Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Generation X: History's Forgotten Orphans

The G.I. Generation, also known as “The Greatest Generation,” grew up in the United States during the deprivation of the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II. Faced with the struggle of economic collapse and the Mother of All Wars, they held their heads high, fought their way through, and gave birth to the Baby Boomers.

The Baby Boomers, often called “The Me Generation,” were the healthiest and wealthiest generation of that time. They took pride in banding together during the war in Vietnam, and the change that they were fighting to bring about. They were certain that their actions would bring a new level of greatness that the world had never known. They began with the task of rebuilding the world that their parents had saved, and ended by carrying us into a new age of modern technology that would forever change the world and put the entire universe at our fingertips. In the midst of all of that, they gave birth to Generation X.

Author Douglas Coupland is credited for coining the term "Generation X" in his 1991 novel of the same name. He said, "The book title came not from Billy Idol's band, as many supposed, but from the final chapter of a funny sociological book on American class structure titled “Class” by Paul Fussell. In his final chapter, Fussell named an “X” category of people who wanted to hop off the merry-go-round of status, money, and social climbing that so often frames modern existence.

The two words most commonly associated with Generation X are “slacker” and “whatever” due to the disconnected perception people have of them. They had no great wars. The dot-com boom carried the economy on a mighty wave that looked as though it would never lose momentum. There was no real hardship to speak of for them to persevere like the generations before them were forced to endure. They wandered aimlessly, nameless and faceless, in the shadow of greatness until feelings of insecurity painted them into a corner and forced them to search for an identity of their own.

The stage was set, but the bar was raised too high. To exceed the expectations set by previous generations simply wasn't possible. Instead, they opted to take the avenue of creative thinking. Searching for the cracks in an impenetrable wall that was gifted to them, in hopes of reinforcing and even improving it for future generations, when none were found, they attempted to correct what the wall was guarding. They looked within themselves for signs of corrosion of their society and, in doing so, stirred up a hornets' nest.

Without a single feather in their victory caps, they were quickly smothered by the guilt of living comfortably in a society with so many flaws. These flaws were always there, but previous generations had bigger things to worry about. They were easily put to the back burner without question. Now, with a war that was over before it even started, and plenty of food on the table, we could no longer ignore the elephant in the room. Issues such as the environment and racial relations quickly became a cancer once they were put in the spotlight.

The wall that was built to protect us quickly became a prison.

People scrambled to join the ranks of every cause they could. While the masses were frantically trying to purge their guilt, the fringe began to fray more and more. Without a common thread to link them together, it quickly snowballed into a decaying society fueled by disdain. People were at war with themselves, but it was fought with misdirected anger. The creative thinking that got the ball rolling in the first place became the first casualty of the war. Without that intellectual guidance, people resorted to the level of savages. A “You're either with us or against us” mentality took hold. There was no tolerance for gray area thinking. 

Leon Trotsky coined the term “politically correct” to refer favorably to those whose views remained in sync with the ever-shifting Bolshevik Party Line. The term resurfaced several times since, but always with connections to the importance of free speech. Today, it carries a much different meaning, as it has become the equivalent of calling somebody a Communist during the McCarthy era. People throw it around as an insult and hang it on the necks of their opposition as a sign of shame. Yet they all live in fear of stepping out of its bounds. 

The pendulum has now swung too far in the opposite direction. Blind tolerance is just as much of a problem when there is no accountability. There will always be people who will try to use the system against itself, and they can't be given a free pass for the sake of being tolerant. That line of thinking now has children idolizing drug dealers, murderers, and thieves, while those who study and learn are mocked for their efforts.

The problem with political correctness is that it forgets the importance of persuading people to ignore taunting and name calling, and to refrain from physical retaliation like we learned in the nursery rhyme that we were taught early on:

Stick and stones
May break my bones
But names will never hurt me.

It may sound foolish and childlike, but think about the meaning behind it. Words are given far too much power, yet they should have none at all. Words should be used to teach, not to harm. Case in point, the word “nigger” was recently removed from Mark Twain's book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. How could a single word be so terrible that we need to butcher a literary classic? What the people who made this decision fail to realize is that having the word in there is a sign of the time in which it was written. We have come a long way since then. When we make mistakes, the way to correct them is to learn from them. Hiding them doesn't fix the problem. If we erase the mistakes of our past, there's nothing to show we've improved.

What Generation X failed to realize when we set out to find the cracks and imperfections of our predecessors was that it was, in fact, us. They fought and worked hard so that we wouldn't have to, and in turn made us soft and weak. Our failure is theirs.

