Sunday, May 01, 2011
Consider yourself warned

Readers of my blog (hypothetical and real alike): I have big news.

As you may have noticed, this particular blogging website has become somewhat unreliable. It's not the most popular of sites, and for a while now I've had this growing, nagging fear that I'll wake up one day to find it disappeared.

So I'm moving. Or rather, I've moved. I've neurotically and laboriously copied and pasted every entry from the last 8 years to the much more popular (and thus more reliable) website:

From now on, if you want to read my blog, you should direct yourself to

(big name change, I know.)

See you there!

Posted at 05:14 pm by Linsnoopy
Tell Me Something Good  

Thursday, April 14, 2011
You know, I don't avert my eyes anymore

One of the joys associated with the return of decent (i.e., non-hypothermic) weather is the freedom from the necessity to studiously layer my outfits. For example, I’ve made it my habit after work to head straight to the gym and then walk the rest of the way home afterward—a relatively short, three or four-block stroll. Over the winter I was perpetually (albeit insignificantly) annoyed by the fact that, even though I left the gym flushing and glistening with sweat, before leaving, I still had to cover my hot, gross-self in several layers of wool and cotton to prepare for my diminutive walk.

The first time I was able to walk home in just my shorts and gym shoes this season (which, presumably thanks to global warming, was in early March), I experienced a lovely feeling of liberation, freed from inhibiting fabric and frostbite alike. Even lovelier was that odd-yet-satisfying sensation of the wind meeting my legs for the first time in six months.

Of course, mere seconds later on that same walk, I experienced the markedly less lovely (and considerably less unfamiliar, and rather the opposite of liberating-feeling) obligatory “Hey, gorgeous!” blurted at me from a man who I had just passed on the sidewalk.

- - -

Recently, BBC published an article, matter-of-factly titled “Why do men shout at women in the street?” It got so much feedback and attention that they quickly added a follow-up commentary article.

Getting holla’d at on the street is a difficult thing to complain about. To the receiving ear, it sounds like an awkward attempt at bragging: “I’m so beautiful that I force complete strangers into a fit of Pretty-Lady Tourette’s!” And even though pretty much every woman has gotten cat-called at least once (which really takes the wind out of a narcissist’s sails) there is, I admit, a complimentary aspect to it. As a commenter in the BBC article says, “there’s no such thing as a woman who doesn’t actually like receiving a compliment based on the way she looks—provided it’s delivered in a genuine, respectful and unimposing manner.”

In other words: sure, compliments are appreciated—when the complimentee can discern their intention. But in my opinion, any sense of flattery or pleasure derived by the street-goon “compliment” is simply a knee-jerk, conditioned reflex to an otherwise creepy intrusion into your day. Why creepy? Well, what can you really discern about the motivations of a leering 40-year-old holding up the wall of a drug store? Any sense of flattery is soon consumed by intrusive questions, namely, Why did he just yell at me? and How should I react to ensure that he leaves me alone and doesn’t say anything else?

Despite this, I’ve noticed that guys tend to defend the practice, because they seem to think they’re doing a service to preserve a woman’s self esteem. How else is a woman supposed to know that she’s attractive, if not by the word-vomit of street-walking strangers? It’s practically a civic service.

Pertinently, a psychological study found that superficial or unearned compliments are only capable of causing temporary spikes in mood. Your stable, lasting sense of self esteem is only altered by meaningful feedback that you feel is demonstrably and intimately connected to you, as a person. Science.

Complimentary fluff aside, the BBC article argues that the true roots of cat-calling are actually nefarious. It’s the wading pool for sexual predators trying to determine where the awkward-to-harassment line is drawn. It’s a method of maintaining social/sexual dynamics and establishing male dominance, since the practice is essentially a loud, vocal act of objectification. It has nothing to do with women at all (who cares what they think?) but is merely a way for men to establish themselves, amongst each other, as confident and… virile, or something.

