Thursday, December 15, 2011

Madness Returned Part One

Part One in a story I'm puttering with

Jesus H. Tap Dancing Christ. I couldn't be sure of my senses, or even awareness of senses, or even what senses were. I think I remember learning about that in elementary school science class, or was it something I saw on TV? I remember something vaguely sexual about the whole experience. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on but I really can't blame myself because I was only in fifth grade after all.
God, the cooties were terrible. I still have nightmares from time to time.
I kept staring at my hands hoping that I could just fade out of existence and reappear someplace a lot less confusing. Confusing isn't really the right word for it. Awkward? Obvious? Maybe it didn't matter.
I glanced up from my musings, trying to figure out what I was going to say before I knew the question.

I have a hobby. It involves dissecting the elements and re-assembling them in my own image. Oh, wait, not my image; that would be egotistical. Maybe some other image like Mona Lisa or David or Richard Simmons. I would try to explain but the whole idea seems preposterous. I mumble something somewhat reassuring adding “I'll be all right, mother.”
Would I be, would I ever really be “all right?” Too many questions and not enough answers to be had. Musical chairs of answers. The loser doomed to exist in purgatory until the next time, if there was one. That always seemed to be the last question on my mind. I stared at my hands and then at mothers stew. I could see the past, present and future staring up at me in small, carroty and potato-shaped bits. I felt a tingle in the back of my brain, I didn't want to deal with her right now.
“Mother, do you ever think about your place in the universe?” I tried to break up the ice forming around the edges of my mind.
“Oh don't start that tripe again. Shut up and eat.”
If eating made any sense right now I would.
“Quit nitpicking,” I replied absentmindedly.
“Who is it that you are always talking to?”
“N-n-n-othing, mother.”
I felt her eyes through the back of my head. How much did she know, exactly? All or nothing or somewhere in the middle. Did she know I would end up this way? Somehow, I was eating again.
“Thank you,” at least that's what I intended to say as I got up and walked too the door. I couldn't handle much more hiding. I kind of figured my hiding was obvious and that I shouldn't worry because she knew. Maybe I was being purposely deceptive because it felt natural at the time.
The doorknob felt slippery. I couldn't quite place where I had felt the same thing before. I tried to grab on to the thought, tried to make it manifest itself once more but it ended up dashing away with the breeze. The desert heat beat instantly upon my face and stung my eyes. I squinted as I fumbled around looking for my sunglasses until I realized I had them on.
“Christ on a cracker, that took you long enough!”
I jumped out of my skin and spun around, surprised to find the smiling image of my good friend and roommate glaring at me from the passenger side of a nearby car. In the short while I was lost within the confines of mother's kitchen, I had forgotten what she looked like. The fender was missing on one side and the other side didn't match the rest of the body. There was a curious dent in the hood that I know I didn't cause, but I could have.
“What did you do, forget I was out here?”
I silently slid into the driver's seat, not wanting to admit the truth. I shouldn't be driving in my state of mind but I knew I didn't have too much of a choice.
“Did you bring me any?”
“Any what?” I mumbled to the tune of the song on the radio
“Food, that I know you must have scarfed on while I was sitting out here in the blazing heat, listening to shitty top-40 radio”
“At least you had the sense not to let the battery die” I observed.
“Not that it matters, you have to roll start this pile of rusty shit anyhow”
I was about to reply with venom until I realized he was right. The ignition switch was broken long ago. I have a fuzzy memory that the debacle involved a trip gone bad and reality collapsing in on itself temporarily. Push starting the vehicle was almost as automatic as turning a key, and I found it strangely satisfying. I often wondered, if I was presented with the opportunity to own a car with a functional ignition switch and an actual key, would I use it or would act on a subconscious impulse and destroy it? Is self sabotage a hobby?
“What is on the menu for next weekend, mate?”
“Fuck,” I blurted, “This weekend isn't even over yet!” I had an inkling it was still Sunday. Mother always served stew on Sunday.
“True that. We still have a few hits and a shit-load of weed to work through,” my companion said through a cloud of thick, purple smoke.
What the hell was this, a contest? Some sort of drug-fueled brawl?
“Pushing the limits of reality and telling it to piss off, eh mate?” I felt a firm, but friendly slap on my shoulder. I stared out over the dashboard, suddenly fascinated with the road and everything in front of me. The road was straight through a deep valley, surrounded by sagebrush on one side and a lake on the other. The lake resembled an overgrown mud hole and was always crowded with birds of varying types in the summer. I thought it was pretty, but was too concerned about appearances to ever mention it to anyone. “I wonder if the lake will ever just disappear and not come back.”
“Aww there you go with that existential bull crap. Life is too short to be occupying our brains philosophizing about huge, water-filled holes.”
“That water-filled hole could be whats separating us from annihilation,” I said, speeding up the car just a little bit.
“Hey, do you want to get pulled over? Knock it off, crazy ass hole!” I was shaken awake by a punch to the arm. I replied by turning the radio up and focusing on the road. It must be Sunday because there isn't much traffic. The speedometer bounced angrily, unable to continue it's clockwise journey. Maybe I was going a bit too fast for the conditions. Another cloud of purple smoke lazily spun its way through the cabin. I inhaled deeply, hoping to catch somewhat of a second hand buzz.
I got the feeling that the people in the cars I passed were staring at me. Maybe not at me specifically, but at the whole environment I was surrounded by. The car looked like it was being held together by prayers and duct tape. The passenger was gloomily puffing on a pipe, alternating between staring at me and gazing off into the horizon. I was fairly sure that every hiss, every pop, every auto-tuned note could be heard for miles, rattling and radiating from our rolling disaster area. I felt myself start to hum along with the song on the radio, even though I didn't really care for it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

