Slut-Shaming Miley Cyrus – Maybe it’s about time.

 

Call me a prude, but after seeing the video replays of the MTV music awards I was disgusted. All I know is that Miley Cyrus made a slut out of herself again after keeping her tongue out, dancing like she was gyrating against someone during doggie style sex, fingering herself with a foam “We’re Number One” hand, and then gyrated against the pelvis of Robin Thicke’s at the end of the performance.

Amid all that, she wasn’t even singing – rather she was shouting into the microphone. I’m not even sure what it was that she was doing, besides screaming at the top of her lungs – “I’m not Hanna Montana anymore, BITCHES!” That’s the most I could make out. I might be wrong… if she wasn’t literally doing that, then she was doing so symbolically. I’m not sure exactly what she was trying to do besides cry for help because her life has spun out of control. Or maybe she was doing something else.

Maybe Miss Cyrus is wantonly trying to destroy her former “good girl” image and knows exactly what she’s doing in the hopes that people would consider her to be a more mature, legitimate performer. She’s mature alright… mature as in “Mature Audience…” as in Triple X…

There’s been at least 24 hours (as of this writing) of protests, condemnation, criticism, and critiques from various sources – all of them either condemning her or condemning the commendation of Miss Cyrus. There are the bashers who are accused of “Slut-Shaming” her, and those people who are vilifying her critics for being too puritan, too conservative and self-righteous.

At or around the same time of this controversy there are other sex scandals of note; let’s not get into the whole story with New York City Mayoral candidate Anthony Wiener and his cyber girlfriend Sydney Leathers, and her ventures in hard-core pornographic movies. Let’s skip over the mayor of San Diego Bob Filner who resigned over multiple accusations of sexual harassment (and maybe even sexual assult.) Type of the word “Sex Scandal” and there are other stories; some involve a pastor, a school principal, a teacher, a husband of a Kardashian sister, an Attorney General in Utah, top law officials in China…

But “we” are really mad at Miley Cyrus. Really, really, really mad!

Why? The fact is, none of the aforementioned besides Miss Cyrus were put on a pedestal as an entertainer or role model for young children; especially our daughters and nieces. We’re outraged because someone who the young ladies in our lives looked up to while they tried to emulate her has gone so far into destroying what made them famous and in turn MIGHT inspire young girls to follow suit in acting ‘sluty’.

Outraged might be the wrong word, how about the word “betrayed?” And maybe I’m also making the case that our feeling of betrayal towards Miss Cyrus isn’t all about her; she’s only the representative of the entire entertainment establishment that seems hell bent on sexualizing our daughters at a younger and younger age this year.
Another reason why we’re angry (especially as parents) is that we know other people have sex but we just don’t want to see it, we don’t want to know about, and we sure don’t want it put in our faces without our consent. Sure, the same men and some women who are protesting against Miss Cyrus are the same people who like to dabble in porn from time to time, might go to a strip club on occasion, and do some pretty wild things behind our bedroom doors (or the kitchen, or the basement, or the back woods, in an empty meeting hall right next to a “Star Trek” convention, in a tent on the side of a mountain, in abandoned buildings…) but that’s private. There’s a reason why “private lives” or “personal lives” are called that.
Maybe it’s time to push back against the women on-line who try to shame us for trying to “slut shame” Miley Cyrus. Maybe we’re past due for a revival of “puritan values” and make a stand for what a lot of us like to call “filth” and call out other activities in the media for what it is. Maybe we’re past due for shouting down celebrities and media personalities who try to make names for themselves by doing genuinely embarrassing acts in public.

I would never want to see my daughter (if I had one) or a girl my son was dating to behave like that, ever. What would that say about her, what would that say about what she thinks about herself? Activities like that scream “I’m desperate for attention” and could lead to date rape, venereal diseases, unwanted pregnancies and if that crap get out into the internet/Facebook; unemployment/unemployable status.

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Dreams

One of my friends, a fellow CGD’er Rebecca, has been posting daily about the dreams she’s been having. I understand this is very therapeutic for the writer and for the reader we can get an insight into our friends who are doing this so long as they don’t embarrass us with gory details of sexy dreams (unless you’re a voyeur) and they don’t bore us with six paragraphs of a description of the rainbow the kitten is running on while chasing the unicorn into a fantasy world where “Nirvana” is more than just a grunge band from the 1990’s…
Two nights in a row I’ve had dreams about taking college courses in one of the elementary schools where I was enrolled when I was a child, (for those of you who grew up with me, they’re Green Street and Walnut Street schools) and I’m not sure if I’m the teacher or the student. Does this mean anything, or is it like Sigmund Freud once said; “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”

This wouldn’t be a big deal but one of the medicines I’ve been taking for the brain injury I suffered a while ago makes most of my dreams incredibly vivid and intense to the point where some mornings I’m not sure if the dream is reality and reality is a dream for a few moments. Some morning I’ve woken up with incredible ideas that I’ve had to put down on paper before they’re lost into the netherworld of daily drudgery.

