Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Showing Some Love for Joe.My.God

If you're so inclined, take a moment to check out Joe Jervis' absolutely incredible blog at Joe.My.God.  He's gotten twitter shout outs from Rachel Maddow among others and he's actually managed to scoop the mainstream press on several issues, the most current one being Dr. Laura's decision, last night on Larry King, to leave her radio show at the end of they year.

His reporting and writing is clear and concise and he clearly labels his sources.  He is a true journalist in my book.  His blog is well worth your time; I check it every day and always find it informative and enjoyable.

Plus, he's really easy on the eyes, if you're into hot bear type dudes.  ;)

Once Again in the News....

Sometimes, I really hate my home state; today is such a day.  Just once, I'd like to see some headlines that doesn't make South Carolina look like it's totally populated by morons, extreme conservatives and psychopaths. Witness the story of Shaquan Duley, the mother who, in an eerie echo of Susan Smith, smothered her two sons and then drove her car into a river to make it seemed as if they young boys had drowned.

Let me clarify a few points before my coming comments:  I don't know Ms. Duley, nor do I know her family or her home situation.  All I know of this story, like you, gentle readers, is what I've read in the AP and seen on the news.  Orangeburg is not close to me and is, in fact, around two hours south of me.

Now for the comments:  There was absolutely ZERO excuse for Ms. Duley's behavior.  She is 29 years old, has been a mother for five years (she has a 5 year old son who is still alive) and there's nothing that's been reported about a diminished mental capacity.  She should know better.  She has admitted to smothering a 2 year old and an 18 month old with her own hands, placing them in a car, driving it into the river and then lying to passers by and the police about what happened.

I hope they throw the book at her.

Children are a sacred gift.  Even were they unwanted, there are many, many options that Ms. Dulay could have used to safely be rid of the children.  If she would have taken the children to the nearest hospital and told them that she was thinking about hurting the children, they would have been put into protective custody pending an investigation.  Bam!  Problem solved.

As a fairly bleeding heart liberal, I felt a moment (and only a teeny tiny moment) of white guilt when I first heard this story.  My brain immediately went into "we have failed her as a society" mode while I was reading. For that, I apologize to those two young boys.  This wasn't a failure of society; this was a spoiled woman who refused to live up to the responsibility of her own actions.  By bringing those children into the world, she had a responsibility to take care of them, even if it meant giving them up.  By murdering those boys, she took the easy way out and my soul cries out for vengeance against her.  Forget justice; there's no justice for those two boys.  I want vengeance, pure and simple and I'm struggling against my long-held repulsion at the death penalty.

I need to go take a shower and brush my teeth now.  The bile is making me nauseous. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Resurgence of the Wife Beater

Okay, I've been away for a little while, mostly because I am growing increasingly frustrated with the pop culture mentality of our current politics and society.  I do keep up with the news and goings on of pop culture, though, since I seem to be a glutton for punishment.

Recently, we've seen the "comeback" of Eminem with his new song "Love the Way You Lie."  With Rhianna guesting on the singing part of the song and a slickly polished video starring Dominic Monaghan and Megan Fox, it seems that the former Slim Shady is back on top of the rap and pop worlds, as I first heard this song at, of all places, a gay bar.

To be completely honest, I fairly detest Eminem.  I find him incredibly misogynistic, homophobic and dangerously violent in his lyrics.  At the gay bar, however, it was much too noisy to hear the lyrics.  I had briefly heard the beginning of a story on this new song (before I quickly changed the channel) and that it was a departure from the norm; a new, gentler Eminem, so to speak.  So, I decided to give him another fair shake, as I appreciate his talent for writing, even though I deplore the message he gives (see this post about the Tea Party I did earlier for my rationale here).

Cue my Google-fu skills:  I went to YouTube to watch the video and googled the lyrics so I could read along as the video played.  My reaction, you ask?  My first thought as I was reading the lyrics and watching the video was most likely "What the fuck?" followed by "Oh wow."

You'll remember this story:  the short of it is that Rhianna and Chris Brown were a couple and he beat the snot out of her.  She took him back and he did it again.  She dumped him.

Now Rhianna is doing the singing part of the song for Eminem.  Her lyrical part:  "Just gonna stand there and watch me burn/But that's all right because I like the way it hurts/Just gonna stand there and watch me cry/But that's all right because I love the way you lie/Love the way you lie."  Fairly innocuous, right?  That's what I thought as the song began (and this was the main clip I remembered from the bar as I really like Rhianna's voice, so it stood out for me).

So, to contrast, let's study Eminem's rap, specifically the last part of the song.  "Don't you hear sincerity in my voice when I talk/Told you this is my fault/Look me in the eyeball/Next time I'm pissed/I'll aim my fist at the drywall/Next time there will be no next time/I apologize even though I know it's lies/I'm tired of the games I just want her back/I know I'm a liar/If she ever tries to fucking leave again I'mma tie her to the bed/And set the house on fire."