The lesson learned is that the harder we work to make things better for our children, the more we are setting them up to fail. Our love creates weakness, but neglect will only usher in the doom a little faster. Our best option is try to do our best and hope that when the bottom drops out from under us, that from darkness will come light, and force a new wave of heroes to rise up from the ashes armed with the knowledge of our failures to help them avoid the same inevitable fate that keeps the cycle of life rolling forward into the future.

With any luck, they will become that next great generation that history remembers, making us history's forgotten orphans.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Next Step In Human Evolution

Darwin's Theory of Evolution is the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor, and claims that man, monkeys, and apes ALL evolved from a common ape-like ancestor over 20 million years ago, at which time monkeys split off from the evolutionary line. Monkeys are strictly New World primates, found only in Central and South America. Apes are strictly Old World primates, found only in Africa and Asia. Humans and apes had common ancestry until about 5-8 million years ago, which explains why we share so much more of our DNA with apes, particularly chimpanzees, than we do with monkeys.

That being said, I'm beginning to wonder if we are more like monkeys than we realize. Perhaps we, too, had tails at one point, and in the next step of evolution we lose a little more. That would explain the growing number of spineless people that make something like "political correctness" common place in today's society.

Recently, every member of the PC movement has been lining up to take their stab at Ricky Gervais, like a modern day assassination of Julius Caesar, after his comments at the 2011 Golden Globes. The only difference; Today's assassins are too cowardice to brandish a dagger, or look their victim in the eyes.
Granted, I'm not a supporter of violence. I'm not advocating murder. Instead, I will join the game that they chose to play. I'll sit miles away while attacking with a forked tongue.

For those who didn't see the The Golden Globes, I'll recap what caused all the fuss:

Made fun of Charlie Sheen for being a train wreck - It should be noted that everything Ricky said about Charlie was also reported on NBC news. The same network that televised the Golden Globes.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nomi vs. Nina: Hypocritical shepherds and the sheep who follow

Thumbs up, thumbs down, stars and must-see. Simple, meaningless words that sound like a child's game, but they cut far deeper than we realize. Thomas Jefferson said, "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine." The art is manipulating the masses to ensure that you end up on the right side of that fifty-one percent, but when it comes to our entertainment, we voluntarily subscribe to a dictatorship.

Millions of dollars are spent to transform somebody's vision into a product whose only purpose is to entertain. After all that, one man sitting in an ivory tower can give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, like some sort of emperor, and decide the fate of these modern-day gladiators who are fighting to give us a brief escape from the stress of everyday life. Who are they to decide what we watch, and more important, why do we abide?

If one man's trash is another man's treasure, why are we so willing to let somebody decide for us what is worth watching and what isn't? Baskin Robbins® has 31 Flavors because we don't all like the same thing. They have made a fortune based on this fact alone.

I recently took a friend out for a night on the town in an attempt to cheer her up. We had a nice dinner and went to see a movie. I told her to pick the movie. It was her night. Whatever she wanted. She said she wanted to see Black Swan, so we arrived early, got our snacks from the concession stand, fumbled through the dark theater to find the seats we wanted, and sat back to enjoy this critically acclaimed film that everyone has been raving about.

It didn't take long before I started getting the feeling that something about this movie seemed very familiar. By the midway point it became obvious that I was watching a remake of Showgirls, said to be one of the worst movies of all time, yet nobody else seemed to notice.

How could this be?

Both stories begin with a fresh-faced young dancer, with dreams of being a star.

They both get their chance when they replace the long-time top girl.

They both have a rival dancer that could knock them out of the top spot.

Both lead characters eventually identify with the former top girl that they replaced, and visit her in the hospital.

Both have steamy girl-on-girl sex scenes.

Both have not-so-happy endings.

What makes one a theatrical masterpiece and the other a waste of film? The role of the showgirl was replaced with that of a more socially acceptable ballerina. How very artistic. They took out the nudity. Maybe, but a movie about Las Vegas showgirls with no nudity wouldn't be very realistic. However, in Black Swan there are several scenes with its lead role masturbating because she was told to do so for "homework to get in touch with her dark side." I'm not a ballerina, but I'd be willing to bet that isn't common practice in the ballet world, and could have been left out. You tell me. Which is more gratuitous, the nudity in a film about showgirls or the masturbation in a film about ballerinas? To the credit of Black Swan, it did add a weak, overused plot twist at the end, but beyond that, there wasn't much of a difference. The names of both lead roles were even similar in that they both have four letters, begin with the letter "N," and end in a vowel.