Couple this with the fact that I’m also doing some research into the colleges where I once attended and checking out their graphic design programs and what books they are assigning for this upcoming year. Perfect example is the SUNY Canton Graphic Design Program – I’m checking out the books I would have been assigned if I was there now and wondering if it’s worth supplementing them into my own library.

Speaking of dreams: Let me tell you about the time I chased my cat over a rainbow and found myself in Xanadu where Olivia Newton-John was teaching my wife how to be a proper muse like those in Greek Mythology…

Hurt Feelings

 

There was nothing else to say about Lynda other than the fact that she was the love of my life at the time. She was everything that I had ever wanted in a girlfriend, she was an incredibly beautiful brunette with the perfect body for 15, perfect hips and well proportional breasts. Kissing her was like being smothered in honey while being touched by a thousand butterflies.

Other than the fact that her piercing blue eyes cut right through my bullshit and she saw me for who I really was, we connected on such a spiritual level. Not only did she accept me for being the bad boy of art in my school while pushing the limits, she relished in it. She loved flaunting her feelings for me in front of her parents and let them know all the horrible things we were doing together.

I was seriously looking at colleges around the area just so I could be around her while she finished high school. My entire future was rapped up and consumed with what-ifs and what’s going to be, secure in the pseudo-knowledge that I arrived and found the one true love of my life and nothing could possibly shake that.

After Lynda performed in the school play we went back to her house where she was going to change into something else. It was understandable that she didn’t want me to watch her since her parents were somewhere, either in the family room down below talking to my dad about some typical technology bullshit like Ham Radios.

While standing in the living room and making small talk with her brother, Bill, who was the definition of the words “nerd,” “dork” or “geek,” he looked me straight in the eye and asked; “Why do you hate me so much?”

I looked at him and couldn’t help but feel shocked; “What do you mean, Bill.”

“I heard you and some of my sister’s friends making fun of me…”

I stood there just trying to remember what it is that I might have said that might have been regarded as teasing or making fun of him. I totally admit that this guy annoyed the shit out of me and I genuinely felt bad for him. He never went on a date and never kissed a girl other than his sister or mother on the cheek. I hardly doubt that Bill spent an entire night doing to another girl what I was doing to his sister.

I stood there waiting, still thinking Lynda and I were about to go to the cast party and I stood there with this awkwardness. How exactly do you explain to someone that while he was indeed a pain and the ass and a minor embarrassment and I actually thought all those things I never actually send them out loud?

If anyone actually said any of those things out loud, other than Lynda’s friends and fellow classmates it was my father who was a bit of a hanger-on sometimes when I went to activities with Lynda. He insisted he drove so he could hang out with Lynda’s dad who was a fellow Ham Radio aficionado.

I stood there for the longest time, I felt as if so much time had past that the sun had started to convert helium into lead.

“Bill, if I said anything, I’m sorry.” I put my hands in my pockets trying not to look defensive. “I actually look up to you and I’m a bit jealous because you have your shit together and you have a dad who gives a fuck about what you’re going to be doing after college.”

I didn’t know that this was going to cause me trouble for Lynda in the near future, all I could think about was going with her to this party. Imagine my shock when she came out of her bedroom looking absolutely mature and beautiful as she looked at me and said; “I hope it’s OK, but I’m have to go to the party without you. It’s cast and crew members only.”

I stood there in shock, feeling as if the air was just sucked out of the room while my legs were cut out from underneath me. “I thought we were all set, I thought this was good?”

“No, it’s a last minute thing they just told us.”

“Didn’t you tell them I drove all the way from Fitchburg?”

“Yea, I know this sucks. I’m glad you understand…” she said before her mom whisked her away.

The next week my phone rang and Lynda told me that she didn’t feel for me the same way I felt for her. Things were going too fast and that she wasn’t ready for a serious relationship. I asked her if there was someone else and she was quick to say there wasn’t. She wanted to just be friends and that should be OK. Just friends… after I invested so much emotion and time into our relationship.