My 4 AM World

Everything around here closes at 2300
Except the gas station up the street
The food is expensive
I'm not all that hungry anyway
You've been asleep for hours
I'm not tired and besides
I know you sleep better knowing I'm awake
You seem to think that I'm going somewhere
that one day I'll go up in a puff of smoke
I won't lie to you
because it isn't up to me
I just don't know what to say
So I sit in silence
contemplating everything and nothing
hoping I can keep a promise
that I know I will never make

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Waaayback Machine

This is something I wrote in 2004 I found on my Myspace page.
There arent many things I can tell you now for you are young and unready for some things. I can tell you this much for now, you shall read this with a different mind later for you know that this will not last even though it may feel that way. I am writing through you for you to understand what it is that needs to be known. Live in this life as if you know what is to pass for though you do not know what is to pass, you live life in that way so as to give the appearance that you know. For knowledge is power and you have power, the power of God in heaven. Know that you are imbued with the power of God in heaven even though there are those that choose not to believe. There is a way for you to make it seem as if you know more than you do, and that is to admit that you know nothing save for what is present and real. Real does not mean what you see or hear or think. Real is a state of consciousness, a door to a beginning. What is real on earth is not true, what is true on earth is not real. Humans are incapable of understanding reality, it is beyond them. Humans do not perceive truth because truth is not a perception. It is an extension of a collective creative force not able to be seen or touched or thought. Thought is only perception, it is nothing more. Thoughts are not a manifestation of the will of man for man has no will save for the will of the Creator God and the forces set in motion by It so that Its plan can be executed in accordance to a power It doesnt even comprehend. The Creator God is sexless because sex and gender are perceptions not needed by the Creator God. The Creator God does not perceive things because It understands all. Note that It does not KNOW all but UNDERSTANDS all. Why is this? Knowing is nothing more than a perception, that is why knowledge is power. How does one know? They perceive that they are capable of reciting things perceived by others as factual when indeed, all that is known is a fallacy created by the small boundaries of perception. Make others believe that you know, for they understand knowledge, but do not understand how to be devoid of such fallacy. Knowledge is indeed power on earth because common perception makes it so. If people know you know, they will believe for they cannot perceive any alternative. You KNOW nothing. They know all collectively. Understand, do not know. Understanding may seem like a type of knowledge but this is not so. Understanding involves only going beyond the limits of perception and experiencing what the absence of perception is. THAT is understanding. To understand, do not know. To know is to NEVER understand.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Im Gonna be a Rockstar

This essay is what catapulted me into an A in my last writing class. It is a reflective piece on my writing and how the class helped me improve. Enjoy!

