Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Because sexism is fine as long as it's animated...

Dreamworks, what the hell?!?  Let me admit it first that I am not a fan of the Shrek series.  I don't think they're that witty, I can't stand Mike Myers, and potty humor really doesn't do much for me.

But, now, I really, really dislike the Shrek franchise.  Really

It seems that racism and sexism is completely acceptable as long as it's wrapped up in a "cute" animated film?!?  Before you click on "comment" and retort:  "But, it's just a cartoon.  You're being too sensitive.  You just need to enjoy the film."  Let me present my evidence:
  1. Eddie "Paycheck" Murphy and Craig Robinson--the only two cast members of color in the film--provide the voice for the two of the most loud and obnoxious characters.  Donkey and Cookie (the gay ogre, too) sing, dance, have no sense of "personal space" or boundaries. 
  2. The [French] Gingerbread Man is actually referred to as "Cracker."  As in, Shrek says, "Hey, look, Cracker."  I turned to Marc with my mouth agape as the audience roared.  Referring to another character as "Cracker" is funny?!?  So, can we refer to a fish in the film as a "wetback," too?!?  Would that not be equally offensive? 
  3. The children of Donkey and Dragon (the supposed "interracial" couple in the film) are referred to as "mutants."  What cute little biracial Donkey-Dragon mutant babies!?!
  4. Puss in Boots is just one long extended fat joke.  Oooh, look, he can't touch his toes.  Ooooh, look, he's lazy and likes to lay around.  Whatever.
  5. But, Fiona's character.  Fiona's character is the single most offensive character in the complete film or franchise that I've seen in a while--well, Michael King managed to f*ck up Sex and the City 2 pretty good, too.  But, that's a different blog posting....
---------Out of consideration, let me issue a SPOILER ALERT right now.  SPOILER ALERT.  ----------

So, when we begin the film, Fiona--Shrek's wife--is a stay-at-home mom to 3 young ogres.  She's been rescued by Shrek--her knight in shining armor--and is happy and content raising raise her babies, changing diapers, and cleaning her tree house. 

But, Shrek throws it all away after a midlife "I want to be single, again" moment.  In this alternative universe that Shrek has found himself, Fiona is the warrior princess leading the rebellion to save Far, Far Away from the maniacal dictator, Rumpelstiltskin.  She has "rescued herself" from the dragon, raised an army, and protects ogres from--literal--witch hunts.  For Fiona, in this alternative universe, she is a take-charge, aggressive, commanding presence who is respected by her "troops" and doesn't need anyone to protect or take care of her.  She actually seems pretty happy as an independent woman.

However, Shrek's life will return back to normal if he can get Fiona to fall back in love with him (in 24 hours, mind you--because we women-folk are just THAT stupid) and kiss him.  And, it works!   Shrek manages to restore order to the universe and "right" these wrongs by kissing Fiona.  Fiona's consensual sex (albeit, in the form of a PG kiss) restores the universe back to how it should be:  Fiona is, yet again, a stay-at-home mom to three babies and has been rescued, yet again, by her prince charming, Shrek.  Life returns for Shrek to how it "ought to be" it "should be":  Shrek is the master of his domain and Fiona reduced back to her role as caregiving, nurturing subordinate. 

So, Dreamworks:  Shame on you.  Because somehow, sexism and racism is perfectly fine when it's in animated form.  The film ought to be called:  Shrek:  The Final Chapter, Thank God.

Monday, May 31, 2010

iMovie Reflections on Thailand

I'm working on developing my Comp II Honors course for next Spring and I am thinking of requiring a video/multimedia project as part of the course's research project using film, photography, and iMovie/Moviemaker.

So, I started playing around with iMovie--because that's the fun part of my job--and here's what I put together.  These are pics from my recent trip to Thailand.  The music is a bit too sentimental but I think I took some kick ass photographs.

Check it out here...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Protesters Against Health Care Reform... a rally in D.C. on Saturday. This is coverage from the Columbus Dispatch of a protest rally for and against health care reform in Washington, D.C. today.

To summarize, in the video, a man is sitting on the ground in front of protesters against the health care bill with a sign that states that he has Parkinson's and that he would be served by the health care bill.

Several protester tell the man that "this is America," that you have to work here in America to get what you want, and that there are no handouts here.  Then, another man walks up and throws a dollar at the man sitting on the ground and tells him, "Here.  Here's some money.  Have a dollar.  Want another one?  Here."

