dunhamcake

Politically incorrect euphemisms

Not exactly.

Here’s what New York Times fashion writer Ruth La Ferla actually wrote:

Ms. Danes … turn[ed] out in a Giorgio Armani tulle confection that showed off an ethereal, if slightly skeletal, frame. What Ms. Danes lacked in pulchritude, Lena Dunham of “Girls” supplied in abundance, wearing a coral-rose-patterned Prada gown that (somewhat sloppily) showed off her curves.

Never fear. HuffPo editorial fellow (how sexist) Lauren Duca gets her Naomi Wolf on to defend the vulnerable celebs.

The contrastingly blatant fattism we see in La Ferla’s commentary is nothing new. Lena Dunham’s body is far from the Hollywood ideal, and as a strong, feminist woman in the spotlight, she is a prime target for all sorts of shaming … especially the fat kind. The point is that this sort of observation has absolutely no place in a red carpet writeup, and is especially disturbing coming from such an esteemed publication.

The juxtaposition with the “skeletal” Claire Danes further highlights the conspicuous cattiness of La Ferla’s analysis. Fat-shaming is unacceptable, as is thin-shaming. La Ferla is discussing both bodies in a way that is especially problematic, and the empirical size of the women is irrelevant. The act of drawing attention to a woman’s shape is cruel and offensive. Not to mention the pragmatic issue with the comparison: if Claire is too skinny and Lena is too fat, can women just not win?

I can’t help but wonder what George Carlin would say about this.

The most PC movie review ever

Back in Oct. 2009, Todd Boyd, a professor of mine at USC and Tyler Perry’s fiercest critic, wrote:

[In] spite of the demeaning stereotypes and utter disregard for black humanity, TP’s dope has some people reluctant to criticize him. Many point to TP’s money and success and in turn use this to justify their support of his nefarious enterprise. No one is crazy enough to actually try and defend the garbage that he puts out, so praising his business success allows them to shift the focus away from the amateurish flicks that he makes.

Now read the New York Times’ non-judgmental review of Perry’s latest Madea movie.

Score one for Professor Boyd.

Chick-fil-A may not like me, but I like Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is the best fast food chain in America. Period. They’re efficient, courteous and consistent. I could care less about their CEO’s politics.

The Atlanta-based company has come under fire from gay rights groups for supplying food to an event sponsored by the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which has worked to defeat same-sex marriage initiatives. (I guess feeding religious fundamentalists crosses some sort of progressive line in the sand.)

Granted, Chick-fil-A is sympathetic to the Pennsylvania Family Institute’s cause, as is half the country. So what? Fast food chains neither shape or influence public opinion.

To those who want to boycott, fine. It’s not my time you’re wasting. But this kind of hyperbole (excerpted from an online petition against Chick-fil-A by students at Florida Gulf Coast University) will prove counterproductive:

“The Student Union is a place where all students should feel safe and welcome. By allowing a company with a history of bigotry and homophobia into our campus, we potentially allow FGCU to place monetary gain above the comfort and safety of the very students who are expected to frequent the Union Building,” say the group of students at FGCU.

‘Cause you never know when a Chick-fil-A manager might spork you in the eye for wearing a Margaret Cho T-shirt.

I’m curious as to where all this ends. Should I research the political leanings of the company that installed the drinking fountains where I work? I’d hate to think I was consuming anti-gay water.

As offensive as the word itself

Saying they want to publish a version that won’t be banned from some schools because of its language, two scholars are editing Mark Twain‘s classic Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to eliminate uses of the “N” word and replace it with “slave,” Publishers Weekly writes.

The edition, from NewSouth Books, will also shorten an offensive reference to Native Americans.

Sad on so many levels. That this undisputed work of art is “relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright” from grade school curricula proves the tyranny of political correctness. When sensitivities rise beyond reason, smarts plummet beneath comprehension — a recurring axiom in 21st Century America.

Scrubbing the ugliness from history betrays the very notion of education. And forget about context, a word few people seem to understand, or want to.

Mostly, I’m sad that American students are being robbed of Mark Twain. If you can’t summon outrage over this one, check your pulse.

Are you a heterosexist?

The acronym is bigger than I thought — and even more ridiculous. The latest, all-inclusive version:

Lesbian
Gay
Bisexual
Transgender
Intersex
Queer
Questioning
Asexual
Ally

The University of Wisconsin-LaCross Pride Center site also features a glossary of “non-heteronormative” PC inanities:

Berdache:
A generic term used to refer to a third gender person (woman-livingman). The term ‘berdache’ is generally rejected as inappropriate and offensive by Native Peoples because it is a term that was assigned by European settlers to differently gendered Native Peoples. Appropriate terms vary by tribe and include: ‘one-spirit’, ‘two-spirit’, and ‘wintke.’

Heterosexism:
Prejudice against individuals and groups who display non-heterosexual behaviors or identities, combined with the majority power to impose such prejudice. Usually used to the advantage of the group in power. Any attitude, action, or practice – backed by institutional power – that subordinates people because of their sexual orientation.

Pangender:
A person whose gender identity is comprised of all or many gender expressions.

(via Andrew Sullivan)

is it dangerous to lampoon the president?

48442952Of course not. It is dangerous to suggest we shouldn’t.

“Depicting the president as demonic and a socialist goes beyond political spoofery,” says Hutchinson, “it is mean-spirited and dangerous.”

“We have issued a public challenge to the person or group that put up the poster to come forth and publicly tell why they have used this offensive depiction to ridicule President Obama.”

