panasonic radio to cynically comparing the benefits of an Audi vs. a BMW. In your youth, the government provided the fangzi and nobody needed a che, but now you’re expected to have both to get a serious date.

So how could you, when it’s now your turn to lead society, not create a confusing mishmash? Your life has been a confusing mishmash, and the only constant thing you’ve been able to rely on is having enough resources and guanxi to pull yourself through whatever comes.
Ideology? What does that mean anymore? Cultural identity? Didn’t you spend a decade getting rid of that? As a kid you learned that sometimes you had to be a little ruthless to survive, and the hyper-competitive 80s and 90s rewarded that ruthlessness with piles of cash and the status symbols that came with it.

True, you still have an empty hole in the center of your being, but since you don’t have anything to fill it with you just throw consumption and hedonism (under the guise of “Western culture”) into it, hoping that eventually it’ll be filled up, or that at least it’ll distract you until you no longer care.

Anyway, that’s my best stab at it.”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/China/comments/21b5pk/native_chinaman_rant_over_chinese_mindfckedness/cgbibvd

Image is Deng Xiopeng featured as Time magazine’s Person of the Year in 1979 http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,916563,00.html

Good Groups, Bad Groups and Gender Representation in Entertainment

Commenter on a Reddit thread about Wolf of Wall Street:

“If you continually see, over and over and over again, men doing these great things, and women not even present for it, your stupid human programming is going to kick in and those are going to be the set rules. Good Group, Bad Group. Or – in my case, COOL Group, Bad Group. The need to see someone who looks like you doing the things you want to do is SO huge. It’s SO necessary to have positive self worth.

Imagine only seeing you as a sidekick or a hot reward. Maybe you would be like me – I was like, “That’s NOT me. I’m more like [the White Guy]!”

Like, it was possible for me to identify with male characters, but in order to do that, every single day I enjoyed that media, I would have to set aside the female part of myself. I honestly didn’t realize how damaging it was until recently. Or how easy it had become for me to dislike it, to think less of being female. I wanted to be cool, and cool was completely synonymous with being male. This is what I was taught, so it’s what I learned, and I would do my best to be that, by golly by gosh.

In order to pretend to be someone I wanted to be – fun and kind and goofy – I had to pretend to be a guy. In order to be the kind of hero I wanted to be, I was Flash or I was Robin – Wonder Woman wasn’t fun, she wasn’t goofy. Batgirl was never really part of the adventures, Crystal Kane just sat up in Sky Vault and ran a computer, I wanted to be part of the adventure! I was Ace McCloud! I was Michelangelo, not boring April! Stupid, stick in the mud girls aren’t part of the adventures! Or if they are – imagine a child pretending to be one of those super sexual heroines? Just…? Why is that what they’re limited to.”

Full thread http://www.reddit.com/r/cringe/comments/1zd1cs/female_version_of_the_wolf_of_wall_street/cft05e8

Image from Etsy http://www.etsy.com/listing/89972756/spiderman-spidergirl-tutu-perfect-for

Why Michael Sam Matters

From Reddit:

“I’m seeing a lot of ‘who gives a shit?’ comments, and I’d like to explain to those who don’t understand why it matters that Michael Sam is openly gay.

First of all, those who know a gay person are twice as likely to support gay marriage. To anyone following gay rights for a long time, this is the key to acceptance in a society which can’t even agree on deathbed rights for people in a gay relationship. Hell, sodomy is still illegal in some states! To have a gay person in such a socially right-wing community as the NFL football community would force closed-minded people who wouldn’t ever otherwise see a gay person to view positive accomplishments of a gay person. With every interview, every press conference, every sack and forced fumble, people will see a person (who happens to be gay) excelling at his craft, not a stereotype that a lot of people use to substantiate hatred.

Secondly, and even more importantly, more young people (and especially athletic young people) have someone to serve as an example that homosexuality is not something that makes someone a bad person or a pariah. Seeing someone who serves as a role model embrace who he is sexually means that gay teens are one step closer to accepting a part of their personalities without having to hide behind a mask of heterosexuality. Can you imagine living the most difficult part of your life (adolescence) having to hold such a gigantic and painful secret? While all of your male friends are going out “chasing tail,” you have to either pretend you’re into girls to fit in or risk being a leper. And we all know about all the kids who have hurt and/or killed themselves because they have to hide this very secret.