I'm so disgusted.  Some days, it's hard to believe that "this" is my America.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Testing, testing, testing...

MRI, EEG, psychological evaluation, TAKS... Tobey's been one assessed young man as of late.

Why all the tests?  Tobey has been having some "Tourette's like ticks" for the past year and his neurologist wants to see whether there might be something else going on with Tobey.   Is there something else going on?  I don't know...  After all, it doesn't really change anything.  Tobey is still Tobey, regardless of the label they put on him.  His needs remain the same.

And, this year, I've come to terms with the realization that his needs are going to be significant.  He's been moved into the self-contained classroom and he's officially one of the kids on the "short bus."  Gawd, how I hate that joke, and I cringe a bit when I hear it used as an insult.

Still, I'm reminded of a passage from Roy Grinker's book Unstrange Minds when he is putting his daughter to bed and he realizes that he will be doing this for the rest of his life.  That he has the privilege of doing this for the rest of his life.   When other parents worry about their children going out on dates, moving away to college, flunking out of college, Grinker will have his daughter at home with him.

And, I will have Tobey.  He may live in an independent living facility; he may not.  But, I will always have him with me in some capacity.

And, that is okay.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I've been saying for years...

...that Jenny McCarthy's son wasn't really autistic.

Now, she finally admits it in an interview in Time magazine this week.  How many children have been harmed by parents who were afraid to vaccinate their children?  And, how much money has McCarthy made by exploiting these parents' fears?

Shame on you, McCarthy.  And, I feel sorry for those parents who trusted the "expertise" of a Playboy Bunny before the educated, medical experts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Letter to High School English Teachers...

As my students start writing their first paper in my Comp I course, I have had many conversations w/ students this week on the differences between the writing they have done in high school and the writing I expect from them in college.  Some students seem to embrace the freedom that comes with using "I," "you," more than 5 paragraphs, and "In this paper, I will discuss..." in their papers.   Others seem indifferent and have just rolled w/ it.  And, one student stormed out angry yesterday.

My conversations w/ students is much like the conversation happening online on the WPA list serv.  I found this exchange between a high school teacher and college department chair to be especially interesting.  In the interest of furthering the conversation about student writing, student needs, and professional development, I'm posting it here, too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Recent News on Autism, Wakefield, and the MMR Fraud

Looks like Andrew Wakefield will probably lose his license--as he should.  I feel nothing but contempt for the man for the pain and suffering that he has put autistic individuals through because of his quackery.

And, now, The Lancet has finally retracted Wakefield's 1998 article that made the supposed connections between autism and the MMR vaccine.  Again, 'bout time.

If you're interested in sound, scholarly research that discredits any connection between autism spectrum disorders and MMR vaccinations or mercury, check out Paul Offit's book, Autism's False Prophets.  As a rhetorician, Offit's book is such an excellent example of logical analysis that I can't recommend it enough.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Emanuel, Palin, and the "R" Word

What is just as offensive as Rahm Emanuel's use of the word "retarded" to describe Conservative ads against health care reform?  Sarah Palin exploiting the situation to get herself back in the spotlight by insisting that he should resign. 

Emanuel reminds me of the student who says something off the cuff without malice intent.  Palin, on the other hand, is completely exploiting the "I have a child w/ special needs" to further her own political celebrity.  [Groan]

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back to Blogging...

I have neglected this blog.

I'm a terrible owner because--after what could only be described as 9 months of a dissertation writing frenzy--I have had quite a bit of writer's block. My desire to write has been strictly limited to updating my Facebook status, which--like Chris--I do much too often. I'm sure my friends have just been dying to know that I am on my 6th cup of coffee, that I need to run to the post office, or that I really, REALLY hate Glenn Beck. And, yet, they all do.

Still, during my dissertation defense, my chair and two readers suggested that I return to my blog and present a public discursive presence. They encouraged me to continue posting on disability and rhetoric in the public culture. Too often, academics get "locked into" their own offices writing for the 3-4 people who will be at their conference presentation. But, it's important that academics contribute to the public discourse--even if it's from our tiny, little speck of the Interwebs. So, now that the dissertation is done and I'm Ph[inishe]D, I am returning to my blog to use my powers for good.