One of my earliest childhood memories is of my grandmother's typewriter. I remember it being big, black and heavy. I remember the smell of the ink and the sound of the keys hitting the paper as I spent many hours watching my grandmother type letters to friends and family. At the time I didn’t understand what she was doing, but the rhythm of the keystrokes and the “ding” at the end of every line made me feel at peace. Sometimes, my grandmother would sit me on her lap and let me poke at the keys. I wasn’t sure what the black marks that appeared on the paper were, but I had a lot of fun making the typewriter make noise. When I first learned how to read, I remember thinking “I want to make stories too!” As a youngster, I had quite a few problems with handwriting which discouraged me. I was absolutely thrilled when I found out that big, black, noisy box with keys could make words that other people could read. At first I practiced copying books. After a while, I became comfortable with putting my own thoughts down on paper. My first writings were simple ramblings about my pets or my latest video game adventure. Eventually I started to come up with stories detailing the adventures of a dog/cat hybrid trying to live in two societies that didn’t accept him. I think my parents still have those stories in a box somewhere. While other kids in preschool were doodling stick figures, I was doodling with words.
When I first entered elementary school, I didn’t think I was abnormal. I spent every free moment, and even some moments in class, either reading or writing. I remember my kindergarten teacher often becoming upset with me because I had my nose stuck in a book while I was supposed to be paying attention. I soon began to realize that when it came to reading, I was ahead of my peers. This made me the target of bullying from my classmates and the target of scorn from my teachers. I often was assigned extra class work during reading periods so I wouldn’t have time to read the books that I brought from home. In middle school I tried to make my obsession with reading and writing a more private affair. I would often sit in my room from the time school was out until sunrise either reading the latest library find or writing down an idea. I stopped taking books from home to school entirely after a teacher had confiscated one of my books because I wasn’t paying attention to a chapter review. The fact that I got an A on the related test still didn’t convince the teacher to return my book. Despite social pressure to the contrary, I still ended up spending almost every recess period in the school library because I didn’t feel safe reading on the playground. I always did well in any course that involved reading and writing but admittedly I never really put in all that much effort. My teachers were always impressed with my work but it was nothing special to me. I had learned early on in school how to regurgitate information but at the same time I found it incredibly boring. Chasing my own ideas and reading books that weren't in the juvenile or young adult section of the library was far more interesting.
High school was, for the most part, more of the same story. I wrote mostly for myself, with little bits of academic work here and there. I became much more serious about my writing when I met my writing mentor, Mrs Block. She taught a middle-school English class that a friend of mine had been in and she also ran the local Star Trek fan club. Mrs. Block took a genuine interest in my writing after I showed her a back-story I had come up with for one of my role-playing characters. She encouraged me to develop my skills as a writer and to think critically about what I wrote, especially about the things I was reading and writing for school. She often assured me that I am a good writer and that I shouldn’t think of anything I write as “just a doodle.” She also was the first person to help me understand that writing, reading and thought are all connected. All the previous instruction in writing I had up to that point had convinced me that thought, reading, and writing were separate things. Reading is done to gain knowledge, writing is used to regurgitate that knowledge, and thought is better left to the “experts,” whoever they may be. Mrs. Block taught me and the students in her classes that thinking genuinely matters and that you don’t know exactly what you are thinking until you write it down. It was Mrs. Block’s encouragement that inspired me to tackle the more advanced English classes in high school. I was also inspired to become first the Junior ROTC assistant communications officer and then to take over as the head of communications. I wrote, edited and published several newsletters for my ROTC class and had a few press releases published in the local newspaper.
During my senior year of high school, I thought I was at the top of my writing game. Class assignments were still very easy but I tackled them with a much more critical eye. I began to truly enjoy reading assignments because even though I didn’t really discuss them with my classmates, I still could discuss them with Mrs. Block. I also felt that my creative writing endeavors had a purpose, even if I was the only person who would ever read them. I graduated in the top 10% of my class and floated off to college thinking I would be on top of the world there, too. I soon found out that college was an entirely different ball of wax. I found myself in lecture classes with over 100 other students. My professors didn’t have the time to be interested in critical thought, opinions, or observations made by students. Their job was to make sure we “mastered” the material enough to move on to the next course. I again found myself discouraged and uninspired. I managed to pass my classes but I stopped thinking of my writing as an extension of my thoughts. Writing became a means to getting the education that I thought I needed in order to make money and land my “dream job.” After three years of college-level classes, I gave up. With very few exceptions, I didn’t feel that any of my course work was appreciated. My professors were interested in what I had learned at the end of the class as opposed to having any interest in the learning process. I also didn’t feel any personal connection with my studies. I ended up working minimum-wage jobs off and on to get by. Sometimes, I worked over 40 hours a week, yet I was not able to fully support myself. My job security was dependent on the economic success of those in upper management. I slowly realised over the course of the next nine years that I was not on the path to personal success. I also realised that most of my despair stemmed from the fact that I had stopped reading and writing almost entirely. I read work-related materials, jotted a few things down in a journal, and posted quite a bit on chat forums, but I still felt that I was wasting my potential.
