Monday, December 6, 2010

Kids Get Nutty

Nutmeg... the new flavor of drug. Who would have known? Ignore the fact that seafood dude from Top Chef was called on to be an expert on this topic.

Apparently, one can snort or smoke nutmeg. I am intrigued. Has anyone tried this? Anyone want to try it?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sunny Days, Sweeping the Gray Away

Hello dear readers,

Sorry for the recent lack of postings. While inexcusable, I will offer you a sorry excuse. Both Cris and I have been hibernating in the land of higher education. Yes, that's right, I'm working on my MS now and Cris and working on her JD.

As penance for ignoring you, please enjoy the following video, which I discovered last week. I know it's been riding a crest of fame lately as it has been remixed with Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair."

Gotta love Sesame Street for their attempts to make all kids feel accepted. I learned so much from the show in my childhood, and I don't know if it's as watched as it used to be (now that Disney and Nickelodeon have imprinted themselves on toddlers' brains, but I hope people see the positive message in this.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Reality shows these days are not exactly known for being, well, real. Especially not those created by MTV, who of late has brought us the infamous Hills, horribly scripted The City and those done-to-death Real World Challenges. That was until MTV introduced the new, slightly clunkily named “If You Really Knew Me.” IYRKM is as honest as it gets. In the vein of the original few seasons of Real World and True Life, this show transcends its medium and the channel it's aired on to reveal the human drama. Each week, the show follows students at a different high school as they participate in Challenge Day, a social experiment of sorts that is designed to break down barriers, both in terms of physical groups and emotions. Kids start off segregated as jocks, nerds, band geeks, cheerleaders, etc. and by the end of the hour, they converge as a group of kids who have found have found the love and approval from their peers they were all so desperately seeking.

I know it sounds corny. It is a little, but that’s what is beautiful about it. I don’t know what happens after this show, if the Kumbaya spirit stays alive. Nonetheless, it’s very hopeful. As these kids demonstrate, high school is all about surviving. They’re all just trying to make it through the day as everything about them is constantly changing. IYRKM introduces this idea: Wouldn't it be so much easier if kids made an effort not to be jerks to each other?

The people facilitating Challenge Day kept warning how powerful the experience would be. I was intrigued but remained skeptical ... until I found myself tearing up. If you want a good cry, look no further. My only problem is that as a viewer, I got invested. And the commercials would interrupt and take me out of the story. Here’s an intense scene and then suddenly that commercial with the stupid rapping hamster is on. Moment gone. The other day I discovered it OnDemand. I recommend you watch it there; so much easier to make an emotional connection.

The last full episode I caught was on Cyber-bullying. I’m really interested in seeing them tackle more contemporary issues. I would like to see one of these schools have an open dialogue about race and privilege in society.

If You Really Knew Me
: Like a true-life, modern-day version of the Breakfast Club minus that iconic dance scene and the running through the halls. It airs Tuesdays; watch it tonight.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Watch This Now

This past weekend, I caught two feature films that left me excited about the future of film. Quite frankly, these movies, along with Toy Story 3, could be the best of the year.

The first would be Inception, which I actually caught for a second time with friends who hadn't seen it before. Visually, stylistically and in terms of narrative, Inception was brilliant. If you like movies, you should go see this movie. A note of caution: Prepare to have your mind blown. You might lose your grip on reality.

I don't want to give any of the plot away, so I won't give you a summary. What I will say is this is the first movie in a long time that kept me constantly surprised. Usually, I can guess where a plot's going to head within the first 15-20 minutes of a movie. With Inception, I had no idea what was going to happen and that made for an amazing ride. I would even recommend a second viewing of this movie, not because it will be easier to break down (because it won't), but because you'll pick up on some smart subtleties you may have missed the first time as you struggled to hang on to the edge of your seat. Writer and director Christopher Nolan is a genius and deserves the many accolades sure to come his way.

The second film was Salt. Don't dismiss this movie as a generic action film. If you have any doubts as to Angelina Jolie's talents, you won't after you watch Salt. While I loved the journey Inception took me on, I'd have to say Salt left a bigger impression on me.

Think about all the action movies you've ever seen. Can you think of any that were carried by a strong heroine? I don't mean Ashley Judd in Double Jeopardy or Charlie's Angels kind of stuff. And before you bring up Kill Bill, let me remind you that we only knew the main character as the Bride - she didn't even get a name. I'm talking about a woman who looks like a trained fighter and is an inventive spy, stone-cold killer and more adept at her job than any of the men in the movie. The only other movie that comes to mind is Tomb Raider, which also stars Jolie.

Angie has done a lot of growing up since Tomb Raider. For one, her body is completely different. Here she works like a machine. Every move she makes is efficient. And yet, she has heart. I think the fear is that a woman action star - especially in the spy thriller type films - won't be believable. Either she'll be too soft or too hard. Evelyn Salt is the perfect balance. She's incredibly tough, but she's got an endearing vulnerability as well. By the end of the movie, you're really rooting for her.

Salt was originally planned with Tom Cruise in mind. After he dropped the project, the character was changed for Jolie. The whole time I watched Salt, I couldn't help but think how generic it would have been with Cruise as the star. Jolie makes Salt. It crackles with her spirit. My hope is that she has opened up the action field for women. I would love to see more women in charge instead of playing the typical damsel in distress role.

Not to be vulgar, but if I were to give you the most concise review of these two films, it would be: Inception = Mindfuck; Salt = Badass. Seriously, go see these movies.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not In My Backyard, Thanks

I spent the better part of last week with my relatives in a town just outside of Edison, N.J. Imagine my delight when I heard that Time magazine, a publication I have always wished I could work for, printed an article about Americans of Indian descent in Edison. I was delighted to discover that Edison has one of the largest Indo-American populations in the United States; some figures I have seen have estimated that about 20% of residents there are Desi, and I was intrigued to see how it would be recognized.

Needless to say, I was looking forward to the read. Then I found out a little more about it. Joel Stein's "My Own Private India" came out at the beginning of the month, so if you're a Desi, some irate friend or relative has most probably forwarded this to you. Since I was in vacation LaLaLand, I totally missed all the controversy, which is interesting when you consider that I was in the area ... you'd think I would hear about this on the news.

What was advertised as a humor column reads as a xenophobic rant. Writer Joel Stein grew up in Edison and is shocked to find his once "mostly white suburban town" overrun by Indians. He said he intended this piece to be a satirical look at immigration, but the language he uses is often times nothing more than offensive.

