Posts filed under ‘Media’

The Queen of Rage

Cover of "The Stepford Wives"

Cover of The Stepford Wives

Usually whenever some Fox news pundit goes on and on like a broken record about the liberal bias of the mainstream media, I have to laugh. However, the conservatives have a point when they bring up the latest Newsweek cover of Michelle Bachman. They titled the cover story, “Queen of Rage,” and they have a photo of Bachman looking like a mildly surprised homicidal Stepford Wife.

Tina Brown, the female editor of Newsweek, has worked overtime at implying that Bachman is crazy. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bachman is no friend of mine, and she certainly is no friend of the feminists. However, that doesn’t mean that tactics like Brown’s are acceptable in an attempt to make her unpalatable to Iowa voters.

Here we have a woman who’s running for the office of President of the United States of America. Ask yourself this: would any man who’s running for President be treated with the same indignity? I think the answer is no. So, is the Newsweek cover blatantly sexist? You bet your sweet bippy it is.

You don’t need to go searching through the galleries until you come up with the one photo of Michelle Bachman that’s actually unattractive. I mean, just how long and hard did Tina Brown have to search to come up with a single photo of Bachman that’s not flattering? My guess is: hours. In fact, the woman is so beautiful that I’m going to have to see her and Sarah Palin in a room together before I’m convinced that they aren’t the same person.

Michelle Bachman can be called a lot of things, including, perhaps, legitimately crazy and even dangerously simple-minded, but the way we judge those things shouldn’t be based on her appearance, but rather based on the substance of her campaign, her platform, her speeches, her words. There’s lots of fuel for the fire there.

Shame on Tina Brown for resorting to this kind of yellow journalism. It’s like a one-sided catfight in print. It’s the picture that was substituted where a thousand words would do. And Brown makes the loonies at Fox News actually right for once. She also makes me, as a feminist, have to defend a woman whose politics I abhor.

August 11, 2011 at 12:34 am 8 comments

Freedom Redux: This is Water

David Foster Wallace at the Hammer Museum in L...

Image via Wikipedia

So, that review was kind of snide and snarky. And I did like the book in one way, and that is that I thought that it was entertaining, even if it was only half-way original. I think Jonathan Franzen is definitely talented. So, I have some second thoughts.

Even if the date rape was clichéd, I still recognize that the reason that it may feel clichéd is that is so true to life. After all, I wrote my own post that was somewhat similar to a Lifetime movie, only it wasn’t fiction, it was from my very own damn life.

[http://gooseberrybush.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/monster-at-the-picnic-table/]

It’s not just a cliché, it’s also my life.

In addition to that cliché there was also the love triangle between the “nice” guy and the “sexy” guy, as if nice can’t also be sexy. It struck me, after reading the book and then also reading interviews and biographies of Jonathan Franzen, that perhaps this book was somewhat personal. Richard and Walter are stand-ins for someone else, and that someone else is Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace.

Even though Franzen is the bigger environmentalist and the bird watcher and probably the less flashy of the two, and even though Wallace superficially resembles Richard, with his greater charisma and physical beauty and tobacco chew, I think that Walter and Richard are actually just dual aspects of Franzen’s personality. It’s Franzen against Franzen.

Also, if anyone is Walter, the more spiritual one, the kinder one, the more worthy one, it’s Wallace, who couldn’t possibly hurt a fly other than himself, if it weren’t for the one fact of his suicide. Wallace was the “churchgoer,” the one with the reputation as the “nice” guy, and yet it was Wallace, and not Franzen, who hanged himself on his own porch for his wife to find his body. Maybe not so selfless a death as David Foster Wallace would have wished for himself, if he had been in his right mind at the time.

It strikes me that Walter’s eventual forgiveness of Patty, and, by implication, Richard, is Franzen’s final tribute to his friend David Foster Wallace. And with this act, his overvalued novel is somewhat redeemed and maybe even worthy of half of the superfluous over-the-top “critical” literary views, if the idea was to transcend the selfish and self involved characters of his Seinfeldian universe, with this one final act of grace.

