Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Hearts do not know they're wrong

Sometimes I wish we'd had the fortitude of other heterosexual couples, and simply refused to get married until everyone could marry. Everyone. Such a simple word isn't it? Such a basic thought. And to think that in 2010 this simple, basic, human right will still be denied to millions is insane. Immoral. Criminal. A sin in itself.
So for all those who try and succeed in making love a crime, a thought by Tennessee Williams, not that they'd know his name, or read his words:

What is straight?
A line can be straight,
or a street,
but the human heart,
it's curved
like a road

Here's to curves of every kind.

- Janet

Monday, December 28, 2009

Person of the Year

It's not the best film of the year. It's not the most brilliantly made or the most expertly crafted. It's didn't grab the headlines and for some reason - maybe fear, maybe bigotry, maybe thinking entertainment would not rightfully ensue - people stayed away. But the character of the year, the girl of the year, is Precious, as embodied by Gabourey Sidibe. She doesn't just rise, she conquers. She repels stereotypes. She refuses to fall into categories such as frail or wounded, naive or simple. She fights back with both dignity and generous intelligence. She is compassionate although compassion has never held her hand. She refuses to let her pain stand in for character, or let viciousness and cruelty inform her. She is never petty. She stands up. She stands out. She's beautiful.
And when she looks in the mirror and sees the image she wishes were reflected there - a perfectly happy, perfectly beautiful white girl with long flowing blonde hair - I really wanted to cry. But I didn't. I just kind of held my breath at the truth of it. How many of us saw, and still long to see, beautiful flawless blondes staring back at us? I wonder - what do beautiful flawless blondes see when they gaze into the mirror? Do they see the perfection? Do they ever realize it's there? Who we should all be lucky enough to see is Gabourey Sidibe as Precious. My personal nominee as human being of the year. - Janet

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Revolution will not be televised.

Janet's last post about Tiger Woods and the unbalanced news approach to the lives of athletes was wide and deep and full of stuff to respond to. In fact, I carried comments around in my head for weeks, never somehow finding the time to commit them to digital paper.

One of the things I wanted to share was a brilliant article by Malcolm Gladwell (October 19) from the New Yorker, "Offensive Play: How Different Are Dog Fighting and Football" which dives deep into the offensive, violent habits of Michael Vick but also into the possibly (if we take a long hard look) equally questionable nature of our nation's favorite sport, of which Vick himself is a participant. I urge you to read it. It seems that violence is all around us, and dogs are not the only victims, nor are the fans of dogfighting the only ones passionate about injury and permanent damage.

But, there's more. On the subject of Tiger Woods. It is true that our obsession with his private life is completely misplaced and, well, stupid. It is also true that our love of seeing our idols fall so far is ridiculous. But the fact is this: He was never the perfect man we made him out to be (or he made himself out to be, or his image-handlers made him out to be, or his sponsors made him out to be, or Accenture made him out to be) in the first place. He was, largely, a construct. A shimmering, mirage-like image built on top of true athletic skill.

The media helped create the myth. Now the media is helping to pull the myth to pieces. And nowhere in there (or at least not to a great enough extent) are we looking at the true story. Tiger isn't the issue. The media is the issue.

A free, intelligent, educated, analytical media is the heartbeat of a thriving democracy. Ours has turned into a numbing drug that is as numbed by its own stupidity as the people who are sadly subject to its output. A media that supports myths and image-making isn't doing any of us any good.

On this subject, nothing better than Frank Rich's last rant on the NYT: "Tiger Woods, Person of the Year." Reading it, I had one sad thought. Right when our country truly needs something revolutionary to happen, right when the power needs to be wrested from the hands of those who would abuse it only to rake in useless wealth at the expense of millions of others, right then...there will be no revolution and it will not be televised. Because the very media that could help bring it about (bloodlessly, one would hope, if such a thing is possible), is too involved in the lie-making to let the rest of us know what we need to wake-up and face.

This has been written in a rush, without the benefit of proof-reading. Please excuse.—Charlotte

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Private Lives of Tiger Woods and Michael Vick

Tiger Woods is not responsible for our morality, our hopes, our dreams, our better natures or our better angels. Tiger Woods is only responsible for his own.
What have we become when, ad nauseam, our airwaves scream about every move, rumor, innuendo, joke, cocktail waitress who may or may not have blah blah -- we're a nation of Rupert Murdochs. What does it say about the women who are selling their 'stories' of maybe/supposedly/ who knows/who cares/hooking up with him? He's not a criminal. There was no felony, no one died; why must we continually go through bread and circuses for national amusement? We want to make him a joke, a scandal, destroy his privacy because then we bring him down to size. There is, however, one athlete who does deserve to have his private life made public. And that is Michael Vick.
Vick is an athlete who's also a federal felon. When he went to prison fans cried out across the country: it would destroy his playing ability; he'd lose millions in endorsements and bonuses; his life would be forever ruined; were his crimes really all that bad? All lies. A court order said he can keep his $16.25 million in bonuses, even though the Falcons proved he used his contract to finance dogfighting. He now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, with an option of 5.2 million more. Nike endorses him once again. Because of a plea agreement, he spent only 18 months in prison instead of the five years a non-celebrity would have meted. This for a crime that wasn't merely illegal, but unspeakably immoral, killing and torturing countless dogs and cats (pets, even his own, were used as bait).
Several weeks ago we pulled into a rest stop in Oregon. I noticed a dog wandering around unleashed and went to see if he had a tag. His name was Mickey something. Then I noticed his back was covered in scars. Thick, intersecting, two or three dozen railway tracks, a subway map of pain. Ears filled with holes. Scars lined his face, around his eyes, the back of his head, neck. He was well fed, clean, obviously a pit bull mix. Just then a male voice said 'Hi, can I help you?' His owner was scruffy, tattooed, a biker. Mickey ran over and jumped up and kissed him on the lips. The man said 'Three months ago he wouldn't have done this. He hid from everyone, shaking. Slept under the bed. Cried. He was a Michael Vick dog and I drove to Best Friends in Utah to get him. They called him 'Mickey Six' because he was six days away from being put down.' He then proceeded to tell me why. 'He'd been shot twice - there were still a bullet in his head here, and a bullet in his side, here. He had been ripped apart so many times they had to graft new skin here, here, and here. He'd been beaten so severely his legs and back were broken in several places. And in order to get him to fight, they'd stick electrodes in his ears and shock him. You know, get him frenzied. They did that to all the dogs. He still has seizures.' So. Let's see. Michael Vick has 'paid his debt to society' and we don't talk about him anymore. Tiger Woods admits he's imperfect and we crucify him. Why is sex in this country always more appalling than death? - Janet