Saturday, April 30, 2011

"...Scratch A Birther...Find A Buzzkill..."

Politics, by its nature, is a wordy business.

There are moments, though, when verbosity is superfluous.

And it comes down to a bumper sticker.

To wit:

Regardless of belief, creed, value system and/or political affiliation, no reasonable person could argue against the idea that one unwritten rule of participation in the political process is the raising of the level of debate on the issues that confront us as a nation.

Simply put, we should demand from those who would offer themselves to our service that they do, in fact, follow that rule.

In that spirit, Donald Trump, Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, et al, deserve neither our time nor consideration as serious candidates for office.

Because regardless of belief, creed, value system and/or political affiliation, no reasonable person can argue that those citizens, with their words and actions, raise that aforementioned level.

No one can rightly suggest that these citizens do not have the right to express their opinions.

But, those who would ask for our trust and our vote should exhibit a passionate desire, not to mention ability, to lift us all to a higher place.

As opposed to exhibiting that same passion and ability in merely putting others down.

Politics, by its nature, is a wordy business.

There are moments, though, when verbosity is superfluous.

And it comes down to a bumper sticker.

"Inspire....or Retire..."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"Shades of Gray, Schmades of Gray....Some Things Are Simply Black and White..."

Racism, any reasonable person would be unable to dispute, is anethema.

At the same time, a persuasive case could be made that any "ism" risks being deplorable.






And, for my money, the most insidious of all the "isms".

More on that in a minute.

Tyler Perry has been very successful with his TBS sitcoms and "Madea" movies.

And in a country that, a mere fifty years ago, wouldn't have allowed Tyler Perry into the movie theater, let alone exhibit his movies, that's no small feat.

That said, let's allow, for the moment, that his portrayal of the more buffoonish characters in his work doesn't deserve to qualify as racism (although, I think we all know in that "walks a like a duck" lobe of our cortexes what's going on here).

At the very least, that work is saturated with the scent of stereotype.

From the overblown, overweight, Grandma boobs down to the kneecaps matriarch who seems to have only two speeds, arched eyebrow and bitchslap to the supporting cast of characters who's actions suggest they're doing their best to pretend they're offering up a hip, contemporary Huxtable clan when, in fact, their eyes betray the inevitable awareness that what would be revealed, with only a tiny bit of scratching, is, in fact, a hip, contemporary revival of Amos and Andy, Perry's whole "Madea" franchise plays out, in the end, as nothing more than a cash cow, appealing to that segment of the movie going audience who think Jackass 4 got robbed at the Oscars and "Citizen Kane" is the feature length film version of an episode of "House, M.D."

In fairness, it's a free country. And if Tyler Perry wants to fund his retirement by cranking out minstrel shows disguised as cutting edge comedy, dat's hiz bihness.

The thing is, though, a lot of people are under the impression that Perry exemplifies some of the best of what black writers, producers, directors, et al can accomplish in a culture that no longer requires, or even expects, separate water fountains, lunch counters or bathrooms, a culture filled with young people who, poignantly, probably don't even know who Rosa Parks was, let alone what it was she stood up (or sat down, as the case may be) to put an end to.

I can't help but think, though, as I watch some of that "best", that any belief that Tyler Perry is furthering any cause but his own is a misread.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I haven't seen the new Madea movie. I have seen the trailers.

Come to think of it, I probably have seen the movie.

Here's one very telling comment, though, made in a major news organization review I read.

When his movie's biggest running gag is a hotline for men called "1-800-Choke-Dat-Ho," it's time to start over.

In the spirit of reasonable doubt, I wouldn't be able to deliver a verdict as to Tyler Perry's racism.


Uh, yeah.

But, bet the hood, when it comes to the aforementioned "most insidious" of all the "isms"?


Guilty as charged.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

"Listen...You've Got Talent If We SAY You've Got Talent...."

Can't speak for anyone else, but, this year, I've come full circle.

I have yet to watch a single episode of Idol.

That's where it started for me, lo, what seems like so many years ago, now, when the show that put the names Randy, Paula and Simon front and center in our daily water cooler conversations first came along and put the names Randy, Paula and Simon front and center in our daily water cooler conversations.

