Evangelicals and fundamentalists often excuse abuse by arguing that all people sin, and that in God’s eyes no sin is worse than any others. As a child, I was taught James 2:10 as a proof for this concept. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” This verse was used to convict me that I was a terrible sinner even though I’d never done anything “really” bad.
After it came to light that Josh Duggar had an Ashley Madison account and cheated on his wife, blogger Julia Walton wrote a post titled “I Am Josh Duggar” that played on exactly this concept. It began as follows:
I went to church with the Duggars the Sunday before this latest scandal broke loose. At church, the pastor invited the whole Duggar family to come up, sing a song, and share their testimony.
I sat there and listened to Jim Bob as he praised his son, Josh. He went on about how he was and is a changed man. He went on about how Josh is a great godly man, who no longer struggles with this sin. And Josh stood there, nodding his head in agreement as he held one of his children.
When I first heard that Josh had an Ashley Maddison account, I didn’t believe it. But then he admitted it, causing me to be filled with disgust.
I defended Josh on May 22. I wrote a blog praising him. I was filled with disgust, because what kind of person stands there and listens to their father praise them, when they know what’s truly going on. What kind of person lets their family, friends, and fans defend them, when they know the truth.
As a quick side note, many of the evangelical Christians who defended Josh Duggar back in May, when it came to light that he had sexually molested his younger sisters as a teen, have condemned Josh this month, in the wake of revelations of his adultery, and some have asked whether this suggests evangelicals have more of a problem with adultery than they do with sexual abuse. While there absolutely is merit to this question, evangelicals are unlikely to see any contradiction because of exactly what Julia highlights: Josh molested his sisters a dozen years ago and had long repented of his actions while this time Josh was presenting as a faithful Christian and loving husband while in the here and now actively cheating on his wife.
But hang on to your seat, because things are about to take a turn:
But then it hit me. I am that person. I am Josh Duggar.
Now sure, I don’t struggle with the same types of sins as Josh, but I still struggle with sinning, and I always will. Josh’s sins are not worse than mine. They are equal in the eyes of God.
See that, right there? There it is, the common evangelical idea that all sins are equal in the eyes of God. As an evangelical child and teen, I was taught that I was just as guilty as someone who had committed murder because God does not differentiate or weight some sins as worse than others. In God’s eyes, sin is sin.
The rest of Julia’s piece is a bit ramble and a bit confusing, but the gist of it seems to be that everyone struggles with “super bad sins,” and that most, like Josh, put on a front because they don’t want to admit the sin they struggle with. She calls for Christians to be more “vulnerable” and more “open” about the “super bad sins” they struggle with.
I think we often forget that we are ALL sinners. We forget that we ALL fall short of the glory of God. We ALL need a savior, that’s why Jesus came.
We’re not perfect, so I think it’s time that we stop acting like we are. . . .
What I’m asking takes humility. It requires us coming to the end of ourselves. It requires the desire for change.
While I’m all for Christians being less judgmental, why is it that this only seems to come out when a prominent Christian commits a serious crime or an act of gross hypocrisy? Because that’s what it is, isn’t it? It’s an attempt to get the erring Christian off the hook by arguing that he didn’t actually do anything worse than what everyone else does all the time. This humility Julia asks for is a mask. What she’s actually asking is for ordinary Christians to overlook the gross wrongdoing of prominent Christian leaders by elevating their own more mundane sins to the same level of that gross wrongdoing.
Julia is telling ordinary Christians that they are no different from a man who went looking for an affair while promoting “family values” as an excuse for depriving marginalized groups of their rights. She’s telling ordinary Christians that they are no different from a man whose entire life was a lie. She’s telling ordinary Christians that they are no different from a married man in a monogamous relationship with four young children who visited strip clubs and paid porn stars for sex. Julia is telling Anna Duggar that her wrongdoings are just as bad as her husband’s. And that? That is disgusting.
It is absolutely true that no one is perfect. It is absolutely not true that sometimes being short with your partner is the same as cheating on them, and so on and so forth, and you know what? Trying to get Christian leaders—who should be held to a higher standard to begin with—off the hook for gross offenses by elevating those more mundane offenses of their followers (and by extension their victims) is sick.
It is worth noting that several Christian writers have blogged against Julia’s post. Not all Christians subscribe to the idea that all sins are equal, whether here on earth or in God’s eyes. But those who do? They contribute to an environment that makes excuses for abuse and betrayal rather than standing supportively by the victims. There is nothing okay with any of this.
- The Japan News posted a story about how a Trans-Pacific Partnership crackdown could affect fanfiction publishing. "[T]he 12 nations engaged in the TPP negotiations are building a consensus that would allow for prosecution of copyright infringement without the need for a formal complaint, but instead based on reports from third parties or an independent judgement by an investigative authority." This contrasts with Japan's current system, "copyright infringement can only be investigated after a formal complaint from the creator of the original work or its rights holder."
- Changes to their system would also allow for many false claims to result in takedowns. Kotaku reported on the widespread action against videos that had no connection to copyrighted content. "Last week, the anti-piracy firm Entura International, which frequently works with Pixels distributor Columbia Pictures, filed a big old DMCA complaint—as first reported by TorrentFreak—that goes after a bunch of videos not for pirating or violating copyright in any way, but for using the word “Pixels,” which it turns out was invented in 2015 by Adam Sandler."
