Open Thread for February 13, 2009

Grammys, TV, and Oscars. Oh my.

A relatively busy week for pop culture, with the fallout from the Grammys, the return of T:SCC, the premiere of Dollhouse, the adventures of Octo-Mom (hey, it’s culture, and judging by the news coverage, it’s extremely popular), Miley Cyrus making slanty eyes (care to weigh in, Lee?), and Joaquin Phoenix crapping the bed on Letterman.

Oh, and it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow. Got any plans?

21 Comments on “Open Thread for February 13, 2009”

  1. Gab #

    Crap, I thought _Dollhouse_ premiered NEXT week. And I can’t find it (legitimately, at least) anywhere online. Was it good? Related: I plan on watching _Castle_ when it premiers next month.

    I’m not sure what to make of Mr. Phoenix. If it’s all a prank, he’s proving himself a mega-jerk (even if also proving himself brilliant). If not, he’s more than a little whacko. I’m waiting for that hip-hop album to come out.

    The Miley Cyrus thing has me conflicted. On one hand, the girl is only sixteen and was at a party with a bunch of friends. I’m not saying being racist is ever okay, but I’d have more sympathy for a teenager than an adult that was called out for making slanty eyes like that. However, she’s a public figure, so how high should her standards of behavior be as compared to a normal teen? Her celebrity status should entitle her to an elevated level of scrutiny: her position as a role model, whether she intends that or not, means she should demonstrate model behavior. So I guess I’m pissed she’d be dumb enough to do it, and disappointed; but I guess I’m not too surprised, either, given the other crap she has been “in” before- she doesn’t seem to be surrounded by people willing to determine or capable of knowing what would make for good or bad press (I mean come on, what about all of those semi-naked photos, for example? or dating a guy that much older than her at this stage in her life?). Why didn’t someone tell her, “Hey, bad idea,” or make sure the picture didn’t get out, if nothing else?

    Octo-Mom: She’s demonstrating some sort of Access II- histrionic, attention-seeking personality disorder. She had those kids because she wants the attention- she’s reveling in it, and at their expense, of course. A single mom with six kids and multiple nannies purposely becoming pregnant again (even with just one) isn’t thinking about the well-being of the children. She said, “All I wanted was children. I wanted to be a mom. That’s all I ever wanted in my life.” Yeah, well, she’s already a mom, so where’s the line? Even her own mother is upset- but grandma cares enough about ALL of her grandchildren to babysit the ones already at the house, AND enough to question her daughter. It’s not about the children for Octo-Mom, it’s about her, and that’s why it’s sick. She’s clearly mentally ill in some way, and I can’t help but think, no matter what happens, all of her children are going to end up having their own issues because their mom is such a whack-job. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for single moms choosing to be single moms, but this is way too much for even my brand of feminism. And hey, I suppose she could, in some ways, be considered anti-feminist, since her allIeverwantedwastobeamother mentality reinforces the convention that women are just baby factories.

    But what about the fertility doctor? Or the man that gave her all of the sperm? Each deserves their own rant and scrutiny, too…

    Ah, I’m too verbose- someone else’s turn.


  2. Melanie #

    That new KFC commercial makes me so angry, I punched a cardboard tissue box. It’s the one where the lady says that she knows the chickens are whole and fresh and such because “I’m the cook. There’s one of us in every KFC.” One of us.

    Now, this is a patently ridiculous claim, on its face. There is obviously more than one cook in each KFC, just because of the volume of their business. I’d be shocked if there was only one person there to defrost the chicken, throw it in the flour, put it in the fryalator, and take it out when it’s done. The chicken is raw when it goes in, and cooked when it comes out, so, by definition, these people are cooks.

    But, I overthought, why would she make a point of saying that there is ONE cook in every KFC? She wants people to believe that she’s a CHEF. There’s a chef, like a Top Chef, expediting in every damn KFC kitchen, turning out your sous vide collard greens and molecularly gastronomized sauceless hot wings (how else would they get the heat in there without the sauce, right??).

    That has to be what they mean! But…NO. That’s just wrong.


  3. Jake #

    On Octo-Mom @ Gab:

    I’d like to comment on a lot but I’ll focus on this statement, and I’ll keep it really brief.

    “And hey, I suppose she could, in some ways, be considered anti-feminist, since her allIeverwantedwastobeamother mentality reinforces the convention that women are just baby factories. ”

    Stating that a woman who chooses to have as many children as she can have is “anti-feminist” in any way is wrongly stereotyping feminists. The right of a woman to do what she wants with her body and have as many kids as she wants is just as much a fundamental of feminism as the right to *not* do that. I’m not defending the woman, or saying she’s right to do that from an ethical standpoint, but I disagree entirely with attributing any of this to feminism. Maybe I misunderstand the feminist movement, but that’s how I understand it.


