In Defense of Bill Cosby

cosbyhead

A talented comedian can find humor in tragedy. So maybe, just maybe, this post won’t be a labored slog into a rape case. Maybe the legacy of Bill Cosby should be defended, and I can accomplish that with my typical mix of empathy and sarcasm. Maybe.

Unfortunately, I’m no comedian. This post will be laborious, the Cosby legacy deserves some reconsideration, and “sarcastic empathy” makes no goddamn sense. I have no idea where I’m going with this, so let’s just spin into darkness together, wanton and bewildered.

Because I might be defending a serial rapist.

My thoughts exactly.

Exactly.

For the uninitiated/willfully naive, here’s a brief rundown. A woman named Andrea Constand accused Cosby of battery and sexual assault in 2005. The lawsuit mentioned 13 Jane Does, all with similar stories of sexual misconduct. Cosby settled out of court, with no admission of guilt. Done, except not. Few things are that simple.

Now, the Jane Does are telling their stories. This prompted more women to come forward, more discussion online, more jokes from comedians, and fewer Cosby Show reruns. As accusations pile, Mr. Cosby has been stonewalling journalists. A perfect shitstorm of drama and controversy.

Cable news executives were both prudent and restrained. Obviously.

Cable news executives were both prudent and restrained. Obviously.

I remind you, these are alleged acts, and I’m not prepared to deem Bill Cosby innocent or guilty. Far smarter people are going to hash that out. But if you want more info, here are some horrifying Newsweek articles.

More, weirder info? Here’s a video of Cosby gibber-stuttering around journalist inquiries.

To be fair, it's his primary mode of communication.

To be fair, it’s his primary mode of communication.

But whether or not he’s guilty, I have a problem with these allegations. Well, a lot of problems. It’s a rape case. No amount of funky sweaters or pudding pops can make that less disturbing. But I have problems beyond the natural response to forced sex.

In my research, I found many comments yearning for ignorance. People who “wouldn’t tell their parents,” who were “raised with Bill Cosby and refuse to imagine him as a criminal.” Many possess a yearning to retain his legacy, as it were. To them, Bill Cosby is somehow “too good to be remembered this way.” “I’ll just ignore all this til it blows over,” wrote one individual.

Frankly, it’s disgusting.

Exactly.

Exactly.

Maybe I can’t understand. After all, I have no childhood memories of The Cosby Show. I was raised on Nintendo, The Simpsons and Homeward Bound, none of which star real people I’d recognize. Mario wasn’t a personal father figure (phew), Bart Simpson wasn’t a role model and Sassy the Cat didn’t commit crimes in the years after her Incredible Journey.

That we know of.

“Don’t ask questions, boy.”

But no matter what, putting someone on a pedestal is grossly unfair. It’s what children do while still young and stupid, before they find out their parents are actual people with flaws and downfalls.

No one deserves the infallible label, because no one can live up to that.

It’s this willful naiveté that I find disturbing. Maybe these allegations are false, and this has become a witch hunt. Maybe the women are finding mild celebrity in this (most are not seeking financial compensation, so that dose of victim shaming can be disregarded). The Cosby scandal could dissipate and leave us with halcyon reruns.

But imagine these allegations are true, and we resign to willful ignorance. So what then, possible rape cannot be addressed because we like the guy? Ooh, he’s silly, he couldn’t have done this? Sins are impossible because he’s funny?

What kind of message does that send?

Imagine the trouble respected celebrities could get into with that kind of immunity and non-accountability. Bill Cosby doesn’t deserve that. No person alive deserves that, because no person can retain humanity under those circumstances.

That we know of.

“Yes… no person indeed…”

But in equal measure, we shouldn’t rush to demonize.

According to this Huffington Post article, Raven-Symone had to refute rumors that Cosby molested her while she was on his show. If you recall, she was practically a baby. And adding “pedophile” to a list of possible wrong-doings should only be done with prudence and careful restraint, not haphazard rumor milling.

Cable news executives were both prudent and restrained. Obviously.

“WHEEEEEEE!”

But that’s what we’ve become. We either deify or demonize, and see no area or possibility for gray. Gray isn’t bold and simple like black or white, but most of the world possesses that shade. We should probably grow up and get used to it.

Granted, careful consideration is hard. This Cracked article addresses why it’s easy to ignore the allegations, and this Boston.com article talks about the difficultly of separating Bill Cosby from his beloved TV character. It’s hard. But we can’t ignore the truth simply because we need The Cosby Show. It’s not fair to anyone, including Bill Cosby.

And eventually, maybe we can separate Dr. Huxtable from his portrayer. One day, The Cosby Show can start to recover. But no amount of fondness is worth denying the possibility of serial rape. Once The Cosby Show‘s back… just, um, ignore Dr. Huxtable’s profession.

Hell, if nothing else just watch it for Clair.

Dayum, guuurl.

Dayum.

Does putting Phylicia Rashād on a pedestal make me a hypocrite? Perhaps. But I mean dayum.

Advertisements

In Defense of Literally I Can’t

literallyheadI’m feeling nice this week. And what better way to celebrate than with the… music of Playz-N-Skillz. Please, click on the YouTube link to see Literally I Can’t, Mr. Skillzs’ latest music video. Then we can discuss it, with civil niceties and total cohesion. Go ahead.

Trust me.