Two weeks later, it was after the prom and her dad came to pick her up. I stood there with my friends knowing that I would never speak to her again. Whatever we had, it was gone and to this day I kept wondering if this was all about her brother or if I was moving too fast.

For a short time I nursed a broken heart and thought about everything I went through with her and how much time and energy I had put into that relationship. There was a moment when I became really angry when I was one of my extreme camping trips. I was watching a lunar eclipse and wished I had her there with me. Then I realized, that just wasn’t true; if Lynda and I had something special than she should have told me why we weren’t a couple any more. If it had something to do with what she thought I said to or about her brother, then she should have said something.

Beliefs: The Fallacy of Equality

Last night I saw that many of my Facebook friends changed their profile pictures to a new “Marriage Equality” logo.

It’s so easy to put a new logo up as our Facebook profile picture, but what are we really willing to do for equality? There are still people who are excluded from families, social groups, and organizations because they think, love or just dress differently than the rest of us. As a whole we still demonize people who disagree with the “Group Think” or don’t have the politically correct views. I do it, you do it, we all do it…

We’re getting meaner, we’re hitting further and further below the belt, it’s increasingly more divisive and we’re making it more personal than ever before. We’re a society that’s in decay because we’re so focused on how we’re different while ignoring what makes us the same. Many of us actually like to be pissed about something because it feels “good” to have a justifiable reason to be pissed.

A new “equality” badge is supposed to make everything better. But what are you actually willing to do, what are you actually willing to change? So long as we continue to alienate people who have different thought processes or see the world differently via different beliefs then there will never be equality.

What more are we willing to do? And when I say we, I also mean me.

Let’s just imagine for a second that the Supreme Court rules in favor of Marriage Equality… there is still going to be discrimination in our society. There’s something about human nature that wants to exclude people because they are somehow different.

For some of us to “function” we need to have people to “hate,” to have an “Exclusive Club” we have to have someone to exclude. Perfect example is this debate on Gay Marriage Equality and the level of genuine animosity and hatred (yes, hatred) of from people who are for it against those who simply are against it for religious and sociological reasons. The people who are for GME (Gay Marriage Equality) are losing the debate with those people because of using strong-arm and bullying tactics.

Do they really think they’re going to wear their opponents down by vilifying them and using derogatory labels?
Obviously, those who are opposed to GME have used the same tactics against those are for it.

We’re going to get past this hurtle one way or another; eventually there is going to be GME; but then what? There are still going to be people in our own society that are going to be treated unfairly simply because they’re different. It happens in families, it happens with in schools, it happens at the work place.

Gay Marriage Equality is just the “tip of the iceberg.” What people are talking about with GME is a change in the law and a small change in our society compared to the true, genuine revolution I’m calling for. We exclude people and then we wonder why they hurt and betray us.
I’m talking about an internal revolution, literally changing the way we treat everyone.

Lesson Learned: Don’t learn the tricks of the trade: Learn the trade!

I remember back in the 1990’s reading this book that was full of short pearls of wisdom for professionals, a lot like “The Little Black Book Of Design” but more for a broader audience. There was one that stuck out in my head that I think about a lot during my time at Mount Wachusett Community College; “Don’t learn the tricks of the trade – learn the trade.”

Trust me; fewer words are truer than those.

Before attending MWCC to get this degree in this specific field, I was a freelancer with a background in Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD), Multimedia, Document Control, Telcom-Netorking, and I was a semi-professional writer working on a series of websites including my own. I was also making good money doing Graphic Design for other people but there was this thing that held me back.

At the time, I didn’t know what it was that was missing. There was this nebulous cloud of “stuff” that I wanted to clear up, sort out, master, and then move to the next level of my career. I just didn’t know how and where to go to define what this “stuff” was. Not knowing what this stuff was cost me a lot of money.

Back in the spring of 2010 while I was recovering from a broken back (compression fracture of L1) I was cheated out of some credit I was owed. I was allegedly working under a “Director Of Media” at this charitable organization, but I never worked with him at all. I did everything myself while he joked “now you know why I quit.” After a function I saw a handful of people getting envelopes with pay checks inside. I joked and asked, “Where’s mine?”

“Oh, you don’t get one since you’re not officially on the team or on the books.”

After talking to the accountant of this organization I found out that “The Director of Media” was literally getting paid and was being given the credit for the work I was doing. On one of the promotional materials he was literally listed as the “producer” of the podcasts I created for this organization; on a stack of bibles I swear that I never heard from him once while getting this work done. I literally did the work, 6 hours of work each week, alone. The setup, the editing, the uploading on the website, I did everything on my own. When they ran out of space on their server, I even hosted some of their work on my own server. I also paid to burn some CD’s of some of the special events they held. Not only was I not getting paid, doing this work was costing my family money. Insult to injury was not even getting credit for it. As you can imagine, I quit the day after the accountant (who also quit around the same time) showed me in the actual books how this character was getting paid for the work I did.

