Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The 47% Disney-fied….

Sofia the First with animal "friends"

Ok, it's Sunday morning. My daughter is ill. We got up at 5:45am, that's right…AM. She's not going back to sleep so it's Disney time. Don't judge me, the TV is our friend when kids are sick. Since I can't go back to sleep, I decide to clean the extremely messy kitchen that I left after making catfish fingers for the first time. For some reason, Little J didn't want to see her girl Doc McStuffins(a black female character that of course I root hard for her to watch for obvious reasons). Since Disney wasn't working we watched how Blue, the dog from "Blue's Clues" came to be, and then that was over so we moved back to Disney.  The made for TV movie "Sofia the First" was on. So we watched. I like princesses so I was eager to see it. It was…. confusing.

The first thing was the beginning: The King, who's some sort of British-type European, which is expected, is getting new shoes and falls in love with the lovely shoemaker and marries her. 
They create a blended family: he has two kids, a boy and a girl(no mention is made of who their mom is but its the standard M.O. for fairy tale dads to just magically have children, usually a girl, with no mom in sight) and the shoemaker has a girl named Sofia, hence the name of the series. I was hearing the Brady Bunch theme in the background of my head…Here's a story, of a lovely lady… 

Then the kids all fly off to princess school, which isn't princess school, because there are boys there, but it's still called princess school. Sigh... Just let it go…. But, more importantly, Disney tried to be diverse and having some cultures at least represented in a token fashion: an Indian rajah, a Japanese girl, a light skinned African-type prince, and the rest were European. The prerequisite for being included were really nice costumes a la "The King and I" or "My Fair Lady". But, cognitive dissonance set in as I just thought: ok, so they're going to princess school - with boys - and they are all different cultures, but they are learning European etiquette and dancing. Is there some sort of exchange program where they learn the ways of the other cultures too? So the other cultures have to come to the European school to learn how to be royal?! Turn your brain off Diva, it's a kids show. Just enjoy it.

But here is the coup de grace: The Sofia character can speak to the animals, courtesy of a magic amulet her new "dad" gave her. When the birds, squirrels and "streetwise" bunny come in to Sofia's room...

break - the bunny is voiced by Wayne Brady. And not Wayne Brady from the improv comedy show, but the Wayne Brady from the Chappelle Show. You know the episode where Dave and Wayne are in the SUV and Wayne asking a Ho: "Is Wayne Brady gonna have to choke a bitch?" That's the bunny in this cartoon. Back to our regularly scheduled blog…. 

…they tell her that they are not doing all her work for free. Hell naw! You need to pay us: with food!! At this point the cognitive dissonance just made my head explode. They started singing about all this work they did for these princesses all these years. "Pay a n---a, bitch!"  in disney speak, while they dance around eventually ending up with Sofia going to the kitchen to get them a salad.  The "47%" of animals need to be paid fairly for their efforts.  Respect.  

So this show wants my child to believe in mythical princesses that are risen up from essential poverty by her mom marrying rich, they get a multi-cultural "education" which really only teaches one culture knows how to be "royal" and then the black bunny's friendship is conditionally based off of him and the rest of his crew needing to be fed?!  

Oh, and by the way, Sofia is Hispanic or Latina with blue eyes, red hair and porcelain skin. I was wondering why her mom was dark skinned. I just thought she was Italian-like. Now I know that Hispanics come in different shades and colors, just like black people. But the Sofia character was voiced by what was obviously a white actress! (at the end they had this voice over actress live in a princess decorated room, singing one of the songs. She looked white to me)  If I hadn't read that the character was Hispanic, I never even would have known. Could she have a slight accent or something to indicate that she was Hispanic?! I'm not talking a Charo accent, but a Dora accent. The voice of that child sounds Hispanic(I believe she's voiced by a Cuban girl). And don't tell me people can't tell. Doc McStuffins speaks perfectly and you know she's black. You can hear the characters on Ni-Hao-Kai-Lan are of East Asian descent. If Sophia's supposed to be Hispanic, give some indication that she is or else just call her white and be done with it. It was just strange trying to figure out why her dark skinned mom had a white child in a mythical kingdom where everyone else is pretty rigidly defined by their ethnicity.

This was Disney trying to twist the the princess idea into something modern, non-classist/racist and socially relevant to today's culture. 

Well, to this adult, it was so weird, condescending and strange I had problems not yelling at the tv. 

