Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sex sells! But what do we actually get?

The marketing team at CKE Restaurants Inc. and the advertising agency 72andSunny has produced a male-targeted commercial, "Fantasy," for Hardees and Carl’s Jr. The commercial is meant to promote the "3-Way Thickburger," which is a burger with bacon strips, bacon jam, and bacon crumbles. It emphasizes the fact that the Thickburger has three forms of bacon: literally symbolizing meat and figuratively symbolizing women. In fact, the press release issued by CKE Restaurant Inc. said the said the sandwiches make "your dreams come true." Clearly, the implication is that three forms a bacon make your dreams come true, just as three women make your dream come true. In the same way, eating bacon-on-bacon-on-bacon burgers are as good as voyeuristic three-way woman-on-woman-on-woman sexuality. This point is highlighted by the fact the commercial features three women in bikinis who are sensuously feeding themselves and each other. As they playfully touch each other, their three respective forms of bacon also come together. The climax of the plot occurs when one woman’s take a big bite as the other two women look on longingly. It’s at that moment that the 3-Way Thickburger is created and the three women exchange a sultry look. In the background, the song "Threeway" by Dirt Nasty is playing. The edited lyrics in the commercial are: "They say three's a crowd / They ain't never been to my house / Hey girls whatcha doing this weekend? / We should stay in and have us a threesome / She's givin' her some, they givin' me some / Yeah, we havin' us a threesome / Menage a trois." And with those lyrics, the symbolism is made clear. 
The target audience of this commercial is men, especially men who find exhibitionist threesome lesbianism to be titillating. The young, skinny women in bikinis are clearly being used to attract men to the message of the three forms of bacon on a thickburger. This use of women as sex objects is an obvious example of scopophilia, where men are supposed to derive sexual enjoyment from watching sexualized women.  The display of women for the sake of men is an example of the “male gaze,” whereby “women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness” (Hein). It’s old fashion sexism used for modern commercialism.

The creators of this commercial assume that the target audience is hyper-sexualized, voyeuristic, scopophilic, sexist, anti-feminist, and uncritical. To assume these things about men is a prejudiced oversimplification and gross generalization of masculinity. It should be concerning to all people that a company would consider using this commercial at a time when the USA might possibility be electing the first female president.

As consumers of media, we need to highlight and deconstruct sexism. This video could be used as an example of how sexism harms both men and women. For women, it implies they are passive, objectified sex symbols. For men, it implies they are aggressive, hypersexual consumers of erotica. Once these negative effects of sexism have been exposed and challenged, alternative forms of femininity and masculinity could be explored. 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sermon on the Mount (Black Lives Matter)

When Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," did the disciples ask, "Why can't you just say ALL lives should be blessed"? 

When Jesus said "Blessed are those who mourn," did the disciples ask: "Why can't you just say ALL lives should be blessed"? 

When Jesus said "Blessed are the meek," did the disciples ask, "Why can't you just say ALL lives should be blessed"? 

When Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger/thirst for righteousness," did the disciples ask, "Why can't you just say ALL lives should be blessed"? 

When Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful," did the disciples ask, "Why can't you just say ALL lives should be blessed"? 

When Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart," did the disciples ask, "Why can't you just say ALL lives should be blessed"? 

When Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers," did the disciples ask, "Why can't you just say ALL lives should be blessed"? 

When Jesus said, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake," did the disciples ask: "Why can't you just say ALL lives should be blessed"? 

Jesus named specific people who faced specific challenges, problems, and/or injustices (Matthew 5:1-10). That's why it's important for Christians today to say: "Black Lives Matter."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Mile-By-Mile Journal of the 15 Mile Run

Just in case anyone wants to read my internal dialogue from my 15 mile run, here are my thoughts:

1 - I'm stiff. Maybe I shouldn't do this.
2 -  Okay, I feel much better.
3 - Three miles already. I totally got this.
4 - Here come the hills.
5 - I'm way too tired for this early in the run. Obviously I need to get better at hills.
6 - Woohoo, I got a sub-60 minute 10K!
7 - This is about half way. Time for some celebratory GU.
8 - Did that bank sign say it was 68 degrees already? Now I feel hot. Dang sign.
9 - I have to pee. Really bad. Where is the next public restroom?
10 - Double digits! Feelin' happy.
11 - Double digits. What have I gotten myself into?
12 - Almost a half marathon. Gotta keep going.
13 - Just two miles left. Can't stop now.
14 - My joints and ligaments hurt. I really hope I don't get injured again. Running sucks.
15 - One. Foot. In. Front. Of. The. Other.