OK< NOW WE”RE IN THIS TOGETHER! Don’t you go CHICKENSHIT on me now, ’cause YOU’RE PART OF THIS. DON”T YOU DARE!!! GET BACK EHRE RIHGT NOOW!!!! I NEEEEEEEEEED HELP WTH THIS!<>!<M#$t^&.

Shit.

Let’s see. How to defend this…

Literally, I... will try.

Literally, I… will try.

Let me first tell the tale of how I found it. After all, it’s a 2-week old rap video by someone named Playz-N-Skillz. Not typically my scene, being the type of guy who uses the term “my scene.”

Earlier this week, I was surfing the Huffington Post and came across an innocent enough article, titled Redfoo Defends The Most Offensive Song Of 2014.

“Who is this Redfoo,” I thought, “and why is he defending Magic!’s Rude?”

rude

Good in comparison.

Anywho, to Redfoo.

I had assumed this “Redfoo” was a cheap goop toy, like Play-Doh or Gak or Floam. Perhaps a cinnamon gum, or a Dollar store shampoo. Ketchup-based entrée? Ridiculous acronym? Redhead martial arts? Then I saw his picture.

Why couldn't it have been shampoo?

Why couldn’t it have been shampoo?

Recognize him? If not, you’ve somehow avoided LMFAO’s brief time in the sun. Or you don’t watch the Australian version of The X Factor, on which he’s inexplicably a judge. Well, inexplicably until I found out he’s a pretty successful record producer. And youngest son of Motown Record Company founder Berry Gordy, Jr.

Anyway, Redfoo is featured in Literally I Can’t, along with Lil Jon and Enertia McFly. Redfoo asserts he loves and respects all women, and that Literally I Can’t is simply a comical satire/ dance groove. Nothing controversial, he opines. Indeed, he defends it, making him my compatriot. Joy.

So let’s go through this. Relive the trauma.

My thoughts exactly, Mr. Foo.

My thoughts exactly, Mr. Foo.

The video begins with classical music and this not-at-all-alarming disclaimer:

The following is a satirical video based on Sororities/Fraternities and the cliche “Literally I Can’t”. This content is in no way to be interpreted as misogynistic or negative towards any groups of people. It is an art piece and it shall be taken as such.

You WILL take it as such.

We’re then introduced to a group of synchronized pearl-clad sorority girls walking into a frat party. Why? Who knows. They look prepared for semi-formal tennis. But like good hosts, the frat singers immediately offer refreshments. “Shot of vodka?,” they inquire. Instantly, literally rejected. “Tequila?,” they question. Unfortunately, the girls are literally unable to drink either. Allergies can be a bummer. Or maybe they can’t digest any liquids, you don’t know. But they cannot, literally.

There’s a third offer, which I think is “after party” but sounds like “apple bobbing.” Either option is literally rejected. A couple more incoherent offers come next, involving dancing and/or ferns. Or maybe friends, I’m not sure. Clearly frustrated, the gents go to a weird place.

“Girl on girl?,” they inquire.

Indeed.

How I felt. All those faces.

The base thumps and the literallys continue until we’re introduced to our poetic refrain. Lil Jon, pulling off his hat in clear grammatical frustration, exclaims the following verse to the heavens:

“Oh my God! Shut the f*** up!”

literallyicant

Though apparently, this entreaty convinces a few girls to twerk for Redfoo. How fortunate for the gents in attendance! Unfortunately, this also causes Redfoo to rap.

I said jump on the pole
I didn’t need your opinion
Gurrrrl I’m sippin’ on this drink
I’m tryna see what you got
Not tryna hear what you think

Well, that just seems rude. Why you gotta be… nevermind.

By now, head cheerleader girl is aghast. I’ll call her Heather. Heather merely wants to play ping-pong (sorta dressed for it), but the table is littered with red cups and booze. “Ew,” she utters, swatting away a beer-pong ball.

pong

Heather’s pink-haired compatriot is then pushed into an inflatable pool. Ew. But someone starts filming her for a porn site, so Pinky gets in the spirit! Another cheerleader appears to be apple bobbing in a paint closet, so she’s having a good time. But Heather is just such a prude. She even disses a constipated mascot. Cold.

Obviously, the only way to deal with this is to surround Heather, scream “Shut the f*** up!” as she probably soils herself, and banish her from the party.

"I love & respect women and feel they are the most powerful people on this planet!" - Redfoo

“I love & respect women and feel they are the most powerful people on this planet!” – Redfoo

But remember. This is art.

So does this work as satire? I don’t think so. What is it even satirizing? They’re just making fun of stuck-up sorority girls. And there’s certainly material there, but not while advertising a porn site and dismissing all female thought.

I’d go to my friend Redfoo, but he seems to misunderstand the complaints.

Well, our job here is done! The word “slut” isn’t there, so no misogyny!

But without Redfoo, I have to turn to YouTube commenters.

Aside from swears, insults and rage I’d prefer not to write, a few commenters say this song is about prudishness, that going to a party only to complain is simply “INCERDIBLY stupid.” I don’t think that typo helped his cause.

But what does that tell college girls? To loosen up and have fun, or to become loose and become my fun? I doubt I’m reaching here. Again:

I said jump on the pole
I didn’t need your opinion
Gurrrrl I’m sippin’ on this drink
I’m tryna see what you got
Not tryna hear what you think

Others say the song is just poking fun at a verbal cliché, the “Literally” crowd. And I might snigger like a snob when that’s misused, but that’s a pretty thin premise to satirize. Literally.

