Saturday, July 08, 2006

Racism...or Art?

So Sony is running these ads for their new "white" PSP (the system is currently only available in black).
These are just a sample of about a hundred pictures that Sony took.
Many people are screaming to high heaven that these ads are blatantly racist, but I'm honestly not so sure. Yes it does feature a white woman and a black woman throwing down, but as I said before there are about 100 pictures of various poses where black is dominant or white is dominant or they are just posing.
Some feel that "The two images comprising the ad are intended to sway sympathies to the 'white' by in some way vilifying the black. There is clearly tension in the imagery that's built upon racial tension. There's an overall feeling of 'white'superiority that stems from the fact that the white model has a sort of rock star, supermodel look while the black model has a more proletarian appearance."(BroBuzz.)
On the other hand, some see it the other way where white is actually vilified because of the way she is treating black, and the fact that black is not shown in the same "rock star" fashion. She is in fact the poor or middle America rising to show the upper class all their evils (I'm not making this stuff up).
Now, these ads were only run in Holland, but people across the world saw these ads online and the debate erupted.

Sony became worried that they would be hit with lawsuits and changed the ads to the one on the right which features only the one model put into two colors. (Which is worse, isn't it? I mean they got rid of the black model all together....)

But are these ads really racist? Or is it all in the interpretation? Could it be that these ads were designed to be merely avant garde and instead people have blown them out of proportion?
What if it was the other way? Look at the DS Lite. It was shown all in white in most of the ads. What if Nintendo started pimping a black DS in the same manner as Sony is doing here? Would everyone still say it was racist?
You tell me, dear readers. Have we all lost our minds? Are these ads racist or not?

Ramblings for the Morning (7/8/2006)

