Posts Tagged ‘Society’

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I Can’t Believe You Get Paid To Shake Your Ass On Stage, Either

07.27.09

Walking through Warped Tour and seeing what teenage girls are wearing and have displayed on their bodies would make most parents shriek in horror.  Stamps and band autographs on their cleavage.  Booty shorts with “Bang Bang” written on their bottoms.  Girls strutting around in just bras (not even bikini tops, although that happens, too).  Many of the girls running around like this are still wearing braces.

I’m not at all for censorship, from the state nor from parents, for the most part.  My own parents banned me and my brother from watching MTV and “The Simpsons” back when we were in middle school heading into high school but that didn’t stop us from watching both every chance that we got either when mom and dad weren’t around or when we were at friends’ houses.  The reality is that teenagers are going to explore and they’re going to gravitate toward the salacious and the sexual, especially those specific things from which their parents tell them to specifically stay away.  I know many, many parents and other adults will disagree with me on this one but they’re just lying to themselves in thinking that their own perfect offspring will be better behaved (whatever that really means) than they were at that same age.

I had a recent conversation with a 14-year-old and her mother regarding the free distribution of condoms.  They thought that it was awful that there was a Trojan tent at Warped Tour handing out complimentary prophalactics because they believed that it was condoning and encouraging promiscuity.  I fervently disagreed and while that debate will have to continue in a different blog, I would argue that the widespread availability of free sexual education and protection is not just beneficial but absolutely necessary in an environment where many other 14-year-old girls are running around wearing booty shorts with “Fuck Me” written on them.

I really can’t get behind any musical act that panders to its audience of teenage girls by having them buy bracelets that simply say “CUNT” or have them sing along to songs with the main hook of “Let’s get fucked up!”  I actually find it repulsive.  And not because I find it offensive.  I really could care less if someone walks around with that bracelet; it is free speech and expression and I am fine with that.  My problem is that while these artists (I use that term very loosely, probably even way too kindly, especially in the case of the act “Millionaires.”) have no one to answer to in terms of economic capitalism, there is a still a matter of social capital in which they are, in my view, completely bankrupt.

I understand the need and worth of shockvalue-only material.  It has its place in our culture, most definitely.  When used properly and intelligently, it forces people to think, to reevalute their preconceived notions, and breaks through social barriers that may or may not need to still be in effect.  But in order for those cases to have actual worth and impact, they need to actually be a form of social commentary.  After a quick Google search, I still can’t figure out if those “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” booty shorts are for a band at all.  They clearly have nothing to do with the underrated 2005 Robert Downey, Jr.-Val Kilmer film.  And I haven’t seen the name on the Big Red Board that shows the schedule for the entire day’s worth of shows, so it really does seem that it’s merely a clothing company pandering to the audience.  Well played.

One of the downsides to capitalism and the lack of censorship is that we are all forced to wade through massive quantities of worthless, vapid garbage to find that which truly has something to say.  I’ll take ths reality any day of the week and twice on Sunday but that doesn’t mean that I won’t rally against the vapid garbage just as often.  Just because you can make a dime by selling records with songs like “I Just Got Paid So Let’s Get Laid” (sung by a trio of teenage girls, two of which are not even 18, no less) doesn’t mean you should.  I know that I could easily be attacking various other forms of music, namely rap, that has even worse content in terms of misogyny and vapidity, and that music is also hugely popular amongst the teenage crowd, there seems to be something inherently different when this material comes from the same demographic to which its pandering: 16 year old girls singing about getting hammered to other 16 year old girls.

Regardless, there should never be a rule or law against this music.  A parental advisory sticker on the CD (not like these girls even buy CDs anymore anyway) should be the most (if at all) type of government intervention.  But that doesn’t mean that as a society who values its cultural standing, we can’t rally against this type of soulless crap.  So long as there are people who eat up this type of waste, there will be be those who are willing to sacrifice any sense of dignity to make it.

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Why Is Spending a Four-Letter Word?

04.17.09

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States are going through their budgets right now trying to cut costs and balance the numbers before their fiscal year starts on July 1st.  States like New York are looking to raise taxes on those who make over $500,000 while Iowa wants to cut taxes on the poor and middle classes.  Naturally these changes will only go through if the Democrats can carry enough votes in both legislatures.

Georgia is taking a different approach.  They cut education spending in order to lower its captial gains tax rate by half to 3%.  Capital gains are profits made from selling a non-inventory product at a price higher than the one at which it was purchased – essentially, stocks, bonds, and other similar investments.  Typically the poor have very few, if any, of these assets.  The poor do, however, tend to have children who need higher quality education than they are receiving.  While the conservatives piss and moan about Obama’s so-called socialism is taking away money from the rich to give to the poor, they fail to acknowledge how slashing education spending in order to cut taxes on those rich enough to send their children to the best private schools in the world is doing the same thing in the opposite direction.

Since when has robbing from the poor to give to the rich ever been solid governmental policy?  This is the reason why Democrats took over in the past two elections.  It turns out that majority of the American population aren’t in the top 2% of income earners after all.  Shocking, I know.  And conservative or liberal, some government spending can be good.  I will always champion more spending for education and the arts.  Nothing bad can come from keeping our youth competitive in the world arena and the best way to do that is to offer the best public education we can provide.

Not all spending is inherently bad.  We have a government for a reason.  This isn’t every man for himself.  It’s frustrating that of course when you spend money it has to come from somewhere and that tends to be the rich.  That’s just the price you pay for having the privilege of earning that kind of income within our society.  We are not each totally autonomous.

Warren Buffett, billionaire and market genius, says it best:

“If you’re in the luckiest 1 percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent.”

Hear, hear.

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I’m Offending You? That’s Okay. You Offend Me, Too.

03.16.09

I have a friend who is a Mormon.  He doesn’t drink alcohol or coffee.  He doesn’t swear.  He goes to church on Sundays.  In those terms, we are complete opposites.

He and I are in an interesting position at the moment.  We’re currently forced to be around each other nearly 24/7, with other guys who are very similar to me in those aforementioned terms.  We swear.  We drink.  Usually a lot of the former when we have a lot of the latter.

Recently we were all in a particularly vulgar mood and, while we found it hysterical, our Mormon friend did not.  Finally, after hours of us reliving the same crass inside joke he asked us to please not swear so much around him anymore.  It was wearing on him.  He really found it very offensive.

To be honest, the joke is offensive.  But it’s not the first time that something hilarious has bothered people.  Nor will it be the last.  And it truly was tear-inducingly funny.  To us at least.

Now, this same guy who finds us offensive and has asked us to not replay that specific joke in front of him is also, unsurprisingly, a staunch supporter of Prop 8.  He believes that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.  A sinful and wrong lifestyle choice, at that.  He truly thinks that gay marriage, if legalized, would infringe upon his religious beliefs.

I am deeply offended by his stance on this.

Now, for me, I tend to avoid talking to him about these issues because we both know that we stand on polar opposite sides of the debate.  But it’s still there.  And while I am not always a vulgar, crass jokester – and neither are the rest of us in the group – I also don’t want to feel like I’m being judged for my humor when it does come out.  I feel like because he believes things that I find offensive, and I say things that he finds offensive, those two should offset.  We should accept each other as being who we are and not try to impede upon their beliefs.

He voted Yes on Prop 8.  I say the word “fuck” a lot.

Granted, I would like to change his mind on his belief that homosexuals are sub-standard American citizens much like he probably would like to change my mindset that swearing is funny not evil.  But if we have to agree to disagree, like my blog states, then so be it.  And if that’s the case, I think that, in this situation, I shouldn’t have to censor myself.