Thus the "What the fuck?."  How in the world could someone who has been a victim of domestic violence agree to have anything to do with this song?  I very strongly believe in never blaming the victim or criticizing the methods with which someone deals with their trauma, but does Rhianna honestly comprehend the way this makes her look to the public, particularly women who may also be dealing with abuse?

And then let's talk about Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan.  My personal opinions aside (I pretty much think of Megan Fox as a no-talent media whore), I fail to understand why the two would sign up to be in this video, which, by the way, is chock-full of incredibly violent imagery, towards both of them in a domestic abuse scenario.  

This is the kind of thing our society has come to celebrate and it makes me sick to my stomach.  That anyone could glorify these lyrics and video by giving it airplay is morally disgusting to me.  I can deal with violence; "Cop Killer" was, in my opinion, a necessary song for it's time and opened up eyes and dialogue where the issues were pretty much being ignored.  But there's no underlying message behind this song other than "I'm justified in beating the shit out of my significant other, tying her to a bed and burning the house around her."  So much for the new Eminem.

There is absolutely nothing "romantic" about a partner doing physical violence to their significant other.  It's not love, it's not even lust.  It's power, domination and control, akin to rape.  It worries me that this is being called a "sappy love song" in some of the comments on YouTube.  If this is the new generation's idea of love, we're in trouble as a society, and I can assure you that same-sex marriage has NOTHING to do with this deterioration of the sanctity of marital relations.  Why aren't the conservatives/religious right screaming at the top of their lungs about this?  Probably for the same reason that it was once legal to beat your wife in my home town, as long as it was done on the courthouse steps on a Sunday afternoon with a switch no bigger than the husband's thumb.  Yay traditional marriage.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day part 5

More protest music leading up to the Memorial Day post, which I will do as my own video!  I don't know if anyone's following or not, but I have decided to do a video for Memorial Day where I will talk about the things that are important to me.

Today's music is a mixed bunch.  We start off with an independent artist, Catie Curtis, who wrote "People Look Around" in response to the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.  With the gulf oil spill, it's sadly appropriate again.

Catie Curtis - "People Look Around"

Next up is a humorous video by Tom Lehrer.  If you're not familiar with him, check out his other videos on YouTube as he blends humor with relevence.

Tom Lehrer  - "Send the Marines"

And last up for today is the best folk singer to ever put word to paper.  Pete Seeger is recognized as the person singularly responsible for the folk music revival in the late 50s and he wrote many songs that are staples today.  "Bring 'Em Home" is about the soldiers in the Vietnam War.

Pete Seeger - "Bring 'Em Home"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Memorial Day Part 4

Okay, today is back to the trenches, so to speak, with war protest songs.  

For our first number, here's Peter, Paul and Mary (and Mary Travers is sorely missed), with a song written by Bob Dylan, which I'm sure you know.

Peter, Paul and Mary - "Blowing In the Wind"

Next, we return to the wonderful Suzanne Vega.

Suzanne Vega - "The Queen and the Soldier"

And finally, my favorite protest singer of all time, Phil Ochs, who is also sorely missed these days.

Phil Ochs - "I Ain't Marching Anymore"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memorial Day Part 3

Today, I'm going to post about a subject that is very important to me with some wonderful songs that touch on the topic of child abuse.  With all the press recently about the Catholic Church and the apparent systemic perpetuation of abuses of children, I felt it was incredibly appropriate.

Children come into this world with no choice of their own.  Even if one follows the christian tradition of "the sins of the father are visited on the children," a child is defenseless and must depend on the adults in their lives to grow and prosper, becoming adults themselves.  Sadly, there are adults who literally hold the power of live and death over these children and prey on their weakness.

Abuse can take many forms; the physical and sexual garners the most attention.  The mental torture can leave scars that, while not visible, are as long lasting and dangerous.  This first song, by Genesis, touches on the power that words can have in shaping a child's life.

Genesis - "No Son of Mine"

Being helpless to stop abuse sometimes isn't just a child's problem.  Natalie Merchant describes an adult who is witnessing abuse, but feels powerless to do anything about it.

Natalie Merchant - "What's the Matter Here?"

Children often lie about their various bruises and the torture they are going through, both because of a sense of shame and fear of further abuse.  One of my favorite artists, Suzanne Vega, describes such an encounter with a neighbor child.

Suzanne Vega - "Luka"

Though my dear friend Free posted this video last month on his wonderful blog, I feel that it's more current than ever and I have a strong desire that Sinead O'Connor needs vindication for her courageous actions more than 20 years ago.  On her infamous Saturday Night Live performance, which fairly ruined her career in the US, she attempted to bring attention to the horrors that are now too large to cover up, the abuse going on in the Catholic church.

Sinead O'Connor - "War"

Sinéad O'Connor - WAR - SNL - For more amazing video clips, click here

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Memorial Day Part 2

Continuing on with the Memorial Day protest music, I decided, given the current climate through what seems like the entire world these days, to go with straight out anti-war music.  The first one is from one of my favorite singer/songwriters ever, Phil Ochs and the second is from Freda Payne, best known for her 60s hit "Band of Gold."


Phil Ochs - I Ain't A'Marching Anymore

Freda Payne - Bring The Boys Home