Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Controversy at the GIMP Media Image Awards

I had a very interesting night at the first annual Media Image Awards banquet sponsored by the Good Images in Media Project (GIMP). The purpose of the ceremony is to promote positive images of cripples in American pop culture by honoring the work of crippled actors who appeared in movies and on television in the previous year.

The atmosphere was quite festive in the Wolverine Room at the La Quinta Inn, where the GIMP gala was held. The cold cuts buffet was sumptuous. But apparently not a whole lot of crippled actors appeared in movies or on television last year because there were only two award categories: best actor in a lead role and best actress in a lead role. I was disappointed that there weren’t more categories but that’s okay. You have to start somewhere.

And the winner for best lead actor was the old guy who rides happily around in a three-wheeled scooter in that commercial for three-wheeled scooters. In fact, the old guy was the only nominee. But that’s okay. You have to start somewhere. But as the old guy gave his acceptance speech he was interrupted by a protester. The protester was a younger guy in a wheelchair who rolled up to the stage and read aloud from what sounded like some sort of manifesto. He was resoundingly booed and hotel security wrestled him away so I couldn’t make out what he was saying very well. But he must have been one of those crippled actors who has a hard time getting roles because it sounded like he was pissed off that an old guy with just a bum knee got cast instead of a younger genuine paraplegic like him. The disgruntled crippled actor had a point but hey, we’ve gotta face facts. Anyone trying to sell three-wheeled scooters on commercial television isn’t going to cast anybody under age 70 in the role of guy riding happily around in a three-wheeled scooter. Seeing a young person in a three-wheeled scooter scares the average viewers. It shoves their vulnerability in their faces. It reminds them that anything can happen to any sturdy young person at any moment that might suddenly turn them into a cripple in need of a three-wheeled scooter. But seeing an old person in a three-wheeled scooter isn’t as much of a shock to the system. There’s a reassuring detachment in that dynamic because nothing can happen to a sturdy young person that might suddenly make them 70 years old.

The award for best lead actress went to the blind woman in the commercial for a drug to treat Non-24, which is a trendy new disorder that supposedly keeps blind people awake at night. She also was the only nominee in the category. And as she delivered her speech some blind people who were sitting at a round table in the corner stood and heckled her. They called her a fraud. They said she was a sighted person pretending to be blind. The blind hecklers were also booed as they were wrestled away by hotel security.

But it turns out the angry blind mob was right. Because a few days later GIMP issued a statement confirming that the award-winning actress did indeed have 20/20 vision. However, the statement went on to say, the producers of the commercial, to their credit, tried their best to cast a blind person. They auditioned dozens of blind people for the role but couldn’t find one they felt convincingly portrayed a blind person.

I guess that’s okay. You have to start somewhere.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The New Fragrance by Beyoncé

I passed by the perfume section of the department store and there was a huge banner announcing the arrival of the new fragrance by Beyoncé. Or maybe it wasn’t Beyoncé per se. I don’t remember for sure. It was either Beyoncé one of the many Beyonce'-ish celebrities.

Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the new fragrance was by Beyoncé. What’s the difference, right? But when I saw that bright and bold banner, the first thing I felt was insulted. I’m no sucker, I said to myself! They can’t bullshit me! I know damn well Beyoncé didn’t spend weeks and weeks in her secret underground perfume lab mixing chemicals until she came up with the perfect scent. A bunch of chemists who work for the perfume company did that and then the perfume company paid Beyoncé millions to pretend like she likes it.

I feel similarly insulted whenever I see tri-colored pasta. I don’t know who the hell those pasta people think they’re fooling with that one but they can’t fool me! Tri-colored pasta noodles may come in different colors but they all taste the same. If you eat them expecting otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for bitter disappointment. I learned that hard lesson as a child when I ate many different colors of m&m’s and crayons.

But anyway, the second thing that banner made me feel was a deep sense of existential alienation. Who are the people who squirt on the new fragrance by Beyoncé so others will think they’re cool? And who are the people who think the people who squirt on the new fragrance by Beyoncé so others will think they’re cool are cool? And why is their affirmation of one’s coolness important? I don’t know anybody like that, or at least not anybody who'll admit it. But there must be millions and millions of people like that otherwise the perfume company wouldn’t bother putting out the new fragrance by Beyonce'. So maybe I’m the only one in the world not planning to buy the new fragrance by Beyoncé. I felt so utterly alone.