One day, I decided that I was going to leave my jello-brain life behind. While trying to “find myself,” I had moved away from my childhood home in Nevada, thinking that minimum-wage drudgery would somehow be different in Oregon. I soon found out that the only difference was that Oregon drudgery was a lot more damp. I decided to jump back into the academic world with both feet, hoping that my community college experience would be better than my university experience. I took Writing 121 my first term back because I knew that my writing skills were rusty and that there was always room for improvement. 121 challenged me because I was out of practice but after the first few assignments, I realized that my basic set of skills were still intact. I did well on the smaller assignments and I received an A on my first argumentative essay. I was surprised at the A, honestly. I had struggled with the first paper and when I turned in my final draft I was convinced that I had gotten maybe a C. My professor gave me hard criticism and forced me to keep thinking about my ideas. He also prodded me into becoming specific and concrete. Even though he picked apart our writing, I still felt that he genuinely enjoyed teaching the students in the class how to be better readers and writers, and was enthusiastic when any of us made a breakthrough in understanding. Writing 121 is the only writing class required for a two-year multimedia design student, but I felt that having an even stronger skills in thinking, reading, and writing would benefit my further academic work as well as my professional career.
I signed up for Writing 122 hoping to advance my writing skills and have a bit of an edge over my peers who decided to stop at 121. As I sit, contemplating what I got out of the course, I can’t help but think that I gained way more than just a new set of professional skills. The work is daunting and was a challenge throughout the entire term. As with my 121 course, 122 challenged me to think in different ways and further pushed me away from regurgitation mode. I also gained more confidence in my work because I built on the skills that I learned in my previous course. Previous college writing courses were tedious and aggravating because I would have to learn a new regurgitation style for every class. The reading assignments in this course were also interesting. In my beginning college years, my 122 level class spent the majority of the term reading from a book very similar to Keys for Writers. The information was useful insofar that it taught the technical aspects of writing, but it taught very little else. I was very glad to find out that this incarnation of 122 is very different. Even though my 121 course was extremely helpful in my development as a writer, I feel that 122 has been even more helpful. The discussions both in class and on Moodle helped me understand my own thoughts better. Having a conference with the professor was also very helpful. I felt that he was genuinely interested in what I had to say and was interested in helping me say it. His enthusiasm for the subject was evident even on the syllabus. On the first page, he encourages the class to ask questions and to keep asking questions. Alternating fonts and font sizes is also a really nice touch. Large, bold font is a pretty good indicator that the author finds something to be incredibly important. During the lecture, I found the enthusiasm of the instructor and my fellow students to be infectious. When I missed classes due to illness, the constant buzz on the Moodle forums helped me stay focused. I learned even more about grammar, although I don’t think I will ever have a total grasp on all of the rules.
Writing 121 got me back into the writing frame of mind but 122 helped me understand why I was so fascinated with the written word as a young child. I find reading, writing and thinking to be incredibly fun. For the longest time, the only other person I could have an intellectual discussion with was my husband. I was reminded this term that it is entirely possible to have an intellectual discussion with myself through writing. Remembering that fact alone makes me glad that I enrolled in 122. The work kicked me squarely in the rear end and my powers of last-minute-BS-ery were pretty much useless. I had to actually think about what I was writing and invest myself in it again, not just puke on a page. At times I thought “Why do I care? I’m going to be a big-shot producer anyway.” There are several reasons. Even though it was difficult, I did actually find the work enjoyable. Also, I have become better at editing my own work. I feel more confident as a writer and as a reader. I know that my confidence will shine in my future work in both the academic and professional arenas. My goal this term was to become a better writer. Not only did I become a better writer, I also became a better reader and thinker as well. Overall, the time and effort I put into Writing 122 yielded results that exceeded my expectations. I now am hungrier for knowledge and hungrier for honest and thoughtful discourse with myself and others. The brain is like a muscle: if it doesn’t get used it tends to atrophy. Even though I experienced brain cramping more than once, I believe pain was more than worth it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Killing us, but not very softly

