Just a tiny warrior battling the dragon of ignorance and modern
day lunacy ...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Evolution of Woman

Filmed on Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, an intriguing video featuring a resounding rifle shot has sparked a storm of controversy. Startled on-lookers watch with shock as the video unfolds frame by frame. The day is mild, the scene ordinary, yet the central figure in the video draws attention that transcends simple curiosity.

The video begins with a vintage car, circa 1963, traveling slowly down the road that runs along Dealey Plaza. A lone driver parks the car, emerges, and checks the meter before beginning a nonchalant amble down the sidewalk. This subject is a woman dressed in a short black trenchcoat, Hollywood-style sunglasses and flat shoes. As she walks, she slowly sheds her apparel one item at a time - trench coat, sunglasses, shoes, sweatshirt, capri pants, t-shirt ... Until the final moments of the video, she is dressed in only black bra and panties.

Ordinary people watch this tableau unfold. Regular folks walking to work, enjoying the sunshine, heading home or possibly to lunch stand transfixed by the display of this woman in a slow, public strip-tease. The expressions on their faces provide the second character in the tale. Disbelief, embarrassment, disdain, and admiration appear boldly on camera. "Is it a joke?" "A hoax?" "Is it a test?" "A public service message?"

The rising action culminates when the woman reaches around her back to unhook her bra and slip her panties to the ground before taking two steps towards a stunned group of on-lookers. The small crowd hesitates and appears to part before her advance and then ... a rifle shot. The naked woman lurches forward and collapses on the sidewalk.

This is Erykah Badu's latest video and, no apologies ... I like it. For me, Badu stands a symbol for the naked truth. She's not the airbrushed, styled, edited, sexpot of the average video. Her body is ordinary, flawed, and imperfect. Her nakedness is neither sexual nor sexy - it's provocative, raw, and real. In her lumpy imperfection, Badu becomes the everywoman assassinated by the impossible social standards of physical perfection that hold most women hostage. Her message is simple - see beyond this; evolve.

Copyright 2010 Karen Napolitano

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hail to "The Chief"

Washington, D.C. boasts a new denizen this week.

Typically, this high-profile arrival has taken up residence in a posh piece of District real estate complete with water view. Additionally, like many freshly delivered "inside the Beltway," this new resident arrived with a flurry of controversy. He was selected through a secretive process by a core group of his admirers. Arriving silently with little fanfare, he quickly established his territory and has already edged out older, once respected, fellow representatives. Not surprisingly, this newcomer has offered little personal reflection about his fresh fame, but is willing to offer himself to the television cameras and the curious Johnny Q. Public at any opportunity. Notable locals are lining up like groupies at a rock concert for a picture with this cool arrival.

His success in Washington is assured. Capable of morphing into any necessary shape to suit the moment, this politicized creature can squeeze through tiny loopholes or occupy an entire chamber. His spinelessness is prerequisite for navigating the icy waters adjacent to the Potomac. He is deeply aware of the moods and threats around him and responds by changing colors and positions to suit his advantage. His closest handlers report that he has already demonstrated a sharp learning curve, and his broad appetite and ruthless advantage over opponents will leave few little fish in the pond.

Only one task remains. His publicists have scratched their heads over his official name and title. A decision will be made soon and early reports suggest that those in his inner circle are entertaining obvious monikers such as "The Lobbyist," "Senator," or "Former Governor Palin." Sadly submissive to their control, this new arrival can hardly voice an objection to these inherent insults to his his once proud species ... the Giant Pacific Octopus.

Copyright 2010 Karen Napolitano

Monday, March 22, 2010

Get a Match

Ladies, extract those burning bras from the bonfire. Blow out the flames, and prepare to assume the position formerly accorded to you by society. The face of 21st century feminism looms as a sulky teenage girl deep in the throes of her first crush.

