Dig Those Groovy Tunes!

the only sound that's left after the ambulances go

Of all the things to bash Gov. Christie about… February 20, 2012

…I don’t understand why it’s apparently such a scandal that he’s flying the flags at half staff for Whitney Houston.  Wait, let me rephrase that:  I do understand the concern that the half-staff tradition is technically supposed to be reserved for our servicemen and servicewomen who’ve given their lives for our state and/or country and/or freedom, and that flying the flag at half staff for a mere celebrity sort of trivializes that.  That much I understand.  What I don’t understand is, why wasn’t everyone all up in arms when Clarence Clemons’s passing was honored in the same manner?  Apparently we as citizens of New Jersey are supposed to be absolutely appalled that our governor has chosen to respect the legacy of a — gasp! — drug addict.  Won’t someone please, please think of the children?!

 

See, the thing is, we can’t be too sure that no one else for whom the bell tolled flag was lowered has ever had a problem with drugs.  If one of our late servicemen/women just happened to have struggled with an addiction at some point in their life before they died heroically, would we give a crap?  Would we negate what good they’ve done for their country and their state just because they happened to have moments of weakness that proved them to be less than angelic?  Hell no.  And let’s just imagine for a second that Clarence Clemons, being the high-profile musician that he is, maybe had a brief period in his career during which he struggled with some addiction or other.  Would we suddenly forget that he played a pivotal role in the E-Street Band if we ever discovered that he once had a serious drug problem?  I don’t think so.  So why do we care that Whitney Houston, another of New Jersey’s undisputed musical gifts to the world, had a long, meticulously documented struggle with drugs?

 

Oh, wait, the answer’s in the question.  The difference between Whitney Houston and every other person who ever made a difference in New Jersey is that her weaknesses were publicized about as often as her strengths, and what’s more, they were held under a disproportionate amount of scrutiny.  See, the tabloids just love it when talented, successful people — particularly beautiful, talented, successful women — are spotted acting like flawed human beings because it gives them license to twist and embellish the details for their own profit.  Really, though, Whitney’s drug addiction is much less relevant to her career and her fame as the trash media wants us to believe.  The only reason why we make a big deal about it is because it’s well known, and the only reason why it’s well known is because that’s what all the magazines have been screaming at us while we stand captive in the check-out line at the supermarket, and it’s what the TV’s been telling us while we sit in wait for the actual news, or whatever show’s on next.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t care that Whitney had a serious drug problem, just as I don’t think we shouldn’t care if we know for a fact that someone is cutting themself or suffering from an eating disorder.  What I am saying is that we shouldn’t act as though Whitney was a horrible person for doing something that — let’s face it — hurt her more than it hurt anyone else.  And we certainly shouldn’t make the mistake as defining her as an addict rather than as the superstar she was.  I recognize that not everyone is going to be a fan of Whitney Houston’s music, but we should all at least give her the respect of seeing her as an artist and a significant human being before we scrutinize how she may have chosen (or not chosen; felt as though she had to) to spend her personal life.

 

So in short, all I really have to say is this:  LEAVE WHITNEY ALOOOOOOONE!  Or, as a really smart guy in a book a whole bunch of people have read once said, whoever is without sin, etc., etc.

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Just Kidding… July 11, 2010

Filed under: Bitchings About the Media and Stuff — yourbirdcansing88 @ 7:46 PM
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Hey, readers, you know how a couple weeks ago I declared it “Bitch About the Media and Stuff Week”, posted just one legitimate article, and then didn’t follow through at all?  Sorry about that.  Sometimes all that ambition implodes into a writer’s block with me.  Instead, from now on I intend to do away with the time limit thing and start a new category called “Bitchings About the Media and Stuff” (which I’ll probably put as a subcategory under “Rants and Raves”), since I have a lot to kvetch about regarding the media, but, due to school-related priorities and unpredictable bouts of writer’s block, cannot expect myself to get it all done within a set time frame.  That will be all for now.

