Tag Archives: consumerism

Back to school. Mixed emotions on that count.

19 Jan

You’ll be able to tell that I’m back at school because of this post. It’s a continuation of something I was marinating on over the break after a conversation with someone who will remain nameless to protect his honor. We were talking about what we were going to do after school, and I asked him if he still wanted to pursue the field he’d mentioned previously. This field had to do with illegal immigration. I’ve been hoping he’d come around, stop listening to Rush Limbaugh, and join the sane, but no. He came back with “that’s where I’m still conservative!” and proceeded to talk about how illegal immigrants “take advantage” of this country because they don’t pay taxes blah, blah, blah.

And, you see, when people start talking like this I lapse back into this problem. Mainly, I become so confused by their thought process that I cannot form sentences that make any sense further than, “I can’t believe you!” My thought process about this issue goes something like this: How can you possibly accuse a community of taking advantage of the system when they are the most vulnerable and precarious population in the nation? They are the most exploited, and you are accusing them of exploiting you? Are you kidding me right now? Of all the people you could be pissed at, all of the groups you could blame, you pick them. The ones without rights. Seriously? And what completely baffles me is that these same people who say that illegal immigrants are taking advantage of the United States by not paying taxes or whatever are the exact people who don’t want to tax the most wealthy Americans. Really? Are you kidding me? You want to take out all of your anger and fear on this population, you want to build a wall?

As you can see, I lose all capacity to have a conversation and devolve into accusing them of being stupid/ignorant/unfeeling/soulless. This doesn’t accomplish anything, because I know this dude personally and I know he isn’t stupid/ignorant/unfeeling/soulless. We’re actually pretty good friends. So here’s where I realize that I can’t even understand their thought processes, because where I operate from a sense of social justice and human rights and almost always come down on the side of those who have the least and are the most exploited, other people think about things like taxes. Granted, their thoughts on taxes are (most likely) baseless, I mean look at their source, but still, their arguments are based on things like economics instead of basic human dignity. So I’m starting to realize that, if I ever want to change any minds, I have to change my own. If I can’t communicate in a language they understand, we’ll just sit and yell at each other forever while real, valid, living people are being overlooked in a political battle that directly effects them.

This brings me to class today. We’re talking about poverty and inequality, and I’m really excited because my teacher is an economist. She’s basically a badass. Yes, she actually is. She connects economics and human rights/social justice/grassroots activism all the time. It’s her job! I am pretty positive that if anyone can help me understand how to have the economics conversation, it’s her. Then we watch this documentary that everyone should see called LifeĀ and Debt. It’s about Jamaica, the IMF, the World Bank, and the living conditions of the people on the island. It also implicates tourists who come to the island and ignore the devastation, just like I’ve done on cruises to Mexico. Then, I had one of those moments.

By “those moments” I mean that second where… well, you know that saying “you can’t see the forest for the trees”? Well, its like you’ve been looking, staring, really concentrating on this one tree, or this one patch of trees, or whatever, and then suddenly you zoom back. Not just to the forest, but to the whole region. The entire living planet ecosystem. Just zoom straight out. And from far away, you can see all of the different forests. You know, the Forest of Poverty, the Forest of Climate Change, all of those forests. And suddenly from your zoomed out position, you channel The Doctor. Well, on a small scale. One of The Doctor’s things is that he’s aware of all of time happening at once. So here you are, staring at all of the forests, but you can also see forward and backward in history. So, now, you have the Forest of Climate Change, the Forest of Poverty, etc, and all around them, acting on them, you see things like Colonlialism and Racism and Capitalism and Greed. And suddenly you’re like, whoa, I thought all of these were separate forests and forces, but really they’re all here. I’m just saying, I had a moment in class where my brain zoomed back. The farmers in Jamaica can’t sell their produce in local grocery stores, because they can’t compete with the prices of the imported goods from all of the countries they previously had trade barriers against until the IMF told them to take down the barriers and integrate. Of course, the taking down of trade barriers only applied to this poor country, and not the other countries with so much money they can subsidize their goods down to such a low price even with the cost of exporting it to Jamaica. And then you think about how much fuel and pollution comes from taking food from one place, processing it, packaging it, and shipping it from one country to another all around the world. And now you think, today, when we’re all so concerned about climate change and pollution and global warming and green industry, firms from rich countries are competing to export goods across the world?

Do you see what I mean? And then I feel like I’m just this little leaf, or something, floating on a current in the middle of all of this shit. It existed before I was a leaf, and all of the forces acting on me are so, so huge. I’m just being pulled along by this epically intricate and massive system of currents. And it’s just a little overwhelming.

But at least I’ve got The Doctor to keep me warm! He’s the best humanist ever. And sometimes you just need someone, even a fictional character, to tell you humans are good.

SOTP: “Chances Are” by Garrett Hedlund

In sisterhood and solidarity,

me

Tangled, Country Strong, and things

16 Jan

Its epic, isn't it?