Whether these theories sound valid or a little Second-Gunman conspiratorial to you, when you think about it, you have to admit that the whole practice appears to revolve more around men than, say, women. No matter how the woman reacts or feels, a man will always succeed in his attempt to affect a woman’s day, or make her feel uncomfortable, or solidify the stereotype that women are around to be admired. Women receive the Grand Prize of a questionable compliment and a likely dose of paranoia.

On the bright side, perhaps now I can claim new insight into those irritating people who walk around with earbuds stuffed in their cochleas, dangerously oblivious to their surroundings. I’d just as soon tune out, too.

Posted at 07:38 pm by Linsnoopy
Tell Me Something Good  

Sunday, April 03, 2011
Her hair bears silent witness to the passing of time

When I was 14 years old, over a period of three months, I miraculously and unexpectedly lost 30 pounds (amounting to 20% of my total girth at the time). Conveniently, those same three months happened to be the summer break between my last year of middle school and first year of high school, meaning that it was surprisingly easy to forever discard my former, "Nerdy Marshmallow Puff of my Graduating Class" self. It was a dramatic enough physical change that, six months into high school, more than one of my middle school teachers failed to recognize me on sight.

To my recollection, I did absolutely nothing to lose the weight--which is why I call it miraculous, although in this case "miracle" is undoubtedly just a code word for "puberty." My eating and lifestyle habits were as chicken-finger and couch-filled as ever that transitional summer.

Ironically enough, it was this sudden, unsolicited gift from the Gods Who Apparently Cared About My Social Life that inspired me to start exercising and eating healthy. While there was no clear indication that my weight loss was correlated to such things, after having lost the weight, I became unreasonably certain that I would gain it back if I didn't give my health habits a makeover. So when I started hitting the ellipticals and salad bars a few months later, it was not, like most people, in pursuit of a particular goal, but more an attempt to purchase insurance on this suspicious, unearned charity I'd received.

Now that I've spent almost a decade in my new body, I don't often think about the random, paradoxical experience that led me to my current health-conscious habits. I assume, like most people, that eating right and staying active result in weight management--not the other way around. I consider near-daily exercise the norm and point to it as the reason that, to this day, I've kept Marshmallow Me at bay.

On rare occasion, however, it strikes me how improbable it actually is that, thus far in my relatively short life, the only time that Nature has conspired to surprise me resulted in a Publishers-Clearing-House, "You're-A-Wizard-Harry" style surprise. Something unexpected happened to my body that inspired me to enact healthier habits, and it was good news. Granted, puberty-induced transformations are pretty common and nothing to get too excited about. But then again, I have friends who, in their own relatively short lives, can also point to occasions where nature has conspired to change their lives, and more often the "surprise" is cancer, juvenile diabetes, or congenital heart defects.

This is just to say: I'm sometimes surprised by just how many reasons I have to feel blessed.

Posted at 10:52 am by Linsnoopy
Tell Me Something Good  

Friday, March 04, 2011

I don't generally believe that I'm in any position to figure out the World At Large or How Things Work--mostly because the world is very, very big and I am very, very small. Smallness couples with the fact that I and everyone else on this earth have a wildly limited perspective on Things, thanks to the pure and incidental fact that we are all born as ourselves, with two eyes and one brain, and not Everyone Else in the World with Infinite Perceptive Faculties. The extent of my judgmental influence and sense-making pretty much ends at my corneas, and the World, as far as I can tell, doesn't arrange itself to suit my brain box.

Further, my brief experience in this world has taught me that what seem to be small decisions may wind up being important ones, while sometimes the seemingly major crossroads turn out to be relatively inconsequential, to the extent that I'm able to figure out such things. I also know that important things are prone to happening so slowly and gradually that sometimes they don't present themselves as "decisions" at all. I also know that what's "important" tends to change from day to day, even for those with the strongest convictions.


So, how much more of this, do you think, it will take before this whole grad school thing becomes an easier decision?

