Thursday, January 29, 2015

Artifact of the '80s - Televised Aerobics Competitions

Youtube is a depository of recent cultural artifacts. It is a gem in our technodumpster Internet. Youtube is a library, and even if just a one other person likes something you liked or like, it can find a place amongst the mass media items like Katy Perry songs. I once saw a video of Tolstoy just hanging out on Youtube, which is cool just for the idea of a 19th century writer being on Youtube. One completely inane item my wife found was the full television broadcast for the 1988 Crystal Light National Aerobics Championships. The opening is below. It is fantastic, and better describes the '80s than I could ever write. It captures a nation gone, but it does have an echo today, proving that some things never quite die, they just go out of focus.

Somehow this national aerobics championship was on television for several years with Alan Thicke as the host. Interviewed contestants cite this as being the best one, so there were other aerobics competitions. It is pretty obvious watching the interview segments that a bunch of these male competitors are gay, but this was the '80s, so the default was all men unless absolutely obviously gay are straight, so there was no questioning things. The guys are fit but incredibly flexible, which is not going to be found at a gym today. The women also have that toned look. They are not muscled up, They are not soft looking though. They just look fit. Even sexy yoga ladies today look a bit softer than these women (still a good thing). The other thing weird about the introduction, besides announcing every single person, is the energy and speed. You might find this in a spinning class. Aerobics is down now. Yoga is in, which is low key. Weight lifting is the default guy work out regimen, which is high intensity but not a speed thing. Cross fit is a group thing but not as choreographed and speed focused as aerobics. Where did this go?

It went into cheer leading competitions. Check out a national cheerleading competition routine. It will look a lot like the aerobics routines. Quasi-dancing, fast movements, terrible music at cocaine enabled speeds, fit women who look sporty but not jacked or soft, and guys who are fit, coordinated and might be a bit questionable. The cheer leading enthusiasts are the sport descendants of these aerobics competitors. The only things missing are the Jackie Stallone headbands. Another change, and this is wider culturally is the sincere effort the old aerobics folks gave. Cheering is right there with them. This is part of the media scorn of Crossfit, too, where the group setting and energetic enthusiasm is a turn off to the media taste makers. You can work out, but not too hard. You should eat right, but not be a fanatic. Supplements are very bad and should be regulated more or you'll die taking them! These groups do not go away, the impulse remains and new channels are found. Try as they might with derisive comments, the media complex that mocks try hards will not beat the drive for status and success.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

USG's Greek Vassals Play a Victim Card

The Greek far left won the recent election. Really amazing accomplishment after jailing the opposition and smearing names of others over dead rappers. There is a promise to get tough with the troika, to not pay off any of the debt owed to supranational authorities or private groups, and to help Greeks out. Are these the old Greeks who retired at 58 on a pension or the young, unemployed and destitute Greeks? Unsure. My advice still stands (coup, drachma, China-Rus patronage). There will be good fun as the Greeks flail about, and these populist-leftists linked with a sliver of the far right in a coalition attempts to fix Greece. One thing that struck me more than others was the farce of the new Greek PM visiting the grave of 200 Greeks killed by German Nazis in WW2. This move is par for the course for 2015, and is another example of just how deep the progressive mind virus goes.

The Greek PM's visit was supposedly to send a message to the EU elite, especially Germany, that he and his government are not messing around. They are defiant. They mean business. it struck as interesting that he chose a site where Greeks were victims and ultimately helpless until Allies came to liberate them, feed them, and use them as a puppet for decades. This act reinforces how our victim culture holds supreme in the public realm. Being a victim gives one the moral authority and superiority to win in a public debate. They were a victim, they must be heard, admired and rewarded. Greeks have a multitude of heroes to make a speech at the foot of whether ancient on 19th century. The Greeks have statues of Perseus, Theseus and other founder gods. The 19th century war for independence had figures that a modern man could use as a symbol for independence and defiance for the Greek people.

