Singing the Bite Me Song


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May 02, 2005

Olbermann: "Crimes against journalism"

Ooh ooh, Keith Olberman hits that big ol' nail right on the head. (but dude, don't make fun of people's buggy eyes. that's not nice)

Link: Desperate to not become housewives, part two - Bloggermann - MSNBC.com.

Desperate to Not Become Housewives

OK, so the guy gets the right to say "I told you so," to gloat and call out the O'Reilly mad grab for ratings for what it really was. But there's something deeper going on here too. First, a few bits from Olbermann...

SECAUCUS — The epidemic of crimes against journalism in America is apparently a lot more serious than we thought.

Saturday, I quoted from memory Bill O'Reilly's typically overwrought introduction to the tabloid story-du-jour. I came pretty close, I must say, but even I missed some of his later "thoughts."

"The epidemic of crimes against women and children in America continues with the disappearance of 32-year old Jennifer Wilbanks from an Atlanta suburb," intoned the Big Giant Head. Moments later, still omniscient, he added "It's got to be a crime. A woman like that with a long history of responsibility. She had a steady job...She just wouldn't bolt and not tell anybody."

Fortunately, Mr. O'Reilly wasn't the only one stepping neck deep in it.

[...]

Let's just dwell on this a bit, the "epidemic of crimes against women and children in Amurrika..." Don't it just tear at your heartstrings, y'all?

No, I'd say it stinks to high heaven, and it is damn well time to call it exactly what it is: exploitation for ratings, first of all, and probably foremost. Slow furking news day. Sharks aren't attacking like we'd want them to this year... but the gators are hungry. And then there's all these poor folks who "go missing."

(What's with this "went missing" verb construction anyway? It's spreading like a virus on the airwaves. Next thing you know, Southern English will displace that supposedly "neutral" Midwest accent, and we'll be "mashing" buttons and "pooting" and putting "ole" in our cars and god knows what all else.)

But secondly, the thing that REALLY gets my goat, is that I suspect this is actually part of a larger agenda, an agenda directly linked to Fox News and the anti-abortion movement, an overt effort to reinforce repressive gender roles and increase the male-female power differential just as the GOP is actively trying to increase the distance from the wealthy classes and the serf classes to create a new feudalism.

Neo-feudalism, neo-sexism. Reborn, and far worse than it was in earlier incarnations, because it is about power-over, about being drunk with power, about making others feel and cringe before your power. Because to transgress before this new power class of white men means death, by a thousand cuts, depleted uranium bombs, no health care or social security, and lies about condoms that can give you AIDS. It's about the epidemic of mean bullies in schoolyards and bully bosses in the workplace.

Consider, Fox, like most of talk radio, in the pocket of the whack job power-mad right wing. It engages in fairly advanced rhetorical framing techniques. It saddens me to hear naive journalists pooh-pooh the high levels of discourse manipulation that appear to be at work. The heightened attention to missing white women and little girls seems to be part and parcel of it.

If they have already passed away, 1970s feminists would be turning over in their graves at what passes for common assumptions and discourse these days. Forget Faludi's "Backlash," this goes FAR beyond punishing women who transgress into the domain of the alpha male. This is an enforcement move through the framing use of language. This is not aimed at women who transgress. This is aimed at keeping good obedient women in their place, before they even THINK about transgressing. Because the bully needs weakness to feel power and he will punish the good and obedient non-transgressors just for being alive and breathing, for being there cowering, to build himself up.

What's up with TV shows? This was never a "missing woman." The whole time it was covered on television, she was a "Missing Bride" or a "Missing Bride-to-Be." Nothing like defining a woman entirely in terms of her association to a superior man, eh? Does she have any other identity? Good god, no wonder why she ran. This was no "Diary of a Mad Housewife," because this woman was smart enough to run before she got ensnared, got her Martha Stewart bracelets... er, wedding ring.