Posted at 07:27 pm by Linsnoopy
Good Things (1)  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Life's disappointments are harder to take when you don't know any swear words

Let's say you discover something that you really, really like (and at this point, I'm mostly referring to music or books as opposed to, say, cults). In my experience, most people will have one of two reactions:

1) They'll want to share this incredible find with everyone they know and will celebrate increasing popularity of the item
2) They'll want to keep it covetously to themselves and may inwardly resent increasing popularity of the item

For whatever reason, it seems like far fewer people experience the first reaction. Even people who aren't necessarily Gollum-like with their music or book tastes will still typically avoid going out of their way to share the items they're most passionate about. Typically, we'll wait for someone to admire or comment on such an item, or to directly ask for a recommendation, before we'll willingly share our Precious's.

Conversely, the second of these reactions has actually gained fame, if not popularity, in recent months by being heavily associated with the so-called hipster mentality. A whole subculture has been, more or less, founded on the concept that your off-beat, indie social prestige should depend on the obscurity of what you like. (Or so I hear. I have yet to meet someone who admits to being a hipster.)

Partially because I'm sick of people talking about hipsters and equally sick of people talking about how sick they are of people talking about hipsters, I'd like to re-brand Reaction #2 as something other than "the hipster mentality."

Specifically: "the Calvin and Hobbes mentality."

I don't actually remember when my sister and I started reading the Calvin and Hobbes comic books, but I do know that it was at an age when I would often sit on my dad's lap. I would read the strips to him and laugh at the jokes that I understood. I can't recall ever being the slightest bit confused by the comics, but at this point I know that I couldn't have possibly truly comprehended, say, some of the more complex ruminations on deconstructionist sidewalk art. (On the other hand, a certain strip about Calvin's mom and an onion did teach me at a surprisingly early age what anthropomorphize meant.)

By the time we reached teenagedom Cathi and I had amassed every Calvin and Hobbes "collection" and a handful of "treasuries," save for Yukon, Ho! which, if I recall, I didn't purchase until around 2001 because I'd already read it at the library a few times.

I love the Calvin and Hobbes series for a lot of reasons not worth getting into at this point, yet over the years I never brought it up in conversation or recommended the books to anyone--mostly, frankly, because they never came to mind. As a budding English major, comic books weren't usually the first thing to pop into my head when friends asked for a book recommendation. Then, since no one I knew ever mentioned them, I began to subconsciously assume that Calvin and Hobbes was one of those things from the late-80s-to-mid-90s that no one else but my family really paid attention to. Like David the Gnome.

And then I went to college.

I'm not sure what catalyzed it, but at some point during my tenure at IWU I discovered that no one hasn't read (and subsequently become obsessed with) Calvin and Hobbes. I have become extremely hard-pressed to find someone unfamiliar with the series. Try it at your next social gathering. Crack a joke about a transmogrifier. Everyone will laugh.

Yet no one talks about it. It seems to be one of those "Preciousss" items that everyone on the planet prefers to keep to him- or herself. The Calvin and Hobbes mentality.

In keeping with the mentality, I was initially surprised and a little disturbed by the discovery of Calvin and Hobbes' ubiquity. (After all, I just found out that an entire library of what I thought were private, family childhood jokes would actually be comprehensible to a nation's worth of college students.)

Lately, though, I've come to appreciate the Calvin and Hobbes mentality, at least when it comes to Calvin and Hobbes series. I like to think that no one talks about it because everyone who reads it shares the same emotional reaction that compels us not to talk about it. And if people love to talk about incredible or interesting things, I have to believe that only sheer brilliance can prompt universal silence.

Posted at 10:38 pm by Linsnoopy
Good Things (2)  

Monday, January 31, 2011
And it's hard to say if they're happy, but they don't seem much to mind

Back over the summer, I was working on a project that required me and my coworkers to write articles about medical conditions and diseases. Of the various and sundry guidelines that dictated how these articles were to be written, one prominent instruction was that we were never supposed to use a disease name as a noun-substitute for a person. I.e., instead of "a diabetic," we wrote "person with diabetes." Instead of "an epileptic," "man with epilepsy."

