Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Moratorium on All things Kardashian


Bobbie L. Washington

May make a suggestion or maybe this should be a plea for a return to some sort of normalcy in the world of journalistic integrity. What I am pleading, begging, imploring you with all good consciousness is to place a moratorium on anything that has to do with reporting on any Kardashian. I would like to see it set at 30 days. As simple of a request that this may be, I'm sure many a news outlet who suffer a tailspin of what to fill up their outlets with. So why do I want a moratorium on the Kardashians? It is because it has gone into overload of what constitutes news. Jimmy Kimmel has a comedy bit on his show called, “Is This News?”. News outlets are now reporting on the most mundane topics when it comes to the Kardashians and you have to ask yourself, is this news?

For 99% of the time, it is not news when it comes to the Kardasians. You read headlines like, “Kylie wears mom's bikini”, Father wears a bikini for the first time”, “Mom sets up Kedall Jenner up with Zayn Malik”. And this is just one day and not everything. How did journalism get to this point where journalism ethics now cater to the lowest common denominator with what constitutes news? The Kardashians are not talented people. They are not relatively beaming with scholarly attributes. And because one made a sex tape, we are invited into their home to see how they flaunt a lifestyle that is insanely obsessive and narcissistic.

Kylie Jenner just celebrated her 18th birthday which makes her legal for photographers to take a chance of her having some wardrobe malfunction. Of course leading up to her 18th birthday was an obsession in itself with Kylie taking as many selfie one could take in many a small bathing suit and close to revealing outfit. Coupled with the fact that she is in a supposed relationship with Tyga, a 25 year old rap artist that the media has scrutinized because he was dating a then under aged Kylie Jenner because of the illusion of some inappropriate behavior. But mom, Kris Jenner, had signed off on it so it must be okay. Kylie's Instagram videos tells a not to surprising portrait that she is no Mensa candidate. In fact the now 18 year old clearly demonstrates that a 12 year old brain is something to really work at keeping.

Kim Kardashian is in an orbit all to herself. The sex tape was her coming out party and it's been nonstop ever since. Between the product endorsements, television appearances as a guest star, marriages, pregnancies, half-ass singing career, we have been bombarded with her for everyday since then. And she won't stop, even when the FDA came down on her for soliciting some morning sickness drug without giving the side effects. But that's not the first time she and her sisters have run afoul with some product they endorsed without first doing their homework. It's all about the money grab first, then the consequences later. Kris Jenner has channeled herself into Kim where every move, every action, every nuance, every blink of the eye that is scripted and rehearsed to the point where you have no idea what is real and what is Memorex? All of it is smoke and mirrors and Kris is behind the curtains with the Wizard of Oz.

Kendall Jenner is running a campaign to be the next Kim. She became a model last year out of nowhere because she had no training and just the name. I wonder how other models who worked hard in their careers felt about this newly minted top model sauntering in without any credentials other than having a reality show? And she had her debut as she has posed topless and wore shear outfits for her “new profession”. But that's what people are really looking for in the Kardasians, who is going to get naked? And Kim is the winner on that. You'd think a new mom would curtail the nudity but no. Kim wanted more of the limelight or maybe it was the mom who told her she needed to get the spotlight back on her since Kendall was soaking up the air? And sure enough, Kim got naked, not just for some Internet publication but for her legions of fans where she posted selfies of her nakedness. Well, I guess if you got it, exploit it for cash because Kim gets paid for Twittering.

Khloe Kardashian is the proverbial lady in waiting and she will be waiting for a long time for her shot at the Kim throne since the annointing of Kendall and Kylie, the newest incarnations to this Kardashian bubble. At one point one may have thought that this would be the one to break free from the carnival ride of fame whoring. If one were to believe Lamar Odom being a victim to a setup involving Khloe and a supposed chance run-in with her ex, then manipulation of the media would have been executed properly to the first order.

Kourtney Kardashian has her latest issues as a single mother. Her companion and father of her children has left the compound but what we don't know if this too is one of those scripted events that will lead up to some dramatic telling? Lama Odom hinted that there might be more to the story when it comes to the Kardashians if he isn't treated fairly in the press.

