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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Warhol's Legacy...

Another politician has been caught in the disgrace spotlight, this time Oregon mayor Sam Adams. To make it even more scandalous, he is the first openly gay mayor there elected, and his transgression has been that he asked a teenager to lie about their affair (he was significantly older)…

So the gasps of those I’ve heard discuss this make me wonder: Is it because he’s gay? Because of the age difference? Or because we hold politicians under a microscope and expect them to live by a different standard? If the last one, then boy, do we have a lot to learn. I’m currently taking a Media Ethics class, so our discussion of this made me want to probe the opinions and thoughts of friends, fans, and all those on the periphery.

Because, quite honestly, my response? Who cares. We spend so much time speculating about Brangelina’s kids, Britney’s body, and Amy Winehouse’s rehab details that we seem to have misplaced our mirrors. Could you stand up to the scrutiny of mega stardom? Probably not…and if you could, then you should run for something, anything, so there would be a spotlight with nothing to expose. It’s time we spent our time and energy on what matters, not ogling others. The phrase Look in your mirrors before you get out the magnifying glass is so apropos. Sam Adams hasn’t tried to be someone he’s not, but with the American fascination of exposing people’s flaws, he screwed up. Was it wrong to lie? Absolutely. But we might consider that we drive people, all people, to that. If our media handled the famous like other countries, then an openly gay man wouldn’t have to worry about covering up a gay fling with teenager (of legal age). Iceland just elected a lesbian as a Prime Minister.

We’re so far removed from that possibility that it makes me wonder how it is we’re so judgmental. Aside from social and political stance (liberal, conservative, gay, straight), we should truly adhere to the adage Judge not lest ye be judged. Maybe then we could see past the labels and accept each other for who we truly are. But until then, we’ll see black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight, fat, skinny, and all things that make a good story when exposed. No wonder so many people commit the crimes they do for their fifteen minutes…because we give it to them.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Slumdog Inspiration

I went to perhaps one of the best movies I’ve ever seen this weekend at Ragtag: Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven’t seen it…run, don’t walk. In the realm of great flicks, it ranks with my elite: Stranger Than Fiction, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Atonement. These are just a few of the newer movies on my list, and Slumdog sits at the top. I’m on my way in a few minutes to see Benjamin Button, so perhaps this week will be a two-fer.

But the key to Slumdog’s inspiration lay at the foot of the children the movie featured: slaves, soldiers, survivors from an impoverished third world country. Africa, India, Haiti…these are places that force children to roam the street begging, stealing, surviving. But many don’t. Many are kidnapped, forced into servitude for drug dealers, gun runners, or worse. It puts life in perspective. These children don’t own a textbook, or a book of any kind for that matter. They don’t have Dolce & Gabana jeans, don’t want them, and they don’t worry about being like Britney or Ashton. They worry about being. One need only watch the new season of “24” to see the truth of this all-too-real dilemma.

What would American kids do if they weren’t allowed to go to school? A glib answer would be, “They wouldn’t care.” But that’s not true. Visit children in many of these third world regions, and it’s proof what they’d do without the burden—or privilege—of school. They’d be ecstatic at the possibility of homework, of owning a book, of learning. It isn’t that American kids don’t appreciate what they have. The truth is, they don’t understand it.

If they had to fight and beg for every meal, it would open their eyes. If they lost a mother…a father…or both, they’d develop an appreciation for all things easy. If they had to spend every waking moment surviving instead of assuming and taking for granted, it would alter more than their perspective—it would alter them.

Parents today could take one vacation – just one – that would forever change every teenager and the American mindset of immediacy, greed, and self-centered self-gratification. A mission trip to Jamaica, Haiti, or Jamal’s Mumbai neighborhood would open their minds, reveal the harsh realities of a wider world around them.

Learning isn’t confined to a building… and too many kids learn that the hard way.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Resolutions...

The new year has started, and everyone is clutching at their fragile resolutions. I wonder how many people make the same one, year after year, only to watch it wither away on a chilly January breeze. I made a new one this year: not to make any more resolutions I couldn't keep. Now THAT'S a resolution worth making. I intend to work out three times a week, I plan to get all my teacher planning finished before the weekend so it doesn't consume my Sundays, I pledge to get my homework done well before class, and I am making a solemn oath to write every single day…even if it's just one sentence. These are all intentions, plans, goals I have and probably have had for some years now. But resolutions? No, because the word means unyielding, unbendable and definite. How do I know what each day will bring me? Danna may have killers to catch, Timmy might finally have his breakthrough, Benson could resolve his issues with Colin's death, and god only knows what Jaxson Ritchie IV has planned (Danna sure doesn't). They may be characters to readers (or future readers since some haven't been finished yet), but to me, these people greet me early in the morning and have plans all their own. I'm just along for the ride. So anything other than my newest resolution makes me nervous.

I'll challenge anyone that my resolution will be easier to keep. Unless, of course, your resolution was to make no more resolutions, or maybe to be resolute in your resolution about not keeping them. Okay, it's starting to make my head hurt now…