I’m not saying Michael Sam has changed the definition of normalcy in such a macro way, but with every new high-profile celebrity coming out–and especially the ones who come out in more macho circles like major league sports–the more “normal” homosexuality seems. And the more normal homosexuality seems, the more people don’t have to live a lie just because society doesn’t approve of the way they were born.”

Discussion http://www.reddit.com/r/nfl/comments/1xh91g/adamschefter_missouri_de_michael_sam_comes_out_as/cfbcffp

Image from an ESPN interview http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/10429030/michael-sam-missouri-tigers-says-gay

Juggalos Explained

A more nuanced explanation than you’re used to:

“Somewhere along the line they changed to Insane Clown Posse – they created a fantasy world from which they rapped about, taking on personas of rapping, insane clowns. This fantasy world was called the Dark Carnival.. which would do psychopathic murderous things to child beaters, greedy fat cats, and rednecks.

Their music was usually fairly offensive but once you got past the shock there were …amateurish attempts to talk about a lot of problems that plague children of poor and broken homes, who experienced grave alienation and isolation. They talked a lot about child abuse, or a school system that rejects you, parents that reject you. It was for the people… who didn’t fit in anywhere. There’s this really bad, and contradictory, attempt at being conscious rap that’s this undercurrent for their childish shock-rap.

And often – poor, uneducated white kids who felt lost gravitated to them.

As i’ve grown – i found them to be incredibly ignorant. But i’ve never seen so much love at a concert in my life. I’ve been to endless punk shows, nu-metal shows, raves, metal shows, reggae shows, hip hop shows, country concerts, family friendly radio band shows, and… i’ve never seen so much undiscriminating love at a show as i’ve seen as ICP shows. You show up there, and you’re a brother and sister to everyone there. They might tend to be fat, sweaty, ignorant or wierd… but those shows are the only place some of these kids feel at home or like they belong. It’s the only place they really get to let loose without judgement. I’ve never been to their big festivals called “The Gathering” and i never will. A lot of the footage i’ve seen from there was nothing like the shows i went too.

And as much as i don’t think ICP are talented, or that their message(s) are positive or intelligent – b/c they are none of these things, there’s this element that gets lost when the internet gets to circlejerking about how “stupid” and “trashy” they are. Not just of the group, but of the fans.

underneath it all, these kids are people too – and the ones you see doing really dumb (and sometimes dangerous) things on youtube vids of outdoor juggalo gatherings, it’s really a symptom of class, and broken homes and kids who don’t fit in anywhere more than anything else. And to mock that is really shitty.

I was friends with a couple of hardcore juggalos and almost in every instance – male or female – the word i’d best used to describe them is “lost”. Being a juggalo was a cathartic symptom for them, not the problem.”

Full discussion http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/1xikrw/eli5_juggalos/cfbplc1

Photo from http://www.musictimes.com/articles/3912/20140203/insane-clown-posses-gathering-juggalos-announces-new-location-festival-dates.htm

Peforming Ethnicity

“…I spent a day agonizing over whether to wear glasses or not to a meeting I was attending for a gay organization where I was making a substantial accessibility proposal. I have pretty poor vision, but since my day job is in academia, I never wear glasses – because then I get weird whispering and comments about how smart Asians are, with the nasty implication that I only got my job and only get my grades due to my racial background. But in this circumstance, knowing my audience of gay, middle-aged white men – I was acutely aware of my appearance could easily be pigeonholed into that of a young Asian “twink” – and how easily that could potentially defeat my proposal.

“So I wore the glasses. It went well. Only one of the men made a pass at me by saying out loud to the board during the meeting, right in my face, how much he liked his Asian men to be aggressive. But otherwise my proposal was accepted.

