The Illuminati: Fact or Fiction The Implications Are Worth Discussing

 

We’ve all heard about this in some respects so I won’t even be bothered to delve too much into the conspiracy theory behind this organization of “devil worshippers” prepared to take over our world by brainwashing us through popular culture at least from a religious angle.

I want to discuss this purely from an intellectual standpoint, or so I see it secularly.

Do you think it is possible that someone somewhere wants society to be dumbed down significantly for their gain?

Short answer: Yes

I’m not asking people to believe in the supernatural aspects of the Illuminati or even the organization as presented on youtube. Because there is no way to prove it exists. There are threads that connect things together in pretty convenient ways and very similar themes permeating all sorts of mass media and pop culture that could certainly give one pause.

But the fact is we don’t know.

There are some people who will vehemently deny it exists because it completely threatens their ideas of entertainment and in their own way ironically the idols that they worship prevent them from being able to admit there is any potential flaw in them or that what they are selling might not be beneficial to their life.

And then on the other end of the spectrum you have the person who insists it exists unquestionably and that they know all the symbols of this alleged secret boogey man organization and that our souls are at stake and those who are involved have already lost theirs and are training us to give ours away.

And then you have me in the middle.

I’m the reasonable skeptic. The person who weighs the merits of the entire argument because I have no team to ship here. There’s no one at the head of music, entertainment and politics who I believe is above anything when it comes to amassing more power, wealth and prestige. The idea that my favorite entertainer or movie star is in such an organization doesn’t threaten me because I only care about them on a very basic level. I’m independent minded and while I do value the things I love I am not a follower and overall don’t feel threatened by the influence of these people.

My favorite singers are Prince and Michael Jackson. If tomorrow I found out they worshipped the devil and did some freaky stuff to get ahead I wouldn’t be shocked. All of those things are possibilities because I know human beings are capable of anything and will do anything to maintain power.

If you consider the atrocities and the evils the Catholic Church a religious organization has done on the higher up level why is it so hard to believe that secular organizations or social circles are not capable of similar acts if not worse?

It’s all perfectly possible. And it doesn’t scare or offend me to discuss it because I have nothing to lose in doing so.

Here’s what does bother me though. Is society being brainwashed and becoming dumber? I’d say absofuckingloutely. That’s my opinion.

Our Education system seems to be failing at an alarming rate and I can honestly say that I have never been met with more disappointment and confusion at how people can be so misinformed, ignorant and blissfully so in an age where information is literally at our fingertips.

And people simply don’t care. They take the first little bit of information and go with it. It’s fact. They don’t check it even though they are on the internet almost non stop day to day with their social networks. Here we are within a world where we can literally find anything and we seek out nothing.

Cable news is an unreliable 24 hour feeding frenzy so desperate for a story and something to recycle they run off the rails with stories sensationalizing them and telling us how we’re supposed to feel. They set the agenda and tell us WHAT stories to feel about daily. And we look no further.

Political arguments are boiled down to simplistic drivel that at times doesn’t even reflect the very ideology which it represents. “Yes We Can!” “Take Our Country Back!” “Change We Can Believe In!” these things are no longer slogans, they are the summation of what people need to know about a politician. Partisan politics has become so dumbed down and if you don’t believe me, go check how many of your facebook friends political views say “Obama” followed possibly by something ignorant and nothing more. And check and see how many of those people actually know what he stands for.

And people don’t even bother telling you to get informed on the issues anymore. It’s looked at as elitist to know about candidates. Just go and vote they say. Based on what? What someone else tells you? A catch phrase? A slogan?! Aren’t I suppose to care enough about things to know?

I don’t think we’re supposed to anymore. I think that the simplification is so that we don’t ask questions and we don’t care.

I would also say that reality television has detrimental aspects because it encourages that mediocrity or loose ethics and values are avenues to success. Why be an upstanding, beautiful, classy educated woman when it pays more to be loud, obnoxious, manufactured or slutty and have a sex tape out? And reality TV has become the norm. The sitcom is all together dead, especially family sitcoms.

Television is almost completely permeated with shows about the lives of supposed average joes which we are told are real but pretty obviously are scripted in many aspects. And this is the fame many people are taught to seek because it is easy and simple fame.

Almost everyone’s aspiration is to be an entertainer these days. I feel like most people are in college because of social pressure but are making very little of it. Some people I know who are in college that are men want to be a producer, rapper, actor or would rather be on a reality show than actually do the job they are studying. Because really what is the glamour in being an engineer and living a “normal” life when all we’ve been bombarded with is images of excess and the glory of having people watching us. Learning and expanding our minds is not a valuable enterprise anymore because it is not what is promoted as what will ultimately bring you fame and glory.