Oh baby, Martha, you have given us all a tremendously symbolic gift with your occupational choices and those darling accessories around your ankles. You transgressed. Enron and MCI execs make you look like small potatoes, but you were a woman and your crime was upstaging alpha men. That is why you are being punished far out of proportion to your crime, and why your punishment is so symbolic, house arrest and those panoptic things watching you everywhere you go. Go read your Charlotte Perkins Gilman and put up some yellow wallpaper dear, because you embody the fate of Everywoman in George Bush's Americka. Like pregnant and manipulated Lynndie England, you aren't the fall guy, you are the fall woman, the woman who caused The Fall, the scapegoat who ate the apple, who must bear the punishment and take the blame for the sins of the Men who didn't get caught.

No shit? No shit. Look at Jennifer Wilbanks. 14 BRIDESMAIDS. How could a wedding be so important? How? It would impoverish most of us, who choke on this world's conspicuous consumption and waste. How could a woman be worth that, unless it functioned as a conspicuous price tag on a virtual dowry, a father's public measure of what his daughter-property was worth to other men? Did she expect to die after it? How does the life of an ordinary woman upstage and become worth that kind of excess? I am struck by the similarity to Kiersten Dunst's big wedding in the film Mona Lisa Smile Life after, a prison sentence, the dude she's marrying looks like a clone of Elizabeth Smart's father, who was a cross between Tammy Faye's husband (hey, define HIM by his more interesting wife, eh?) and Pat Boone. Too earnest, too emotional on cue in front of a camera, plainly inflating himself into a plastic gender role they taught him in church couple's counseling, how to be properly plastic and a properly proper plastic manly man prison warden to make her be a good wifely wife.

Desperate Housewives indeed! Thirty-fucking-year amnesia ladies? To make you forget that prisons SUCK?! To once again become the Madwoman in the Attic? To pretend and learn to love your prison? Learn to stay in your tidy cubbyhole and never, ever, ever challenge a man? Doesn't matter what you call it. The Bachelor. The Bachelorette. They are all performances for a Giant Eye, the great and wonderful HIM. On The Bachelor, of course the world exists for His complete and total benefit, a smorgasbord many men believe deep in their hearts that they deserve. On The Bachelorette, it is not a male smorgasbord for her. The men who ought to perform for her instead strut and posture for each other, attentive to her just for the other guys to see, but really it's just an alpha dick-waving contest that has NOTHING to do with her. Like an archetypal hero's journey in literature, she's just the booty, the prize at the end of the contest, and they are not her smorgasbord at all. That show doesn't allow her to have that power. Somehow it constructs everything as if it is STILL all about HIM.

Important Adam Created First. Center of the Universe. Master of his Domain. How dare any woman think differently?

And all these makeover shows? Turning all the women into drag queen lookalikes? I read now that steroid use is increasing among young women. Why? Not for sports performance, but to decrease body fat. Oh, and that side benefit. Your hands, jaw, other features will get larger, all to help in your quest to ascend to the standards of beauty of a garish drag queen. See, men even have to define the standards of what it means to be a woman. All women must be tall, large-featured divas, belting out ballads endlessly on American Idol, which more than anything resembles a drag show at the local gay bar. Sure it's fun. Drag shows are an absolute hoot. Ever notice how so many of the most gender-oppressive constructions appear on Fox shows?

But what about this obsession with missing white women and girls? Are there really pervs lurking everywhere, abducting right and left? If they were, wouldn't the milk cartons tell us? Wouldn't there be more missing signs up in the Post Office, instead of single cases highlighted and repeated endlessly on TV? The crime rate is down and tends to stay down when the economy is good... but fearmongering hides the fact that Dubya is mismanaging the economy still, just as badly as he mismanaged those hapless companies he drove into the ground.

Or does some arch rhetoric manipulator want us to believe that the world is dangerous, not just with terrorists plotting in every small town in sleeper cells, but also with major-ass creepy pervs who do things to dead bodies, dismember and distribute body parts and put them in fast food, especially fingers? If pushing the Terrorist button cowed an entire nation into electing George Bush, wouldn't pushing the Perv/Abductor of Women and Children button effectively frighten entire family systems into putting a lid on uppity women?

Who benefits from the larger populace becoming persuaded that the world is not a safe place for women to be out and about alone, unaccompanied by a man (who is automatically more safe because a dick makes him a manly man). OK, so the pervs happen to be men too, but we'll ignore that for now.