Yes, by all means, humble yourself before the Indignation Council so they can brand you with the scarlet letter of insensitivity.

Every president has been spoofed. It’s a healthy part of democratic expression, whether it be George W. as Alfred E. Neumann or Obama as The Joker.

no quarter

Let’s keep this simple for the let’s keep this simple crowd.

A bunch of partisan scolds are excoriating a highbrow publication for having the temerity to appeal to wannabe highbrows: “Dumb it down, New Yorker. Maybe to uh, I don’t know, Newsweek level. Thanks. It’s for their own good.”

Americans are children, you see. As for us adults, well, the children aren’t ready for bed yet, so we must keep it clean. And simple.

Why do we build monuments to Lincoln and Jefferson? Why not to the uneducated and dimwitted? They are the most noble of all creatures, or so we’re led to believe. Remember Hillary Clinton bragging about having the support of a majority of voters without college educations? As if that made them more respectable (that and the fact they live somewhere no one else wants to live).

I come from those people. They wish they had college degrees. Some didn’t get them because of laziness, others due to circumstances beyond their control. They’re good people, and while not quickest, they are not simpletons. They need not be patronized or shielded from the truth.

Hey, gotta run. A man’s getting hit in the groin by a football. Can’t miss that.

the hysterically indignant respond

A sampling of Huffington Post commenters reacting to The New Yorker cover:

realtalk
IT IS SAD THAT BARACK OBAMA WHO IS A GOOD MAN, WITH A GREAT WIFE, AND TWO GREAT DAUGHTERS HAVE TO TAKE THIS GARBAGE FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!!

THE NEW YORKER, AND THOSE AMERICANS WHO THINK THAT THIS MAGAZINE COVER IS APPROPRIATE ARE THE WORST OF THE WORST!

THIS IS JUST DISGRACEFUL!!

memphispaul
New York Fascism is alive and we

wilburr0g
This is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.

buckygreen
Whats next for the New Yorker? Maybe a rib tickling, hilarious lynching caricature. You know, satire.

Way to conflate two unrelated examples, “buckygreen.” Way to encourage misinformation and misunderstanding, Sen. Obama.

Must we always play down to the audience, sanitizing cleverness so as not to confuse the stupid?

stand up for satire

In a depressing nod to the dimwitted and perpetually aggrieved, Barack Obama’s campaign has condemned a New Yorker cover depicting him as a flag-burning terrorist and his wife as a gun-toting revolutionary.

“The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.”

Satire is not in the eyes of the beholder. The magazine’s intent was clear; its message, well-executed. Hell, it’s The New Yorker, not the Daily Klansman! Let’s hope no apologies are forthcoming from the venerable weekly. That would be truly offensive.

Obama, on the other hand, should reconsider his knee-jerk response. Imagine if he had said, “I thought the cover did a good job exposing the silliness of some of the attacks my campaign has received. The New Yorker shouldn’t have to defend itself for producing an effective satire.” Refreshing, eh? 

Instead he follows a predictable pattern, feigning outrage and offense — at a literary device. Satire, which predates Christ, has influenced more societal change than any one American president ever could. Those who aren’t able to recognize it need to be educated, not patronized.

Instead, the media cowers. Another teaching moment passes by. America grows a little dumber, and a politician who should know better profits.

let us all tolerate the screaming children in the theater

Based on the recommendation of an Iranian-born colleague, I planned on watching the controversial Dutch documentary “Fitna” today. Linking footage of terroristic acts to verses in the Koran, the film has been roundly condemned, with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offering the most offensive critique.

“We must also recognize that the real fault line is not between Muslim and Western societies, as some would have us believe, but between small minorities of extremists, on different sides, with a vested interest in stirring hostility and conflict,” Ban said.

So non-violent provocateurs are equivalent to baby-killing suicide bombers?

I’m sure Ban hasn’t watched “Fitna,” and, despite my best attempts, neither have I. The doc was posted earlier on LiveLeak but removed “following threats to our staff of a very serious nature.” Once again, the Islamic impulse towards violence serves only to validate the material — be it novel, cartoon or film — it aims to suppress.

the inequity of legos

A study was conducted, and Legos were subsequently banned.

When the children discovered the decimated Legotown, they reacted with shock and grief. Children moaned and fell to their knees to inspect the damage; many were near tears. The builders were devastated, and the other children were deeply sympathetic. We gathered as a full group to talk about what had happened; at one point in the conversation, Kendra suggested a big cleanup of the loose Legos on the floor. The Legotown builders were fierce in their opposition. They explained that particular children “owned” those pieces and it would be unfair to put them back in the bins where other children might use them. As we talked, the issues of ownership and power that had been hidden became explicit to the whole group.

We met as a teaching staff later that day. We saw the decimation of Lego-town as an opportunity to launch a critical evaluation of Legotown and the inequities of private ownership and hierarchical authority on which it was founded. Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation. We knew that the examination would have the most impact if it was based in engaged exploration and reflection rather than in lots of talking. We didn’t want simply to step in as teachers with a new set of rules about how the children could use Legos, exchanging one set of authoritarian rules with another. Ann suggested removing the Legos from the classroom. This bold decision would demonstrate our discomfort with the issues we saw at play in Legotown. And it posed a challenge to the children: How might we create a “community of fairness” about Legos?

These educators seem more focused on enforcing fairness (in an unfair world) than encouraging creativity, a depressing cliche within academia.