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Random Randomness

January 16, 2013

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I confess the reason why I took to Twitter so passionately was because I am the ultimate “idea man”. You know, like those people that go in front of movie studios execs to pitch movie ideas? (I learned of the movie industry from TV shows so YMMV) I have lots of one-liner ideas but that is the extent of my “genius”. Every day I walk through life making running commentaries on people I see, things I observe, news I hear, and [invisible] thought bubbles that pop up over my head. Not to mention the memes and quotes that make me laugh as I rapidly scroll through Facebook streams on my phone.

Oh, I should write about THAT.

I’d open my laptop, jotting a couple of lines down, and immediately running out of steam.

Dead. Nothing. Void. Hollow caverns echoing with the witty one-liners.

“There should never be a BUT following a true apology. Lance Armstrong apologizes like my husband.”

Manti Te’o would have stood out like a sore thumb in NFL since he’d probably be the most faithful and gentlemanly boyfriend amongst all the NFL players.”

“Frankly I could care less that he lied. I am more concerned about the culture that forced Manti Te’o to fabricate a girlfriend who died of a [fake] tragic death.”

Echo. Echo. Echo.

 

I hope you will forgive me for the mental purge here. My brains are hurting with all the echo. Ok, smart ass. I know you can’t really get rid of echo by “purging” them. It’s just a figure of speech though I am definitely mixing analogies here.

 

I am sitting inside the train station again on a Saturday morning, waiting for Mr. Monk, my 10-year-old boy, to get out of the weekly religious class run by a Catholic Church that more than one Catholics have told me is TOO conservative even for them. There are reasons we are keeping him there and I will not get into them. Suffice it to say that my sons and I have had a lot of great discussions and I hope, we are “training” them to be critical thinkers.

What don’t kill you will only make you stronger.

 

What does it say about me that I love being in a crowd of strangers and feeling alive amongst the hustle and bustle? Invisible yet alive. This is the kind of crowd different from say, going to a conference or a party. There is no pressure, no obligation, no anticipation to socialize with each other. And absolutely no networking. I ABHOR the concept of “networking” by the way. I’d rather die. There I said it. Probably why I will never get ahead on the career ladder. I wish for my kids super-duper Google-Fiber-grade networking capability (ha ha I slay me). That’s all that matters nowadays isn’t it no matter what kind of job you are holding?

 

Got my new Kindle Paperwhite this week. I could not shut up about it, I know. I am sorry, ok? Leading to the moment before Marvin arrived (yes, I named my Kindle Marvin. 2 points if you guess Marvin who?) I had been restless, full of anticipation. I have never felt such excitement since… I can’t remember really. I lead a pathetic existence, yes. Now I curl up with Marvin in bed in the dark, caressing his comfortingly textured, paradoxically smooth skin (and promptly fall asleep. I like the concept of reading though). In the recess of my consciousness however I cry, “Traitor!” indignant for my deep love of rubbing my fingers with a book page in between, feeling the heft of somebody else’s words and thoughts in my palm.

Mr. Monk inherited the ex-Marvin now named Tardis. “Bigger on the inside”, get it? 10% into The Hobbit, he exclaimed, “I love Kindle!” he who previously had adamantly been on an anti-electronic-book tirade. “It is just so amazing. It’s like a book but more awe…” I held my tongue that wanted to argue as he curled up in bed with Tardis, so absorbed by what was happening in The Hobbit that he did not even bother to finish his sentence.

 

Facebook introduced GRAPH SEARCH this week. To me it boiled down to one thing: Discoverability. They are not changing their privacy policies per se and you continue to keep your privacy settings. The biggest (only?) difference now is that we can no longer afford to mindlessly LIKE or comment. Your friends will now see what you are liking and commenting on on their streams. We need to watch for WHAT we are liking, and if you are Interneting at work, WHEN you are liking because obviously when you are LIKING you are not WORKING.

I am not liking this.

 

A friend of mine noticed that I LIKED this article:

I Can’t Stop Looking at These South Korean Women Who’ve Had Plastic Surgery (thank goodness it is not something I’d be ashamed of when caught liking) and shared a piece of wisdom from Tina Fey with me. Of course a long tirade swirled inside my head that would have become an awesome blog post were I able to form cohesive sentences and string them together logically into paragraphs. Instead, Imma taking the easy way out. Ctrl C. Ctrl V. SHARE.

 Tina Fey

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Alas nowadays it seems that the eye of the beholder is an one-eye monster, (ok, NOT that one-eye monster), with its narrow, single-minded vision towards “What sells”, deciding what men want, and therefore dictating what women want (because we all want to become what men want, and yes, the assumption/implicit acceptance of heterosexual hegemony is with us. We cannot deny it)

The eye of the beholder is also imbued with the ruthless power of PhotoShop…

Behold this:

 

I don’t even…

Ugh.

 

Every once in a while someone would say something extremely stupid (MORE stupid than what is deemed as “the way the world works”, I should add), and it would rile us up. We’d rally around the targeted, start a movement, hug each other, decide that we should support one another because we are all in this together.