This is another essay I did for my writing class last term dealing with advertisements and children.
Super Bowl Sunday: the biggest advertising day of the year in the United States, if not the entire world. Millions of people across the globe tune in to watch and most of them aren't tuning in for the football game. The Super Bowl was originally a contest between two iron-willed teams out to prove to the world that they are the best. Today, the Super Bowl is known more for its advertisements. Several people have told me “I don't care about the game, I want to see the new commercials!” This statement boggles my mind even though it makes sense in a creepy Bizzaro-world way. Advertisers are blessed with an event that over the years has gained a large amount of worldwide attention, especially after television became mainstream. The Super Bowl consistently has a large audience who is glued to the TV until the game is over. People who watch the Super Bowl aren't inclined to change the channel when a commercial comes on, since the game is only broadcast on one specific station. Advertisers know that the audience is captive and relatively stuck watching the same station for the duration of the game.
What about people who have no interest in football? Advertisers benefit from a larger audience, so it is in their best interest to figure out a way to get more people to watch. Every year, Super Bowl commercials become more like shows in and of themselves. Now there are two captive audiences: People interested in the football game and people that are watching only for the commercials. Both audiences watch both programs because no one wants to change the channel.
Advertising has invaded almost every part of our lives. The Super Bowl is just one example of how advertisers have slowly taken over. Many people would say that advertising is a bad thing and that less of it would benefit just about everybody. However, those same people will gladly sit and watch a sports contest that has over the years become nothing but a day-long, multi-product infomercial. They will spend hours upon hours on Facebook, even though the entire site is funded by advertisers. Advertising has become more subtle over the years while at the same time becoming more bold. I compare it to a silk-covered brick. It is soft to touch and pretty to look at but if it hits someone it still hurts. People will ignore the pain if the object causing the pain is appealing enough. Feminist author Jean Kilbourne addresses advertising and how it influences our perceptions of what is beautiful in her video presentation Killing us Softly. I believe this influence is starting to affect children at a young age. Art critic John Berger said that we see before we can speak. Children, who are being babysat by the television at younger and younger ages, see a large amount advertisements. Advertisements are often bright, colorful affairs that easily snatch a persons attention. Even babies will pay attention to something if it is bright and colorful enough. Some of the first memories children have are of advertisements. By the time they are old enough to start spending money, they already are brand loyalists. Furthermore, they have an image of themselves and of others based almost entirely off of what advertisers have been telling them for years. Even though they have been bombarded most of their lives with advertisements, young people do not realize the influence advertising has on them or the way they interact with others.
Children can be cruel, especially towards other children. Advertising is making children more cruel to themselves and others. The problem involves more than actual ads. Programs that target children advertise to them through cleverly placed products. The programs have even become brands themselves. Television programs such as “Dora the Explorer” while educational, are still marketed to children as products. Dora backpacks, dolls, and even bedsheets are available. Children, absorbed by the show, end up wanting anything and everything associated with the show no matter how cheap or useless it is. This branding phenomenon isn’t a recent development. I remember many toys from my childhood that were connected directly to television programs. I also remember being convinced that I needed every last Transformers action figure and accessory, otherwise I would simply die! Products associated with television programs don’t need further advertisement. Children walking through a store will recognize the “brand” that has been created by the television program and instantly enter “I want it” mode. Branding teaches children that wanting is acceptable and that those who don't want the same things must be abnormal. On top of the desire to posses more, children that are over-exposed to advertisements begin to absorb them into every aspect of who they are. They start to form references and jokes based on the ads they see. The very few children who are kept out of the media loop become targets of reticule and even violence. Author Jackson Katz in his video Tough Guize, proposes that men start forming thoughts about how other men should act based on what they see on television. Children judge other children based on an image shaped by advertisements. Young children shouldn't have to worry about being too fat or having bad hair but they do.
Children grow up in this “be what we tell you or suffer” world and are affected by more than just the judgment of others. They are also being constantly judged by advertisements. People stare at the TV to immerse themselves in a reality that is better than the one they exist in but at the same time the more people watch, the more miserable they become. They realize that they aren't perfect and never will be no matter how much useless stuff they buy. However, they are inclined to buy useless things because ads tell them that they will feel a bit better. They will fit in more wearing an expensive fragrance or they will be more socially adept after a few beers but they will never be 100% perfect. Images in advertisements display a reality that is edited, manipulated, and impossible to emulate.
Children grow up with this reality, and as they grow, they turn into the perfect consumers. Through repeated exposure to television, billboard and even radio advertisements, children are taught that in order to fit in, they must have certain possessions and look a particular way. They become convinced that if something has been branded, it must be superior, even if experience tells them that the generic option is the same or better than the “name-brand.” The knee-jerk reaction of many parents when they realize the massive impact of exposure to advertisements, is to completely isolate their children from media sources. While this protects children from becoming brand-tools or product-mongers temporarily, isolated children often are sucked further into consumer culture because of the sudden and massive exposure to media that happens when their exposure is no longer monitored. Media isolation can also cause problems during childhood because the isolated aren’t aware of pop-culture references, which can make them the target of ridicule and bullying. The flip-side to over-monitoring is under-monitoring. Parents who don’t care about or are not aware of the impact media exposure has on their children’s lives will not monitor what their children are exposed to. As scary as the notion is, part of the solution to the over-saturation of consumerism is to encourage children to think. Of course, this means more work for parents, which can be daunting for someone who is struggling with a career on top of being a parent. However, opening a dialogue with children about media exposure will help them make smarter choices as consumers. It will also help them have a better sense of reality when it comes to body image. Many parents believe in the power of conversations with children when it comes to subjects such as drugs or alcohol. I believe that the same conversations should be happening about media and media exposure. As more people become aware of the impact media has on their lives and on the lives of their children, people can work towards lessening the impact advertising has on their lives.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Easy Meat n Potato Glop