 

Hey, VH1, You Know What Would Be Just Fantastic? June 26, 2010

"What are we supposed to do on a hot day? What? Not eat popsicles?" --Pickles the Drummer from Dethklok

If you stopped making shows that make women cry over how much weight they’re not losing and get back to showing me some music videos at decent hours of the day?  Yeah, that would be really great.  Yeah, because I think there’s something everyone can agree on:  music, even mediocre music, is infinitely superior to psychological abuse.  And if you’re under the delusion that bullying women into competing with each other to lose weight and earn a Dream Wedding (TM) is NOT psychological abuse, you are seriously mistaken.  

If you’re not familiar with VH1’s recent programming, I’m talking about the cruel travesty that is Bridal Bootcamp.  The basic premise of the show is this:  ten altar-bound women who have deemed their bodies “unfit” get sent to boot camp so they can lose weight and “commit themselves to a healthy lifestyle” (since that’s what they’re apparently calling it these days), all so that they can fit a certain smaller dress size by the time they get married.  The show is basically a competition to see who loses weight the fastest.  One woman is sent home each week based on how little “improvement” she’s made (i.e. how little weight she’s lost, or — heaven forbid! — how much she might have somehow gained in the process), while in the end the last woman standing gets rewarded a so-called Dream Wedding (TM).  While the intentions of this program may be pure, I think it’s sending a number of dangerous messages.  

First of all, it’s worth noting that the contestants come from a wide range of dress sizes, and that the woman with the smallest dress size entered (Kacey, a size 8 at the start of the competition, according to her audition video) is smaller than the goal dress size of the largest woman entered (Tina, an 18W according to her audition video, whose goal is a size 14).  So it may seem that there is no “ideal” dress size, right?  And that’s good, right?  Think again.  These women are actually all going for the same goal, and that goal is “smaller”.  These women evidently feel that they should not be happy with their current bodies, often against their better judgement.  Tina, for example, has been afflicted with asthma for most of her life, and “know[s] exercise will start triggering things,” but is still willing to put herself through rigorous training in order to reach her goal of being “smaller”.  Meanwhile, Kacey, who does not even remotely resemble what anyone in their right mind would consider “fat”, points out cellulite on her rear end and admits that she “think[s] it’s genetic”, yet still attributes it to “drinking too much soda”.  So basically, she’s blaming her lifestyle for something that she actually knows she can’t help.  And that’s all kinds of effed up.  A lot of the contestants also seem to be more concerned with how other people perceive their bodies than how they personally feel about their own bodies.  One contestant, Jamie, says in her audition tape, “I would really love to wear a strapless gown.  But I don’t wanna have to subject people to things like my arms,” she says, and moves her arms in a way that the fat and extra skin under her upper arms jiggles.  I think it’s very sad that she feels the need to get rid of this “problem”, because it’s something that just about everyone has (heck, I’m a scrawny little twig, and even I have a little jiggle under my arms), and also because she feels that she’d be doing others a disservice by not getting rid of it.  Which is, once again, all kinds of effed up.  One thing I find really disturbing is the women who want to “look good” for the sake of their future husbands.  “I want my fiance to say ‘What a smokin’ hot body she has!’ and he can’t wait to just kiss my face off,” says one contestant, while another tearfully says “I would just want my fiance to say — to say I look beautiful.”  Which makes me wonder what their fiances think of them at their current weight.  It saddens me to think that anyone would plan to spend the rest of their life with someone who does not think they’re beautiful the way they are.  This is not to say that the contestants’ fiances really think their future wives could be any more beautiful than they already are, but it makes me sad to think that anyone would choose to lose weight for the benefit of anyone other than themself, especially their life partner.  

As for the activities the contestants are put through on the shows, their trainers are literally working them to the point of illness.  The goal of this program appears to be more concerned with numbers than actual “commitment to a healthy lifestyle.”  The contest seems to be about who can lose the most weight the fastest, and punishes those who do not lose enough weight by eliminating them from the program.  And while weight loss is often a result of a healthy lifestyle, it is often thought of as the goal.  However, one’s health should not be measured in weight alone.  When one starts to make an effort towards a healthy lifestyle, they cannot always expect immediate results.  Exercise can be very beneficial to one’s health, but exercising to hard in order to lose weight as soon as possible is probably not the healthiest thing to do.  Neither weight loss nor health should be a timed contest, because weight loss is unhealthy if rushed and a healthy lifestyle should never have a time limit.  What’s worse about Bridal Bootcamp is that these women are all competing against each other, and only one will win in the end.  The objective of the contest seems to be that whoever punishes her body the most, wins a Dream Wedding (TM).  These women are hurting themselves while trying to assert superiority over others.  That sounds like a lose-lose situation to me, Dream Wedding prize notwithstanding (who decides what a “dream wedding” is, anyway?).  Bridal Bootcamp may have only ran three episodes so far, but it’s already given the impression of doing nothing but breed mistrust and insecurity.  