Today I sold my car. The picture up there is from my last trip to Austin from Houston. I know I always talk about the sky in Texas and how its blue, but this is proof. I know that its not the last time I’ll make this drive, but it’s the last time I’ll make it for quite a while now that I am without wheels. Which brings me to things. While I was selling my car, I had this moment of doubt. Mainly: “can i live without a car?” And in the end, it came to the fact that a car is just a thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about things, because my parents are flipping our house. I know this means something in reality tv or real estate or both, but in this case I mean they are literally flipping the house: moving their room and the living room from downstairs to upstairs, and turning their room into a guest room. This means that my room is going to be their room, so I have to get all of my stuff packed before I leave. This then means that I’m throwing everything in boxes that I can’t take with me to New Jersey. I already went through my room this summer and threw out about four large trashbags of stuff that I no longer need, but there is still a shocking amount of crap hanging out in my room. It’s hard to go through years of your stuff and get rid of things that meant something to you at one time, but I’m working on it. I eventually had to adopt an attitude of “if I haven’t looked at/used/thought about this in the last year, there is no need to keep it.” Also, I am trying to think about how they are all just things, and how many things does a person really need? No matter how zen I try to be about it, its still hard to throw some of it out.

Now, on to my movie reviews!

Disney Does Rapunzel

the 50th animated movie, and not much has changed.

Oh, Tangled. What can I say? I went to see it with the hope that this would be the more feminist version of Rapunzel, judging from the trailers, and from what a couple friends had reported back. Let me just be the first to say, I was not impressed. I absolutely loved The Princess and the Frog, despite some of the racist stereotypes and such, because the music was great, the hand animation was wonderful, and it was much more feminist than an story ever before. Plus, it featured a woman of color. Awesome! Fast forward to Tangled, which features an entirely white cast of computer animated characters and songs that are sub par. It features Mandy Moore as the voice of Rapunzel. I have a special place in my heart for Mandy Moore, and I can’t quite explain why. Maybe its because she was awesome in Saved!, or perhaps because I totally loved Because I Said So. Whatever the reason, her success as an actress really made me happy. She does a great animated voice, and she’s still a great singer, but those songs were completely predictable and boring. And that’s just the beginning.

Within the first few minutes of the movie, after the stage is set, you discover that Rapunzel’s 18th birthday is coming up. Meaning: she is only seventeen. Then you meet the dashing Flynn Rider, bad thief gone good, whose body type and facial hair suggest he is in his late twenties. As soon as the two of them were in a room together, her plotting to get to the lanterns for her birthday, him to retrieve his stolen goods, I knew where it was going. I hoped, I prayed to the Disney Gods, and it something along the lines of “Oh, dear Disney Gods, please don’t let this man in his late twenties hook up with this teenager who he met when she was underage.” My prayers went unanswered, and I continued to cringe through a plot where the main focal point of the female character went from finding independence to chasing the man she loved. Gag. Me. With. A. Spoon. When the happy ending comes, as you know it will, I was content with the happy family portrait moment. But no. Disney wasn’t done. In the voice over that closes the film, Flynn Rider says, “I know what you’re all wondering.” Actually, I wasn’t wondering anything, and if I had been wondering something that wasn’t “How many more cliches can they fit in this movie?” it would have been “I wonder what that newfound family dynamic is like!”or, “I bet she makes an awesome queen!” But no. Flynn Rider knows what you’re wondering, and that is, “Did we ever get married?” It felt so completely unnecessary and contrived. There was no need to insert this idea of an unfinished story without the successful marriage of the two main characters into the minds of small children, yet again. But would it be a Disney movie without it? Overall, rent it if you have to babysit or don’t care about well-written, original songs and feminist storylines.

it'll make you want cowboy boots, a cowboy hat, and a horse

Now on to Country Strong, a movie I highly enjoyed. You have to know that my homesickness informed a lot of my desire to see this movie. In Jersey, almost no one likes country music. You better believe I couldn’t wait to sit and listen to some for two whole hours. All of the actors sing their own songs on the awesome soundtrack, and every single one did a great job in the movie. I was really impressed with Leighton Meester‘s twang and Garrett Hedlund‘s… everything. I already knew Gwyneth could act and sing, so I expected her to be great, and she was. Tim McGraw has, for me, established himself as an actor. The plot wasn’t incredibly surprising and certainly had some gendered stereotypes, but also dealt with issues I hadn’t expected to find in a movie about country stars, like mental illness. **insert spoiler alert here** the eventual decision of Leighton Meester’s character to leave her possibly awesome, though bubblegum country Barbie pop-filled, career behind to follow Garrett Hedlund into the “true” country lifestyle a la George Strait in Pure Country. If you can get past the romanticizing of country music, which I was in the perfect mood for, you will absolutely enjoy this movie. I can’t wait to buy the soundtrack and jam out.

And now, I leave you with this: the only man who can rock denim on denim.

where's mine?

in sisterhood and solidarity,

me