It occurs to me that  the repitition of the word and the ideology of “freedom” in David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech and the fact that Jonathan Franzen’s novel is titled, Freedom are no coincidence.

July 28, 2011 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

Reese Witherspoon Tells It Like It Is

Actress Reese Witherspoon in the Oval Office o...

Image via Wikipedia

Reese Witherspoon just made points with me, big time. She accepted an award at the MTV Movie Awards. In her acceptance speech she slammed reality stars who got famous making porn tapes and sexting nude photos. Witherspoon said that she was afraid that lots of teenagers were getting the message that that’s the way to get famous. Then she said that she vowed to make being a “good girl” look cool.

No secret just who her messages were meant for. Blake Lively, Vanessa Hutchens, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, stand up and take a bow. Recently, Laurence Fishburne’s daughter, Montana, made her porn debut because she believed that it would catapult her legitimate acting career. Why not? How many of us believe that Kim’s sex tape being released was an accident? I don’t. It’s more than just a “coincidence” that Paris and Kim are close friends.

These women who make sex tapes and send nude photos on the internet make a pretense of a lawsuit, cry on command for television talk shows, and always claim that the videos were “private,” and that they were in love. But it’s interesting to note just how often these women actually end up receiving a substantial percentage of the profits from the resulting home video sales. Just how badly did they really protest? How hard did they really fight to keep that moment “private”?

Once upon a time, in an America far, far away, if you made a homemade sex tape, and it was found and distributed, then your career was hurt. Not so, anymore. Maybe Rob Lowe should think about re-releasing his. Couldn’t hurt. I think he could probably do it legally in Thailand. Think about how it might increase the foreign receipts on his movie DVDs.

I never had any special affinity for Reese Witherspoon, but I sure as hell do now. It took a lot of courage for her to get up on that stage in front of Hollywood and say that. But it needs to be said.

As a word of advice, ladies, whether or not you want to be a porn star is no longer in your hands the moment that you agree to let anyone tape you having sex. You are now a porn star. I don’t care if it’s a stranger, a friend, a lover, a boyfriend, or even your husband, if you allow someone to tape you while you are having sex then you deserve what’s coming to you. Ooops. Scratch that. If what’s coming to you is fame and money, then you sure as hell didn’t earn it. If what you experience instead is shame, then you earned every minute of it.

When a man wants to make a “private” sex video what he’s saying is that he is devaluing what should be an actual private and special moment. You can rest assured that he’s not taping it for himself. He’s taping it so he has a record and something he can show to his buddies, in a best case scenario.

Here’s a news flash. Any man who’s in love with you (and some who aren’t) is going to have an indelible, virtual photo gallery of Polaroids in his head from your lovemaking. He can pull those out of his brain anytime he wants to use them. He doesn’t need any reminding.

Do you value yourself so little that you’re willing to share yourself sexually with the world? If so, then I hope that reality show and the monthly check from the video proceeds can help you buy back your self-esteem.

http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/06/reese-witherspoon-slams-stars-who-make-sex-tapes/?iref=obinsite

June 7, 2011 at 11:10 pm Leave a comment

Be Prepared: Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance

Hi. You might not know me. I’m Kansas State Representative Pete DeGlaaf (R), and I love women and babies. In fact, I just kissed a baby 5 minutes ago. You missed it. During a recent house debate my colleagues and I were discussing a motion to make private health coverage for abortions illegal. I mentioned that women who were the survivors of rape or incest might just want to be prepared.

I mean, after all, I have a spare tire. I have life insurance. Why shouldn’t we expect women to plan ahead for these inevitable contingencies of life? Isn’t that what being a responsible adult is all about? We have fire insurance and flood insurance. Why shouldn’t we have rape insurance, too?

That’s when it occurred to me that I had come upon an excellent business plan, inadvertently. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t take advantage of my accidental flash of entrepreneurial genius! First, I googled to make sure that there wasn’t already a rape insurance policy out there.

