A-pony-pocalypse

Need to be convinced that we’re obsessed with the end of the world? Or maybe you are obsessed with My little pony?  Well if you can say yes to both, have i got an infographic for you!

Big big-ups to Andrew Kahn, Apocalyptic America student and IT jedi for this fantastic infographic he created tracking the millennial obsession with the apocalypse.  Explore below or click to get a close up to find out how we’re going to end the world.  Hint–better get that Cipro.

apam pony infographic

Boyz N The Biz

Here at smntks, I’m all about good critical analysis of our media environment.  Good critical analysis to me means looking at the content of media stories, the context that they are made in, and the creators and consumers involved.  While we can all look at the content clearly from the outside, there are some parts of what makes media tick that can only be seen by an insider.

This week, director John Singleton ( Boyz n the Hood, Rosewood, 2 Fast 2 Furious) pulled back the gilded curtain of Hollywood to expose the challenges of getting films made featuring African Americans.

As Shakespeare famously penned, “truth will out.”  The truth is that  the small steps Hollywood has taken  are not enough to guarantee a film industry that reflects its customers. Thanks, Mr. Singleton for knocking off that we’re-post-racial-because-12-years-a-slave-won-the-Oscar buzz.

Kultured Kleenex

While literally keeping my nose clean the other day, I happened to notice there on the back of my pack of Kleenex a design description that caught my eye.

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Irie Yellow?  Irie is a patois word that originated in Jamaica meaning alright, but also cool, and an adjective for everything superlative.  So then I started to look for the description on the back of the other packs that came together and found a whole island theme going on here: Irie Yellow, Marley Green, and Calypso Blue

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The bold geometric designs are attractive, reflect design often found in the Caribbean and avoid typical exotic tropes like palm trees and jungle scenes.    All in all, well played, Kleenex.  Way to give a design nod to the islands without turning the theme into Margarittaville on a tissue.

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You almost got two thumbs totally up for avoiding stereotypes altogether but……Marley green?…Okay, I get it.  Still, well played.

The Day After Is Today

Have you ever noticed that you’re surrounded by zombies and invading aliens and survivalist?  Stories about the end of the world are everywhere these days, from The Walking Dead to Elysium.  Despite the fact that we can breathe a sign of relief with 2012 behind us, visions of the apocalypse still dance in our heads.  So, to explore, I have been teaching a class at my college called Apocalyptic America, where we are trying to find out why our culture is so obsessed with the end.  The answer is complicated and fascinating.

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Stories of the end of the world are as old as the world itself, but if you think we have a particularly bad case of the apocalyptic blues, you’d be right.   Rapid changes in society, advances in technology, and a changing geopolitical landscape gave us any number of avenues for our fears to run down.  Aliens, Dawn of the Dead,  and The Matrix showed us that the end was at hand by robots, or aliens or worst yet ourselves.

Even with Y2K a dud, the obsession with the end continued to snowball down the timeline from 2000, past 9/11 and straight towards 2012.  Literally dozens of movies and television shows have played out the chess game of our imminent demise and the dark future that awaits us beyond the boundaries of our modern world.

the day after

This week, the class took a look at the 1983 made for TV film The Day After.  If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember the hubbub around this film.  Nearly 100 million people tuned in, and the film was followed by a televised debate on nuclear weapons, and accompanied by a toll-free hotline with counselors, school curriculum, and even a five episode series on conflict on Mr. Rogers to help children cope.

I had debated including the film.  With so many films to look at, The Day After seemed a bit dated, the Cold War seems a distant memory to my students.  Though conflict, obviously, has been an all too present headline throughout college students’ lives, the threat of wholesale nuclear annihilation seemed to belong to another generation.

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But this past weeks events in Crimea and Ukraine made this 20-year-old movie seem as relevant as ever.  At last week’s CPAC conference, keynote speaker Sarah Palin leveled criticism at Obama for choosing diplomacy over force in her  usually eloquent and well thought out way.

Sadly for Momma Bear, and all of us, she is woefully wrong.  As terrifyingly demonstrated in The Day After, nuclear war leaves no winners, only casualties.  Stopping Putin with nukes in Crimea is a recipe for MAD–mutually assured destruction.   But even with all we know about the consequences of nuclear war, I was surprised to see news headlines this morning heralding a return of the nuclear age.

The number of nuclear weapons stockpiled by countries, armed and ready has declined through consistent and concerted efforts of antiwar activists.  However, the amount of plutonium available through commercial production opens and avenue for rogues to obtain material for bomb making easier than ever before.

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The tension in Crimea reminds us that we still have work to do to make our world a stable safe place to live and grow in.  We can’t ride in Grizzly-style and fight nukes with nukes, and we can’t think that nuclear war is a threat of the past.  Instead of encouraging brute strength, use your political power to vote, advocate and petition to stop nuclear proliferation.

