Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl 2013- Commercial

Following last night's Super Bowl everyone cannot stop talking about the Dodge Ram "God made a farmer" commercial. I agree, it was among my favorites and one of the better commercials lately. But I can't stop thinking about WHY we all love it, and then, because I'm in a bit of a minor depressive and annoyed state in my personal life, HOW the WHY annoys me.

You know why we all love it? Because it reminds us of what America is supposed to be. It calls up the original concept of working hard, long hours with little reward and being an all- American. Paul Harvey's delivery of the commercial reminded us of the center of the American dream, which is the one thing we all agree with- we all accept and we all are struggling to hold on to. We love the commercial because it made us feel something we already think we feel. That it's actually possible to be a good person, work hard and have a full life as an American citizen. I get it. I felt it too. (though, be serious, didn't you also feel something for the Budweiser commercial when the horse came running back -- *tear* if you didn't you have no soul.. but I digress..)

So you are wondering, if she agrees with us, we all love the commercial, and for the same reason and it's a great reason then why would it annoy her. Well..

It's not true.

We've been fed the idea of the American dream based on an outdated economic system that no longer exists. We've been brought up to believe in the American way of life, and that hard work will lead you to a fuller, more rewarding life. We've been sold on this concept of success based on the past, and the temptation of the "successful" celebrities we have dangled in front of us all the time. If Oprah can overcome adversity so can I.

But that is not the world we live in any longer. I am annoyed that there is yet another marketing attempt (even though its genius and I loved it) to call up our American dream feelings to SELL US SOMETHING. That's all. The thing is, we've already bought it. We've already fallen for the greatest sales pitch of all time- all Dodge did was repeat it. And it worked.

We don't live full lives. We work at jobs we mostly can't stand in order to have money to spend on things we don't need. And our measure of success is basically how many useless things you own. We don't work on things for the fulfillment of ourselves and the enrichment of our lives- instead we need money to eat and live, and fancy name brands to show your neighbor how much better you are at selling your soul than they are.

I admit, I have never liked this- I have always felt like something was missing or just WRONG about the way I have been living- we all have been living. Compartmentalizing our lives between work and our "real" life is sad and destructive to who we are as humanity. Need proof?

Look at today's youth. They have very little understanding of history, no respect for adults or anything that isn't new, and preferably digital. Young children now depend on being entertained by screens, young adults have no use for historical knowledge, or figuring out what they are talented in- instead they are focused on being successful in the sense that they find the best paying (probably banking) job to fill their lives. We are all disconnected from people. We spend our days on the internet and phone- hardly ever venturing out to engage in actual communication with others- strangers.

Personally- the veil has been lifted. I don't buy it any more. The America we all believe in is not the same one that currently exists.

But it could.

Perhaps influenced by the program Newsroom, or my studies in situationist theory, but I do believe there is another way.

And, that is the reason I liked the same Dodge commercial.

What I heard was what could be. If we all made a decision to go back to what makes each of us unique and who we are as individuals. What are you good at? What do you love? What makes you feel fulfilled?  If we each do those things-we have a better chance at actual success.

Thing is- it's hard.

How do I know? Because I'm doing it. I AM a "farmer". I am working hard on what I love, and what gives back to my community. I am struggling every day, and fighting through tears and set backs and doubts to reach the goal of having a fulfilling life with my family. I'm nursing my project with care and pounding the pavement to make sure things get done. My 40 hour work week ends early on and I continue. I am sacrificing the life I had to work harder, and longer. But it is worth it. I will succeed. I already am.

( go here for more info on what I'm doing...

What's funny, all of you- who love that commercial so damn much- think I'm insane. Go figure.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leaps & Bounds: The Truth About Bullies (from a Non-Parent)

Happy Leap Year Kiddos. Hope you enjoy this fantastic extra day of 2012!