That was not the choice here. Rather than virile manliness, we see remembrance of victims of Nazi aggression. Hey, Greece, that ain't the Shoah, so it might not get mileage. Theseus literally killed a foreign beast to end the tribute of the Athenian young and claim freedom. That is the imagery that would resonate with wanting to rid the Greeks, especially the impoverished young, of foreign bankers demanding their tribute. Their choice of sniffling over Nazi aggression is siding with a weak image to get what you want. What exactly do they want? It is a laundry list of modern leftist goobledy-gook. These points slam home how the prog mindset is now their default mindset. Jim is right. European nations are vassals of the USG, created by Harvard. Forget strong, independent men claiming their nation for their people. Their minds are aligned with our progressive mandarins' desires. Forget the uncertainty of going it alone again. Just give us these nice distribution schemes. We laid a wreath for our victims of your former aggression. Please, we're the victims. You did this to us. We deserve our piece of the Ponzi pie.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Can Religion Still Answer Our Problems

Interesting link. they do not allow for you to see racial breakdowns for the answer, but with black claims to higher religious affiliation and audacious epigone's splits from other surveys on religion, it is safe to say the big change recently is in whites. the affirmative answer has a dramatic drop after the '60s, but stays steady around 60% since. the interesting change is the change within the negative or unsure answer split. whereas in the past it was an even split amongst a firm no and an i don't know, the recent trend up is in no. this could be a hardening of irreligious whites, atheist comfort in expressing their views or simply a modern view of the complexity of modern times being unique. it isn't unique. another change might be in modern misunderstanding of religion combined with a fear of truly admitting what prime mover problems are.

The general environmental dysfunction that children grow up in. Divorce. Religion can't fix it in itself, but people who want to engage in a religious marriage with the idea of death until you part could solve that. Illegitimate children. That'd be an easier fix. Religion is like a k-selection enforcing structure. Drug and alcohol addiction. Empty souls and lack of coping skills will push people to substitute with numbing the pain through chemicals. There are more, but these are some that are the core of other dysfunctional behavior. Similar to the debate about macroeconomics being only built up from microeconomics or not, many of larger society's problems stem first from personal choice at the intimate level. It's why progressives will never fix anything since they never assign agency to idiots.

The core of these problems lie in people. Humans are animals with a soul or animals with the potential to be lights upon the earth. We still have deep brain desires and reactions. The problem lies in being fed a steady diet of be yourself, individual freedom, unrestrained individualism and anti-institutional restraint. When pundits speak of the possible libertarian moment, it is silly because we do live in it already. Neoliberalism or Washington Consensus economics favors winner take all economics with access to the government helping out. Individuals have all the unrestrained freedom of children with their behavior. Every deviancy is encouraged. The state provides a safety net for all problems, and all consequences are socialized. The steady stream of anti-organized religion propaganda is just a piece of the anti-family and anti-private organization messaging. Anything that can unite the people outside of the state's control and guidance is a problem to the state mandarins.

As long as the culture is attuned to non-religious answers and can smear religion at every turn, religion will not solve problems. Religion also needs the flock. Sure, the poz that has infested many Protestant churches has turned some people away but many people just do not want to go. What do they say, "It doesn't speak to me. It doesn't relate to me". Stop being a narcissus. Religion is not meant to speak to your petty 21st century, late Imperial American self. You either feel it or you won't. Our chattering class and punditocracy does not feel it any longer, and with that, our virtue is gone and religion does not stand a chance. It will not answer our problems because there is no environment in the current system that will give it a chance.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ceding the Responsibility of Being Role Models

The cry for role models is an abdication of responsibility. We hear it enough about the need for positive role models for our children, especially good role models for our girls doing non-girl things. This is not about black boys so the lack of a father in the home for an overwhelming majority of boys is not the issue. This is about all kids. Did the cry for role models in media start before the breakdown of the family? No. Was it before the breakdown of independent, social groups as discussed in Bowling Alone? No. This needed the help of television. Mass media was needed to sell the idea of role models. Many Americans were all too eager to give up that responsibility and power to another authority. Once we do that, we give up deciding what is a good outcome for our kids.

This is not just the horror show that is modern mass media pushing Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham as representatives for their generation and younger women to follow. That is horrible enough. Who decides how to frame women on television? The horrible girls on Bad Girls Club are role models for our underclass, but the odd thing is allowing producers and approved thinkers to push the positive role models. The lady doctors on Grey's Anatomy, the CSIs and cops on whatever procedural drama, and the careerists on other dramas. These women are seen as positive examples of adult women. All work. You couldn't name the children of those characters if they have children. Hell, even the wives of males on those shows all work. They constantly choose their work stuff over relationships of all sorts, including their kids. The positive role model works, and usually is giving her all to her work by logging overtime or working so hard they sleep in a utility closet.