You can read the article yourself and decide whether it has any comedic merit:
My Own Private India

I've read some blog postings where young Desis toss around the idea that if comedian Russell Peters made these same comments, we'd all think they were funny. I have to disagree. While the bit about Guido-Indians is marginally funny, trying to make a joke out of the practice of Dot-busting is just not cool.

Here's a taste of his humor: "Eventually, there were enough Indians in Edison to change the culture. At which point my townsfolk started calling the new Edisonians "dot heads." One kid I knew in high school drove down an Indian-dense street yelling for its residents to "go home to India." In retrospect, I question just how good our schools were if "dot heads" was the best racist insult we could come up with for a group of people whose gods have multiple arms and an elephant nose."

In the late 1980s, a New Jersey gang known as "Dotbusters" attacked and killed a man. Last month, Indian immigrant scientist Divyendu Sinha was killed in what is suspected to be a racially-motivated assault. Sinha was murdered in Old Bridge New Jersey, a township that is located within 13 miles of Edison. His death came little more than a week before Time published the Stein piece. I'm not sure what the timeline is like between putting the magazine to bed and publishing it, but you'd think Time would have been more sensitive with this story given Sinha's recent death.

I could sit here and tear apart Stein's entire article, but it's been done before. The Huffington Post actually printed a series of guest columns in reaction to Stein's piece, so I will direct you to these:

Joel Stein's Beef With Indians Hurts Everyone

The "Hilarious" Xenophobia of Time's Joel Stein (This one's written by Kal Penn)

Joel Stein and the Curry Problem

I just want to say this: I'm all for freedom of speech. But I honestly can't find any merit in Stein's piece. It failed as a satire. And he just comes off looking like an ethnocentrist. Time let me down on this one. Intolerance (against any racial, ethnic, religious group) is not something I want to see splashed across my magazine.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Talking 'Bout My Generation

If you hear me dropping the phrase "generational differences" in reference to my various cultural observances all too often, there's a book you can blame for that. I've been reading Jean M. Twenge's sociological text Generation Me and it has been an eye-opening experience.

This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the behavior of twenty-and thirty-something Americans. If you've ever wondered why we're all so damn self-obsessed and neurotic, you'll find an answer within these pages.

Sometimes, reading the book was painful as it forced me to confront some ugly truths about myself and made me realize I'm not as special as I perceive myself to be. Alas, conditions I thought set me apart from the crowd (ie: delusions of grandeur, relationship retardation) are really rather common amongst my peers. I highly recommend Generation Me to both members of the age group, as well as to our parents and employers.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Starbucks: Now Tolerating Freeloaders

Imagine my surprise when one recent night on the 5:00 news Lester Holt announced that Starbucks would now be offering free Internet access. What year is it, 2007?

At first I thought maybe college had spoiled me. In school, I had access to free Internet anywhere I wanted it. The campus library? Check. The Student Union and Quad? Check and check. Random grassy patches where people gather to study? There too. A coffee shop without wi-fi was unheard of. In my mind, there was no greater pairing. What self-respecting pseudo-intellectual or academic hasn't killed a day at their local coffeehouse?

I had taken it for granted that Starbucks would offer free wi-fi. But apparently, prior to July 1, 2010, one had to pay to hop on a wireless network at the nation's most famous coffee chain. And even then, there was a time restriction. Those dinosaurs! Why were people still going to that joint?

I'm sure not if all Starbucks operate the same. As much as I can remember, my campus Starbucks had free wireless. And I've been able to get on a free network at the Barnes and Noble in my city with a Starbucks in-store since it opened two years ago.

But, the fact remains. For a brand that claims to "inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time," Starbucks has been slacking.

And when you think about it, it's even more than slacking. Starbucks has been elitist in their attitude. Their policy of Internet only for those who can afford it is not very customer friendly. Some wireless providers make you pay $5-$10 a sitting! With prices so high, it's as though they didn't want people to use their Internet. They took so long getting with the program that now I don't really care to get with theirs.

I'd much rather go down to my neighborhood fast-food joint to connect to the Internet for free. You know there's something wrong when Popeyes, Subway and McDonalds get free wi-fi before Starbucks. I've been told Starbucks is a great company to work for. As a consumer, I don't support it. You'll see me patronizing local shops, where the coffee is cheaper and the attitude isn't so uppity.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Aziz is So Not Boring

If you enjoyed host Aziz Ansari's performance at the MTV Movie Awards (and who didn't with his R. Kelly big f-you to BP song and the skit featuring Taavon the Swagga coach teaching Zach Galifianakis the "I Don't Know Dance"), you need to catch his stand-up special.

I watched Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening this weekend on Comedy Central and it seriously had me cracking up so much that my mother, who had been napping in her room got up and asked me, "What's so funny?"

I have seen his R. Kelly bit before on late-night shows, but it still held up. Aziz has the manic energy of a little kid hopped up on sugar. I love it. I can understand why Kanye West would want to hang out with him. I would want Aziz to be the entertainment at my house parties too.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thank you for being a friend, Rue

Rue McClanahan, one of America's favorite grandma's, passed away last week at the age of 76. Her death means that only one Golden Girl, Betty White, remains to uphold the legacy of the iconic TV show.

McClanahan portrayed Blanche Devereaux, the show's saucy Southern belle/harlot. Though Golden Girls premiered a year before I was born, thanks to Lifetime and Hallmark, young people everywhere have been devouring re-runs like a rich piece of grandma's cheesecake for the past two decades.

The TV show might have focused on a group of retirees, but its reach was widespread. Golden Girls set the mold for latter fearsome foursome shows, such as Sex and the City and Girlfriends. Blanche was the original Samantha Jones, a sexually liberated woman in a time when the idea of a promiscuous older woman was unheard of. She practically invented cougardom.

Any one of the fans of that show can name the character they most identify with and rattle of all the lyrics of the theme song. Seriously, this could be a great bar song. Start it next time and see how many people know the rest of the words.

For her role in the popular show and other hits "Maude" and "Mama's Family," McClanahan will be sorely missed. Thanks for being a pal and a confidant. I will be watching a Hallmark Channel marathon in your honor.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Really, Is She Human?

Not to hype Jersey Shore any more than it deserves, but I saw this picture of Snooki and couldn't help but think, Damn she looks like tandoori chicken. The Jersey Shore sneak peek is supposed to premiere Sunday in promotion of the MTV Movie Awards. As much as I loved the random ridiculousness of the first season, I suspect season two will be full of that awful self-consciousness that seems to afflict all the MTV "reality" shows.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Day Treat

With Mother's Day winding down, if you're feeling a little bit underwhelmed, I have the perfect solution for you: watch the British TV show Skins.

Whether you're a mother or a child, this show is guaranteed to make you appreciate your loved ones. Skins is excuse the phrase, the mother of all teen dramedies.