See, in Taliban Amerika, the world is not safe for women to go out of the house, and if they do, they need an escort, children too. Preferably they stay home with Martha Stewart bracelets on.

Actually, missing children will lead to chipping children like dogs, and since all these television programs tell us wives are the property of a man, I'm sure chipping a wife is next on the list, right up there with etching ID numbers on your electronics and other property. Fox TV will lead the charge in family tracking, as warm piano music plays over video of a happy family scene and a comforting deep male voice says, "For your own peace of mind, because your family is so important to you." So important for you to control and exert power over.

Anti-abortionists say they are just fierce about life, yet when it comes to the already-born, they are remarkably cavalier about it, especially if you happen to be poor, or of the "servant class" ethnicity, or a woman (unless a vegetable, which is a close cousin to a fetus).

Yet at the same time, they also have trouble with other forms of contraception that in no way, shape, or form resemble an abortion. Teaching lies about condoms is right up there with saying "Masturbation is Murder."

Where's the sin in condom use when the alternative is not only to risk death by AIDS, but also to increase the SPREAD of AIDS as a public health risk, primarily to... you guessed it, women, who catch it from men far easier than men catch it from women? If women were as important as men, this would not be an issue, but if you had any doubt about that, you wouldn't have read this far.

So to teach lies about condoms, what real purpose could that serve? Darwinism? (heh, from anti-abortionists, how funny) Are they trying to commit genocide through sins of omission, say, to entire continents where people are of a color that is not white?

Entire continents may perish, but one buggy-eyed white woman cannot go missing without unleashing the hounds of hell. Consider the sparrow. Somehow a white woman is a sparrow for the God of Fox News.

Could we attribute other twisted psychological motives to anti-abortionists? (the looks on so many of their faces at those clinic protests often appear to reflect some kind of odd personal struggle within, strangely arched eyebrows, weird scowls, fanatical gleams in the eye, little flecks of spit at the corners of the mouth...) Someone who is not her husband is in possession and contact with the private parts and the progeny of a white woman... oh the horror!

You see, if a woman properly practiced abstinence and stayed home where it is safe, none of these things would ever happen to her. She wouldn't need condoms, she shouldn't think about sex. Her husband might give her AIDS, but she'd never know about it because she wouldn't get tested, and if she did find out, she would hide it, dying, in shame because it was her fault he strayed. It might take several women to keep powerful men happy, because they have needs and all, so we could envision a series of apartments, for the first wife, the second wife, the pool of concubines. All windows that see out must be screened too, inpenetrable, not for seeing out, but to keep those other predatory men from seeing in, from seeing and coveting the size and the beauty of the herd... er harem. Just like in the Maharajah's Palace in Jaipur...

She should be like a perpetual virgin, but a high achiever, so she will always be impossibly thin, watching her every bite and vomiting, cutting her buggy eyes at food uneaten but remaining fanatically devoted to her owner... er bachelor... er fine upstanding Christian gelding of earnest face from trying so hard to be Plastic Man, to be the Ken Doll to her Barbie. The minister's watching, honey, don't say things like that in couple's counseling. It wouldn't be proper.

I gotta close out this endless riff with a hilarious bit from Olbermann again, who understands exactly how blessed are the cheesemakers.

Perhaps equally as important: her etiquette defecit. What about the fiancee? What about the 600 guests?

What about the gifts?

$10,000 worth of them had already been purchased by relatives and friends of Ms. Wilbanks and her intended, John Mason. Through the miracle of the on-line registry, you and I can get a Peeping-Tom-like look at somebody's taste in wedding gifts.

Ms. Wilbanks' seems to have been pretty routine, except for one thing: a kind of cheese fixation.

Among the items purchased at her registry: a cheese wire slicer ($9.99), a two-piece cheese server set (that's one knife and one slicer for $29), a cheese server (that's a tray, not a person — $35), a full cheese set (marble serving board, cheese knife, cracker tray — $49), a set of four cheese spreaders ($29), and, best of all, the mighty and essential "Cheese Dome" ($19).

That's what made her run right there — the Power of Cheese!

May 2, 2005 at 10:53 PM in Best Essays, Current Affairs, Media & Journalism, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink

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