So what to defend? Well… um… they didn’t use the word “slut.”

"Told ya."

“Told ya.”

Aside from that, maybe the message is for sorority girls to stop going to frat parties. If you find it objectionable, just don’t go. With college date rape the way it is, perhaps that’s a good message, a safe message. Maybe this song could be some weird anti-frat anthem. But there’s a problem with that theory, and most interpretations I mentioned thus far.

Literally I Can’t is NOT aimed at college girls. This is music for frat boys at frat parties. And if you’re trying to fix frat boy society, you’ll need more than a song.

But maybe, this “satire” can show a symptom of that fratty entitlement to booty and booze. Maybe this’ll convince doubters that there’s a problem in our colleges. Because you can make fun of prudes and verbal clichés, but it’s easy to go too far. You can veer into disrespectful support very very quickly.

Literally I Can’t crosses that line, and even the makers know it. After all, Redfoo apologized for being offensive, vowing to be more mindful in the future. If this was the tipping point for Redfoo, maybe it can be for others as well.

Good job Redfoo, my dear compatriot. Maybe one day, I’ll defend you.

redfoofinal

Literally, I… could.

PS: The beat was stolen from these girls. Because this… this is art.

In Defense of Lena Dunham

lenaheader

“Do we all have uteruses?” I asked my mother when I was seven.

That’s, um, not me. It’s a quote from Lena Dunham’s new book, “Not That Kind of Girl.” To reiterate, that quote was not me. I’m a late bloomer, so I’m texting my mother that question right now. And… back to Lena.

“Yes,” (my mother) told me. “We’re born with them, and with all our eggs, but they start out very small. And they aren’t ready to make babies until we’re older.”

Ah yes, exactly what my mom just said. Oh, sorry, I’m sure you’re just enthralled by Ms. Dunham’s account of anatomical discovery. I’ll be quiet.

I look at my sister, now a slim, tough one-year-old, and at her tiny belly. I imagined her eggs inside her, like the sack of spider eggs in Charlotte’s Webb, and her uterus, the size of a thimble.

“Does her vagina look like mine?”

“I guess so,” my mother said. “Just smaller.”

One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina.

Woah woah woah, what the what?!? Oh, sorry, shutting up…

She didn’t resist…

What?

and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.

Wait, WHAT?

My mother came running. “Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!”

WHAAAAAAT?

My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just got on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.

Ahem. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

whaat

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?

So yeah, this week I’m defending Lena Dunham. Let’s see how this goes.

Okay, real talk. We all did embarrassing stuff as kids, right? Kids are weird. I remember chucking my clothes at my brother when I was seven. Though I clearly had valid reasons. He was being a jerk and I needed projectiles. We’re all plagued by childhood weirdness for a few years.

And yet, that doesn’t come close to Lena’s tendency to TMI. But that’s her shtick. We’re talking about the frequently-nude writer/star of Girls, after all. Watching Girls is like an anatomy lesson, with awkward hookups and kooky, half-mumbled dialogue. So, like high school sex ed.

Banana

So many bananas…

So maybe the awkward story about her youthful vaginal curiosity is just another kooky overshare. In the same book, she talks about masturbation, bribing her sister to practice kissing, sexual encounters… but something about that one excerpt has caused abundant backlash. Well, that and this sentence:

“Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”

All of this is provocative out of context. Hell, it’s kinda disconcerting in context. That’s kinda the point. But it seems to be time for everyone to hop aboard the anti-Dunham bandwagon.

Meanwhile, she's just anti-pants. But really, aren't we all?

Meanwhile, she’s just anti-pants. But really, aren’t we all?

Conservative critics hate Dunham as much as ever. After she starred in an ad comparing voting for President Obama to losing one’s virginity, a Minnesota Republican accused her of being in league with Obama and Satan. For conservatives, it doesn’t get much worse than being in cahoots with Obama.

But on the more recent Dunham scandal, The National Review published an article about the evils of her childhood escapades and vaginal discoveries. Author Kevin D. Williamson writes…

“Dunham’s writing often is unclear (willfully so, it seems), but the context here — Grace has overheard her older sister asking whether her baby sister has a uterus — and Grace’s satisfaction with her prank suggest that Grace was expecting her older sister to go poking around in her genitals and inserted the pebbles in expectation of it. Grace is around one year old at the time of these events. There is no non-horrific interpretation of this episode.”

Um… it’s a joke? Dunham made a joke at the end of a weird story. Pretty non-horrific.

Unlike this dress!

Unlike this dress!

But Williamson has other problems. He accuses her family of coddling her (fair), says she’s crude (also fair), says she’s overprivileged and vain and narcissistic (Justin, you’re supposed to defend!). Um… ah, here we go… Williamson claims Dunham has a degree from a school that doesn’t know “the difference between ‘nauseous’ and ‘nauseated.'” There’s a difference in the original Latin, but language evolves and dictionaries no longer distinguish between the two. So… there’s that.

Urp... was thinking about vaginal pebbles...

Urp… was thinking about that turquoise floral print…

Williamson also maligns that Dunham didn’t make her rapist a character in her book. Apparently, her rapist isn’t treated fairly. Talk about nauseating.

