Sounds Good, But Then I Don’t Speak Portuguese

I’m very interested in this article at the New York Times about Edge of Desire. While this bit

Gathering nightly to watch the television show in a graffiti-covered living room has become a ritual for the residents at Casa Nem, a refuge in downtown Rio de Janeiro for transgender and gender-nonconforming Brazilians, who view the story of Ivana’s transition to Ivan as the first dignified and nuanced portrayal of people like them in the country’s mainstream media.

sounds very promising, I’m quite well aware of how The L Word was phenomenally popular in my circles (and, yes, I watched quite a bit of the show) without ever communicating much that was real about the average experience of being a queer woman in the US because of the same biases towards wealthy and urbanite subjects that plague US television generally. It might be a great show, it might be mediocre but getting lots of positive attention because expectations were so low that even mediocre is better than most Brazilian trans folk hoped to see during their own lifetimes.

Though it’s unlikely, if you have actually seen the show and know something about the Brazilian context your comment will be particularly welcomed.

99 & 44/100ths % Pure Racism

D’oh! I’m an idiot. IVORY soap advertised itself as 99 & 44/100ths% pure, not Dove. My idiocy now set aside, I leave the OP alone so you can at least get the substance about the current advertising campaign, which is correctly attributed to Dove.

Dove, having famously marketed their soap as “99 & 44/100ths % pure,” now has a new ad campaign – or had. That’s right, it’s already over and in all likelihood you hadn’t even yet seen it.

The Kansas City Star appears to have been the first to call it out, and three hours after this article detailing the contemptible ad, the Star had another article up, this one, that highlighted a tepid apology from the company that received less attention in the initial article.

The best news out of all this is that the company took down the ad quite quickly, and also that

None of Dove’s statements on the Facebook advertisement this week described what the company’s intent had been in making the ad.

That’s actually a step up from what we normally see, regardless of how bad the initial ad might have been.

The substance of the racism critique is that a Black woman with a dark shirt is seen pulling that shirt up and off over her head. Through the wonders of green screen tech, this reveals a white woman with a lighter shirt underneath. The apparent implication being that Dove can make you lighter/whiter (and that this is desirable).

That message was undercut by the fact that the white woman then removes her shirt to reveal another woman not depicted in the screen-captures that I saw, but identified in writing as “a woman of color” wearing a shirt of a shade in between that of the Black woman’s dark shirt and the white woman’s ecru shirt. However, not many people were willing to give Dove the benefit of the doubt as the product that they were advertising listed it as useful for

normal to dark skin

Yeah, I think just dropping the ad was a good idea. Get that bottle changed as soon as possible, though, eh?

As a post-script, I feel compelled to note that while it’s hard to praise the marketing of a product as marketing itself is so deeply entwined with consumerism and problematic attitudes towards capitalism and consumption, as far as marketing campaigns go, I actually liked the many-different-shapes ad campaign they ran where their products were not just depicted but actually sold in what they called “Real Beauty Bottles” that contained the same amount of soap or lotion, but differed radically in profile. Some bottles were tall and entirely flat. Some tall but slightly curved in at the middle, others were short and shaped like an upside-down apple, with several other shapes included as well. It didn’t work out well, with one criticism saying the bottles made some people feel judged, but I thought that one came from a good place.

Goatfucker Decries Sustained Criticism of Goatfucking

You probably don’t remember (I didn’t) that Erick Erickson expressed his relief that Jusice David Souter was retiring from SCOTUS with a tweet calling Souter “the only goat fucking child molester to ever serve on the Supreme Court”.  But Wonkette remembers.

The Wonkette piece in question appropriately picks up on Erickson’s blog post*1 bemoaning the fact that Megan Kelly isn’t well liked on the US political Left and using the fact of this lack of love, and sometimes open dislike, as proof of the failings of the US Left. As is Wonkette’s wont, they didn’t bother to quote a lot of the post. Stupidly, I thought that meant that there was some significant amount of content they omitted. Thus I clicked through to read the thing. There really isn’t much there, but I’ll quote some lines here so that fewer people will feel the need to give page views to Erickson’s drivel:

I have read several of the reviews of Megyn Kelly’s new part of Today at NBC. Some of them raise some substantive points of criticism and things that could be improved. I thought it was just fine and kept with the tone of Today. But I understand the criticism.

Unfortunately, most of the criticisms really highlight just how broken our country is. The criticism amounts to “she was at Fox so we don’t like her.”

