Everything is Problematic

Lists.

I know an artist whose medium is list making. There books and websites for list making. I’m told that lists are the boon of organized people, of accomplished people, of productive people. Life has the potential for a lot of lists, because lists are good for a lot of things. Things like groceries, or suggested reading, or obscure trivia… I’ve been told that lists are also good for decision making. As someone who is both indecisive to the nth degree and a perfectionist to the very last, decision making weighs quite heavily on me. I devote intense thought to minuet things, like whether or not to buy my favorite season of my favorite show on DVD* (What if I don’t watch it? Is it a waste of money? What if it’s not as good when I re-watch? What if I find it cheaper after I’ve paid for it? What…

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Sounds like a summer project to me!

Diary of a Mad Crafter

I’ve mentioned in past posts that I used to have an Etsy shop, and I used to sell these polaroid charms. They were a very big hit! I actually got the idea from another listing I saw on Etsy, but it was metal (and expensive), so I recreated it using polymer clay. The metal charm looked nice, but this actually looks like a polaroid, since I used white clay.

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With working on Everything is Problematic for the past month or so, I’ve been spending a lot of timing looking at digital magazines, blogs, and other things of the sort. I’ve been trying to get a feel for how these things operate, and what I think works best about them. Alex sends me articles from all over the internet, so that was one helpful source, and its almost amazing the stuff you can find through twitter and retweets from people you like.

When I initially conceived of EiP, I pitched it as a cross between Hellogiggles and The New Inquiry. If you’re unfamiliar, Hellogiggles was started by Zooey Deschanel and her two best friends who’s names I always forget and really should learn as a website/contribution based blog for content that was ‘women friendly’ about everything from media and fashion to everyday life. The New Inquiry is a website and digital magazine that is “a space for discussion that aspires to enrich cultural and public life by putting all available resources—both digital and material—toward the promotion and exploration of ideas” — basically it was started by some post-grads who needed an outlet for their liberal arts degrees (I say lovingly). My reason for the cross-bred explanation was that Hellogiggles was more light and fun while still addressing stuff that people care about, while The New Inquiry was sharp and investigative and biting. Apparent opposites, it seemed to be that together they would be the perfect forum for… everything.

I’ve since realized that I don’t particularly care for either venue. I still think TNI is a brilliant idea and that they put out great stuff, but I also find that more often than not their content depresses me and often seems overly complicated and verbose. I know the writers are intelligent, so I’d rather their content show me that than their demonstrative language– but maybe that’s just me.
For me, Hellogiggles seems like it’s gotten out of hand. I no longer find those really interesting compelling and fun pieces I liked so much before, because they’re bared under a mountain of posts about kittens, nail polish, and thirteen year old girls (whose thoughts, to be honest, are of zero interest to me). Today I read an article on there about the stupid shit teenagers do to get high, including drinking hand sanitizer (which is 120 proof, btw). I wasn’t sure what exactly the point of the article was, since I doubt that any off-brand drug using teenagers are browsing HG, and if they are they’re probably not going to stop what they’re doing because some random chick told them so. Really, I found the piece to be more of a trying-to-hard-to-be-funny alarmist piece on teen culture. LOOK AT ALL THE TERRIBLE THINGS YOUNG PEOPLE DO! As you may have guessed from this rant, the whole thing irritated me.

But in my digital content browsing, I’ve found a number of sites that I really do like, and I thought I would share them with you.

http://www.good.is – This is probably one of my favorite new discoveries.

nplusonemag.com – I had heard about this site before, but didn’t check it out until recently. Another great site with really talented contributors.

thoughtcatalog.com – Sometimes hit and miss, it blends topics and tones in a way I like.

deeplyproblematic.com – Mainly run/written by a single person, the site explores media and a lot of other topics from a feminist perspective in a really great way.

I’ll add more as I find them. Any suggestions on sites I should check out?

Blog-ception!
Really enjoyed this article on ‘How to be a fan of problematic things’- so much so that I wrote a ‘suggested reading’ post about it for Everything is Problematic. Now you get a sampling of both!

Everything is Problematic

I like things, and some of those things are problematic. I like Lord of the Rings even though it’s pretty fucked up with regard to women and race (any narrative that says “this whole race is evil” is fucked up, okay). I like A Song of Ice and Fire even though its portrayal of people of colour is problematic, and often I find that its in-text condemnation of patriarchy isn’t obvious enough to justify the sexism displayed. I like the movie Scott Pilgrim vs The World even though it is racist in its portrayal of Matthew Patel, panders to stereotypes in its portrayal of Wallace, and trivializes queer female sexuality in its portrayal of Ramona and Roxy’s relationship … How much more cliché and offensive could this movie be? … Excuse me while I vomit…and then keep watching because I still like the rest of the movie.