- The Daily Dot reported on an alarming development connected to Windows 10's End User License Agreement. "Microsoft won't hesitate to make sure the programs and games you have installed on your computer are legitimate, and if not, it has the right to disable them." The agreement includes preventing "unauthorized hardware peripheral devices" but who determines legitimate use could be a problem.
What areas do you think fans should remain vigilant about? Write about them in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.
We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn't guarantee that it will be included in a Fannews post, and inclusion of a link doesn't mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.
The notion that journalists must be beacons of opinion-free, passion-devoid, staid, impotent neutrality is an extremely new one, the byproduct of the increasing corporatization of American journalism. That’s not hard to understand: One of the supreme values of large corporations is fear of offending anyone, particularly those in power, since that’s bad for business. The way that conflict-avoiding value is infused into the media outlets that these corporations own is to inculcate their journalists that their primary duty is to avoid offending anyone, especially those who wield power, which above all means never taking a clear position about anything, instead just serving as a mindless, uncritical vessel for “both sides,” what NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen has dubbed “the view from nowhere.” Whatever else that is, it is most certainly not a universal or long-standing principle of how journalism should be conducted.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Family Planning: A Special and Urgent Concern”
There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. She, like we, saw the horrifying conditions of ghetto life. Like we, she knew that all of society is poisoned by cancerous slums. Like we, she was a direct actionist — a nonviolent resister. She was willing to accept scorn and abuse until the truth she saw was revealed to the millions. At the turn of the century she went into the slums and set up a birth control clinic, and for this deed she went to jail because she was violating an unjust law. Yet the years have justified her actions. She launched a movement which is obeying a higher law to preserve human life under humane conditions. Margaret Sanger had to commit what was then called a crime in order to enrich humanity, and today we honor her courage and vision; for without them there would have been no beginning. Our sure beginning in the struggle for equality by nonviolent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her. Negroes have no mere academic nor ordinary interest in family planning. They have a special and urgent concern.
The word populist causes too much confusion when used to describe movements like McCarthyism, the Tea Party, or Trumpism. These are not mass movements of the people hoping to make a more democratic society. Rather they are political factions of authoritarian bigotry, backed by the rich, and designed to protect aggrieved privilege. Trump is best described not as a populist but as an authoritarian bigot, a quality best seen in his callous response to the news that two men evoked his name when they beat up a homeless Mexican man. “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate,” he said. “They love this country and they want this country to be great again.”
Trump is the first Republican presidential candidate in the post-Reagan era to pin his campaign on a macho, chest-beating, self-aggrandizing view of what America is without invoking either his own salvation testimony or a paean to America as a Christian nation. For Trump, America is Trumpnation, not a Christian nation. What’s appealing to Christian nation diehards is often not the notion of America as a pious nation, but rather the affirmation that America is strong, brave, or just generally the best. For Trump, America risks not being the best anymore not because of the decline of religion (typically the heart of Christian nation ideology), but because of the rise of immigration.
Eric Foner, “Struggle and Progress”
This is a pseudo-politics, a psycho-politics, that says people ought to be loving each other. That’s not what politics is, people loving each other. It’s people acting together, even if they don’t love each other, for a common purpose. If you’re going out to a labor picket line, are they all loving each other, the people on that picket line? Probably not. But they have a common self-interest that they’re pursuing.
Then they say, “It didn’t succeed. They abolished slavery, but racism is permanent, and another form of slavery came in.” Of course, terrible injustice came in. But it wasn’t slavery. I think that’s a very cynical view of social change — that if you don’t get utopia nothing has happened.
Charles Pierce, "Hillary Clinton Has Run Out of F*cks to Give", Esquire 8/28/2015:
My goodness, the special snowflakes of the elite political media are all a'quiver because Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is running for president of the United States, has decided to talk like somebody who wants to be president of the United States, which is to say, she's started to talk like someone whose big bag of fcks to give is running very, very low.
Some politico-linguistic background:
It’s time for another Lesbian Duplex thread! If you have a link or article or interesting thought that’s not relevant to an ongoing thread, you can share it here. If a conversation on another post has turned entirely off topic, you can bring it here also. Every so often, as the number of comments on a given Lesbian Duplex post becomes unmanageable, I put up a fresh post. I’ve added a “chatter” tab under my blog banner that will direct readers to these discussion threads, so no one will have to worry about digging for one. In any case, my comment policy lays out the house rules.
In case you’re unfamiliar with the backstory of this feature, the lesbian duplex has become a running joke on this blog since two of my posts on Debi’s book, Created To Be His Help Meet. For the backstory, you can take a look at these posts—Simper, Smile, and Giggle and Single Moms Turned Lesbian. The name suits these threads, because if Debi were right, we would all be lesbians living in duplexes!
Then Judah said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Remain a widow in your father’s house until my son Shelah grows up” — for he feared that he too would die, like his brothers. So Tamar went to live in her father’s house.
In course of time the wife of Judah, Shua’s daughter, died; when Judah’s time of mourning was over, he went up to Timnah to his sheep-shearers, he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite.