They say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you; that’s not true. Ignorance of the tools of the trade is expensive and can cost you something in the long run. You have to know the lexicon, the language graphic designers and artists speak to each other.

After talking to someone who experienced something similar, she suggested that I go get a degree at MWCC for Graphic Design; which was the best advice I heard in a long time. The best advice I ever took…

Graphic Designers need to know these principals and how the relate to one another so that when a piece of work doesn’t look right you can discuss the people you’re working with and for how to fix the project. There’s nothing worse than talking to someone about contrast and typography and getting a blank stare back… unless you’re the one giving the blank stare since you don’t know what you’re talking about.

For anyone who wants to get into Graphic Design I can only offer this advice; learn from my mistakes. You can read all the books you want on the subject, you can watch all the free tutorials on the internet, and you can work for hours or weeks at a time for free just to get something on your resume; but you will never go far enough without a degree from some legitimate institution. Nobody will take you seriously without some serious time at a legitimate institution.

Don’t just learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade. In Graphic Design there is no room for such short-cuts.

Most Embarrassing Moment

It’s hard to pick an embarrassing moment since I’ve had so many incredible ones.

One that sticks out in my mind was when a girlfriend and I were right in the middle of getting it on in one of the empty rooms her uncle had in one of the rental units he owned. Her grandfather was going to do some work in the unit and he was inside before we could even get dressed and hide.

It was weird standing there wearing nothing but a condom getting lectured by an elderly hillbilly about how all I was after was what I could get out of her. What was worse, it wasn’t even my idea since she dragged me into that apartment when I wanted to go to the library to get some work done.

There was also the sense of embarrassment when I received a letter in the mail that I was only one credit shy of graduating from school; I had to retake an English class, ironically. I attended summer school and aced every test and assignment and often times there was this feeling that I was the only one who was having conversations with the teacher during class discussion.

After I passed that class I was told “Congratulations, you’re now a High School Graduate! Please pay us the $90 fee to get your diploma.” Because money was so tight I simply didn’t have the $90. I went from the age of 19 to 21 having graduated high school but I didn’t have the piece of paper to prove it.

That embarrassment was revisited when I applied to college in Upstate New York. I had the $90 to get from that school in Vermont, but because my transcript was in such horrible shape I needed to take some remedial classes. I was actually retaking classes at the age of 21 with High School students from ages 14 to 18.

Somewhere out there in the world there are actually TWO High School Diploma’s with my name on them… one in my box of mementos in my basement and the other in a filing cabinet in central Vermont.

Years later in Topeka, Kansas I was in bed with this incredibly beautiful woman who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Unfortunately her husband had other ideas.

Finally, one of the most embarrassing moments of my life came when I was having a beer with my father-in-law and asked me “Is cunnilingus something you do to her, or is it something she does to you.”

Childhood Memory

Despite my difficult childhood there were a couple of really wonderful moments. Most of them occurred when it was just the four of us; my mother, sister, brother and I. There are actually two memories that stick out the most as being genuinely positive.

The first was in the summer of 1980 when “The Empire Strikes Back” finally came to a theater near us. We piled into the Chevy “Shove-ette” and went to the First Cinema on Putney Road in Brattleboro, Vermont. My heart was beating out of my chest because I simply couldn’t believe we were going. Because of my mother’s hatred for the smell of popcorn, we didn’t go to the movies that often. This was a huge event.

Once inside the theater I was complete transported to that world that George Lucas created, that “Galaxy Far, Far Away.” Because of the quality of the special effects, the music and acting it felt like a genuine place to me at the age of 11. Once the movie was finished I was obsessed with the idea of movie making.

There’s this incredible notion, especially for a kid with some artistic talent, that people could actually make a good living creating things just off the top of my head.

Another positive childhood memory was when my Aunt Callie came to spend the summer with my other aunt, Gina. Since Gina, my Uncle Bob and two cousins Lisa and Jenny were just a couple of miles away we spent a lot of time with them one summer. It was an incredible privilege to talk with my aunt who was already a talented artist and a huge inspiration to me. My aunt taught me a little about fantasy drawing and how to create texture from holding and rubbing a pencil in directions. She introduced me to the idea of crosshatching and stipple.