And the next thing I felt was a newfound reactionary resentment toward the poor. Because if the economy is going to hell and everybody’s so broke, then how come everybody’s got enough money to buy the new fragrance by Beyonce’? That just proves that all this talk of recession and income inequality is a load of crap! But then I wondered if the fact that everybody’s buying the new fragrance by Beyoncé means just the opposite. Maybe it means that end times are upon us. Maybe everybody is feeling so hopeless and resigned that they’re all saying fuck it and blowing their last damn dime on the new fragrance by Beyoncé.

So in the end, the huge banner announcing the arrival of the new fragrance by Beyoncé left me with a sense of impending doom.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Suzy and Einstein: A Libertarian Success Story

Suzy Sham is a true libertarian success story. She is living proof that the Texas Teach a Handicapped Man to Fish Act is legislation that really works.

The Teach a Handicapped Man to Fish Act was passed by the Texas legislature to inspire broke ass cripples in Texas who were living off public programs to get off their duffs and pursue the American dream. This law took a tough love approach. All public programs serving broke ass cripples were terminated. And instead all the cripples on those programs received a mule.

Why a mule? Because mules are symbols of the American dream. Mules are synonymous with hard work. Many great corporations began with just an enterprising man and his mule. And so the idea was to free these broke ass cripples from the paralysis of their victimized mindsets, to challenge them to find creative ways to use their mules to help them build lives of economic self-sufficiency.

Well of course all the broke ass cripples bitched and protested and protested and bitched. But not Suzy. She seized the opportunity and with the help of her mule she went from being just another broke ass cripple living in public housing to being a successful business woman with a luxury condo in Vegas and a summer home in Aspen.

But things started out rocky to say the least for Suzy and her mule. When the dumb-looking creature was delivered to her home, all she could do was sit there in her wheelchair and cry. She cried and cried for three days until finally the mule said, “I’m sorry you’re so sad, Suzy.” The sobbing abruptly stopped. Suzy looked her mule in the eye. “You can talk?” she said. “Yep,” said the mule. “And I’m the only talking mule in the whole wide world.”

Suzy yelped with joy. Her pupils turned into dollar signs. She kissed the mule on his smelly old snout. Since this was the smartest mule ever, Suzy named him Einstein. Suzy and Einstein worked up a stage act. Suzy contacted a talent agency.

And today Suzy Sham and Her Talking Mule are the hottest act in Vegas. It always brings down the house when Suzy plays the ukulele while Einstein sings Moon River.

So whenever the cripples bitch and protest and demand their public programs back, the Texas legislature trots out the story of Suzy and Einstein. Suzy is a shining example of someone who didn’t let being handicapped stop her from going out there and claiming her piece of the American dream!

If she can do it, everybody can!

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

We the Weaklings

Ah but always remember one thing all ye weak and downtrodden cripples and all ye uncrippled citizens who have nevertheless been rendered as weak as cripples (in the political sense). When ye are feeling irrevocably squashed down and powerless, take heart. Remind yourself that we still have shame on our side.

Therein lays the great power of weakness.

Consider the following fable as a political metaphor, if you will: An intersection. A pedestrian and an automobile arrive at the same time. Both stop. An awkward pause ensues. Who wins the standoff? On paper it’s no contest. Man versus car? Ha! The Vegas oddsmakers would put it at about 100,000 to 1. A big old car will flatten a scrawny little pedestrian pretty much every time. But it’s not all about brute force. When you factor in shame, it’s a whole new ballgame. Thus, brute force yields and the pedestrian wins the standoff and proceeds across the street unscathed. Why? Shame. That’s what keeps the driver from just running over the pedestrian. Shame. Well actually, what keeps the driver from just running over the pedestrian is the fact that he/she will probably spend a good while in prison if they do. But why are there such laws in the first place? Shame. If you assert your brute force to run over pedestrians with your car just because you can, you’re an asshole. You’re an asshole to a criminal degree.

Or how about that Tiananmen Square guy, the one who stood in front of the tank? The oddsmakers would probably go about a zillion to one there because that one was man versus tank for God’s sake! But the man won that round at least, thanks again to shame. The tank driver stopped because the greater the power imbalance, the higher the shame factor. If you assert your brute force to run over a pedestrian with your tank, you’re really really really an asshole, even in China.

There is great strength in weakness. So when we the weaklings get together an sit down in the streets in protest and stop traffic, we harness the power of shame. Or when we sit down in the rotundas. The weaklings are in control. This is especially true when cripples get together and sit down in the streets because cripples are the symbol of weakness. And anybody who runs over a bunch of cripples with their car will redefine what it means to be an asshole. All future acts of assholishness will be measured against that one.

Put brute force on notice, dear political weaklings, that we are all packing the potent weapon of shame. And we’re not afraid to use it.

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