When Tamar was told, “Your father-in-law is going up to Timnah to shear his sheep,” she put off her widow’s garments, put on a veil, wrapped herself up, and sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. She saw that Shelah was grown up, yet she had not been given to him in marriage.
When Judah saw her, he thought her to be a prostitute, for she had covered her face. He went over to her at the roadside, and said, “Come, let me come in to you,” for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law.
She said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?”
He answered, “I will send you a kid from the flock.”
And she said, “Only if you give me a pledge, until you send it.”
He said, “What pledge shall I give you?”
She replied, “Your signet and your cord, and the staff that is in your hand.” So he gave them to her, and went in to her, and she conceived by him. Then she got up and went away, and taking off her veil she put on the garments of her widowhood.
When Judah sent the kid by his friend the Adullamite, to recover the pledge from the woman, he could not find her. He asked the townspeople, “Where is the temple prostitute who was at Enaim by the wayside?”
But they said, “No prostitute has been here.” So he returned to Judah, and said, “I have not found her; moreover, the townspeople said, ‘No prostitute has been here.’”
Judah replied, “Let her keep the things as her own, otherwise we will be laughed at; you see, I sent this kid, and you could not find her.”
About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar has played the whore; moreover she is pregnant as a result of whoredom.”
And Judah said, “Bring her out, and let her be burned.”
As she was being brought out, she sent word to her father-in-law, “It was the owner of these who made me pregnant.” And she said, “Take note, please, whose these are, the signet and the cord and the staff.”
Then Judah acknowledged them and said, “She is more in the right than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not lie with her again.
...so. That happened.
Crichton - Chaotic Good Bard
Crichton breathes chaos - so the alignment was pretty obvious. As for the character class: he's very into persuasion, negotiation, and trickery. He'll fight if he has to, but he'd rather look for a clever way around a problem.
( and the rest )
The piped-in music that plays all night at the Big Box was stuck on the country channel most of this week. This channel is not without its charms — although I prefer the older blend of “country & western” to the new format of country & southern.
Among the highlights of this six-hour looped playlist are a couple of Martina McBride songs that I particularly like — “Broken Wing” and “Independence Day.” Both follow Springsteen’s formula for the musical and emotional arc of a song: blues in the verses, gospel in the chorus. And both let those take-me-to-church choruses soar, showcasing McBride’s ability to belt with the best of ‘em.
The two songs cover similar themes around a similar topic — women trapped in marriages with abusive, controlling men. And they’re similar enough that we can imagine McBride and her label latching onto “A Broken Wing” as an attempt to repeat the success she’d had earlier with “Independence Day.”
But there’s also a big difference in the stories told in these songs. That difference, I think, is theologically interesting. So here’s a brief discussion of that difference, followed by some study questions for further reflection.
If you’ve never heard it, here’s “A Broken Wing“:
That bit there at the end? When the drums kick back in during that last big note? Yeah, that. I like that bit.
This is a story, and a song, about escape. That’s one response to injustice or oppression or however else we may want to describe the narrator’s situation here. She was in a bad place and she got out. That’s good.
Escape from suffering and injustice is a Good Thing. But it is not the only possible response.
The story of “Independence Day” doesn’t end with its protagonist flying away to escape. In this song, she doesn’t just get away from an oppressive context — she ends it. She burns it to the ground.
Back on Independence Day, Sarah Moon accurately described this song as “a hymn to feminist liberation theology.” That’s no exaggeration. Gretchen Peters’ lyrics include echoes of the Magnificat and an affirmation of resurrection. Toss in the snippet of “Amazing Grace” — not the first verse, either, mind you — at the beginning and it’s clear there’s some theology going on in this thing.
And that theology might not be what you expect if you’re mainly accustomed to the “I’ll Fly Away” theology of otherworldly escape. “Roll the stone away,” McBride sings, and the next line is “let the guilty pay.” Feel free to try to make that fit with any conventional doctrine of the atonement, but that’s not what’s going on here. In this song, Easter isn’t about the forgiveness of sins, but about a rebirth of justice.
Peters’ liberationist hymn, in other words, is — like the Magnificat itself — apocalyptic. It says what apocalyptic theology always says: This situation is unjust. Therefore, it has to go. Tear it all down and start over. It calls for “a day of reckoning.” It starts a fire.
Questions for further discussion:
1. If you believe that the mother’s actions in “Independence Day” were wrong because violence is never acceptable, then doesn’t it behoove you to condemn the father’s violence first, and second, and third-through-500th, before ever mentioning her use of violence in response? And isn’t the same thing true in every other case of a liberationist theology that might refuse to categorically rule out violent self defense?
2. I am personally opposed to the use of violence in most contexts, yet whenever anyone answers “No” to either of the questions above, I want to punch them in the neck. Hard. Is this hypocrisy on my part?
3. What is the narrative, ethical and/or theological importance of the presence of the young child in “Independence Day”? Would escaping through an open window — and leaving her daughter behind — have been an option for the woman in that song?
4. Regardless of how you feel about Country music as a whole, you have to admit that pedal steel guitars are pretty cool. That wasn’t a question.