Who said those were good role models or great representations of women (even men)? I cannot think of anyone besides producers who share an ideological goal of destroying family life and pushing people to work, work, work. Drama needs a conflict of sorts. Art being a human expression needs human emotion, but here is another example of our anti-family culture. Much adow as made about Adele's great album that won Grammys and had emotional, pain filled songs. She is now a mom and plans a new album. People were like "someone better break her heart so we hear some good tunes again". No one making those jokes paused to consider the earth shattering moment of child birth and becoming a parent. Heart break can create great art and emotion filled songs, but so can the experience of pregnancy, child birth and having your first kid. There are reasons new moms cry, and not all are related to hormone imbalances. Our culture on the radio is geared towards heartbroken young women as the true expression of the human condition; they are another role model.

Those are awful role models to lead with as a societal fast ball because every elderly American I've met who has an adult child that works like that laments the modern state of work-life balance. They are always proud of accomplishments but then the "but" enters the dialogue. No one likes a moping heartbroken sap after the window for moping is gone. It is just mass media that loves that. People can choose to be the role model. "But it's so tough being a role model" is the complaint of people who do not want to grow up themselves. Your kids will watch you. Would you rather them take cues off of you or off of a Hollywood conception of what is good? You will let them down. You will stumble and even fail. It happens. How you handle that is key. A well adjusted kid who grows up watching well adjusted adults in his or her home is far more likely to grow up a well adjusted adult compared to the kids who watch superstar, amazing fictional characters on TV with indifferent or even bad parents.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Eastwood's Handling of Violence

Clint Eastwood has struck commercial and critical success once more with American Sniper. It is a gritty war movie that has Ezra Klein and Seth Rogen queasy. Rogen tweeted without irony that Eastwood's Sniper was like the fake film at the end of Inglourious Basterds. I assume Rogen did not watch the other hour long blood and guts routine that was Basterds. Those were murdered Nazis, so it was okay. With a Democrat in the Oval Office, it is acceptable to release pro-military and pro-empire films whether Seal movies, OBL raid movies, weird WW2 tank films or even the plethora of superhero movie films that support the USG empire. Good for Clint, like he needs it after a career spanning decades and multiple Oscars. The theme in Eastwood's directing career that is contra to his acting career is interesting and one that centers on violence. Eastwood is a director forever trying to explain the responsibility and burden that comes with being strong or violent that his acting roles may have downplayed.

Dirty Harry shoots thugs and psychopaths to death. It is not hard. They are criminals and bad. He is the police officer sworn to serve and protect. Shitlibs in San Francisco's political bureacracy were getting in his way of doing what was right; kill bad guys. His western films were fun and moody, but once again, he had a goal and was right. A duel settled things. The strong, and in some cases the strong and crafty, survive. Point, shoot and the job is done. He did that for multiple decades. Millions sat in seats, taking it in and feeling that he was delivering justice. In the unraveling post-68 era, he was delivering justice the elites were too weak to execute. Lights up, and the comment is, "Why don't we have more guys like that in real life".

That is what makes the movies he directed interesting. American Sniper is about how being good at your job at killing people in a war zone requires a lot of mental training and effort. There is a burden to pulling the trigger. Mystic River and Million Dollar baby show people weaving in and out of a violent environment, and a step outside the norms or in the grey zone can kill an innocent. Go back further. Play Misty for Me is about a stalker who Eastwood's lead does not properly handle and even enjoys the attention at first , but she eventually kills. His Western directorial debut is High Plains Drifter, which is about a man or a ghost avenging a horrible murder. That film even offers flashbacks to individuals for the murder, insinuating the weakness in many people when facing a Dirty Harry situation. Unforgiven is the peak of that idea where the glory and machismo is stripped naked by reality. Hackman's "Little Bill" jailhouse tales to the writer pokes holes at the Western mythology. Hackman was a villain in that film, but Eastwood does a good job or portraying the incredibly tough balance that small town sheriff's faced in the West.

