Several topics are making the rounds with my friends. Two are subject to thoughtful debate and the third is subject to no debate whatsoever. Everyone seems to agree except, erm me who is uncomfortable with what appears to be universally loved.
1. GoldieBlox vs The Beastie Boys.
There's a company from Oakland who made a video to promote the company's toys which aim to encourage girls' interest in engineering. And to help the company sell product, increase the interest in investors and make money. I like that their from Oakland. Others like the message they are sending to girls. Some folks think that they are building up girl-science-power by dissing girls who love pink and princesses (rather than just attacking a culture that can often present that as the only option for girls to love and embrace). Another subset of observers find that the toys aren't of great quality while GoldieBlox defenders argue that they are still in a beta or proof-of-concept stage and that quality and options will improve and increase as awareness and funding grows.
In the video this company made they used an old Beastie Boys song - "Girls" - and altered the admittedly sexist lyrics to be a call to girl-science-power arms. The video went viral and, if I understand the chain of events correctly, The Beastie Boys caught wind of it and sent a letter to GoldieBlox asking about their use of the band's music. GoldieBlox, fearing a potential copyright lawsuit from The Beastie Boys, asked a court to rule that their video constituted parody and fair use (Bearing in mind that I am not a lawyer, my understanding is this is different from how most of the internet is characterizing the legal action. In other words GoldieBlox is not suing The Beastie Boys). The Beastie Boys responded with an open letter (in which they accuse GoldieBlox of suing them which would explain why everyone believes they are being sued) to GoldieBlox saying basically WTF?
As a result I've seen people all over the internet getting whiplash going from GoldieBlox rocks to how dare they desecrate the wishes of the now-dead MCA expressed in his will not to have his music used in commercials.
2. Shopping on Thanksgiving
There's a meme spreading that seems to have picked up some momentum this year. With more and more stores opening on Thanksgiving day, some folks are protesting and pledging not to shop in stores that open on the holiday. Too much consumerism they say. Nobody needs to spend Thanksgiving to buy more stuff, especially at not the best prices. Plus retailers should pay workers a decent wage so they aren't so desperate for the extra pay. Why should people be forced to work/tempted to shop on a day meant to be spent with family giving thanks. How long this boycott lasts I'm not sure and which stores it applies to is similarly unclear. It's easy enough to pledge to promise to stay out of Walmart if you avoid it already but do you pass up Target only on Thursday? Friday, too? The month of December? Forever?
Others argue that many of those workers appreciate the opportunity to pick up an extra shift, especially if it pays overtime or a higher holiday rate. There are those who can't or don't want to spend the day with their family or they don't celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas for cultural, religious or political reasons. Some want the opportunity to stretch their thin dollars and save money. A few people just enjoy holiday shopping madness in a group and a crowd. Bottom line for this crowd is don't judge other people's choices.
3. Kanye West made a video for a song called "Bound 2." Opinion on this video is universal. It is bad. Bad to the point of unwatchable. I couldn't watch the whole thing and enjoyed various snarky deconstructions I read.
Today, Seth Rogan and James Franco released a parody version (that I suspect would easily hold up under any legal scrutiny) that, from what I've seen, is universally agreed to be The. Greatest. Thing. Ever. (or at least until tomorrow's greatest thing ever)
If you've somehow missed it, here, watch for yourself and decide:
Apparently I am humor deficient because I don't find this funny at all. The original video was already a parody of itself. To the point that there is little left to make fun of. The intended humor in this seems to be 1. "ha-ha this video is so dumb!" Well, that was self-evident in the original. And, 2. "ha-ha, two dudes kissing and the one playing Kim is chubby and hairy!" The idea that I'm supposed to laugh at the idea of two men kissing and that the Seth Rogan body shaming is OK because he initiated and is in on the joke is what made me most uncomfortable. (The simulated motorcycle sex - is just silly and laughable no matter who's play acting). Also, watching James Franco earnestly lip-syncing the N-word was cringe-worthy (not that it's particularly funny coming out of Kanye's mouth).
Consider this: what if the parody video was renowned hottie, Idris Elba in the role of James Franco and current wearer of the People Magazine sexiest man alive crown, Adam Levine shirtless in Seth Rogan's role, more eagerly kissing Idris than Kim did her real-life fiance and father of her child, Kanye? If those two men don't float your boat then substitute two talented men you find sexy and attractive cooing to each other, making out and implying they are having sex. While pretending to ride a motorcycle, singing, interjecting "uh-huh, honey" against a stock photo back drop of mountains. Would the humor of the terrible outweigh the potentially very real heat generated by strong, committed acting? How about a thin, conventionally attractive woman playing the Kim role? What if it were two women? I could go on...
You could make an argument that the alternate castings I proposed would no longer be parody. Then it would be creating a new piece of art that would provoke thought and encourage a new appreciation. Sort of like the emo covers of Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time." And you'd likely convince me. I would love for readers who think I'm over thinking and being overly PC to enlighten me. I am very open to being wrong on this one. All I know is that after seeing it linked by half a dozen friends this morning I was prepared to laugh and was sad when I didn't. Help me see the light!