Sunday, November 25, 2007

Americans & Perfect Figure Syndome

Toward the end of Little Miss Sunshine, Richard Hoover; his son, Dwayne; and their brother-in-law, Frank; are sitting in the back row of the pageant, watching and waiting for their daughter, Olive, to compete. The other contestants are being called up one by one, and each contestant looks the same: they’re really pretty, really skinny, and really airbrushed to the point that the contestants may as well be applying for America‘s Next Top Model. Richard and Dwayne head backstage and plead with Sheryl, the mother, to take Olive out of the competition, for fear that the other parents will laugh and criticize her because she does not look like the other girls.

In this moment, the film’s biting satire emerges: our country’s obsession with image and the drive to become something we clearly are not. From the latest beauty product (s) being marketed in media ads, to watching slim and slender fashion models appear in billboards, magazines, television reality shows, etc, Americans are being fed a perception that if you look or dress a certain way, you’ll be considered beautiful.

So what do we do to try and obtain the perfect figure syndrome?

We ditch the clothes we wear for a trip to Abercrombie & Fitch and buy trendier outfits so we can fit in with the beltway crowd and maybe we won’t be considered a ‘loser’ or ‘un-cool’ for not looking like every other wannabe cast member from Laguna Beach.

Girls buy endless amounts of cosmetics and begin to do excruciating exercise activities just so they can keep their shallow boyfriends from cheating on them.

Regular looking teenage girls eat mother’s special short stack buttermilk pancakes with fresh berries, then up-chuck the meal in the girls bathroom before first period, sacrificing their health in order to resemble their idols, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.

We either eat limited meals or no meals at all, and then force ourselves to run five miles, just so we can fit into that cute size three dress for prom, or to drop a few pant sizes.

We buy diet pills that promise us that we’ll lose 40 pounds in 4 weeks because getting up, starting the car, and driving to a gym takes too much work. Plus, Days of our Lives is on and I, for one, won’t want to miss if Cassandra and Miguel get back together or not!

The sad part in our elusive quest for looking slimmer and younger is that some of us change not because we want to, but because we feel pressured to take extreme and drastic measures to please others. We are completely blinded to the simple fact that at the end of the day, we may look like some model or movie star on the outside, but we hate ourselves and we look and feel ugly inside.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Waterboarding Debate - Or How the Neocons Don't Give a Damn About International Law

In this installment on my blog, I must ask the following question: are Bush supporters really this ignorant or that brainwashed from drinking the Red State kool-aid? I know I shouldn't be surprised by the logic (or lack thereof) seeping from the hardcore fringe right, but when it comes to the issue of defending waterboarding because a Bush crony said that it's not torture (if a Bush crony says it, then it must be considered true!), I just scratch my head in total amazement over how these fucking morons could defend and endorse such a tactic.

But, waterboarding is not torture, and I have no idea why Democrats want terrorists to be coddled, not interrogated.
-Matt Margolis

Uh, Matt, according to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, Human Right Watch, and the U.S. Department of State, it is.
From the UN Convention Against Torture:

Article 2
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

From Human Rights Watch:

The Convention Against Torture prohibits practices that constitute the intentional infliction of “severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental.” The federal torture statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2340A, similarly prohibits acts outside the United States that are specifically intended to cause “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.”

Waterboarding is torture. It causes severe physical suffering in the form of reflexive choking, gagging, and the feeling of suffocation. It may cause severe pain in some cases. If uninterrupted, waterboarding will cause death by suffocation. It is also foreseeable that waterboarding, by producing an experience of drowning, will cause severe mental pain and suffering. The technique is a form of mock execution by suffocation with water. The process incapacitates the victim from drawing breath, and causes panic, distress, and terror of imminent death. Many victims of waterboarding suffer prolonged mental harm for years and even decades afterward.

Waterboarding, when used against people captured in the context of war, may also amount to a war crime as defined under the federal war crimes statute 18 U.S.C. § 2441, which criminalizes grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions (in international armed conflicts), and violations of Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions (in non-international armed conflicts). Waterboarding is also an assault, and thus violates the federal assault statute, 18 U.S.C. § 113, when it occurs in the “special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States,” a jurisdictional area which includes government installations overseas. In cases involving the U.S. armed forces, waterboarding also amounts to assault, and cruelty and maltreatment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Under the laws of the land, U.S. personnel who order or take part in waterboading are committing criminal acts—torture, assault, and war crimes—which are punishable as felony offenses.

Get that, Matt? Not only is considered torture, but it it also considered illegal under international law.......but hey, when has a little thing like the law stopped your hero Bush and his gang of thugs from getting what they want?

For a gang of so-called Christian Conservatives, they sure aren't conducting themselves in a Christian manner.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The 'War on G.I. Joe' - another fictitious display of outrage from the right-wing

First it was the phony 'War on Christmas' baloney, courtesy of media blowhard Bill O'Reilly.
Then came the Brokeback Mountain controversy from the Christain Right and the right-wing shock jocks.
Last year, there was the Superman Returns saga over how the Man of Steel was now being portrayed as an international figure instead of an American one.
And just last week, O'Reilly was bent out of shape over J.K. Rowing outing Albus Dumbledore of the Harry Potter book series as a homosexual.
And now, the new pseudo outrage the right-wingers are concerning themselves with is Paramount's decision to give the action-figure G.I. Joe a whole new look for the silver screen.
Hollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line, Joe's -- well, "G.I." -- identity needs to be replaced by membership in an "international force based in Brussels." The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is considering replacing our "real American hero" with "Action Man," member of an "international operations team."

Paramount will simply turn Joe's name into an acronym.

The show biz newspaper Variety reports: "G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer."

Well, thank goodness the villain -- no need to offend anyone by making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like Scottie on "Star Trek" are still OK -- is a double-crossing arms dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil.

Yes. The right wingers are outraged about the equivalent of a male Barbie Doll getting a new face lift for the big-screen adaptation. And, as expected, the travesty reached the ears of the rabid, daydreaming Bush fanatics at Blogs for, and its crackpot editor, Mark Noonan.
For crying out loud - "GI Joe" is as American as baseball and apple the people at Paramount really think the kiddies want stories of Euro-weenies rather than real American fighting men and women? With a wealth of new-minted heros in Iraq to be used to educate and inspire a new generation of American youth, Hollywood wants to opt for a version of the UN's blue helmeted international jokes...

Wrong, Noonan. Hollywood wants to make a bucket load of money, both domestically and globally.