I have a not-so-secret secret: teen shows are my guilty pleasure. I guess I just have a soft spot for over-the-top story lines. As a kid, I was really into Saved By the Bell. As a college student, I moved on the Degrassi, which blew my mind because it seemed so much more topical than SBTB, I mean school shooting? Whoa, that shit got real. Then last year, my friend Mike introduced to me to Skins, the show that is probably best known for launching the career of Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel. This show, with its nudity, graphic sex and drug scenes, among other you-can't-see-do-that-on-American-TV moments, makes Degrassi look like preschool programming.

Watch a Skins mini-marathon and you will feel both emotionally drained and also, you will gain a whole new appreciation for everything in your life. Now in its fourth season, the show follows two sets of schoolmates (the first two seasons focus one group who graduates and leaves the show, and seasons three and four feature a new set of friends). Each episode plays out like a train wreck. There's usually a high point for the character the episode is based on followed by some sort of cringworthy moment. You can't take your eyes of off it. You NEED to know what happens next.

The reason these kids have ridiculous lives is because they run around wild. For the most part, their parents really could care less and it's the emotional scarring their families have caused them which serve as the catalyst for their (often) selfish actions.

In the spirit of mother's day, I will give you a taste of the show. The most notable mothers on the show either:
A. Abandoned her young family and does not attempt contact with them
B. Bails on her son without so much as a word, rendering him a virtual orphan
C. Conducts an affair with her husband's business partner while her kid's at home
D. Are lushes/drug addicts/possible exotic dancers
E. Forced her son to leave the country

As you can see, these kids are messed up. And throughout the series, some amazing things happen to them. But mostly, some unbelievably shitty events occur to throw roadblocks in their lives. I guarantee you, you watch this show, which in the US can either be seen on BBC America or can be downloaded from, and you will want to call your mom/dad/son/daughter/etc. just to let them know how much you love them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Lately, one music video's been receiving a lot of attention. Though I love the video for the Lady Gaga-Beyonce colab "Telephone," I haven't discussed it on this blog, because frankly, I feel like it's been dissected on every other blog.

Rather, there's another music video that shares a few elements with the aforementioned short film that I would like to talk about today. The mini-movie that is roughly the same length and has drawn as much controversy as Gaga's video, but that you may have heard less about is MIA's "Born Free."

That's because the 9-minute long film from the UK-artist has been banned from YouTube. Why? Well, just watch the video below to see.

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Don't have the attention span to watch a 9-minute film? I'll summarize. "Born Free" is less a music video and more of a political statement. The music part of the music video is secondary to the imagery. "Born Free" depicts what has been referred to as the "genocide" of the minority group of ... wait for it ... redheads. It is violent, to be sure. There is full-on nudity. And it is very graphic.

Does the explicit nature of "Born Free" warrant its removal from YouTube? A spokesman for the site has been quoted as saying, "On YouTube the rules prohibit pornography or gratuitous violence. If the content breaks our terms then we remove it." Though extremely disturbing, I don't agree with MIA's video being banned from the popular broadcast site's airwaves. I've seen some truly sickening stuff on YouTube, both in terms of nudity and violence, so I think the site needs to cop to the real reason "Born Free" was taken off the site.

I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that young, white red-haired kids are executed at gunpoint in the video. It's truly fucked up. And when I was first heard about it, I remember thinking, MIA, why? There's barely any music in this music video! I thought perhaps she was just trying to be reactionary. That's sort of her trademark.

Then I dug deeper. As the daughter of a Tamil revolutionary, she is a known political activist. Through some research, I found out MIA has been rather outspoken on the topic of Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka during the Sri Lankan Civil War. If you live anywhere other than Sri Lanka, you may not have heard of this genocide. According to some reports, tens of thousands of members of the Tamil ethnic minority were massacred by the Sri Lankan government in 2009 alone. The government denies such actions, of course.

Honestly, MIA did something really smart with "Born Free." I've blogged before about how redheads are a silent minority, especially in the UK. Showing redheads (especially children) being rounded up and killed in such a gruesome manner, MIA has created a call to arms. I've seen pictures of real executed children in Sri Lanka; let me tell you, that is disturbing.

People in the UK or US may not have ever heard of the plight of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, but they know and can relate to redheads. MIA's "Born Free" is not shocking just to be shocking; rather, it aims to shock the viewer into a realization. By depicting a genocide targeting the red-head population, MIA demonstrates that this could happen to you; it's not just the concern of some faraway group of people. Now if only we could transfer some of the outrage over this video to outrage over the treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Funny Find

Last night, I caught a rerun of Late Night with David Letterman, which featured comedian Danny Bhoy, a guy I am now officially in love with.

Why? Maybe it's the Scottish accent. I find Craig Ferguson to be super hi-larious, so it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say I find Scottish accents funny.

But there's more to it. I like that Danny, similar to Aziz Ansari (another one of my comedy crushes) comes from an ethnic background, but doesn't make his comedy about it. Sure Danny Bhoy doesn't look like the typical Scottish person, but what does that look like anyway? James McAvoy? [Well, if all Scots looked like him, I'm going to have to move there.]I didn't realize that he was Indian until I saw the spelling of his name and researched him.

Sure, it would be easy to make jokes about being an Indo-Scot. I'm not even sure that's a real term. I'm sure that background makes for a comedy goldmine.

Though his international status is cause for joke, it's not his only bit. I'm going to look out for this guy in the future. The Indian diaspora is perhaps the most far-reaching in the world and it is fascinating for me to see a Scottish desi. I hope he gets a break.

*Note - had to post a different video because CBS has a copyright on the Danny Bhoy bit. So enjoy this video from him on tour in Aussieland.*

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Hair" Do

"Black people wear their oppression on their heads." So says Rev. Al Sharpton in Chris Rock's docu-comedy Good Hair. I finally got around to watching it this weekend, and while I wasn't in love with the movie, I do recommend it, because I think it starts an interesting dialogue.

So about halfway or more through the film, Rev. Sharpton hits on some strong social commentary, which is that the black hair industry is a system that enforces economic exploitation. The most fascinating part of the movie is when Rock tracks the progression of the weave, from its origins in Tirupati, India to LA hair salons. You see people trek to one of the most holy temples in India to offer their hair to the god Venkatheshwara and you realize that while the temple has created a steady business from selling hair, shrewd businessmen keep the profits for themselves.

You see women bent double at hair looms, in what appears to be a sweat shop for hair. Those people don't see the money either. Cut to women in LA who allegedly spend thousands of dollars on their weave. The people at the top make the big bucks and screw everyone else over. Now that we're all aware of how shitty the hair industry is, how it takes advantage of consumers and producers, are people going to go natural all of a sudden?