But those are conservative analysts. They’ve disliked Dunham since she rose to liberal stardom. More shocking is the vitriol received from liberals and feminists.

The Twitter pile-on was swift. Ex-followers compared her vaginal pebble anecdote to child predacity. “Creepy.” “Not normal.” A “self-promoter.” “Full of herself.” A girl who needs to “sit the f–k down and learn something.” ​She was told to “get some boundaries.” To “stop being weird.” Her story was, as one blogger put it, “best kept in the confines of your family kitchen over Thanksgiving.”

thanks

“Wait… you found what in her what?”

So now, all her detractors accuse her of child molestation. From when she was seven. Do you see the problem there?

This Daily Banter article by Chez Pazienza contends, “What Dunham did is absolutely the kind of behavior I would have had a few very candid discussions about were I her parents, but I just don’t think it rises to the level of full-on sexual assault. Even Dunham’s analogizing herself to a sexual predator sounds more like her usual dry provocation than it does an actual admission that she was grooming or molesting her sister. I just can’t understand her actions being interpreted differently.”

And it should be said, this kind of curiosity is not abnormal. And her sister defended her, saying she gave permission to publish the story. Her parents’ laissez-faire reaction might be a little off, but it’s difficult to blame Dunham for that. So she was a weird kid with weird parents who let her explore the weird world. Hardly worth hate. In fact, candidly writing about those abnormal experiences could be considered brave.

Though some of her experiences aren't abnormal... right?

Though some of her experiences aren’t abnormal… right?

Or maybe “brave” isn’t the right word.

As this Vulture article asserts, Dunham isn’t brave. Oversharing is the job of an artist. She’s just doing what she gets paid to do.

“Writers are narcissists,” author Brian McGreevy writes. “They presume that their personal obsessions and neuroses are of deep fascination — or even beneficial — to potentially millions of people. This is not a negative. Narcissism is as essential to the artist’s temperament as competition to the athlete’s.”

So maybe now I can defend.

Unlike this dress!

Well…  not that.

Lena Dunham has apologized for the insensitive sexual predator line, but she hardly deserves the other accusations thrown her way. She’s just sharing her stories and monetizing her artistic voice, which is an impressive feat. Maybe that doesn’t excuse her behavior, but she’s certainly good at what she does. Her job just happens to be narcissistic oversharing.

Lena Dunham has supporters and detractors, but that’s a good space for any artist. No one is universal. You don’t have to like her, but she’s still capable and successful. I say, good for her.

And to reiterate, she’s not a child molester. Or in league with Satan. Though she does support President Obama, so take from that what you will.

LENA-DUNHAM-OBAMA

Just go to your local polling place and… ew.

In Defense of Sexy Halloween Costumes

costumeshead

A lot needs to be covered this week, both in content and skin. But first, I’ll address your most pressing concern.

I realize my finger is directly in Raphaella’s armpit. What of it? The more important question: why doesn’t Donatella have her staff? Missed opportunity. And it’d make more sense than Michelangela’s nunchaku. Nothing makes nunchucks sexy. They’re like duckfaces, in that way… LeaNona.

But I’ll try to be equal opportunity here. I’d hate to only provide Halloween eye candy to those who like sexy pouts and polyethylene. So here are the sexiest commercial Ninja Turtle costumes for men. Careful, you might get hot and/or bothered.

menturtles

Notice, no nunchucks.

Now you might have other concerns, apart from a Turtlette’s underarm. I’ll get to those. But for now, I need to lay out some rules.

In the past I wrote about pet costumes, which are only adorable and stupid (and occasionally “sexy”). This year it’s time for humans. So ground rules. If any of my pictures are too scandalous, I’ll immediately post the pictorial equivalent of a cold shower. So if the Turtlettes were a little too hot for you…

inflate

GAAAAH!

And with that, let’s defend sexy Halloween costumes. Cowabunga.

I’ll start with the bad. This fantastic Cracked article by Kathy Benjamin addresses some factoids about the sexy halloween costume industry, including how much money it makes by selling repurposed trash bags. However, the most disturbing fact was how young this bullshit starts. Let’s look at the first four costume options for girls, under the “Career” section of Party City’s website.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.15.13 AM

The career path of the average woman.

Starts off well enough. The cops are really pushing it, but what little girl wants to be a car hop for Halloween? Does any 8-year-old have working knowledge of ’60s fast food service? I don’t know. Just seems really bizarre to be Option #4 of 6.

Oh, did I not mention there’s only 2 other career options? And both show a lot of leg?

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.15.22 AM

The career path of the average pop star.

Meanwhile, boys have

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.17.21 AM

so

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.17.39 AM

many

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.17.46 AM

options

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.17.52 AM

it’s

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.18.16 AM

ridiculous.

34 in total. And some of them overlap with the girls. Stupid men stealing all the surgeon costumes…

Granted, this is only one of the girl categories (others include Disney Princesses and Colonial, bizarrely), but it goes beyond choice. As Benjamin so eloquently writes, “Boys get to look like tiny versions of professional adults. Girls have to dress up like tiny stripper versions of professional adults.”

So is it any wonder “Halloween costume” becomes synonymous with stripperish? Even the surgeon can’t get away unscathed once womanhood approaches.

nurse

Oh…

... MY GOD WHY?