The reason for this is obvious enough: no one wants their entire identity to be eclipsed by the incidental fact that they have a medical condition. If we're going to be defined by something, most of us would prefer it not to be based on the random, mutinous action of our body cells, but a personal quality of our choosing.

I, personally, tend to think of myself as a Book Reader. It's been the quality of my choosing for about as long as I can remember having the ability to choose. While I don't delude myself thinking that an affinity for reading is a unique trait (because, honestly, hardly anyone ever admits to not being a reader, lest they come across as an extra-strength nincompoop), defining myself in terms of my literacy helps me to explain and/or justify other aspects of my personality, too. Like the fact that I use unnecessarily syllablicious vocabulary in everyday conversation. Or the fact that I feel entitled (and not stupid) when making up words like syllablicious. Or the fact that friends who I haven't heard from in six months are prone to texting me out of the blue asking about grammar. Or the fact that, stingy and risk-averse though I am, I paid out the ear to apply to a series of literature grad programs with <6% acceptance rates.

If I defined myself as, say, a Democrat or a Vegetarian, these other particular traits wouldn't be immediately explicable. But I'm a Book Reader, so my world makes sense.

Yesterday, I finished up the novel Shadow of the Wind, which my sister gave me for Christmas. While I was basking in that familiar, weird, half-disappointed wave of emotion that happens the minutes after you finish a long, satisfying novel, I suddenly realized that I hadn't actually sat down and read a book like that in months. Tracing back in time, I was able to identify that my reading habits have been sinking like the Titanic, pretty much, since I left Bloomington, to the point where I've hardly been reading at all.

Which is weird, 'cause I'm a Book Reader.

I've always taken Being a Book Reader for granted. Prior to this year, I'd never been lacking in books or even in time, given that when you're an English student a certain percentage of your day is obliged to be spent nose-first in a book. It never once occurred to me that, in the future, I would need to make time for books and reading, that if I wanted to continue to be who I am and maintain my syllablicious sensibilities outside the nurturing confines of a university, I'd have to actively and forcibly prevent myself from being sucked in to a world where it's perfectly acceptable to spend the 4 hours between work and sleep watching TV.

But I'm back. And ready to defend my title.

Posted at 07:44 pm by Linsnoopy
Good Things (1)  

Monday, January 10, 2011
Deus ex machina

In 2005, David Foster Wallace gave a commencement speech at prestigious, liberal-artistic Kenyon College, which has since become, to liberal arts students, something like scripture.

In the speech (entitled "This is Water"), Wallace--in good Wallacey fashion--tackles what he calls "the single most pervasive cliche in the commencement speech genre," being the point that "a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about 'teaching you how to think.'" After doing a rhetorical tango that even Argentinians would admire, he transforms this cliche into a lesson on living a satisfying life that manages to be relevant, personal, and meaningful to practically anyone who reads it.

The part where he references adult suicide is a little eerie in retrospect, but overall it's an incredible speech.

In a crucial section of his oratory, Wallace brings up the time-honored, Office-Spacian example of sitting in traffic. He uses it to make his larger point, that we all should admit that life is bigger than ourselves, and that learning how to stop worshiping yourself in "your tiny skull-sized kingdom" is the only way to achieve freedom in life.

But for a while, he just talks about traffic.

He relates how it's a "default setting" to be self-loathingly frustrated in traffic, to "spend time in the end-of-the-day traffic being disgusted about all the huge, stupid, lane-blocking SUV's and Hummers and V-12 pickup trucks, burning their wasteful, selfish, 40-gallon tanks of gas," and to think about "how spoiled and stupid and selfish and disgusting we all are, and how modern consumer society just sucks, and so forth and so on."

And then comes a rhetorical turn: "The thing is that, of course, there are totally different ways to think about these kinds of situations. In this traffic, all these vehicles stopped and idling in my way, it's not impossible that some of these people in SUV's have been in horrible auto accidents in the past, and now find driving so terrifying that their therapist has all but ordered them to get a huge, heavy SUV so they can feel safe enough to drive."

