Saturday, July 30, 2011

Child Beauty Pageants

It’s nothing new to say that children are being sexualized way too young nowadays. I won’t beat a dead horse by talking too much about all the slutty outfits made for little girls, provocative song lyrics, popular rap that talks about raping bitches or what not, kids as young as 11 or 12 “sexting,” etc. We all know this country is headed to hell in a hand basket. It’s fine. I’ve embraced it.

What I can never, ever deem okay is the sickening weirdness of child pageantry. Parents (mostly mothers) who paint hooker makeup on their 6 year old, give her giant fake curls and extensions, slap on some fake teeth, put her in a bikini and shove her out on a stage to be judged by a bunch of weirdos - when did this become a standard practice? Who was the first person to say, “You know what might be fun? Exploiting little gals and making em dance around for us!” I am far too lazy to do research into the history of child pageants, but suffice it to say it’s probably nauseating.

That dog's eyes are screaming, "REALLY, HUMANS? REALLY!?"

These shows like Toddlers in Tiaras show the ins and outs of this strange strange world, and the few episodes I’ve managed to stomach are just too disturbing to make me a consistent fan. I don’t judge those who do watch - I happily view many other train wreck shows (Intervention, Hoarders…god bless you A&E), but for some reason seeing these little brats prance around and do awkward dances or singing is just too horrifying for me. I’m not sure why it affects me so - maybe because they feature parents who are supposed to help and guide their children through life, and instead they’re instilling body image issues onto these little kids? Maybe because they’re proudly spending thousands of dollars to dress these girls in slutty costumes?

To the parents who say it’s good for them, builds skills, it’s a positive social experience…I say, what in the fuck are you talking about? Throwing your daughter up on a stage, pitting her against other girls, forcing her to directly compare her self worth and beauty to the others around her, and having the outcome tied directly to a fucking prize? Are you kidding? They’re jumping on the lady oppression bandwagon really early in life, and it’s weird and sad to watch these baby girls be turned into competing women way too soon. And to all the parents who say, “She wants to do it! I just can’t stop her, she loves it!” Here’s a tip for you: Just. Fucking. Say. No. You. Can’t. Be. In. A. Pageant. I. Am. The. Parent. The. End.

Because she can't afford these trashy ruffles, orange earrings, self-tanner, lip liner, lipstick, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, fake lashes, and fake teeth on her own. I promise.

Not to make any sweeping generalizations about certain parts of the country, but I’ve never seen a baby pageant queen from non-Bible-belt territory. The Midwest and South really seem to have the edge on this trashy business. I guess it’s na├»ve to think that these pageants don’t occur in the Northeast or West Coast as well, but I just don’t think they’re as big of a deal. It is a bona fide industry in these good ol’ homegrown red states. It’s funny that the people who are sexualizing their daughters extremely young and letting them prance around in glitzy skank outfits - outfits sometimes identical to those of a Vegas showgirl - are the same ones voting to diminish women’s rights over their bodies. (Okay, I’m sure there are a few liberal pageant moms here and there, but…come on.) It makes perfect sense, really - these people have already determined that girls are just objects for you to stare at, not to think about as actual human beings who may have rights and values. Bleh.

And so I urge you, all 10 people reading this, to never allow a daughter of yours to enter a child beauty pageant. Don’t worry. She’ll learn that pretty people win and that hating other women is a part of life soon enough.

Friday, July 22, 2011

People Who Talk in Movie Theaters

I currently have two degrees, both of questionable use and value (sorry NYU, I do love you). One of those degrees is in Cinema Studies, or in layman's terms, the study of cinema. It was during the pursuit of this degree that I learned about the wonders of filmmaking: the art of setting a scene, lighting it perfectly, letting a swell of music speak for the characters instead of dialogue - or, in the absence of a melody, sometimes just the silence of a moment, where all you hear is the whir of the projection booth behind you, and you hold your breath to see how the director breaks the quiet.




