Monthly Archives: January 2017

Toddlers and Hypocrites

While this blog is not a place for political issues, I felt like I just have to talk about this one. Katie Rich, a writer for Saturday Night Live, posted a joke about Donald Trump’s ten year old son, Barron. The joke proclaimed that he will be America’s first homeschool shooter, probably playing on the fact that he appears to be very sheltered. The factual accuracy enthusiasts have pointed out that he is not even homeschooled. But what bothered people most was that she was making fun of a ten year old. Being younger than the age of eighteen means he is still a child by American standards. And given the “right” situation, we all know how referring to a minor unsolicited can be the ultimate berserk button for most people. And there is an important reason why I quoted “right.” It is because the protection of being younger than the age of eighteen isn’t always a protection from bullying, harassment, or even infringement of rights.

A lot of people have good points.

“Children of politicians and other famous people are off limits. People don’t choose their parents, after all.”

“Hating a child’s parent isn’t a justification for bullying that child.”

But I realized that, for some weird reason, the general public seems to have some intense desire to protect this particular kid. To be honest, he doesn’t even look like a kid that much. He is ten, but he can almost pass off as sixteen. At this point, he must be at least 5’8 or 5’9, which is crazy tall for a ten year old. I am not saying any of this as an insult. Anyway, the amount of protection he gets is from all points on the spectrum, from those who love his dad to those who hate him, is immense. If every single child below the age of eighteen was unconditionally respected and protected, that would be totally fine. It would be awesome. I myself felt that I benefitted from this protection when I was a minor, and am so thankful for it. But unfortunately, there are many kids in the United States who are publicly ridiculed. Unlike myself or our little friend Barron, they have virtually no one protecting them from the mockery they face in their most vulnerable years.

Does the show “Toddlers and Tiaras” ring a bell? It is a show about young children who are often forced by their histrionic mothers into these tawdry beauty pageants. Most of the children are below the age of ten, with many of them in their toddler years. The vast majority are girls, and they have to cake their faces in makeup. In at least one episode, a child was taken by her mother to get botox.

Aside from the cosmetic procedures, the children are essentially ridiculed for their “bad behavior”. A young four year old girl throws a tantrum not because her mom wants her to go to bed or go to grandma’s house, but because her mom is forcing her to apply makeup and perform at a pageant. Then she is filmed and laughed at on the show, for all the world to insult her and laugh along. Did any of these children choose their parents? No. Do any of these children inherently deserve negative treatment for having terrible parents? No. Then why is it totally ok to not stand up for these kids, let alone make fun of them?

America seriously needs to wake up. Our people go crazy over a mild joke directed at a preteen probably because he happens to be the first son. But at the same time we have children being bullied, sometimes on reality tv or on youtube, but nobody cares about their well being.

Katie Rich shouldn’t have been fired. Maybe it was wrong for her to break the American code of satirizing a minor. But in a country that will easily violate that same code of honor to a much worse extent, the punishment was a lot more than just harsh.

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So-Called Romantics

The second generation so-called “romantic” poets and their contemporaries included Gordon Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Keats, and Mary’s half-sister Claire Clairmont. I always wondered why somebody so hypocritical, decadent and ravenous for glory as they were wouldn’t have pursued another career. Acting, for instance, would have been perfect for anybody within that “romantic” crowd. Just look at all of the famous actors and actresses today, and you will definitely see a parallel between the celebrities of now and then. You have got your dull and cuckish Mary Shelley, your histrionic and pathological liar Gordon Byron, your worldly but cheating Percy Shelley, your taciturn but silently glory-seeking Keats. And of course, you have your basic, stupid, and promiscuous Claire Clairmont. It’s a wonder why they didn’t pursue an occupation that was made for them. Apparently, Claire did actually once try to pursue a career as an actress, but that was just a temporary and unsuccessful attempt. But what about everybody else, who had actually gotten past the phase of “aspiring writer”?

First of all, it seems that acting wasn’t a very fashionable career at that time. Poetry and writing were far superior, as they should be. But consider that this was a society that hadn’t yet submitted to universal superficiality and corruption. Of course, that was heavily the doing of the likes of Byron, the Shelleys, and Keats. It was Percy Shelley’s and Byron’s lifelong demand for “free love” that ultimately resulted in reportedly half of all kids in North America and Northwestern Europe today being born out of wedlock. Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of awesome things about America. But without a doubt, Byron and the Shelleys influenced the worst of it.

Next, and this one is going to be a cliche response, maybe acting isn’t the only glory occupation out there. In a way, Byron and Shelley can be thought of as the pre-contemporary rock stars. Oh, the hilarity! It matches up so well. But it goes to show that maybe society didn’t ultimately decay so much after all, in spite of Byron’s and Shelley’s influence. John Lennon did pose nude with his wife for a magazine. But Shelley was inviting random females to his house even when Mary was giving birth to his offspring. Towards the end of his life in his late twenties, he was sneaking away from their house to visit a slightly older neighbor female, for whom he wrote love poetry. How romantic!

But alas, they chose poetry. And we are going to have to live with it. Let us look at one of Shelley’s poems, Ozymandias. It is a very short and simple poem, and the highlight of it lies in the last three lines.

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Hear that, Shelley? Nothing of you remains. Except for your putrid, pig-like heart.

And your legacy of free sex and carefully veiled violence. And your poems, repetitive and describing your own fate.

Readers might be mad that I am interpreting this poem biographically and not taking into account that he might be writing from a universal perspective. People have really got to stop putting somebody like Shelley on a darn pedestal. Art emerges from one’s own reality and life. The artist, or the so-called, is not an omniscient being who knows all, sees all, and feels all. Any further and more profound interpretation, beyond the scope of the author’s life and personality, is the art of the reader.

And beyond Shelley, let’s look at our interpretation of the poem. The sands of the desert, the sands of time, exemplify the beginning and end of our human history. It is where our civilization began. It is where our Judaic-Christian-Islamic ancestors have revealed the truth of God. The lands of sand are where so many civilizations, from Mesopotamian to Egyptian to Roman to the Caliphates, have thrived. And it is probably the land of the sands where our focus will end. Time will tell everything. And it is based on the individual’s deeds, in spite of their circumstances, that time will level the worth of all people. But until then, the desert will lie bare, and the rest of the world will lie bare, with only minimal traces of the past left out in the open.

There are so many things that can philosophically remind us of the passage of time and of existentialism in general. Be it an ancient sculpture of a dead Egyptian king of kings or standing out in the middle of an abandoned clearing. There are lots of things that can remind us. But it is crucial to see the artist within the art. Because that is where the art came from. Looking at somebody who created something seemingly profound, something that you could easily get elsewhere or even from within yourself, with uncompromising respect is both dangerous and pathetic.

What is the point of this all? I’ll be blunt as possible. Shelley and his contemporaries suck.