This year bullying has continued to be a focal point among parents, media outlets, schools and general population folks like myself, and therefore I believe it is virtually impossible not to have an opinion on the matter. It is everywhere- we are told of the dangers of bullying constantly during news programs and popular television shows, in fact, I don't think anyone can say that they do not know someone who is being or has been bullied or is or has been a bully. It is an ongoing, common problem which has been brought to the forefront of public concern recently. Thus, of course, I have an opinion. Several in fact, and I look at this in a variety of ways.

1. Being Bullied.   As a young girl I was bullied, regularly. This became worse when I moved (in fifth grade) to a new school district. I was smaller in stature than most of my classmates, was (VERY) late in maturing and was slightly younger than most of my age group. Moving to a new school was hard. I was constantly harassed in the neighborhood by "popular" boys who tormented me on a daily basis with unrealistically mean comments, inappropriate contact and horrible nicknames. And, teenage girls are even worse. Those I called my friends would suddenly turn their backs on me, ridicule me in groups and force me to spend many "breaks" crying in the girls restroom. And, the abuse I had to endure on the school bus was unbearable. I distinctly remember one instance when a girl who regularly bullied me shoved me against the window and screamed in my face. I still have no idea what that was about. Being a child in this situations is very difficult. Having to deal with this on a constant basis, the fear, the rejection and the self-hating that results from this is far too much for a young developing mind to handle. It is horrible and as a young teenager, I felt alienated, "no one understood me" and I hated my existence.

But as an adult I have realized that all of that was a part of my growing up. Almost everyone I know now has had a similar experience. And, I highly doubt that my "bullies" even really knew (or remember) that they were my bullies. In fact, the two I mentioned above, are both my Facebook friends whose postings I review regularly and who I greatly respect for becoming successful, talented adults. Having long since "forgiven" them of any wrong doing as a result of the fact that bullying is just a part of life.

....Ah, but the Television chimes in-- Teenage Suicide has increased, Bullying is a larger problem now than when you were a child....

2. Teenage Suicide. Here's the thing that no one wants to hear about, Teenage Suicide has been happening since the history of teenagers. As a 30-something adult, I guarantee when you were in high school, you heard about someone committing suicide, or you threatened to do so. Teenagers are dealing with a vast amount of new emotions that they cannot control yet-- as a result some reach this terrible point. I dont believe bullying itself has led to an increase in suicides. The problem is not teens, its technology.

3. The Technology "Advantage" The difference between when I was bullied and now, is that once I got off the bus, it was over for that day. My nicknames would spread around the school slowly- where as now, with the advent of technology such as Facebook, Twitter and texting, our technology allows our bullies to CONSTANTLY attack, and in a public forum no less. While I am all for the advance of technology- maybe we should consider the results of our actions here. It's not the bullies that have changed, it's the format in which they operate. As we become a society more and more focused on pretend relationships, in which we convince ourselves that we are more connected when in reality we are more separated, (don't believe me? right now, we are "connected" as you read this, but in reality, you are alone on your computer just as I was alone when I typed this) our children will become more advanced in this form of communication-- inevitably some bad things will come with it, like pornography and general meanness.

4. The School is Responsible Seriously? In speaking with my mother, a public school teacher in the state of Ohio, she mentioned that recently it has been declared that the school district is responsible for any bullying that takes place OUTSIDE of school to one of their students. I cannot wrap my mind around this one. How can the school be responsible? What can they do? While I agree that the school should be aware of bullying that is taking place inside the school during school hours, I do not grasp how they can possibly be aware of every instance of bullying outside of school and what they could possibly do about it. It is not the School who should be responsible. (I feel like I say this about a lot of things) IT'S THE PARENTS!

And let me tell you, parents-- those of you who are actually DOING SOMETHING for your child regarding bullying, I stand behind you and respect your ability to make the best decisions for your child, his or her life and well-being. The problem is not with those who are standing up and doing something, the problem (as usual) is the massive amounts of parents who do nothing. They don't teach their children how to properly deal with being bullied, or how to treat others so that they do not become the bully. As a former school administrator, I have to say, the number one problem is the parents, either they do not listen, do not care or do not take any action- insisting that the school should be responsible. -- give me a break.