And you may ask yourself why do I know all of this? Because that's what the media is feeding me as I mind my own business when it pops up on the news. Sure, I can hit my mute button on my remote control or change the channel but by then, I've been forced feed enough to the point where it's stuck in my head like it was junk food. I don't like junk food. Hearing about how an 18 year old got a Ferrari for her 18th birthday is fluff and none of my concern.

At one point, this circus act will have to eventually fold up. TMZ will probable have a hard time with that but everybody needs to move on. This request that I am proposing may be too lofty to achieve but it's worth the effort. I suspect that some news organizations have assigned reporters to cover anything Kardashian. The Huffington Post and Yahoo News seems to have something on them everyday. I've even read comments that readers have left suspecting the same thing. So, how's about it media outlets, can you help a brother out?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Singin': This'll Be the Day That I Die,
This'll Be The Day That I Die

Bobbie L. Washington

I've never thought of myself as anything special. I never had a lot of things growing up and never expected much out of life as a kid when you live below a certain economic line. However I did had my health. As far as I knew, I was in general good health with the exception of having the whooping cough that kept me out of school for seventeen days. Over the course of time, I had sustain a back injury while in high school when my elbows didn't lock and I fell back with a set of dead weights. Yeah, that was pretty ugly at the time. I was in gymnastic and track and field and the coaches weren't happy with that.

As I got older, college days were unremarkable with no health problems or injuries. As the years went by, I experienced a hernia problem, more specifically, a right inguinal hernia that I suffered through for a month. I remember tearing it because some lazy workers weren't doing their job and I went and picked up some signage that wasn't my job to do. That was a hard lesson to learn as you come to the reality that you will be cut on and that you'll be carrying around a scar for the rest of your life. It happens and you move on.

Time ticks on and you move on to another career and friends. You're invited along to a restaurant because your friends know that you are a vegetarian so you accept the invitation. While dining at the establishment you bite down on a cornbread muffin and then there is a loud pop. Everybody stops eating and you spit of a chunk of glass. I know that's not a part of the recipe. So you go the the doctor and you discover that you have damaged the joint at the point where the mouth hinges to the skull and know you have temporomandibular joint dyspepsia or TMJ. That little dining experience cost me two years of having my mouth wired shut. I had a choice though, either the doctor could wire my mouth shut or he could go in a perform surgery and run the risk of hitting one or more major nerve that stems for that joint. In other words, I could have run the risk of losing my hearing, my sense of taste, my vision, my smell or having some paralysis to the face. And I thought having a scar would be the worst of that.

So you get through this chapter as well in life. You learn a little more about yourself, you have the ability to speak with your mouth closed and if you had to, take up the art of ventriloquism. So what more could there be? Well, how about appendicitis. I got that later on. I was eating a baked potato and felt a slight twinge in my stomach. Me being a male heterosexual, didn't think much of it and went to bed feeling fine. As I slept, I felt the pain of a thousand pains hitting me in four compartmental sections. I had not called anyone as I went through that pain that night. So the next morning I wasn't okay but was trying to figure out what was going on. I was in radio at the time working as an executive producer and we had on doctors as guest to talk about things in their respective fields. There as an internist, a plastic surgeon, and a psychiatrist. My thinking was that this is a panic attack so I called the psychiatrist. He said you should go to the doctor but I insist that it must be a panic attack. After four days of pain and not being able to move, I was taken by a friend to the hospital and they were shocked. Nobody is suppose to live past two days when their appendix burst and I waited four days. I was thirty minutes away form circling the drain. All of my internal organs had turned black. But this isn't the day that I died.