No. Absolutely not. There's so much this documentary fails to cover. First of all, Rev. Al Sharpton, man who has worn his hair relaxed for decades, why aren't you setting an example for the community? Is it because you have knowledge of the oppression and therefore about it all? No, I didn't think so.

There's just so much political and social meaning behind the idea of "good hair" and Chris Rock only ever scratches the surface. I applaud his endeavor, but I can't help but call out Good Hair for being superficial. Look, Chris Rock is a comedian. The problem here is that he keeps the tone of the film too light. In his reasoning, the only factor in relaxing one's hair or choosing to get a weave is a preference for European (or Asian) hair. So, according to him, there's one type of hair that's favored above all. Ok, Chris, I'll pretend to buy that line of thought for a second. But tell me, why? Yeah, he never does.

There are a variety of reasons women choose one hairstyle over the other. I've had friends of mine experiment with natural hair only to realize that it is too high maintenance. Thus, they choose relaxer.

The other thing? Chris Rock is a guy. I want to know why we never got to see his wife in Good Hair. Is her hair 100% natural? I'm sorry, but men just do not face the same societal pressures as women when it comes to physical appearance. At the risk of sounding like a pretencions sociology student, what Chris Rock and Ice T can't seem to wrap their heads around is that women's bodies are ascribed with meaning regardless of what we do. Get your hair relaxed, buy a weave, you're trying to act white. Go natural and you're a rebel. A woman can't just be.

At the end of the movie, Chris Rock brings up two subjects that I really wish he pushed. First, he talks to men about whether hair factors into their preference for mate. And here, you get Ice T and some men at a barber shop stating that they'd choose a white woman with natural hair over a black woman whose hair requires high maintenance. Herein lies an attitude that while I don't think wholly explains the desire for "good hair," demonstrates the double standard that perpetuates the idea of some women having better hair than others.

The second subject? White girls wear weave too. How about a follow-up film, Chris? Or better yet, how about a follow up from a woman's point of view? I hope that's not too radical.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Selling It Like It Is

Kotex recently rolled out a new product line in the US called U by Kotex that finally gets women.

For years, my friends and I have commented on the gag-worthy feminine hygiene commercials we're subjected to. You know what I'm talking about, the commercials with the girls on the beach playing volleyball or twirling around in flirty skirts, or most heinous of all, receiving a "monthly gift" from Mother Nature.

My least favorite ad? Always, please stop telling me to "have a happy period." I might have to ram a tampon into the collective throat of the feminine hygiene products industry. While these ads are made for women, it is clear that they are made by men and are not entirely that appealing to a female viewing audience.

So, I have to thank Kotex for not trying to make periods something more than they are. From their ad campaign: "At U by Kotex®, we think it’s high time we all stopped being so damn shy about our vaginas." Let's not try to sugar coat the period. It's a mundane part of the average female experience. But it's not a happy, carefree, twirly, fun time. It's more of a I'm bleeding, bloaty and my hormones are out of control, so please just give me a product that will make me feel a little less uncomfortable time.

Honestly, I think commercials for tampons and pads are kind of superfluous. I mean, speaking from experience, once you find a style you're comfortable with and find a brand you can trust, that's what you stick with. Though I don't care for its packaging, I think U by Kotex will draw some positive buzz for their fresh, humorous parody-of-hygiene-commercials commercial. Thanks for keeping it real.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Inner Beauty Don't Cost a Thing

Pop musician Jessica Simpson's Vh1 show, "The Price of Beauty" premiered last night. Unlike the former music channel's typical 'celebreality' programming, this show appears to be less about ex-stars grappling for another pass at fame and more about real people.

I thought this show, which is hosted by Simpson and her friends hairstlyist Ken Paves and her assistant Cacee would be an interesting experiment. The premise of the show is that Jessica and her friends travel around the world to understand beauty in a global sense. Whatever country they visit, they are taught about beauty norms, and sometimes treated to extreme beauty regimes.

One would wonder what she's doing on a Vh1 reality show since the usual "stars" are of the caliber of Flava Flav and Jeff the-guy-from-"Grease." I can see why she would be up for the project though since she's taken a lot of crap post-John Mayer break-up about her weight, her body shape and her poor choice of jeans. Still, I can't help but shake the image of her questioning whether Chicken of the Sea is actually chicken or fish.

Now, like Sarah Palin, I don't think Jessica Simpson's flat-out stupid. She (with her father's help) was smart enough to brand herself as the dumb blond. So, I guess I shouldn't have underestimated her so much. The show was less obtrusive than I thought it would be. Certainly, in the first episode, which focused on Thailand, there were some ethnographic/ethnocentric elements, but nothing was exploitative. On the whole, I thought the show was well-intentioned. In this episode, Simpson and crew first visit a woman whose skin has been discolored by a bleaching cream, who as a result, is unhappy with her life. Later, they visit a village where elongated necks are celebrated by way of encasing one's neck in a neck ring.

"The Price of Beauty" both demonstrated that people will do anything for beauty, regardless of the cost, and communicated its purpose that when it comes to beauty, there is no true standard.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Census or DIE!

It's that time of the decade again. Census Time! Some thoughts as I look over the brand-spanking new census form...

I've enjoyed watching the US government passively-aggressively push the census with their inspirational yet mandatory commercials.

O won't you please take a few minutes and fill out the census? (happy face) By the way, YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW! (evil face) No really, please fill it out (desperate face) .

Side note: Reminds me of when I pay toll and as a drive out, there is a sign that thanks you for riding the if I had a choice! hmmmph

Ah, the race box.
What to check, what to check. Well I'm not sure how the last census categorized races, but this one is full of goodies.

For example, instead of the umbrella race of "Asian/Pacific Islander" you can check Asian Indian, Guamianan (did you know Guam is a US territory nearby Korea?? and Guamanians are US citizens???), Vietnamese, etc.

However, there is an "Other Asian" box where you can write in races that do not have their own designated boxes, like "Pakistani." Isn't it amazing that two nations (India & Pakistan) artificially carved out 60 or so years ago, can be so socially and economically different as to deserve a different racial regonition (as opposed to the catch-all, South Asian). Social construction at its finest!

The government giveth, the government taken away.
Did you know the US government invented the term "Hispanic" for census purposes? This time around, the governments makes it clear that "hispanic origins are not races." One can be Mexican, Chicago, Cuban, or even Spaniard. Well are not Spaniards FROM Spain and thus = White?

