Rock on, status quo

For anyone complaining about the racial and political content of the Sunday, February 28, Academy Awards telecast: even an apolitical show, the type the Oscars usually present, is political, as in pro-quo, as in supporting the status quo.  If the host, the African-American comedian Chris Rock, had said nothing about race or racism, that would have implied his support for the Motion Picture Academy’s white supremacy.

I watched his opening monologue, which I’d call the harshest, most hard-hitting one ever heard at the Oscars.  The predominantly-white and -wealthy audience sitting in that theater may have laughed at his jokes about rape, lynching, and cops who shoot black people, but how would the audience have reacted if he had questioned the movies’ pro-corporate messages (except for the rare flick such as The Big Short, no Bernie-style economic content ever appears in mainstream productions); or the movies’ reactionary politics (especially regarding law enforcement); or the movies’ on-screen sexism (most Prestigious Motion Pictures are sausage fests); or the movies’ off-screen sexism (an infinitesimal amount of female directors, execs, et cetera)?

Also, in his monologue, Rock stated that Oscar-diversity activists had nothing more serious to protest.  According to him, they should have lived through the age of Jim Crow terror and thus had some real worries, as if activists can pay attention to only one cause at a time; or as if police violence, mass incarceration, economic inequality, and right-wing racism count as minor inconveniences.  His remarks remind me of my mother’s bitter and frequent assertion that today’s kids were spoiled rotten and thus needed to live through the Depression to experience true pain and deprivation; only past generations have known actual suffering.

Anyway, I mostly stopped watching the telecast after its opening, causing me to miss Rock’s–and Sacha Baron Cohen’s–cracks about Asians.  Goody–the status quo lives.  Someone must have felt that viewers needed some non-Caucasian and non-Negro group to ridicule, to avoid the bummer of (gasp!) political correctness, a bummer that might have made viewers less enthusiastic about spending money, hurting the advertisers who had paid millions to air their commercials during the awards, as if no Asians watch the Oscars or buy anything.  Obviously no Asians have any power in Hollywood, right?

Copyright © 2016 by David V. Matthews

Racks and cracks

My first reaction upon seeing host Seth MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” song-and-dance number (about actresses’ topless scenes in movies) during the start of last night’s Academy Awards telecast: eh.  Both MacFarlane and slightly bored-looking guest star William Shatner (as Captain Kirk, telecasting from the Twenty-Third Century in an attempt to prevent a major Oscars disaster—why didn’t he travel back in time to prevent, say, 9/11 or the latest bug-infested iteration of Windows?) had called the song controversial and offensive before its performance, but I thought I could have written a more controversial and offensive song, excuse the bragging.  I mean, boobs?  Not tits, but boobs?  Why not sing about Jesus’s taint?

However, it turned out the song had offended far more people than I thought; see the fifth paragraph of this article for the rape-related details.  Not surprising—MacFarlane’s animated shows Family Guy and American Dad! traffick in rape gags; I haven’t seen enough of his third show, The Cleveland Show, to rank it on the rape-o-meter.

Anyway, MacFarlane’s subsequent Oscars fratboyish, stoopid-with-two-O’s-to-denote-something-beyond-mere-stupid cracks about girls (they like stripping!), Jews (they control Hollywood!), and Latinos (they don’t speak English!) bored me.  Pardon me for my dreaded, oh-so-serious political correctness, but last night, he finally turned into the cynical, Twenty-First Century equivalent of those Fifties white-guy comedians who joked about nagging wives, crazy women drivers, and nasty mothers-in-law (and note, I have found American Dad! amusing on occasion, which should solidify my American dude bona fides, or boner fides, as MacFarlane might put it).

I’ve indulged in my share of non-G-rated humor throughout the years, but I’ve attempted to make my irony apparent, making sure people understand I oppose sexism, racism, homophobia, and anti-intellectualism.  I like humor that challenges the status quo rather than perpetuates it, in other words.  What does MacFarlane think about the status quo?