Dear people behind me, you are making everyone miserable. You are literally ruining this film for the rest of the people in this theater - and what's more, you 100% do not care.

That's the worst part, right? It's not like you're traveling to a different country and you don't know the customs, so you accidentally use the wrong fork and dinner and offend the old lady eating next to you. Everyone knows that talking during a movie is annoying and rude. So when people openly choose to do it, it's that much more obnoxious.

That guy two rows behind is both confused and angry. I feel you, bro.

I don't feel like I need to go too far into why talking during movies in unacceptable;* it's fairly obvious. Rather, I'd like to ponder the different reactions people have to others talking in a movie theater. I myself am a seether. I sit there and grip the arm rests in fury, a boiling pot of angry brewing inside me. Everytime the offender speaks again, more is added to my Hatred Stew. I will occasionally look back and shoot a glare, which is almost never seen/acknowledged by Talky McGee. At the end of the movie, I usually try to stand up first and turn around, piercing my death stare at the assholes. In my head, they notice and are ashamed. In real life, they neither notice nor care. Being a Seether is incredibly ineffective.

My favorite people are the ones who talk back. There's something so satisfying about hearing a "Shut UP" from somewhere else in the theater, and hearing the moment of awkward silence as everyone revels in the fact that these fuckers have been called out. For MOST talkers, this is enough to shut them up for the rest of the movie. Some are a little denser and will continue talking, but if the Back Talkers are bold enough and tell them to be quiet a few more times, usually the message is received.

A movie theater, in my perfect universe.

Why is it more people aren't willing to speak up when someone else is ruining a movie? I guess we as humans are fairly afraid of confrontation - and if someone is openly doing something they full well know is annoying and rude as hell, it's reasonable to assume they may not be so polite if the offensive behavior is pointed out to them. But it really does fucking ruin a film, and I cannot stand it.

*There are certain situations and movies where it's semi-acceptable to talk during a movie. These include obvious ones like sing-alongs or The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Talking is also acceptable in the following scenario:

a) it's opening weekend for the movie
b) it's either a scary film or kind of a terrible one
c) you're not talking over dialogue
d) you have something short and funny to say.

I'm serious, it has to fit all three of those criteria for me to find it okay. Examples: I saw The Crazies on opening night, a pretty solid horror movie that involves people in a town losing their minds. During a quiet yet stressful chase scene in which a Batshit Man pursued our hero, a man in the theater yelled, "That dude is CRAZY!" The whole theater laughed, the man stayed silent for the rest of the movie, and we all continued watching the film.

I also saw Wolverine when it opened a few years ago. This one obviously had a lot of buzz as a comic book movie taking a character beloved by many. Well, it didn't quite deliver...if you saw it, you know why. A man in the theater yelled out, "You ruined my childhood!" at the end. Short, funny, done.

If it's not one of these scenarios, and you're still talking during a movie...well, I hope someone who's not me is willing to call your ass out.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sleeping Problems

I’m one of those lucky people who have had problems sleeping pretty much my entire life. I thank my mom’s side, a long line of Jew anxiety that makes falling and staying asleep an epic nightly challenge. Most people have only one sleep issue, but I have several - and I also have a blog where I can regale you with the intricacies of each one!

Falling Asleep

I didn’t realize until college how different I was from most people. Sure, I knew my dad could fall asleep watching TV on the couch, but he’s a dad! All dads have that special power! So when it would take me anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours to nod off, I chalked it up to one of those things people just have to deal with. Then I went to college, where you live amongst like 40 people your age, and if you’re lucky enough to become friends with some of them, as I was, you become knowledgeable about each others’ sleep patterns. Sometimes you even take group naps. It happens. Anyway, it was around this time that I discovered that most people fall asleep - wait for it - right away. I was astonished! Because it takes me fuckin forever.

Sometimes I clutch my clock in fear and frustration.