5. Some Christian leaders insist that Christians have a duty, above all else, to forgive those who harm us, and that therefore it was the moral duty of the protagonists in both of these stories to forgive their husbands and to stay with them. Is it ethically acceptable to wish that such Christian leaders might meet with the same fate as the husband in “Independence Day”?
6. If not, then when is the idea so satisfying and delightful?
7. Do you ever wish you could make willfully obtuse and self-important pundits watch that video for “Independence Day” so that they could see that bit with the little girl recoiling from the clowns’ slapstick due to its reminding her of her father’s violent abuse and then, maybe, they might understand what trigger warnings are really about and stop writing willfully obtuse and self-important columns bemoaning them as a sign of some supposedly over-sensitive political correctness? Because I wish that.
8. Sometimes the Bible says “You should dread the Day of Judgment.” Sometimes the Bible says “You should look forward to the Day of Judgment.” Do you think this is a contradiction? Or do you think the difference is based on two different “yous” being addressed?
9. Which “you” do you think you are? I suspect I’m the wrong one.
The poet Claudia Rankine has written a beautiful essay about the tennis champion Serena Williams for the New York Times Magazine, and Rankine’s words on Williams’ excellence, her superlative career, and the racism that she has faced on and off the court are so powerful that I don’t want to dull them by paraphrasing. Here is one section:
Imagine you have won 21 Grand Slam singles titles, with only four losses in your 25 appearances in the finals. Imagine that you’ve achieved two “Serena Slams” (four consecutive Slams in a row), the first more than 10 years ago and the second this year. A win at this year’s U.S. Open would be your fifth and your first calendar-year Grand Slam—a feat last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988, when you were just six years old. This win would also break your tie for the most U.S. Open titles in the Open era, surpassing the legendary Chris Evert, who herself has called you “a phenomenon that once every hundred years comes around.”
Imagine that you’re the player John McEnroe recently described as “the greatest player, I think, that ever lived.” Imagine that, despite all this, there were so many bad calls against you, you were given as one reason video replay needed to be used on the courts. Imagine that you have to contend with critiques of your body that perpetuate racist notions that black women are hypermasculine and unattractive. Imagine being asked to comment at a news conference before a tournament because the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, Shamil Tarpischev, has described you and your sister as “brothers” who are “scary” to look at. Imagine.
Rankine sits down with Williams to talk about tennis, and her plans for the future, and if I wasn’t already a Serena Superfan, I sure as heck would be after reading this piece.
10 years ago this week, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southeastern Louisiana. It was a category three storm, and ultimately, the costliest natural disaster in United States history. At least 1,245 people died as a result of the storm, making Katrina the deadliest hurricane since 1928.
On Thursday, President Obama gave a speech in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, one of the areas of the hardest hit by the storm surge when the levees broke. As President Obama points out, Katrina was a natural disaster that “became a man-made one–a failure of government to look out for its own citizens.” The citizens that it failed the most were the ones that it was already failing. He goes on to say that even before the storm, “New Orleans had long been plagued by structural inequality that left too many people, especially poor people, especially people of color, without good jobs or affordable health care or decent housing.” In the speech, which you can listen to above, the President also praises the way people came together and the work of the government in the ongoing recovery.
However as this article in the New York Times outlines, there is a stark racial divide in how residents view the recovery. While four out of five whites say they believe the city has recovered, three out of five black people say that it has not. The New York Times has an interactive article that pairs images from 2005 with videos from the present day and showcases many of the neighborhoods that were affected and how they have changed since the storm as well as how systems such as public housing and education have been overhauled and the way that has affected residents of New Orleans. It’s one of the most powerful overviews I’ve read on the aftermath of the storm.
For Harry Potter fans who also love gorgeous makeup: GREAT NEWS!!!! LA Splash has released a Harry Potter-inspired line of liquid lipsticks. They are bright, magical, lovely shades, and while there has been some argument about the shades, all I know is that I must have Nagini! Seriously, what a great shade of green! And Belletrix…and Severus…yeah, I want them all!
I’ve been anxiously waiting for new episodes of Broad City since the last season ended, so seeing this rad interview with Broad City’s costume designer Staci Greenbaum made my heart leap. Abbi and Ilana’s fashion choices always seem to fit their personalities so perfectly, so insight into how Greenbaum styles them is super inspiring!
If you’ve ever seen Bring It On—the comedy about a newly-crowned cheerleading captain named who has to quickly invent a new routine with her team after she discovers their first was stolen—you might agree that it’s one of the funniest teen movies ever made. The film turned 15 this past week and celebrations were abundant, including this very special one from MTV.
Each cast member of Bring It On was asked what they thought their character would be up to over a decade later. Kirsten Dunst, who played squad leader Torrance, thinks her character would probably be working for the U.N., while Gabrielle Union believes Isis would be a total Twitter warrior. The rebellious new girl Missy would be running beauty pageants in women’s prisons, according to Eliza Dushku. This piece is a very funny read made me wish the cast would do a reunion!
I love when two of my favorite people collaborate. In this case, Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence are writing a movie together. According to the New York Times, they will both star in their movie…as sisters! I cant wait to see this meshing of their glorious talents.