Again, the purpose of all this anecdoting is that these examples are illustrative of a much more philosophically meaty point: that situations like traffic jams give you "time to think" and that the decision of what to think about at times like these is a significant one. "The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it," Wallace says. "This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn't."

Now, I know that the late Dr. Wallace was using traffic (and grocery lines, incidentally) as a conduit for his astonishingly poignant rumination on life and meaning.

But for a second, I just want to talk about traffic.

I've been a commuter and an office worker for six months, which is an atomically small period in geological time and really not that big a chunk of my own life, either. But it doesn't take long to feel the creeping edges of the kind of bored, frustrated, adult monotony that Wallace talks about in his speech. (It's interesting, actually, that he speaks of it so convincingly, given that he never had a standard 9-5 office job, progressing seamlessly from student to academic until his suicide.)

I hate commuting. It makes me feel stressed, impatient, and like I'm losing valuable moments of my life doing nothing worthwhile. While barely anything else in life incites virulent emotion in me, traffic actually manages to noticeably raise my blood pressure.

Part of what is so frustrating about it is when I'm driving, I'm forced to think about driving. It's a mixed blessing that I don't sit in "traffic jams" like the ones Wallace talks about; my twice-daily 45-minute commute leaves me with little time to think of more than the immediate moment and irritation. Is it safe to change lanes? How fast am I going? What time is it? Is that a cop car? How far to my exit?  If I spent any extra time trying to think of a "larger picture," I have a feeling Jesse White would send me a strongly worded e-mail about neglecting to drive defensively.

It's not that I don't believe Wallace when he says that framing how you think about mundane situations is the cure for day-to-day frustrations. He may very well be right. But even Wallace admits that the basis of enacting his plan is the ability to take charge of those daily situations when you find yourself with time to think. To change your attitude and approach to your daily tasks. But what about those people who spend their days at a low level of engagement, on tasks, like driving, that demand their full thought and attention yet are still fundamentally unsatisfying?

If I dared to disagree with David Foster Wallace, I would say that while I laud his genius like the rest of my kin, I think that, for most people, there are certain times during the day (and perhaps a large portion of the day) where you simply have to concede to the monotony or face very real consequences (e.g., unemployment; driving into parking cones).

It would logically follow that what you can do is try to minimize or, if you're lucky, completely eliminate those mentally-taxing-but-unsatisfying situations. Shape your life so that you really can follow Wallace's advice.

...which, I suppose, is why I'm applying to grad school.

Posted at 07:07 pm by Linsnoopy
Good Things (1)  

Monday, December 27, 2010
City born into this world with no knowledge and no regrets

I have a natural knack for planning. While I don't think of myself as the "planner" type when it comes to personalities (which in my mind conjures up an image of the tightly-wound, pencil-skirt-wearing killjoy who falls to pieces when someone steals her day planner), I seemingly always automatically know exactly what I'll be doing next. When new information, opportunities, or possibilities present themselves, I absorb them and rather quickly reorient myself to whatever prospective direction seems most fitting. As a result, I don't usually spend very much of my day in the anal-retentive throes of plan-making; my plans are always just there.

It's easy to get irritatingly self-congratulatory about such an ability. Others may compliment you on the fact that you seem to always know where you're going, cosmically speaking, and you may think to yourself, "Why, it seems that I do possess a superhuman ability; perhaps I should locate Stan Lee to alert him of my existence," and it's easy to forget that luck and luxury have a lot to do with it.

Right now, for the first time in my life, I have absolutely no idea where I'll be or what I'll be doing over the next year, and for the moment the answers to those questions are beyond my control. As I am a Person With Perpetual Plans, lacking the answers to the basic 5 W's of my life leaves me feeling uncomfortable in my own skin much of the time.