And what kind of message is this show sending the viewer?  That women should not be happy with their bodies until they’ve reached a smaller size?  That a bride cannot be happy unless she’s already sacrificed years’ worth of weight?  This show also perpetuates the myth that health = weight loss = beauty, when these three things are totally independent of each other.  Weight is a concrete thing:  you can tell just by comparing numbers who out of two individuals is heavier.  We all know that 110 lbs is heavier than 90 lbs.  Fair enough.  However, we should not pretend that we can gauge any other information about these two individuals from their weight, or at least not solely by their weight.  Contrary to popular belief, a 90 lb person is not inherently more or less healthy than a 110 lb person of the same height.  There are too many factors when it comes to judging health; we should not be measuring it in pounds.  Even more dangerous is trying to measure beauty in pounds.  Beauty is a totally subjective thing, though a society may sometimes fool us into thinking it’s objective.  I think it’s safe to assume that all the contestants on Bridal Bootcamp are thought of as beautiful by their future husbands, else why would they have gotten to the point of getting engaged?  If there’s one thing all the women on Bridal Bootcamp have in common besides their impending weddings, it is that they are all beautiful, yet for some reason believe that they are not beautiful enough; that they must improve their looks before they can feel happy with themselves.  Assuming Bridal Bootcamp does give all these women the bodies they love, what they really need is love for their bodies.  

Oh, and one last thing bothers me:  why is there no male equivalent of “bridal bootcamp”?  Or do only women need to feel inadequate in their own bodies?  C’mon, VH1, please get back to showing more music videos so we don’t need to be subjected to this crap.  I’ll settle for reruns of Pop-Up Video…  

Entertaining AND educational. Man, do I miss this show...

 

I Hereby Declare the Next Seven Days to be “Bitch about the Media and Stuff Week” — or — It’s My Blog and I Can Whine if I Want To June 23, 2010

Filed under: Bitchings About the Media and Stuff — yourbirdcansing88 @ 10:18 PM
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"This is an outrage!" -- Tony Harrison, strategically gifted alien shaman and Fleetwood Mac fan. No known relation to Beatle George.

That’s right.  I, the sole current contributor to this blog, had the unmitigated audacity (not 100% sure what that means, but I heard it in a Frank Zappa song) to declare a theme week for my very own blog.  For a number of reasons, the first being that this blog hasn’t had a themed week since “Beatles Week” of aught nine.  Also, as a music blogger, I tend to consume a lot of the media’s output, particularly when it comes to music.  Yet, there’s a lot of stuff going on in the media right now that pisses me off.  And not only does it cut into serious music-listening time (I’m looking at you, irrelevant commercials and TV shows that have nothing to do with music on channels that once had any semblance of being music-centric), but they also seriously bother me as a feminist and a reasonably intelligent human being.  Seriously, media.  Stop feeding me crap.  So I figured that I’d take the following week to gripe about the following: 
  1. The questionable, offensive and/or downright stupid messages that bombard me while I’m waiting for the commercial break to end and bring back the freakin’ music already before I throw something hefty against the TV/radio.
  2. Companies that think they can get away with using an unsung musical genius’s timelessly beautiful and ethereal music to sell themselves since said unsung musical genius became worm chow a long time ago and can’t keep this kind of travesty from happening (I’m looking at you, AT&T).
  3. The demographics that I’m falsely assumed to be part of by every TV station/radio station/music magazine that I consume regularly.  Expect a feminist take on the implications of these so-called “target audiences”.
  4. Whatever happened to certain so-called music channels (*cough-cough* VH1 *cough-cough* MTV) actually being, ya know, music channels?
  5. Why I’m starting to re-think my ambitions to write for Rolling Stone magazine unless I start seeing some changes.
  6. Ways that I think music-related media can improve their attempts to pay the bills and/or pander to an audience.  Not that I’m an expert or anything on marketing.  I am, however, an experienced consumer.
Oh, yeah, and I’m also using this week as an excuse to incorporate lots of pictures accompanied by quotes by some of my favorite obscure/semi-obscure pop-culture figures (mostly from The Mighty Boosh, now that I think of it) relating to what I think about various aspects of the media.  For example:

"Time for a break. Let's have a licorice rolly, a double brandy, and bitch about the industry. Who the #@&% is John Simm?" -- Montgomerey Flange, the greatest actor who's never lived (outside of the Boosh Universe, that is).

P.S.  To any of the few readers I may have:  feel free to post your opinions in the comments section.  I get lonely talking to myself all the time over here.  I need some feedback.     

 

It’s Official: The World Had Finally Lost its Mind Over Michael Jackson July 31, 2009

Filed under: Michael Jackson,Rants and Raves — yourbirdcansing88 @ 11:16 PM
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When Michael Jackson died, like the rest of America and probably the whole world, I grieved.  For maybe the first week or two.  But, unfortunately, the media continues to plague us with the latest news surrounding him and his death.  Enough’s enough already.  He’s dead; he’s not coming back; can we all please shut up about him already?  It’s bad enough all this legal crap over custody and belongings is being so publicized (personally, I think that legal proceeding should really be the sole concerns of those directly involved, regardless of their level of fame), and that most of us seem to neglect the fact that a great deal of the man’s mourners (alas – myself included) didn’t have a kind thing to say about him (except maybe the occasional indulgent comment on his talent) for years before his death.  But two things I just happened to catch on NBC yesterday revealed just how much sanity Jacko’s death has robbed the public of.  Yesterday morning, right after waking up, I turned on The Today Show and saw one of the hosts interviewing a guest who was…Michael Jackson’s personal cook?!  What the fudge, people?!  It astounds me that people would actually care about what the man ate – especially enough to want to know the recipes so they could fix up their own Michael Jackson meals.  I mean, what, do they think – his diet was made up of some kind of pop superstar ambrosia?  That if you eat the same food Jacko ate when he was alive, that you’ll somehow become some monarch of pop or something?  And anyway, I don’t know about you, but I’d really rather not intentionally cook myself a meal favored by someone who died of a heart attack.  I mean, after Elvis died, do you think people clamored over each other for peanut-butter-and-bacon sandwiches?

 

 

After getting over my initial horror from The Today Show, I was not relieved of Michael Jackson-fueled stupidity for long.  That night, I turned on NBC again and watched some of the nightly news before The Tonight Show With Conan O’ Brien came on.  One of the news stories involved some fancy-schmancy diamond company which – on top of stripping diamonds of all the wonder and rarity they’re valued for by apparently making diamonds synthetically through some sort of high-tech carbon-pressurizing process – have acquired bits of Mr. Jackson’s hair and are planning on making diamonds out of it.  Once again, what the fudge?!  At the end of the day, hair – no matter whose head it’s been on – is just hair.  Michael Jackson’s hair doesn’t contain any more mystical powers (just more expensive styling products) than mine does – where’s my hair-diamond, huh?  And anyway, don’t these people realize that they’re changing the very structure of Jacko’s hair beyond recognition?  How can we really tell that this diamond is made of his or anyone else’s hair?  No, if some of the King of Pop’s hair is left over from before his death, it should be kept in its natural state where it belongs:  in some Hard Rock Café, somewhere in between an Alice Cooper bustier and a collection of Monkees lunchboxes from the late sixties (note:  I’ve been to many a Hard Rock Café, but I don’t know of any where either of these things exist, let alone both of them, let alone within close proximity of each other.  The point is that these are both objects that could conceivably be found in a HRC, so work with me here.  It’s a hypothetical conjecture).  And if I hear or see one more extraneous news item related to Michael Jackson within the next few months (which undoubtedly I will), I might have to throw something hard and possibly damage-inducing at the TV or radio or whatever other media may administer this information.  I probably won’t, of course, but I’ll have vivid fantasies of it.