Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pop! Goes the culture

Once upon a time, I was a contributor to a group blog called Chick-Wit. The blog is still out there, as I'm reluctant to let it go. It was fun! Myself and my girls Heather and Dani would drop wisdom about pop culture and everything we loved and hated about it.

We kept it light and never mean but we would most definitely keep it snarky. It was a great outlet to discourse about those things that the interwebs are aflutter about but conversation topics that may not have as much traction in real life if you're not the sort to wade in the shallow end of the news pool.

But losing the blog didn't mean I lost my pop culture appetite or my need to vent about it. If I still contributed to Chick Wit, you would read lots of posts from me. I would post about how I love the Buzzfeed posts that show up in my Facebook timeline, the ones that point out the simple, happy pleasures in life and offset the far-too frequently occurring mass shootings and negativity. I would wax poetic about my love of the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and how I know that if Linda Holmes and I ever met we would be besties for life. Or I would post about the absurdity of the Kimye thing—not their relationship, but the media's relationship with them. What else, you ask? Thanks for asking.

I would write all the posts about all the things. Such as...

... pondering Shailene Woodley, the actress of the year with starring roles in the Divergent series, The Fault in Our Stars and also The Spectacular Now. All of these books I've read, loved and I look forward to all of their the movies but I'm slightly confused at why these three giant YA-based movies feature the same actress. No dis to her, I think she's awesome. Just wondering. And the ick factor of Woodley's Divergent brother being her The Fault in our Stars boyfriend is uber-creepy. Creepier than falling in love with overbearing sparkle-vampires.

Did you see...

Mila Kunis on Jimmy Kimmel, ranting about how men need to stop saying "We're pregnant"? OMG Love. Her. From what I've seen of her in the media, she's a breath of fresh air, the kind of girl you could flop down next to on the couch with your ice cream or your cheese fries and share a nosh while complaining about swollen ankles or sore boobs from breastfeeding.

And I can't forget ...

... Against Me!, a Florida-based punk rock band whose music I've celebrated for a few years now, is fronted by the incredibly amazing Laura Jane Grace. An amazing transgendered woman who was once Tom Gabel. I can only describe Ms. Grace as brave for being herself, despite what must have been difficult circumstances. It says so much about the punk rock community that there has been so much support for her transition. 

Also ...

... binge-watching streaming shows on Netflix. Oh how I adore thee, Netflix! I've enjoyed the original series (Hello, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black!) and shows that I just never got caught up on (Sons of Anarchy—rawr!—and How I Met Your Mother to name a few), all sitting there for me to dip or dive into at will. It's seriously changing the face of entertainment and I couldn't be more thrilleder (that's a Chick Wit word there, yo).

My kids are getting their early film education through the wide variety of early movies and television shows they would otherwise not have access to. I mean, MST3K isn't on anymore, is it? And I recently added Cheers and The Wonder Years to my queue, so things just got way fun.

And finally ...

... my stunned reaction to Gwyneth Paltrow's recent need to compare her online criticism to a soldier in a war zone. Because, no. She's stuck her foot in a big, goopy mess this time (see what I did there?). With her website hawking $300+ T-shirts as must-have fashion items for stay at home moms, sound bites featuring her saying how she can't pretend to be someone who makes $25k a year or throwing shade at "stupid" Americans and their inferior dinner party conversation, she doesn't make it difficult to hate on her. It's almost too easy.

I mean, I do get it. Some people just don't give a shit. They don't care to lower themselves from their gilded perches to commiserate with the common folk. And some common folk like that—preferring to celebrate their celebrities when they promote a more perfect reality. Something to strive for, yeah?

But lines can be crossed. I might look for a knockoff of that $300 T-shirt at Target or I might consider that some opinions, stripped of pretension, might help to inform something in my own common life. However, I can’t get past comparing a rarefied existence where pretentious words garner web-based slings and arrows to an experience suffered by someone at war.

When a person lives firmly in the 1%—with no interest in understanding how the common folk do it—and when that person feels obligated to discuss how hard it can be to be so wealthy / famous / highly visible and then continues on to compare the negative feedback received by the common folk (who subscribe to the website, who buy the movie tickets and the lifestyle) as on par with surviving in a war zone?

Just. No.

As a military wife of 23 years, I say no. I wave the bullshit flag. I don’t understand what it’s like and I live with someone who was sent to forward deployed locations. And even though there were incoming mortar attacks he had to endure during his deployments, he was there after the active war was over, so he doesn’t even compare his experience to the experiences had by the men and women there before him, the ones who come home broken and sometimes forgotten.

Maybe some powerful people need to remember that words are powerful. 


  1. Mari, Haven't watched the Divergent movie, but did really like Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now. And not to disparage an Oklahoma author, but that movie was one of the rare times I preferred the Hollywood version to the book. Am looking forward to seeing Ms. Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars. I loved the book. As far as your queue, I'm going to have to add The Wonder Years to my own list. I saw all of them the first time around, and I swear, half of those episodes were my life to a T. If only I'd thought of writing about them, but for some reason, I didn't think they were all that funny until I saw them happening to someone else! :-)

  2. Love everything about this post. And, may I borrow your bullshit flag? Love, I tell ya.