The Duggers

The census only allows 12 household members to be listed. Forget about undocumented aliens, what about Undocumented Duggers? Scary, scary thought

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Hairy Situation

On the Barbara Walters Oscar special, Monique told Babs that she absolutely refuses to shave her legs.

A few months back, I remember reading a story about Monique's post-Precious weight loss in People magazine. And I remember commenting to my friend Sha'Donna that I was really excited for Monique; she looked great but dang, did she forget to shave her legs?

Well, I guess the egg's on my face. What I thought of as a big slip-up on the magazine's part was intentional.

I think it's commendable that Monique refuses to bow to cultural norms. While it may seem totally nonchalant not to shave your legs because you're not taking any action; it's incredibly brave as a woman to step out in a ballgown with hairy legs. Just by the face Barbara made and the incredulous tone in her voice, you know it's one of those things that's just not done.

Society wants women to feel embarrassed when we walk outside with our legs covered in our own fur. That's our natural state; that's the way our bodies have evolved. Hair serves a purpose - it keeps our bodies warm in the winter (trust me, I live in Illinois). When did society come up with this arbitrary rule that it's unsightly, improper and downright unfeminine to publicly display our hairy legs?

I have to give the woman her props. Now Monique told Barbara the reason she doesn't shave her legs because she did it once and it hurt and it grew back thicker. Well, I recently read that our hair does not grow back thicker; we just think it does since it's more visible against our skin.

I'm not sure I buy her story. It takes a lot of careful consideration not to give in to the pressure to groom your legs. Especially when you're in the public eye. Remember the backlash Julia Roberts got for not shaving her underarms and going to a movie premiere? How dare she?! I'd prefer to think Monique is purposefully flouting arbitrary social norms to prove a point. Because as much as I agree with her, I really don't have the strength to let anyone see my winter growth.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How much is your Barbie worth? Depends on if it's black or white...

(photo from

Wal-mart has been getting alot of attention for a photo captured by one website showing the store selling a black Barbie doll on clearance while its white counterpart was marked as regular price. A rep for the Louisiana store commented that in order to make room for their spring inventory, Wal-mart had to mark many items on clearance to create greater demand for them.

One Chicago radio DJ was clearly incensed over Wal-mart's move. He could not believe that there would be a low demand for black Barbies at Walmart. "Are there no Black families who go to Wal-mart to buy dolls for their daughters?"

Well, that is a good question.

Families obviously buy dolls for their children, but how many buy dolls that "look" like their child? Being Indian-American child of the 90's, I only had white dolls. The only doll that remotely related to me was the special edition Indian Barbie that was dressed up in a Sari. Other than that, there was no barbie that "looked" like me or even "dressed" like me. The toy stores only provided two options back then...Blonde or Black...and I consistently chose blonde. I grew up thinking the standard of beauty was my cherub-faced, blond-haired, and light skinned Barbie (or Cabbage Patch Kid or Polly Pocket). I would shy away from the ebony-skinned, curly-hair African-American dolls simply because I thought that only black people had "black" dolls...and I surely wasn't black. But I wasn't white either...

Today, kids can buys dolls that come from a variety of flavors and colors and ethnicities (i.e. the American Doll Store--although it's really not accessible to most people). So why is this black Barbie doll on clearance and why is its white counterpart not? Is there really no demand for this particular doll? Or when it comes to playthings, are white dolls really supreme?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

On With the Show

And on and on and on.

Coming off of last year's Slumdog Millionaire whirlwind, this year's Oscar broadcast just fell flat.

There were some enjoyable moments to be sure. But for the most part, I kept waiting for the show to get over. I hate to call the technical awards in the middle tedious because I totally respect techies, but this year I was too bored by the rest of the show to care.

I yearn for the song-and-dance spectacles of yesteryear. Last year, Hugh Jackman attempted to capture some of that old-school entertainer spirit. This year, Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin engaged in some witty banter, but their two-man show got old after the first five minutes. I know that it's tradition for the host to look into to the crowd, and make a quip or two about easy, popular targets so the cameramen can get their money shots. Honestly, it just seemed like Martin and Baldwin were just calling out actors' names. It felt lazy. I strongly believe Neil Patrick Harris should host every award show on TV because his show opener was the only intentionally planned entertaining moment of the night. And props on the sparkly blazer, NPH! Loved it.

I'm glad all the people who won won. There was no one who I felt was robbed or who I thought didn't deserve their Oscars. But since the awards in the acting categories went to the same people at every award show I've seen this season, it was all so predictable. I've heard these speeches over and over and over. I love a good upset.

That's why the women who jumped on stage in the middle of the Best Documentary Short director's speech (which will forever be known as 'pulling a Kanye' or 'the Oscar's Kanye moment')was a nice mid-show refresher. She breathed some life into the otherwise dull award show. Not because of what she said. I have no idea what she was talking about. She was incoherent and kind of messy. I hope she was drunk; at least Kanye was. I was fascinated wondering how she got on to stage. I get the MTV awards thing. I mean, the VMAs are not exactly a classy institution and Kanye's a big star. But the Academy Awards? Come on, the Academy should not have allowed it. The room was filled with some of the most famous people in the world so I would have imagined they would have quality security.

Other high and lowlights:

The Good

Monique has transformed from raunchy stand-up comedienne to a force to be reckoned with. Does this means she's the next Whoopi? Or with her BET show, has she already surpassed Ms. Goldberg? With the gardenia in her hair, she paied homage to Hattie McDaniel. Sadly, Monique is only the 5th African-American woman to win an acting award (Halle Berry is still the only Best Actress in a Lead Role). And I just learned from her pre-show interview, she accepts all her awards with hairy legs. Power to ya, sister!

Gabi Sidibe - I love her confidence on the Red Carpet and at the beginning of the telecast, posing and posturing on stage instead of standing around stiffly like her fellow nominees. I can't help but root for the girl because in the words of Oprah herself, she embodies the "new American Cinderella story." College girl one day, Oscar nominee the next. And damn, if Oprah ever introduces me at an award show, I'd be bawling too.

Kathryn Bigelow - She scored the first Best Director Oscar for a female. As Barbra Streisand so succinctly put it: The time has come. What's sad is that Bigelow was only the fourth female director ever nominated. Are we still stuck in the 1960s? I'm tired of those 'behind every man, there's a woman' director speeches. I want to hear some women roar.

Sandra Bullock - She always makes light of every situation. It was nice to see her get emotional. And I love how her tough-man husband always breaks down when she wins.

Fashion - Seemed like celebs tried harder to keep it classy this year (minus Charlize Theron and her rose/vagina breasts. I'm still a fan of the origami layer look. And I adore the crimson dress trend.