  4. fenzel #


    Like the post-apocalyptic _Terminator_ resistance, feminism is not one movement or ideology. It’s more a broad body of work and area of intellectual inquiry, social motive and political aspiration. Feminist scholars and pundits spend as much time arguing with one another as they do with anyone else (or, for that matter, as any other group spends arguing among themselves).

    So, some feminists would agree with Gab, some would agree with you, and some would suggest that you need to spell “Chyldryn” with two “y”s because it would be more “metal.”


  5. Matthew Wrather #

    Right on, Fenzel. Or, I should say, Fynzyl.

    So, um, Dollhouse.

    I have to say… I was not super into it. Of course I’m going to keep watching, because I’m a fan of Joss Whedon and I think he deserves a chance, but as an hour of television it fell flat for me.

    I suppose a pilot needs to sketch characters, establish their relationships and hangups, plant the seeds for a few storylines and conflicts down the road, and do it all in 5 acts in 40 minutes. And this requires painting in broad strokes.

    But, IMO, here it was overbroad and, unusual for a Joss Whedon show, morally simple. I was not a huge Buffy fan, but I admired what I saw for its remaining reliably true to the eccentricities of its characters and their conflicts. I gotta say, I didn’t see much of a third dimension there.

    And I’m SICK SICK SICK of child sex abuse plots on TV. It’s a cheap, cynical play both for gravitas and for lurid thrills.


  6. fenzel #

    RESOLVED: This week’s BSG kicked several different kinds of ass.


  7. lee OTI Staff #

    Re: Miley Cyrus Asian Eyes, I am shocked, SHOCKED, to see ignorant young white people making crude racial gestures.

    In all seriousness: I’ve been saying for years, racism against Asians is far more socially acceptable than racism against other minority groups.

    I’m not saying that Cyrus should be run out of town on a rail like Imus was after “Nappy Headed Hos,” but Asian Americans (like myself) have every right to be pissed about this. If I had a nickel for every time some asshole kid did the Asian eyes to antagonize me, well, I’d have a lot of nickels. I don’t care if they were doing it “as a joke” or “just to be silly,” or if this was “taken out of context.” Not acceptable, period. It’s hurtful, it’s wrong, and Miley Cyrus should be apologizing a lot more directly than she has thus far.

    I normally don’t get on this sort of soapbox and unequivocally criticize things like this, but as you can tell, that picture really struck a nerve. Right now, there’s some Asian kid somewhere taking shit in the form of Asian eyes, and ignorant actions like the ones captured in this photograph just don’t help. They hurt in real and tangible ways.


  8. Jake #


    Which is truly closer to my point then not. While I am not very familar with feminism(as my own stereotype points out), your reply only reinforces my point that labeling anything “anti-feminist” only stereotypes further. So just as my comment limited feminism, so did Gab’s. I guess I’m saying that while I’m wrong, I’m also right. Erm…yeah. Does that make sense at all?

    Perhaps I’m just being stubborn.


  9. Jake #

    Also @ fenzel

    Having just finished watching the latest BSG, I agree wholeheartedly. I’m shaking just thinking about it.


  10. Gab #

    Melanie: The first thing I thought when I saw the commercial you’re talking about was what you closed with, how they’re subtly trying to pass themselves off as chefs instead of fry cooks. But I also think it’s part of the recent (I’m talking past five years, ish) push of “junk food” companies (be they McD’s, Frito-Lay, whatever) to appear healthier, organic, green, etc. Every package saying, “Zero Trans Fat!” on it, McDondald’s proudly announcing their nuggets are “Now with REAL WHITE MEAT!,” showing delivery methods on commercials to demonstrate their efficient truck routes that leave a smaller amount of co2 emissions in the air, Wonderbread’s new campaign… (Lord knows) I could go on, but I’m sure you can think of more on your own. The point, though, is I postulate the “chef” thing and the “healthy” thing are related because when people think gourmet, they think “fancy,” not, “bad for you,” and nutritional value, or lack thereof, doesn’t really come up. If you can distract your audience from the “bad for you” thought normally associated with fast food like KFC, and then present them with the greeat price you have to offer, they may end up more easily suckered into buying your product- and especially in the current economic state, getting anything negative about your product out of your audience’s head gives you a bit of a leg-up against the competition you’re struggling even harder against now (and commercials focusing *more* on price than normal lately is its own rant). The other stuff, like being environmentally conscious as a corporation, does the same sort of thing- distracts the audience’s mind long enough to make them think positively (or at least not negatively) about the company and thus the product being pitched.

    Jake: Fenzel said it for me, and much better than I could have. (So thanks, Fenzel.)