The latest is the brouhaha over a pro-anorexia (I paused when I saw the term “Pro-anorexia”. Anorexia is a life style choice now?!) blog’s scathing, mean-spirited attack on Kate Upton. As a result, the Internet (aka the world) came together showering Ms. Upton with encouragement and support, and by extension, the entire super model community. It’s been getting so much attention that finally when you type in “kate” in Google Search, the first suggested search term is not Kate Middleton. (Speaking of HRH, the news media is now obsessed with her being too thin, even too thin to have a baby. Thought you may appreciate the Schizophrenia here).

 

I was going to end on a cynical, pessimistic note per my MO, waiting for this particular cycle to end and we all go back to our merry old ways. Everything’s the same. Always. But this time around there seems to be something different in the air… A group of teens started petitions, staged protests and mock runway shows outside the offices of popular teen magazines, Seventeen and Teen Vogue. Since telling their peers to simply not read the garbage is not an option, these awesome young feminists started a movement to demand that these magazines stop The PhotoShopping Epidemic. (Of course, initially, both magazines staunchly denied the practice of altering the photographs.)  They confronted the modern-day taste makers publicly and asked them to “stop altering natural bodies and faces so that real girls can be the new standard of beauty.”

Just say no to Photoshop.

How hard could it be, Madison Avenue?

Perhaps it is time (and I know we’ve said this many times in the past, but we need to repeat it over and over because people are forgetful) that we take the gaze back. Forget about the stupid beholder.

You be the judge. You.

 

ETA: This is the reason why I write less and less here – I can never finish what I start. As I was brushing my hair this morning – it is a new thing for me nowadays now that I have “long” hair, it hit me that what I said as a conclusion above was kind of bullshit. Beauty exists because there is someone else other than ourselves that would be seeing us, no? If I truly, honestly do not care about the gaze, then the concept of beauty has no meaning. It is the “if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it” thing, isn’t it?

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I suspect that you have been seeing this picture popping up on your Facebook and/or Twitter stream this week. I did. Like you, I had a visceral response to it.

FUCK YEAH!

Was exactly what I said to the monitor as I responded to the plea on Facebook “This was an ad made by bodyshop. But Barbie INC. found out about it and now it’s banned. Repost if you think this ad deserves to be seen,” and hit the SHARE button before I could say “Happy National Donut Day!”

Then my inner Cyber Sleuth / Internet Meme Historian took over. “I wonder whether this is yet another hoax?” Ok. Fine. It was also my inner cynic’s doing. I googled it.

Good news (or is it in fact bad news?) : This is for realz. The Body Shop did wage such a brilliant war against The Barbie.

Bad news (or does it really matter?) : It was from 1998.

The late Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, wrote in 2001:

In 1998, The Body Shop debuted its self-esteem campaign, featuring the generously proportioned doll we dubbed “Ruby.” … …

Ruby was a fun idea, but she carried a serious message. She was intended to challenge stereotypes of beauty and counter the pervasive influence of the cosmetics industry, of which we understood we were a part. Perhaps more than we had even hoped, Ruby kick-started a worldwide debate about body image and self-esteem.

But Ruby was not universally loved. In the United States, the toy company Mattel sent us a cease-and-desist order, demanding we pull the images of Ruby from American shop windows. Their reason: Ruby was making Barbie look bad, presumably by mocking the plastic twig-like bestseller (Barbie dolls sell at a rate of two per second; it’s hard to see how our Ruby could have done any meaningful damage.) I was ecstatic that Mattel thought Ruby was insulting to Barbie — the idea of one inanimate piece of molded plastic hurting another’s feelings was absolutely mind-blowing.

In 2002, Ms. Roddick again wrote about Ruby when the Danish pop band Aqua was sued by Mattel for their song “Barbie Girl”. In the same post, she also mentioned how an American artist, Tom Forsythe, had been engaged in lengthy legal battle against Mattel when Mattel sued him for his photographic project “Food Chain Barbie“. (You’d be happy to know that in 2004, after five years and millions of dollars in legal expenses, Mattel was ordered by court to pay $1.8 million in legal fees for Mr. Forsythe.)

Googling also led me to believe that every year or so, this poster of daring and clever protest by The Body Shop would resurface to the Internet’s attention but then the buzz would die down as fast as it started. For example, this article in Mother Jones from 2007.

It seems that more and more people are being outraged on Twitter and Facebook asking people, “It is banned by Mattel. OMG! RETWEET IF YOU WANT THIS POSTER TO BE SEEN!” It has caught on like a bad rumor. (It has now appeared on BuzzFeed with no historical context).

At first I wanted to “set the record straight” by shouting from the mountain top: This was from 1998, people. Case closed!

Then I thought about what Ms. Roddick wrote:

It makes me angry, not only because it is a male-dominated industry built on creating needs that don’t exist, but because it seems to have decided that it needs to make women unhappy about their appearances. It plays on self-doubt and insecurity about image and ageing by projecting impossible ideals of youth and beauty.

Things have not changed much since 1998 when the world first met Ruby. And yes, the world needs to be reminded of Ruby once in a while. We are a forgetful people with short attention spans which seem to get shorter with each new generation.

Ruby, who still watches us from posters throughout The Body Shop’s offices, won’t let us forget.                                     — Dame Anita Roddick

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I just have one question…

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