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This is my blog and I’ll theorize if I want to

 

 

This pictures says everything and more about Country Music in the 21th century, after Shania Twain, Jewel, Leann Rimes, and of course, Taylor Swift, after all the crossover frenzy, the “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” sung by every Carrie Bradshaw and her hipster buddies.

I do confess: I know nothing about country music other than, like most people I have the (good) fortune to come in contact with, the “crossover” pop singers I mentioned above. So this is more of a gut reaction, a musing-out-loud, upon seeing this picture and listening carefully to the lyrics. And of course, the # hashtag made me chuckle. I am still laughing.

If you want to wrest country music back from the sissiness, how much more could you have done than a song about trucks titled Truck Yeah!  What’s more, the music video includes all the tropes associated with Machismo: trucks (of course), men in boots on construction site, etc. None of them were carrying an iPhone though so I am not sure how they are going to tweet or update their Facebook status with #TruckYeah…

After listening to the song and watching the video multiple times, I cannot decide whether Mr. McGraw is singing it straight or tongue in cheek. Ok, he definitely does not mean for this song and the whole performance to be camp. (I wish) And he’s definitely serious about this anthem of trucks, Friday night football, Hillybilly proud.

 

 

I could imagine many of his male fans pumping their fists shouting, “Fuck yeah! We have been oppressed for far too long and it is time we bring swagger back, time we take Country back!” Still, I was chuckling throughout the video. It’s all kinds of awesome. For starters, it’s pretty infectious. By the end of the song, I want to run around singing Truck Yeah! like I’ve got some redneck blood in me.

I find the song and video amusing because I chose to read the whole thing ironically. In addition to the overtly heightened machismo, the socio-economic gap between the so-called “rednecks” that this song seemingly glorifies and seeks camaraderie with and Mr. McGraw the millionaire country star is a sad irony. I am trying not to be bothered by the underlying social mores that brought about this song at this juncture in time because over-thinking is a curse.

Truck yeah!

Below is the lyrics for Truck Yeah! So are you one of us?

Got Lil’ Wayne pumpin on my iPod
Pumpin on the subs in the back of my crew cab
Redneck rockin’ like a rockstar
Sling a lil mud off the back, we can do that
Friday night football, Saturday Last Call, Sunday Hallelujah
If you like it up loud and you’re hillbilly proud then you know what I’m talking about

Let me hear you say, Truck Yeah
Wanna get jacked up Yeah
Lets crank it on up Yeah
With a little bit of luck I can find me a girl with a Truck Yeah
We can love it on up Yeah
Till the sun comes up Yeah
If you think this life I love is a little too country
Truck Yeah

I party in the club in a honky tonk downtown
Yeah that’s where I like to hang out
Chillin’ in the back room
Hangin’ with my whole crew
Sippin’ on a cold brew, hey now!
Got a mixed up playlist, DJ play this
Wanna hear a country song
If you like it up loud and you’re hillbilly proud throw your hands up now
Let me hear you shout,

Truck Yeah
Wanna get jacked up Yeah
Lets crank it on up Yeah
With a little bit of luck I can find me a girl with a Truck Yeah
We can love it on up Yeah
Til the sun comes up Yeah
If you think this life I love is a little too country
Truck Yeah

Backwoods country, city Boy
It don’t matter who you are
Got a little fight, got a little love
Got a little redneck in your blood
Are you one of us?

Truck Yeah!
Wanna get jacked up Yeah
Lets crank it on up Yeah
With a little bit of luck I can find me a girl with a Truck Yeah
We can love it on up Yeah
Till the sun comes up Yeah
If you think this life I love is a little too country
You’re right on the money
Truck yeah!

 

 

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Why We Blog

July 29, 2012

in random

He was a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure way the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage.   George Orwell, 1984

 

Every once in a while, I have to pause and ask myself, “Why bother doing this? Why blog?” IF I am honest when I say, “I don’t really care if anybody reads these words,” why is keeping a journal not enough for me?

For starters, I have never succeeded in keeping a journal. I must have accumulated dozens of journals with scribbles only on the first few pages: my handwriting progressively became sloppier, and the word counts less, until … blank. Blank. Blank.

So am I really that narcissistic, as I like to accuse myself of – getting it out of the way before anybody else points this out.

This recurring self-reflexive questioning was put to an end when I came across this Time article, “Like to Brag on Facebook or Twitter? That’s Because Self-Disclosure Is like Eating and Sex, Says Study“. The title itself is self-explanatory.

Intriguingly, the researchers noted a distinction between types of self-disclosure: introspection, or privately thinking about oneself, compared with having the opportunity to share those thoughts with another human being. Again, as expected, while introspection was itself sufficient to light up brain regions associated with reward, the effects were “magnified” when participants believed their thoughts would be communicated to someone else.

 

In this other article, “Why We Talk About Ourselves: The Brain Likes It“, it was spelled out even more explicitly. Here is the paragraph that I have committed to memory as rebuttal against my imaginary accusers:

We love talking about ourselves, we really do — that’s what a group of Harvard neuroscientists found while testing the theory that we’re big on self-disclosure, anyway. In fact, say the scientists, we love self-disclosure so much because it tickles our core value centers in much the same way as “primary rewards” like food and sex.

The researchers noted that people particularly enjoyed self-disclosure if they knew other people were listening. When people were given a choice to share their responses with others or to keep them private, they gave up 25% of their potential earnings in order to broadcast the personal info. “[The] effects were magnified by knowledge that one’s thoughts would be communicated to another person, suggesting that individuals find opportunities to disclose their own thoughts to others to be especially rewarding,” says the study.

 

There you have it.

It is in our psychological make-up, part of the evolutionary outcome. How can you fight that?  In fact, more people should be doing this –

Blogging. It is good for the soul.