On January 29, 2015, I died. What led up to this day was me not feeling great because I was stressed out and working seven days a week doing architecture, filming and editing and running a horse ranch. My sleeping habits were horrible averaging three hours on occasions. I was peeing a lot, my vision was blurry and I was tired all the time. I went to do some filming and I didn't have the strength to pick up the camera case. I knew I was in trouble then. I have always been a good researcher so I googled my symptoms and the results told me that it was diabetes. I didn't want to believe that. But this kept getting worse and a finally asked a friend to drive to to a clinic to see what this was. On the way there I had my first seizure. I lost the ability to speak and my left arm fold on itself. I could understand what my friend was saying as he drove me so that part of the brain was still functioning. I arrived to the clinic and they told my friend to take me to the hospital. This was drama building up as time was not on my side. We take off to the hospital and when we arrive there for check in, I had my second seizure. I'm wheeled into the ER and as a doctor is seeing me I had to go pee. I make it to the restroom and back and then I have my third seizure.

I told that I had conversations with two of my colleagues there. I have no memory of that. I was diagnosed DKA with is Diabetic Ketoacidosis and that's not a good thing. What I found out three months later was that I had died. What was it like? I didn't have this out of body seeing myself from above experience. There was a void of nothing. There was time lost. There was the darkness, just a sea of darkness. People have died and come back and tell these glorious tale of seeing the light at the end of some tunnel or seeing relatives or loved ones but I experienced none of that. The only thing I remember was the quiet of it all, no fanfare, no muss, a certain peacefulness to it all.

I'm a vegetarian, nonsmoker, non-drinking, don't do drugs Type 1 diabetic. At best, I would say that I'm at 75% with good days and bad days all rolled into one. I was told that diabetics must consume 2000 calories per day. I'm barely consuming 1000 calories a day. I'm not a big food person. If there was a way to eliminate eating, I would do it. I find it to be a chore and now it is since I have to do this three times a day. And as I go through all of these test, they are finding other things that are wrong with me internally. On the surface, I am a facade of supposedly good health but beneath it, there are things that are going on. Of the laundry list of health issue is something called an aorta root dilation. I just know found out about this last month and from what I found, it's not a good thing.

That male heterosexual thing is a problem when it comes to man's health. We ignore pains in our body until someone points out to you that this is the problem. I've been having pain in my chest for quite sometime and this is the problem. I will be seeing a cardiologist in September and I am not looking forward to the conversation where they tell me that my chest will be cracked open but at the same time, I'm resigned to that outcome. It may not be as bad as I perceive or it could be as problematic as I think. This may be the one where I won't come out of it. As Captain James T. Kirk said in Wrath of Khan, “ I've cheated death. I've tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity.”

Maybe I won't be able to cheat death this time out. I know I don't have the strength because I'm always weak in the morning, low blood sugar. Growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois, you witness a lot a bad things including your friends dying of an early age due to violence and drugs and car accidents. I've had my fair share of bullets flying by me and car accidents over the years and as you get older, you realize that you would like to live a long life. It's something in your brain that gets turned on when you're in your twenties that says there's more to life if only you give it a chance. I would like to live a long life and impart some advice to that next generation. I will try to hold on but if that is not the case, it's been a slice.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