I did it! It's definitely time for a shower. Plus Advil and ice. This is the good kind of pain, right?! Running rocks!

Friday, June 24, 2016

What Is Life And Death?

What is "life"? What is "death"? Seriously, it seems like the basic questions are the most challenging. And everyone probably has slightly different responses to these questions. In reality, we probably don't know the one correct answer. But those simple questions bring up many other questions.

Are we our living cells? What happens when a cell (or all of our cells) stop living?

Are we our thoughts? Do our thoughts ever stop or remain stagnate?

Are we our "consciousness"? If so, what kind of consciousness? Subjective, objective, introspective, spiritual, phenomenal, access, etc.?

Are we the influence we have on others? If so, don't the ripples we make in the pond just continue to spread?

Are we our energy? Does our energy ever stop being transferred or converted?

Is there a "Heaven"? Where/what are the boundaries of Heaven and non-Heaven? What aspects of "us" goes "there"?

Is there "reincarnation"? If so, doesn't that mean we're going to be "here" longer? What aspects of "us" go "there"/"here"?

There are no right answers or easy responses. And these may even be the wrong questions! Until we penetrate "reality" more deeply, we are left with these grasps at the truth. So until further explanation, it seems that Thich Nhat Hanh has a good description of life and death that goes beyond life and death:

Sometimes people ask you: "When is your birthday?" But you might ask yourself a more interesting question: "Before that day which is called my birthday, where was I?"   
Ask a cloud: "What is your date of birth? Before you were born, where were you?"  
If you ask the cloud, "How old are you? Can you give me your date of birth?" you can listen deeply and you may hear a reply. You can imagine the cloud being born. Before being born it was the water on the ocean's surface. Or it was in the river and then it became vapor. It was also the sun because the sun makes the vapor. The wind is there too, helping the water to become a cloud. The cloud does not come from nothing; there has been only a change in form. It is not a birth of something out of nothing.  
Sooner or later, the cloud will change into rain or snow or ice. If you look deeply into the rain, you can see the cloud. The cloud is not lost; it is transformed into rain, and the rain is transformed into grass and the grass into cows and then to milk and then into the ice cream you eat. Today if you eat an ice cream, give yourself time to look at the ice cream and say: "Hello, cloud! I recognize you." 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Running As Meditation

Running can be meditation. And meditation can be running. It requires mindfulness and effort. But it's worth a try. It can transform running - and life! Here are some great places to explore more information on running as meditation:

Meditation In Action

Transcendental Steps

Running with the Mind of Meditation

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Top Ten Movies for Dads to See with Their Kids

1. Indiana Jones
2. Back to the Future
3. Star Wars
4. Jurassic Park
5. The Goonies
6. Ghostbusters
7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
8. The Karate Kid
9. Finding Nemo
10. Gremlins

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lord's (LGBT) Prayer

Our Drag Queen/King,
who art dancing in heaven and on earth,
holy is your Name, and holy are the names every LGBT person.
May your vision of inclusion come to every city in the world.
May your justice-seeking will be done through our feet, hands, and words, 
as it’s done in Heaven.
Give us this day the food, strength, and healing we need
to make our communities more safe, supportive, and loving.
Forgive us for our own moments of prejudice
as we forgive those who have shown bigotry to us.
Lead us not into the temptation of embracing the status quo.
And deliver us from the evil of indifference,
so we can build a world where it truly does get better.
May the power and glory be Yours, now and forever,
as Your love spreads through our streets, homes, and hearts.