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Once you realize what a joke everything is being the comedian is the only thing that makes sense

What makes reality real?

March 24, 2012

in random

I have not watched the new TV show Awake on NBC. I understand the story is about a police detective who “woke” up from a car accident and realized that he’s caught in two realities, or two dreams, or rather one reality + one dream. In one half of his life, his son died, whereas in the other half of his life, his wife. In order to keep both of his loved ones “alive”, he decided to keep living this dual existence, ignoring the clues threatening to expose one half as “fake”.

I am scared to watch it…

I’ve had realistic, vivid nightmares in which I kept on telling myself, “No, it could not be. This has got to be a dream. Wake up! Wake up!” but I could not wake up. Fear would quickly settle in as I realized (erroneously) that this was not a dream. I would cry out from the pang of despair, with real tears, in from my dream. Often the warm tears would startle me and I would wake up, completely disoriented. “It is a dream after all.” My relief however would soon be overtaken by fear, fear that maybe next time, I would not be so lucky. Next time, I would not have anything to wake up to.

On the other hand, I have never had a dream so enticing that I do not want to leave it. (Probably a sign for lack of imagination?) Yet, on some days, when I am wishing for a do-over, I felt I could somehow understand why “the wife” in the movie Inception felt that way about the limbo she was in. (I will stop here lest this becomes a spoiler… even though I assume everybody that wants to see the movie has done so already…)

Remember Cypher (played by Joe Pantoliano) in The Matrix? He basically said “Fuck this. Put me back in the dream because reality sucks!”

If a dreamscape is so real that you cannot tell, what makes it any less real?

 

You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. — Morpheus in The Matrix

 

“Which pill would you take: red or blue?” I get a headache whenever I think about this.

 

You would laugh if I tell you what started this whole debate inside my head. It was the song Video Games by Lana Del Rey playing in the car on our way home after watching The Hunger Games. Now, a digression…

I am one of those empathetic people that cannot help imagining myself in the protagonist’s place when watching a film — That explains why I cannot watch horror movies — therefore I watched The Hunger Games with heightened alarm. The games would be a nightmare I do not want to be caught dead (or alive or sleeping) in. I KNOW, if I were there, I would be the first one to die. And that thought alone makes me want to hide a piece of cyanid in my tooth cavity. (I never claim to be brave so there).

Ok. I am back on track. (According to The Husband, this IS how I talk in real life…) When I heard Lana Del Rey’s voice, I remembered the big brouhaha over her flop on SNL. There was so much hype around her first ever TV/public appearance, on SNL nonetheless, people were shocked (or perhaps even outraged?) to find the Internet sensation could not deliver the promise in a live performance. It appeared that she could not sing nor did she know what to do with her hands. I cringed for the first few minutes and had to turn it off. It was painful to watch. I will admit: I liked her musical videos. I liked her voice in the videos. I still do. The videos were expertly produced, looking and sounding fantastic. The out-of-proportion backlash against her on the Internet (The Internet giveth, the Internet taketh) following her SNL appearance made me wonder out loud:

So what if the persona Lana Del Rey is fabricated? You liked her when you thought she was real, what changed now that you know her daddy is rich and her lips may have been undergone some cosmetic surgery, and that her voice may have been digitally enhanced during production? What if she had simply stayed a virtual Internet sensation a la the Japanese virtual pop star Hatsune Miku: a synthesized presence that, understood by all partaking in it to be “artificial”, yet fulfills something the audience yearns for that is not achievable in real life.

 

Here is Hatsune Miku in all her digital bits performing live to thousands of screaming fans. She is so real that she stars in commercials for Google Chrome in Japan, and of course, for Toyota.

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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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$5000 a Bullet

January 13, 2011

in this i believe

Many of us have seen Chris Rock’s standup routine on gun control, or as he called it “Bullet Control”, either on YouTube or in the movie Bowling for Columbine.

In the wake of the shooting in Arizona, there is a heated discussion surrounding the fact that 1) the gunman fired off a large capacity magazine with 30 bullets within seconds and ended up killing 6 people and wounding 14 (He was subdued when he paused to reload), and 2) the federal law that would have banned assault weapons and gun magazines that can hold more than 10 bullets expired in 2004 because the congress failed to renew it.

It just seems so poignant right now. From the mouth of a comedian.

(The transcript of Chris Rock’s routine is after the jump in case you cannot watch the video because 1) your phone sucks like mine, 2) you are being productive)

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And everybody’s talking about gun control. “Got to get rid of the guns.”

Fuck that. l like guns.

You got a gun, you don’t have to work out.

l ain’t working out. l ain’t jogging. You got pecs, l got Tecs.

Fuck that shit.

You don’t need no gun control.

You know what you need? We need some bullet control.

Man, we need to control the bullets, that’s right.

l think all bullets should cost 5000 dollars.

5000 dollars for a bullet. You know why?

‘Cause if a bullet costs 5000 dollars, there’d be no more innocent bystanders.

That’d be it.

Every time somebody gets shot, people will be like,

“Damn, he must have did something.”

“Shit, they put 50,000 dollars worth of bullets in his ass.”

And people would think before they killed somebody, if a bullet cost 5000 dollars.

“Man, l would blow your fucking head off, if l could afford it.”

“l’m gonna get me another job, l’m gonna start saving some money… and you’re a dead man.”

“You better hope l can’t get no bullets on layaway.”

So even if you get shot by a stray bullet, you won’t have to go to no doctor to get it taken out: whoever shot you would take their bullet back.

“l believe you got my property?!”

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