Ok, so I haven't posted in a while. Sorry. Kind of busy with stuff. You know, new kid and all.
I'm making the effort now.
So, without further ado: MAAAATT DAAAMOON!
The Fourth of July:
My wife and I took it easy on the Fourth. We didn't really go anywhere. In fact, she and Poozer went to bed early while I stayed up late (I take the late shift and then sleep from 3 to 7. Seems to work).
From where I live, you can see a few fireworks displays (depends on who is doing what). I decided to walk outside and grab some I had some diapers to take out. The second I stepped outside (and I'm not trying to be crass) I felt like I was in a war zone of sorts. Every direction had sounds of fireworks exploding. Many of my neighbors had them, which was strange as well. So, as I took the walk from my door to my trash can, I heard all of these noises.
Pop! Pop! Pop!
And on and on it went. I half expected for Tom Hanks to pop out of my garden and tell me we had to, "Take that beach!"
I did, at two points, almost jump out of my skin when my neighbors set off fireworks near me (and in one case almost hit me).
As I rounded the corner to go back into my house, my neighbors on my right set off a bunch of firecrackers. Those pops sound an awful lot like gunfire. And, as if that wasn't enough, one of the families down the street had bottle rockets and were setting them off. Well, one of their kids apparently wasn't being careful and either picked up the rocket or knocked it over. All I know is that while I was talking to my neighbors on my other side, a flash hit their house not far from where we were standing. That's right, we were almost hit by a bottle rocket.
It reminded me of a party I had gone to while in college where the hosts thought it would be funny to fire bottle rockets at cars and people who passed by their home. I guess when you're drunk enough that's funny. Well, they did it for two solid hours...until one of the cars they hit was a cop car. Let's just say Leab didn't have bail money that night for anyone.
Back the point, as I heard the fireworks, that's when the whole idea (crass as it may be) about a war zone came into my head. There were flashes everywhere, pops and crackling everywhere. It's no wonder that many veterans have their PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) triggered on this holiday. With all of the noises and such, I suspect that it can remind people of being in a war zone.
On the bright side, though my neighbor's kid was, my son was not afraid of the noises or the fireworks at all.
Snakes in the Grass:
I don't really have a good title for this, but that's ok. I'm quite frustrated with my wife's friends and co-workers. On Thursday night, a few of my wife's friends called and said they would be coming over Friday night. Immediately my wife went into semi-crisis mode.
See, when I have friends or family come, I don't do alot. I pick up shoes, clean the dishes, and make sure the toilet works.
My wife, on the other hand, hands me a list and says, "Get to it." Thus vacuuming is done, toilets are scrubbed, and refrigerators are cleaned out. (And I don't get the last. Why would a guest be going into my fridge?)
So, my wife gets all gussied up as this is the first time she's seen anyone since giving birth to our son. She's actually nervous (whereas I couldn't care less). I, on the other hand, am wearing the clothes that I had on while mowing and weeding.
Evening comes and so do her friends and co-workers...and this is where I get pissed off.
When someone has given birth, you have to, oh I don't know, acknowledge the baby. So, they come in, and my wife is holding Poozer. The first person says, "Yeah, he's cute. Now hand him off to Dad over there." The baby is handed to me. The friends and co-workers then proceed to spend the next ten minutes talking about stuff that they have been or will be doing. Remember: my lovely wife has just gone through pregnancy and labor. It's usually polite to talk to the mother about that first. Don't tell her about how you're jetting off to the Dominican Republic and doing all these things that she (and I quote), "Can't do now that you have Little Leab."
When my wife was finally able to talk about the baby, she was quickly shut down by her friends who instead told a story about a marathon they all ran in together with a whole bunch of in-jokes that made no sense. I was irate. They were in our home supposedly for her, but treated her as nothing more than a spectator.
The final kicker, however, came before they left. They were in our house for less than a half an hour. Everyone was heading out to a meeting at Psycho Suzi's...and they wanted my wife to go. We were just a pit stop on the way. The conversation went like this:
Them: "Come to Psycho Suzi's with us. It's Schnooka's (a nickname) birthday. Come party. We miss you."
My wife: "I shouldn't. He (the baby, not me) eats every two hours. Plus, I'm tired...and a little sore."
Them: "So?! Throw some milk in a bottle and bring a donut cushion. He (indicating me) can stay here with the baby. Come on! We need our drinking buddy back."
(Note: See, my wife is quite a fun drunk. When she drinks, she does and says things she wouldn't normally do. She's also up for almost anything. That's why they want her.)
My wife: "I can't drink yet. I'm breastfeeding. I won't be pumping and dumping yet. Plus there's all that smoke (I'm guessing my wife is unaware of the smoking ban)."
Them: "Excuses. Come on!"
My wife: "You know, after everything he's done today, it wouldn't be fair to him (indicating me) to just leave him with the baby. He needs to rest too. He's only been sleeping around three hours a day."
Them: "It's fine. Look he doesn't care, right?"
Me: "Actually, I do. She needs to rest. Not go off drinking."
Them: "You're biased. You just don't want to watch the baby."
It's at this point that I take the kid with me to put him in his crib. If I'm going to fight, I'm not going to do it in front of him.
When I return, my wife has finished explaining that she will not go.
Her friends and co-workers are angry. "We wasted a trip," one of them says.
I watch my wife's face fall a little. This group has done what birth couldn't do. They have actually broken my wife's spirit a little.
You have to understand that these people standing in my living room upset over my wife's decision are close to forty. They act like children, because (in my opinion) they are afraid to be adults.
They came not to see our child, but to grab my wife and make her go out drinking. I agree with them that she should get out of the house, but heading off to a bar is not necessarily the best choice. What's worse is turning on her, because she won't go. That just pisses me off.
She's a parent now, folks, and unlike the movies, you don't give birth and then get back in the game right away. It takes time.
I made one mistake last night. Tired and angry, I kicked everyone out last night. I was polite, but I still told everyone to leave because, "The kid needs to eat now."
After getting my wife set up, I went outside to water our plants. The group was still standing in my driveway bitching about my wife's refusal to come. Much like high school kids, they started talking in hushed whispers when I came outside.
Again, my problem is not that they asked her to go out. In due time I'd like to see my wife go out with her friends. The problem I have is that they were upset, because she wouldn't go out right then.
Maybe i'm just overreacting....
and finally:
Truth, Justice...and All That Stuff:
My family was in town recently. The came to visit the baby (their first grandson/nephew. They already have a granddaughter/neice). My father and I had free tickets to see Superman Returns, so we left my mother and sister with my wife and took off.
It's a beautiful film...but very disappointing.
I can move beyond the giant Christ allegoy (no less than seven shots with Superman having his arms outstretched, and having his side pierced by Kryptonite), but the film still has some problems. This is, of course, my opinion, so feel free to disagree.
1. Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane does not work. First of all she looks like she's 14. Secondly, you never really buy her being the tough gal that you did with Margot Kidder or even Dana Delany in the cartoon. The youth issue leads to problem number two....