And even though my radio work makes keeping up with what's going on in the pop culture an inevitability, I still wasn't particularly attracted, or addicted as the case may be, to the weekly coronations disguised as competition.

For pretty much the same reason that I have lost all interest after a few seasons, a few seasons ago, of actually tuning in, paying attention and, in the privacy of my own flat screened flat, doing the occasional, clandestine, rooting for this Lambert or that Archuleta, sprinkled, now and then, with the begrudging acknowledgment that Bowersox had some game, even if that game, when scratched, revealed more love child of Joplin and Etheridge than it did legitimate heir to any throne of originality....

...I've never had much use for being a spectator at popularity contests.

Put a sing off between two stunning singing talents in front of me and I can be as enraptured as the next guy.

Put twenty four people in front of me and ask me to watch the weekly whittling away as they "interpret", depending on week and producer's whims, the collected works of Green Day, Motown and/or John, Paul, George and Ringo and my remote finger is automatically going to move me from the premises in search of yet another viewing of Ziva trying to keep McGee, DiNozzo and Leroy Jethro from killing Ari in retribution for his sniper snuffing of Kate.

Add to that the knowledge that while the fate of any one or all of the aforementioned "interpreters", in theory, is in the hands of two "judges' du jour...and Randy...but, is, in fact, in the hands of feverish pre pubescent females who would likely overwhelmingly endorse Bieber for the Kennedy Center Honors and I find myself less interested in the outcome than I am yet another viewing of Gibbs and company avenging Agent Todd.

Judges, in any legitimate competition, usually possess some expertise in the category of activity, product, et al they are being charged with reviewing and rewarding or rejecting.

Judges, in popularity contests, on the other hand, need possess nothing more than an opinion and/or obsession and the means to register their opinion and/or obsession on the tally sheet.

The means, in this case, of course, being the letter keys of cell phones being played with indescribable virtuosity by the aforementioned feverish pre pubescent females who would likely overwhelmingly endorse Bieber for the Kennedy Center Honors.

Like I said, I've returned to keeping a minimal eye on what's going on for the purposes of being able to talk about it on the air couple of times a week.

Other than that, I'm way more N.C.I.S than A.I.

That said, no doubt about it, to each his own.

It's a free country and we're all free to enjoy our chosen cup of tea.

What I do still enjoy, though, is the surprise.

More to the point, the surprise of being surprised that people are still surprised.

As they apparently were this past week when Pia was sent packing.
Being good at what you do is, undeniably, a quality to be admired, even rewarded.

Idol long ago stopped being about kids being rewarded for being good at what they do, if, in fact, it was ever really about that in the first place.

And if my two cents isn't currency you recognize, just ask Bowersox...or Adam Lambert...or whoever that Taylor Hicks beat that season.

Or any really smart, bright, talented youngster who didn't get to sit at the cool kids table.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Firing A Torpedo...Laying An Egg...Six of One....

Those still paying any attention (present company and/or other blogger/commentators notwithstanding) to Charlie Sheen, by now, most likely fall into one of two camps.

Those who don't get it.

Those who do.

The former group is made up of people who likely think it really matters, in the great scheme of things, whether or not Lindsay goes to jail, the Kardashians find true happiness, Snooki finally opens her eyes and closes her legs, James Franco and Anne Hathaway will be asked back to host the Oscars or Star Jones deserves to be fired from Celebrity Apprentice.

The latter is made up of people who enjoy the work of Rod Serling, John Lennon and Lewis Carroll, et al.

Those who recognize surrealism when they see it, take whatever enjoyment there is from observing it dispassionately for awhile and then getting on about the business of living life.

Wack jobs have been amongst us since the Garden.

What's new to this generation is the treatment of the wack job's wackery as serious news, requiring a play by play analysis from "expert" commentators.

Like hooker ex-girlfriends.

Charlie is clearly suffering from mental and/or chemical issues.

I still haven't been able to figure out CNN's excuse.

"This just in....

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe..... goo ca joob..."