Oh boy, this election huh? This soul crushing, agonizing, overlong stretch of e-mail scandals, groping tapes, false-equivalences, clueless punditry, and general loss of faith in humanity has been trying for a lot of us. It has also been oddly poetic. We’ve got the first female major party candidate in U.S. history up against this great big orange misogynistic buffoon we can’t afford to stop talking or thinking about until election day. It’s been tough sure, but it also taught this Canadian a lot about America and its people. Continue reading “5 Things This Election Taught Me About America”
In just about any discussion about the highly illegal killing of Cecil the Lion, you’ll always find that one guy who feels the need to express the “Who Cares?” sentiment. Not here to take anyone down a peg for it, I mean I get their logic (as they love to go over it in great detail whenever they are explaining how much they don’t care about this lion). They argue that it was really just one animal’s life, that a ton of other animals are being illegally hunted and killed every day, and that we only care about this one because it happened to be a bit of a local celebrity. Hell, even Zimbabwe itself doesn’t really care all that much about Cecil, so why does the West? I would argue that this whole situation represents more than that. Cecil’s death is symbolic of a greater issue that goes beyond the illegal hunting of animals, and the timing of it is what struck a cord with the world.
For the longest time, I’ve always considered the most inflammatory and controversial question one can ask of something is whether or not it is racist. Today, the hot button question for well over a year has been whether or not the hip-hop artist , Iggy Azalea, is racist. I will be discussing the question itself from numerous angles, but to be clear, this isn’t going to focus only on whether or not Iggy Azalea as a person is racist. Despite that being an important discussion in its own right, it really isn’t my place to be making personal accusations like that at her. Behaviour like that is why legitimate grievances against the artist are drowned out by cries of “reverse-racism” (a problematic phrase in itself). What this article will be primarily examining is whether or not the “Iggy Azalea” brand and its success is racist, and what the common reaction to her presence means for us as a supposedly post-racial society.
It has been about a year since the breakout success of her album “The New Classic”, and the public still doesn’t know what to say about Iggy Azalea, so I’ve decided that the best way to go about discussing her is with examples of commonly held sentiments regarding Azalea herself, along with my responses to them.
What qualifies as “Good Satire”? Given the horrific recent events over in France, this is a question that has come up quite a bit. There is no debate that the actions of these terrorists are absolutely unconscionable, but there has been a large amount of discussion about what the best response to it actually is. The acclaimed cartoonist, Joe Sacco, and his response has had me thinking quite a bit about the nature of satire and why it exists. According the Oxford University Press, satire is the “employment, in speaking or writing, of sarcasm, irony, ridicule, etc. in exposing, denouncing, deriding, or ridiculing vice, folly, indecorum, abuses, or evils of any kind” (“satire” def. 2b). Satires often utilize sarcasm and irony to aid in getting their points across. Irony is a rhetorical device that depicts “a contradictory outcome of events as if in mockery of the promise and fitness of things” (“irony” def. 2). Under that criteria, how effective is the “satire” being employed today in response to this incident? What is really being accomplished by simply drawing a picture of Muhammed? To better articulate my thoughts, I’m going to look at 2 examples of satirical comics produced by Charlie Hebdo. One excellent, and one I would describe as vapid and pointless.
James Watson is a Nobel Prize winning scientist who co-discovered the structure of DNA. On the flipside, he is also known for controversial opinions that include advocating the “right” for women to be able to abort their children for being gay, his obvious sexism, and most damning of all, his opinions about race in relation to intelligence. His behaviour has cost him the respect of his peers and his position in the scientific community, and in response he’s decided to sell his Nobel Prize, no doubt as a symbolic gesture of his disillusionment. My take on all this leads me to a number of conclusions about the nature of intelligence and people like Watson.
Everyone remembers that awful rant Michael Richards had at the Laugh Factory comedy club back in 2006 that effectively ended his career. The short version is essentially a few black hecklers made him lose his temper and he launched into an explosive, and unambiguously focused racist tirade. I say “unambiguously” because most racist rants are scatter-shot uses of derogatory words wildly fired at their intended targets, Michael Richard’s rant on the other hand actually brought up the historical context for his hatred and used it as a weapon. As a result, his insistence that he isn’t actually racist come off as laughable, and his apologies to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (as if they were the representatives of all black people) are just plain insulting.
The Fappening, a portmanteau of the internet slang word for masturbating “fapping” and the M. Night Shyamalan film The Happening, was the name giving to the August 31st mass hacking and distribution of celebrity nude photos. The “event” has mostly passed now, but it still leaves a pungent and distinct odor in its wake. The best way to describe it is as an entirely ugly affair. Not just because of the crimes committed and the massive invasion of privacy, but also the way in which it was received by various groups of people. Because of the sensational nature of this crime, everyone had something to say about it and the backlash it received, and often times what they had to say revealed things about certain individuals that were infinitely more shameful than any photograph leaked by the hackers.