Oprah the Dog

September 21, 2010 1 comment

I have been very remiss in updating this blog. I tend to feel I can only write long and researched posts, so when my life gets busy I just don’t have the time. I have started grad school and with the stress and the change of weather, I am now sick with a head cold. I thought I would quickly share something funny today, from my sick bed without, exploring the significance for popular culture (or trying not to).

50 Cent has a miniature schnauzer named Oprah Winfrey, who recently got a twitter account.

Oprah The Dog is quickly becoming an internet sensation and has her own meme (created by 50 Cent).

Meme created by 50's PR team?

I find both twitpics hilarious and endearing, and I assume that is what he was going for. 50 Cent must be rebranding himself as a bit of an eccentric, and like Bravo and MTV possibly going after the wealthy urbanites. I promised not to over analyze this, so I will leave it at that.

All though, I think my cat, Frank Sinatra, could take Oprah!

Frank Sinatra will cut a bitch!

Categories: memes, Musings, Pop Culture

Jersey Shore: I’m in Miami Dick

July 4, 2010 1 comment

The trailer for season two of Jersey Shore was released this week, and I am excited that the greatest sociological experiment of our time is continuing.

What makes Jersey Shore an interesting case study?

Most reality shows have some pretense of respectability, and they usually have a few “jersey shore” type characters with a bunch of “normal” people. Jersey Shore is made up entirely of people who are willing to instigate “drama”; thus, making it a new type of reality experience.

Plus, they know people largely watch expecting the low brow, and they relish in it.

MTV had a brilliant marketing strategy sending clips to sites like Gawker before the show even premiered. Like Bravo, I believe, MTV is targeting wealthy urbanites with this show. Jersey Shore is like a 19th century cabinet of curiosity, full of the exotic. The upper classes have long enjoyed viewing “the other” from the comfort of their homes, and this is the appeal of Jersey Shore.

Is this exploitation? Of course it is; however, the cast of Jersey Shore is completely aware of the narrative behind the show and as many other pop cultural icons they are able to turn the table on the audience.

As I have stated numerous times on this blog, I relish in watching what people perceive to be “low culture”. Thus, I will be watching July 29th, and I suspect most of you will be too (even if you refuse to admit it).

Categories: Pop Culture Tags: ,

James Franco Does Dionysus on General Hospital

James Franco has reprised his role as Franco this week on General Hospital. His appearance on the Soap has garnered much attention, and many have questioned Franco’s judgment for appearing on the show. James Franco has stated that his appearance is part of a performance art piece, and he is challenging audiences. Today I will explore Franco’s performance art on General Hospital.

James Franco first appeared on General Hospital last November, during sweeps for 20 episodes. The move seemed surprising for a movie star, and many questioned his motivations. Some claimed that James Franco was doing research for a film, while others claimed he was washed up and just couldn’t find any other jobs. Franco answered his critics in a December op-ed found in the Wall Street Journal. In the op-ed, James Franco explained his appearance on General Hospital as performance art.

James Franco explains:

I disrupted the audience’s suspension of disbelief, because no matter how far I got into the character, I was going to be perceived as something that doesn’t belong to the incredibly stylized world of soap operas. Everyone watching would see an actor they recognized, a real person in a made-up world. In performance art, the outcome is uncertain—and this was no exception. My hope was for people to ask themselves if soap operas are really that far from entertainment that is considered critically legitimate.

Many people have called bullshit of James Franco’s claims of performance art. They find the idea pretentious and ridiculous. In his op-ed James Franco attempted to challenge this notion.

Performance art can seem pretentious, but it can also be quite mischievous and playful. Just as Marcel Duchamp rocked the art establishment in 1917 with his found urinal called “Fountain,” performance artists of the 1960s and 1970s presented entire practices and occupations as art. In today’s version, the artist Fritz Haeg packages lawn care as art—his ongoing series “Edible Estates” consists of designing and implementing ecologically productive front lawns. As Mr. Haeg said at a talk at Columbia University last month, “Being an artist is the one profession where you can wake up and say, ‘What do I want to learn about and participate in today?’ ” What could be more fun than that?

In defence of James Franco, performance art has often been linked with pop culture and Andy Warhol utilized performance art throughout his career. One of the best examples of this is of course his appearance on the Love Boat.

James Franco in his latest appearance on General Hospital is making a statement about what we conceive to be high culture. Many people believe soap operas are a form of low culture; James Franco is challenging this notion.

So why did James Franco choose a Soap Opera to do his performance art?

Soap operas are an interesting phenomenon, and are probably the closest thing our culture has to Greek tragedies. In Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy he explained that the Greek tragedy transcended the meaningless of life, and was the highest form of art because its mixture of the Apollonian and Dionysian.

Briefly this concept is the dichotomy of the two sons of Zeus.

