Archive for the 'caste system' Category

District 9 movie marketing- will the political/ cultural allegories resonate?*

I have many (mostly) male friends, nerdboys of the highest order.  Like me, they collect action figures, watch Star Wars on a regular basis, debating the merits of the chapters, characters, arc and colors of the light-sabres and generally revel in the outright fantasy without guilt or embarrassment.

And rightly so.  They are some of the smartest, most successful people I interact with and I’m proud to stand in line with them for hours to get in to see Iron Man’s first showing.  However, they tend not to know too much about international politics, or at least don’t discuss it.

So when one of them, JET, came to me and insisted I watch a preview for District 9, I was struck by the plot and setting.  Aliens have landed, neither to hurt nor to help, they are refugees and are being kept away from humans in tin roofed shacks in a contained area in Johannesburg.  I didn’t need to wait to see the credits, hear the accents or even the remaining 90 seconds of the trailer to know that I was looking at Soweto.  It kind of hit me in the stomach- I wasn’t expecting this from what is clearly a sci-fi/ action film aimed at young men.  But the setting was striking.

It’s not a coincidence, the title refers to the District 6 township in Cape Town.  I wonder if the “9” is a nod to the ward in New Orleans.  The director is South African and the set design, terminology and visuals are striking to anyone who has even set foot in South Africa- during or after apartheid.  The psychic sucker punch were nearly identical images broadcast from the  Soweto riots of a year ago, where frustrated, unemployed black South Africans, afraid for what little they’ve been able to gain in the 13 years since Apartheid ended, began attacking the refugees from Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Nigeria… anyone who might take their potential jobs, or recognition they’d so long been denied.

I’m still unsure as to why this unsettles me so much or surprises me.  Comic books and science fiction have always been social and cultural mirrors disguised in fantastic situations and characters, but mainstream studios making the connections more obvious (think Iron Man, Stark Industries and Afghanistan) is intriguing.

I suppose there are several questions which I will chew over before and after seeing this film (I’ve never been accused of under-analyzing anything, including action movies).  The question I am mainly interested in opening for discussion is this:  are the studio execs putting their money where their mouths are in making some aspect of more mainstream movies politically relevant, are they not thinking about it, or do they think their audience won’t notice, or worse, won’t care?

Click here to see trailer.

*or am I imagining all of this?


who do we call at the OED to get “adult” updated?

For numerous reasons over numerous years, I have often stopped and thought:

“whoa.  i’m an adult.” 

Clearly anyone meeting me would wonder what it is causing me to wonder.  I’ve got a serious job and a serious title, have been taking care of myself since I was 15 (and had the honors of watching out for a few others over the years), pay my bills, wear suits to work….

here are the things I have taken care of- planning and execution, without consulting a single other human being for advice:

Continue reading ‘who do we call at the OED to get “adult” updated?’

brass tacks

With all that’s been happening lately with the DNC, the delegates, the debates, the endless op-eds and platitudes, I wanted to bring up something of which, apparently, many of my peers are unaware.

4 amendments and 50 years separate the right for women’s suffrage and that of all men, regardless of race, to vote.

The fourteenth amendment was ratified by congress on 3rd February, 1870.

The nineteenth amendment was ratified by congress on 18th August, 1920.

One reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation 


the other:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


In between those two came the amendment to allow direct election of two senators from each state, unapportioned federal taxes on income (non-discriminatory), and prohibition.