It turns out there is, but it’s only available in South Africa. So, I thought why can’t we be like the progressive people of South Africa and offer this service to American women? I contacted my friends at Mutual of Wichita. They felt exactly the same way, and they made it happen.

I’m now pleased to announce that you can purchase Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance at a very affordable rate. You can, like a Boy Scout, be prepared for life’s emergencies, such as random acts of penis. What does it cost? Well, the monthly premium is very affordable. And like life insurance, we base it on amortization tables designed to minimize risk. But any woman* can afford rape insurance.

Affordable Monthly Premiums

Girl, 18 & Under, Virgin

$75

Adult Virgin

$45

Female, Experienced, under 30

$35

Female over 30

$25

MILF

$30

Grandmother

$15

Cougar

$20

Crone

$10

Actress

$65

Model

$75

You might ask, what is the deductible, Pete? And again, it’s very affordable. The deductible is only $800. That’s right! $800! For the mere cost of a rape kit, you can start taking advantage of your rape insurance coverage.

What does rape insurance cover? I’m glad you asked. There are two options available for women. Both options, working, of course, in conjunction with your health care provider and your employer’s EAP, will pay for a portion of 8 counseling sessions with a qualified, approved Christian counselor.

We will pay, in conjunction with your health care provider, for a portion of the health care costs associated with the rape, up to and including the morning after pill, four AIDS tests, the recommended AZT cocktail, and a full test panel for STDs. We will also pay for your ultrasound and prenatal care and labor costs, if necessary.

For those of you that are victims of rape and incest, I am truly sorry. If, after 8 weekly sessions, your qualified, approved Christian counselor determines that an abortion is necessary for your mental health, then it will be covered after certain secondary requirements are met.

The Jaycee Duggard Plan The Joan Crawford Plan
Counseling Counseling
Health Care Health Care
Ultrasound Ultrasound
Pre-Natal & Delivery Polygraph Test
College Trust Fund Wire Hanger
Tea Kettle
Hydrogen Peroxide
Mirror
One Gallon of Distilled Water
2 Tea Towels
1 Box of Sanitary Napkins

We will, of course, require you to submit to a polygraph test and an ultrasound. If the polygraph determines that you have, indeed, been the victim of a rape or incest, then we will provide you with a coat hanger, a teakettle, a bottle of distilled water, a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a small hand-held mirror, and one night in a private hospital room. If you absolutely must kill babies, then that burden should be on you alone. This is called the Joan Crawford Plan.

For those of you that aren’t baby killers, we have the Jaycee Duggard Plan. This option covers not only your medical costs associated with gestation and labor but also provides your rapist’s baby with a college education, regardless of whether or not you decide to keep the baby. That’s right. You can give your baby up to a loving, caring, Christian family that’s just waiting for a bundle of joy and rest assured that your child will receive a college education at an approved Christian college.**

But wait!! That’s not all. If you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, to a panel of Christian clerics and medical experts, that you were a virgin prior to your assault, then you will receive an extra $10,000 for pain and suffering to be spent in any way you deem fit. You can also qualify for discounts on your insurance premiums if you agree to carry pepper spray, take a self defense course and never leave your home without your arms, legs, ankles and decolletage fully covered. We will provide an additional discount if you wear a burka or another full head and face covering.

*  Mutual of Wichita Rape Insurance doesn’t cover strippers, massage therapists, sex workers or transgender women. Pre-existing conditions such as prior sexual abuse can disqualify you for coverage as well.

** Approved Christian colleges include Liberty University, Bob Jones University, and Oral Roberts University.

Disclaimer: I am not Pete DeGlaaf or Pete DeGraaf, the dumbass Republican member of the Kansas State House of Representatives. This “advertisement” is a satire meant to call attention to the stupidity and misogyny of Representative Pete DeGraaf of Kansas.

http://www.kansasvotes.org/Legislator.aspx?ID=16863

http://articles.cnn.com/2011-05-31/opinion/granderson.rape.abortion_1_incest-victims-abortion-sharron-angle?_s=PM:OPINION

June 2, 2011 at 2:56 am 1 comment

Dear David Eagleman

Neuroscientist David Eagleman

Image via Wikipedia

Dear David Eagleman,

I was 3 minutes late to work this morning because I was busy reading the profile on you and your brain research in The New Yorker. Fascinating stuff. I needed to think about something to write on my blog today, and it was between you and the documentary Inside Job, so I thought I’d lighten up and write about you because our economy is serious stuff. Nothing funny about it. Also, I want to finish the director’s commentary before I write about Inside Job.