The Bad

The Oscars cut off the Best Foreign Film director when he made a statement about Chile. Come on, we had to sit through the weak interpretive dance number and listen to some rambling speeches about the Best Actor/Actresses. I think we could have stood to hear a message in support of the tragedy in Chile.

The dance segment. What happened to nominating popular, interesting singers who deliver great performances (ie: Celine Dion) instead of filling time with a poor attempt to mimick the dance show trend?

Molly Ringwald. The whole Breakfast Club reunion thing was sort of strange, but Molly Ringwald must have done something to her face cuz she looked crazy shell-shocked. Also, the 'bad boy' from Breakfast Club and Macauley Culkin both looked gross, like they have been taking hard drugs for the last few years.

The "In Memoriam" montage. How do you choose who goes and who stays out? Did we need so many shots of James Taylor playing his guitar? Leaving out Farrah Fawcett was trashy. Did MJ deserve a nod? Duh, yes. He has been directed by Francis Ford Copolla and Martin Scorsese. Plus, he was an Oscar-nominated musician (at the age of 14). It's not about who deserved a slot. Every person is just a valid as another. The montage should have been inclusive.

The Young Victoria costume designer. So, she already had two Oscars. Could she not even pretend to be excited (or even just happy!) in her acceptance speech? Someone should have put her out of her misery and just given her award to another nominee.

The length. Just far, far too long.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rihanna Rips A Page out of MIA's Book

Have you seen Rihanna's new video for her single "Rude Boy?"

If not, or if you want to see it again, here you go.

I'm all for Rihanna's new creative burst following the crazy fall out from the Chris Brown beating. But is it just me or did Rihanna watch M.I.A's "Boyz" when she was conceptualizing this video? "Rude Boys" seems less referential and more just a copy cat, with higher production value and more skin.

Here's the "Boyz" video.

Now, one could say that MIA's video wasn't all that original. It's all neon, '80s and Jamaican-inspired. I'm not saying she invented this stuff. I just hope that in trying to reinvent herself, Rihanna doesn't lose her musical identity.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Thumbs down for "We Are the World 25"

The 25th anniversary remake of the "We Are the World" video premiered tonight. If you didn't get a chance to see it, watch the full version here.

I personally am not a fan. There are those (mainly my family members) who would accuse me of filtering my viewing experience through an MJ fan filter. That's not my problem, I don't think it was sacrilegious to redo the song. Though the MJ tribute - superimposing him into the video for a duet with sister Janet - was very awkward.

In general, I felt that the entire project came off as disingenuous compared to the original collaboration. I appreciate the spontaneity of the original, which was put together the night of the American Music Awards. While I realize the project was put together to raise money for Haiti and the more celebs, the wider the audience and potential donor base, it seemed like WATW25 became more about filling the studio to capacity with famous people rather than creating a quality charity song. If you want people to buy the song or video, make it good.

My major beef: I'm so over Auto-Tune. Jay-Z may have called for the Death of Auto-Tune, but it just won't seem to go away. When you have people like Celine Dion, J-Hud, Barbara Streisand, Mary J. Blige and Josh Groban featured on the track - all artists with pipes of steel - and then you have Lil' Wayne and T-Pain Auto-Tune (I refuse to call it singing) for a couple of verses (longer than Ms. Streisand and Groban's solos), you're just creating a recipe for disaster. The T-Pain part killed the song for me.

I'm not sure how the solo selection process worked. I could have done with more Dion and less Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Nicole-from-the-Pussycat-Dolls. The rap was out of place. And honestly, it seemed like LL was the only one who was into it. I want to know where Stevie Wonder was that night because his part on the original was amazing and I would have rather heard that.

Here's the old video if you want to compare.

The one update I endorse is Wyclef's part. The pain in that man's voice is real. And his cries gave me a sense of urgency. I imagine it might be the push some people need to give to Haitian relief.

By the way, what did Jeff Bridges and Vince Vaughn add to the mix? I wonder if they were trying to recreate the confusing celeb cameo that Dan Akroyd make in the original.

Thoughts, anyone?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lessons the Super Bowl (Ads) Taught Me

Apparently, the worst possible thing for men is to be married. OR have a significant other. Because all women do is nag. And make you take responsibility for your actions. And make you walk around with their bra on your shoulder in the mall. And force you to marry them. And subdue you until you agree to make babies with them.

If not, that's what the advertising industry wants us to think. I read somewhere over the weekend that 51% of the Super Bowl viewing audience looks forward to the ads as much, if not more, than the game. And I'm willing to bet that women constitute a hefty portion of that segment. So it's sad that a majority of the Super Bowl ads, which are hailed as the best of the best, portrayed women in a negative light.

It's clear that all but one Super Bowl ad, the one that advocated women's heart health (I'm not counting the anti-abortion ad, that's a whole other story), were made with men in mind as the target demographic. I know that men are typically associated with sports watching, but most women I know watched the game (even if for some, it was just about the ads).

Now, I don't like ads in general, so I don't see what's so exciting about ads companies that are already a part of the American consciousness (Coke, Budwesier, Snickers,) spend millions of dollars on. Come on Google, you're brand is a verb; there's no reason for you to waste your money on a Super Bowl ad.

With such a large viewing audience, I do find it disturbing that misogyny was the overarching theme of the night.

Here's what I learned from watched the ads:

1. Having to do things for your girlfriend sucks.
2. The only thing worse is to have to do things for your wife. You married her, what else does she expect?
3. Men are long-suffering and put-upon.
4. Dove is for women. But Dove for Men apparently is injected with testosterone, which makes it manly.
5. Kids are just obligations.
6. Sexual harassment = awesome
7. The only time women are interesting is when they are naked or about to get naked
8. And this seemed to be the big one - Men, in their natural state, like to be pantless

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vanity "Fair"

Anything missing from this photo?

My instant reaction the new Vanity Fair cover was "Wow! Everyone is Caucasian" (perhaps less formal that that, but nevertheless).

The lack of diversity in their "New Decade, New Hollywood" issue was glaring and almost obvious to the point of intentional.

Now I'm not going to say what other actresses of color should have been on there, but how could Vanity Fair NOT see how glaring the omission is that they made? And yes, I am saying that the publication should have made an intentional effort to put in a few notable actresses that happen to be from more diverse backgrounds.

Seriously, anyone else would've been better than Kristen Stewart.

Vanity Fair attempted this diversity thing in their 2008 issue by including in Zoe Saldana and America Herrera on the cover inserts.