The goal is to be the entertainer. And the way our lives have been further integrated into a larger global community through youtube, facebook, and twitter only increases the average persons desire to be famous in some capacity. Watch how some people on Twitter beg for followers and boast about how many they have for status. Or how many people on facebook promote themselves as models or rappers or producers. Everyone has a hustle on the internet and almost all the hustles revolve around getting famous to entertain. For some reason we have become a culture that wants to be watched.

We have been taught to glorify that above all else  even though a great deal of it is illusion and little else.

The objectification of females have made it seem that plastic surgery and unrealistic beauty expectations are the norm even though most women could never dream to look a certain way on the incomes we make. It’s never enough.

Men are degraded down to beings who are only worth something based on how much money they make and how many women they can treat poorly while having sex with them based on their income. As if they are nothing more than that. We’ve been encouraged to become hyper sexualized and to learn to value each other as human beings less and less by the media. People can say what they will but most of your ideas about love, romance and relationships comes from movies and music. Even those of us who have seen successful relationships in our lives we take our romantic cues from movies. Real life romance is never as glamorous and well polished but it is what we believe to be the truest romance and we try to replicate it.

To pretend that mass media has no affect on us and that culture is not shaped by the images is to pull the wool over our own eyes. The question is are we the shapers of the ideas or is someone in charge of that encouraging us subtly to be less intelligent,  compassionate, aware and ultimately less proactive and independent minded when it comes to our future and the future of our society as whole?

At the base of this entire discussion that is what we should be asking ourselves. Because mind control and brainwashing are real things. And independent thought is an endangered species. Can you link it to an organization that wants a numb populace to control or are we just degenerating on our own? Or perhaps we aren’t degenerating at all?

I can’t say for sure myself because I don’t know. Everything I feel I’ve already expressed. In my mind there is an assault on many positive attributes of humanity though, most importantly intelligence and that should be concerning to us. But I thought so long before any “illuminati” was ever a popular term to throw around.

My main concern is how do we promote exceptionalism among human beings again when the world has made mediocrity the new exceptional? How do you tell people to be better when better is hardly if ever showcased or rewarded especially when it is intellectually based achievement? To be informed when the media tells them just enough to feel informed?

Those questions to me are far more pressing than the existence of this alleged secret organization.

As much as I believe it is possible that something is deliberately contributing to these issues that I perceive, I like the idea that it isn’t the case because then the weak minded don’t have an excuse.

In closing, Read A Book, Have An Original Thought, Stay Open Minded and be a Damn Individual.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hey Kanye, You Can’t Be An Asshole and Play The Victim. Pick A Team.

In Reference To This Video

There are few things worse than a person who has a fuck the world attitude and then whines when the world fucks them back.

I don’t mind assholes. Some of my best friends are probably considered to be less than friendly people by most in their circles. But I can honestly say if they ever sat around whined about the way others treated them I would roll my eyes at them.

Here’s my feeling on that: When you decide that your opinions and feelings are of greater importance than the comfort, feelings and opinions of others to the point that you have any right to express them in any form you see fit then you relinquish your right to whine about expression on the actions you have taken.

Unfortunately, Kanye West doesn’t seem to adhere to my policy. Which is cool. That’s my policy, perhaps others think it is okay for someone to pride themselves on speaking their mind and then play the victim when the world speaks its mind right back to them.

Perhaps. I personally think it proves that the “asshole” is really a coward insulting and interfering with others to deflect their own insecurities and shortcomings.

Let me start out by saying this: There are bits of truths in the things that Kanye says in this video. But they are drowned out by bullshit and him contradicting himself repeatedly.

My first issue is his complaint about how do people judge his work?

He says you really can’t and he’s basically spending the entire time complaining about what critics are saying about his music. Demonstrative of his obsession with that, which is not of value as he claims, he even spits out exact star ratings his projects got.

Fine, Kanye. You do not feel that critics are able to accurately examine and rate the work of  artists such as yourself. Let’s go with that assumption.

If that is the case why were you even bothered in the least by Beyonce not winning the award for the Single Ladies video if the thoughts of others on art is of little value?  At the VMAs no less which are more a show about the antics than the actual awards which have very little value at this point especially since MTV hardly even plays videos anymore?

It’s contradictory.

If he really didn’t care about being accepted and what critics thought of him or their opinions on “art” he wouldn’t even have memorized his ratings for the albums and furthermore he wouldn’t be so pressed about what the people who voted for the Best Female Video thought to the point that he would take a VMA from the hands of a 19 year old.

Then he goes on to claim that the last four albums of the years at the Grammys aren’t “accurate” albums of the years. And he lists them.

Yet all of this stuff is decided by the industry among critics and insiders. The very people he insists aren’t important.

Why focus on it and obsess about their selections only a few sentences after you claim these SAME PEOPLE are not worthy to judge your work anyway?