If Only Mulder & Scully Had Smartphones Then


Bobbie L. Washington

I readily admit that I am a fan of The X-Files and am one of the many who are waiting with anticipation for the return of Scully and Mulder in January 2016. It’s been a log time since I had seen some major episodes from the show and so I went online to look up a few thanks to Hulu starting with the Season 1 and episode 1. As I watched the various episodes, I also took a second look at the technology Scully and Mulder used during that time. A lot of the things we have no taken for granted and is commonplace wasn’t available at that time.
The computers they used were archaic 80386's, monitors were bloated cathode ray tube green screen monsters and the cellphones were just glorified walkie talkies. They used their cellphones a lot for communicating but I wondered how would the X-Files would have been if they had smartphones instead.
Well, for one, Mulder could have snapped a picture or shot plenty of video of the spaceships he’s encountered over the course of the series. Scully could have tracked where Mulder was by the GPS tracking device on his smartphone and that way she would know if he was on the spaceship or with Diana Fowley. Mulder could have used a genealogy app to tell who the father of the baby belong to from the three brothers in Home after one or maybe two of them had sex with their mother. Scully could have used her Facebook app to see if Jade Blue Afterglow from First Person Shooter had any likes. The Lone Gunmen, Frohicke, Byers and Langley, could have used the Tinder app to meet real women. The Cigarette Smoking Man could have used the MyQuitBuddy app to help him stop smoking. Mulder could have used the Goggle map feature so he could navigate out of the cornfields in Fight The Future. Skinner could have used the T-Shirt app so that he can find the right one to wear under those starched white shirts, no wife beaters please.
Eugene Tooms could have used the Vegan App to find other alternative meat substitute dishes that don’t use liver but is just as nutritious and would have been on Snapchat. Duane Barry could have used the Paranoia App since he is so worried that somebody is always watching him. Clyde Bruckman could have used the Tarot Oracle Card app so that he could give David Blaine a run for his money. Krychek could have used the One Arm Slot Machine app to give him a better edge in Las Vegas and would have Kim K. following him on his Twitter account..
And as we countdown the final moments for the return of the X-Files, people will be interested in the relationship with Mulder and Scully. That’s a valid concern. Mine, however, will be about the aspect on this generation of technology. TV screens and bigger and flat and they can spy on you if you let them. Smartphones can do a lot more than just call a person. Big government is not just watching you, they are subcontracting private companies to mine data for them. Edward Snowden is the number one enemy to the NSA. Julian Assange is number two. And while the Lone Gunmen may have been right with their predicting the 9/11 disaster, we can rest assured that the alien conspiracy has been effectively put down…or so we think.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Feminist Icons in Today's Pop Culture
Bobbie L. Washington

So I will pose this question, what makes a feminist in this generation of selfie loving social media instagram, Facebook, twitter culture? To understand feminism, you first have to look up what it means and even though this generation may be savvy with posting pics, memes and the what not, information gathering tends to come up short. Feminism, by definition, is the advocating on behalf of women when it comes to the issue of reproductive rights, equal pay, domestic violence, maternity leave, sexual harassment, sexual violence, and genital mutilation at it's most core principles. Feminism started in France during the French Revolution when the French writer, Olympe de Gouge, wrote about The Declaration of the Right of Woman and Citizen during the French Revolution. She was advocating that “woman is born free and remains equal to man in her rights” and that women should have equality in all areas of life such as education, government, employment and the judicial systems. So now that we have established a point of reference, does the value of feminism still holds up with this crop of celebrity personalities?

Taylor Swift, truly a remarkably talented woman, has been bestowed the title of feminist by some publication. But what is she really doing for feminism? She makes plenty of hit records about her dating life, she decides on how her music will be distributed and by whom, she makes plenty of money and she has donated to numerous charities but I don't hear her voice in advocating a particular cause. Taylor Swift said in part that she has become a feminist thanks to her friendship with Lena Dunham recently so what does that mean in the grand scheme of things? Taylor Swift has a hardcore fan base that have be vicious if they find their star come under attack. One person, Clara Beyer, a then Brown University student, created a Twitter account called FeministTaylorSwift, that provoked the ire of that fan base who thought Beyer was hater of Taylor Swift. But by her own summation, Beyer's feel that she started Taylor Swift into the world of feminism. Taylor Swift created a video called Bad Blood, where a lot of her female friends appeared in varied roles as above average women with kick ass abilities. 

 Taylor Swift had mention the fact that she had used the women for these roles for what they supposedly would represent. But you were just playing dress up. That had nothing to do with furthering the cause of feminism. Just because you have a video out pretending to kick fake ass doesn't mean you are empowering women especially when at the end of the video you wound up having a bitch slap fight with Selena Gomez. You sort of defeated your purpose with that message of empowerment. But Taylor Swift has power, as stated by Forbes magazine. She is ranked as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women of 2015 at number 64. But power is relative and fleeting. Power is relative to what the people is willing to let you have. Let me repeat that, power – is only relative – to what the people – is willing to let you have. Power is popularity. Paul Simon once sang that every generation finds a hero on the pop charts. And that is true.

