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Test YouTube Vid

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

Komuso Zen Priest Playing Shakuhachi

Just a test video after figuring out how to add my blog to YouTube (blah blah API keys and shit).

Lighter Skin Gets the Guy

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

One of my favorite things to do when I have time to kill is "randomly surf the web".  I start at yahoo.com, usually click on a news story, that might lead me to a website link, which might lead me to someone's interesting blog.  I always find thought-provoking and intriguing content when I do this, and it can kill hours of time.

Sometimes, instead of finding content and information that I enjoy, I find some that bothers me - riles me up, so to speak.  This morning, when I came upon the article Is white skin more "beautiful?" on Shine's Fashion + Beauty section, I felt that discomforting anger rising to the surface.

Whenever I see women being told that to be "this" or be "that" will then make them "beautiful", I get upset.  Where are the ads promoting beauty as is?  Where are the commercials telling young women that their unique "imperfections" and different physical appearance are what make them beautiful and special?

I have heard of the phenomenon in Japan and India of women yearning for lighter skin...to be more "white".  It astounds me, as I believe darkened skin - of any shade - is simply beautiful.  White women spend great amounts of money and time to darken their skin through tanning and products.  I suppose it's the age-old struggle of wanting what you don't have.  Lighter skin people wish they were darker; darker skinned people wish they were lighter.

However, I still am bothered by the Ponds 5-part commercial series that implies the man only went back to his first and true love after she lightened her skin; becoming more light-skinned than the glamorous starlet he was dating.  Ponds obviously has a market for its Flawless White product line, but should they really be playing into women's insecurities this way?

I know that all beauty products, and the media used to promote them, play up a woman's perceived "flaw" with promises to cure and fix it; it's the nature of the beast.  Still, there is just something a little more disturbing here - perhaps its, as the original article stated, ...when it comes to altering the color of one's skin, when does aesthetic become racism?

Aesthetic racism - now there's a term, and I suppose, in a way, that is what you might call it.  It's not that those desiring lighter skin are necessarily racists, but isn't telling them that they will be more desirable and worthy if they change their skin tone so?

Perhaps it's all a big hoax.  I don't know - the whole thing just leaves me feeling uncomfortable - I keep waiting for someone to say, "It's a joke!  Ponds doesn't really have any such product - it's all a big hoax!"  It has that kind of feel about it.

Regardless, though, it draws attention to the fact that people still - to this day - feel inferior because of the pigment of their skin, and that saddens me.

To Chris Crocker

Saturday, September 15th, 2007

I am sure you have all seen the now-infamous Chris Crocker YouTube vlbog LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE! - or one of the many parodies or opinions about it online, on the radio, and even on TV.

Chris has become the latest Internet phenom, though not in a good way - when ABC News posted his vblog, it quickly garnered world-wide attention as a rabid, devastated Britney fan defending her honor. The backlash hasn't been pretty.

Interestingly enough, I'd been a subscriber to Crocker's YouTube vblogging for a little while now. Though I didn't always agree with everything he said, there were often some enjoyable and enlightening-if-crude dissertations to be found on Chris's profile. Sure, he was sometimes a tad over-the-top, but I haven't met a queenly gay gent yet that wasn't. It's one thing I love about the majority of gay people I know; their candid, often hilarious, approach to things most people consider taboo - including their own acceptance of self in a society that considers them immoral and defective.

As for Chris Crocker and vblogging, I enjoyed his blunt manner of speech and his no-nonsense approach to self-acceptance. He was funny, outspoken, and I felt it took a great set of balls (or preferred lack their of) to be himself - a man who identifies more with his feminine wiles - in such a public setting. He openly spoke about the gender-bias of our society, and challenged ideas of gay and transsexual stereotypes. For that alone, even if I didn't always agree completely with his assessments, I applauded him.

If there's one thing I know and know well, it's that gay men love their pop starlets of choice with a fevered intensity. No, not all gay men have this devotion to the pop tarts of our culture, but many do and they are unfailingly loyal in this adoration. Perhaps that is why Chris's outburst didn't seem too shocking to me. Oh yes, it was a bit much, but I certainly didn't view it with the appalled horror that most Americans seem to be experiencing upon viewing it.

That said, I am all for people having an opinion on Chris's video, his method of presenting his views on the subject, and the views themselves. This is the heart of free speech - and people parodying it and offering up their responses brings the free speech of dissertation to a full, complete and happy circle.

What I am not for and am having trouble swallowing are the hate-filled, fanatical, name-calling and death threats that Chris has swirling around him now. Not agreeing with someone is one thing - saying they are a "stupid queer who needs to be shot" is quite another.

I'm sure Chris is used to his fair share of vitriol and hate-mongering, but the backlash to his video is simply...depressing. It's frightening and disheartening to realize just how much hate, fear, and savageness exists in our society today.

In light of the recent uproar, I have penned a letter to Chris. Rather than have it lost in the mad sea of comments on his vblog, I've decided to put it here in hopes that others may stop and think before they hurl nothing but jeers and cruel words at this young man.

Oh, Chris - you have every right to feel the way you do and to post it online. I just hope you were prepared for this huge backlash.

I dislike Brit and I don't, personally, agree with your views on the subject, but that doesn't mean I don't accept your right to express your feelings and beliefs. The world would be a scary, boring place if we all felt the same and believed the same ways. Whether I agree with what you said, or how you chose to say it, isn't the thing here. Diversity is what makes us unique and beautiful - I suppose my main problem with all of the attention you're getting is the negativity of the majority of it.

The Seth Green parody? Genius; I loved it - and you should enjoy it, too. Who wouldn't want to be parodied by such a talented, funny guy? We have to be able to laugh at ourselves. My point is - disagreeing with you or poking some fun at the presentation of your ideas, while not always nice, is just part of the full circle of free speech. What is not - or should not - be part is the horrible, negative, cruel things people are saying. Laughing is one thing - calling you horrible, bigoted names and wishing you to die is completely another. I don't agree with that and I can't stand by it. I'm really sorry you're having to deal with that aspect of this backlash; truly. My own race makes me ashamed sometimes.

Stay strong - when you throw an impassioned presentation of unpopular views at the world, you're going to get a backlash and some good-natured ribbing. That's okay, and I'm sure you are prepared to deal with that. For the rest of it, however, just stay strong. Weak people who only want to kick you when you're down or use this as a platform for their hate and gay-bashing don't deserve a second of your consideration. Forget them...and keep being yourself; whether the world likes it or not.

GL, sweetie.