He sounds more pressed than anything.

If it wasn’t important, he’d ignore it.

And really he has more than his share of critical acclaim in my opinion. To me it sounds more like he feels it’s not enough or to the level which he feels his work is. And that’s fine, he’s free to have that opinion but I just think the statements he makes right after renouncing their qualifications to judge his work scream that he wants their approval but they are just not smart enough to give it to him or enough of it to him. Which to me indicates that it does matter to him.

My second issue: The way he talks about the Taylor Swift situation

Watching the video you can tell he is clearly not sorry despite his apology on Twitter which I always felt was more him doing what he felt he had to do than sincerely feeling bad. His response in this video supports my original suspicions. He makes a mockery of all of it.

He at one point claims the act was “selfless” because he was the person who suffered because of it.

Not kidding. It’s moments like this where you can really get a glimpse of his egomania. And this is just a glimpse.

And his central argument is because he feels Beyonce’s video was so amazing it just couldn’t lose. It shouldn’t lose any award. Which is ridiculous. And even if he felt that way does that justify what he did? No. But in his world it completely does and we should all thank him because he is standing up and saying what we all really wanted to say when in reality if he had let that moment go by I highly doubt anyone would have been whining a week later about Beyonce not winning Best Female Video. Again No one remembers who won much of anything at the VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS.

His next defense is that award show music cuts people off all the time and what he did isn’t new at all because of that.

He still doesn’t get it. He and Beyonce are victims. Of losing awards. Which if you remember are not important according to him.

If that’s not crazy enough he compares himself to the students in Tianamen Square and Emmett Till.

I could go on for days about this video. It really is a puzzling self contradictory mess of egomaniacal gibberish. Those are the strongest and most puzzling parts. His indictment of the media is contradictory on so many levels since he uses it to his advantage to support his lavish lifestyle but complains when his own poor choices result in him being handled in a less than friendly manner by the media.

Here is my bottom line with this: Kanye West needs to choose a team.

He cannot play the victim. He is only a victim and has only ever been a victim of his own overinflated ego which has elevated his level of self importance beyond his actual importance  and value in the world. He believes that because he is some sort of musical genius he is above reproach and any reproach is a misunderstanding of his genius or trying to crush his right to be himself.

That I cannot respect. As much as Kanye has every right to his opinion on the world I have every right to mine on him and so does every other person because he has exposed himself to that. He loftily states in the video that people don’t choose to be rappers and Presidents, the people choose them. That’s bullshit but if he is the representation of us and our feelings that he claims to be in his strange world then we have every right to complain when we feel he is making an ass of himself. And he should be accepting of it.

Or make like Rick James and be a real asshole and not give a fuck.


But this poor persecuted Kanye act is pathetic and beneath his “genius”. Personally I hope it is an act. While his music remains admirable his public persona has become so detestable I probably will avoid listening to another interview he has at this point because it’s all the same delusional drivel.

When the ego consumes the genius, there are no leftovers.

To Kanye’s ego I guess I say Bon Apetit.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“People Who Don’t Explore Candidates and Issues Have Every Right To Vote, They Just Probably Shouldn’t.”

Some people have described me as an elitist. I balk at such a categorization for the sheer fact that on the whole I consider myself to be a rather average American single childless educated black woman. I’m probably above average intelligence but I have no delusions of being some how made superior to anyone else. All the things that I have struggled to equip myself with do enhance the person I am and I do believe myself to be a great person with a long way to go to achieve all my potential, but I am well aware of my flaws. In any event a superiority complex is not the inspiration for the title and contents of this blog post.

Democracy, as theorized is.

What is a democracy? Merriam Webster’s defines a democracy as a government by the people.


How effective is a government by the people when the people themselves don’t care enough to participate? When it has so little value that it can be completely ineffectual for the people and their interests and yet they can essentially do little to change it because it has become mired in two party system politics laced with special interest money and lobbyists who make the decisions. Add to this that the very election process that decides who will represent the people has been dumbed down severely with simplistic campaign ads and still, still people do not have the interest to make their voices heard to the point where campaigns bordering on threats such as “Vote or Die” have to be implemented.

The basis of my question is, what is a Democracy without an informed people?

Answer: What we have now.

It is only a theory put into practice that fails.

And when we continue to uphold the system by encouraging uninformed voting, we contribute to the failure of this system. Because uninformed voting is not what the framers of the Constitution and this nation had in mind. It is what the people who run our government in its most current form have in mind. The idea is that we would all choose the candidates we felt best represented us but you can’t begin to know that when you know nothing about the candidates at all.

And many people will vote party line but how many people actually even know what the very party they boast they are apart of stands for? The history of it and what it is actually doing on Capitol Hill? Who is even trying to secure such information?