So I ask again, why is one hailed as a brilliant film, and the other cast off in shame?
Showgirls won seven of the thirteen Razzie Awards for which it was nominated. The film also appeared on Metacritic's list of the all-time lowest-scoring films (16) and is in the Top 10 of the 100 worst movies list at DigitalDreamDoor.com.
Black Swan, however, has met a much more fortunate fate. The film has Fox Searchlight Pictures' highest per-theater average gross ever, and it ranks 21st on the all-time list; review aggregate Metacritic has given the film a weighted score of 79.

The solution is simple: abandon the flock. Start thinking for yourself. As the rest of the lemmings run off the cliff, you can sit back and watch the show...and your version has nudity.

Abasiophilia for Vets

The idea for Project FN-DV/A (Feminine Nuances for Disabled Veterans of America) came to Texas native and philanthropist Gloria Maxwell during a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial more than 20 years ago. While there, she turned to a U.S. park ranger, seeking directions to the local singles bar where disabled veterans hung out. Gloria suffers from Abasiophilia, a psychosexual attraction to people with impaired mobility, especially those who use orthopaedic appliances such as leg braces, orthopedic casts, or wheelchairs. “He told me no such location existed,” Maxwell said. “That’s when I realized what my life’s purpose would be: to provide female companionship for disabled veterans.”

Maxwell, who was born in Dallas, Texas but grew up in Austin after her Father went out for milk and never returned, had been thinking about honoring disabled veterans since the late 1960s. Then an exotic dancer, she discovered her love for lost limbs when she was giving a lap dance to regular customer after poor blood circulation as a result of diabetes forced doctors to remove his leg. “When I was grinding on his massive stump, I felt the same thrill of sleeping with a black man without the fear of racist back lash.” said Maxwell. “It was the only time I could do dances without crying.”

In the midst of the Vietnam conflict, seeing so many young soldiers coming home wounded, she saw an opportunity to use her fetish for good. Shortly after, she began volunteering at a local VA Hospital. “I was inspired by their strength of character and courage,” Maxwell said. “That’s when I made a promise that somehow, somewhere, I would do something to help. And I was getting all of the hot amputee action I could handle.”

That commitment, fueled by lust, began taking shape after her visit to the Vietnam Memorial. She spent several months trying to gain access to every VA Hospital she could find, claiming to be privately interviewing Disabled Veterans for a book she was writing. Upon seeing the effects the visits had on the men, she was given the green light to go on a government sponsored tour of every VA Hospital in the US. Maxwell eventually formed the Disabled Veterans’ Companionship Foundation in 1996 to begin collecting contributions to hire more women to help with the load. (pun intended) Maxwell was able to raise more than $20 Million. “Over a million disabled veterans sent in money to fund their own foundation,” Maxwell said. “Far too often, they are marginalized and forgotten,” she said. “This will ensure that their sacrifices won’t mean that they can’t have their needs met.”

At the helm of a loyal army of prostitutes, willing to service the men who serviced their country, Maxwell was dealt a shocking blow that she never saw coming. In spite of her noble intentions, her mission was viewed by officials as nothing more than a prostitution ring. These days, the story is all the more poignant because improved medical care is saving many soldiers who would have died in the past. “If you are wounded in combat, your chances of survival are really good,” said Hubert Gregory Raxon, a past commander of the Department of the local Disabled American Veterans, who supports her work. “People are not dying on the battlefields; they’re coming back alive and trying to live normal lives,” he said. “And part of that normal life is a greasy hand job from a whore.”

Maxwell, and one particular soldier whom she’d seen on a regular basis for several years, began to share feelings for one another. The two are scheduled to be wed in the spring of 2012, which gave Gloria Maxwell an idea for a way to make her dream come true. After countless hours combing the adult section of Craigslist (before it was removed) Maxwell did the unthinkable. She rounded up hundreds of thousands of prostitutes who were willing to marry disabled Veterans. “This is a win/win/win situation,” added John Baily, 59, a veteran from Houston who lost his preferred masturbating hand in a mortar attack in Vietnam. “The Vets are getting laid, and the whores are getting paid thanks to the increased funds we received from the Government to provide for our new spouses. Plus, it drastically reduced the prostitution problem in America.”

For Maxwell, the dream has become a reality, but there is still much work to do. Planning the world’s largest wedding ceremony, and finding a place with ample handicapped parking to hold it is an unprecedented task. “When I wake in the morning, I think about this, and when I go to bed at night, I think about this,” Maxwell said. Disabled veterans “don’t want pity; they want to pussy.”