5. Prime Time Television Please give me back my Glee and my New Girl free of bullying episodes. I get that it is a hot topic right now, but for the love of everything holy, continually making episodes about the topic further perpetuates the problem. Either kids prone to be bullies see the "bad" kids on television and think it's cool to do so, and end up involved in some school shooting, or they over analyze themselves, begin to think of themselves as monsters and end up in some school shooting, or the bullied kids believe their lives are so horrible that they end up in some school shooting or suicide. Enough is enough- plus my selfish side misses watching hilarious and fun television. This bully topic is getting old and depressing.

I just think that we ALL should be focused on promoting positive self awareness in our children. There is enough out there in the world to screw them up in a plethora of ways. Let's back off this bullying craze, focus on teaching our children how to communicate with others, have a positive self image and be strong enough in the face of adversity to stand up for themselves. -- basically, I think it's the responsibility of the ADULTS in this scenario to get it together, stop being so sensitive, stop shifting the blame and give our children the tools to survive this crazy world.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Midnight in Paris

I finally got around to watching Midnight in Paris. Why I didn't do it sooner, I don't know. It was fantastic-- but this could be my personal bias towards: Owen Wilson, Paris, the concept of living in an earlier time period and well known authors/artists.

So let's start with the first, Owen Wilson. Why do I have a personal bias towards him-- simple. Bottle Rocket. The 1996 Wes Anderson film starring Owen as Dignon. Dignon's character is perfect. Wilson's brother Luke is also in this film, and as a result I also have a strong bias towards him as well. But my love of the Wilson brothers has continued for many years-- largely in part to my corresponding love of Wes Anderson. (meanwhile, if you have somehow been living completely unconnected with reality for several years and have missed ANY of the Wes Anderson films-- please remedy that very serious problem immediately). As my love for Owen's characters has grown, it is no real surprise that Midnight in Paris is high on the list of likes.

Secondly, let's review this situation with Paris. I went there once-- a long time ago. There are two places in the world that I have visited thus far in which I was left with such a distinct, lasting impression that I will forever hold these places in my heart. One was Paris, the other Chicago-- where I now live. There is something about both of these cities that captured my heart immediately. The architecture, the history and the abundance of art, and the artistic, intellectual lifestyle wooed me from the moment I set foot in either city. Paris- the home of the Louvre- arguably the most famous and most impressive collection of art in the world. How could I not love Paris-- historically the epicenter of literature, art and political intellectual free-thinkers for decades. Each time I think of Paris I see myself in an earlier time, short hair, black turtleneck (yes, I realize that could be today) with a cigarette in one hand (it's the 40's-50's smoking isn't dangerous yet), at a coffee shop debating the finer points of some underground group or novel. Of course I don't live in these times, but rather consider them a moment in which life held a certain validity that we just don't have (especially in America) any longer-- but that brings me to the point of Midnight in Paris.

Throughout the film, Wilson's character is struck by the concept of living in Paris in the 1920's, the romantic view that life in another, past time period is somehow better. He is transported through time to the 1920's and beyond, finally living in a time he identifies with. Of course the moral of the story is that every intellectual artist of any time feels this way and as such we must all realize that each time in which we live is precious, it's just difficult to recognize it, especially when as artists we are all caught up in the past, reading and studying the past writers, and artists.

Thus, the final bias. Well known authors and artists. Look, you throw F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Picasso in a film-- I'm probably going to like it, if for nothing other than the mention of their names. But also manage to throw in their personalities and quotes AND add Dali, T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Josephine Baker and Matisse-- and you've got my attention.

Overall, it's a great one. Loved it. And, check out what others have to say:

NY Times-- a historical view

 The Atlantic-- a cultural cheat sheet

Let's face it, this film had everything I would fall for going for it. Plus, the added bonus of figuring out that even though I am a literature masters candidate at the prestigious Northwestern University, I am not overly pedantic. --Whew!
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