The actress and LGBTQ activist Ellen Page paid a Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz a visit at a BBQ in Iowa. Outspoken against gay marriage, it would seem that Cruz has met his match in this minutes-long debate with Page.
I’m a huge fan of this piece in which Gabrielle Bellot discusses beauty as a survival mechanism for trans women of color, and illuminates the risks and concerns that beauty entails. Bellot explores the policing of feminine identity in a really profound way. More of this! More of this always!
GQ magazine’s October cover story is a profile of the late night king-to-be, Stephen Colbert. It catches up with him as he transitions between his Comedy Central show, Colbert Report, to his quickly approaching role as the new Late Show host. The piece provides a stunning breadth of soulful reflections on and insights into Colbert’s mind—touching on trauma, grace, craft, and mysticism:
“Tolkien says…‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’” Colbert knocked his knuckles on the table. “‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’” he said again. His eyes were filled with tears. “So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”
Colbert’s sincerity, multiplicity, and his triumph over devastating childhood pain, as revealed in this profile, has stuck with me all week.
@jesshopp Having people insinuate that I was sleeping with someone in order to get an internship at a record label (I wasn't).
— Jocelyn Brown (@clericalerror) August 24, 2015
Jessica Hopper, the editor in chief of The Pitchfork Review asked women and non-binary people in the music industry to describe moments in which they felt they “didn’t count.” Replies from music writers, performers, public relations reps, tour managers, photographers, and fans, came cascading in, as people recounted their experiences dealing with micro- and macro-aggressions while simply trying to exist in the music world. The experiences range from constant devaluation of skills to sexual assault by editors, musicians, and executives. The music world can and must do better to ensure that marginalized people aren’t driven out from within it. As Hopper notes, “Imagine how many women, queer kids, POC might stick around scenes, industry, journalism if they encountered support not hostility.”
This may be the funniest thing I’ve read in days, nay, WEEKS. Mother Jones has compiled a list of one-star Yelp reviews of national parks. You know, places of majestic natural beauty?! The unintentionally hilarious reviews pan some of the world’s most stunning places by complaining about the lack of parking spaces, crowds, and, perhaps most absurdly, being underwhelmed by the scenery.
The folk musician Weyes Blood released her single “Cardamom,” from her forthcoming EP Cardamom Times. Weyes Blood’s music has such a distinct yearning quality. This is a gorgeous song to usher in the autumn breeze.
One of the best things I’ve read on this internet this YEAR, is Jia Tolentino’s piece on Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album Emotion. I never thought I’d see pop music, let alone Carly Rae Jepsen written about in the same context as “totiptency” (a word I hadn’t heard until this article). But it makes absolute sense, profound sense, even. I have always been drawn to Jepsen’s music, but didn’t really know why, or didn’t even think to think why. Tolentino goes deep on the very core of Jepsen’s anonymous love songs, comparing them to the “philosopher Simone Weil’s idea of self-erasure.” This is my favourite kind of pop music criticism. ♦
Yesterday, we saw that in the publications indexed by Google Scholar, phrases like "two types of hypothesis|hypotheses" and "three kinds of question|questions" run about 75% plural; and a search in the Google ngram viewer supports the opinion of some people that there may be a tendency for Brits to prefer the singular and Americans the plural ("Various types of whatever(s)").
I took a few minutes this morning to compare some similar phrases as indexed by an American newspaper (the New York Times) and a British newspaper (the Guardian). In both cases, the plural preference is much greater, and there's no sign of a British preference for singularity (93.5% overall for the NYT, and 96.5% overall for the Guardian).
Details for the New York Times:
|97.3% plural||83.0% plural||93.6% plural|
And for the Guardian:
|93.7% plural||96.8% plural||99.7% plural|
A couple of years ago, when I first heard Gloria Jones’ “Tainted Love,” I asked myself two questions. First, why is this song so damn awesome? And second, why am I just NOW hearing this when it was originally released in 1964? There are numerous answers to the first question (Jones has a powerful voice with a wicked rasp; the horns in the background are rad; the tempo is perfect for “Amber’s private-alone-in-my-room boogie down dance party times;” etc.). Although there are also probably numerous answers to the second question, chief among them, I think, is that a cover version of the song, performed by 1980s synthpop band Soft Cell, became a massive commercial success when it was released and it ultimately eclipsed Jones’ original, which made very little impact when it came out in the ’60s. That Soft Cell cover has so thoroughly supplanted Gloria Jones’ version that people like me didn’t even realize it was a cover.
This experience got me hunting for other songs that were initially recorded by one artist but achieved widespread popularity when they were covered. And I have to say, listening to the original, more obscure rendition is so much fun. Obviously with these earlier versions you’re going to hear a different interpretation of the tune, an interpretation that can evoke completely different emotions in you as a listener because each artist or group brings a unique energy or spirit or cultural background or just new instrumentation and style to the music. So it’s interesting to compare and contrast the originals and the covers in that way, noting which elements were changed and which were essential and therefore unchangeable. But the original versions are also cool because you’re getting a fresh take on a song that you’ve maybe heard a million times—a song that may have lost its edge or impact after being used in countless movie trailers or M&M’S commercials or whatever. The songs on this playlist are all originals and although they may be older they’re also new, in a sense, and that duality makes them exciting. They’re also just really sick jams.
