Teen Vogue: Won’t Somebody Think of the Children

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Bear with me. I just wanted to use that for a headline. And use this GIF

via GIPHY

So Teen Vogue has recently become an awesome place for journalism, and published a guide on anal sex on their website. And let me tell you, parents from all over were upset. The general consensus was that they didn’t want their teens to have access to that information because, god forbid, they use it. (more…)

Pirates, change and the redhead.

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It shouldn’t be news to anyone that I’m a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. Annual Disneyland trips were a big part of my childhood and there were a select few rides that were always my favorite.

Pirates being one of them.

I had an intense pirates phase as a kid. I’ll be honest, it’s something I never actually grew out of.

So when the news broke that Disney is going to change the Pirates of the Caribbean again, I figured I would write a post instead of writing my thoughts on everyone’s FB feeds.

This isn’t the first major change to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The first was changing the scene where the men chase the women so that the women were carrying plates of food or jewels – changing the vice from lust to greed or gluttony. A lot of people decried it as being too PC, and then people forgot about it.

After the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, they added Jack Sparrow, Barbossa and Davy Jones to the ride. Nobody really complained at that. (more…)

I hate Cinco de Mayo

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There. I said it. I hate Cinco de Mayo.

I also hate St. Patrick’s Day, and it isn’t just because I hate excessive drinking. It’s because neither “holiday” is really rooted in celebrating anything cultural anymore. It’s just a flimsy excuse that white people snagged from another culture as a reason to drink. (And both are rooted in smearing other cultures)

Let’s go with St. Patrick’s Day first. So when the Irish came over during the famine, there was a lot of racism. Established white people were like… they’re stealing our jobs! They don’t belong here. So in building on the stereotype of Irish people being drunks, they turned a saint day (that yes, was celebrated here already) into the ultimate drinking holiday. Leprechauns dressed like Irishmen of the time showed up and they literally just doubled down on every stereotype they could. (You can always tell the cities with actual Irish populations because they actually do celebrate actual Irish culture)

Cinco de Mayo? It’s the date of the Battle of Puebla. It’s commemorated in Mexico with ceremonial parades. Here, it’s about cheap booze and tacos. And sombreros and like all sorts of racist garbage.

Now, I love tacos – probably more than the next girl. But it’s an excuse to drink.

Both of these holidays remove anything real associated with it, as an excuse to drink and celebrate stereotypes.

You might say that I’m overly sensitive (being Mexican AND Irish). But it’s how I feel. It’s obnoxious to watch white people get excited every year, talk about busting out sombreros and drinking cervezas. The same people who talk about “my people” taking their jobs, and building a wall to keep “my people” out.

Wanna know how I celebrate St Patrick’s Day? I stay home, make Irish food and drink real beer. Not dyed green nonsense. Real beer. And for Cinco de Mayo, I just stay home.

Newsflash: you can drink to excess any time you like. Keep your hands off someone else’s culture. (And if you’re going to celebrate, have a DD or call a taxi)

What my advertising background can tell you about that Pepsi Ad

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Once upon a time I worked for an ad agency. We weren’t a huge agency, but I had coworkers who had worked for bigger agencies and I learned a lot about how things work.

So when Pepsi’s protest ad with Kendall Jenner popped up on the internet, I saw a lot of questions.

Like, how did this get past a focus group?

And the truth is – if there was a focus group, it was probably just aimed at younger adults and they asked how they felt about Kendall Jenner. They probably didn’t show ads, but likely asked questions about diversity in advertising and how they felt about ads with a social message like some of the ads at this year’s Super Bowl.

Like, how did this get approved?

The way it works is that the client (Pepsi) tells the ad agency what they want. Which honestly was probably – Coke’s iconic “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” ad, but updated for today’s generation of social activists. Then the ad agency came up with ideas, and Pepsi probably said… can we make it less depressing? And you ended up with what you have.

There were meetings about everything – the photographer, the sweaty cellist, the guy who fist bumps Kendall. And odds are, there weren’t a lot of POC involved. And you know which meetings you’re more likely to be listened to. Pepsi, who probably insisted in a young, hot white girl (see, diverse!), would not be that audience.

So you end in an Emperor’s New Clothes type situation. Where you can’t be 100% honest, you just hope the client realizes it once they’ve assembled it. (Odds are there are alternate takes on that ad agency’s drives) And in this case, Pepsi’s team loved it. So you’re stuck with a bad ad that has your agency’s name on it.

And you can tell that Pepsi loved it, considering their apology was to putting Kendall Jenner in the midst of the controversy – not the people whose decades of work of activism they made a mockery of. They just didn’t get it.