Continue reading ‘brass tacks’

the culinary caste system;a hot lunch untouchable speaks up

i’ve always been one of those totally low maintenance people when it comes to food.  i am more than ok with elio’s pizza, canned ravioli, tater tots, sloppy joes, burgers from shea, the list goes on.  now, i don’t mean to imply that i would actually cook these things, or chose them over their tastier, healthier and generally just better counterparts, i’m just saying i don’t really mind when these are my options. 

i had always attributed my cast iron stomach and lack of food snobbery to my irish heritage and white trash upbringing.  hell, i don’t even mind airline food.  i’m not saying i seek it out, but it honestly doesn’t bother me.

recently, however, my good friend genghis, currently of chicago, came to stay for a few weeks and we got to talking about many things.  i don’t remember how the topic came up, but we started on about our mutual imperviousness to non junkfood junk food.  “eureka!” exclaimed genghis, remembering that she, too, grew up in the new york city board of ed lunchrooms of the 1980s. 

while she originally hails from staten island and i from flushing, queens, the entire NYC BOE had a subsidized breakfast and lunch program for the broke-ass (oh, sorry.  90s/ Aughts translation: economically challenged), kids.  there was a sliding scale depending on your economic state: those that were pretty poor got a pack of subsidized meal tickets every month with which they paid a minimal fee to receive their two squares of the early day.  those that were in an even lower tax bracket (hee hee.  my mom made less than thirty thousand for four people) got their pack of tickets each month, too, only they had to just to supply their tough-front and ‘just mess with me’ grin with their tickets for their meals.

due to the logisitics of the lunchroom, the Hot Lunch Kids (a semi-official title) sat in the back of the cafeteria near the kitchen and slop line, while the Cold Lunch Kids (read: sandwich eating, cookie carrying snotty little spoiled bastards) sat in the front half with their brown paper bags, brand name soda cans and actual bennetton tshirts. 

i’d like to pretend that this culinary imposed caste system had no effect on the social standings of our grammar school or the way we were treated, but i’d be lying.  it sucked at the time- not that we’d ever admit it.  the HLK were too cool for school, half were bussed in, a good number of us had suffered the excrutiating humiliation of ”running to the store” to pick up some milk and such with food stamps (really not fun when you’re six) and were generally feared as the dirty savages poverty defined us to be.

the CLK got first auditions in class plays, were first to recess, wore designer clothes (yes, it mattered in the fashion conscious 80s, even to 10 year olds), almost automatic qualification for yearly talent shows (which always makes me think: “i am seriously beginning to doubt your commitment to sparkle motion.”  holla, nerds, you know to what i refer), perks that can mean a big deal when you’re eight.

i think more than anything, i coveted those brown paper bags.  they used to sell the lunch sized ones in plastic wrapped packs in the supermarket, but the only kind we ever had were the big, wrinkled ones the groceries came in.  i was constantly trying to convince my mom that we really needed a pack, even though we had hot lunch because our book covers would be cleaner and we could store things in them or some such nonsense.  i NEVER won on this point.  but then, i was always wheeling and dealing at King Kullen; trying to get Fruit Loops, Oscar Meyer bologna or Rice a Roni, some kind of rich people food.

back to the point: us hot lunch kids have it good now.  we don’t obssess over what might be served at any function: company outing, long flight, boxed lunch, only diner in town, whatever.  we know we’re good. it may be a pyrrhic victory considering the CLK probably still have the resources to upgrade, but we’re still good. 

we don’t need those crutches.  we’re survivors. 

two footnotes:

low maintenance does not necessarily mean adventurous.  i’m not not open to eating new foods, i’m just not open to eating anything or necessarily even trying everything once.  there’s a reason that my low-budget , solo adventures don’t include south east asia.  i’ll come clean, i’m terrified.

also, tip for all those on the road faced with only shady options: ORDER THE CLUB SANDWICH.  it’s very hard to screw up and when you’re in a pinch, is generally the most edible thing on the menu.  i can’t tell you the number of times i’ve been satisfied at a poor to mediocre or just plain poor hole in the wall whilst my comrades go hungry and disappointed. 


“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


Upon common theatres, indeed, the applause of the audience is of more importance to the actors than their own approbation. But upon the stage of life, while conscience claps, let the world hiss! On the contrary if conscience disapproves, the loudest applauses of the world are of little value - john adams
May 2018
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from the man who taught me everything:

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”