I can tell you the vast majority of the American population is not. And they don’t care.

Voter apathy is an issue that plagues us but I can assure you politicians sincerely don’t care about it unless it may bring about negative results when it comes to re electing them. They contribute to creating the apathy by leading misleading campaigns with promises that are so ridiculous it’s a wonder people even buy into them to begin with. And portraying these falsified views of their family and private lives so that they can sell themselves as pristine until the scandal leaks about their sordid affairs or the money they are taking under the table. And they go to Congress and showboat for years hardly getting anything done and return home during the election cycle ready to erect the next Big Satan to scare you into re electing them or else some horrible doom should befall us all if the other candidate were to get into office.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

We are contributing to the deplorable cycle in Washington D.C. by not demanding better. But we can’t demand better until we know truly who we are sending there in the beginning and we acknowledge the shoddiness and down right intelligence insulting that  is going on with current campaign politics.

We must decide to be informed. We must decide it for ourselves.

I will not encourage anyone who doesn’t want to vote to vote. Because it is a pointless exercise without any thought behind it and it only contributes to the system that ignorance and party fanaticism has created thus far.

The most I can do for anyone is to tell them to become informed. That small step could change the course of this country more than repeated voting for do nothing Congresspeople ever could. We can’t begin to have a change unless it starts at the very, very bottom with us. Emphasizing the importance of staying politically aware, taking government classes at some point and just demonstrating some interest in the world around you are all important parts of being a member of a Democracy. It starts with us. It is about us and we cannot shake off the shackles of corruption on our government by continuing to excuse ignorance amongst ourselves.

Before you vote,  care enough to know.

That has to come first in my mind or the rest is a futile exercise of a right that we do not really value. And what is ultimately the point in that?

I don’t advocate taking the right to vote from people who don’t wish to exercise it. It should be everyone’s right. But if you’re going to exercise it make the absolute most of it. Make it matter.

Find Your Polling Place

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Personal Reaction To Kanye West’s Runaway Short Film

Let me preface my remarks with a couple of confessions to better frame where my review is coming from:

First off I am no art expert in any sense of the word. I’ve been to the Louvre and gazed upon some of history’s most celebrated pieces, I’ve seen the Sistine Chapel and other famous religious pieces in person and I’ve read as a person of natural curiosity about different periods of art and been to a couple of museums. And I have a stronger than what I would assume is average knowledge of Greek, Roman and some Egyptian mythology. Those are my only credentials as any form of art critic and I won’t pretend to be anymore or less informed than that.

Secondly, I have always admired the work of Kanye West simply because I felt he was different and more concerned with creativity than most rappers are. I’d say he’s probably my favorite post 90s rapper if I have one though I have not been fond of most of his output beginning with 808s and Heartbreaks.

Thirdly, I’m just one person and this is my personal opinion and interpretation of the film. I welcome all opinions to it and reactions to my  own so long as you care to frame them in a thoughtful manner.

Beginning my review:

What did I think of Runaway overall? I didn’t think much. It’s not bad and it’s not great. It’s ambitiously mediocre.

People will certainly talk about it because it is Kanye West and he has the talk about factor attached to him and has for quite some time as he has descended further and further into egomania these past couple of years. This video seems to be the culmination of his egomania manifested in a misunderstanding of why the world perceives him as it does in my interpretation of it.

His employ of the phoenix, a mythological musical bird that constantly ressurects itself by burning to death and then being reborn I can only assume is an allusion to himself and I wondered if some of his intentions in having a car accident coincide with the discovery of the bird weren’t directly related to the car accident that preceded the beginning of his mainstream career? Perhaps I am reading too much into that. I will give him props for using Mozart’s unfinished Requiem in the beginning of the film but deduct the same amount for using the narration of one Nicki Minaj which added nothing to the film and seemed to be done purely for the purpose of using her. Plus she couldn’t help but use that idioctic cadence she uses in her music which takes you out of the film  rather than complements it.

Beyond that I found the film to meander into an area of surprising pretentiousness. To quote one of my co workers, Mr. Jacob Olbrot “I kept waiting for it to be awesome, and then it was over.”

The strongest scene is the ballet scene attached after the last supper. All the things that precede it are bizarre and non linear as though it is the project of a first year art student who had a lot of money but was low on ideas so they just strung a bunch of seemingly symbolic scenes together and hoped no one noticed that the final product is uneven even if the individual shots and moments were great to look at.

And Runaway does look good. There are a few pacing issues with it as some shots linger unnecessarily like on deer eating grass and on Kanye watching the Phoenix in the yard but when it gets it right it is surprisingly effective (the ballet scene again which is probably the best shot and best realized moment of the entire film). It’s appealing to the eye in almost every way. And there is quite a bit going on visually that’ interesting. I especially upon repeat viewing found it striking how during the scene I interpreted to be reminiscent of artistic depictions of the Last Supper Kanye had a completely black dinner guest list with white people acting as servants and performers (all the people at the table were white, and all the ballerinas were white as well). It made an interesting visual contrast to what we probably see more regularly in our every day lives.