… MY GOD WHY?

Maybe Party City just has weird groupings. After all, a lot of boys want to be ninjas or superheroes, and a lot of girls want to be… animals in skirts. But I looked at different website categories, across age lines. Take Buycostumes.com, for instance. Categories for men are, in this order, “Funny – Video Games – Storybook – Plus Size.” Make your own conclusions. And way down at the bottom is inflatable ballerina, in case you were curious. I was…

But for Women, we have “Sexy – Historical – Scary – Funny.” So…

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 3.55.33 AM

Sexy

Historical.

Historical

Scary

Scary

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 3.54.28 AM

2 Broke Girls is funny?

Oh, and before I forget…

GAH, WHY?

GAH, WHY?

Seriously, who would buy that? They lose whatever dignity they have, and showcase a tastelessness that should be kept secret. It’s the kind of costume that should earn scorn for centuries. 2 Broke Girls? Ick. Luckily, sexy Halloween costumes are easier to defend than that mess.

Let’s start with Deborah Tolman, director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University. She recently spoke with the New York Times in an article titled, “Good Girls Go Bad, for a Day.”

According to Dr. Tolman, part of this depends on the spirit of the sexy.

Not like that...

Not like that…

NOT LIKE THAT!

NOT LIKE THAT!

Dr. Tolman asserts there’s a difference between feeling sexy and looking sexy, the former creating confidence and the later depending on perverts. For some women, it can be fun to dress up in the spirit of feeling sexy. Trying to look sexy is dangerous, but it’s a weird line and varies per individual.

Tolman added that some women use Halloween as a “safe space,” taking sexuality over the top to make fun of it, similar to men doing drag. She admits it’s not “necessarily so well thought out,” but it’s a start.

She said, “The humor gives you a sense of power and confidence that just being sexy doesn’t.”

But notice the integral word there: Humor.

Not pictured.

Not pictured.

Remember those categories? For men, “Funny” is the first thing. And most of the other costumes are humorous to some degree (mostly sexual or punny, but still “humor”). None of it is really taken seriously.

For women, “Sexy” is first and poisons everything else. But most importantly, there’s a degree of seriousness that’s totally ludicrous. Why do men get to have fun, while women feel the need to be Halloween hot?

For an example, here’s a story of Melissa McCarthy going to a Halloween party, summarized by the Huffington Post.

McCarthy said, “I thought, ‘Oh, this’ll be great. I’ll go as my Aunt Bernice,’ and we showed up and every single woman was in a different kind of bikini. It was like, ‘What are you?’ ‘I’m a cave girl!’ Fur bikini. ‘I’m a medic!’ Just two crosses and there’s, like, a stethoscope around her waist. Every single woman had a bikini on of a different ilk.

“Literally, people were like, ‘What are you?’ And I was like, ‘I’m my Aunt Bernice from Skokie.’ And they were like, ‘Why would you do that?’ They were so horrified that I looked like that. Like, it wasn’t funny.”

mccarthy

I like it. So many likes. Like, so many.

Isn’t that sad? McCarthy had a fun idea, and it’s ruined by ladies who take Halloween seriously for absolutely no reason.

I don’t know how to fix this. But the first step’s admitting Halloween is stupid, in a good way. Being serious about it is stupid, in a bad way. Rules 1 and 2.

And on the sexy topic: If you want to be sexy, be something ridiculous (but act fast, sexy Olaf the Snowman already sold out). Also, make sure it’s for yourself, not the expectation that you have to be hot for Halloween. Because, again, Halloween is stupid.

And finally, if you’re a kid, don’t be a car hop. Oh, and adults, don’t do anything with nunchucks. Or duckface. Scratch that, Rule #1 should be no duckface.

Whether or not it’s sexy, let’s make Halloween fun for everyone. No more serious. Equal opportunity.

Oh my...

Oh my…

... And now I'm just confused...

… And now I’m just confused.

In Defense of Bayonetta

bayonettahead

I might be a pervert.

But c’mon. Look at that. Something about a well-endowed glasses-clad pixie woman breaking her back while blasting firearms is simply astounding. It’s like watching a magic S&M librarian perform unsafe acrobatics. “Who cares about spinal health,” she bellows, “I do what I want!” And as she chortles, her butt seam splits. Every guy’s dream, right? Right?

Ok. Guess I’m a pervert. But… HOWEVER! I MEANT HOWEVER!

Look at her face look at her face look at her face

Look at her face look at her face look at her face

This week I’m defending Bayonetta 2, the new action video game on the Wii U. In many ways, it’s flawless. I’m actually not alone in this opinion. But most of those reviewers praise the gameplay alone, leaving the main character and story ignored on the sidelines. However, I love everything about Bayonetta, broken butt-seams and all.

So clearly I need to defend myself.

Why do I love this series, this game, this concept, this sexy giraffe-legged woman? With my feminist views, isn’t this rampant display of sexualization something I should despise? Maybe. And maybe I’m just a degenerate. But spinal health to the wind, I’ll bend over backwards to defend this thing. ‘Cause I do what I want.

See what I did there? heheha, OH… oh my, pardon me…

Stupid cheap slacks...

Stupid cheap slacks…

As I mentioned, most reviews of Bayonetta 2 talk about the unparalleled gameplay. And holy crap. It’s entirely comprised of what would be final bosses in other, less insane entertainment. Most of Bayonetta 2 is dodging giant swords, slowing time and massaging your jaw. Poor thing hits the floor regularly.