(Note #1: at least the we-luv-torturing-Muslims, CIA wet-dream film, Zero Dark Thirty, didn’t win best picture; that honor went to Argo, an anti-Iranian—i.e., status-quo—film that drools over the CIA slightly less vigorously.  Note #2: I shan’t mention Seth MacFarlane, the Oscars, Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show, Zero Dark Thirty, or Argo on this blog again.  As for mentioning William Shatner, well…)

Copyright © 2013 by David V. Matthews

Another sheer outtake from DVM’s upcoming book Meltdown in the Cereal Aisle and Other Stories

Another Tom-and-Rachel passage omitted from “Sheer Musical Joy for the Ages”:

Rachel never discussed politics with anyone, because people got upset so easily nowadays; she had never liked causing strife in the world.  However, she had always held conservative views about government, the economy, and (of course) morality.  In 2000 at age nineteen, she had voted in her first election, choosing George W. Bush for president, as she would do again in her second election four years later.  She considered him a decent and honorable man, though she had strong disagreements with him about that whole torture business.  Having lived through 9/11 and the two ongoing wars that had followed, she understood the natural desire for revenge against the monsters who had attacked America and continued to attack it, but torturing a terrorist meant you considered him special, worthy of the extra attention, worthy of the extra effort required for beating, kicking, stomping, waterboarding, forced foot-licking, and other harsh interrogation techniques.  As for using those techniques to gain information that would prevent an imminent attack, the ticking time-bomb scenario happened only on TV; real-life terrorists didn’t deserve any media-related glamour.  The government should remove whatever mystique terrorism had by treating a terrorist as any other criminal, making him do hard time in an ordinary supermax prison, tossing him in solitary forever, driving him crazy with boredom.

On the other hand, Tom probably wanted to coddle the terrorists, having the government pay for luxuries such as cable TV or high-quality legal representation, meaning he probably leaned to the left on the political spectrum; she had never seen him wear Birkenstocks or carry around a National Public Radio totebag, but she did know about his lack of interest in religion—something she’d known about before today, true, but, all right, she had hoped to convert him, because a hunk like him didn’t deserve to get broiled after death.  But to no avail—he remained unconverted.

All right, she would get intimate with him in a millisecond if doing so wouldn’t cause her soul to wither.  Maybe she should show him just enough physical affection, not going too far, proving she can set boundaries and teaching him how to set them.  Maybe just a little touching.  Her soul wouldn’t wither too much if they just touched in a careful manner.

Maybe just a little kissing.  She’d never been kissed.

Maybe just—

No, why would she even consider extreme involvement with him?  His questionable morals had had a deleterious effect on her.  She needed to back away while she still could.  A moment of so-called fun, and she’d foot the bill forever.  No, she could never belong on his team or vice-versa.

And she knew the importance of teams.  Her father had run track in high school and college.  Even today, he still had a lean, muscular physique and still towered over most of the world at six feet, two inches; she’d inherited her tallness and her athleticism from him.

His sophomore year of college, he met his future wife on the campus quad while walking to the dining hall for lunch.  “We met on a cloudy day, but it was the sunniest day of my life,” as he would put it on many occasions years later.  She had just gotten saved and had started witnessing; he was her first witness (or witnessee?) ever.  It was also love at first sight for both of them.  They talked, they started going out together, he got saved thanks to her, and they got married two years later after graduating.

Rachel was born a year after that and had a Christian upbringing.  Every Sunday, she attended the Church of the Shining Light of Garnetville for Bible school and religious services. Every weekday after public school, she watched King Christian on the PraiseHim channel.   Every Easter, she watched the Charlton Heston version of The Ten Commandments during that movie’s annual broadcast on the ABC television network.  And at bedtime, her parents would read to her from Doyle’s Christian Media Presents the Big Book of Bible Stories for Good Little Children; as an adult, she still remembered the book’s cartoony, candy-colored illustrations of Adam, Eve, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, et cetera.


Copyright © 2012 by David V. Matthews