For some reason, the expression xiǎoxīn 小心 (lit., "little heart" –> "[be] careful") often throws Chinese translators into a tailspin.
and the classic, standard Chinglish
"Slip carefully " (5/6/14)
Perhaps more so than for any other short warning posted on signs around China, the following elicits an astonishing variety of Chinglish renditions:
xiǎoxīn pèngtóu 小心碰头 ("watch / mind your head")
To help us understand how the translations go awry, let's look at the literal meanings of the characters one by one):
xiǎo 小 ("small; little")
xīn 心 ("heart")
pèng 碰 ("bump; touch; meet")
tóu 头 ("head; beginning")
The first two characters joined together as one word, xiǎoxīn 小心, mean "(be) careful".
The following translations have been collected from this Google image search (excluding signs that are too well made and probably for sale as curios, and hence not genuine specimens of Chinglish in action, though most of the commercially available signs do replicate actual Chinglish):
Carefully bang head
LOOK OUT ,KNOCK HEAD
Carefully hits to the forehead
MIND YOUR HEAD (this is English, not Chinglish)
Let your head knocked here
TAKE CARE OF HEAD
TAKE CARE OF YOUR HEAD
Take Care Hit Head (slight variation in the Chinese here, with pèng 碰 being replaced by the synonym zhuàng 撞 ["bump; hit"])
Caution, butt head against the wall
Carefulness bump head
Caution Your Head (slight variation in the Chinese here, with xiǎo 小 being replaced by dāng 当 ["take; be; equal; must; ought; to face; just at a time / place; treat [as]; think; regard", and many more meanings)
CAREFULLY MEET (pèng 碰 can also mean "encounter, meet")
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR HEAD
BEWARE OF YOUR HEAD
Please Beware your head
MIND YOUR HAIR
BE CAREFUL TOUCH YOUR HEAD
be careful and not torch the head
Be careful,bump head!
Mind Crotch (slight variation in the Chinese here, with xiǎo 小 being replaced by dāng 当 [see above for definitions])
Meet your ceiling
In our next installment of the Chinglish Annals, we will examine another widespread warning having to do with the other extremity of the body.
So it has come to this: I’m sitting in my bedroom, talking to a coat.
“You’ve been a good coat, Janine,” I tell the red pea coat with silver buttons, which is strewn across my lap. “And I’m going to miss you.”
Janine, unsurprisingly, does not respond. Coats—and other inanimate objects, I’ve found—can be that way. Karen the Lamp never laughs when I flip her on and call her Bright Eyes. Albert the Throw Pillow has absorbed thousands of my tears but never offers a word of comfort. I really need to stop naming things. There are too many expectations when you give lifeless things interior lives.
Janine is different, though—sweet, dear, woolen Janine—has left my room with me, has gone into the world, has lived. I was wearing Janine the first time I saw my eternal crush, Eli Morris, in the school parking lot, his beautiful breath swirling around him in the cold October air. I was wearing Janine when I took my driver’s license test—all three times. I was wearing Janine when I went to New York City for the first time with my grandmother. For the greater part of the past two years, whenever it’s been cold, I’ve been wearing Janine. I still haven’t figured out how to get Eli Morris to wrap himself around me, but I’ve always had Janine to keep me warm. As much as it pains me to say this, I’m pretty sure the one consistent love in my life has been a coat.
So I guess that’s why it took me by surprise when my friend Morgan asked me if I wanted to participate in a back-to-school clothing swap and my mind immediately went to Janine. After two autumns and two winters, I don’t feel the spark anymore. She’s a great coat, and she’ll make someone happy, but she doesn’t really fit me these days (not only because I grew two inches last year—finally—but like, you know, metaphorically, also or whatever.) I somehow feel that Janine will be better off with another owner, and that she’ll have more adventures without me. But I still want to cry as I hold her on my lap and stare at her silver buttons, marked with tiny scratches that you can only notice if you’re really looking at her—if you’re in love and can’t help but pay attention.
I get too attached to everything. I’m probably the only person in the history of Dr. Wilson’s orthodontic practice to ask if I could take the broken bits of metal with me after having my braces removed.
“For what?” he asked, slightly horrified.
“The memories,” I said.
He didn’t let me keep them. “Your straight teeth are a daily reminder of your braces,” he offered, as if that were any consolation. I can’t put a “gorgeous smile” in my jewelry box and reminisce over it every six to eight weeks, depending on my emotional state, which, of late, has been particularly messy. It’s like everything means something BIG, and it’s hard to explain it to people like Dr. Wilson, who only see bits of metal and wire, as opposed to endless memories. My mother actually apologized to the receptionist at Dr. Wilson’s office because I was crying after my braces came off.
“Usually our patients are happy,” the receptionist offered as my mother coaxed me to smile for the Wilson Orthodontics Hall of Fame. I grimaced as the camera went off. I’m not even sure my teeth were showing.
“It’s been an emotional day,” my mother replied.