To the child -- it was a cute, sweet tale of trying to fit into a new place with new people and a new family

To the adult - the 47% have spoken, they will be paid well for their time and efforts you rich people! If I have to be at your beck and call, I need to be paid greenbacks, as in lettuce! And does the HIspanic mom have to be a shoemaker who is kneeling at the king's feet putting on his shoes?!  Since it's pure fantasy, why couldn't she be a doctor or a fashion designer or…. well not a frickin shoemaker?! 

To the child -- Wow, that bunny's funny. Of course Sofia should give him a snack. Isn't the Queen's hair pretty? I want to talk to animals, too.

Adult - This is insane!

Child - Goodie!!! Cinderella just showed up!

WIll I let my child watch this post modern drivel? Most likely…. sigh.... I just want to see the dresses and which princesses come out of the amulet next…just don't have Tiana talk about hard work while she's cooking something in the kitchen….Please?!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tragedy hopefully leads to true change...

I had written a whole diatribe about rural vs urban gun control fantasies and how I believe rural people are insanely controlling the ideas about gun control in this country. It makes no sense to me that people who don't live in population centers seem to control the argument about assault weapons, which do the most damage in - you guessed it - population centers, like cities and suburbs. I also was talking quite eloquently about our mental health status in this country and how it sucks. But I saw so many clear little essays on Facebook thought it made more sense to display that rather than my own not always clear thoughts. Here's a couple. 

I didn't want to goto the gun control debates because I find those to be trite and not up to the real challenge that we face. Suffice it to say, if the crazy man had a knife, or a colt handgun with 6 bullets that he had to reload, a lot less damage would have been done. Let's just pray that now, in this environment which seems to be a little more interested in reality and the true causal relationships of events, we will have a discussion leading to legislation that brings assault weapons bans, coverage and the beginning of rationale policy, housing, and treatment of the mentally ill, and though there are no real affects on this type of behavior, address the coarseness of our culture in general. 

You can't go to school, can't go to the mall, can't go to the movies, can't go to restaurants (Killeen, TX), can't go to church (folks were burning those down), can't stay home (home invasions)...what in the heck can ya do? WTH!!!! - Sharolyn DeWitt

People want to debate gun control, or blame this tragedy on "Evil".
But this is truly about one thing only- Mental Illness. You can't do what this man did and be a sane person. Mental Illness differs from Physical Illness in only one major way-- the mentally ill person, if untreated, can harm others. The physically ill can only harm themselves.
It is paramount that our society begins treating people for mental illness without charge. One of the main impediments for people getting treatment is how expensive it is. Usually mentally ill people can not hold down a job. How are they supposed to get care for their needs?
Trust me....this man's family knew there was a problem here.
But if it was free to get the man cared for, and if there was no dark ages type stigma associated with his condition, those kids would all be alive right now.
- Wayne Wilentz

People of God, please do not use the Newport tragedy as an opportunity to shove Jesus down people's throats. Do better and just show the love of Christ. 
- Jean Baylor

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Magical Thinking Strikes Again

Mr. Norquist is entitled to his magical thinking. But when he uses it to try to intimidate Virginia lawmakers, Mr. McDonnell must push back. - Washington Post Editorial Board

This quote is from an article about the transportation system in the state of Virginia referencing the governor of that state, Robert McDonnell. The basis is that the state budget will not be able to handle the crumbling infrastructure that are the Virginia roads.

"In four years, the state will have no money to devote to any new road, rail or bridge construction. That’s right, zero. At current trends, every available dollar will be sponged up just to repair and maintain existing infrastructure. And if the state’s road-building money dries up, so do millions in federal matching funds."

So it's time to raise taxes right? Raise the sales tax or (God Forfend!) the gasoline tax. Or just put it in something that will have everyone pay essentially the same amount so that the growing population of Virginia can continue to grow and expand without never ending, and I mean, never ending traffic jams.  My family and I drive through Virginia regularly to see family in the south and we all leave very early or very late to avoid the parking lot-like I-95. To get to see friends and family in Northern VA, I have to pack snacks and movies for the kids, leaving at a time where a nap would not be an unnatural to my kid's body rhythms because the trip is so long due to traffic. 

No one wants taxes to go up cause no one wants to pay more. BUT, I have no problem with taxes IF there is a definable benefit like a metro extension, better roads without tire exploding pot holes, a modern air traffic control system, etc...  Taxes help to create that. There are times when taxes are good and there are times when taxes are bad. As I was saying to my daughter last night,(really, she was bawling her eyes out because I made her read a book she didn't want to read...) just because you don't want to do it, doesn't mean "it" doesn't have to be done. You can't make up the world. Rain falls, water evaporates, makes clouds, and rain falls again. Magical thinking only comes true in fairy land....