So there you have it. My two cents based on a job I did a decade ago, for a small agency that did those post-secondary ads you probably made fun of if you were home sick from school or work. (Odds are, if you were home a decade or so ago, you might have even seen ME in one of them) The agency also did higher visibility brands, but that wasn’t what I worked on.

Things of note, my lovelies – don’t blame all the multicultural actors who took this gig. They were probably just told they were auditioning for a Pepsi ad and were like… sign me up for that money. They don’t have the luxury of saying no. Kendall Jenner on the other hand? She has money. She could have said no.

(It’s why we blame the marquee actors who take whitewashed roles, but not the actors who take the racist bit parts. One has the luxury of saying no, one is trying to make a living)

There are a number of really great pieces pulling apart the social ramifications of the ad. This one in particular is a must read, by April Reign (the woman who created the #OscarsSoWhite campaign). They aren’t hard to find, just spend some time on Twitter.

On the NHL skipping the Olympics.

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Today, the NHL released a press statement that they wouldn’t be stopping their season to allow players to participate in the Olympics (the first time they’ve come to this decision since 1998, when NHL players first began participating). This column went up on NHL.com explaining some of the logic behind it.

And I’m going to tell you, the real reason is simple – the NHL (in this case, the owners) can’t make money off sending its players. They’d been trying to bargain with the IOC (who is notorious for making sure that nobody can make money off the Olympics except for itself), and that didn’t go anywhere.

The NHL’s argument comes down to a few points.

First, that the Olympics as an event doesn’t grow the League. You don’t gain committed fans, you get casual fans who watch the Olympics. If so, that failure lies with the NHL who clearly aren’t doing the right kind of marketing post-Olympics. (You don’t need the rings to mention Team Canada, Team Russia, Team USA)

If the issue is that international tournaments don’t attract fans, then why would the NHL have put on the World Cup of Hockey – which used International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) eligible players, not just NHL talents? Why would they be promoting the NHL with a “global” game in China?

The answer is simple – international gameplay doesn’t matter to the NHL unless they’re making money on it.

Another concern raised was player injury, both due to the additional games or compressed season. Which again, if this was the case, they would contest NHL players going to any IIHF tournament. And wouldn’t have run their own the month before the NHL season started.

They cited a ridiculous poll of fans who ultimately said they didn’t want players to go to the Olympics. I don’t know of a single hockey fan (casual or serious) that wouldn’t want them to represent their country, or enjoy seeing them on the international stage. Much less 53% of Canadians or 73% of Americans polled. (Though that last statistic might be bitter Team USA fans)

I can understand that the month break is disruptive to the season, since it does happen just as things are ramping up towards clinching playoff berths. But, it’s once every four years. We aren’t talking about an international tournament every year. It’s the Olympics.

And frankly, I’m not sure that the NHL wants to see what happens to their ratings when their games are put up against the Olympics – especially since NBC’s family of stations (which broadcast NHL games) will be covering nothing but the Olympics, both live and time delayed for major events.

The NHL Player’s Association (NHLPA) issued their own statement that made it clear that they disagree with this decision. Since it’s a great honor for any player to represent their country.

Which brings me to the thing that nobody seems to have considered at the NHL – implications for the future. The IOC made it clear that if the NHL won’t allow players to attend 2018, then 2022 would be off limits, too.

Update: The IOC issued their own response:

It’s a huge honor to represent your country, and certainly something that young athletes dream of. Would you play in a league, no matter how popular, if it meant that you might never get that shot because the League doesn’t make enough money off the Olympics? Or would you go perhaps go to the KHL if it mean you could still represent your home country in the Olympics?

It’s obvious that some of the heavyweights in the NHL will be able to represent their country, regardless of what Bettman’s decided. Alex Ovechkin already said he’d be representing Russia, no matter what the decision was. He’s a face of the franchise- the Capitols would never say no to that. I doubt the Penguins could tell Sidney Crosby or Geno Malkin no, either. But that isn’t a luxury that a young prospect would have, and certainly an aspect that might figure into where they go in the end. And one wonders whether or not the team owners in favor of skipping the Olympics considered that.

But one thing is clear. The NHL might be talking a big talk about ‘growing their appeal’ – but this is the sort of a decision that’s cutting off your nose to spite your face. It’s a sort sighted decision that will impact the growth of the game beyond their immediate fanbase.

Your thoughts?

Dear Marvel, Diversity isn’t the Problem

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Today, there was an interview where David Gabriel said that Marvel’s diverse titles had failed and they had feedback from shops that wasn’t what fans wanted.