Zeus fathered both Dionysus and Apollo

Apollo is the god of the sun and is associated with order, logic and individualism.

Dionysus is the god of wine and is associated with passion and chaos.

In his original appearance James Franco’s portrayal of Franco was an interesting spotlight on the dynamics within the Soap Opera, specifically the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy.

Franco clearly represents the Dionysian element of soap operas

Franco is obsessed with Jason Morgan, a mobster with a heart of gold. Jason was in a car accident, which left him devoid of many emotions and is always rational and calculated. Jason represents Apollonian element.

The dichotomy between the two is seen when they first meet.

In his first appearance Franco forced hero Jason to choose between saving two women, his girlfriend Sam and a close family friend Lulu.

Jason chooses his girlfriend Sam, but calls Lulu’s boyfriend to save her (Dominic/Dante-long story on why he has two names). Only one bomb goes off, at Lulu’s location, so Franco is able to put one over on Jason.

In his latest appearance Franco will be putting on a show at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) both on the show and real life.

Here is James Franco describing his current role on General Hospital.

He will be luring Jason to MOCA for a final standoff.

The Real Protestors of Toronto G20

So Tommy Taylor, who wrote the harrowing account of his detention, posted a video on his facebook of the cop cars getting torched at Queen and Spadina. It is really interesting to watch as the so-called anarchists, who torched the cop car, are dressed like American tourists. The group at the end sure looks like cops, but hey, they could also be disgruntled Republicans.

What caught my attention in this video was not the supposed undercover cops, but the appearance of “The Dude” otherwise known as “Crazy Yoga Guy”. This guy is one of various characters that will be engrained in internet culture due to memes, which will undoubtedly continue long after people forget about the injustices that occurred this weekend.

The two characters that I believe will go down in internet history are “The Dude” and “Zombie Police Lady” (AKA Scary Cop Lady).

“The Dude” was obviously looking for attention as he started his day perched on a statue.
"The Dude" looking for an audience

He then got into the unlocked cop car on Queen and Spadina.
Officer Dude

The Dude was then rescued from near destruction by a good samaritan.

Poor Dude!

The Dude was not very popular and my friends cheered when he was arrested, but I still love you Dude!

The other real star of the G2 was “Zombie Police Lady”, who was a plain clothes police officer wielding a baton at the crowed at Queens Park.

She is actually far more popular than Dude and already has numerous memes dedicated to her.

Here she is superimposed on a bottle of vodka.

One of the best meme's of Zombie Police Lady

Here she is next to Chuck Norris

Texas Ranger Zombie Lady

My personal favourite is this passionate one from the facebook group dedicated to her

Even zombies can make love

I am just waiting for Bravo to create a show with these two, hey I would watch!

More Things to Think About

June 30, 2010 1 comment

A few days ago I questioned why the police stood by while the black bloc commited acts of vandalism. I have now seen a video that conclusivly shows that, in at least one incident, there is an undercover cop dressed as a black bloc member. Does this mean I think it was the police who commited acts of violence? No, but this video raises many questions.

One is if the police were undercover in the organization, then why could they have not done more to stop the violence?

If we are to believe the pictures shown in this video, it seems there may have been some undercover cops commiting acts of vandalism. Could this be true? And why would the police utilize such tactics?

Categories: Musings, Politics

Toronto G20: Kafka Style

June 30, 2010 2 comments

I am still in shell shock regarding the events of the weekend. I realize that in many parts of the world, widespread state violence is the norm, but I am of the privileged class and have never been subject to it before. Yes, when I was younger I was in some protests opposing the Iraq war, where things got pretty heated with the cops. I also accidentally got stuck in an anti-Bush protest in Rome where the crowd was tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets, but this pales in comparison to what Toronto turned into this weekend. I saw people indiscriminately arrested and beaten by the police, 500 (the detention at Queen and Spadina has now been estimated at 500 people) of my fellow citizens detained for three hours, citizens illegally searched and over 900 people arrested and put in cages.

Some of you may know that Canada was once subject to terrorist groups. One of the worst of these terrorist groups was the FLQ, which was a group consisting of French separatists. In the 70s the FLQ detonated 95 bombs in Quebec and even kidnapped and killed the Minister of Labour Pierre Laporte. The War Measures Act was enacted and 497 individuals were arrested, about half of the amount arrested in Toronto over the weekend. I don’t know about you, but I think the FLQ was a little worse than the 50 or so 16-year old vandals. It is crazy that police arrested more people during the G20 protests than the October Crisis. Also, the leaders of the FLQ ended up getting sent to Cuba to chill on the beach, and were never subject to the conditions of the Toronto detention centre.

More reports are coming out every hour regarding police abuses and how those arrested were treated. One of the most disturbing is Amy Miller, a journalist, who accuses police of threatening to rape her.