I have decided, after reading about half of the article in The New Yorker, that you will receive the honor of being my new “celebrity” crush. I think you are awesome. Studying the brain’s perception of time! And before that you studied literature and tried your hand at stand up comedy and screenwriting! James Franco is so jealous.

*SIGH* What is up with that Chippendale dancer pose with the tight t-shirt and jeans in front of the whiteboard? Where’s your smoking jacket, pipe, and cravat? What kind of an academic are you? Not a very dignified one. I like it.

Dude, I checked out your picture on the Baylor College of Medicine website, too. You got it going on with that smoldering profile against the amber background. Was that photo taken at Geek Glamour Shots? You look like you have a very sexy intellectual secret that you will not be sharing. Seriously, it’s a great photo. I don’t even care if the author of The New Yorker profile said you walk like Pinocchio. Can I be your Jiminy Cricket?

Now, before you answer that question, think about the distinguished company that you will be joining. My past celebrity crushes for the last 3 years or so have been smokin’ hot, and at least one of them is smart. (I limit my celebrity crushes to the last 3 years’ worth because we really don’t have the time to get into the full history, and I used to be in love with both John Denver and Kermit the Frog simultaneously. I don’t want you to think that my tastes haven’t evolved into more sophisticated selections lately.) I have excellent taste in celebrity crushes, really I do.

Take Robbie Williams, for instance. Hot and talented. I really don’t know if he’s smart or not. I’ve never met him or seen him interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show. But, you know, he could be. And he’s an international superstar, so presumably, even though he’s never really caught on in America, he must have something going for him.

More recently, there’s been The Soup Peddler. He’s a local entrepreneur. He is cute, and he writes this funny blog. Really smart. See? If you replaced him in my affections, then this would really give you some bragging rights. I mean, The Soup Peddler is a dream. Nice Jewish boy. He cooks delicious soup. He delivers it on his bicycle. Well, not anymore. But you get the picture. Grassroots business success story: what’s not to love?

Don’t answer yet. I know that you will want to know what’s involved in agreeing to be my new celebrity crush. Well, technically, I don’t have to ask your permission. I’m just being polite. What do you have to do? Precisely nothing.

That’s right. Nothing. Just continue to breathe. It would be nice if every once in a while you might drop a crumb for me like another interview in a magazine or on a website or The Charlie Rose Show or what’s the PBS talk show with Evan Smith — that one, but that’s not required. I will keep scouring the internet for new information daily until my infatuation wears out. If you have any videos on TED, I’ll watch those, too.

I will also read at least one of your books after I purchase it on half.com. I’ll be honest. I’m unlikely to read an academic textbook about neuroscience. I’m pretty fickle. I give this thing about six months. And the great thing is that at the end of that six months, if you are ever the subject of a Trivial Pursuit question or a category on Jeopardy I can guarantee you that I will kick some useless information ass!!

I know that this crush might cause you to be fearful for your life or think about the need to hire bodyguards, but I assure you that even though Houston is less than 3 hours away on Highway 290, I will not be stalking you. I just like the idea of you, and if I met you I am sure that in some way the idea of your perfection would burst like a bubble, and it would kind of ruin the fun for me. Like, I bet in real life that you fart or scratch yourself or something like that. I just really don’t want to be confronted with that, so like I said, you are completely safe. And if you don’t believe me you can just ask The Soup Peddler and Robbie Williams and the Austin Police Department and the FBI. Really. Completely safe.

In the meantime, while you contemplate my heartfelt proposal, I will leave you with this: our song. Think about it. And then don’t call me. Really. I mean it. Don’t call me. You’ll ruin the magic.