Which is… weird, to say the least. Because it isn’t anything like what I’ve heard from fans from all spectrum.

Fans haven’t been happy with Marvel’s books – but it certainly wasn’t the introduction of characters like Ms Marvel, Riri Williams, or Jane Foster as Thor.

What fans were weary of was their favorite characters being pushed aside or misused – see Nick Spencer’s ongoing ‘let’s make beloved characters Hydra’ storyline. Or characters being killed or retired in order for new characters to pick up the mantle.

Newsflash: If you already have a vocal group of people who complain any time you make a change, it probably isn’t going to help if you sideline their favorite character to make way for the New Whomever. That’s fighting an uphill battle to win over an audience.

More importantly – it doesn’t matter what you do with creating new characters, if the writing isn’t amazing. If you look at some of the books and writers who command people to commit to picking up their book monthly, it’s because it’s quality writing.

I know people who will buy anything that Chip Zdarsky writes. Because it’s well done. Same with Brian K Vaughn. Same with Gail Simone. They will commit to a long term story, no matter how high concept the pitch might be, because the writing is solid. These are writers who have earned their trust.

On the other hand, a lot of the regular monthly titles from the big two don’t have that kind of craft. People will argue it’s because they put out more titles a month, so the writers have more work to do – but why put out so much if you aren’t putting out something worth reading?

Do you really expect readers to commit to giant year long story arcs that justify major overhauls of your cast of characters, if the writing isn’t engaging? I don’t care how pretty the covers are, how nice the linework is inside – if the writing is flat or, in the case of Spencer’s Cap suddenly being Hydra twist, is offensive to the core of the character – I’m not going to keep purchasing it.

To me it’s laughable that Gabriel uses a book where Peter and Mary Jane are married as being proof that fans like the older and established – fans were furious when Marvel split them up in the first place, because it was obviously a cheap tactic for publicity. So of course they’d be happy to get a book where they were married – because it’s what makes sense for the characters.

I’ve lost so much faith in Marvel as a company in the last couple of years. It’s been clear that they’re paying diversity lip service, and aren’t listening to what fans are asking for. Which is more diversity in writers, so that you’re giving these new characters a chance to shine. It’s more quality in writing, to bring us back.

Quality, not quantity.

Longing for the Sea.

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Sometimes I dream of the sea. I can taste the sea air, feel the water on my body and the water fill me with comfort as I dive below. I’m never human in these dreams, but a creature of salt and spray.

They’re wonderful dreams. I actually wake up rested, which is unusual. My mantra these days is that I’m tired of being tired.

I’ve long been obsessed with the sea. As a young child, I thought it was because I was a child of the desert – and something I just was obsessed with when I moved to California.

We’d go to the beach and even if the water was too cold, I’d wander along the jetties and feel the surf thrum through my veins. I’d joke that my lungs, strong and able to hold a note for far longer than most girls my age were a sign that I wasn’t quite human. I read The Little Mermaid, watched the Disney version again and again. I loved the mermaids in Peter Pan, even as they tried to drown Wendy (only a little, Peter).

My happiest moments are at the beach. Listening to the surf, smelling the salt air, and staying out of the water for fear it will take me from those I love. (Though that’s more selkie than mermaid)

This year, as my body finds new ways to fail me… it’s easy to muse whether or not I really did come from the sea. Is my body failing because it wasn’t meant to be on land, out of the surf for all these years?

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Congrats Riverdale, Now Do Your Homework

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So Riverdale was renewed for a second season. And as I’ve been having some lovely weekly twitter chats with fellow viewers, where we’ve been discussing the shortcomings of this current season.

So I thought that maybe I could offer a few suggestions for what you should be thinking about for season 2?

1. Make Jughead Jones aroace. The fact that you didn’t from the very start was more than just disappointing, it was a huge misstep. I know, it’s an AU, but somehow Veronica is still rich, Betty an overchiever, and Archie still plays football and is interested in music. Having Jughead being aroace is a core part of the character (literally, nothing changed about him – just that they finally had a label to describe it), and if you haven’t come up with an actual legitimate story arc about him realizing this? It’s time to actually come out with it. And talk to people in the aroace community (which btw, isn’t the same as asexual. It’s very different, and think pieces from the ace community saying that the Betty/Jughead storyline is a-okay with them is insulting), to make sure that you aren’t making matters worse. Aroace gets very little visibility out there, and for teenagers trying to figure out where they fit, you could actually help them feel like they fit somewhere.