More puzzling are the images of Michael Jackson in a almost chaste Dia De Los Muertos celebration. Does West liken himself to Jackson? I’m not sure and I personally don’t think as a fan the comparison is apt nor did I find any bit of joy seeing his image  in the video. It almost felt a bit exploitive. Kanye explained to MTV that he was trying to symbolize how the pop world is a cult and that Michael Jackson is “arguably bigger than Jesus”. I’m still somewhat confused about what he was going for even with the explanation.

I could have done without most of the explosions as explosions are pretty cliche. And the one that was the most reeking of cliche is his silhouette walking away from the explosion holding the phoenix in his arm. He’d have greatly impressed me as being an artist if he’d have found another way to convey that image instead of going to that worn out staple. Also explosions to indicate sexual gratification is overdone as well and I thought the sex scene more resembled a possession scene than actual copulation as the Phoenix seemed to be doing all of the movement while Kanye laid their prostrate almost as if he were dead in a good portion of the scene.

The acting is also pretty terrible. To be fair the actors are  swimsuit model and Kanye West and he wisely kept the dialogue to a minimum but it stands out quite a bit when either one of them talks that they have no idea what tone they should be taking on. In my opinion, this dictates that Kanye didn’t fully understand the tone of his own project or that he was unable as a director to get the correct tone out of his actors including himself.

All in all the real question is what was Kanye trying to say with the project? I won’t fake as if I know exactly because the video is so abstract it doesn’t seem to have a straight forward message at least not to me.

The best I could gather was that Kanye seems to have martyred himself in the situations that have caused his life to spiral in the past couple of years beginning with the death of his mother on down to the Taylor Swift incident. While I somewhat can understand where Kanye is trying to come from I can’t 100 percent get behind the message if that is what it is because Kanye in my opinion has not been reborn, he is very much still burning if he does consider himself to be the Phoenix in the video.

In fairness to him he has had a rough year but a majority of it he has brought upon himself and I can’t bother to heap a lot of sympathy on him for it.

That’s the double edged sword of proudly being an asshole: when times get hard for you you can’t exactly expect everyone you alienated to come to your side and sympathize with you when the entire basis of your behavior in the best of times was your celebrated lack of sympathy for others.

Kanye’s ego is bloated and out of control but it isn’t quite the size of his talent anymore, it has eclipsed it in my opinion. Runaway is a beautiful, puzzingly uneven piece of work that has genius buried somewhere in it but it is not fully realized. Of course many will praise it because it is different and new in a world of music videos vastly devoid of creativity or daring and therefore a breath of fresh air but it still boasts many of the problems that have brought Kanye here to this point of his career anyway.

He wants to bask in his own bravado and be viewed as a sympathetic and troubled genius is the ultimate message I got from Runaway and it isn’t an idea I found all together appealing. But I’m not sure. I don’t think Runaway was effective at communicating much of anything. But he did make a better case for himself than most ever could which is definitely to his credit.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m Glad One Of His Supporters Finally Said It: The Exhausted Obama Woman

I love this lady. Her name is Velma R Hart and she may very well be a plant though this event was supposed to have been screened but I loved her.

Because she said some of the realest stuff I have heard out of an Obama supporter in forever. And you can tell she caught him off guard with her answers. She wasn’t what he was expecting at all. In fact in the beginning of this tape you can see he was smiling like he thought she meant she was tired of defending him because she wanted people to get off his back.

Naw, guess again Obeezy, lol.

He stumbled and stuttered and came to a decent enough answer at the end in my opinion, but her point still stands in my opinion.

As I have said from day 1 Obama promised a LOT of big things and he simply is not able to deliver on most of them and they have never been very realistica possibilities. I don’t know whose fault it is more so, his for promising them or people’s for believing it. But once he sold them this dream they have every right to call him out on how it is being delivered if at all.

A lot of his supporters from my experiences are too cowardly to even admit that he is not living up to their expectations or that he is unable to maneuver the things he wants through Congress with any bit of confidence so that they pass.

Here is someone who is clearly not against him, not a Tea Partier or someone you can just call an out and out racist. Here is someone who supported him and has geniune concerns and wasn’t afraid to raise them. What’s great about her is that because of her being his supporter and concerned people can actually listen to what she has to say and not dismiss her as just some crackpot who wants to see him fail.

Her questions and concerns are most certainly legitimate and I think should be on more Americans lips. Not that I think the Republican party is the answer either, but what Obama is doing thus far is only producing SEVERELY watered down versions of what he promised if he isn’t breaking the promises completely and his supporters should be the first to hold him accountable for that.