Liking problematic things…

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My first piece for the recently launched and SUPER AWESOME Everything is Problematic.

Everything is Problematic

“Each generation of adolescents makes its own sort of search for meaning. The pilgrimage of the young is individual, though it is committed in concert … The shape and color and sound of the young pilgrims’ journey changes from generation to generation, defiantly defining itself against its predecessors. Yet in every generation the unrest, the seeking, the hunger are the same”

I recently heard a Professor say, “You can only be a Marxist in college, so enjoy it while you can!” I don’t know if she meant that college is the only time it is socially acceptable to be a Marxist, that in the ‘real world’ Marxism is impractical, or some combination of the two. In any case, the implication remains the same— only the young can be radical. I would like to say that this is untrue, that anyone can be radical, that radicalism is timeless, but I can…

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I originally wrote this for Everything is Problematic, but since we are publishing a similar piece instead I thought I would share my version here. 

By the time this article is published, millions of people will have seen The Hunger Games movie, an event which is uniquely different from experiencing the narrative of the novel. If you are unfamiliar with the premise, the story is set in a not so distant future in Panem, a country constructed from the ruins of North America, where every year citizens must watch a televised Battle Royale style sporting event, wherein 24 ‘tributes’ between the ages of 12-18 must fight to the death until one winner remains. In the books there is a certain amount of distance that exists between the reader and the people of Panem— despite similarities we might see, we still have the privilege of separating ourselves from a world where the children are made to kill each other for sport, and audiences that revel in it. No such distance exists in the film. Just as the fictional denizens of Panem watch the child slaughter that is the Hunger Games, so to do audiences of the film. This lack of distance is fascinating and horrifying.

Perhaps it is because I read the books before seeing the film, or maybe because the bulk of my education centers around the critical consumption of media, but I was very cognizant of the commentary on violence and ‘reality’ media that exists at the core of The Hunger Games. I thought the film’s portrayal of the Games violence was spot on, jarring but also matter-of-fact. There is no room for pacifists in Panem, and no place for remorse in the Games.

I was also aware of the reactions coming from the audience as I viewed the film, subtly gauging how people were responding. When one character, in a fit of anger, snapped the neck of his then ally, the entire theatre gasped. Yes, I thought, this is impactful. They’re startled and horrified. 

I was startled and horrified when that same audience clapped and cheered as a particularly antagonistic tribute fell dead on the ground. Hoots of approval as the body of a teenage girl slumped open eyed and lifeless. They’re cheering… That’s when I realized they were missing the basic premise of the film. A discussion of this occurrence with a friend revealed that he had a similar experience. As I gawked he said, “I mean, it’s like getting a kind of revenge, so I understand why people cheered. I don’t agree with it, but I understand.” It’s true that the character lacked likability, that she even expressed a kind of gleefulness in the murder of her counterparts, but ultimately wasn’t she just doing what was expected of her? A basic understanding of narrative structure tells us that a hero requires a villain, and any knowledge of reality television tells us that it is much easier to be the villain than the hero. In fact, there’s a certain reward in media villainy, because there is nothing the public loves to hate more than a feisty and unrelenting antagonist. I can only suspect that the people of Panem feel similarly. It would seem then that this moment of viewer rejoicing was, at the very least, misplaced. What does an antagonistic pawn matter when compared with the masterminds (literally) orchestrating the game?

Another friend suggested that my criticism of the audience was too harsh, that while they might be missing “a point” they weren’t missing “the point.” Also, that I view things in terms of “moral rightness” rather than “humanness.” Whatever moral high ground I may appear to occupy, I’ve yet to encounter a convincing argument that The Hunger Games doesn’t hold similar ground. Murder is horrific, the murder of children even more so, and murder for sport is disgusting. Or, should be.

There are some that feel that the horror and satire of the Games, and the message that comes with those, were lost in translation from book to film. While there were certain problems with the adaptation and ways the narrative could have been strengthened, I don’t believe the problem truly lies with the filmmakers. After all, shouldn’t the sight of a fourteen year old girl hoarsely screaming for a friend to save her strike a chord with us, no matter the circumstance? Are we so far removed, so generally desensitized, that murder means nothing to us? Or worse, so enraptured in the violence that murder is a reason to cheer? Even if the cheers weren’t about the actual act of murder and were more concerned with the take down of a ‘villain,’ the end result is the same—rewarding the action, murder, with a positive and encouraging response.