This fight happens in chapter 1.

Fighting angel on the walls of a cathedral: Chapter 1.

Surfing up a tornado to catch sky serpent: Chapter 2.

Surfing up tornado to catch sky serpent: Chapter 2.

Fight giant demon dragon crawling up a skyscraper:

Tame giant demon dragon crawling up a skyscraper:

Prologue.

Prologue.

So what is the story connecting this insanity? Most reviewers say something like, “It’s ridiculous and doesn’t matter,” but it does to me, dammit! So here we go. By the end of this next paragraph, I’ll likely regret defending this. But here goes…

Bayonetta is part of a clan of witches who summon demons using their hair (stay with me). These Umbra Witches were almost exterminated by their male counterparts, the Lumen Sages, who use feathers to summon angels. The leaders of the clans had magic eyes, and in Bayonetta 1 you killed your time-traveling pop who had the right eye of light (you have the dark left one) which threw the world off balance and now your demons won’t listen to you and Mr. Demon Dragon kills your BFF Jeane so you go to hell to save her and meet a dreadlocked squirrel boy and get wrapped up in a ghost prophet’s plan to rule reality.

Oh, and in addition to summoning demons, your hair is your clothes. So summon a demon with a lot of power, you end up kinda… nude.

bayonet

This is tasteful, right? Her nipples are covered…

So the story is mind-melting craziness. But… HOWEVER, it is important. And I would argue, not at all at odds with my feminist leanings. I realize I made this statement under that picture. Shut up.

Here’s the thing about video games. Females are, in most cases, either an object or a male substitute.

objects

How distasteful, showing her ankles.

Video game women are most typically a prize to be won, or a goal to be achieved. Mario’s beloved up there is an easy example (though Peach did star in a title featuring her super-powered mood swings), but many games have “girlfriend smooch” as the end goal. The damsels can’t save themselves, and therein lack the agency that creates a substantive character.

On the other side, we have Ms. Pac-Man. She’s arguably the first playable female video game character, but is defined entirely by the addition of a bow and lipstick. She’s the female version of another character, or the “default” Pac-Man. In this subset, personality is derived from being a girl, and ends there. Even when done well (Mass Effect‘s “femshep” is superior in every way), it’s still the female subset of another creation.

femshep

How distasteful showing her… armor?

There are notable exceptions, but these types are pretty standard. If you want more info, Anita Sarkeesian at Feministfrequency.com outlines some good points. Bayonetta, though, falls into neither category.

The Umbra Witch always has agency, always has power, and is attempting to save her best and only true friend. She’s not defined by her relationship to any man. The males in Bayonetta are either arrogant sticks-in-the-mud, a powerful demon shopkeep, a Danny DeVito-like bumbler, an amnesiac child or an idiotic journalist. The last one crushes on Bayonetta, but she shows no romantic interest in him. He’s comedic relief, like most of the in-game males. Bayonetta has an independent goal, and the independent means to achieve it. That is refreshing for a video game female.

She could be called a sexy vixen-type (another common misrepresentation), and… that’s the stereotype she edges most toward. The game reminds you constantly of her sexuality. As if you needed a reminder…

gif

The ancient art of butt zoom.

But… HOWEVER, part of this comes from character confidence. As this IGN video puts it, Bayonetta is winking at player weakness. She’s confident and in control, but the cameraman (you) is a total pervert. Which is kinda neat, considering she’s a video game character controlled by the player. Yet somehow, Bayonetta has both confidence in her abilities and faculty in her story. Neither trait is dependent on some pervert (you, or probably more accurately, me).

This GameTrailers recap illuminates some other points. While most of the staff creating Bayonetta 2 is male, both the producer and character designer are women, meaning her creation doesn’t hinge on the male gaze. And Bayonetta uses sexuality, but much in the same way as Elvira, Pam Grier or Beyoncé. And if a game staring those three doesn’t sound awesome, I cannot help you.

With similar back-breaking.

It’d need similar back-breaking…

So even with all the sexuality and over-the-top perversion, there’s something special about Bayonetta. She’s a different force in a misogynist industry, an icon that is decidedly female without a male equivalent. Plus, she’s a thoughtful reminder that sexuality is not the same as sexism. One is about empowerment and confidence, the other about subjugation.

Could those finer points be lost? Absolutely. And not every female character should take a page from Bayonetta. Imagine Peach with that personality…

Well...

Well…

But… HOWEVER, for males, we have many role model variations. Bayonetta is a different type, a new type. She’s foul-mouthed and sexy, but oddly empowering. She’s beyond norms and hyper-unrealistic in some ways, but relatable in others.

After all, in the ridiculous story I outlined, Bayonetta is shown to be sarcastic, loyal, friendly, powerful, motherly, domineering, overconfident, self-assured, wounded, joyous, accepting, just, empathetic… and she’s a witch who summons demons with her hair. It’s weird and crazy and contrasting, and that is deserving of appreciation.

Granted, Bayonetta is not for everyone. I understand where complaints could surface. But I needed this. I needed to prove that there’s more to this game than mere deviance. Like the contrasting, confusing Bayonetta, I think I’m a feminist and a slight pervert. But… maybe that’s okay.