One of the most compelling accounts, I read, was a note on facebook by Tommy Taylor who got arrested. Like many Torontonians, Tommy wandered around the city during the G20 (our mayor, in fact, told people to go out). He happened upon the peaceful protest at the Novotel, where Steve Paiken valiantly tweeted from, on Saturday night. Tommy and his friends stayed to sing John Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance when the riot police boxed the crowed in. Tommy stated that numerous people, who were not part of the protest, were boxed in, including a couple leaving dinner at the keg and people walking home from work. Tommy was subject to dehydration, starvation and abuse at the detention centre. He gives a very even handed account, and even states that many police officers were upset with their orders (though “I was just following orders” is not an excuse in my book)

Tommy and his girlfriend Kate about to be arrested

Please read his account here

I was crying when I read this and I do not know how anyone could support the measures taken by the police after reading Tommy’s account.

Many people have a hard time questioning the police because they are supposed to be there to protect us. Before the G20 debacle, I had great respect for the police (I even very briefly dated a cop).

I have now lost a lot of confidence in the police force, and as Naomi Kline said “Don’t play public relations, do your goddamned job!” There was no reason the police could not have stopped the black bloc (they were getting paid 1.2 billion dollars). It disturbs me that, according to Kline, they were sending out press releases while the black bloc was destroyed Toronto, stating that the violence demonstrated why the 1.2 billion dollars was necessary.

I don’t doubt that most cops are good people, but I have a big problem with spending so many of my tax dollars (1.2 billion) on overtime and weapons of destruction, only to have my city turned into a war zone.

I urge everyone to contact the Mayor of Toronto, David Miller (mayor_miller@toronto.ca), Your MP
and MPP
and insist there be an independent inquiry.

I would also urge people email Bill Blair a message calling for his resignation, as it has now come to light that the police lied to the population and did not have the right to search people without a warrant outside of the security fence. Here is his email (officeofthechief@torontopolice.on.ca)

Police State

June 28, 2010 6 comments

I used to be fairly involved in political issues, but decided against doing much for the recent G20 in Toronto. I had some bad experiences this past year at school, and now would rather communicate with people rather than take part in divisive events. For the G20, I actually wanted to hear what the leaders had to say. Don’t get me wrong, I was upset about the 1.2 billion dollars it cost to hold the G20, and I was concerned about holding it in downtown Toronto, but I had a “wait and see” attitude going into the event.

On Saturday I decided to go shoe shopping instead of risking the rain at Queens Park (yes I realize I am a very frivolous person), but I had numerous friends at different points in the downtown core, either taking part or watching the mayhem.

My family was actually at Queen and Peter eating lunch at where the so-called “black bloc” ran amuck. Apparently there really wasn’t very many of them, and they were mostly kids. The most disturbing aspect of the mayhem was the police stood by and watched it happen.

My beautiful sister eating lunch while riot police watch mayhem on Queen St.

This occurred at almost every point the destruction occurred:

James Ruehle, a 49-year-old contractor from Pickering, a half hour’s drive from Toronto, saw the burning of the three police cruisers.
Ruehle was stopped in his truck at the lights at the corner of King and Bay streets in the city’s financial district as the protesters approached.
Three police vehicles zipped past the line of traffic into the intersection, where they stopped with lights flashing. A group of about 20 to 30 police then began to congregate but an officer Ruehle thought was a police captain ordered them back.
“The cop was yelling at them ‘Back up!’ ‘Put your batons down!'” said Ruehle.
The police in the cars, he said, then amazed him by backing off, leaving the cruisers running in the middle of the intersection with their lights flashing and doors open.
“It was like an invitation G (to the protesters),” said Ruehle.

I have no proof that anything nefarious occurred, but as I tax payer I want an explanation as to why these cars were left unattended.

I was reminded how Quebec police were caught being agents provocateurs at the North American Leaders summit in Montebello, and I also want assurances that did not happen here:

While some police officers abandoned police vehicles to the “black bloc”, other began to violently suppress a rally in the so-called “free speech zone”.

At Queens Park they also indiscriminately arrested a CTV News producer Farzad Fatholahzadeh who was visibly wearing media credentials.

Farzad was held in abhorrent conditions (he stated he was not given water for hours), where he witnessed injured people not receive medical attention.

Farzad was not the only journalist targeted by police, Steve Paikin from TVO, witnessed fellow journalist Jesse Rosenfeld get punched and arrested by police.

There is also this video of another journalist Jesse Freeston punched by police.

The last straw, for me, was watching what occurred Sunday night at Queen and Spandina. Police corralled 250 people (some who were just waiting for the streetcar) and detained everyone for 3 hours in the rain without cause or explanation. This was a travesty and made me disgraced to be Canadian.

The Police have a lot of explaining to do!

Categories: Politics, Rants Tags: , ,