Who Cares What Cam Said

cam-newton-peyton-manning-handshake-lead

I mean really, who cares.

He makes an absurd amount of money playing a game for the entertainment of millions and the media freaked out because he didn’t say something like, “I want to congratulate the Broncos for being awesome, I still love you, here look at this cute puppy I brought in the room with me.” Instead he got a dozen stupid questions lobbed at him and left before the media was done lobbing stupid questions at him when Chris Harris started explaining how they made Cam’s night miserable by making him throw the ball in places where there was no place to throw it.

Cam Newton is an emotional guy who admitted that they got outplayed. We all saw that happen. It really was that simple. I don’t think any offense was going to do much against the Broncos defense in SuperBowl 50, do you? Carolina could do nothing all night. No running, passing, whatever.

Could Cam Newton use a PR person to help him craft a public persona? Sure. A lot of public people do that but mainly to keep media writers and corporate endorsements all happy and making money off of their brand. Cam Newton wears who he is on his sleeve and takes no shame in that. I don’t think he cares how you feel about him which is actually an attribute we try to teach our kids, isn’t it? Sure he was mopey as any of us would be. But he did not disrespect his opponent or his teammates. He disrespected no one – not even the media whores looking for something to add column inches in their careers as losing locker room reporters.

Losing sucks. It hurts. These guys work their lives off to get to this game and to get totally spanked on the biggest stage in American sports like that is embarrassing. And yet people feel slighted for Cam Newton not droning through dozens of stupid platitudes? Move on. He’ll be back to play next year and still make millions of dollars just like hundreds of other athletes do – for our entertainment and not for our moral well-being. If you need Cam Newton to teach you about morality, and if his post-game presser is the place to nourish that sense of right with the world, you have seriously got to find another place to feel good about yourself.

Isis Isn’t Real

Perhaps only the allegory of the Empire remains. For it is with the same Imperialism that present-day simulators try to make the real, all the real, coincide with their simulation models. – Jean Baudrillard, Simulations (1983)

a message signed with blood to the nation of the cross
When ISIS burned Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh alive for all of the world to see it was a simulated event. Many wondered why burn rather than behead as they have become very skilled at doing. By burning him in a cage and dumping tons of concrete and steel on him, they created a punishment that corresponded directly with an aircraft bombing a building filled with people.

Where ISIS differs from their terrorist predecessors is both their media sophistication and their cheesy Western bravado. They are like the Mandarin from Iron Man 3. He is a terrorist who turns out to be an actor masking the reality of the person who is behind the violence.

ISIS operates like a Hollywood studio with production values high enough that it is difficult to discern their violence from green screens, makeup, and set production. Our experience of violence is flattened. From Ferguson, 9/11, O.J., and the “shock and awe” of Operation Iraqi Freedom; and from Jarhead, Black Hawk Down, and Welcome to Sarajevo the line between a simulated war and war itself is erased. We no longer see the difference.

ISIS, The Killing of David Haines
Your evil alliance with America, which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha Dam, will only accelerate your destruction, and playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war.

The Mandarin, Iron Man 3
My disciples just destroyed another cheap American knockoff: the Chinese Theatre. Mr. President, I know this must be getting frustrating, but this season of terror is drawing to a close. And don’t worry. The ‘Big One’ is coming: your graduation.

Our emotional responses are an attempt at feeling disgust and horror when the referent of what actually happens is simply not there. While we raise our fists and prayers at the terror of ISIS, we have been inoculated from the bloodbath of retaliation. We do not see the beheadings and disembowling of the enemy both before and after an ISIS film production.

ISIS delivers us films, previews, and advertising of their violence while our violence comes in identical packages from Hollywood. The brilliance of ISIS is not in their killing. Their brilliance is in understanding that the West can decode meaning only through advertising and fantasy. If we do not understand the real, we will understand its simulation.

We are a society that can no longer feel anything real. We have created simulated affect to mirror a simulated reality.

There is nothing of “shock and awe” to the privileged.

There is only apathy and cynicism.

There is only resentment.

There is only “contempt prior to examination.”

Bill O’Reilly’s Jesus and Bully Christians

Candida Moss and Bill O'ReillyWhy is so much written about Jesus every year? Most of what will ever be written about Jesus has been done. There are just not many directions left to go. So when popular books about Jesus by Bill O’Reilly and Reza Aslan come out just several weeks apart, how are they selling so many copies?