If you don’t agree, I don’t care. I do what I want. Heheha…

Stupid cheap slacks...

Really? Again?

In Defense of Columbus Day

columbushead

I normally defend funny things. You know, bad movies and beauty pageants and Waffle House. I occasionally delve into darkness (here’s my Furby article), but I try to avoid actual evil. I can’t use my skills to defend slave traders or murderers. I want comedy. Defending actual evil in search of humor is akin to squeezing juice from a rutabaga. I get nothing out of it except tired muscles and weird analogies.

SDF

Though this picture is considered evil by my rutabaga readers.

So it’s with great… pride?… that I get to defend a truly wicked man. Or at least, his holiday. For this past Monday was Columbus Day, a day set aside for a slave-trading, greedy murderer. And, um, schoolchildren. And postal workers, bankers, librarians, DMV workers, Catholics, Italian-Americans…

NO, no defending yet! Not until I bash Christopher Columbus!

columbus

That face! That hair! HA!

But seriously, the man was evil. As if that face wasn’t a dead giveaway… because even the dead would give it away, ZING! But seriously, evil. And apparently floating on one leg, but that’s more of a diss on the artist. Take that, Dióscoro Teófilo Puebla Tolín!

But enough insults. Here’s a Columbus Day gift. It’s a great infographic on Columbus-related atrocities. I know, just what you wanted!

In return, I'll take your house!

In return, I’ll take your house.

The infographic first shows what we all know about Columbus: that he discovered the Americas, proved the earth wasn’t flat and in 1492 sailed the ocean blue.

Thing is, lots of people knew about America before Columbus, pretty much any educated person in 1492 knew the earth was round, and the ocean is more of an aquamarine. EVERYTHING WE KNOW IS LIES!

PROOF OF THEIR LIES!

PROOF!

But let’s get away from petty deception. Let’s get into murder.

Columbus first encountered the Lucayan natives when the Santa Maria sank, and the natives rescued his crew and cargo. Columbus called them generous, healthy and hospitable. He then concluded his 1492 journal entry with, “I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I pleased.” I imagine the word “pleased” trails off as Columbus fetches a black cape and twirls his mustache in sudden realization.

Columbus then started bringing weapons from Europe, demanding food, women and gold. When the Lucayans refused, he cut off noses, ears and hands as a warning to the others. Some of his men would hunt the dissenters, murdering them and using their bodies as dog food. Not always in that order.

He sold 9-year-old girls into sexual slavery, tortured natives, spread smallpox… the infographic says, “(Columbus) discovered the New World much like a meteorite discovered the dinosaurs.”

"Give me your dino-women!"

“Give me your gold and dino-women!”

And he’s celebrated on the same level as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr., neither of whom fed people to ravenous canines.

But I’m not defending the man. I’m defending the holiday celebrating his legacy. You know, genocide and slave trade and…

NO, bashing is over! Now is defending!

Mattia Landoni of columbiaspectator.com points out that Columbus can hardly be blamed for genocide. He committed many horrible crimes “to earn his place in hell,” but widespread disease wasn’t really his intent. Sick slaves aren’t good slaves. And Columbus didn’t introduce slavery to the world. Just the entrepreneurial form that plagued the Atlantic for centuries.

But you know, a criminal can say, “Give me a break, I didn’t murder everyone, just a lot of people!” That criminal likely wouldn’t get a holiday.

At most, they get a book.

At most, a lame book.

But what about pre-criminal Columbus? You know, the one who had the guts to boldly sail unknown-ish waters. What about the Columbus who accomplished a feat worthy of epic poetry?

Landoni continues, “We deserve to be able to celebrate the young, Odysseus-like Columbus, who accomplished all his heroic feats before he even knew Native Americans existed, let alone hurt any of them—a man who could have hardly imagined what he was getting himself into. At the same time, we should condemn the later Columbus—a little man, overwhelmed by personal fatigue and external pressures, who made many horrible decisions.”

columbus

Like that hair, ZING!

Rick Menzel of startribune.com approaches a different angle. He claims that Columbus can be a hero for two minorities: Italian-Americans and Roman Catholics.

Menzel writes, “The successful lobbying effort that resulted in Columbus Day becoming a federal holiday in 1937 was an important victory for Italian-Americans, one that other ethnic and interest groups would seek to emulate in the years to come.”

Roman Catholics had similar reasons. They too have long been a minority in the largely-Protestant America, and having a Catholic hero in 1937 was a huge boon.

Of course, this is small comfort for another minority, namely Native Americans. But small steps.

So while I can understand those attempting the change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day, I can also understand why some want to keep a holiday that brings them a modicum of pride.

Though the clip art is unforgivable.

Though the clip art baffles me.

However, this New York Times defense is my favorite. Historian William J. Connell says, “‘Celebrate’ is a word we could use for Columbus’s genius, his persistence against the odds in getting people who were much more powerful than he was to back him in a risky enterprise that had results way beyond anyone’s imagination. We can celebrate his enterprise and ingenuity.”

As for the rest, Connell suggests “celebrate” might not be the right word. Perhaps, he hopes, we can “commemorate” Columbus’s legacy.

History, you see, is filled with evil. And not just world history. Our personal histories are filled with poor decisions and wicked failings. However, it’s history, and we learn. And from Columbus, schoolchildren can learn that the world is not simple. That you can take something evil and make something good, or vice versa. The world is complex, and we have no idea what our actions might precipitate or whose champion we might become.