“But this event made me realize how much tailoring my outfit and tailoring my appearance to even the smallest tweaks and ornaments has become just one of those every-day things that I do. I never really consciously picked up this skillset – I probably learned it from watching my parents, seamlessly blend from situation to situation by shedding clothes and picking up ornaments and signifiers like a chameleon changes colors to match its environment. Certain things signify humility. Certain things impart an aura of confidence. Of modernness, of tradition; of being western, of being eastern. Who is your audience? What rapport do you want to build? What messages are you sending?

“Sometimes I catch myself changing outfits multiple times a day as I move from place to place, environment to environment and audience to audience. I’ve never really considered this to be a fixation on fashion or anything – it’s just one of those things that you, as a person of color, have to do to survive in a culture that tends to be a little hostile to your existence. More so if you don’t blend properly.

“I don’t really mind the rules. In fact, I rather enjoy this skillset, if I may admit guiltily: I like being able to suddenly fit in anywhere I go with a sudden unbuttoning of the collar, loosening of a tie, switch of a belt. I know it’s not really fair, but it doesn’t matter because inequality and inequity is pretty much the polluted air that I breathe anyway – it’s always there as a nagging reminder of how much of an outsider I am, but in some respects, you learn not to notice the adaptations you’ve made to compensate after a while.

“Sometimes I try to explain this to my white friends, and they always tell me: fuck the rules! Why do you care what people think of you? You should just do whatever you want!

“I don’t know; maybe I should be angrier about it. But they don’t seem to get it. The $4.99 that I pay for a button-up shirt at the thrift store buys me more than just the shirt. It buys me job security; it buys me insurance from violence on the streets; it buys me some relief from the vicious gossip that goes around about me if I don’t show up with an appropriate appearance – one that straddles the line between following the rules and breaking them, a good minority, neither threatening nor a stereotype.”

A few extra dollars a month, a few hours spent shopping, a few extra loads of laundry. Even if it’s unfair, it’s not a big deal. Is this really the hill I want to die on?”

Commenter on Metafilter

Why The Cat is The New Monopoly Game Piece

“I’ll tell you how it didn’t win [and the Cat did] – people are idiots, that’s how. Even if by some chance the majority of the voters voted for it, there’s no way it would fly with the morons in marketing. Marketing is the art (spinelessly applied stupidity) of finding the thing that is least offensive to the most amount of people. And when has the majority ever been right about anything? Everything is by morons, for morons, and fuck you if you don’t like it, I got mine. Why do certain models of car get popular after they’re in a movie? Morons. I got da car like dey showed in the movie. Fuck you. Now that they’ve made a movie about fucking Johnny Cash, suddenly it’s ok to put away your fucking Spin Doctors records and listen to Johnny Cash. Fucking morons. Why think for yourself when your entertainment can do that for you? You want anything done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. The second you start selling it though, you’re going to be fucked over by morons. Moron customers, moron business associates, and brainless, joyless fucktarded moron authoritarians. Build your own mailbox? Fuck you, we’re the homeowners association, and by the way, you can’t work on your car in your driveway – it looks trashy. Feel free to rape everyone’s ears with your leafblowers on a Sunday morning though. Gotta keep those property values going up, up, UP!

“Yeah, the robot would be nice, but everybody loves cats. Guess what, assholes – no one is going to be the cat. There would have been fights over the robot, kids would be beating each other senseless over who got to be the mustached robot, and in terms of popularity it would have surpassed even the mighty Race Car. That cat though? In two weeks that fucking thing is going to end up in the kitchen drawer with the rubberbands and the used twist ties and the 14 pencils with broken lead. Monopoly’s “The Cat” – the most milquetoast addition in 100 years to the world’s least entertaining fucking board game. Fuck. You.

“I’d totally play if you invited me over, though.”

HitlersHysterectomy comments on a REddit thread about the Cat being the new addition to the Monopoly game pieces as chosen by a global survey.

Bonus comment from a reply to this rant:

“I love you. I’m a straight male in a committed relationship, but if you’re a dude, I’d happily suck your cock while you rant. If you’re a chick, I’ll munch that box until you’re done raving. And your username is fantastic. Have an upvote.”