I just came up with an easy and tasty recipe. Measurements are far from exact.

What you will need:
Aprox 1 lb stew meat
1 packet Mrs. Grass onion soup mix (Or a packet of whatever onion soup mix you prefer. I can only attest to the tastiness of this particular brand though)
1 packet of random mashed potato flakes. (I used one of the "fully loaded" flavors this time. I plan on experimenting with different varieties)
Butter (optional?)
Some sort of large pan

1. Brown the meat. Leave all the grease and juice (or don't if you are a health nut. Use more water in the next step)
2. Mix in onion soup powder. Add enough water so the meat is covered entirely.
3. Let onion soup simmer with the meat until the onion pieces are tender
4. Turn off heat and stir in the potatoes. Add enough milk so the potatoes are a creamy consistency. This is the part where butter is optional. I added quite a bit of butter here but more milk will likely work just as well.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sexuality On Sale

This is an essay from this term. Enjoy! Works Cited at the bottom of the page.
Lets talk about sex. Actually, lets talk about sexuality.

When most people think of the word “sexuality,” their thoughts drift towards sexual orientation and gender identity. Many people think that a person’s sexuality is something that can’t be controlled: people are born with their sexuality intact and nothing can truly change it. On the other hand, many people believe that sexuality is entirely a choice and so a person can be rid of any and all sexual tendencies and new ones can take their place.y. Humans seem to be overly aware of sexuality. People spend a great deal of time trying to make themselves more sexually desirable. They also spend a great deal of time agonizing over sexuality when it concerns other people. Michel Foucault, a French modern philosopher, wrote in his book The History of Sexuality that sexuality has nothing to do with sex. The Sparknotes editors say this of Foucault:
"Sexuality, according to Foucault, is nothing more than a social construct. There is not something about our sex organs, or the act of sexual intercourse, or our instincts and impulses related to that act, that in itself relates to other aspects of our consciousness and social being. Rather, we have created connections that we now think of as objectively real and independent of us."