I can’t seem to help but scroll through the entire day in my head, think about everything I have to do the next day, wonder if I forgot anything I was supposed to do this week, make a mental shopping list, think about what I’ll wear tomorrow, squint at a dark form in the corner and wonder if it’s always been there or someone has snuck in to attack me, throw one leg out of the covers, flip my pillow over, think about the emails I sent that day and how they’ll be received (was I funny yet professional?), put the leg back under the covers, wonder why the dark figure in the corner waiting to attack me is standing super still instead of just getting it over with…you get the idea. It’s exhausting. Only not exhausting enough to fall asleep, apparently. It sucks, and the more you think about how you need to fall asleep, the less likely you are to do it. The next morning, there’s not enough coffee in the world.


When I was little, I had a short list of huge fears. Spiders, a fire in my house, and being kidnapped. This last one trumped all others, and I had nightmares on the subject almost constantly. (I blame America’s Most Wanted for this one…it was really big at the time). I was also a pretty creative and imaginative kid, which supposedly makes your dreams more vivid - awesome if you’re dreaming about riding a unicorn to a magic pond at the end of a sweet rainbow. Less awesome if you are dreaming about someone dragging you away from a crowded marketplace and you’re too terrified to scream. I woke up hyperventilating once. Did I mention the Jew anxiety, folks?

Wake up, little child! Time to get kidnapped!

Now I know what you’re thinking - sure, lots of people had nightmares as kids! It’s super common. No big deal now, right? Right. Well. At the time of writing this post, I am 25 years old. And a half. Roughly once a week, I still have nightmares that cause me to wake up with a little gasp. I’m not really getting kidnapped anymore, but the post-apocalypse zombie world has been the prevailing genre for the last year or so. Usually I’m trying to hide somewhere or run upstairs faster than the attacking zombies, and just as one grabs for me, I wake up. Now I’ll admit, I‘m certainly never hyperventilating, and I can usually roll over and go back to sleep without much of an issue, but the waking itself is pretty inconvenient, and my poor subconscious just can’t seem to get away from those zombies. It blows.

Total Inability to Nap

I know this can kind of be grouped with the first category of general insomnia, but it’s so annoying that I felt I had to hate it in its own paragraph. Napping, from what I hear, is a sacred ritual in which one can catch up from sleep lost the night before. One merely lies down in the middle of the day, and falls asleep for awhile! They then wake up and continue about their business, going to bed later that night as usual. HAH.

So, first of all, my body is somehow not designed to fall asleep during any sort of daylight hours. Even if I’m in a pitch black room, it still knows. It knows there’s light outside and that it’s not normal bedtime! This is the case even if I’m completely exhausted, usually thanks to not sleeping the night before (see above re: inability to fall asleep). I can be about to nod off all day, drag my ass through until it’s an appropriate time to nap, then lie there and suddenly be incapable of sweet blissful sleep. Why, God? Why? I knew I was different on this one from the get go - my sister could be a professional napper, and spent many of her high school years practicing for the Napolympics. I hear they’re in Fiji next year.

Fuckin' show off.

On the very, VERY rare occasion that I do fall asleep during the day, it completely ruins my life to the point where I wish I hadn’t slept at all. First of all, whether I’m asleep for twenty minutes or two hours, I wake up basically incapable of human thought. I am so thoroughly confused about what time and day it is, why it’s light or dark out, where I am, etc. I am useless for at least another hour after napping, which kind of defeats the purpose most people use it for (getting some quick power sleep so they can burn through the rest of their day). Second, I can pretty much kiss falling asleep that night goodbye. Why Joanna, you fell asleep from 5:10 - 5:30 pm today? Seems like you’re good for the next 24 hours! Fuck you, body! I had twenty minutes and you keep me up til 3 am? What do you want from me? WHAT DO YOU WANT!?

Sigh. I know I’m not alone, and my sleep problems are probably not as bad as many people out there…but since I don’t care about them, I’m going to feel sorry for myself and write about it on my blog. The end.