The world is a grey place. Many people in their homes segregated far from our armed forces or in their suburban enclaves do not realize the blood and stress that goes with maintaining order. Watching Foxcatcher, I heard the crowd gasp at certain violent spots... at a movie about wrestling. Maybe Eastwood has felt some guilt over portraying the swaggering strong man armed with a six shooter and the will to pull the trigger. Perhaps he feared he was not telling the whole story and letting Hollywood tell too sanitized and clean a picture of what it takes to make it out of a gunfight. If his directing efforts are about the burden of those who perform violent acts, Eastwood is shouldering the burden he feels for glorifying violence throughout his acting career.  American Sniper is just the latest in his resume to receive accolades, but it is also his latest in exploring the mind and soul behind the finger that lays on the trigger.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Stuck in Boomer Mode, Pagalia Doesnt Get Gaga

It truly takes a weird world for lesbian feminist cultural critic Camille Paglia to sound a touch on the traditionalist side. Her mockery of 21st Century feminist activists and academics in the sexual realm has been fun to read or listen to online. She can call them out on their laziness or disconnect from reality. There is one thing in recent memory that she whiffed on. Paglia wrote a pretty critical essay on Lady Gaga a few years back. It is quite interesting to read. It also reveals a generational gap of sorts. It is not in attitudes towards sex, but in attitudes of the self. What Paglia does not understand is that the Gaga package is proper for our times. Everyone everywhere is on display for show as part of the act of living a modern life.

Paglia's approach comes from a base where there is the pop musician the person and then pop musician the artist with a clear split. One puts on the clothing and acts the act of pop hotness on stage, but then takes the clothing off to live their normal life. That is gone. Paglia complains, "
Going off to the gym in broad daylight, as Gaga recently did, dressed in a black bustier, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels isn’t sexy – it’s sexually dysfunctional". The artist is the product as well as the musician. The symbolism and everything they represent matters more. Paglia has a hard time grasping this greyness because of the former means of delivering pop culture messaging.

A perfect example of this split was Cyndi Lauper. Lauper, and her handlers, realized Lauper was not ta sexy woman. They went the "unusual" route and took advantage of the music video medium to push that image. Quick question: how old was Lauper when she sang "Girls Just Wanna have Fun"? She was thirty. This was a thirty year old woman singing a song geared towards teens and adolescents about being a young girl, living with her parents but wanting to have fun and be independent. In today's Logan's Run pop culture, no way could a thirty year old do that or be selected to release that song. The industry would send it off to Katy Perry in her mid-20s or whatever 16 year old they are pushing now. It was a different game thirty years ago, and Lauper could take the wacky clothes off and go on to win Grammys, Tonys and Emmys. Yes, Cyndi Lauper is an Oscar away from the famous EGOT.

Paglia does not get that Gaga going to a Yankees game in full Gaga bravado and inappropriate costuming is different than Madonna showing up to a baseball game in normal clothing because Madonna was going to have sex with Jose Canseco. Madonna went to the baseball game because as part of her getting into the A League of Their Own marketing, she banged a baseball star. Gaga shows up in costume this because she is Gaga 24/7. The artist is the product and must maintain the facade at all times. Madonna's act in the early '90s hinted at this. In the documentary Truth or Dare, Warren Beatty captures it, "She doesn't want to live off-camera, much less talk. There's nothing to say off-camera. Why would you say something if it's off-camera? What point is there existing?" Paglia even wrote as much how Madonna was used to push sexual boundaries. Product and artist merge, and what was not perfected at Madonna's peak was possible 20 years later.

At the time, America was still socially conservative enough and HIV-AIDS was still a concern that Madonna's Sex book-Erotica album-Truth or Dare Documentary era was a turn off. Madonna had to go on a massive image rehab for her Bedtime Stories album. Gaga plays the part and is absurd because of the growth in people playing the part and being more absurd. The actress  or musician moves from just playing the role to becoming a role that others can emulate. If you doubt me, check African and Asian adoptions by 40 something actresses. Jennifer Aniston has played the confused young women who doesn't know what to do with her life but always wants to commit but just quite can't and oh look, it's the same thing in tabloids. What is social media and the crafting of the digital self without subtly changing your real life self to merge with the digital portrayal? Many modern Americans are doing the same just not as flamboyant and as high profile as Gaga.