2. The kid. Sigh. Another kid introduced into a series. This is supposed to be Lois' child, but again, she looks way to young to have had a child. Also the kind of annoying.
3. The plot. Ok, so Luthor wants to create a new island. Great. Here's the problem: From the moment the island starts to be created and is supposed to destroy Metropolis, the film flops. How exactly does Superman save Metropolis? What is the point of the ending? At the end of the original Superman film with Christopher Reeve, Supes saves Lois and puts Luthor in jail. Here we're left with a few false endings and then possibly the most anti-climatic ending. I won't spoil it, but you see it coming from the moment certain characters are introduced. It's annoying.
4. Not enough Luthor/Superman intrigue. They spend five minutes together on screen. That's it. Five minutes. That's not enough for the hero and villain. It's just not enough. They don't even really talk to each other.
5. While the film is lyrical (beautifully shot), it is overly long at points. At over two and a half hours, there are some points that can be cut out. Sadly, most of the points that could be cut are from the Lois/Superman romance angle.
6. Truth, Justice...All that stuff? We can no longer say the American Way? Has it become so taboo to say the American Way because of America's recent actions? Even though we've done some stupid stuff, are we not a great country anymore?
Are there positives? Sure.
1. Brandon Routh is Christopher Reeve as Superman. He is. He does a great Chris Reeve impression throughout the entire film.
2. There are some great inside jokes that you can get if you understand film. Singer borrows some shots from The Day The Earth Stood Still, and more. Plus, Perry White has a great line about Academy Awards.
3. The music. Ok, this only works because they used John Williams' score from the old film.
4. Kevin Spacey and Parker Posey are the best parts of the film. Spacey is obviously having fun, and Parker Posey is always great.
Here's the deal. If you really like Superman and have the time and patience, it's an interesting film and well shot. However, if you're looking for a big action film, this is NOT it. This is more of an art film than an action film.
Of course that's just my opinion, I'm more of a Green Lantern fan....

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Zen of Parenthood

There are thousands of books on the subject. Anyone who has ever talked to a parent knows that each parent in the world has their own take on how to do things (how to soothe, how to feed, etc).
This post is not going to be about my advice to you on how to be a parent. I am not the world's greatest parent, but I'm not the worst either. Yet, the more I think on it, what makes someone the world's greatest parent? I don't know that either. As I said, this is not to be about how to be a parent as I have no real advice to give (I've only been a parent for a little over a week, folks).
No, this entry is about the Zen of Parenthood.
In some ways, parenting is a great deal like meditation. In the world of meditation, one is supposed to push aside all thoughts save for one and concentrate on that one thought into singularity.
Parenting is no different. The means are not the same as mediation, but the outcome is the same: to calm the mind.
Last night I couldn't sleep, so while my wife and son were out cold, I sat and watched Poozer doze. Those of you who are married, have children, or just have a significant other have, at one time or another, probably had that rush of thoughts that comes when you think about the relationship/life/etc.
What will happen tomorrow?
Will he/she still love me?

What If I get hit by a bus?
What will he/she be like when ten/fifteen years old?
How can I protect him/her from the troubles of this world?
On and on it goes.
Your brain runs at a million miles per hour with thoughts going so fast that they appear like those black shadows in the corners of your eye.
So how do you stop it?
You concentrate on one thought: his/her breath.
You watch this little person just breath. Concentrate on that as well as the idea that as long as that breath goes in and out, everything will be fine.

At the same time, you start to move in ways that feel like breathing.
This evening, as I was changing a diaper, my wife noticed that I wasn't looking at the baby while I was changing him. No, I was talking to her. Yet, there I was slapping on the necessary components (wipe, petroleum jelly, new diaper) without pausing.
You begin to move with a flow where you don't need to think. It's almost like second nature.
When I was doing theatre lighting professionally, I had the ability to not even look at what I was working on while doing it. Building a light from scratch, when you've done it enough, is like breathing. The same can be said for teaching (as can be seen with some of my colleagues). The explanation of Poe, the teaching of slope, or the understanding of French can be laid in your head in such a way that talking about them is like waving at someone. Any job can get that way.
Back to the point. After only two weeks, I have changed enough diapers that I can do it all with my eyes closed.
Parenting. It gets to a point where it's all a second nature. I love the fact that I no longer worry or think about what I'm doing when I'm with my son. Instead the time flies as I try to make him smile and learn.
I understand what my parents have been trying to tell me about parenting now.