And since it is 100% fat free and at no risk of contracting STD, it is good for the body too.

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Tiger Moms. That’s all I hear/read about these past few days.

Ugh.

Yeah I hear you. But are you surprised that I need to talk about it?

In case you have not heard, the “Tiger Mom Controversy” refers to a WSJ article written by a Yale Law School professor, Amy Chua, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior?” In addition to the 6900+ comments on WSJ.com (and counting), the article (and the book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) has inspired (mostly out of anger and spite) numerous articles and discussions, and Chua was interviewed on NPR (and they took heat for that interview).

You can go and read about all that by googling. So much anger. It’s like Mommy War all over again. Perhaps this time we (i.e. SAHMs and Working Mothers) can all band together by hating one common enemy.

“At least we are NOT like that.”

“Yeah, High Five, sister!”

Or you can read the non-angry posts that do NOT dwell on whether her parenting style is right or wrong (or “evil” as so many commenters have declared without actually reading her book). Instead these posts pointed out a couple of interesting ways to look at this controversy:

Brilliant marketing! Amy Chua and her publisher are laughing all the way home. Cha ching cha ching. “Thumbs up to the writer”

This controversy provides opportunities for ourselves to discuss and examine our own parenting styles and philosophies. “Be A Better Parent Through Blogging”.

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Or, read a post by someone who has actually read the book — Gosh, what a novel concept, eh? Amy Chua: Tiger Mother without a Plan, and draw your own conclusion.

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Because I am a lazy blogger, I now hate Amy Chua with a passion, not because of her unattainable parenting style or the whole perpetuating the stereotype thing, but because I cannot stop thinking about it. I have drafted several completely different responses to this giant can of worms that she has opened, and I hate working on drafts. Drafts are for suckers who like to work hard, who practices piano or (or “AND”) violin two hours every day, who does everything to perfection.

Curse you, Amy Chua!

Ok. So below is my second reaction (and NOT the last) after I recovered from the initial, visceral reaction.

Disclaimer: This is one of the post-visceral reactions I’ve felt. I am conflicted. I have argued against myself and contradicted myself. In this post, I am telling one of my responses like it is. I will follow up with the rest because OH GOOD GRAVY my head hurts. I need to now go rub Tiger Balm on my temples and tummy.

I may just be jealous.

There. I said it.

I am not suggesting that I wish my children were better or different or somebody else; I swear on my life, I am very happy with and proud of their performances and accomplishments in everything that they are doing, including the failed attempt at learning Chinese. However, I will cop to the wild fantasy that my kids were somehow more obedient, better disciplined, less wise-ass-y, and more “convenient” when I want to go to a fancy restaurant with real napkins and nice crystals. A girl can dream, right?

I may just be jealous because Amy Chua’s children seem to have it made: They are not teen moms. They don’t do drugs. They are not bums. They did not turn Goth or Punk or Neo-Nazi. They did not rebel. They did not run away and end up turning tricks. They did not turn into Valley Girls either. (Yes, as you can see, my expectations are fairly low…)  They did not get with the wrong crowd. They are on their way to prestigious universities and presumably will end up with great jobs, and so on and so forth. I can see their bright futures, and as a mother, that is what I am worried about: my kids’ futures.

Raise your hand if your child’s class is full of the so-called Asian prodigies.

Raise your hand if you ever shake your head or wince at the prevalence of Asian-sounding names on the list of winners at Spelling Bees, Academic competitions, Lego Leagues, Science Fairs, concerts, recitals, and what not.

Raise your hand if you ever try to dismiss the conclusion that Asian cultures put a lot more emphasis on academic excellence by saying, “But it is NOT the American way, and maybe THESE people should become more American now that they are in America.”

Raise your hand if you comfort yourself by thinking, “But colleges look at MORE THAN just SAT scores. You need to be well-rounded.”

Raise your hand if you ever think to yourself, “But they suck at sports.”

Here is a Chinese American raised in “The Chinese Way” (different from the way I was raised and I am 100% “authentic” Chinese — I use “authentic” with quotation marks and I can show you a chapter from my dissertation dissecting this word so don’t sling mud at me, yet) spelling it all out, for all her American readers (and by god, did she get readers or what because of this controversy!), sharing the Ancient Secret Chinese recipe with all of us, and we got all pissed at her.

Because the truth is difficult to hear.

The truth is not whether HER parenting style (or anybody else’s for that matter) is better.

The truth is… I am going out on a limb here… we feel anxiety for our children’s future because the way the world has been changing.

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Here is a theory:

Raise your hand if you are ever concerned, or even outraged, by the state of the teenagers.

Raise your hand if, even though you do not believe in hovering or overprotecting, you still sometimes wonder whether what you are doing with your children is enough to prevent them from going astray.

Raise your hand if you are not sure what the correct balance is between discipline and freedom, between rules and independence.

Raise your hand if you ever worry about your kids not being able to get a job when they grow up because of the fierce competition. Not just in the U.S., but from all over the world.

Raise your hand if you are not sure about the outsourcing trend, worried about people in China and India taking the jobs away.

Raise your hand if you are convinced that social security is going to disappear by the time you retire.

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By now many have heard and probably been shaken by the much cited line from the documentary Waiting for Superman:

Out of 30 Industrialized Nations, our country’s children rank 25th in Math, 21st in Science & falling behind in every other category. The only thing our children seem to be ranked number 1. in is confidence.

Coupling that with the revelation and the fear that China is US’ biggest foreign creditor, with roughly $900 billion in Treasury Securities, and $1 trillion if you include Hong Kong. (Don’t think there is a mass hysteria over the “imminent” Chinese threat? Remember the “Chinese Professor” political ad running last October?)

I suspect what we have observed in the disproportionate outcry against Amy Chua’s short article is a perfect storm.

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