Jesus sells.

Even if Santa and the Easter Bunny sells toys and candy, Jesus will sell you books, movies, and television advertising dollars. The brand of Jesus is massive and since it has no copyright anyone can plaster it on a book or movie title. The controversy alone will sell a few copies. Bill O’Reilly is not a biblical theologian, scholar, or historian. Reza Aslan is none of those, nor are either scholars of religion. Yet both have equal credibility in the marketplace of Jesus. At least Aslan seems to have written his book himself and enters it in a much larger academic discussion. O’Reilly had the assistance of Martin Dugard who is an author and a running coach.

So what happens when a scholar of the bible, biblical history, theology, or other disciplines challenges the assertions of Bill O’Reilly? O’Reilly invites her on his show so he can talk more about himself. Just minutes after his performance, menacing  self-professed Christians come out of the woodwork like carpenter ants eating their way through liberal scholarship.

Dr. Candida Moss, who is on the faculty of Notre Dame University, wrote a column that rightly challenges O’Reilly’s lack of methodology and paucity of evidence to support his assertions. O’Reilly’s assertion is that Jesus died because he interrupted the revenue stream to Rome. Moss offers another side to this interpretation:

Even if Jesus’s actions had been all about taxes, he died protesting a skeletal taxation system that privileged the rich. Wealthy citizens were exempt from most taxes altogether, non-citizens paid a flat-rate poll tax regardless of income, the property tax was 1 percent, and the money from taxes was used to build roads and fund the military. It’s not like the Romans did anything obscene like tend to the poor.

O’Reilly is a skilled rhetorician and, like Sean Hannity of the same network, employs a cookie cutter method that makes even the smartest people look like fools to his audience.  He sets his terms early, misdirects the subject, then forces that misdirection with continued dismissal and ad hominem – “pinhead” “loon.”

In an interview O’Reilly recently staged with Moss, he follows this pattern. He sets his terms and forces them to work for him and against the other person. O’Reilly dismisses her before we even see her.

This woman, Dr. Candida Moss who teaches theology at Notre Dame says that Jesus was a socialist and was disappointed in me for not highlighting his politics. – Bill O’Reilly

“This woman” is about as gendered a dismissal as one can hear. Here is a way to make this clearer. “This black man…” Her gender is irrelevant to her academic credentials and arguments against O’Reilly’s. Moss is also a full professor who teaches New Testament and Early Christianity who is in the Department of Theology at Notre Dame. There is a significant distance between her rank and that of an instructor or “teacher,” which as O’Reilly’s tone suggests is not all that credible.

By asserting his focus on history he dismisses her by saying she teaches theology. Therefore, what she has to say about his book is irrelevant. It does not matter at this point if he is a lousy historian, which the very words he uses about his book demonstrate, he is simply better than her.

Bill is also a lousy theologian and he knows it which is why he limits the terms to his “history.” Theological decisions have been made about the texts from writing to canonization to translation. It is quite laughable he goes on to say that Jesus cares about the soul not politics. How is that not a theological claim? Theology, politics, and religious structures were all combined for centuries before and after Jesus. You just can’t have a history about Jesus without making theological judgments. Bill’s theological judgments are weak, he knows it, so he dismisses it.

Nor did she ever say that Jesus was a socialist but for that of a retweet of Reza Aslan! But with Bill’s set up, Moss may as well have not been on the show. That one sentence quoted above is all that outlets like Town Hall need to work the conservative angles in order to keep the liberal-shaming engine running.

But it gets worse. It is the reaction and dismissive tone towards Dr. Moss that left me feeling disgusted and a bit ashamed. The amount of comments that dismissed her scholarship, demeaned her femininity, likened her to a sort of infection at Notre Dame, spoke as if she knew nothing about the bible, and so forth are troubling. Not just the amount, but the quality of these posts by those who profess a Christian faith is disturbing. No Christian should tolerate such transparent derision towards another human being with a different perspective.

As if this is not bad enough, the capper is likening her to a yeast infection.