It’s been “an emotional day” for the last three years. Everything pulls at my heart; everything either hurts or feels so good it’s hard to process. I am a walking Emotional Day. But come on! I had my first kiss wearing those braces! It was a terrible kiss, and it involved Ryan Dorn, and way too much of Ryan Dorn’s tongue, but still! A first kiss is a landmark moment, isn’t it? And my braces were witnesses, all sharp and awful but apparently worth the risk of permanent injury to Ol’ Tongueface Dorn, and something about that is beautiful to me, you know? Dr. Wilson didn’t get it, and my mother didn’t either. To them, my old braces were scrap metal. I don’t understand most adults. Is nothing sacred? Or does it just get easier, as you get older, to give parts of yourself away?
I’m supposed to take Janine to the dry cleaners today, because my mother refuses to let me bring her to the clothing swap until she’s been “properly cleaned and pressed.” Goodbye, all of the work I did breaking her in. Farewell, the lingering notes of at least five different scents. Au revoir, small pizza grease stain on the lapel. You shall be removed forever. Cleaned and pressed, like a dead thing someone forgot between two pieces of paper.
And what if no one picks her up at the clothing swap? What if I go through all of the cleaning and pressing, only to have my memories sucked out of her for naught? A Janine without a pizza-grease stain (obtained October 19, 2014, right before a haunted hayride with my best friend Cat) is not Janine at all. It would be like bringing home an impostor. I’d have to start calling her Fanine, or something. And to see her sitting there, not chosen, a sad unwanted thing that nobody cares for but me?
Even worse: What if someone chooses Janine, but there’s nothing for me to take home in her place? What if everyone else brings the kind of T-shirt that’s a pit-stain away from becoming a rag, or a tiny sweater that I can’t fit into, or, heaven forbid, something paisley, which just looks like a bunch of creepy amoebae swimming around on fabric? Do I have to take something? Is that the rule of clothing swaps? It seems implied by the “swap” part of the deal. What if I lose Janine and end up with an article I hate out of pure social obligation? Or what if someone picks up Janine and says, “Oh good, my dog needs a new bed,” or “Oh great, I can use this to throw on mud puddles so I can gallantly lead my girlfriend over them like people do in cartoons for some weird reason?” What if—and I can hardly bear the thought of it—someone picks her up and says, “These buttons need to go?” I don’t think I can take it.
Although: Morgan did tell me that she’s giving up her royal blue sweater with the embroidered ghost on the front. And I’m pretty sure Ellis is bringing a killer pair of boots that she doesn’t fit into anymore. And if Cat ends up going, I bet she’ll bring the green velvet cape that she found at a thrift store last year but doesn’t wear anymore because she thinks velvet feels “too creepy.” I’m not 100 percent sure of any of this, but I think I could maybe, possibly, pull off a creepy green velvet cape. I try to picture it:
There I am in my green velvet cape, taking a train to Boston. There I am in my green velvet cape, getting into a delightful argument with Eli Morris over the best types of cereal. There I am in my green velvet cape, existing, being someone I’m not sure how to be yet. There I am. Look at me. Who knows what I’ll get up to, in my green velvet cape. “You should see me now, Janine,” as I twirl around and snow falls on my hair, and birds land on my arms, and some lady walks by and says, “That’s a great green velvet cape.”
I look at Janine and whisper: “I think I’ll call her Claudia.”
Janine doesn’t say a thing, but I know she approves. ♦
Recent reports have surfaced about the sexual enslavement of women and girls by the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), an extremist group that has overtaken territories in Northern Iraq and Syria. Video footage appears to show ISIS men sitting around talking and laughing before they bid to purchase women and girls; price tables for purchasing women have been released by the group, showing what amounts to a modern-day slave auction. As many as 4,000 Yazidi women and girls, a religious minority in Northern Iraq, are currently estimated to be imprisoned by ISIS as sex slaves.
U.S. women have also been targeted by ISIS.The world recently learned that a 27-year-old American aid worker named Kayla Mueller, captured by ISIS in 2013 and subsequently killed, was repeatedly raped by the head of ISIS during her one-and-a-half years in captivity.
What you might not know is that sexual slavery isn’t only happening overseas.
An article published earlier this month in Marie Claire reports that sex trafficking of women is occurring in virulent ways in the U.S., too. North Dakota has been hit particularly hard. In that state, oil and gas companies have set up shop over the past few years, and towns have become inundated with camps of workers, mostly men. Along with this influx of workers has come an uptick in problems, specifically trafficking of women.
“If you’re working in the oil industry, you see what’s happening here in terms of a boom,” Christina Sambor, a lawyer and anti-trafficking activist with North Dakota group FUSE (a Force to end hUman Sexual Exploitation), told Marie Claire. “But if you work in human services, you view it in terms of a natural disaster.”
According to Marie Claire, when women’s shelters in the area started reporting that they were seeing victims they hadn’t seen before, “…a 16-year-old sold by her mother for drug money, a young woman with ‘property of’ and a man’s name tattooed across her chest,” a police investigation ensued. What it found was startling: 70 percent of the women had been for sale in a different state the previous week.
“They were coming from Milwaukee, from the Twin Cities, from Chicago, from Mexico and south of there, and elsewhere in the country,” said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. “Traffickers bring these women in, and they will be there for a little while—and then they move them out and bring in a new group.”
