Barack Obama impersonator Reggie Brown (not to be confused with the football player) was yanked by GOP operatives at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans this weekend when he came a bit too close to sensitive topics like Tim Pawlenty's backbone and the rest of the presidential field. With the grace of a roughly managed Oscar night, the music began and the helpful staff ushered him offstage. Maybe more telling than the sudden end of Brown's performance, however, was which jokes drew laughs and which a few jeers or silence. Mocking Obama's mixed race heritage—lots of laughs. Saying Barbara Bush looks like a really old George Washington—boo. My own one liner goes something like: The next best thing to defeating Obama in an election is getting to boot his impersonator off stage! Hey, I'm here all week, folks.
When over 200 press outlets worldwide covered the street harassment hearing in New York City, the photo that accompanied the popularly distributed article depicted four construction workers watching a woman walk by. Despite the fine print reading that none of the construction workers in the picture were actually harassing women, their guilt is implied in the composition of the image, the fact that its accompanying an article on street harassment, and a widely held stereotype about construction workers' propensities to cat call women. Whether working-class men truly engage in harassing behaviors more than men from other socioeconomic groups is up for debate, but because they're stereotyped as such from the jump, the workers themselves and the women who pass by work sites are taught to expect the men to act that way.
New York library advocates have been working hard these past few weeks after news broke of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget cuts, which would cut library funding from $308.5 million in 2011's fiscal year to $223.5 million for 2012 (these depressing numbers are further broken down on the city's Office of Management and Budget website).
If Bloomberg's budget is approved, New York would end up with some very unhappy bookshelves (according to Paul LeClerc, President and CEO of The New York Public Library, almost six million fewer items would be circulated), lots of layoffs (more than one in four library jobs would be eliminated), and drastically cut library hours (NYPLs would be open on average just four days a week). No wonder people have been calling the mayor Bloomzilla.
I'm reading Woman on the Edge of Time for the Bitch Book Club (which meets next Tuesday night, if you're in the Portland area!), and it's got me thinking about the future. Most of it's not that bright-looking. Humans might be wrecking the planet, and nuclear catastrophe is one red button away. But then I thought: it's almost SUMMER here in the Northern Hemisphere! A future that's about to give us a couple months of sunshine, no matter how much other terrifying stuff it might hold, can't be all bad, right?! Plus, if futuristic music is any indication, at least we'll be groovin' toward apocalypse. This week's BitchTapes is full of music before its time.
"Pull out a map of Virginia and look where the abortion clinics are. That doesn't make you mad?" Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli was speaking to roughly two dozen pastors in the state as he showed them how to be more political without infringing on the state constitution.
Away from the bright lights and snazzy set decoration of CNN's debate stage, far from the on-camera smiles and carefully groomed candidates for President, there is a real battle going on at the state level, across the nation. I'm not talking about the so-called culture wars, a clumsy and passé term if ever there were one, I'm pointing to the unraveling of decades of bipartisan agreement and colleagueship in state government. If the Bush Administration signaled the end of cooperation in Washington, DC, then what 2011 has given us so far is evidence that the war has spread to state houses in every region of the country.
Reading Benjamin Nugent's book American Nerd in preparation for writing this column I came across a reference to research by UC Santa Barbara linguistics professor Mary Bucholtz, which argues that nerd culture manifests "hyperwhiteness" in its language. Nugent didn't elaborate on this much in his book but he'd also written a review of her research for the New York Times, and I thought the whole idea of how nerd culture is racialized was really interesting…and pretty problematic.
Welcome to another edition of Pop Pedestal, a series to honor our favorite characters in pop culture. Today, I'd like to turn your attention to an oft-unsung heroine: Cindy "Mac" Mackenzie of Veronica Mars, the Manic Panic-streaked computer geek of my dreams.
I understand being firmly rooted in your own sexuality and there is certainly a limit to how comfortable I am being touched by people I'm not having sex with. But that isn't what this is about. This is about making a joke at the expense of a real group of people. They could have just stopped at the erotic showering and I would have been convinced of the worthwhileness of their product, even if I don't have the resources to even have time to go to the website, such is the non-existence of my "World Travel Discretionary Spending Fund" for the third quarter of 2011. But instead they chose body shaming. Which is important to me, since I am a fat dude and my days of body shame are behind me. I'm not willing to be told I'm less and then shell out money to prove anyone wrong about that.