I am terrible at coming up with themes for these links posts, probably because I just tend to save what looks interesting, whether they fit together or not. So let’s get right to them and I won’t torture you with misguided attempts at classification.
First up, I think Downton Abbey started up again this past month, and there was a new period drama on Masterpiece Theater last night (which I missed while watching the Giants lose to the Eagles in the last seconds of Sunday Night Football). The Guardian ran an interesting piece on why British TV has so many costume dramas. They note that these are almost as ubiquitous as police shows (whose ubiquity is somehow not worth questioning, but that’s a topic for a different day). Among their observations, this one stood out to me:
Although the contrast between the high and the low in British society is made explicit only in the titles of a few programmes – including the documentary Servants: the True Story of Life Below Stairs (BBC2, Friday, 9pm) – upstairs and downstairs is implicitly the subject of a startling amount of UK output, including franchises as generically and historically distant as Dad’s Army and Strictly Come Dancing.
Gaps between ranks still exist and so could be explored in modern-day drama but, in 21st-century situations, the editorially toxic subjects of racism and snobbery towards so-called “chavs” are more likely to arise. And so, again, it becomes safer to face away from today.
We frequently don’t consider classist behavior in the same category as racist and sexist behavior, but as the writer says, it’s fraught with the same present-day issues as race and gender relations.
Next, a happy end to an all-too-common double whammy of ethnic and gender insult. A poster on Reddit took a surreptitious photo of a Sikh woman with facial hair and posted it on the “Funny” board. The woman heard about the photo and post and responded with courtesy, charm, and thoughtfulness:
I’m not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it’s who I am. Yes, I’m a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body – it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn’t reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying ‘mine, mine’ and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it?
And lo and behold, the original poster got the point and apologized:
I’ve read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting. It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid internet points and I was ignorant.
So reddit I’m sorry for being an asshole and for giving you negative publicity.
Balpreet, I’m sorry for being a closed minded individual. You are a much better person than I am
Sikhs, I’m sorry for insulting your culture and way of life.
Balpreet’s faith in what she believes is astounding.
You should go read the whole thing. I was struck that in Balpreet Kaur’s response, she makes a number of points that are similar to points I’ve heard by women who choose to wear a hijab. They aren’t so much challenging dominant Western ideas of attractiveness and sex appeal as they are ignoring them and/or denying them personal legitimacy.
Next, another happy outcome to an incredibly offensive and what-were-they-thinking incident. The Paul Frank fashion brand decided that their Fashion’s Night Out promotion would feature a “Dream Catchin’ with Paul Frank” theme, complete with “powwow” and glow-in-the-dark makeup. Nice. This caught the attention of various bloggers (how could it not?), one of whom wrote a letter to the PR firm. She received a letter and participated in a conference call with the president of Paul Frank Industries, Elie Dekel. And it ended in, as she put it, a best-case scenario:
The phone call went so much better than I could have even imagined. Elie was gracious, sincere, and kind from the beginning, and truly apologetic. He took full responsibility for the event, and said he wanted to make sure that this was something that never happened again, and wanted to learn more so he could educate his staff and colleagues. We talked about the history of representations of Native people in the US, and I even got into the issues of power and privilege at play–and the whole time, he actually listened, and understood. Such a refreshing experience.
Paul Frank has pulled all of its Native-American-themed merchandise, apologized unreservedly, and plans an upcoming set of designs in collaboration with a Native artist. Some of the proceeds will be donated to a Native charity.
Next, another charity attempt, this one a total misfire. In case you missed it, it’s Pink Time again. And what could be more appropriate than Pink pumpkins? Yes, I agree, just about anything. But not if you’re Kroger’s, or several other major grocery stores:
The Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation, a nonprofit organization that funds breast cancer research, today announces the release of a new variety of pink-skinned pumpkins available this fall, just in time for October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A portion of sales of each pumpkin will be granted to research organizations seeking a cure for breast cancer. These special pink-skinned pumpkins will be available in October at major grocery retailers nationwide, including Walmart, Kroger, Ralph’s, Cub Foods, Lunds and Byerly’s, Safeway/Vons, Home Depot, Sweetbay Supermarket, King Soopers, Raley’s, Acme, Farm Fresh, Shop and Save and more.
The Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation announces the new pumpkins as part of its national campaign, “Pink Pumpkins on Your Porch – Let’s Unite Against Breast Cancer.” The campaign is designed to encourage consumers to join the fight against breast cancer by placing pink pumpkins on their porches and in their homes as a part of their Halloween and autumn decor.
Pink pumpkins? Really? And making breast cancer awareness part of your “Halloween and autumn decor?” I would like to think this is the nadir of pink-related charity efforts, but I’m sure someone can think of something even worse.
Finally, I read excerpts of a couple of books this past week in the memoir-meets-autobiography category, and I highly recommend one of them. Salman Rushdie has written an account of his years in hiding after the Ayatollah Khomeini issued the fatwa against him. While my Twitter feed has been most intrigued with his comments about his fourth wife, the excerpt I read in The New Yorker focused on the days just after the fatwa was announced. His account is as hard on himself as it is on others, and the insights he offers into his motivations in writing his first three books are fascinating. For him, the first two were the “big” books about South Asia, while The Satanic Verses felt much more personal to him. It just goes to show that what authors write and what readers read are sometimes separated by a huge divide. Most of the reviews I read of the book are favorable, and one calls it his best work in years.
It’s almost fall here, weather-wise. Yay for the opportunity to wear boots and tights. Have a great week!