Come on VF! Let's progress and not digress!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Movie Math

Oscar nominations were announced this morning.
This year marks the most diverse Best Director/Achievement in Direction selection with Lee Daniels, Precious, and Kathryn Bigelow, Hurt Locker, nominated.
In the Academy Awards' 82-year history, Daniels is only the second African-American nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry. John Singleton was the first black director to be recognized, for Boyz N the Hood in '91.

Kathryn Bigelow, whose work has been garnering a lot of buzz, is the fourth woman to be nominated in this category. No female or African-American directors have ever taken the prize.

That's a pretty unbalanced equation, don't you think?

The Academy has a history of ignoring women and people of color. I believe that Ang Lee, who took this category for Brokeback Mountain, is the only minority person who has won for best direction.

Here's hoping either Bigelow or Daniels gets the Oscar. James Cameron seems like a lock, but he's already got an Oscar. Both Hurt Locker and Precious appear to have a lot of heart and I really don't want to hear another one of Cameron's "king of the world" speeches about how his films have dominated the global box office.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New York, New York

Thank goodness Project Runway returned to New York. I don't know who they were trying to kid, everybody knows New York is the fashion capital of America. LA has a totally different style. I just can't handle it when my shows break from formula.

Without Michael Kors and Nina Garcia, the judging wasn't even worth watching. And who were the producers kidding with that satellite Mood store? Weak.

I couldn't even tell you who won last season even though I watched nearly every episode. Looks like they're going to "make it work" this season!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Obama schools US

"In America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college" - Pres. Obama in his State of the Union address.

So true. And yet, I know so many who are. Going broke I mean. I shouldn't have to be punished for trying to better myself.

Sometimes You Just Need a Little Push

Last week, South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer compared welfare recipients to stray animals. Here's the exact quote:
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed! You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that."

Wow, all I can say is wow. This is a public official. And his position is so poisonous. I understand that conservatives want government to stay out of people's private affairs. And I know, believe me I know - having witnessed the first and third of the month behind a teller line - how easy it is to get jaded about government assistance. But this. His position is terrifying. To suggest that the government not "feed" hungry citizens, that is akin to advocating the extermination of low-income individuals.

To this man, though I fear he may not be literate enough to do so, I suggest reading Push, the novel by Sapphire that the film Precious is based upon. The book presents a microcosm of American society. Of the forgotten people, those who must rely on government assistance to better themselves. It humanizes an issue that people who have never been in a position to receive aid may otherwise never comprehend.

Having just finished reading Push for a book club meeting, I will attest that this book moved me to examine my positions on government assistance. Sure, some people abuse the system. But that doesn't mean that everyone does. Like the book's name implies, some people just need a push, a little boost so they can rise above. You would be surprised how difficult it is for people to get by without a network to rely on.

If, like Precious, you've been abused and assaulted by both of your parents, bypassed by the school system, and have no connections at all, then you're screwed. Unless you receive some aid. And maybe the only place you can get it is from the government.
Some people just need a launching pad before they can soar.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our first-year anniversary

It's been an amazing year. We started this project last year on MLK Day and we have grown so much since then. Thanks so much to anyone and everyone who follows this blog!

Love, Cris and Di

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Come Together

Yesterday, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake - hit Port-au-Prince, the worst to hit the nation in 200 years. Early estimates project nearly 1/3 of the population of the country has been affected by the disaster.

Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world, carries a lot of historical significance. The first established democratic Black republic, as well as the first independent region in Latin America, Haiti is unique for forcing its independence through a slave rebellion.

Sadly, though one of the first nations to free itself from colonialism, the country has long struggled with political instability. Long after its independence, Haiti continued to be controlled by foreign powers, who created dependency. According to the CIA, nearly 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Imagine the state of the nation now.

Here's a chance for you to help out. Modern technology has made it incredibly easy for us to save a life from the comfort of our couches. To give $10 to the Red Cross, all you have to do is text "Haiti" to 90999. To donate $5 to Yele Haiti, a foundation started by one of Haiti's most famous sons - Wyclef Jean - text "Yele" to 501501. It's that easy to make a difference. If my broke self could do it, so can you.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Battle of the Big-Budget Blockbusters

The vaguely ethnic wolfpack from New Moon.

As blockbusters go, I'm pretty apathetic. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy flashy explosions and power ballad theme songs just as much as anyone else but, after a while, they all blend together to me. The plots and characters start to feel recycled.

This year, I had the honor (or dishonor, depending on how you want to look at it) of viewing two of the most-anticipated films of the year on their opening weekends. And let me just say, one clear beat the other. Those movies were the Twilight sequel, New Moon and James Cameron's Avatar. Besides the buzz surrounding these films, the two are almost incomparable.

The Twilight craze is strong and so unjustifiably so (in my view) but, Avatar definitely lived up to the hype. And I'm glad audiences worldwide have warmed to my view. Domestically, Avatar may not have caught up with New Moon (which has been playing longer) but, it's breaking all sorts of international box office records and is on its way to reaching Titanic heights.

If you're on the dark side, I'm not going to try to sway you. But I will present some valid arguments to demonstrate Avatar's superiority.

1. Avatar respects women and New Moon really doesn't. For the fact that author of the Twilight series is a woman who wrote her books from a female's point of view, for all the buzz the films have received for providing young women with a positive role model, New Moon is the most anti-feminist movie I've seen in a long time. Whiny, co-dependent Bella is the least likable character I've seen on screen. Most of the movie, she spends her time plotting various ways to kill herself because A.) her man left her and B.) she "sees" him when she's in dangerous situations. Every time this happens, some guy has to swoop in and save the day. Bella is an anti-heroine. I would never want my daughter to idolize her, even if she promotes chastity. Avatar, on the other hand, written by Cameron and told from a male point of view, features strong female characters. Ones who I respect and would like my daughter (if I had one) not to worship but, to admire qualities of.

2. Exploitation - The whole draw of New Moon is half-naked exotic looking boys. Where Twilight was all about Robert Pattinson's hotness, New Moon is all about Taylor Lautner's abs. For some reason, his character can't seem to keep his shirt on. Maybe he's allergic to wearing clothes. Either way, I found my self guilty of making this 17-year-old (the same age as my little brother) a sexual object. It really creeped me out. Society's always making a big deal about half-naked teenage girls (Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus) yet, nobody seems troubled that the climax of New Moon is when Lautner exposes his perfectly indented abdomen for the first time. This is the only time I will probably ever state this, so listen up: New Moon promotes a male double standard. And don't get me started on the clearly ethno-centric bent of this film. In Avatar, even though the characters are mostly naked for the whole film, it feels natural. Maybe it's because they are computer-generated but, I feel like the avatars are tastefully undressed, if that makes sense. It seems natural for the Na'vi culture to wear minimal clothes, as they would just
interfere with their connectivity with nature and their hunting and gathering activities.