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Ronald Reagan watched The Day After, and he wrote in his diary that it changed his idea of a winnable nuclear war.  He said , “we have to do all that we can to be sure that there is never a nuclear war. ” Shortly thereafter, Reagan helped to end the Cold War.  So do me a favor:  send Sarah Palin a copy of The Day After, and let’s not fight nukes with nukes.

Sore Winners Suck

Despite my recent plea to educators to get in the game of growing a less racist generation,  this weekend saw another incident in this long losing season for hight school sports.   This week sore winners from the Howell, Michigan joined the parade of racist tweeters in the too-crowded pool of racist high school athletes after their recent win against rivals Grand Blanc.  According to the Flint Journal, tweets included:

“Not only did we beat Grand Blanc but we’re all white. Howell’s the definite winner tonight.”

“All hail white power. #HitlerIsMyDad”

“Tonight was probably one of the most racists nights of my life. I heard so many slurs and expressions. I also said a few things…”

Hastags with other tweets included  #kkk, #lightthehcross, #rosaparks, #wewhite.

The tweets were followed by outrage, concerned hand wringing, and reports from Grand Blanc players the they were called the N word during the game, not just after on twitter.

Thankfully, Coach Nick Simon is on the case.  He told Flint Journal reporter Aaron Mc Mann his team had not ever said that, and he would have heard any such name calling.

Looks like you shouldn’t hold your breath for an apology.

 

 

Look What A Little Plastic Surgery Can Do For You

Barbie has been the image of femininity for decades, and for most of those decades, women have fretted over the unrealistic image that she presents to young girls.  Many have taken up the charge to make a better doll and Nikolay Lamm is one of them.  Meet his latest creation: Lammily.

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Lammily is Barbie with a little more plastic.  Instead of Barbies spurious specs, Lammily is modeled on the CDC’s  measurements of an average  19-year old girl.

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You can see that she is a sight different from Barbie when the prototype is compared in the pic below. She may be bigger, but not the monster that many young women feel  their average body makes them.

barbie 2 up

Love it?  Support it.  The doll will be ready for purchase by November. Hope they come in different shades….

Why Ponies Shouldn’t Wear Hats

Pink Pony front woman and daughter of the governor of Oklahoma, Christina Fallin was really feeling a deep connection to the Native Americans she grew up around.  So deep that she posted this picture of her wearing an admittedly-stunning-though-sacred-so-you-probably-shouldn’t-pose-in-it-for-Facebook headdress on her band’s Facebook page.

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She titled the picture Appropriate Culturation, so she clearly presumably knows what cultural appropriation is and is trying to be clever.  She also apparently decided to redefine it and made herself  the appropriator of the appropriateness of cultural appropriation.  Yay! She now decides when people from one culture can rock the ritual and sacred items from another culture as “fun accessories” or funky fashion for flaunting their deep spiritual connections.

Too bad no one told the many peoples who belong to the cultures for which she is the appropriate appropriator of cultural appropriateness.  Thus, her Appropriateness had to issue this royal proclamation from her cultural fantasyland apology.

pink pony apology

Sigh.  Next time,  just let your mane flow, little pony.

Teachable Quarters

High school sports are an important part of the teen experience, teaching young people character, sportsmanship, cooperation and…racism?  If you’ve been frequenting the high school sports scene, you may have noticed that  racism has been added to the after school curriculum.

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Take , for instance, the hostility leveled at players during and after a game in Mahopac,  New York.  Fists flew in the stands following taunts of the visiting team, including the N word.  When Mount Vernon, New York players took the game 43-40, the racial slurs from Mahopac players  continued in the Twitterverse.

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Mahopac is not alone.  At a high school girls’ basketball game in Bedford, Indiana, Lawrence North High School players were greeted by Bedford North Lawrence High players wearing gorilla suits and safari gear.   Adults in this school dismissed criticism, saying costumes were worn throughout the season., giving students a quick lesson in doubling down rather than open up to listen.

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Or take the case of the Phillipsburg boy’s wrestling team.  The boys posted this picture after beating their rivals from Paulsboro High School.  The picture, featuring two of the wrestlers wearing pointed hoods, drew criticism, followed by a team apology.

What is interesting isn’t the frequency–though that is worth noticing in what too many think is a post racial world–but what follows these events.  Out come tempered apologies as if their actions came as a surprise to the perpetrators themselves.

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Young people in the process of learning to become adults make mistakes.  That “not knowing any better”, “not noticing “, and “not meaning anything” continue to be accepted as apologies for racist behavior seems to be a mistake the adults are making.   Besides, such statements strike me as insincere:  racist words and images are used precisely because of the power they wield.   Saying you don’t notice is at best an indicator of your ignorance of others’ and at worst a lie.

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As America continues its inevitable march to being a majority minority country–meaning the majority of American’s will belong to a group we now consider minorities–educational institutions need to do what they can to foster greater understanding of race and culture.  Since you cannot understand what you don’t notice, people need to learn to see cultural difference with respect instead of fear or loathing.  Being aware of images and symbols of race is not hypersensitivity, it is cultural literacy, a key skill for every educated individual living in a multicultural country.  Schools seem like a perfect place to start.