May 6, 2006

Playing Devil's Advocate with mouse ears on

Geena Davis' organization released a fascinating report about racial and gender trends in G-rated movies: long story short, in the 100 most popular G-rated movies of all time, the percentage of lead characters being white males is inordinately high. The report includes live-action and animated films, though I'm not sure if species is factored in (I'm not joking. The Lion King ranks among the top 100 G-rated films; the film has no humans in it.)

As Kevin Drum notes, it's startling no one seems to give a crap about this. A more startling thing to consider is something I was told repeatedly while at film school: if you think the diversity sucks in front of the camera, you're going to cry when you see what's behind it. The low percentage of women and minorites in high-level positions of film production is heartbreaking. How many women have won Best Director? How many American non-whites have been nominated for Best Screenplay? How many have even been nominated?

That said, I feel I should take the moment to stand up for one specific area on this. It's one of the things I admire right now about Disney animation in this decade- I think the diversity is much better, or at the very least improving courtesy of the House of Mouse. In this decade, Disney has included among its most popular animated programs (that feature human characters, that is) Kim Possible (female lead), American Dragon (Asian male lead), Fillmore (Black male lead with white female co-star), Lilo & Stitch (Native Hawaiian female lead), The Emperor's New School (Native American male lead), W.I.T.C.H. (all-female multi-ethnic cast), and The Proud Family (black female lead & nearly all-black leading cast). In addition, in two more of their current cartoons that feature animals instead of humans- Brandy & Mr. Whiskers and The Buzz on Maggie- the lead characters are female.

In fact, take a look at the listing page of all of The Disney Channel's daytime programming- save for one cartoon, every one of Disney's original animated programs has either a female and/or non-white character as the lead role, and three female characters are the title of their own show. Regrettably, the pattern is almost inversed with their live-action shows: almost all of them star a plucky blonde kid with, if we're lucky, an ethnic "sidekick" or two.

We could expand for hours on the problems with Disney, from their programming to their business practices, but in the field of diversity, their animated division deserves special praise.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 10:41 PM

No Pants Day

So yesterday was No Pants Day. In an ironic fashion, the highlight of my evening was selling my shirt to some dude for $25.

Yes, that's right. Long story short, I was walking around Chinatown at about 11:00 P.M. last night when two drunk guys came up to me and asked if they could buy my shirt. Apparently, as one of them was only wearing a t-shirt, he could not get into a hip club down the street because, to quote my new friend, "he ain't got a collar."

So the two dudes spent about two minutes debating both the necessity of paying for a shirt just to get into a club as well as the actual quality of the shirt I was wearing, which as you can imagine imparted on my self-esteem a great deal. It was a relatively nice shirt, albiet one I paid about $14.95 for at a Kohl's in Paramus, New Jersey three years ago. I of course told them I paid $30 for it only six months ago, because I figured that would make them go away. Instead, he offered me 25 dollars.

So that was my evening last night, instead of looking for a fun bar or something like that, I got back on the subway only ten minutes after getting off it, only this time to go back home in my undershirt, $25 richer. Also, I'm pretty sure I was almost arrested by policemen who, amazingly, were curious about three guys in khakis and t-shirts handing wads of bills and bundles of cloth back and forth at 11:00 PM on a street corner in Chinatown.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 2:40 PM

May 5, 2006

Wow

You know, if anything you sort of have to look at Governor Haley Barbour in disgusted awe for having the chutzpah to allow himself such a blatant campaign target in flat-out refusing to posthumously pardon a wrongfully-convicted civil rights advocate.

That said, I'm not really celebrating the idea that people are going to make that a campaign attack. (And believe me, I'm sure they will, be they actually from Mississippi or not) I addressed the lunacy of right-wingers attacking Tim Kaine for refusing to support the death penalty on personal principle. Barbour's personal principle is that he does not believe in offering pardons. This isn't to say Clyde Kennard doesn't deserve to be pardoned, even posthumously- he does. My point is that to base Barbour's refusal solely on some act of arbitary racism is wrong.

So, basically, I think it would be hypocritical to use Barbour's decision based on principle as an attack against him, disgusting as his decision is. I am, however, all for pointing out that if one of your personal principles is that no one ever deserves to be pardoned, you're really quite an asshole.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 7:52 AM

May 4, 2006

A Log Cabin Divided

I've been working with Campus Progress since October 2004, and I'm pretty sure this is the best article we've ever put up on the site.

It's by Foster Chase, a gay student from UNC-Chapel Hill, who wrote about his from-the-inside experience at the weekend convention of the Log Cabin Republicans. There's a lot of stuff in there that Chase mentions casually that comes off as quite a shock: for example, the revelation that 24% of gay voters went for Bush in 2000... and in 2004. That's amazing.

Furthermore, Chase addresses some of the conflicts not just between the LCR and the Republican base, but the conflicts facing the LCR itself: for example, a very humorous graf aptly questions the strive for "diversity" among a group that is almost completely white males, even moreso than the GOP as a whole.

Anyway, it's a great article and you should read it and then send to everyone you know.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:27 AM

May 3, 2006

Step one is admitting you have a problem

This is just embarassing. Exactly how many of Limbaugh's fans are also on drugs?

So, a quick recap: despite Limbaugh having an arrest warrant issued for him, paying $3,000 in bail, having his mug shot taken, and the supervisor of the jail-the place where you go when you are arrested- saying he was, in fact, arrested- Limbaugh wasn't actually arrested.