Lady Gaga is at what, minute 14 in her 15 minutes of fame? For my money, her performance of "Poker Face" on American Idol was the best guest spot they have ever had. She was a smart self-promoter and understood the game very well. She has singing talent, and made Madonna worried enough that the old skank showed up on Saturday Night Live when Gaga was on to appear in a skit with her. Her problems were bad singles, going too weird, going too pro-gay and the increasingly ADD nature of pop music. By being flamboyant, she caused other pop artists to ape her strange costuming and go meta in her joke on being a pop artist. We are talking about an industry that took Jewel and crafted ever faker origin backstories to fit in with the singer songwriter garbage. They published a book of Jewel's poetry to hit you over the head with it. She's a deep singer songwriter people. The industry did this rather than running with a guitar playing cutie with a rocking body. Maybe she can reinvent herself, anything is possible.

Your sister isn't an expert baker, but she says so on Faceborg, so it pressures her into faking baking in real life. Your college friend is pondering divorce, but Instagram is full of kissy face vacation pics, forcing an illusion to become real. Your friend cries in her oversized sunglasses on the weekend at brunch but on social media, she is living a fun life so she has to go out to fulfill that mirage. The lack of privacy that we have chosen to have has left no room for error. People want to keep up, people want status, and people will fulfill the check boxes to get that status. One must always be on, one must always play the part, and it is an elected duty. Just as people choose to engage in these silly displays, Gaga chooses to be Gaga all of the time. It ruins the joy of life, as life is not a play. A play by characteristic being a production and fake reality. Life is real and can have meaning with sincerity. We have just chosen to demean it. "All the world's a stage" wrote Shakespeare. He was right but just several centuries early.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Conspicuous Progressivism - Chicago Fire

How much progressive propaganda can you stuff into a one hour procedural show? Let us count the ways with Chicago Fire. A relative visited and took care of my son while I was working and my wife was away, and she would watch Chicago Fire. While reading, I'd notice ridiculous things in the first episode, so I decided to watch the second episode and count the Narrative stuffing.

1. Female paramedic who wants to be a firefighter on a ladder unit but GD the evil white guy doesn't want a chick in his unit. My God the patriarchy! 

2. Same female paramedic is of some mixed or non-white background has her white boyfriend in the ladder unit. Oh yeah the race mixing! 

3. Mixed race (black-white) firefighter wants to make contact with his white dad's family. They are cold at first, and his mom explains how they hated on the marriage... in the 1980s. The God damn white privileged bastards! (dying grampa eventually hugs his mixed grandson) 

4. White female paramedic looks maybe 85 pounds soaking wet and has a wicked cool and awesome apartment in a terrible part of town where the homeless guy urinates near her doorway sometimes but is nice. So cool. She is a hipster but tough!

5. The leader in their firehouse is black. He also has a white wife, and they might be older but they are expecting a baby. Hi five for the mixing! 

6. The motley crew of black, white, and who knows what the heck one guy is are pooling money together for a lunch wagon. Super cool cuisine out of a truck! 

7. The tough as nails and by the books fire chief is an old white haired white guy, and sometimes he is too by the book dammit. Damn whites who believe in the rules!

8. Firefighter is declared medically incapable of being a firefighter and another suffers a major accident where the unit does a fundraiser for him because he won't earn no dough. Comedy here being the fictional representation of firefighter economics. This is Chicago. The CFD has a huge negotiated collective bargaining agreement that provides benefits in these instances. First, the guy declared medically ineligible would start receiving either his CFD disability benefit, his paid for sick leave or a private disability insurance payment. In some instances, he'd receive a combination of 2 or all 3. The guy in the accident would start receiving benefits immediately. They would range from 60-100% of the predisability income. There would be no need for a quickie fundraiser for the guy. That would have been the case in the 1980s and earlier, but not now. How is this progressive narrative stuffing? This is a progressive "hide the fact that public employees have great pay and benefits now" narrative.

This entire show is a game of Frogger with the safe spots being conspicuous progressivism Narrative story arcs.

Oh hey look, an advertisement for the second "Russian spies living in suburbia in the '80s" show on television. Wow, thanks Hollywood. Now I know to hate the Russians!

Destroy Hollywood.