Tuesday, July 29, 2008

trolling the News

So - this has nothing to do with anything.

First, a story about Patrick Moberg, whose life imtitated art when he tracked down a woman he had seen on the NY subway and fell in love with on first sight. Oh well, maybe we'll finally get over the romance idea and realize successful relationships are about shared interests and compromises.

Second, and much more important, gymnast Paul Hamm dropped out of the race for the Olympics this year due to a broken hand. Kind of a shame, but at the same time, it leaves the field open for him to represent the United States on Ninja Warrior again. Of course that's if he doesn't mind getting his ass handed to him by the greatest fisherman who ever lived.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Get Off My Side

So - I just finished watching Manufacturing Dissent, a Canadian film in which the documentarians attempt to secure an interview with Michael Moore, surrounded by snippets of Moore's films, controversies, and (essentially) misrepresentations. Now since it is a Canadian company, I have to assume that there isn't much of a political agenda here. Maybe some, but I definitely get the feeling that the writer, Debbie Melnyk, is more upset with him for manipulating his facts than she is for his left-wing looniness. (In fact, she's done a couple other films in Moore's style, with narration, etc., so I think she's an honest fan).

The problem is, as this movie shows, that Moore (in addition to being a crackpot) just blatantly manipulates his footage. Apparently (maybe others follow this more than I do), he completely changed the timeline in Roger & Me, deleted footage of anti-GM rallies to portray Flint as apathetic, and actually interviewed Roger Smith. Twice. But he cuts that out.

Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 are also address in the film, including an interesting interview with the managers of the bank who gave him a shotgun when he opened a bank account. Whole thing was staged beforehand, and again, edited to show it as weirder than it actually was. It didn't really address 9/11, either because the film itself came out only about six months after it, and also because, frankly, that movie had so many holes and blatant manipulations they didn't really need to.

Finally, it shows that Michael Moore is a man with some serious emotional and psychological problems - which leads to his desperate need for attention and his flawed view of reality. As one person in the film put it: "Michael Moore could only exist in a political vacuum. If the left had had any spokesmen, people would be laughing at the man, not with him."

I guess, in one way this is a good thing - to me the strength of liberalism has been its ability to engage in debate with itself. I have never met a conservative who will say that Ann Coulter is a crackpot, or Rush Limbaugh doesn't know what he's talking about. But it seems that more people are telling Michael Moore:

Got Off My Side!

Friday, July 11, 2008


Okay, so I'm late to this Jezebel thing. Hooray for Slate, they do the searches for you.

So - apparently the founders of Jezebel were on a comedy discussion show, got drunk, and made fools of themselves. The problem, most people seem to agree, is that it's a comedy show, and suddenly it turns to the most taboo of subjects - rape.

Here's the link to the taped interview session. I'm not going to link to any other sites, just put "moe", "tracie", and "shoot the messenger" into google and you'll find the commentaries.

There is definitely something unique about the subject - and it is still taboo to talk about. But as I like to say, I'm a combat vet goddamn it, I'll do whatever the fuck I want. There was a book I read a few years ago which caused a lot of controversy, called A Natural History of Rape, which goes into the biological advantages of rape to a male who can not otherwise succeed in finding a mate. Remember, it's all about the genes, not about the organism, or about the community. Now, this book created a lot of controversy. What I found really interesting about it, though, was that the authors say they are going to use "forced sexual aggression" rather than "rape" in their discussions in order to avoid the emotionally laden term, but in their introduction conclusion, and title, they revert to the loaded term.

Returning to the Jezebels, the main disconnect (god I hate that word) - seems to be between older and younger generation feminists, with the host (wo)manning the cannons for the older feminist group. My only comment here is the truism she quotes: "Rape is not about sex, it's about power and violence." Now, I am not about to argue that the two are NOT connected, but I quote from one of my favorite talk show hosts: "Yeah, its just like every other violent act that ends with an ejaculation." Trying to deny the sexual element of rape is like trying to deny the violent element of it. At the same time, I want to stress that personally I think the act is horrible, on the same level as a life-threatening beating. I just don't think the subject, the act, of rape is a monolithic entity in which "got too drunk and didn't have the facilities to say no," "went home with a stranger who turned out to be psychotic," and "man broke into my apartment and held me at knifepoint," can all be equated. Repeating "rape is about power," leads to all sex is rape, and ends up in a big feedback loop in which since sex is rape and rape is bad, sex is bad, and we add on more negative feelings to sex, which leads to guilt about sex, which leads to guilt about rape, etc.

And I think that, speaking as a true cultural relativist, we as Westerners have such a strong response to rape, it is the after-effects which cause the greatest emotional trauma to the victim, what sets it apart from simply an act of violence. The Jezebels, in their odd drunken way, seem to be expressing a point that to them, rape is no big deal. This, of course, gets the host up in arms. But - and this is the important point - power is granted, not taken. (In case you haven't noticed before, I strongly believe in human agency.) The power which rape holds is the social power granted to it by our prudish forefathers, who said that all sex is tainted, combined with a bit of weird perverted New Age mysticism about sex being "sacred". Maybe we're just animals and sex is just sex...

Sex, rape, and power are interconnected, yes. But you can't take the sex out of the equation. Or, rather, maybe we need to put the sex back in the equation.

So - if nothing else, maybe the Jezebels, by being so flippant about the conventions of rape, and discussions about rape, signify that we might be able to separate the two ideas (rape and power) so that we can gain a better understanding of both issues. Maybe being flippant about the emotional consequences is the only way to break the power that power has over rape. Or maybe I'll just get flamed and lose all my female friends.