Zoe Saldana's character, Neytiri, daughter of the Na'vi tribe's chief.

3. Plot vs. Not - From most the reviews I have read, the plot of Avatar is the one aspect of the film that has been heavily criticized. I realize that it was not the deepest film I have ever seen. Yet, I do understand the overarching themes - respect for humanity, anti-imperialism, indigenous rights, man's return to nature, and they speak to me. I feel there is a point to the movie. When I was watching New Moon, I just felt like I was wasting my time. Since it was based on a best-selling novel, I expected some substance. Yet, I felt like the film was just banking on the franchise's power and unlike the Harry Potter flicks, I did not feel like it could stand alone. The characters were cardboard and one-dimensional and the pacing was terrible. The first 3/4 of the film dragged on forever and all the action took place at the end. I think this is because we were supposed to go on a psychological journey with Bella but, it was shoddily set up.

4. Acting ability - I won't say that the actors in Avatar are the best in the world. Zoe Saldana's accent shifts around at times. But the voice actors are so much more emotive than the human figures in New Moon. Kristen Stewart still hasn't grown out of her awkwardness. Where at first, this characteristic might have been endearing, I'm over it. She's been acting for years and she should have developed her craft by now. All she does is make a pouty face and roll her eyes. Robert Pattinson's career seems to based on his attractiveness. His acting consists of making sour faces, like he just sucked on a lemon. Since his casting appears to hang on his beauty, when Taylor Lautner upstages him in that department, his existence is just sort of pointless. I'm glad an unknown was chosen for the lead role in Avatar. Since I had no idea who he was, I didn't associate his personality with his performance, which I thought was acceptable - he served his purpose as an action star and I got that his character was undergoing a transformation.

There's no comparing special effects as Avatar has broken a mold in the film industry in terms of its innovative 3-D technology. What I will say is that as a traditional film, Avatar crushes New Moon's in all the non-blockbuster categories.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Decadence: A Decade's End

As 2010 crawls to a start, I can't help but reflect on not just the past year but, the last decade. I can't help but imagine that in history books, the 2000s will go down as a time of extreme materialism and for lack of better term ... decadence. In the words of Britney Spears, the official motto of this decade should have been "Gimme gimme more."

For me, the last 10 years have been completely transformative, as I started the Millennium as a pimple-faced adolescent. So for me, it's almost hard to imagine a time before the Internet. I honestly can't believe that I've only had a cell phone for the last 6 years because texting is now just the fastest way to communicate with someone. And my goodness, I don't even know what college students did before Facebook and YouTube. They probably got out more often. Or just were drunk more often. Either way, these advents have come to define my generation.

Here's a look back at what I mean about the Gimme More years.

The Web

The Internet has taken over our lives. But with every advance, it seems that we are always want things to be faster, stronger, more accessible. Pretty much every cafe, library and even public parks now offer wi-fi, a concept that was just not conceivable (at least to me) 10 years ago.

I didn't have access to the Internet until I was in high school and now, I don't know what I would do if I lost access to it. It's just so much easier to hide behind an e-mail than to put yourself out their face-to-face.

I know some people might call Gen. Y the "Look at Me" generation because, let's face it, technology normalized our self-absorption. Blogs have pretty much replaced diaries and bonus! - we can now broadcast our feelings to the whole world. Depending on how self-obsessed we are, we can tell people what we're doing pretty much any time of the day. And as I said before, it's hard to believe YouTube has only been around for a half-decade. Viral videos are so prevalent in our culture now. It's hard to imagine the college experience without the joy of the Pearl/"Landlord" video or egads being totally and utterly disgusted by just the mention of "Two Girls and a Cup." And like YouTube, Facebook brought procrastination to a whole new level. Hours upon hours can be spent on Facebook, if you have the time and don't burn your lap with your laptop. You can invent a whole new cyber persona, friend people you haven't so much as spoken to in real life, and stalk crushes through this medium. If that's not enough, you can create party invitations, organize photo albums, and carry on entire conversations with friends without so much as talking to them. And you can lie in bed the whole time you're doing this.

And now, you can do all these things from your phone! It give me a headache just to think about it.


There have been quite a few trends in films this decade including the Manchild movies (ie: the Hangover, the 40-year-old Virgin, and anything starring Will Ferrell), tween flicks (anything starring anyone from the Disney Channel) and the re-emergence of the musical (Moulin Rouge, Rent, Nine). But the one constant has been epic special effects movies. The stories are simple: superhero stories (Spiderman, Batman, Ironman), the archetypal hero's journey (Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter) and most of these stories are adaptations from comic books and popular novels. The equation's always the same = simple plot, strong characters, and big, huge explosions. Movies were all about demonstrating technical mastery, not of the craft of acting but rather, the developments of computer-generated technology. Each and every action film seems to be trying to outdo the last.

And even simple cartoons got in on the action. One-dimensional cellularly constructed cartoons grew nearly invisible by the end of the decade. Pixar and Dreamworks owned children's movies and every year, computer animated films got more precise, more realistic looking.


The 2000s was the decade of overproduced, overpackaged musicians. In my opinion, women reined supreme this decade. But most of these women were created by men. They were taught to sing (or at least lip sync) with over-the-top gesturing, dance like pros, flirt with men and women alike and just generally sell their brands. Britney and Christina were pumped out of the Disney machine. Beyonce and Jessica were cultivated by their fathers. Pink went from punk to pop-music mold. The top group of 2009 was the Black Eyed Peas, a "band" made up of mostly producers. And keeping with the mechanization of our society, synthesizers and auto-tune took the place of vocal talent.


The idea of bigger is better ruled this decade. It's now wonder Hummers became an unofficial symbol of our culture. As a society, we became hyper-consumers, we wanted it all. Anything we could get our hands on.

After the longest period of peace in the United States, we entered into not just one but, two wars at the same time. Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, 'civilian casualties' became a daily part of our lives. Thanks to all the money pumped into the military complex, the country entered into a historical level of debt.

And it wasn't just the government that couldn't control it's spending. As objects got shinier, our collective credit card bills grew out of control. Personal debt skyrocketed. Our eyes got bigger and bigger and we strove for items we knew were completely out of range, such as houses with mortgages that were completely unaffordable. It was only a matter of time until our spending caught up with us, which it did the last two years. And now, even our numbers of unemployment are outrageous.

I could go on and on. But I'm going to stop here. I want to hear from you, do you agree with me or am I totally off-base?

Either way, I hope the new decade provides something of a social cleanse.