Sincerely,

Gooseberry Bush

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/04/25/110425fa_fact_bilger?currentPage=5

http://neuro.neusc.bcm.tmc.edu/?sct=gfaculty&prf=38

April 27, 2011 at 11:39 pm 3 comments

Greg Mortenson & 60 Minutes

Greg Mortenson in Afghanistan 3500ppx

Image via Wikipedia

Previously I’ve written about Greg Mortenson, his non-profit, the Central Asia Institute, and his book about his journey to build schools for the children of rural Pakistan and Afghanistan. The book is called Three Cups of Tea, and its accuracy has been called into question by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes and journalist Jon Krakauer. In addition to alleging that Mortenson’s autobiography is less than truthful (remind anyone of James Frey?), there are even more serious allegations of money mismanagement.

In addition to the tall tales that Mortenson supposedly told in his books, Krakauer and 60 Minutes  are saying that Mortenson has not built as many schools as he claims he has.  Many of the schools Mortenson claims that CAI has built or is funding are not currently functioning. Central Asia Institute has only furnished one audited financial statement in its 14 years. Several board members have quit over misgivings about financial accountability. And Mortenson’s travel costs are paid for by CAI while Mortenson himself retains speaking fees for speaking engagements and promotional tours for his books. The proceeds from the books go to Mortenson and not to the institute.

Some of the allegations here shouldn’t be terribly shocking to anyone who read Mortenson’s book. Mortenson himself admits that he is a poor planner, ineffective with time management, money management, and people management. But for some reason he has a knack with the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And no one is alleging that he isn’t an effective advocate for girls’ education in developing countries. No one is stating that he hasn’t vastly improved the lives of literally thousands of children. What they are claiming is that Mortenson has not been a good steward of CAI resources and that perhaps he’s indulged in some tall tales or some creative license with his story.

In one portion of the scandalous expose, 60 Minutes interviews a man that Mortenson identifies in a photo from his book as a member of the Taliban who kidnapped him for several days. Kroft interviews the man, and the man says he’s not Taliban and that he didn’t kidnap Mortenson. But honestly, if you were a member of the Taliban or if you had kidnapped someone, would it be in your best interest to admit to it on American national television? Why would we take this guy’s word at face value any more than we would Mortenson’s? And what due diligence did 60 Minutes undertake to ensure that this guy really was who and what he claims to be? We’re not told.

Three Cups of Tea was co-written by a seasoned journalist named David Oliver Relin. I have a hard time believing that he didn’t do any research on Greg Mortenson and his claims. After all, his professional reputation was on the line. I’d be interested in getting his take on things. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times has asked that the public reserve judgment about Mortenson. Kristof is unimpeachable.

As for 60 Minutes and Krakauer, I’d like to say that, to be fair, the piece isn’t a complete hatchet job. Kroft indulges in some sensationalism in following Mortenson to a public book signing. Shame on you for grandstanding, Steve Kroft! It’s beneath you. And Krakauer may feel duped for having given $75,000 to a man who’s perhaps been less than truthful. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s envious of Mortenson’s greater success with his books. Krakauer wrote two bestsellers, one of which was made into a movie that was directed by Sean Penn. But his books haven’t sold as many copies as Greg’s, and Jon Krakauer probably can’t command the same speaking fees. Maybe his motivations are not entirely pure.

Even if Greg Mortenson has done a lot of good in the world, as I’m sure he has, he should still be held accountable. At the very least, Mortenson should start freely sharing audited financial statements on an annual basis. I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone contribute one penny to CAI until this happens. Mortenson himself has admitted that he’s a lousy businessman. Why shouldn’t he continue to be the front man for his charity and hire someone else who’s experienced and knowledgeable to handle the day to day nitty gritty of being CAI’s executive director? I am sure that there are plenty of qualified individuals who would love the challenge of reforming such a worthy charity.