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The rhetorical strategy of O’Reilly and his ilk is to fabricate “liberal” as some menacing evil. By leaving out details and dismissing others, they craft a narrative that is made virtually impenetrable by loud voices and media sales. The anti-intellectual mindset of the audience they continue to create only buttresses the defenses and gives just enough reason to wage war against other ideas and perspectives on just about anything.

In the end, to many, Bill O’Reilly’s Jesus is the only reliable picture of Jesus since all others come from the liberal academic society – a society that only has a political agenda.

And our society continues to get dumber and meaner as a result.

See also:

Social Orgasms with Miley Cyrus, Pink, and Billy Idol

Elvis

Elvis’ Mississippi Delta

So the once “pure” child twerked, imitated masturbation, and played strap-on with a large finger all while in a hideous, white, latex undergarment.

We’ve been shocked before. It was controversial for Jim Morrison to use the word “higher” on the Ed Sullivan Show. Elvis was rarely seen below the hips because his gyrations were too sexual. Madonna humped the stage in a wedding dress. Michael Jackson humped more air than an unfixed dog on an unsuspecting leg. Why are we all freaking out about Hannah Montana getting busy with a giant bear and Dr. Jason Seaver’s real-life boy?

Miley is mimicking Pink who is mimicking Billy Idol. That annoying sneer is still annoying no matter what face it is on.

As absurd as Miley looked, she was also doing a pretty good parody of everything that is bad with music at the VMA’s. However, she was trying so hard to be a badass that she simply looked like a really frustrated teenager taking 20 selfies a second to splatter on her social media profiles. But c’mon. Dancing around sensually isn’t new. It is as old as dance itself. So what if it is through Viacom’s lens of highly produced, throwaway, script-free media?

But what about Lady GaGa?! There is nothing novel or even interesting about her off-beat but highly rehearsed and produced shows. Sure it’s entertainment, but it’s also derivative. I venture a guess that most VMA fans haven’t been too up on Kate Bush. The eyes have it.

Lady Gaga

Kate Bush

And that’s the point. Absolutely none of this is new stuff. The same act of giving our parents the finger happens over and over again and for some reason we all are aghast when it does.

Miley got exactly what she thought she would: attention. Just like Bieber, just like Spears, just like Lil’ Kim, just like Nicki Minaj.

In the end publicity stunts are like sociological orgasms. Every has the shock of one on the system. And then as soon as the moment arises, it disappears. The good old West will go on the hunt for its next sexual target.

Get out your little black books for next year. The next booty that is waiting for a call.

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Source: http://www.otrstreet.com/
Source: http://hitfix.com/
Source: http://thatgrapejuice.net/
Source: http://last.fm/
Source: http://buzzworthy.mtv.com
Source: http://eil.com/

Smoking is So Sexy

This is one interesting ad.

Smoking was once considered healthy. It was an activity of the socially hip crowd. It was even sexual. This is despite more than ample evidence that there is a strong relationship between smoking and impotence.

Nevertheless, in the early 20th Century smoking and even blowing smoke in one’s face was a sexual signal. This was played out in both film and advertising as you see in the ad below. The woman’s mouth is slightly open, she is leaning in to reveal some cleavage, she looks drawn to the smoke as if it is a rope tying her to the man who is pulling her in to his body. Put this way, the ad sounds like a cheesy Harelequin romance. But this is exactly what it wants to be. Right down to the little phallic tip of the cigar. That satisfaction in the text at the bottom is not about the smoking but the ability of a man to control a woman for his own sexual pleasure.

Among youth, I wonder if there is still a sort of latent sexualization of smoking. There is certainly an air of adulthood or even maturity in the act. Social conditions and being around smoking is a cause as are other social behaviors and beliefs. For example, if parents smoke, their kids are likely to start. This is also a factor among peer groups.

We tend to adopt the behaviors of our peers. Alcohol, eating habits, exercise, the movies we watch and others all are related to the communities of which we are a part. The flip side is that if we want to break a habit or behavior, spending more time with those who do not exhibit these behaviors is a critical support. Recovering addicts, for example are told not to spend time with their old crowd of addicts and suppliers. Doing so is a near guarantee for relapse.

Here is a fun assignment:

Watch kids smoking together today. When you see this what does it look like? I would really like to hear about your observations!

Smoke in Woman's Face