Does anyone remember the utter fascination with Lady Gaga? She was everywhere. She had a few hit records. She had her fans listening to everything coming out of her mouth. But then the hit records stopped coming. Her fans became fickle. She still is showing up from time to time but it's for other peoples work and she shows up just to stay relevant while she still wears the attention grabbing outfits. Here was a woman who also is considered a feminist.
But what is she doing, showing up at an event wearing only a bra and panties. That story didn't make it over the fold with any relevancy what so ever. As Bootsy Collins once sang, “whatcha gonna do when the novelty wears off of your style?”

Ariana Grande recently made headlines because she tweeted about she's her own woman and doesn't belong to anyone. Some took that as her feminist calling because she quoted from Gloria Steinem and then came the “you go girl” attitude as if she had done something significant. Is that really feminism or just a response to so many tweets about your ex-boyfriend that you had to give a response just to get them on another subject? It seems as if the bar has been lowered a bit when it comes to what constitute as a feminist calling. Journalists need to be more objective when it comes to reporting on these celebrities because they have an agenda and a public relations machine they need to keep oiled and running. And sometimes it seems like many of these journalists are fans of these stars as well and that tends to lead to some bias reporting when it comes to their favorite celebrity. Other than her own self interest and a sophomoric twitter rant, what else is Ariana doing for feminism?

Bree Olsen, once a part of Charlie Sheen's harem of women and former anal porn star had tweeted a letter that she had penned about girls thinking about entering the porn industry. She advocates for them to reconsider and outline the pitfalls of traveling down that path and yet she wasn't labeled a feminist by any blogger, journalist or group. In her letter, Bree talks about slut shaming, how there is a double standard with women and with men and the world after the porn lights have dimmed especially if you happen to have children. So why weren't her words elevated to a level of importance in the same manner as Ariana Grande? Why was there silence. Did it not have value? Did it not have weight? Why didn't she get praise for speaking out to thousands of impressionable girls who are considering doing porn for the allure of fame and money from the feminist community? Maybe it is because of what she wrote and that is that men are given a pat on the back when they leave porn and women are slut shamed for doing the same and that applies to speaking out as well. Maybe it was because she has done porn and the respect for women who work in the sex industry are not to be taken seriously. If anyone would have seen Rashida Jones
documentary about young girls entering the porn industry entitle, Hot Girls Wanted, maybe Bree's word would have contained more value and power.

Patricia Arquette gave a wonderful but all to brief acceptance speech at the Oscars when she voiced her position of equal pay for women in her industry. Though to be fair, her industry is based on what an actor can bring in at the box office and usually that means the lead actor is a male who has the box office draw eight times out of ten, especially when it comes to the big box office budgeted films like The Avengers and Jurassic World. The Hollywood game isn't quite the same as your typical nine to five but the meaning and platform for Patrica Arquette to find those words to be the most valuable for her in the three minute window that was allocated to her. How it translated the next day with everyday people and the corporate boardrooms would be the test.

And Emma Watson has jumped head first into the role of an actual feminist with her work by accepting the United nation's Women Goodwill Ambassador role and speaking out on behalf of gender equality. In her speech, she invited men to join her in this fight as she recognize that the label of being a feminist had negatives attached to it with regards to it being too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-male and unattractive. She is hoping to change that because she has experienced that when, as she put it, the press started sexualizing her at the age of 14 and at 15, her girlfriends dropped out of sports because they didn't want to appear to muscle bound. Of all the women celebrities in her age group, she by far has the better understanding of what the feminist cause is or at least is trying to understand instead of it just being a Twitter rant.

Beyonce Knowles, Beyonce, Queen Bey, calls herself a feminist. She has every right to do so, but why? She sings and performs about empowering girls but does that translate into action? Who run the word, girls is one of her musical anthems but let's look at that carefully. In third world countries, women are subjected to some of the most cruel acts that humans inflict on one another. Genital mutilation in parts of Africa, honor killings in the Middle East, human trafficking in this part of the globe and the reality sinks in. Singing a pop song in 3:45 doesn't embolden anyone for the better. Charlize Theron spoke before a committee on the human rights commission in regards to the LGBT community. 

 Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry sat in front of a state commission advocating for children privacy when it comes to the celebrity paparazzi with the latter benefiting Beyonce is she chose to exercise it. These women are doing something with their feminism. Beyonce readily has admitted that she is not a smart as she likes during the inauguration of Barack Obama. She does not have the skill set to have conversations about other worldly topics because its beyond her save world of music. She has been soundly criticized for attending the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight because of Floyd Mayweather domestic abuse charges. From what I understand, she looked great at the fight. Like Taylor Swift, Beyonce has earned her respect in the music business. She knows how that work. Her father has taught her well about it and she has amassed a fortune doing it.

But where do these artist, these icons to female pop culture, do with feminism? You can't just sing about ruling the world or kicking somebody's ass. You will have to take a long hard look at who you are, what exactly are you doing with your fame and assessing the finer point of can you do something more with it? Fame is fleeting. Former president, Jimmy Carter, was a one-term president but since he has left office, he has done more for human rights than any president since and I don't think he's a feminist unlike his wife, Rosalynn,
who was a string feminist with many causes that she was an advocate behind. And maybe that's what these icon need is a strong role model because even pop icons need role models too. These are young women who need to look back in history and see what women like Rosalynn Carter has done for feminism and emulate it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

In The Case of Rachel Dolezal in The Age of Meism


Bobbie L. Washington

So, where do we go from here? It's a legitimate question in this age of it's all about me. Surely you are a party to this aren't you? How many selfies have you taken? How much of your social media accounts is filled with images of you in various poses, goofy faces, nude shots, duck lips, etc. And if that is who you are, then why the supposed outrage over Rachel Dolezal?

Rachel Dolezal is the 37 year old woman who runs the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP. She also happens to be white but for ten years she has to the position of being black. This revelation has led to a debate, mostly about race and also what constitute free expression in the face of the Bruce Jenner morphing into “woman”. There are those who are outraged at Rachel Dolezal because they feel that she a appropriated this notion of the black culture. The appropriation of the black culture came about when some blacks felt that whites were stealing the culture as when Bo Derek wore cornrows in her hair in the movie, 10, or when Macklemore won the Grammy over Kendrick Lamar for best rap album. Rachel Dolezal held herself out as a black woman and all that came with it. In that ten years, I do not know if she has faced any discrimination but as the person who is in charge of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, she probably had her challenges in light of the multiple shootings of young black men by white police officers. She currently chairs the Spokane Police oversight commission.

Rachel Dolezal claims that she is black, white and Native American. She did this on an application with the City of Spokane and if you're familiar with government documents, they frown on inaccurate information. So here comes the matter of perspectives. Rachel Dolezal claims that she is part black but in truth, her DNA would say otherwise as her parents can attest to her being of German, Czech and Swedish ancestry. Bruce Jenner has claimed that he is know a woman but DNA says that he still has a Y-chromosome and because he has declared himself as a woman then everybody must adhere to that edict and go along with the change. So, what is the difference?

Well, in the case of Rachel Dolezal, one can claim that she lied about being black, that she took advantage of certain positions in life based on a lie which is irony in itself when being black has certain advantages in this society. She wore makeup to conceal her identity, what some are calling “black face”. She married a black man and has a child by him. Did she take advantage of him? And how much did he know about this? Bruce Jenner on the other hand has been married twice and apparently had hid his feelings about being a woman for years. Is that deceitful? His marriage with Kris Jenner being the most recent must have been a house of lies if one is to take that position of being truthful. If the urges were so strong with being a woman, why wasn't the decision to do this come much earlier? Is it just more fame whoring and money because there are claims that he is about to cash in with lucrative contracts.

What we look for today is something that is intangible and that particular substance is called recognition. We want to be recognized for everything in this me society. It's not just that there are thousands of people who take selfies, it's the myriad of tweets and Facebook post about absolutely nothing. Being it food that you've eaten, clothes that you wear or not wear, baby's first step, smile, burp, laugh, your ass in tight workout pants, in lingerie, hotdog legs, we get to experience it all. Bruce wants to be recognized as a woman, Rachel Dolezal wants to be recognized as being black. DNA says otherwise but in once case, there is recognition for one of the party.