What is your vote worth if you won’t do that much?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Simpsons Taught Me Everything I Know

I loathe most of the TV shows of today. Honestly I do.

Mainly because a lot of it is reality TV drivel. You can go to HBO for good pulpy fun like True Blood and Entourage or even their new series Boardwalk Empire. At the very least it’s not banal drivel or TV shows like American Idol and America’s Got Talent. There are other channels that boast a couple of good shows for sure. But for the most part TV has become a wasteland of mediocrity.

The sitcom has died a pretty terrible death.

NBC’s lucky to have a network anymore.

MTV and VH1 have become consumed by their own reality programming and hardly play music videos anymore. It’s a wonder artists bother making them with no place to put them but youtube and the secondary and tertiary channels that MTV and VH1 have.

Then you have the channels that pander to “women” like Oxygen and Lifetime. But really I look my nose down on the women who watch that crap. Most of it is just the same stuff that they show on the other channels just girlified to a borderline offensive level. The movies are so crappily acted and predictable and the reality shows do nothing for uplifting women either. That channel is something to keep women brainwashed into being complacent with silly things by putting on silly things and telling them it is tailor made for them.

But I digress, for now.

The rest of TV is some 24 hour news loop of sports or politics. There are a few cool channels that show old movies maybe but, in all honesty if it weren’t for The Daily Show, South Park and The Colbert Report (and my not so secret addiction to radical ridiculousness of Fox News) I’d probably up and get rid of cable and lead a happy, healthy normal life watching the stuff I want to for free on the internet.

All of that leads up to why I pity anyone who didn’t watch The Simpsons in its first 9 years: you missed one hell of a show.

There are plenty of people who can talk about how amazing the Simpsons was. I say was because the pale imitation that is on today is like a bad version of the idiotic Family Guy, which is pretty sad to see. But the first 9 were a dream come true and I shudder to think how I would have turned out if I hadn’t been exposed to such fine programming.

O I’d have been fine I’m sure but not as fine. Yes, I’m very very serious.

For you see, The Simpsons taught me everything I know.

My parents, teachers, religious leaders, friends, 20/20 and random life happenings deserve some credit I suppose, and I’ll give them their due.

Fine I’m lying, but The Simpsons Taught Me Some Of The Things I Know simply was not catchy enough a title. Read it aloud. Yea, you see my point.

I grew up during the Simpsons initial run where it was considered quite taboo to watch it. My parents actually forbade it. Now I was always a rebel. My curiosity is hardly unmatched. I was a careful kid but I wasn’t fearful nor was I foolish. I knew a cartoon could never harm me but thanks to George H.W. Bush complaining about how the Simpsons attacked American family values my parents actually believed it wasn’t a good show without ever watching it.

This was my first realization that you check something out before you dismiss it.

I snuck and watched the Simpsons daily as often as I could.

Let me tell you I didn’t get 90% of the jokes. It wasn’t like when I stayed up some nights watching Nick at Nite re runs of I Love Lucy and Green Acres. That was easy to understand and laugh at. This, well there were some surface laughs but I knew even at the age of 7 there was a lot going over my head and that made me want to know more.

But I could never ask my parents because then they’d know I was watching The Simpsons. They thought it taught children to tell their elders to “Eat My Shorts” or “Don’t Have A Cow, Man!”. They didn’t know it was teaching me about U.S. History, classic film, the silly taboos of society etc. They didn’t realize that there was something good among the risque for that era.

They didn’t realize what I slowly learned through sneaking and watching it: That satire is one of the languages of the truly intelligent. And I was a beginning student unwittingly becoming fluent at least in hearing it and passable in speaking it I suppose.

One of the episodes that always stuck with me as a kid, was Homer The Heretic in Season 3.

In this episode Homer decides to quit going to church and eventually his house catches on fire and he is saved by people of varying religious faiths. This causes him to return to church where he sits front row, snoring at the end.

I thought to myself after finishing this episode how exactly could the Simpsons really be bad? The Simpsons just dared to ask the questions MANY religious people must ask themselves at some point. Is there only one way to serve God? The episode never directly answers it because really people of different kinds of faiths helped save Homer not promoting one religion as superior than the other and in the end Homer went back to church because he learned there was some value in having faith in God because people who had faith in God saved him.  And you learned all of this while laughing at some of the antics Homer goes through in creating his own religion including calling in to work with made up religious holidays. It opened my eyes to so many different aspects of religion and the best part was it was easy to relate too.

Back then of course I was so enveloped in the beginning stages of Christianity it really couldn’t sink in the way it did when I was an adult and could really ask those questions myself. But I know that it gave me my first glimpse at the ideas of how complex religious belief can be and some of that exposure did help create an open mind in me through later years as my family dealt with a schism between my older brothers who became Muslim.