What really got to me, and what was so hard to articulate, was the fact that in a movie about a time and place where people cry and cheer for the murder of children as pageantry, we’re literally doing the same— with seemingly no recognition. What is actually more horrifying than the murder of children is the sport of it, the not seeing anything wrong with it. What we should really be paying attention to is the people watching the Games—which now, as film viewers, we are a part of. By cheering for death it means we’re like them, the people of Panem, and if we’re like them then we can’t see what they’re doing wrong, and if we can’t see what they’re doing wrong…how can we be any different?

While the books shows a possible future with people that we’re similar to, that we could become, the film allows us to see what we already are— and its no far cry from the people of Panem.

To quote the film, “we cheer for our favorites and cry when they die. It’s sick.”

Goodness I love food. Another thing I’ll have to make when I get home.

{Ms. Buena Vida}

Presenting! An incredible vegan lunch for one. It’s a chunky, filling salad with a flavor punch, Ka-Pow! It’s ridiculously gooood!!

Salad-

1 avocado, chopped in chunks

1/2 C. tomatoes, diced (or grape tomatoes quartered)

1/2 C. greens (kale, arugula or spinach), chopped

1/2 C. cooked garbanzo beans

S&P to taste

Dressing-

1/2 clove fresh garlic, optional

2 T. raw apple cider vinegar (or any wine vinegar)

1/2 T. dijon mustard

1/2 T. agave nectar

1 T. olive oil

1/2 C. fresh basil

Make it-

In a mini food processor, run the garlic through. Except for the basil, pulse the remaining dressing ingredients until emulsified (kinda creamy looking). Now, add the basil and pulse a few times leaving the basil a little chunky. Like this…

In a medium bowl, lightly toss the the veggies in your delicious dressing, salt and pepper and enjoy!

I have a giveaway going on now! Check it out here.

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I am so pleased to announce that in 6 days I will be launching my new project, Everything is Problematic.

Once the blog goes live expect an update on the creation process.

For more information, check out everythingisproblematic.com 

Yum. I need to start a little recipe book for my self to compile all the things I want to try/recipes I love.

Pitzer College

Founded in 1963, Pitzer College was built upon four core values that reimagine the purpose of a college education in a progressively changing world. These values are social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning and student autonomy. Almost 50 years later, our students feel that our founding values help prepare them to address the issues of their time. How do you feel these values will help you find solutions to the evolving challenges of your generation?

More than even before, we live in a time of constant change. Sometimes slow, building changes which are often unrealized until they finally take hold, but also change which comes quickly— two years, a year, a few months. In the relatively brief period that I have been alive to witness these changes, the world is dramatically different. Yet even with changes in technology, law, and many other areas of life, many cultural narratives and societal ideals are virtually the same as fifty years ago and beyond. Some of these narratives serve us in a positive way, but to accept all of them on the basis of their familiarity or the fact that they have survived the ‘test of time’ is detrimental. More than anything it is important that my generation realize blindly accepting change as a sign of improvement or letting little change be enough change, regardless of circumstance, not only fails to advance us, it allows backslide. A commitment to social responsibility, one of Pitzer’s basic tenants, is key to such realizations and understanding.

Accepting social responsibilities means also accepting difference, accepting that different peoples hold different ideals and goals. Intercultural understanding is necessary make things better for all, rather than better for some— and subsequently worse for others. The necessity of intercultural understanding exists not just when dealing across countries and continents, but in daily and personal life. The United States is full of cultural and ethnic diversity and complexity, which should be embraced and celebrated.

Interdisciplinary learning and student autonomy are values that I find to be especially complementary because they encourage exploration and innovation. The problems faced by my generation, be they social or otherwise, require a willingness to step outside the box of preconceived notions. Not everyone wants to be a doctor, or an engineer, or a politician— people should not be forced into pursuits that others believe to be ‘necessary’ or ‘productive,’ instead they should be encouraged to what inspires them. Furthermore, what it means to be a doctor, or an engineer, or a politician is rapidly changing— they requiring people thrilled to undertake the challenge, not drones pushed into the field. The best that can be done is to encourage people to explore what they are passionate about, something which Pitzer does through emphasis on student autonomy. Only by investigating the full extent of our interests and the diverse directions they may lead will lasting improvements be made.