Bella Swan, the emo-cum-grunge heroine of Twilight fame, has emerged from the shadows in the second movie adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's popular series. Heroine is a loose definition, though, because heroism suggests action, suggests purpose. Bella achieves neither as she mumbles and trudges her way through the plot which revolves around brutish and highly stylized concepts of masculinity contrasted sharply against Miss Bella's wilting, shrinking persona.

Fans of the series will revel in the plot. Bella and Edward-the-vampire deeply in love have settled into a "normal" routine; everything seems blissful until one drop of Bella's blood (an obvious reference to the blood of a virgin) sets off a series of events that forces Edward to "break up" with Bella, for her own good, naturally. Bella, powerless and tortured by this loss, retreats into long days and nights of pining for this lost love. Miraculously, the "hole in her heart" (this is actual dialogue!) begins to heal when she allows herself to feel romantic thoughts for Jacob, who marvelously turns out to be a werewolf.

Of course, in the midst of her romantic misery, Bella neglects to go to school or to maintain any friendships.

Bluntly, here's the message for the modern girl:

1. You will accomplish nothing.
2. You will accomplish nothing except to exist as a romantic plaything for monsters.
3. You are utterly at the whim of these monsters and remain powerless in their supernatural and brutal grasps.
4. Education, the arts, a self-concept, math, science, and even the ability to enjoy a movie all pale against the goal of pleasing the male monsters.

Yikes. Our mothers burned their bras for this? What happened to the lessons of modern feminism? You can do whatever a man can do! You don't need a man to feel fulfilled! Stay in school! Be the change you want to see in the world! A short twenty years ago, Buffy-the-vampire-slayer kicked some ass and taught some lessons. She may have been a blond, valley girl but she didn't take any guff from the monsters of the night.

The times, they are a'changing, and it ain't for the better. If Bella represents a modern definition of a regular girl, then maybe it's time to ignite a fresh bonfire - for these books.

Copyright 2010 Karen Napolitano

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Fine Whine

2010 has already proven to be a vintage year for complaints, backlash, and general malcontent in the political process. In an average year, we can depend on bottled frustration from the party out of power quickly decanted for mass consumption, but this year has seen a truly spectacular outpouring of grievances. Opponents to the health care bill fermenting slowly through the legislative process have argued against the initiative for every reason from cost to coverage. These nay-sayers have uncorked a red river of complaints centered around the need for a balanced budget and the cost associated with providing health care for all. Of course, the bouquet of fiscally sound budget evaporates quickly when challenged by cutting some pork or military spending. The glass half-empty adage applies.

Those in opposition to the president's plan to guarantee health care for all Americans are not standing on firm terroir. Health care should not be a business or an industry. No company should profit from the illness or death of a human being. Yet, for decades Americans, half drunk with the notion that their insurance companies act in their best interest, have felt costs rise and coverage decline. The obvious solution? Flood the electorate with guaranteed health care that covers everyone and follows an enlightened path to the shared benefits of our pluralist society.

Whining is cheap, available for a few dollars and a paper bag at the corner store. Reliable, broad health care coverage is expensive, but the liquidity of any nation should not be measured in just dollars and cents but by how well it cares for the least of its citizens. Everyone should have access to the loving cup, not just those who can afford it or those who have the good fortune of generous employers.

Humans, unlike fine wine, do not improve with age. As time passes, we lose the full-bodied robustness of our younger selves. The physical body weakens, break-downs, and evinces a tartness like vinegar. In short, we need help to function, to be palatable. We need doctors, tests, treatments, therapies, and medicines. Universal health care can provide safe homogenization for all members of society, regardless of income. This blend of resources for a common good is an essential part of the future and of our success as a society.

Will it be costly? Sure, but proportionally not as expensive as an 18th century Chateau Lafite, which at the rate current health costs are escalating, will seem like a bargain.

Of course, what is the time-honored cure for any hangover?

A good, strong, civil cup of coffee.

Copyright 2010 by Karen Napolitano