    Wrather: So are you saying it’s sort of a trump to use child abuse as a dramatic plot? And is it safe to assume you felt other plots from Whedon’s shows did a better job?


  11. fenzel #


    Don’t worry so much about being right. Sometimes it’s not that important.

    Re: BSG – Yeah, some fools on this blog don’t watch that show, and they don’t know what they’re missing.


  12. fenzel #

    And I should clarify – I don’t mean “don’t make your argument” or “don’t obsess about unimportant things.”

    FAR FROM IT, believe me

    I mean that getting stuck in a win/loss correct/incorrect paradigm can interfere with putting your thoughts out there.

    The more I read and write on the Internet, the more I realize that, if you know what you have to say has value, it doesn’t matter whether it’s right or not – and if you get to the point where you’re just talking about whether or not you’re right and not still saying the thing you came to say (or elaborating on it, or adding texture, or getting back into that place intellectually and aesthetically), I dare say your Muse may have left you.


  13. fenzel #

    So yeah, by all means, keep typing, keep arguing, but don’t get so distracted by the argument itself that you stop talking about what you came to talk about – that you lose the thread of why you started writing in the first place.

    And don’t stop having fun :-)

    This is more a general musing than pertinent to this specific discussion, ‘natch.


  14. fenzel #



  15. Gab #

    Jake, I wasn’t trying to limit feminism- far from it, honestly. I said “my brand of feminism,” attempting to leave room for others; and then “could, in some ways,” again, allowing every school of feminism to have its own interpretation. So, uh, maybe I should have said, “my personal take on feminist ideals and what it means to be ‘feminist'” in the first instance, and perhaps something like, “some, but not all, branches or camps within the umbrella of ‘feminism’ would proclaim… because they would see her single-minded goal of motherhood as reinforcing the patriarchal convention that…” or something? Because that’s what I was getting at, that not EVERY person saying they have or live by feminist ideals would call her an anti-feminist, while some, indeed, would. Sort of like how SOME feminists think _Twilight_ is a miracle while simultaneously others think it’s a travesty. Does that help clarify my point? Sorry I wasn’t clear enough before…


  16. Jake #

    Oh of course. I mostly enjoy me a good argument, so forgive me if I seem stubborn on a point.

    That was mostly a request for clarification, so thank you much. Much better understood now? Woo.

    I imagine most of the world’s problems would be resolved if they’d just watch some more Battlestar. Namely: The lack of good television.


  17. Gab #

    @Jake- ok, sweet. And for the record, I don’t really have my own opinion as to whether she’s feminist or anti-feminist, mostly because I don’t really care about that in this situation. When I brought up “my brand of feminism,” it was more because I think her psychological instability trumps my own views on feminism- the mental health of everyone involved, Octo-Mom included, is more important to me than any feminist or anti-feminist arguments to be made, here. Like I said, I’m usually pro-single-mother (as in me personally, not necessarily all feminists ;) ), but this goes beyond just a single woman choosing what to do with her body and into the realm of a parent not considering the well-being of their current and future children. I mean, if she wants to be a “mother,” why have so many kids that she needs more than one nanny and her own mother help raise the children? She’s a complicated, fascinating psychological diagnostic nut to crack, indeed, eh?

    On BSG: Sadly, I’ve never watched it- and I know I should. I just haven’t. I will, I will, someday, promise! BUT, I’ve played the board game a few times. Thought it was pretty awesome, as both a game and what was clearly drawing off the plot of the series. Have any of the BSG fans played it and what do y’all think, if so?


  18. Gab #

    Oh, and would Senator Roberts reading from a _Barenstein Bears_ book on the floor of the Senate whilst “debating” the stimulus package be considered Popular Culture?

    I sh*t you not.


  19. Trevor #

    BSG to me will always be the crass “Star Wars” cash-in that it was in the late Seventies, when Lorne Greene traded in the Ponderosa for the uncharted depths of space and found aluminum-foil-suited bad guys at every corner. That’s classic TV right there.


  20. stokes #

    Melanie: I’m right with you on that KFC ad! It’s so disingenuous. The whole point of fast food is that it’s exactly the same, no matter when you go, no matter where you go. (That it’s cheap, fast and greasy is of course an added bonus.) Now they’re trying to claim that each piece of KFC chicken is a unique and beautiful snowflake. Even if you could convince people of that, why would you want to? If they wanted a unique and beautiful piece of fried snowflake, they would go somewhere the hell else.

    I kind of like the idea of a KFC food network show. May I suggest making it Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares? Just the thought of him screaming “NO! NO! YOU’RE RUBBISH!” at the people from that ad brings a twinkle to my eye.


  21. Matthew Wrather #


    Wait, wait, wait, hold on… In an argument, on the Internet and elsewhere, in what does the “value” of what you say inhere if not in its being correct or not?


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