60 Minutes has tried to turn a hero into a charlatan. The truth is most likely somewhere between those two extremes. The jury’s still out on this matter, as far as I’m concerned. However, there are many questions that need to be answered. If Greg Mortenson is really concerned with helping the children of Pakistan and Afghanistan, then he’ll do his best to answer those questions honestly and to behave honorably with regards to the money that has been entrusted to him for those children’s welfare. Mr. Mortenson, the excuse of naivete will only get you so far. It’s time to grow up and do the right thing.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7363068n

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/15/60minutes/main20054397.shtml

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/greg-mortenson-author-of-three-cups-of-tea-nicholas-kristof-and-others-respond-to-the-controversy/2011/04/19/AFo6Zt4D_blog.html

http://danielglick.net/2011/04/60-minutes-expose-on-three-cups-of-tea-is-weak-–-and-wrong/

April 26, 2011 at 12:27 am Leave a comment

Aging Italian Lothario

Silvio Berlusconi in a meeting

Image via Wikipedia

We all know that I like to read. I was reading last week’s issue of The New Yorker when I came across an article on Italy and Italy’s Prime Minister, Sylvio Berlusconi. And you thought the title of Italian Lothario was going to be a puff piece on George Clooney! Berlusconi is currently the European leader who’s been in office the longest but not consecutively.

He’s embroiled in a controversy that involves a sex scandal, a divorce, allegations of government corruption, and sex with teenage girls. In Italy the age of consent is 16, but paying for sex is illegal. It’s alleged that Berlusconi, in his 70s, paid for sex with underage girls.

The article that I read in The New Yorker made it sound like Berlusconi’s sexual exploits are not only tolerated but virtually approved. It sounds like in Italian culture the primary qualification for public office might be the ability to get an erection. Maybe if both candidates have access to Levitra, they measure penises in order to find out who will be the better leader. Okay. That’s an exaggeration but not much of one. It is a heavily sexist, machismo culture.

Berlusconi describes his politics as moderate right, and he hangs on to the number of votes he needs to retain office by the skin of his teeth and with the help of another political party called the Northern League. The Northern League is dedicated to making the money in the North stay in the North and tends to be divisive. However, they say if Berlusconi will back what they term “fiscal federalism,” they’ll stand behind him.

But I gotta wonder why this guy is Prime Minister. Clinton couldn’t keep it in his pants, either, but at least our economy thrived while he was in office. And as far as I know he wasn’t playing the cigar game with teenage girls. He also wasn’t objectifying women or rewarding political positions to women that are basically based on whether or not he wanted to nail them.

Sure enough, if you can ignore the allegations of paying for sex or paying for sex with underage girls, then there’s the problems of this yahoo’s mismanagement. Corruption (in the form of bribery) abounds. The unemployment rate is high, particularly amongst young people, and those that are employed are mostly underpaid. They are second only to Greece in terms of debt ratios of European Union Nations.

It begs the question of how an effective businessman can manage to run his nation’s economy into the ground while he’s busy throwing parties to rival Hugh Hefner. Berlusconi has escaped criticism so far because he actually owns all 3 television networks in Italy. That’s not a conflict of interest. Not at all. It’s like if Rupert Murdoch ran for President, if Rupert Murdoch also purchased ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN. I shudder to think.

Berlusconi works to make sure that his country sees only positive images of him. He squashes anyone who protests or opposes him in the court of public opinion. Mostly, the message is that anyone who criticizes him must be partisan and leftist, as well as disloyal to Italy.

The tide is turning. Some Italians are finally tired of this guy’s nonsense. Guess who’s one of the groups leading the charge. Just guess. Feminists. They recognize this dick for just what he is. In case you were inclined to feel sorry for this dirty old man, just keep in mind that this is a man who also calls Muammar Ghadafi his dear friend.

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/silvio_berlusconi/index.html

http://video.nytimes.com/video/2009/12/13/world/europe/1247466111431/an-attack-on-silvio-berlusconi.html?ref=silvioberlusconi

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/20/berlusconi-italian-women-backlash

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2011/04/11/110411crat_atlarge_parks

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/feminists-for-the-italian-future/

April 21, 2011 at 11:13 pm 1 comment

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