Also, Al Gore said he invented the internet.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 1:38 PM

Good

All major beverage producers in the U.S. have agreed to stop selling soda in schools.

There's really no argument against this save for the obligatory Libertarian claptrap of the nanny state or some nonsense like that. After all, the deal was made to avoid any kind of government intervention into beverage sales in schools, and on the financial laissez-faire argument the companies are still allowed to see their own brands of water and fruit juice.

In far too many school districts (especially low-income school districts) where beverage deals combined with poor health instruction and in many cases the elimination of recess and phys ed programs have exacerbated a new epidemic of child obesity. This is a great start, but the reality is a lot more has to be done; another great step would involve giving schools the funding they need so they don't have to enter multi-million dollar endorsement deals with Coca-Cola in the first place.

The other industry groups need to move their butts about this as well. "Got Milk" was clever as pop-culture kitsch, but the American Dairy Association needs to stop spending money on ads and spend more money on getting milk in the freakin' lunchrooms.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:02 AM

May 2, 2006

Bush was for the National Anthem before he was against it

Golly, this must be a mistake, because the only other possible reason for this would be that Bush is just pandering to racist right-wing lunatics in the Republican Party, and everyone knows that just can't be true.

By the way, that sound you just heard? That was Michelle Malkin's head exploding.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 4:51 PM

Just start sewing "HRC" on the towels now

I for one am nearly salivating at the idea that Rudy Giuliani is insane enough to run for President. I've had arguments with friends about this before, and I've outlined how Giuliani won't just near-guarantee a Democratic victory in 2008, but that he's one of the few ways Hillary Clinton can secure the White House.

First off, the right wing and their beautiful, magical twelve-month non-stop campaign of incinerating this man. He's a thrice-married, pro-choice, anti-gun adulterer. John McCain is one of the most conservative Senators in Washington, and the Bush team fabricated black bastard children to knock him out of the primaries... does Rudy just think he won't be mutilated in the Bible Belt? The head of the Minutemen is talking about running Third-Party right now... if Giuliani goes for the nomination, imagine a rifts in the GOP that would alter the tides in Southeastern Asian island nations.

Next, of course, is the left wing. The man is a civil liberties monster. Unlike Samuel Alito, who succeeded in hiding his history, Giuliani is famous for flaunting just how much he hates basic human freedoms. With the wiretapping, Plame outing, and law-flanting Bush administration at the forefront of political debate, the most recent security and liberties issue Giuliani has on record is hiring the man who had to be dumped from Homeland Security because he was boffing mistresses over the rubble of the World Trade Center. Now that's a campaign ad.

Finally, this small voting constituency I like to call "every single black person over the age of 18 in the United States of America." Hillary Clinton already has huge advantages in the minority vote; Giuliani will only maximize her potential to secure this. Immigration and New Orleans are already in play to make racial issues a huge factor in both 2006 and 2008. The GOP's best hope for minority votes this cycle is not going to be "big tent;" it's going to be "keep non-whites at home." You saw the marches this weekend. I saw the marches in New York after the Diallo killing. There will be turnout. And it won't be good for the Republicans.

Does Giuliani have a shot? Sure. But a worse one than Hillary Clinton. Giuliani could very well be the only contender for 2008 with more natural enemies than her. So have at thee, brave Giuliani. You are truly Hillary's dream.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:56 AM

The bug up the ass is starting to Chafee

Shorter Kos: I continue to be outraged that the Sierra Club endorsed Lincoln Chafee because I have different opinions of his environmental record that would in no way affect my decision to not vote for him anyway.

A continuation of the pointless tantrum that started here.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:38 AM

Welcome the new America

Your George W. Bush quote of the day. Or, rather, your George W. Bush quote of however long he plans on pandering to the right-wing racists in his party:

America has one national creed, but many accents. We're now one of the largest Spanish-speaking nations in the world. We're a major source of Latin music, journalism, and culture. Just go to Miami, or San Antonio, Los Angeles, Chicago, or West New York, New Jersey ... and close your eyes and listen. You could just as easily be in Santo Domingo or Santiago or San Miguel de Allende. For years, our nation has debated this change � some have praised it and others have resented it. By nominating me, my party has made a choice to welcome the New America.�

-George W. Bush, at a Miami election rally for Hispanic voters, August 2000

I believe lesser life forms acknowledge this by saying "Heh. Indeed."

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:06 AM

May 1, 2006

Obamarama

Heads-up: at 6:30 P.M. EST, Campus Progress is having a live webcast of a townhall with Tom Daschle and Barack Obama about global warming and climate change.

You can watch the entire thing over the internet and send Obama and Daschle questions. All the information's here. Enjoy.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 5:37 PM

Latest comic - "The dilemma(s)"

I sometimes have these moments where I just take a basic argument and then just go silly with it; clearly today presents such a case. Had I the time I bet we could just continue the train of thought until the option reach some kind of bizarre combination of the Dead Kitten Survey and that SNL "Food, Sex or Cars" skit where the contestants had to decide if they would rather drive a dune buggy or have sex with She-Hulk.

Hello to all who showed up on Thursday. Hopefully signed copies of Attitude 3 will be available soon via the site. In the meantime, crap other some buy?

Posted by August J. Pollak at 12:05 AM

April 30, 2006

Posted by August J. Pollak at 11:23 AM