The coolest thing about the United States has always been that people need not be defined by their pasts. People can reinvent themselves, they can do new things, and they do not have to be bound to just one thing. But there is a growing tendency in the United States that we are all to be defined by that one thing others like least about us.

The left dislikes Megyn Kelly because she worked at Fox. Therefore, she can only work at Fox and she can only do that thing she was known for at Fox.

Note that this is from the top. Erickson doesn’t begin by quoting anything outrageous or problematic, doesn’t cite any specific criticism (preferring instead to summarize the criticism as “[t]he left dislikes Megyn Kelly because she worked at Fox” or “she was at Fox so we don’t like her”) or linking to a specific editorial, piece of media criticism, blog post, or even a random internet commenter’s random internet comment.

He doesn’t add any specifics later, either. The closest he gets to anything specific is citing a presumably specific incident he describes this way:

Debra Messing of Will & Grace appeared on Megyn Kelly’s part of Today. She got criticized by a fan for daring to appear with Kelly and then apologized. Why? Because it was Megyn Kelly. That’s it.

So I did a google search, because I love you, my regular reader, and didn’t want you to have white folks stare at you slowly practicing your Google-fu in a local park come sunrise tomorrow. Not unless that’s your thing, of course. So, here’s the search: debra messing “megyn kelly” criticism. To my literal, actual surprise what came up at the top was a series of articles describing Kelly’s first week on the Today show as pretty bad – a “train wreck” in one case. So it immediately seemed as though when Erickson said, “That’s it,” tending to indicate there were no other or at least no substantive other criticisms on offer besides “you sat next to someone with Fox-cooties” that the Erickson in question, who is paid to have things of value to say to other people and then say them, might have been failing in his job. A bit.

But there was a piece in Fortune that seemed to mention all this, so I clicked through and found something rather different than Messing being shocked – Shocked! – that Megyn Kelly was present.

In an Instagram post, Messing, star of the recently-revived hit Will & Grace, said she regrets going on Kelly’s show and said she was “dismayed” by some of Kelly’s comments.

Messing, who appeared on Kelly’s debut episode alongside her Will & Grace co-stars, was referring to a remark Kelly made to a fan of the sitcom that broke ground during its initial run by featuring openly gay characters.

When Kelly invited the audience member on stage to meet the Will & Grace cast, she made what was perhaps an awkward attempt at a joke.

“Is it true that you became a lawyer—and you became gay—because of Will?” Kelly asked.


Not that Messing wasn’t surprised by Megyn Kelly’s presence, according to Fortune her post also explained:

“[H]onestly didn’t know it was [Megyn Kelly’s show] until that morning,” Messing wrote in response to the question. “The itinerary just said Today Showappearance. Regret going on. Dismayed by her comments.”

This wouldn’t be understandable for me, I’m never on national TV and don’t have a publicist or someone managing my large number of public appearances. It wouldn’t be understandable for most folks. But I can accept that it’s possible for someone like Messing to trust appearance details to others and, given Kelly’s recent addition to the Today Show lineup there’s no reason Messing would automatically know a Today Show interview would be handled by someone not even on that show the week before. It’s entirely possible (I know this is shocking, but I believe it is true) that Messing doesn’t even keep track of Kelly’s changing job responsibilities or which people are currently working on screen for which morning news shows.

But here’s the thing. Although she mentions that she didn’t know Kelly was [host? co-host?] of part of the Today Show*2, she doesn’t actually use that as the explanation for why she regretted the appearance. Instead, her explanation invoked Kelly’s comments on that show, on that day.

Kelly wasn’t being tarred forever for some act or association found only in the distant past and remembered only by nasty, vile, little snark mobs as found at Wonkette. Kelly was being criticized for what she said that day on that program while Messing was appearing, and it is that behavior during the interview that caused Kelly to regret making the appearance.

So the premise of Erickson’s piece (that Kelly is being unfairly subjected to long-held grudges for petty crimes of association that should long-since have faded into insignificance) is contradicted by his use of this example. And since this is literally the only remotely specific example Erickson provides, one can only conclude that there never was any basis for this pity party in the first place.

Why-oh-why, then, would Erickson even bother to publish such worthless, content-free strings of words? (I won’t call them thoughts or musings.)

Well, wouldn’t you know it, there is something in there that glisters like a motive, but only when his writing turns more personal:

Back in 2009, I said something terrible about outgoing Justice David Souter. All these years later it still comes up from people who dislike me as a reason no one should listen to me or take me seriously. They are entitled to do that, but the lack of grace being shown is spreading. Kids are learning that if they screw up once, that screw up haunts them forever. Adults are learning that it is game over the moment the social media mob turns on them. And as that spreads, more people will learn to just be their worst self every day and never even strive to improve. Why should they? They’ll just get attacked for that which they once did.

