Monday, March 2, 2009

Things That Annoy Me

Several of America's (many) misfortunes have been bugging me lately. Which ones, you ask? Let me break it down for you.

1. Famous people who talk about how much they hate being famous. I've heard this most recently, and most obviously, in Kanye West's latest single-but-not single "Welcome to Heartbreak." Look, if your fame took you by complete surprise and you've been having trouble dealing with it, then by all means, bitch to your listeners! I'm sure life with the paparazzi and gossip blogs and general lack of privacy takes much getting used to, and it can seem too annoying to bear at times. But my sympathy only extends so far. Kanye, you say that you "chased the good life all my life long, look back on my life and my life gone. Where did I go wrong?" But...really? You think you went "wrong" somewhere? You bemoan your fame, even though you tell us in the same fucking verse that you fly first class? Oh, your life is so hard; how fame has thrust itself upon you! Sheesh. Call me crazy, but I don't think running around Paris Fashion Week and publicly stating that you want to "do something that's like completely normal" make you anything close to a victim.

"But his art," you might contest. "He just wants to be able to produce his music. It's not his fault the press stays at him!" Bullshit. He could disappear for a while, if his famous life is troubling him so badly. More than that, he had plenty of time to decide whether he wanted to try for such levels of fame as he has now; his mega-fame is now five years in the making. The College Dropout was huge, yes, but he could've stepped back and said: "Maybe I don't want to do all this. Maybe I want a family right now. Maybe I should think about this so I don't blow up and then whine about it later." Because either he's lying on "Welcome to Heartbreak" or he's been lying his entire career--either option is pretty damn disingenuous. There are plenty of successful, talented artists across all genres who never really hit it big, owing in large part to the fact that they don't want high levels of fame. And who can blame them? It doesn't help matters that Kanye's been very honest about his career before (hello, "Good Morning"); in fact, that just makes me more annoyed that he seems to be doing a mental 180 before our very eyes. And I don't know if that 180 is entirely deserved.

2. The "gay panic" defense. It's completely outrageous to me that it stands as a justifiable legal defense; it permits violence against homosexuals on the grounds that the perpetrators were so shocked and appalled by the gayness being forced on them that they just had to kill some queers. This guy in Fresno is the latest in a sadly long (as in, existent) list of such panicked defenders; Fernando Limon claims he stabbed an area gay man to death because said gay man molested him. The defendant's lawyer has tried to cast his client as the real victim here, going so far as to say that he felt "violated because he's not gay." Oh, he felt violated! So naturally, he stabbed a guy to death. We as a society need to learn the true meaning of tolerance.

You can't make this shit up. I'm not saying that Fernando Limon definitely committed a hate crime--enraged over his victim's gayness, blinded to the violence he was committing-- but the idea that he may receive less than the punishment he deserves because he may or may not have been sexually "violated" by a gay man? Please. If he really felt so "violated," he should have gone straight to the police and taken it from there. But he didn't--he chose to kill a man. It wasn't in self-defense--the Limon's lawyer admits as much, and the article makes no mention of Limon now having any venereal diseases as a result of the alleged molestation--so I don't see why he felt he had to resort to murder. Which is what he is, a murderer, and he should be tried as such.

Then again, California politicians seem to have a difficult time thinking clearly when it comes to gays and murder. Some of them, it seems, think they're equally awful. Which would make Limon's act simply one of justifiable revenge. Let's hope for the sake of our justice system that the court doesn't agree with one Senator Scott Renfroe, who is a douchebag.

3. New York University's administrative policies. I only had one class today and it was a midterm; though it was no fun trudging through the snow to take it, I can see how it couldn't be pushed back. But many students had plenty of classes today, and probably hoped for an official snow day to let them off the hook. But no such luck! This morning, NYU posted a completely ridiculous message to students, basically telling them that yes, it expected up to a foot of snow and no, it wasn't going to cancel classes. Like, thanks for the weather report, jerks. Next student who slips on the ice and breaks his neck while walking to class in the midst of a snowstorm will only have himself to blame, huh.

