Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hitting the Nail on the Head

Sometimes you read something and it resonates so true with you that you have to stop for a minute and revel in the simplicity of someone who just gets it right.

Today, I found just such an example over on Huff Post.

The Tea Party mantra of "Take back our country!" is racism cloaked in patriotism by people who can't compete, can't adapt, and no longer have the protection and security of simply being white. This is even more prevalent in the South. Their fear the world is leaving without them, their fear the federal government won't favor them and the state government doesn't have the authority, their fear the ones they have for so long been able to oppress and keep in their place are no longer willing to stay there and are therefore gaining more power, and their lack of control over these changes around them is what is driving this movement. They can call it whatever they want, justify it in whatever way helps them sleep at night, but I see the truth and it disgusts me.
Good job and good writing, Melissa.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

I just don't get these kids today

Ok, so D-fav J is on a rant and decided to pull me into it. I thought I'd take just a moment to defend myself and my original argument.

A. The original intent of my post (as opposed to the letter I actually wrote to the company), was a sort of tongue-in-cheek poke at myself. It's the inevitable dismay at having turned into my mother.

B. I think you have misunderstood the nature of my complaint. In that original letter I wrote to Steep and Cheap, I was pointing out that I don't wish to encounter the word "shit" when I'm trying to shop. The "there are kids reading this" comment was secondary to MY preferences and I felt you sort of focused on that part of my comment when that was just a lazy phrase I threw in. I felt (and still do) that I have every right to express my opinion to companies whose services or products I purchase...whether it be for the manner of their advertising (take Nikon's Negro in the jungle ads, or Steep and Cheap's bomber jacket's da shit ad copy), or the taste of Campbell's soup (too damn salty! already). I feel no differently about this interaction with a corporate entity than I do when I ask Kroger to add a few more organic and green product choices, please. And really, if you had read that particular Daily Dose where he talked about going into a bar and calling some Irish guy a drunk Mic or something, you'd know where I'm coming from.

The "you kids get off my lawn" title was intended as a poke at my advancing age and the stereotype of grumpy ol' Mr. Wilson trying to rid himself of Dennis the Menace (I know, probably an obscure reference for you). But with respect to young people, yeah, I do care when teenagers sling around the f-bombs when families with small children are trying to eat. I do care when some drunk concert-goer screams like a little girl through every fucking song when I paid $60 for a ticket to listen to the performer actually sing it in person. I do care when lifeguards text message on their cell phone when they are supposed to be in charge of saving lives. However, I don't really give a flying rat's ass what the young kids do amongst themselves. They want to call each other "nigga" and I'm supposed to believe it's not racial, so be it. When my nephew posts pictures of himself and his friends on Facebook playing with balloons in the shape of a penis and testicles and act as though they are giving each other blow jobs, I'm not saying a word. Let him realize how embarrassing that's gonna be when he tries to get a real job post-college.

But let's get real here for a minute. You have rigorously defended the younger generation as though they are a generation of polite, smart, civic-minded Kevin Arnolds, and I think you are living in a dream world there. Sure, the younger generation is not racist. I think the younger generation is not racist NOT because they are some greater level of benevolent than previous generations but because their parent's generation purposely raised them not to be racist, in defiance of their (parent's) own upbringing. But overly civic minded? Horse shit! I believe this generation is as apathetic as most other previous generations. I believe your sense of your generation being so proactive is a product of your personal experience (and you hang with a pretty damn upscale crowd), and not indicative of the larger community of young people. Go to a soup kitchen. Or a hospital. Or a reading program. Who do you see volunteering? Who is walking around your neighborhood trying to solicit donations for charity? When I was 37 years old, I began volunteering at the zoo. I was the youngest volunteer in my area by about 25 years. No one is going to come close to approaching the elderly in terms of giving of their time and energy. It takes time to gain the perspective and see the value in "giving back". Young people (as a group) just aren't there yet.

So, while it may not be okay to be openly racist these days, there are plenty of other things that these "kids today" have no problem being pretty darn insensitive about. (Although, I will admit that it is not significantly different that the lack of civility and sensibility that one finds in the public at large---this really doesn't seem to be a product of age.) However, it was YOUR argument that the young people today are so much better than the young people of previous generations.

Case in point. Let's go back to the Steep and Cheap advert about the hat with a zippered pocket for the ski-lift doobage. I heard back from Fred after that post. Here's what he had to say about the rules he had to implement regarding ad copy. And keep in mind, that this is just the bare minimum.
I have made progress on the editorial front by implementing at least the following guidelines and limitations:
  • Absolutely no use of the “f” word in backcountry copy
  • Avoid sensitive issues related to politics and religion
  • Never make fun of a human disease or disability (this was out of control before)
  • Absolutely no hate speech or anything that can be perceived as bigotry
  • Be sensitive to the values of parents
Your concern about the “stoner culture,” as you call it, is also a concern to me. I mean that sincerely.

He actually had to distribute rules that said they would not drop f-bombs or make fun of human disability. Now there's some upscale thinking for ya.

I am not blind, deaf, or an idiot. My nephew uses the term "gay" as a put down. I find it appalling. I have heard him talk to his friends when he thinks he is out of earshot and he calls women "bitches" and "ho's". Cringe City. He takes pictures of he and his friends flipping the photographer the bird. So 1977. And apparently, there is some quality of mouth wide open, tongue hanging out that he finds to be a heart-warming Kodak moment. I take a "I won't ask, please don't tell me" approach.

Do I think that kids enjoy pushing the envelope? Of course. Do I tire of having it thrust upon ME where I find it difficult to avoid? You bet. I find it irritating the same way I find it irritating that blue jeans come in two varieties--elastic waist just beneath my cleavage or producing a muffin top/threatening to show my butt crack every time I bend over. I am 47 years old and I'd like MY preferences to be considered along with those of 12-24 year olds. I'd like Campbell's soup to make a low, LOW sodium soup that I could choke down. I'd like my concerts without the vomit, pot-haze, or screaming ninjas, my swimming pool with an attentive life guard, my shopping experience without the shit-fucking-stoner copy, and I'd like to eat in peace. I realize the value in NOT selling alcohol at venues that attract a lot of people. I don't consider it an inconvenience anymore--I consider it a public service.

As for the young people of this generation, I think they have great potential. I think they have great challenges. I don't think they are substantially different than my generation, my parent's generation, or your generation. They have their own culture and they are welcome to it. But they do have to interact with people of all ages, and that includes customers of their businesses. And if they want to sell to people outside of their generation, they are going to have to consider the sensibilities of people outside their generation. I don't think you call your colleagues "homies". I don't think you call your boss "nigga". I don't think you use the word "shit" in ad copy and I do think it's irresponsible to encourage drug use. Steep and Cheap doesn't want to sell to me. That's their choice. I have every right to open a dialogue about it, to encourage them to see me as more than a cranky old person. Maybe one day, probably when they are 47, they will begin to think of me as a valuable customer. But by then it will be too late. No one will be listening to them either.