This past April, the efforts of Sambor and other activists paid off when North Dakota’s legislature voted in favor of a suite of anti-trafficking bills.
But while laws are important, it’s the underlying attitude of misogyny that has to change.
According to Equality Now’s global sex-trafficking fact sheet, “A holistic and comprehensive strategy is needed to combat sex trafficking effectively.” The organization reports that at least 20.9 million adults and children are currently being held in commercial sexual servitude, forced labor and bonded labor. Of these, 98 percent are women or girls.
Equality Now indicates that there is much work to be done. To fight trafficking, eliminating gender discrimination and curbing the demand for commercial sex are essential. In addition, gender inequality and discriminatory laws that trap women in poverty and fail to protect them from violence must also be changed.
Like activists in North Dakota, Equality Now has had successes: It spearheaded anti-trafficking laws in Brazil and India, and successfully advocated for the first U.S. law (in Hawaii) to criminalize sex tourism. Steps have been taken by the White House to curb sex trafficking, too. In May, President Obama signed into law the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which requires the Department of Justice to better train prosecutors and law enforcement officers who handle trafficking cases, among other anti-trafficking measures.
State and national successes aside, the trafficking of girls and women is a global crisis and one that exists because of a host of underlying conditions. Michelle Bachelet, former U.N. Women Executive Director and president of Chile, describes what lies at the root of the crisis: “The commodification of human beings as sexual objects, poverty, gender inequality and subordinate positions of women and girls provide fertile ground for human trafficking.”
The sexual slavery of girls and women is an outrage that the world not only shares, but must also solve.
Photo via Shutterstock
Leslie Absher is a freelance writer who grew up with a CIA dad. You can find more of her work at leslieabsher.com
• RIP Darryl Dawkins. Dawkins was a basketball player — a professional athlete, yes, but one who always seemed to take delight in the fact that he was playing a game. Dawkins treated playing games as something that was fun, and just watching him was endless fun for the rest of us. His loss, at age 58, makes the world a little less fun — a little bit less like the Planet Lovetron he invited us all to live on.
John Fea wrote a nice remembrance here, ending with a photo of perhaps the most appropriate way of remembering Dawkins. Grab a ball and find an 8-foot rim — or, if necessary, a 6-foot rim — and dunk a few in your best Dawkins style. Invent a new dunk and give it a name — something funktastic. Because it’s fun.
• On the plus side, hoverboards are a real thing! We’re living in the future! On the minus side, that future still involves cops roughing up black people for no good reason.
It seems the sci-fi fantasy aspect of Star Trek wasn’t stuff like Geordi La Forge’s future-tech visor. It was the fact that La Forge was simply able to go about his day without worrying about getting beaten or shot by police.
• Trailer for Spotlight. The cast here includes a bunch of people — Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Stanley Tucci, Liev Schrieber — who have been good in every role I’ve ever seen
Prediction: This’ll be critically acclaimed and get nominated for a ton of awards. And that will form the basis for the counter-attack from Bill Donohue and other such religious right conservatives — Hollywood elites, liberal media, latte-drinking intellectuals, etc. Every award or honor bestowed on the film will be cited as a reason that red-blooded real ‘murkans should ignore the true story at the heart of the movie.
Here’s why, I think: People expecting an edgy satire tuned in and found, instead, a mordant farce. That’s not something one encounters much on American television, and its confusing to viewers who tune in expecting satire. Satire cuts — it’s a scalpel, a stiletto, the twisting of the knife. Farce twists — it’s a ratchet, a vise, the torque of the wrench. It’s a different genre with different conventions.
Think of the stateroom scene in A Night at the Opera. Or think of that scene in The Ritz where Rita Moreno and Jack Weston and Jerry Stiller and Treat Williams all wind up … well, just any scene in The Ritz, actually. Then add nuclear weapons and three or four countries with leaders bonkers enough to consider using them. That’s The Brink.
• TV audiences can’t be blamed for having trouble distinguishing between satire and farce. The two genres can overlap or blur into one another in confusing ways, nowadays. Consider, for instance, these comments from Fox News contributor and icon of nepotism Alveda King:
They entice these ladies into their facility knowing that once they get there, it’s a very lucrative experience. … Because they’re going to give her medicines and birth control shots and pills and things that will expose her to breast cancer. Then she’ll go to Susan Komen, because Susan Koman exchanges money with Planned Parenthood, the money goes back and forth between them. And if she gets pregnant, they’re going to give her an abortion and then they’re going to traffic the body parts of the baby. So they make a lot of money.
Satire? Farce? Performance art? Who can tell?
• I don’t closely follow the sausage-making machinery of political campaigns and consultants, so I didn’t really have much of anything to say about the ins and outs of conservative political operative Sam Clovis of Iowa switching teams from the Rick Perry campaign to the Donald Trump campaign.
But then I saw a photo of Sam Clovis. And now I’m just immensely pleased to learn that this is a conservative back-room political wheeler-dealer who so perfectly looks like a conservative back-room political wheeler-dealer. If this Trump gig doesn’t work out for him, I hope he’ll consider moving to Hollywood. Central casting could use a face like that.