If sexuality has nothing to do with sex, why do people obsess over it so much? Foucault goes on to say that sexuality has become something that has invaded every aspect of our lives. People are judged and have a moral character assigned to them based on how other people perceive them sexually. Not only do people have to work at becoming more sexually desirable, but also they must make sure that they are not perceived as being sexually unacceptable.
What is sexually acceptable and what is not has never been concretely defined. Things that society today deems completely unacceptable were acceptable and even sought after in times past. The argument that “it has always been this way” simply does not hold water. Sexuality, while a huge part of our core being, is not something that appeared out of thin air. It was created through a bombardment of images and the massive power struggle that shapes our collective consciousness. Susan Bordo, a writer who often tackles the subject of sex, says that men featured in advertising appeal mostly to other men. No singular guide book exists (at least none that I am aware of) that tells gay men what they must find attractive. Yet, Bordo can look at an advertisement and say with confidence “That ad is appealing to gay men.” How does Bordo know what a gay male would find sexually attractive? Her perception of what gay men find attractive is likely found on display in advertisements, both in print and on television. With very little research, one can find a plethora of information concerning the likes and dislikes of a “typical” homosexual male. One can also find plenty of companies willing to sell things to a typical homosexual male. Of course, they also want to sell things to a typical heterosexual female, a typical homosexual female, a typical heterosexual male and anything and everything in between.
Most people would like to think, no matter what “box” they have been put in sexually speaking, that they have total ownership over their sexuality. They know what they like and nothing is going to change it. Jean Kilbourne, in her presentation Killing us Softly, shares her view that advertising is contributing to poor body image in both women and men. She also speaks about how children are now growing up with an unrealistic view of themselves because they are constantly being reminded that they are not perfect little objects. I believe that the people in charge of media outlets are doing more than simply telling people “Please feel bad about yourself. We can fix whatever ails you for only $19.95!” Foucault theorises that sexuality is a constantly evolving social construct and that the construct is always being modified to benefit those in power. About the seventeenth century, he writes “One had tolerant familiarity with the illicit.” (Foucault) This way of thinking shifted, however. Behaviors and ideas that were perfectly acceptable suddenly became taboo. For example, homosexuality was not a subject of conversation even as late as the seventeenth century. As time progressed, it became less and less O.K. to be gay. Of course, people could still indulge in “unacceptable” sexual behavior, but it wasn’t free anymore. Not only had the definition of “sexual deviant” changed, but also people began to see profit potential in this new kind of deviant. Industries for treating and housing sexual deviants began to appear. Prostitution increased as more people required outlets for their deviancy, and as more people realized that there were some willing to pay large sums of money in order to deal with their deviant tendencies in a somewhat anonymous fashion.
Rarely does a person wake up and say, “I am a sexual deviant. I am not normal,” even though this is the message people see on a daily basis. People have been conditioned not to label unattractiveness as sexual deviancy. No, being unattractive sexually is not the same as being a child molester, but with the way the media puts emphasis on needing to be sexually attractive, it might as well be. When someone is sexually unattractive, they face many challenges. They may even be put last in line for a job, even though they meet or exceed the qualifications required. Many laws are in place that tell companies and individuals that they cannot act against someone based on race, religion, or handicap. Being unattractive is not considered a protected class, therefore people can discriminate without fear of retaliation. Axe, a brand of male beauty products, often warns men of the dangers of having “bad hair.” in their advertisements. The warnings are meant as somewhat of a joke, but a male with unacceptable hair can find himself discriminated against by both women and other men. Attractiveness is used as a measure of worth. If sexuality wasn’t constantly on display in television or print media, I doubt that people would be willing to spend large sums of money in order to become more sexually desirable. People also wouldn’t judge people based on what they are told is sexually attractive.
People in charge of the media benefit from telling people how think about sexuality. They have formed constructs telling people how to identify themselves sexually and what to do with this identification. Forces within the media even tell people how to operate within “unacceptable” sexual constructs. The television program "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," for example, is designed to help heterosexual males with subjects such as wardrobe selection and hair management. The programs premise is that homosexual males are better at selecting clothing and doing hair. This implies that heterosexual males are incapable of picking clothes or doing their own hair. Conversely, homosexuality, particularly in males, is frowned upon. Paradoxically there is quite a bit of money to be had in telling men how to be better homosexuals. Women are affected by the manipulation of sexuality as well. Most women are aware of the dangers of eating disorders yet at the same time there are hints found in various media outlets that suggest that sometimes women must develop an eating disorder in order to stay thin enough to be sexually attractive. Jokes about eating disorders are a constant on comedy programs such as "Family Guy." Some would argue that statements that would encourage women to develop eating disorders are not supposed to be taken seriously. I believe, however, that these jokes are are tiny bits of encouragement to some, especially those that feel desperately unattractive. Those in charge of media outlets benefit from making sure everyone is dissatisfied with their sexuality. The media tells people “You are xyz paradigm, but you can always be better at it! Pay us to find out how” and people do pay because they they are being watched.. People fear the eyes of strangers, especially when it comes to anything involving sex. The more sexual paranoia is perpetuated, the more people are willing to pay to make the nasty feelings go away. Don’t like being watched? Buy this product, get this surgery, take this pill and become normal enough to be ignored.
Even though they perpetuate a skewed perception of sexuality, television, magazines and movies appear to many as a savior. If the media are the ones telling people they have a problem, of course the media are going to have the solution. Maybe that new perfume will work or maybe just a little plastic surgery will do the trick. The media picture of the perfectly sexually attractive person is based completely out of image manipulation. Fashion models often admit that the images of them put on magazine covers and advertisements are not real. Imperfections have been smoothed over and pounds have been dropped artificially. Models are not perfect but people are told that they should find them attractive. No perfect person exists, even though there are many people who have some perfect parts. This is a good thing for the media because it means that people are constantly chasing perfection. People will never stop spending money on perfection because they can never achieve it. Those in charge of media outlets are careful not to reveal too much about how they are defining sexuality, even though it is obvious in just about everything the media has out there. There are shows that tell people how to be gay, straight and every thing in between. People start to think “Well they are experts after all; if I’m not all that they say I should be, there must be something wrong with me.” It becomes more than just not feeling attractive. People start to question what they find attractive about others based on what they see on television and in movies. Eventually, people begin to define their entire sexuality based on the opinions of others.
Isn’t sexuality supposed to be a personal thing? Over time, sexuality went from an individual construct to a construct built by the illusion of the status quo. Sexuality has become simply another commodity that companies buy and sell from society in little advertisement-sized chunks. Taking control of something that people find to be deeply personal is the perfect way to assure that the profits will continue. Those in charge of media outlets know that people are more driven to action when it is their idea. Simply telling people “We are going to tell you exactly how you should act if you identify with this sexual construct. By the way, your sexual construct is:” wouldn’t work. Most people would reply with a heartfelt “Screw you!” Rather than being direct, the media convinces people that they come up with sexuality on their own. Once people have come up with their sexual identity, through repeated exposure to what is perfect and what isn’t, the “Empire of Images” (Bordo) comes swooping in to save the day. Until people realize that they are being manipulated at the very core, companies will continue to profit from sexuality. Media companies profit from advertising. Advertising is paid for by companies who turn a profit. In order for companies to sell things, people have to be convinced that they need those things. This goes far beyond the beauty product and fashion industry. People who feel like they have something wrong will seek out medical treatment, psychiatric treatment and who knows what else. It could be argued that every industry on Earth could potentially profit from people who are convinced that they are flawed.
Works Cited