2. Stop it with the sexual predators. Sex between adults and teens is gross, and something that happens in the real world – and it’s constantly diminished. (I just saw a news story today that referred to an adult school teacher who slept with 14 year old students as a modern ‘Mrs Robinson’ despite the fact that that’s rape, and Mrs Robinson was an adult who had a consenting relationship with an adult college student.) Stop glamorizing sexual abuse. The whole Grundy storyline had zero pay-off other than making a bunch of people really uncomfortable and questioning just how heartless the parents of Riverdale were.

3. Maybe make your characters a little more human? I quit caring about who killed Jason, because other than his academic accolades, everyone just kept talking about how terrible he was. The only character who had anything nice to say about Jason was Cheryl, who’s been so unlikeable that it’s hard to care about her either.

The reason Twin Peaks worked so well was that despite Laura Palmer’s double life, people loved her and it was apparent. So you loved her too. I get that the Blossoms are a creepy family and that made their kids weird, but it took so long for us to find that out, that I’d already quit caring.

4. Decide on what your mystery is now, and make sure that moves along in every episode. It’s obvious looking back, that you guys had a lot of things you wanted to fit into the first few episodes, in case that’s all you had. As good an episode as B&V uncovering the slutshaming was, between that and the Grundy reveal episode – there were two back to back episodes where nothing happened to further the mystery of who killed Jason Blossom. So by the time we got back to it, most people I know didn’t really care anymore. (Even now, I mostly care about Polly’s side of the story, not Jason) And while we’re slowly getting some crumbs now, you can’t undo that loss of momentum. It still feels like in Riverdale, Betty and Jughead care about who killed Jason. (Outside of the Blossoms)

5. And dropping plot points. If Polly wasn’t a brunette, why did Betty go for the black wig? Where is Jughead living? Is Moose still chasing after Kevin? How did the Blossoms think that inviting half the town would expose Jason’s killer?

6. Kevin deserves better. Why exactly is Kevin’s dialogue basically Will from Will & Grace? Kevin’s a gay kid of NOW, not a 30 year old guy from the 90s. He’s literally written as every stereotype you can think of, and calling out those stereotypes (the gay best friend, guy cruising for hook ups), doesn’t change the fact that you’re still resorting to using them.

Most importantly, 7. Decide what you are. Are you Riverdale Noir? Riverdale Gothic? A generic teen drama? Make up your mind, and stick to it. All the yo-yoing between styles and genres makes it hard for the characters and storyline to find a groove. I love the vintage feel the show has at times, which fits very much with a noir story – but then the story will shift gears to something that yanks me from that.

Riverdale: the Grundy problem

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I’ve been watching Riverdale for the last four episodes.

I’ve started and stopped so many posts about this show it isn’t funny. About the apparent erasure of Jughead’s identity of being asexual and aromantic (as the comics have spelled out) – as Cole Sprouse spilled in an interview before the show started airing. About how Kevin Keller’s written as though we’re still in the days of Will & Grace. All snark, sex, and stereotypes – but no real substance. About the continued queerbaiting with Betty & Veronica in promos, the awkward references that are sometimes out of date by the time the episode aired….

But I have a real issue with what was seemingly wrapped up in last night’s episode. The Grundy problem. From the pilot onward, we witnessed the incredibly uncomfortable and illegal relationship between 15 year old Archie Andrews (yes 15 – he’s a sophmore, remember?) and the hot music teacher Miss Grundy.

The show tried to pitch it as a taboo romance, even though Jughead wisely knew it was just wrong and that Archie was being taken advantage of. Betty, too, though her actions were tempered by Archie’s own feelings on the matter.

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It’s 2017, and I’m falling apart.

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The irony is, it isn’t even the political stuff.

My name is Whitney Drake, and I’m probably in the worst shape I’ve been in the last 4 years. I apologize to anyone who liked hearing about my progress, because there’s a reason I haven’t written about living with Crohns – 2016 was a year of frustration and that’s hard to write about.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’re new to my blog, I have Crohns disease. It’s an IBD, an inflammatory bowel disease – which are a family of diseases where your body attacks part of your digestive system. I have Crohns, and my body is attacking my small intestine.

Nobody knows what causes Crohns for sure – the best lead is that it has something to do with the bacteria you do and don’t have in your intestine. But there is no cure and mostly people just treat it, aim for remission, until they have to have their intestine removed completely.

This time last year, the medicine I’d been taking stopped working. That was budesonide aka Entocort (a steroid). My doctor put me on a new pill, Pentasa, which is this big pill I have to take 2 of, 4 times a day. It worked alright?

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