Columbus was a bold explorer who murdered natives for profit. He was also a slave trader who has encouraged millions to dream bigger. Maybe that dichotomy is worth a holiday. Maybe history itself, however complex, is worth commemorating.

So party away, federal workers! Since, you know, most of us forgot it was even a holiday. I’m sure your Columbus Day party was quite a hoot.

tolin

Dammit, Tolín! You painted the worst Columbus Day party ever! At least they all have two legs this time…

In Defense of Florida

flordiahead1

Wha? That’s not the Florida I want. Sunshine and beaches? What’s to defend? I want the weird Florida, the crazy Florida. C’mon Sunshine State, give me something bizarre!

flordiahead2

There we go.

Those headlines come from a Buzzfeed article titled, “24 Crazy Things That Have Already Happened This Year in Florida.” Published Jan. 8, 2014. I… I included less than half of them, and that’s only eight days… EIGHT DAYS!?! Maybe they’re connected, just covered from different angles. Like, the Baptism Brawl happened at Chuck E. Cheese’s. And the combatants used tomahawks and spatulas and… bananas.

I’m clearly in over my head here. But that’s alright, my empathy powers and lawyerly logic haven’t failed me yet. I’ll just have to think like the weirdest Floridian, get inside their head. Maybe…

D'aw, just ruin my fun will you?

… nope nope nope. I don’t have the money or disposable limbs necessary to fondle vicious swamp dinosaurs. But feel free to send me cash, I’ll put it in my reptile snuggle fund.

Let’s get away from things that can kill me. I prefer not to die, if you don’t mind. Let’s find some reasons Florida tends to be so very very bizarre.

Steven Rosenfeld of alternet.org compiled a list of possibilities. One of those reasons? The curious mix of people drawn to Florida.

No!

You don’t say?

Rosenfeld asserts that Florida has a higher concentration of live-in visitors than any other state. That means, few native Floridians and a ton of rowdy house guests who stay long past their welcome. Everyone’s chasing that subtropical climate, including the elderly, the immigrants, the rich, the poor, the rednecks, the tourists, the circus freaks, and the nudists.

It’d be like having an all-night rave with old carnies and redneck nudists. And… you’ve stopped reading my blog to move to Florida, haven’t you? I lose so much of my audience to redneck nudists…

But if weird-ass raves don’t float your party pontoon, maybe loose laws will. Because Rosenfeld’s second reason concerns the loosest laws this side of Dodge City in the1800’s.

"I told ya'll not to molest that ther 'gator, but didja listen, NO!"

“I told ya’ll not to molest that ther ‘gator, but didja listen, NAW!”

“To say that Florida has a loose regulatory environment barely states it,” he writes. “People move there to buy homes that can’t be siezed in bankruptcy proceedings. There’s loose gun laws, of which the Stand Your Ground law is but one example.”

There’s also no system for monitoring prescription drugs, no state income tax, no enforcement of copyright law, few zoning restrictions… it’s like the Wild West gone even more laissez-faire.

Craig Pittman of Slate.com points to another side-effect of this attitude: bad hookups.

“The combination of warm weather with millions of tourists means we have a lot of people dressed in skimpy clothes who aren’t staying long,” he writes. “Add in that aforementioned no-rules, YOLO atmosphere and you can see why illicit sex is such a constant temptation—and why it can so easily go haywire.”

So Florida might foster an atmosphere where this kind of living is easy. You can get in a lot of hot trouble. But there’s something else, something more worrysome. Rosenfeld’s Number One reason points to it:

“Florida cops don’t keep quiet.”

How could they?

How could they when this is their job?

Rosefeld points to an interview. “NPR’s Brooke Gladstone, the New Yorker who co-hosts On The Media, last year interviewed Florida newspaper reporter Will Greenlee about the state’s off-the-charts crime stories. The police reporter said Florida’s permissive open-records laws give the media inordinate access to detailed police files, where they find the lurid tales.”

Craig Pittman offers the same explanation, saying, “Florida has long enjoyed a tradition of open government records, which means a lot of the weird stuff that the cops see winds up available to reporters looking for something to make their readers’ jaws drop. So when a retired Tarzan actor got arrested because his pet tigers kept escaping, it made the papers. When a woman claiming to be a vampire attacked a man outside a vacant Hooters, it made the papers. When Vanilla Ice’s kangaroo and goat got loose, it made the papers.”

So everything comes together to reveal the truth. But notice the scary thing there. Florida’s weirdness is known only because of loose coverage laws. So in your home state… what is being covered up?

"Local blogger molests alligator"

“Local blogger molests alligator, dies for joke”

All our weird people may be hiding, their misdeeds never reaching public light. What if we are all living in “Florida”? What if your world is filled with redneck nudists and Baptism Brawls, and you don’t know it? The reporters in Florida have the biggest, easiest catch, but that certainly doesn’t mean Florida is the only weird state. And they have beaches to compensate.

So don’t get too comfortable. “Florida” might be closer than you think.

And if you’re scared your neighbors might be cosplaying congressmen with snake farms, you might want to call some cops or buy some weapons. A whole bushel of them.

Maybe they'd help with gator attacks?

Maybe they’d help with gator attacks?