So how far can we keep moving the bar with things? What if I want to be be recognized as being Chinese. On the surface you see brown skin and recognize me as being black. But my DNA says otherwise. I had my DNA tested through the Sorenson Genealogy Group and with and what I got back says that I'm a mutt. My DNA is literally all over the world. On my paternal side of my genetic in one area of the globe I have elements of DNA derived from Asia. Does that make me Chinese, no, but I could argue that I have a link to being Asian. But I do have DNA from Ireland and I've always felt a connection with Ireland for quite sometime. So, does that make me Irish?

Does anybody has the right to make claims about their race if DNA testing says it's diverse as mine? Since the founding of this country we have had a constant issue with race and that's what this is all about. There are the old soldiers who have shed blood over this issue and there are the new soldiers who have lost their lives in this new struggle. But no blood has been shed over this issue, just inkjet fluids.

Rachel Dolezal, as far as I know, hasn't garnered a windfall of cash with this revelation. She is not seeking any fortune and apparently no fame, unlike Jenner. Why did she chose to resign herself from her own racial makeup is for more qualified people to ascertain her mental health, if it is in question. So let me ask this one final question, are we judging her by the content of her skin or by the content of her character?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Your TV Family


Bobbie L. Washington

Well, the time has come for this crop of TV shows to have their season finales or is some cases, their series finale. There is a chow called Community that originally aired on NBC for a few years before they were canceled by them not because it wasn't a good show but because of lower viewership. But fate stepped in and Community found a new home with Yahoo. And with that new venture came with it a new found invigoration to expand the comedy by using more expressive language in small increments. They ran 13 episodes and if you were a fan of the show, you at least had the chance to catch all 13 episodes in you were lucky and some if you were fortunate. And the best thing about it was that you could watch off of them through the process of binge watching. And as I watched the last show, I didn't know if I was watching the season finale or a series finale?

So as I invoke the spoiler alert for those who may not have watched it but still are planning to watch it, one of the key people is moving on with her life. It becomes the lynch pin for the other characters to absorb especially for Jeff Winger. And as Annie takes that next journey into an undiscovered life, you get that sense of ambivalence, you just start having this sense of longing and foreboding and loss. But why are you feeling this way and why is it that we tend to have a visceral connection to our favorite shows?

Well, we let them in our viewing home for, in some cases, many years. They become an extension as to who we are. We live vicariously through their one dimensional lives. We escape with them through whatever travails they may experience. We cry for them, we're happy for them, we get angry for them, we even talk back to them, we go on an adventure with them.

When David Letterman ended his 33 year run on his Late Show with David Letterman, you had to resign yourself that it was probably time for him to say goodbye. Perhaps what many did not know is that once his last show aired, that was it. There was no reruns of the show anymore. There was no slow tapering off form the David Letterman shtick. What we got was nothing for the withdrawal pains. It was cold turkey. David Letterman owns his show unlike what he had gone through while at NBC. And because he owns his show, we are subjected to reruns of the Mentalist, oh, the horror, the horror. You at least thought you would see Dave through the summer until Stephen Colbert took over the slot but since that didn't happen, we sorely missed David.

This may be a new phenomenon in this age where social media has become the new normal and television shows generates a lot of media hits. When The Wonder Years had its run back in the 80's and 90's, it ended with a a bit of nostalgia and melancholia. If that was your generation, you perhaps related to the coming of age with Kevin Arnold and Winnie Cooper. As Kevin narrated his life story, it reached a point where becoming an adult would end his childhood landscape. And when that final show aired, Kevin told of his rites of passage where his brother would run the family business after the death of his father. He would say that his mother would have discovered her own calling by becoming a businesswoman and that his sister had become a new mom and that he and Winnie didn't turn out being together anymore. And even though it had to come to an end, it was bittersweet and perhaps a bit real in that happy ever afters are left to fairy tales.