Another episode I remember quite vividly having an impact on me was The Tree House of Horror VII segment Citizen Kang. I was always interested in politics. It has been a part of my life but I don’t think any show ever tackled how the American Two Party system is so flawed so perfectly and in such a short amount of time! Before Citizen Kang I would have never though to question the greatness of our system because I was so partisan. I was a hard core baby Democrat raised in a Flint UAW family. I was indoctrinated into certain beliefs. The first time I saw the episode I was kind of mad that Bill Clinton died with Bob Dole (heck I was a kid). I thought killing Bob Dole was the only thing fair. But I was amazed at how accurate the show was in depicting how campaign ads worked. Even as a kid I found them somewhat of the pandering nature and felt like a lot of it was very pretty lies.

But this part:

To me sums up how our politicians think. Now it wasn’t until I got older that I truly enjoyed the brilliance of this episode but even back then I could sense it even though my mind wasn’t sharp enough to take it all in.

Much Apu About Nothing in Season 7 was also a great example of how political scapegoating can change the topic completely. It’s amazing how the episode starts off about bears roaming around the city, then Bear Tax which leads to it being blamed on illegal immigrants so that Mayor Quimby can get them off his back. How timely is that message in almost all cases? How often do politicians change the subject on us when they want to create rage to distract us from the truth?

And let me not even begin to expound on the excellence that is Last Exit To Springfield.

You know what the greatest lesson The Simpsons taught me was?

“I am Lisa Simpson.”

All Lisa episodes have spoken to me in a profound way. Because I have felt alienated before because of my intelligence and I’m not technically a genius last I checked. I’d say I am above average intelligence though.

And I was a know it all as a kid, I played the alto saxophone as well as the piano and I read a large array of books. I especially loved American History, particularly presidents. I had a Presidential placemat that I ate breakfast on. My favorite was the 16th President, Abraham Lincoln so I specialized studying him. This was all at about the age of 8. I was in Book Bowl, Quiz Bowl, an honor roll student, teacher’s pet and I spent my leisure time writing short stories and poems.

So yes, I was, and still am, a nerd.

And it is a frustrating thing. Because it is not something you necessarily choose. Many times I wished to turn it off. I wanted desperately to be like other girls in my teen years and I would try so hard but it wasn’t what I was compelled to do. It wasn’t who I was.

I had a teacher in middle school who also loved the Simpsons, Ms. Green. She was the only person I would talk to about the show and I remember she remarked that I reminded her of Lisa in a lot of ways. I kind of wrinkled my nose at such a comparison. I didn’t really LIKE Lisa even though I understood her.

Lisa ruined the moment by spoiling people’s delusions.

Lisa always got her hopes up and then had them brutally crushed by the world that didn’t understand her.

Lisa fell in love with the wrong boys or had crushes on teachers because they were the only people who could talk to and understand her sometimes.

Lisa was neurotic about learning and competitive about her intellect almost to a petty level.

And damn Lisa could be preachy as hell when she wanted.

And then I realized one day, probably in college when I was sitting around day dreaming about my professor and thinking that this experience had not yielded the intellectual contemporaries I had expected that I was Lisa Simpson in a lot of ways.

If the Simpsons taught me anything it was that smart people, however well meaning, can be annoying and condescending as hell and if you want friends you have got to learn to balance those attributes. And it isn’t easy.

Sometimes it is hard being in a world that treats you alien or around people who are unapologetically ignorant. Sometimes it sucks to care a whole lot about things that other people will never give a damn about. And sometimes it just sucks thinking so much when everyone else seems to be having fun not thinking very much at all. I was lucky that my siblings all turned out to be some type of nerd as well. I feel so at home with them unlike Lisa who can’t discuss much with Bart or Maggie.

But what it taught me is that at the end of the day, you can still relate and have friends and even do blatantly stupid things. You’re still a person, your knowledge doesn’t change that. And believe me, when you’re smarter than average you do get a big ego about it. And it needs deflating sometimes. If the Lisa Simpson character did anything is it glorified intelligence while also reminding us that intelligence is subject to flaw too. Respect.

And that the love of family overcomes the differences any day.

As I look back at the show that once was, I pity a generation who is growing up without it in its prime. There is so much embedded in that show as far as fun facts on American History, pop culture etc. It is a gold mine of Americana, so well written and holds up so well many, many years later. To see the pale ghost of it continuing to lumber on ahead not even approaching the greatness of its self past is disappointing.

