Monday, December 12, 2011
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
I don't know if you were around or aware enough of pop culture in the early 90s to remember Sinead O'Connor. She was a very popular singer. She was a beautiful young lady from Ireland with a voice of such range and ability that she could shatter frozen hearts. She had her big break in North America with a song (that she didn't write nor had any emotional attachment to) called 'Nothing Compares 2 U'. It was a good song and she sung it very well, but she made a decision some unknown time before filming the video that has cemented her in the public consciousness – she shaved her head.
Much of the video was a close-up shot of her singing into the camera, and so her near-baldness couldn't be ignored. This had two effects – on the one hand, the song had the potential to sling-shot her into superstardom, but the look was immediately latched on to and she became an object of derision, scorn, and mockery.
Then she brought her politics into things. She refused to perform on Saturday Night Live because Andrew Dice Clay was hosting. She refused to attend the Grammy awards in spite of the fact that she was nominated in four categories because she said they were a corrupt organization. She made some statements that were interpreted as supporting Saddam Hussein. Finally, the piece-de-resistance, on a performance on Saturday Night Live (sans Mr. Clay) she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II, declaring him to be the enemy. The backlash was hard enough that her North American career was finished.
These political actions are remembered clearly by music fans and pop culture historians. There's some controversy about her intentions and mental stability. Did she deliberately attempt to destroy her career? Maybe. I happen to agree with her on several points. I wouldn't set foot on the same stage as Andrew Dice Clay, that misogynist prick. I think the Catholic church has been responsible for a great deal of harm around the globe in between cultural colonization, institutional racism, rape-enabling, not to mention the crusades and the inquisitions, and Pope John Paul II in particular, living in the age of AIDS as he does, promoted the idea that it would be better to spread the disease like a plague than it would be to use condoms and so put a stop to the possibility of a child being conceived.
But what do we remember most about Sinead O'Connor? That she shaved her head. We still make jokes about it to this day. Whenever we see a bald lady or even a bald man, we make a Sinead O'Connor joke. We could easily make a Brittney Spears joke, but I think we accept that she shaved her head as part of kind of a breakdown whereas we clearly thought and continue to think that O'Connor shaved her head with a sound mind.
Why does this stick in our collective craw? I don't really know, but I do think the staying power of the image is reflective of our discomfort with women acting outside their expected behaviours. Have you seen a picture of her lately? My partner bought one of her newer CDs back in 2003 and she let her hair grow back in. Time passes, you know. She's moved on but we still make jokes. But it was so jarring to our early 90s sensibilities that we just can't let it go. I guess it's a good example of how 'well-behaved women rarely make history' if only it were for something more notable. I guess her level of femininity wasn't good enough for us then and continues to fail to live up to our standards.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Though in the excitement I forgot his name, I do remember that he introduced himself as a pastor. He told me, in breathless tones, how he had accepted Jesus Christ into his heart at the age of 22 and gave me the whole spiel about how all people have to do is accept him and it's not based on works, etc., etc., as though he had given this speech 15 times already before reaching me. I noticed his accent wasn't local.
"What is your name, sir?" he asked.
"My name's Christian," I replied.
This gave him pause.
By now my heart was pounding and adrenaline was making me want to get up and perform some kind of primal display, so I took a few deep breaths to try to calm myself. I always get this way when confronted with someone who espouses a philosophy I consider completely wrong.
"Do you consider yourself a sinner?"
"You don't think you're a sinner?"
"No I don't."
"Well the bible teaches that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God-"
"But let me ask you this, have you ever told a lie?"
"Oh! I know this one! Ray Comfort does this one! You ask me if I've ever told a lie, I admit to you that I have, and then you say that I'm a liar as though this were a way of life or my job or something-"
"Well, I sure am glad I got the chance to talk to you today and shine the light of the Lord on your heart. You have a good day, sir."
He started walking briskly back to his car when I called out to him.
"Where are you from?" I asked.
He paused as though considering whether or not he should answer me. He half-turned back.
"Well, all right."
He got in his car and drove off.
The other lady at the park, there with his little boy, turned to me and said "That was so weird!"
Monday, July 25, 2011
I'm pro-choice. I believe that for the state to restrict access to abortion constitutes governmental violence against women.
Do I believe life begins at conception?
I believe life began approximately 3 billion years ago. Way way way back then it began as a self-sustaining chemical process and that through natural selection it organized itself into a highly complex process that constitutes an unbroken chain from the first self-replicating molecules to you and me. Does life begin at conception? Well, is the cluster of cells that constitute a human egg inside a woman's ovaries non-living matter? No, it's life.
It's pretty ironic that I have what I think is a stricter view of life than anti-choicers do and yet I am still in favor of a woman's right to choose.
Does life begin at conception?
No, life doesn't begin.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
In my mind I scoffed at this, pretending to point out the millions of gamers around the world who literally don't go on killing sprees and are horrified by this news.
But this made me think of an argument against religion that atheism activists make. The argument is that while not all religious people are violent extremists, mainstream religion provides a respectable cover for them to foment extremism.
So, am I for this argument when it comes to religion and scoff at the argument when it applies to something I enjoy?