Tuesday, January 23, 2007

We've Sunk to a New Low

Here I was the other morning doing my exercises with the TV on to keep me company. Usually it’s just there for background noise and I only pay attention to the weather and a story that might really be of relevance, but that morning I had to stop halfway through a sit-up in disbelief. They were featuring a story about busty mannequins. I mean really Dolly-Parton-type busty mannequins that are all the rage in Miami, New York, LA, and apparently coming to a mall near us all soon.

My first thought was how stupid to consider this a newsworthy story. Who cares about busty mannequins? Then the reporter did a “man on the street” segment. He interviewed a woman who was commenting about how unrealistic the mannequins are and questioning what kind of message that sends to women. While she spoke, a man with her ogled the mannequin in the window, so I thought, okay. Some people do care, but for all the wrong reasons.

Throughout the rest of the story the camera showed these mannequins in various store windows and they were all posed like they were ready for Playboy shots, only with clothes on. Although some barely had clothes on.

Retailers were interviewed and commented about how sales have risen since they started featuring these buxom beauties in store windows.

Throughout the whole segment, there was only one brief mention of this perhaps not being in the best interest of social mores. The rest of the story had an air of “isn’t this just too cute,” and I wanted to puke.

Where was the outrage? Was I a solitary protester as I contemplated throwing the hand-weight at the television?

I watched the papers for the next couple of days, hoping for a scathing commentary by one of the nation’s columnist. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

So I hereby go on record with a scathing commentary.

The woman who designed this new approach to retail display ought to be drawn and quartered.

The people who think it is all just so funny should also suffer some terrible punishment.

Folks who don’t think this type of sexually explicit material is not harmful to young people need to get their heads out of whatever cloud they are in.

And women everywhere should be outraged that our bodies have been used to sell merchandise for years.

Does any one else hate Victoria’s Secret?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Free Speech

A couple of weeks ago, Steve Blow, a columnist for the Dallas Morning News, wrote about how attitudes have changed toward war protestors since right after 9/11. In that first year after the tragedy anyone who questioned the president and the war in Iraq was considered unpatriotic, and as Steve put it, “Back then, dissent was scarce.”

He went on to write, “I think most experts were as reluctant as journalists to appear unpatriotic by challenging the president’s plans too sharply.”

When I read that, I had to stop and read it again. Then again. Since when is it unpatriotic to exercise our right to freedom of speech? That is one of the great strengths of our country. That people can say what they think without censorship. Granted, sometimes that freedom is abused. Okay, maybe it’s abused a lot. But it is still a basic right that some people don’t enjoy in their countries.

Now that the war effort is floundering and President Bush’s approval rating is sinking lower and lower, suddenly it is okay to criticize him and the war in Iraq. But why wasn’t it okay last year or the year before?

I can remember the few brave souls back then who wrote letters to the editor in the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times questioning the invasion of Iraq. They stirred a barrage of letters from reactionaries who questioned their loyalty to America and their support of the troops. Somehow questioning the war was equated with not caring about the men and women in uniform.

But recent criticism of the war has not stirred the same response, and I can’t quite figure out why not. Unless it is because of the “tide of popular opinion.”

Some people seem more willing to ride that tide than others. And that’s too bad. Because we should really think for ourselves and not become sheep following the most vocal shepherd.