When I think that I learned to spell and the definition of the word obsequious from the Simpsons, or saw the insecurities of being a woman trying to fit in perfectly and sensitively handled in Scenes From The Class Struggle In Springfield, or that I have learned the most sure fire way to prevent yourself from making bad choices (chanting: think unsexy thoughts, think unsexy thoughts, think unsexy thoughts) all from one amazing little show and so so much more, I feel sad for a generation who is learning next to nothing by Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and Jersey Shore etc or even watching the current incarnation of The Simpsons.

Just Give The Great Unwashed A Pair of Oversized Breasts And A Happy Ending And They’ll Oink For More Every Time!”- Mr. Burns

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Book Gone With The Wind

So I have embarked on this difficult but rewarding journey of reading Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Novels. I have found the experience very enriching thus far even in the challenges.

However no challenge was greater than reading Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The book was quite long and took me, an avid and quick reader, a good 3 weeks to plow through it.

But I so loved the book. The characters are so rich and well developed and Scarlett O’Hara may be the most developed and interesting heroine commited to page. Her flaws are understandable and justified but still portrayed in the light of being negative. While she manages to gain everything with her shoddy morals and values she loses them all and realizes she was never truly happy anyway. So while we understand and root for her even when she is at her lowest and dirtiest of tricks, we see that she receives somewhat proper consequences and that she does lose her soul as she becomes a hardened and tough woman filled with fear of poverty driving her to justify many means to her own ends.

I also greatly admired the Rhett Butler character and his flaws as well. He is abusive in some cases, but he does love Scarlett and is battling a losing battle against her love and obsession for Ashley Wilkes. He knew this going in but it is rather heartbreaking watching him slowly lose everything along with her but they both gained everything through pretty ill means so it only seems fit. But I found myself more sympathetic of him because he seemed more aware of the sort of bastard he was and the  price he willingly brought upon his own head, while Scarlett seems to continue to put up a charade and fake ignorance or actually be oblivious to the types of turmoil her deeds are causing even up til the very end.

Nevertheless you cannot knock her determination. She is a spirit that cannot be destroyed and so many spirits were destroyed throughout the book. Only she and Melanie, her sister in law married to Ashley the man she loved and coveted for years has as strong a spirit as she but with the opposite attributes. Melanie is good, and selfless. She’s a survivor but she is not as physically strong as Scarlett is but her virtues and spirit are strong even in her gentility. Melanie and Scarlett rely on each other throughout the book but Scarlett spends a majority of her time hating Melanie for having Ashley and not understanding that Scarlett wants him. Melanie spends the majority of the book refusing to believe anything bad about Scarlett and treating everyone with kindness unless they cross Scarlett who she believes she owes her life to. It is amazing to watch the friendship so seemingly onesided unfold and heartbreaking to see how it all comes out and that Scarlett doesn’t realize what amazing people and things she had because her greed, fear of poverty and coveting of Ashley is consuming her.

I think the film was unable to capture the real essence of the book outside of the romance between Scarlett and Rhett which is important. But this is to be expected with a book so long and richly developed. The film had to cut certain things but I think anyone who hasn’t read the book could say they understand the character.

It is something to read Scarlett wish death on one of her children over the other in the book. Such a demonstration of how cold hearted she is in  her practicality that she values one child over the other and has no qualms in admitting that to herself. In the film they never even give her children except Bonnie because Bonnie is connected to Rhett but to understand her descent into coldness I think the inclusion of Wade and Ella and how she regards them is quite necessary.

Also I think the book was better at contrasting the fall and rebuilding of the South in the Civil War and Reconstruction era. In the film it was merely a backdrop, in the book it was as integral into how their lives turned out as Scarlett’s actions. She was driven by her need to adapt to these changes, the fear of the changes and the way she was received in society was based on them as well. It handles the formation of the Klan far better and in greater details and it almost makes one understand how the southerners could have hated the Yankees so. Reconstruction has long since been considered far too harsh a punishment for the South and part of the reason things got worse before the Civil Rights movement was finally able to move it forward. This book really highlights some of the struggles through the characters in that period.

Gone With The Wind is an excellent historical romance in my opinion but it really is a lot more. I cannot think of a book where I felt more satisfied with the characters at the end. Some people can’t stand the idea that Scarlett didn’t end up with Rhett and I hear there is a sequel where she does. But I have no desire to read that. To me the ending is perfect as it is. Scarlett does not deserve to end up happy because Scarlett is a spoiled entitled child. And even when she had everything she thought she wanted she still wasn’t happy. That is a fitting ending for someone like her if there is any. The best endings are not always happy ones as fairytales have often conditioned us to believe.

Gone With The Wind is no fairytale and Scarlett no princess even if it were so her ending is every bit deserved. But you can’t help but admire her determination even in the next page of the book. Rotten, spoiled, thoughtless and petty as she may be, you know that she is impossible to keep down, for after all “tomorrow is another day!”

5/5

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment