Freedom from the Press

Today I read something so stupid it made me dizzy and I had to put my head down on my desk until the dizziness passed.  From Shakesville:

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

I have nothing to say about this, because I keep having to put my head down when I read it.  But I am reminded of Digby’s post today:

This is why I say that they have retired the concept of hypocrisy. It goes far beyond double standards or duplicity or bad faith. There’s an aggression to it, a boldness, that dares people to bring up the bald and obvious fact that the person making the charge is herself a far worse perpetrator of the thing she is decrying. There’s an intellectual violence in it.

And I guess that is how I experience things like Palin’s quote–as intellectual violence.  The idea that you would run for vice-president of a country governed by a constitution with which you are so poorly acquainted just hurts my head.

I mean, seriously.

We used to have brilliant statesmen–like Jefferson–who were morally repugnant and now the Republican party is tossing up moral statesmen–like Palin–who are intellectually repugnant.

Why Rachel Maddow in Eye Shadow Depresses Me

Let’s first talk about Mal.

I met Mal in Boston when I went up there for the premier of my play.  And she was… hot might not quite be the right word… there might not be a word yet in the English language.  But let’s go with hot.  She’s hot in a way that makes you want to put on a huge frilly dress with an enormous hoop skirt with your bosom all up and your underthings all lacey and ribbony so that when you lift up the front of your dress to properly scamper away all laughing and blushing, she’ll get that you actually have no intention of running very far and so she should indeed give chase.

I, of course, did not admit this to her and I tried my very best to keep any giggling and blushing and scampering to a minimum, out of respect to her and her wife.  Even now, I’m not trying to make some grand confession of love.

I just want to speak frankly and honestly about what it is about her that I find not just attractive, but overwhelmingly hot.

And the reason I bring up that, when I think of her, my first reaction is to laugh and blush, it’s because she is very erotic, but in a way that suggests that everything is open to play.  It’s a kind of erotic of the possible, that we might and should try anything, to see what feels good.

I bring this up, because when I first saw Rachel Maddow on Keith Olbermann’s show, I was like “Oh, there’s the TV version of Mal!”  Rachel Maddow was just hot as shit–smart, funny, quick on her feet, good looking–hot just like she was.


And then she got her own show.  And first it was the fake eyelashes.  And now it’s the eyeshadow.  And the bushy hair.

And I get it.  First of all, no one in the history of television news has ever put a woman who looked like herself on camera.  They’re all dolled up and appropriately conventionally prettified.  And I am sure that there are some assholes at MSNBC who cannot imagine that straight America will watch any show hosted by a woman who doesn’t look like she’s taken into consideration the aesthetic comfort of straight men.  Never mind that people, presumably a bunch of straight people, watched her on Olbermann without dying of discomfort.

But the thing that cracks me up and depresses me at the same time is that Maddow, how she is, is hot.

This?  This is hot.

This?  Argh, so darling.

And this?  I’ve had fantasies about being naked between the two of them (though Mortensen has, in my fantasies, better facial hair.  Scruffy, scratchy, sparkley facial hair, that gets your smell all in it after… Um… yes, where was i?).

Rachel Maddow in eyeshadow?  Not that hot.  Eyeshadow, I know, and poofy hair and long, flirty eyelashes–these are all things that are supposed to signal “attractive.”  And I could rail on about bullshit patriarchal beauty standards and whether we ought to be objectifying the women on our television screens in the first place.

But that’s not what depresses me.  No.  What depresses me is that Maddow in eyeshadow is so less attractive than Maddow just being herself that it must be obvious to anyone with two eyes to see.  She looks like she’s dressed up for Halloween, wearing a costume.  It looks ridiculous.

And yet, every night, there she is, “prettied up” in a way that makes her much less attractive.  Dare I say, strangely neutered?

Is it really that scary to have someone unconventionally attractive on screen?  So much so that the only solution is to make her more conventional, but less attractive?

Okay, Fine, The Crying Thing

I’m willing to take my lumps for being all girly and crying after voting.  Fine, tease away.  I have a soft, uncynical part, I admit it.

But we have to talk a second about this whole “I don’t understand why a white girl would cry about being able to vote for Obama” thing.

See Roger Abramson:

Aunt B. cried in her car after voting for Barack Obama. I guess I don’t get that. I mean, I can see why a black voter would (and presumably some do) get that emotional about voting for Obama, but I don’t see why a white person would. Feel good about it? Yeah, maybe. But cry? Huh. I don’t know. I’m not saying she’s wrong to have done that–emotional reactions are what they are. But it certainly does lend credence to the idea that Obama wins hearts rather than minds. Which, of course, usually wins elections. [Emphasis mine]

I mean, come now, Roger, really?  First of all, don’t you miss habeas corpus?  The 4th Amendment?  Not having to worry about walking into a drug store only to discover that the pills you’re taking to keep from bleeding all over the floor have been declared by the Feds to be an abortifacient, if the pharmacist decides they are, and so you can’t get them?  Remember when a U.S. president could meet the Chancellor of Germany without it turning into “Night of the Creepy Frat Guy”?  When Presidents and their friends knew better than to play “John McCain has a Birthday” while people are dying in the streets of New Orleans?

If John McCain wins, I’ll feel a slight tinge of relief that at least we’ve made it through the Bush Presidency.

But if Obama wins?

Damn straight I’ll probably cry in relief.

But let us move on to point number two, which is this bizarre notion that it’s weird for a white person to be emotional about the prospect of a black president.  I almost don’t know how to begin to address this.  I could give you the long history, if you need to see some family credentials, but the short version of it is this.  One, many of my dad’s dearest friends in the ministry in Illinois are black ministers.  Men whose wives were also teachers, like my mom.  Their kids, who played with us and fought with us and were our friends, were our age.

I remember like it was yesterday when we opened up the paper to see the obituary for one of my dad’s friends, and my dad calling in shock and confusion, we were just down the road, why had no one called?  Only to discover that his friend was still alive.

It was later on in the week when they made the actual attempt (luckily failed) on his life–members of his all white congregation who didn’t want a “nigger” for a pastor.

Two, my cousin, M., who is just a year older than me, the daughter of my beloved Uncle B. is part Native America, and is a lovely dark brown, though in terms of facial features, she looks quite a bit like my Grandma A.  In other words, you would not look at her and say “That’s an African-American person” since she is not black and has very typical European-American features.

And yet, I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I heard her called “nigger.”

No, I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America.  I’ve never been and I won’t be.  But I can recognize the stinging fear and anger on the faces of the people who love me and who I love in return when they are singled out for derision based on their skin color.

And, god damn it, you know what I want?  I want people to stop calling people I love “nigger.”  I want them to think that trying to kill the people I love is evil and wrong and not something they should even attempt, let alone think they have public support for.  I want my nephew, who’s being raised by the Klan, to get the message, somehow, that peope are people and that anyone can be president and that he doesn’t have the right to try to stop them just because he doesn’t like what color they are.

I want the people I love to have proof that there is room for them in America, that the bullshit they face, though inexcusable, is just that, bullshit, and not some great truth about them or about America.

I mean, why wouldn’t I, even as a white girl, get emotional about something so important to the people I love?  Who, in one case, share my blood?

Here’s the truth of it, Roger.  I can’t draw the clear line between me, Whitey McWhiterson, and them, Nonwhitey Mcnonwhitersons, that would be necessary for me to adequately answer your question.

I Hate Chicken

Okay, I’m just going to admit it.  We’re all supposed to switch from a beef to a chicken diet, and I can’t do it, because I find chicken revolting.

I don’t mind the taste of chicken.  I can eat chicken I prepare myself, when I can bring myself to prepare it, but the gristle and the weird crap and the skin and the chewy crap.

I’m trying not to throw up just telling you about it.

I can eat chicken if all that crap has been discovered and thrown in the garbage where it belongs, but if I’m eating my burrito and I come across something that is recognizeably chicken but unrecognizeably meat, I have to throw the rest of my burrito out.

It’s so gross.

In Which I Admit Something Stupid That’s Eating at Me so That I Can Get Over It

So, occassionally, I need my friends to act as if I’m so fucking amazing that they’d rip my clothes off right then and there if it wouldn’t get in the way of our friendship.  That’s not the stupid thing I want to admit to you, it’s just a stupid thing I need to admit to you so that you can understand the incredibly stupid part.

So, I’m sitting around talking to a friend and the conversation should go a little something like this–“Harmless flirtation,” “Harmless flirtation in return,” conversation procedes to the important stuff and I feel reassured that my life is how it is because I like it this way and not because I’m some terrible, enormous freak no one could possibly love.

But instead, the conversation goes “Harmless flirtation,” “Oh, come the fuck on, like you’d really want that.” And I was pissed.  And even later in the evening, I’m kind of taken aback at how mad I still am.

Okay, so here’s where we get into the stupid part.  I’m mad because earlier a couple of friends had remarked to me that they thought I looked like the chick in this Onion video.  And I do, in so much that we are both fat chicks with brown hair.

Ugh, you know, I can’t get through it this way.

Let’s try another way.  I think that woman looks fine.  If I weren’t scrutinizing her looking to see what it was about her that made folks think of me, I would have no negative feelings about her whatsoever.  But, once someone says, “she reminds me of you,” it’s like I project all the things I hate and feel insecure about myself about onto her and then assume those are the things people see as being similar.  It not only makes me feel bad about me, it changes my opinion of her for the worse.

Which is stupid.  And I hate that I can see myself doing it.  I can tell you about doing it.  But I’m still doing it.

The Rotund had a post the other day about talking trash about yourself–and, at heart, I think that’s what I’m doing, using some poor innocent stranger as the medium through which I feel bad about myself.  And in that post she uses the phrase “self-harming practice.”

And boy did that about knock me over.

If other people did to me what I do to myself, it would easily be seen as emotional abuse.