28 May 2015

The first African Disney princess is not even Black

If the peanut gallery is to be believed, the first African Disney princess is a white colonial. Why should we make a big fuss over the demographics of Disney princesses in this age of non-racialism and trying really hard not to perpetuate stereotypes? The article is helpful in prescribing our concerns to us:
  1. The Disney Princess franchise doesn't have a history that celebrates diversity.
  2. Tiana is Disney’s first and only black princess, but she spent most of her movie being green. Also she wasn't African enough.
  3. Children films reinforce stereotypes and this can have a measurable, negative effect on children.


The Diversity of Disney Princesses

The Disney princesses include a Bavarian, four Frenchies, a Dane, an Arabian, a Native American, a Chinese, an African-American and a Scot. This does not however do for stringent diversity requirements, since there's clearly only one token Scot.

With an overwhelming majority of four out of eleven French princesses, this indisputable evidence indicates a hidden Hollywood agenda of classically conditioning our poor children into being French.


Tiana is the only black princess

In another troubling diversity window-dressing attempt, Tiana is black but she's not African. She's only African-American, like nearly 13% of the American population. America being Disney's home country. She should rather have been black and African, which would evidently go a long way towards not portraying African people as stereotypes.

To boot, she was forced into portraying a typical garden variety bi-racial relationship because Disney couldn't stomach the idea of an African-American girl bringing an African-American boyfriend home to meet the folks. Such a revolutionary idea is just much too far ahead of its time to appeal to African-Americans.

Instead, she spends most of the film in your typical garden variety interspecies romance. Duly note that along with Ariel and Belle, Tiana is one of only three Disney princesses who portray an interspecies romance. Even more problematic, along with Pocahontas, Tiana is one of only two princesses who portray an inter-racial romance. Truth be told, this shocking lack of diversity just shakes me to my core.


Research shows that media exposure influences the body image of our kids

The first empirical study conducted into this area clearly found how "exposure did not affect body dissatisfaction or engagement in appearance-related play behaviours".

Regardless, it is imperative to note how roughly 6,6% (N=8 out of 121 participants) of the test subjects indicated they would have to change their hair colour or their skin colour in order to be a princess.

Be careful to notice how even though 32,3% of the correspondents agreed that looks don't make one a princess, and 53,3% agreed that their accessories alone make them a princess, that lonely 6,6% exception is the exception that proves the rule.

I'm glad that I found this article, which is bolstered so undeniably by empirical research. Clearly, more should be done occupy that 6,6%'s minds so they can be more like the majority of girls who see things our way.

11 January 2015

Response to the Muslim Judicial Council

Following the barbaric attack on a bunch of nearly retired cartoonists in France, it is inevitable that Islamophobia would rear its head again. There's also this half-baked, watered down and not really helpful comment from the Muslim Judicial Council. They're not really doing a good job to help the rest of us discern between Muslim extremists and moderate Muslims. This comment has been deleted from their drivel (Freedom of speech has its limits), so here it is in all its glory:

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist" ~Salman Rushdie

A depiction of someone's imaginary friend is not hate speech. Hate speech is clearly defined in our constitution. Drawing cartoons does not target a specific group for their race, religion or beliefs. 'I believe in freedom of speech, but..' sounds a lot like 'I am not a racist, but ...'. Nobody has the right not to be offended and neither does anyone's god or prophet.

The burden of proof is on the Muslim Judicial Council to show that Islam is in fact the religion of peace and that they do not tolerate extremist savages in their midsts. Their condemnation of these acts should be unequivocal and their support for freedom of expression should likewise be unequivocal so that the more ignorant amongst us have no chance of associating them with extremism.
That being said, I for one am looking forward to this year's Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.

24 December 2014

Russell Brand and the Messiah Simplex

Russell Brand is a comedian and actor who is better known for his drug abuse and his famous relationships than for his acting or for his comedy. Not content with being a dandy, Russell Brand decided to personify the commodification of activism right down to the misinformation, petulance and ignorance.

For someone who describes fame as ashes in his mouth, he's certainly pulling plenty of publicity stunts and getting some well-deserved verbal bitch slaps in return (of which this Open Letter to Russell Brand is the most entertaining).