Nevertheless, I will consign to carrying on with my annual blog-tacular New Years predictions game:*

Predictions of Varying Certainty for 2010:
 - I'll officially receive my research honors and will walk in IWU's May commencement.
 - I (along with Sarah, Garrett, Alex, and Miranda) will move to Chicago, probably in August or September, in order to live with my seester and to provide GR with a new backdrop for hugs.
 - I'll send out applications for English PhD programs for, ahem, Fall 2011.
 - Megan and Brian will get married, and I'm guessing 1-4 other people I know will get engaged.
 - I'll become passably adept at speaking, and hopefully reading, Spanish

How Prescient I Actually Was for 2010:
 - Check.
 - Alex didn't move to Chicago, but the rest of us did, with August as my first month's lease to boot. My implicit prediction that GR and I would still be together came through, too.
 - Check.
 - Check, although only barely with the latter half. My step-brother got engaged, but I think he's the only person I know who did. I'm not friends with the early-marrying kind, I guess.
 - Fail. Epic fail. Languages are hard, man.

Predictions of Varying Certainty for 2011:
 - By April, I will be working for a different company than the one I do now.
 - I will visit a state that I have previously never been to.
 - My parents, sister, and GR will patiently help me make a series of agonizing decisions over the course of the year.
 - My student loans will finally be consolidated successfully.
 - By the end of the year, I will become a better cook and expand my culinary skills beyond the rudimentary meals I make now, perhaps even learning to wield spices.
 - I will attend at least two (2) weddings.

* While I don't believe in karma or jinxes, I don't not believe in them, either, so I'm making the executive decision to abstain from any predictions about the results of my grad school applications.

Posted at 04:05 pm by Linsnoopy
Tell Me Something Good  

Saturday, December 04, 2010
I laugh when they tell me to find myself. (Because when you're looking for yourself, who do you ask for help?)

As the Batman comics have reliably reminded us, two-facedness is not considered an admirable quality among humans. Or at the very least, people don't like it. Your friends and family will generally become bothered if they discover that there are aspects of your personality about which they were unaware. (Unless, of course, those aspects are actually positive things, like someone who covertly scrubs oil off baby seals in his spare time. Although in this case, instead of anger, you risk people reacting with uncomfortable confusion about why your now-seemingly-suspicious seal-love was kept under wraps.)

As someone who, for most of her life, tried with varying degrees of enthusiasm to win the World's Goodiest Two-Shoes award, I've made it one of my many goals in life to be a consistent person, to always present more or less the same Linda to all the Not-Lindas I meet. And I've never really thought it to be a difficult goal to maintain. I tend to be honest with everyone, given that I've rarely seen the logic or value in lying, and my personality is laughably unobjectionable, meaning that I practically never need to censor myself. I don't even have to pretend to have a cleaner mouth in front of elderly relatives or dignified guests, because swearing isn't part of my vernacular, anyway.

Flanders-esque as I may be, I still acknowledge the fact that its outright impossible to be the exact same person everywhere. Human behavior is highly predicated on the behavior of surrounding humans. Try as he might, if you drop a man in a room full of 20 flighty cast members from The Real Housewives of Orange Country, you will see a slightly different person emerge than if you dropped the same man in on a physics lecture. As Virginia Woolf put it: "it depends so much upon the room." Context-dependent behavior is also, frankly, practical. If everyone were the same person at work as they are on a night out with friends, many would get fired on the spot.

Despite this, I'm left wondering if this Fundamental Truth of Human Interactions is in the process of changing, thanks to The Internet. Recently, I attended a business marketing meeting in which the speaker vehemently promoted using every resource available (from Facebook to Twitter to blogs to your actual life) to create, shape, and promote your "personal brand"--the professional version of "you" that you want your employers and clients to see. He emphasized that it is essential that you present the same, business-ready, squeaky-clean version of yourself at all times.

Even more recently, a round of Wikileaks was released in which U.S. diplomats were quoted as being irreverently frank in their personal conversations about other political leaders. While there are many people who oppose Wikileaks, there are many others who feel justified and comfortable with having this information distributed, presumably because people are supposed to be consistent. These diplomats, they might argue, shouldn't say anything if it isn't suitable for worldwide ears.