So a while ago Erickson started calling public figures he doesn’t even know personally “goat-fucking child molesters” simply because he disagrees with their expert opinions on subjects he knows little about. Ever since he hasn’t been able to get any hugs from Keith Olbermann, and that’s horrible because now no one in the US wants to better themselves?

Okay. I get it now. The point of this whole essay is just to set up the punchline, “but you rhetorically fuck one goat …” This isn’t a pity party. It never was a pity party. This post is a self-pity party.

Grow up, Erickson. So Wonkette is snide and Olbermann thinks you’re a jerk. That’s not exactly the worst thing you could have hanging over your head for a mistake.

If you honestly believed that people should be able to start fresh at least every few years and not judged forever on the basis of one or a few bad acts, then perhaps you should focus on restoring voting rights to those convicted of felonies and allowing persons currently incarcerated to vote?

I get that as a goatfucker*3 you’d really like all this criticism of goatfucking to stop, but you’re directing your criticism in the wrong place:

Megyn Kelly is doing a show that does not focus on politics and she is a gracious host to each of her guests. She is modeling the behavior we should all be showing to each other. We don’t have to like each other. We don’t have to agree with each other. But we should at least be civil to each other.

She’s gracious even though she makes her guests uncomfortable with her comments? She’s modeling good behavior by making “watching TV turned you gay” jokes?

And that person who is keeping up the criticism about insufficient civility from people who are being uncivil?That’s you, doofus.

One faction in US public discourse makes efforts to encourage respect. In the process they suggest  words that ought not to be commonly used, with certain exceptions for quotes important to discuss or other special contexts. They also engage in extended analysis of certain statements because those statements are (in their eyes) disrespectful or even bigoted, citing the specific language used and the context and using argument from history and analogy to help convince others that such statements reflect undesirable attitudes or constitute undesirable actions and as such should be condemned.

For this, they are frequently derided as “politically correct” (intended to mean unthinkingly autocratic in ways that disadvantage pitiable, underprivileged straight white guys who have TV shows and want to say hateful things on them).

Another faction repeatedly says it wants a “return to civility”. In the process they cite past time periods in the US, times fraught with many problems, and argue that since the US was “better back then” civility should be judged by the standards of civility of that previous era. They argue this without asking how the US was better or whether some things that were, in fact, worse back then might become worse today if we look only backwards in judging behaviors today.

Along the way they draw gunsights over pictures of political opponents, call Mexican immigrants “rapists”, and harp on about those women who just keep on persisting or whatever it is they do because of their uncontrollable hormones when speaking from the Senate floor.

For this, they are frequently derided as not caring if the bigotries of yesterday are replicated today, and more and more often derided as actually caring whether the bigotries are repeated but answering the wrong fucking way. Not only this, but for the money they pour into media that persists in treating opponents in an uncivil way, they are derided as far more the problem with public discourse than any other faction and, by the by, quite the fucking hypocrites.

So at long last, Erick Erickson, do you have no idea who has the problem crafting a positive discourse? At long last?  (BIG HINT: calling a SCTOUS justice a “goat-fucking child molester” is uncivil in most circumstances.)

Jesus goat-fucking christ.


*1: I won’t call it criticism, it’s not nearly so specific or thought out as a criticism.


*2: Apparently the Today Show is more than one hour long, with one-hour segments having (or at least sometimes having) different hosts/co-hosts. So an appearance listed as “Today Show” wouldn’t even tell you whether Kelly was going to appear on screen in the same hour, much less perform the interview, unless you also knew the hourly schedule of the show and where your interview fell.

*3: My spellcheck changed “goatfucker” to “goatsucker”. Really, auto-correct? Goatsucker is some word that a programmer just had to make sure was in the dictionary, but goatfucker wasn’t? How did that line get drawn?


Another Misused Phrase

Readers of this blog, both of you, know how I feel about the misuse of the phrases witch hunt and lynch mob, and more generally about all the variations of the word lynch. I’d like to discuss another phrase without the same level of history but with vital importance to understanding the self-serving faux-martyrdom of those in our society who are actually the most powerful ad privileged. It’s used in this NY Times piece on Mueller’s investigative tactics:

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This young gentleman got sucked into a counterculture of violence

Those are the words of Spokane (Washington) County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich when describing Caleb Sharpe, the adolescent who quite obviously is the person who killed on fellow high school student and wounded several others on Wednesday.