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on The History of Sexuality: An Introduction, Volume 1.” SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.

Bordo, Susan. "Beauty (re)-Discovers the Male Body."Ways of Reading: an Anthology for Writers. By David Bartholomae and Tony Petrosky. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 131-76. Print.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction Volume 1. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print.

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I've been waiting for this moment
For so long it seems I'm never at peace
and yet you lie there unmoving
I touch you but you don't touch me
I'll float around like a shadow
silent, contemplative of my lonliness
Sometimes you wander by
and ask me silly questions
I laugh and I smile
I feel close to you again
Back into the dark I fade
back into yourself you go
I am your rock, your fortress
but I am a timeshare
Pulled in pushed away
it all ends up the same
I'm in this moment and I'm alone
and only sometimes, am I at peace.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Final thoughts about my Writing class

This is one of my favorite quotes from the movie Fight Club:

"Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war, our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." ~Tyler Durden

How many people are "pissed off" at this fact? Do people even realize that they are motivated by something that is invisible and in the hands of the owners of corporations? In a way, we live in a feudal society where those who have/run large corporations dictate everything to those who don't. The difference now is that it isn't very obvious.
I've felt manipulated by advertising and other media for a long time but until I took this course, I didn't really think about it too much. Reading the required essays made me think a lot more critically about the world at large. They also kick-started my brain. After I dropped out of college the first time, I became the perfect corporate tool. I worked for what I could never have chasing the impossible dream that TV said I wanted and needed. Going back to college made me realize that the dream is total BS. Why should I want what someone else wants? If I want something different, does that make me bad? HELL NO!
There is something better out there.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Thoughts on Bitchiness

It seems like the second someone posts a thread (on a chat forum or other online posting site) where it seems acceptable to be snarky (and dare I say, bitchy) several people come out of the woodwork who couldn't be bothered to post anything encouraging or intelligent anywhere else. This phenomenon is found in every online community on the planet. I think it is because everyone has a bit of pent up rage and saying things you would never say to someones face is way easier behind a screen.
Also, bitch begets bitch. A snark thread is the most likely candidate for snark replies.
That being said, bitch comes in all sizes and colors. I think the bitch factor goes up with the overwhelming sense of entitlement some people seem to have.
No matter where the bitch flag came from, name calling doesn't do anything to help the situation nor does it work towards improving your life or the lives of others.
Bitching and complaining is easy. Kindness and encouragement should be just as easy but unfortunately kindness and encouragement aren't nearly as entertaining. No one started chanting "hug hug hug" in the school yard, at least not that I've seen. There aren't any complement or cuddling competitions either. For the longest time (maybe since the beginning of human consciousness), conflict has been a source of entertainment. Can humanity as a species work past that? I hope so.