4. How my blue-state, blue-ribbon school district is obsessed with standardized testing, but two Republican lawmakers in Texas--you know, that backwards place where people hate Rent because it's just so gay and taunt black people with nooses--have the right idea about students' education and public schools' accountability. According to the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, the two lawmakers "plan to introduce legislation next week that would replace the state’s current school accountability system based on annual standardized testing of students with one based on charting an individual student’s progress over time." In other words, schools would receive credit--both in terms of reputation and, I assume, finances--based on how each student was progressing, instead of just making sure the student body's average test scores are high enough. The Simpsons just did a funny episode on this very issue, and I agree with its basic premise: that public schools are forced into placing way too much importance on standardized test results, at the expense of perhaps their neediest students. I know it's just my opinion, and I know the views of some politicians do not speak for a state's entire populace, but how one state can be so wrong on some issues and so right on others is mind-boggling and, strangely, encouraging; it reminds me to check my stereotypes and remember that we're all rational beings capable of finding important things on which to agree, red state or blue. Tolerance! But seriously, Texas, wtf about the nooses? Come on.

Whoa, this is already long enough. Good night.

-Josh

3 comments:

David said...

Glad to see you finally came around on the real definition of "gay panic."

Jess and Josh said...

your longest post in days would be titled "things that annoy me" haha

Kristy said...

you know, that backwards place where people hate Rent because it's just so gay and taunt black people with nooses

Even with your last-minute admission that you are sterotyping an entire state, I am disappointed and annoyed by this. I really expected better after reading other blogs of yours. I've always wondered why it is that NYC is so forcefully "anti-Texas." Yes, bad things do happen here, as they do everywhere. However, Texas is a much more complicated state than many give us credit for. Politically speaking, traditionally, in many, many states, the rural population does tend to be/vote more conservatively, and this trend is not isolated to the Bible Belt. However, the urban areas are much more diverse. You should take a look at the recent demographic changes happening in the urban areas, such as Dallas/Fort Worth. Our rural population is huge compared to our urban population - we are too big to be defined by one city, unlike other, smaller, and more vocal states. We are also a state of old money, chiefly derived from the oil boom(s), but with the advent of clean energy many of these 'oil barons' are quickly changing their tune and hopping on the green bandwagon. Monetary gain is the impetus for most political change, after all, and politics is changing in Texas, but even if that wasn't the case, what would be the significance of the Blue States if Red States didn't exist? As Americans, we rely on the two-party system. Yes, ideally (for me) everyone in Texas would become liberal overnight. However, people seem to forget the significance of the Madisonian Dilemma, and the rights we all have to be fiscally or politically conservative OR liberal.

I've lived in Texas almost my entire life, and I've never even held a noose. The incident to which you're referring occurred in the small town of Paris, TX, population 26,000 out of 23,904,380 Texans (per the 2007 census estimate), and the majority of us are as outraged and disgusted as the rest of the nation. I'm also an ardent fan of Rent, and though your context makes it sound as if all Texans are incapable of tolerating homosexuals, the link you posted was to a story about the show being produced in high school. I don't think that a reluctance to portray heroine use, violent hate crimes, and blatant sexuality is appropriate for a production/audience of mostly 13 - 18 year olds. This statement is akin to a Texan saying that all New Yorkers are rude, that making eye-contact with anyone will result in being jumped by a street gang, that you have no manners or respect for anyone who disagrees with you...only without the implication of violent racial intolerance.

In any case, throwing stereotypes of this sort at any demographic - especially an entire state as huge as Texas - shows an immaturity I was not expecting from this blog. And the racial implications, insulting the cultural scene (which is undergoing massive growth and expansion especially here in D/FW), and calling us all 'backward' is not a way to bring this country together - or to cast a positive light on your blog.

Ya'll have a good day, now.