Personally, this trend disturbs me. I'm a person who considers consistency a personal credo, and even I feel uncomfortable with the suggestion that I absolutely have to be the exact same person on Facebook, at work, with friends, and on my blog. While I haven't decided where my opinion falls about Wikileaks at large, I do know that I believe that diplomats need to be able to have honest, private conversations with their peers back home. I'm uncomfortable with the fact members of the media and public are actually against this.

As a well-homogenized Linda to all Not-Lindas, I know as well as anyone that there is freedom in consistency. I am comfortable with myself, and I am comfortable being myself, generally, in front of any new face I meet. The second that this consistency becomes a requirement, however--a rigid, inflexible standard that comes with penalties for contextual deviation--the freedom is instantly gone.

At this point, one can argue that this standard of superhuman consistency is only expected of politicians, so it's not a real or pressing concern for plain ol' folks such as myself. Still, I think Orwell would raise an eyebrow.

Posted at 10:07 pm by Linsnoopy
Tell Me Something Good  

Wednesday, November 03, 2010
There comes a time when you fade into the blackness

Now that I'm An Adult, I have a lot of daily rituals. My alarm goes off at 5:25 a.m. and I hit the snooze button on 5-minute increments until I get up at 5:35. I go to the gym directly after work, spend 30-50 minutes on an elliptical or treadmill, consider doing a few weight exercises, don't, and leave. Tuesdays are House. Every day is cereal.

I've also begun listening to Eric and Kathy's morning radio show on 101.9 (THE MIX!) during my drive to work. Unfortunately, since I don't have cable or even basic television, the short, culture-heavy news blurb on their show is often the only taste of "news" that I get (save for when I start to feel guilty about my uninformedness and browse the BBC website, which happens every fourth day or so). My perspective on "news" gets understandably distorted, considering today's E&K news segment spent 5 seconds on the election results and 30 on the fact that Chicago Bulls' player Derrick Rose stood up the cast of The Good Wife, leaving a show crew member knocking on the door of his empty house, fruitlessly expecting to put him on a plane to go film a cameo appearance in an episode.

But occasionally some of their pop-news interests me. The other day, the studio was in a brief tizzy over the post that a prominent blogger (I find it hilarious that those two words actually belong together) from Marie Claire magazine made about the new TV show Mike & Molly, a pretty generic sitcom about a married couple. The story apparently made national news as well. The Marie Claire blogger wrote that watching two "fatties" with "rolls and rolls of fat" kiss or "do anything else" onscreen grossed her out (the title characters are, as you probably surmised, overweight).

I was more than anything intrigued by the response that this blog generated with the media and laypeople, squishy and beanpole alike. Rightfully so, most people were outraged by the writer's insensitivity, eventually eliciting a long, plaintive, sorrowful retraction from the writer. Critics accused her of being a bully, unfair, disrespectful, judgmental, sizist (oh yes, there's an -ist for everything), and a slew of other things she generally deserved.

While I agree that the blogger's comments were offensive, as far as hatemongers go, the Marie Claire blogger is more in the ranks of Scrooge than Stalin. She starts her post in an indignant tirade of off-putting insensitivity, but then backpedals from her own position. She concedes that losing weight is extremely difficult, that there are psychological factors involved, and that the show doesn't promote being obese or anything. While she clearly leans towards an opinion that would offend most people over a size zero, she leaves room for argument and self-criticism, ending her post with "...I don't know."

Given that the blogger isn't exactly the most vehement of bigots, what I find so intriguing is that this--this show, this issue--is what caught the bloodshot, crazed eye of the media. I later heard about it on three different news shows. I suppose I'm pleasantly surprised that The Public is capable of getting riled up on behalf of others, but that surprise comes from the fact that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of TV shows and movies out there that are either offensive in of themselves or prompt others to make derogatory comments. When South Park made a joke out of depicting Muhammad, many people acted like it was an overreaction when anyone got offended about it (granted, the terrorism threat didn't help the case of anyone who might've been legitimately put off). Why is it only sometimes cool or attention-worthy to be justifiably offended?

I guess what I'm trying to say is: let's spread the hate around, guys.

Posted at 07:22 pm by Linsnoopy
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