The same can be said about the TV show Cheers. When it ended its 11 year run, it to was bittersweet. Once again, people move on with new chapters to their lives and we are there to make witness to that. And although you wish you could write some of those final scenes, Sam was left at the bar by himself with his last line being, “Sorry, we're closed.” Why couldn't Diane secretly had his love child and be surprised that it was a girl? We want them to be okay, to not wind up no being left alone to their own devices. Sorry, but a bar will not comfort you or hold your hand or place an arm around you when you need it.

But there have been many shows, fine shows that we let in and treat them as family. We tune in each week to get the latest and see where they have progressed in terms of character development. We saw the teenager Buffy The Vampire Slayer become a young woman who watched as her town implode under a hell hole filled with demons. We saw chemistry teacher Walter White turn into a mild-mannered man into a methodical killer whom you sympathized with and champion as well. We watched as Jack Shepherd from Lost stare up to a clear blue sky as he slowly dies and dream of things gone by and where he wished he would be, among his friends and father in a church as that beautiful lofting music played in the background and the dog laid next to Jack wagging his tail with content. And Seinfeld, well, as Julia Louis-Dreyfuss said on her last appearance on Letterman, “... a hugely disappointing series finale”. 

 What was Jerry thinking? A show touted as being about nothing, ended on nothing but a bunch of misanthropes who would take a selfie at a Texas execution and be mad if it wasn't about them.

So, what does this say about us as individuals and as a group? Well, we want a connection and a sense of belonging and purpose. TV shows aren't real but they bridge the real with the surreal from time to time. If we, with purpose, buy the bit and buy the premise, we become the latest of investors of a show, singing its praises and accolades. Derek Shepherd meets his demise of Grey's Anatomy and half the women feel betrayed by these turn of events. How could they do this? Maybe it should have been a dream?

We have become a media savvy generation where we get to stream any content on any platform and at any time. I have watched old episodes of The X-Files in anticipation of the return of the show with new episodes. I watched them online with a sense of longing for the show and questioning why they should have ended it after Season 8 but continued with Season 9. I can't wait to see the new episodes though because I want to see if they will find Scully and Mulder's son, William?

William should be 14 years old by now. They had left that story line open ended. Surely you didn't think their son would be exempt from the darkness did you? So, you see, in my scenario William was given up for adoption to some couple who were mysteriously killed when he was still an infant. He winds up in foster care being passed around from foster parent to foster parent. At some point in his life, he realize that he's different from his peer group. There is a longing in him and he has this pull for him to find out who his parents were. At the same time Scully is having vivid memories of William. She does not pass this information on to Mulder because as much as she has seen, she still does not trust her instincts. William has decided to find his parents and oddly enough, winds up in the Native American tribe of Albert Hosteen. With the tribes guidance, William is set on a new path along with an American wolf that has befriended him. At the same time, young William is being watched by a mysterious figure who does not do anything to intervene. William makes it to the FBI headquarters where he finds Scully's name on the computer file.

Did I mention that the kid is a computer genius? So, Skinner catches him in the act and William tells him who he is because somehow the boy knows who Skinner is. Skinner takes him to the home of Mulder and Scully. Mulder is a successful novelist who write fiction about the cases that he has turned into stories. It has made him very rich in the process. Skinner knocks on their door and Mulder answers it. He is surprised by the visit from Skinner until Skinner reveals that he has brought along an additional visitor. Mulder sees the boy and calls for Scully. Scully comes to the door and sees William and she knows who he is. She calls out his name but William stops her with telekinetic powers. Mulder stops him because there is a connection with Mulder that William seems to understand. After tensions have settled down, Mulder and Scully final get some of the answers that was left open. The wolf comes up to the mysterious figure and shape shifts into a naked woman. He covers her with a coat as the woman says that “They have reunited once again.” He replies, “Good, they will be able to train him for the next crusade.”

So why do I know I care so much about this? Because it's The X-Files and I'm a shipper and a the theory of Trust No 1 is true or maybe I just invested way too much time in watching this show.