My musings on the mainstream media and culture.

Archive for the month “February, 2013”

First World Problem: Does Complaining about the Service Make Me a Bourgeois Capitalist Pig?


Big news. Apparently it’s now customary in the United States to receive your salad WITH you entrée.

I learned this on Saturday night at the Good Earth in Edina, Minnesota, when my entrée arrived shortly before my salad. Before my drink had been served. And also before my husband’s soup or entrée had been served.

I complained. I told the waiter I wanted to eat my salad before my entrée. So several confused waiters took away the entrée, and finally served my husband his soup.

The original waiter came out to apologize. Sort of. You see, he explained to me, MOST people want their salad and entrée to come out at the same time. This lame and patently wrong excuse made me irate, and told him this was ridiculous (which prompted my seven-year-old daughter to nudge me repeatedly because Mommy was being mean to the waiter). And yet, the waiter stuck to his claim that the first and second course customarily arrive simultaneously. So now you know. Next time you go to a restaurant—whether it’s Denny’s or something with a Michelin star—expect to be served your starter course at the same time as your entrée.

Clearly this restaurant was having problems expediting their food, and clearly my waiter was full of it. I had a legitimate complaint. But whenever I complain about bad service—and there seems to be plenty of bad service these days—I find myself feeling guilty.

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Gay Marriage: An Appeal to Those Who Oppose on Religious Grounds

No Pumpkin

So I realize that most people who oppose gay marriage do so because of their religious beliefs. If this is indeed what you believe, I appeal to you to consider this argument.

Imagine that you are living in the United States of America.  Currently, in the U.S., the majority of people are Christians.  But let’s say that something entirely unexpected happens, and the majority of Americans convert to a religion called Fundamentalist Jibberjabberism.

Now let’s say that although the majority of Americans become Fundamentalist Jibberjabberists, you do not convert.  You are a Christian.  When the mass conversion happens, you are nervous.  However, you remind yourself that the United States is a secular nation governed by a secular Constitution, and that religious minorities like yourself are protected.

Things seem to be going well for awhile.  You continue to go to church and to worship just as you always have.  Then a disturbing development happens.  A week before Thanksgiving, pumpkins become illegal because pumpkins are considered sacrilegious in the Jibberjabberist religion.  You can no longer have a traditional Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

You go to your Congressperson to complain.  You explain that you respect the fact that the majority of your fellow Americans do not eat pumpkins.  As a religious minority, you expect that it may be difficult to find pumpkins served at restaurants or possibly even at grocery stores.  But  illegal?  “I am not a Jibberjabberist,” you explain.  “Pumpkin does not go against my religious beliefs, and in fact, pumpkin pie is an important part of my family’s Thanksgiving dinner tradition.”

Read more… Are We Moving Towards “Rank a Human Being” Websites?

Sadistic entrepreneurial idea of the day:

Here’s how it would work. would be just like anonymous teacher evaluation websites like Rate My, or anonymous doctor evaluation websites like  These websites allow students and patients to post feedback about professors and doctors, presumably to help others make a better informed decision about what political science class or orthopedic surgeon to avoid.

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TLC, Catholic Church Team Up for “Who Wants to Be the Next Pope?”

Vatican City — Faced with accusations that they are “out of touch” with modern life, the Catholic Church has decided to take a drastic step to become more relevant:  reality TV.

With the surprise retirement of Pope Benedict XIV, the Church finds itself in the unenviable position of having to name the second new pope in less than a decade.  The solution?  A joint reality TV venture between TLC and the Catholic Church called “Who Wants to Be the Next Pope?”

At this early date, the format of “Who Wants to Be the Next Pope?” is under discussion.  One proposal:  every week, contestants will get acquainted with Vatican officials.  At the end of the week, the favorite contestants will be asked to stay at an elimination ceremony with the tagline, “Cardinal, will you accept this rosary?”

Also unclear at this time:  who will be the host of “Who Wants to Be the Next Pope?”  A worldwide search for talented Catholics is underway, with an early list of frontrunners that includes Stephen Colbert, Paul Ryan, Madonna, an assortment of telenovela stars, and pretty much everybody from the Kennedy family.

Critics are already accusing TLC of reaching a new low of tacky, scandalous television that has the potential to offend over a billion believers worldwide.  Network executive Brad O’Malley, an Irish Catholic, countered these claims.  “We realize that this show might be pushing the envelope a little,” said O’Malley.  “But if people are offended, they don’t have to watch. Just like they don’t have to watch Toddlers and Tiaras, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, Hoarders, and our many shows about little people and conjoined twins.”

“Here at TLC,” said O’Malley, “we’re always looking for reality shows that viewers never in a million years thought that anyone would ever put on TV.  That’s why we’re called The Learning Channel.”

The Holy Ghost, who is usually a key participant when choosing a new pope, has already declined TLC’s offer to participate in the program.

Naming Snowstorms: How Much Longer Until They’re Corporate Branded?


So now we’re naming snowstorms? Really?  Thumbs down to The Weather Channel for the nonsense.  Or, if you’re really into marketing and think it’s brilliant that a TV station devoted to the weather has now turned snowstorms into branded Media Events, thumbs up.

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Stereotypes: Where’s the Line Between Offensive and Multicultural?

Cam Tucker and his daughter Lily from Modern Family

Cam Tucker and his daughter Lily from Modern Family

So when it comes to media representations, where’s the line between (a) humorous glimpses into a multicultural world and (b) offensive, hateful generalizations about marginalized groups? Can humor about a marginalized group actually be a healthy way of promoting diversity?

An offensive, stereotypical  "pickaninny" image of black children, popular in early 20th century ads.

An offensive, stereotypical “picaninny” image of a black child, popular in early 20th century ads.

Clearly, stereotypes can be dangerous because at their worst, they provide “evidence” that a marginalized group of people is inferior, therefore justifying the marginalization. In Nazi Germany, stereotypes about Jews were used as justification for discrimination and eventually for concentration camps. In the United States, D.W. Griffith’s 1915 epic silent film (and Ku Klux Klan propaganda piece) Birth of a Nation promoted stereotypes than African-American men were dangerous, corrupt rapists and thieves. These attitudes fueled the “need” for Jim Crow laws and other forms of racial discrimination.

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