Talking about a Revolution

But what is this sudden impulse to take up thy hammer and sickle and walk all about? From what I can gather, it's not much more than a publicity stunt that's a combination of self-aggrandising, self-promotion and seeking sympathy for drug abusers. The most intelligible summary I could find is the Trews page on Wikipedia. This lists his prevailing themes as follows:

  1. a concern with widening income inequality
  2. the two-party system of mature democracies doesn't offer true opposition, so voting is futile
  3. the combination of democracy and the consumer economy support each other in a corrupt flamboyant bohemian fashion
  4. the media works for Big Capital so the news of Big Media should be treated with scepticism
  5. a focus on economic growth has lead to the neglect of spiritual and environmental concerns
  6. if you don't give us what we want we might have to stage a revolution
I'm assuming that the bloke has something meaningful to say on behalf of the Illiterati that's going to decrease the signal to noise ratio, so I'll merely address these points.

The Ginidiocy is strong with this one

Income gaps - like minimum wage disputes - are red herrings. These herrings are so red that the definition of poverty has had to change to relative poverty and there's all kinds of astrology involved in determining who earns what exactly. Suffice to say that a poverty index that lists first world nations at the top is cooking the books to try and make practice conform to theory instead of the other way around.

More could be said about absolute poverty that is in decline or about living standards that are improving all over the world, but this has been dealt with several times before so just have a look at the Ginidiocy. By contrast, there are those who do believe that income gaps matter. I think class mobility matters more, but only when it is achieved on your own steam.

I don't think that a system whereby someone keeps up with the Joneses on your behalf is a sustainable one. It's definitely not one that could occur without mechanisms like, say, economic growth or consumer spending.

A tale of two parties

It is unfortunate that as democracies mature, they tend to resemble a two party see-saw. This is an embodiment of Arrow's Theorem.

Does this imply that voting is ultimately futile? It is perhaps true that voting is futile, but not voting achieves even less than voting does and leads to the tacit acceptance of the status quo. At least when one votes and the two parties, as indiscernible as they may be, change every few terms, different issues enjoy attention and there is some compromise on the balance of power. 

Brand is yet to show how it follows from having a two-party system that voting is futile. John Lydon certainly doesn't think so and he's as anti-establishment as they come. It would appear that there's a distinct correlation between groups that do vote like the elderly, and groups that have their concerns taken seriously. Coincidence? I think not.

Chimerica and portmanteaus superior to Trews

Democracy is tied to the hip with consumer spending. This is because in order to decrease wealth inequality, one has to rob from the rich and give to the poor. What do the poor do when their basic living requirements have been met? They spend a little. On what do they spend? On goods and services, mostly beer, football matches and track suits it seems. 

Someone has to manufacture those track suits. I wouldn't get out of bed and sew track suits if I could sit on the dole, drink beer and take home a similar amount each month. But that's because I'd be earning pound sterling, baby. If I were from a country where the exchange rate takes one pound sterling and turns it into many pennies of my own currency, the situation would be different. 

This chicken and egg situation is what has been termed Chimerica. People who buy the track suits need the means to do so. In order to give them these means, you need to stimulate consumer spending. In order to stimulate consumer spending, you need economic growth. And on the other side of the equation, you need someone who sews track suits. 

Fortunately, the Chinese have started to smell the coffee and they are trying to decouple their economy from foreign consumers. But this doesn't put Chav culture in a much better position, it just suggests that one needs to come up with an alternative to consumer spending that somehow doesn't involve economic growth and wealth inequality.

Big Media conspiracy theories

Brand is correct but not about Big Media, he's correct in general. One should practice general agnosticism about any claims. But how does one know how to separate the agitprop in Big Media from the agitprop in the Trews, as it were?

Fortunately, there are those amongst us who are concerned with the fact that we don't do much better than chimps on a good day. They've compiled this helpful guide on how not to be ignorant of the world.

Neglecting spiritual concerns

Neglecting spiritual concerns is what lead to modern science in the first place. I don't think that leaving a demon-haunted world behind is bad at all, but if we are to abandon economic growth then at the very least I'd expect a hypothetical replacement. Even if it is fundamentally flawed like the Resource Based Economy of the Zeitgeist evangelists. 

Fritjof Capra has a few ideas regarding a more holistic viewpoint that incorporates system science and hippie derp into our socio-political arrangements. But science are teh hard, even if you can study it for free. It's far easier to shop for berets and threaten a DIY roll-your-own revolution in the manner of simplex communication. A direct line to the divine is a poor substitute for spiritual growth, and so is trying to become a self-styled Messiah on a soap box.

In case you were just here for the verbal bitch slaps

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