Whether Sharpe is legally guilty of murder, a crime, will be determined later. There is no doubt, however, that Sharpe is factually guilty of killing another human being. Many people believed they saw the potential for violence in Sharpe, though reports that detail any history of actual injurious violence haven’t come to my attention. In short, at least some of his peers perceived him to be vengeful. The tragic case in point that I want to mention here is that confirmed by a number of reports: Sharpe shot the child he killed, whose name is being withheld from some press accounts, when that the adolescent told the armed Sharpe, “I always knew you were going to shoot up the school.”

And yet, nowhere in the press coverage I’ve seen has Knezovich or even any member of the media reminded us that Sharpe is “no angel”.

I wonder why that is.


Jeffrey Lord, Sacked: AKA Correcting Someone’s Spelling Is Genocide

For those who don’t know, CNN has terminated their contract with commentator Jeffrey Lord. CNN itself describes the termination as directly in response to Lord tweeting “Sieg Heil” at a progressive who asked that Lord’s recent American Spectator article mentioning him be revised to spell his name correctly.

Media Matters, not a disinterested party (though neither is CNN) described the run-up to the tweet this way:

On August 10, the American Spectator published an attack piece by Jeffrey Lord against Media Matters. The screed lashed out at what Lord describes as “Media Matters Fascists.” Lord then tweeted the article to Media Matters President Angelo Carusone. When Carusone pointed out that his name was misspelled in the headline of the piece, Lord responded with the Nazi salute “Sieg Heil!”

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I Didn’t Know Historians Have Senses of Humor

Via Rawstory I saw a bit of writing on the political jeopardy to Trump’s presidency and how, in the author’s view, this jeopardy is greater even than what Nixon faced in the time period before impeachment proceedings began. I started reading and in the first full paragraph came upon one of the great historical jokes of all time:

Since George Washington Americans have taken pride in electing honest presidents. Whether the chief executive is rated by historians as great, average, or failure, there has been general agreement that honest men have occupied the White House.

I had to find the History News Network site to examine the quote at its source, it was so unbelievable. Slowly, slowly it dawned on me that in this piece of serious writing, this line must have been slipped in by an editor as a joke. I mean, Holy Historical Humor, Batman, could any student of history ever actually believe this?



Just Saw Columbiana Last Night

Spoilers ahead, though Columbiana is an older movie:

Colombiana has a relatively standardized plot: professional hitter uses killing skills to take out the people who hurt the hitter’s loved ones. It’s gender-twisted, so the hitter is a woman and the women in refrigerators are actually men in refrigerators…well, mostly. The bad guys kill a lot of people, but her dad is the one that provides her initial motivation and a lot of important psychological background.

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Rice or the Media: Whom do I condemn?

And I swear I’m not trying to pick on, but it was there that I first saw an article on Condoleezza Rice’s new book. I was laughing from the first sentence:

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that U.S.-led interventions in the Middle East and Central Asia were not about spreading democracy, but about addressing regional security issues.

Her recent public statements both are and are not part of a book tour: it’s likely many would say the tour is to promote her ideas, and the book is part of that effort, though I think that demeans the reasoning and efforts of others who write books, artificially ennobling Rice’s efforts to communicate her ideas and sell books at the same time while implicitly assigning a crass commercialism to others who write books and then accept lectures to speak about the same themes contained within the books. In any case, however, it’s undeniable that the public statements are part of an effort that is equally well reflected by the publication of her book, Democracy: The Long Road to Freedom.*1
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Jack Kingston: A Moral Blot on the Nation

Jack Kingston, a man whose moral compass must always point evil, made one of the most abominable statements I’ve ever heard on one of his regular appearances on Anderson Cooper’s 360. AC was speaking to his guests about Trump’s idiotic statements that 1) No one asks why the Civil War happened, 2) Andrew Jackson was very upset at what he saw going on with the civil war [despite being dead for 16 years], and 3) Andrew Jackson could have prevented the Civil War if his presidency had come later in US history, presumably close to 1860.

Instead of making the point that Trump was simply lying about 1 & 2, Cooper allowed the discussion to focus on 3. As a “what if” scenario about an alternate universe, Trump can’t be said to be lying, and here Kingston even made an effort to portray the President’s comments as something other than arrogant, ignorant twaddle. I’m disappointed, of course, that AC and the panel allowed this to become the focus, but that’s no more than I expect from cable news.

No, the bile flooded my mouth when during this discussion about whether or not some alternate-universe Andrew Jackson could have prevented the Civil War, I head this exchange:

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