Category Archives: Entertainment

Phil Anselmo

There has been a lot of comment about the actions of this singer in the past few days.  He made a Nazi salute and mouthed the words “white power” while exiting the stage at a recent concert held in memorial for Darrel Abbot.  For those of you who were not aware, Phil Anselmo is the singer of the 90’s metal band Pantera.  He then got addicted to H and pain pills due to a back injury that resulted in Pantera splitting up just before their guitar player, Abbot, was gunned down on stage.  There are many reports that the shooter blamed Abbot for the band’s break up and took Phil’s side, not that any of that matters because he obviously had a lot of problems.  As much as I loved Phil in Pantera, his post addiction self was beyond interesting and inspiring.  He manned up to his mistakes, got sober, and quietly toured college campuses to talk about what he learned about substance abuse and addiction.  Phil had recently been honored by the president for his contribution to the arts.

And this he did what he did.  There have been rumors for years that Phil was a racist.  He has worn shirts that have had symbols that represented white supremacy.  He has tackled race in his music from a very meritocracy point of view which was frequently galvanizing.  He also wrote some of the best lyrics ever talking about racial harmony and brotherhood among races.  It is hard for me to look at the many things that this person has done and think that he is a racist.  There is plenty of evidence out there to support my belief, but there is also plenty of evidence out there to support that he is a racist.  I would go so far as to say that most of the people reading this will never really know.  I say that about almost all celebrity or media coverage of things.  We don’t know nearly as much as we think that we do.  It is not my place to judge someone, though if what he did offends you to the point that never want to look past what he did, then it is your right to feel that way. There are a lot of things we can interpret, but he did what he did.

The first thing I am going to say is that I have been a fan of this man’s art for a long time and because of this, I admit that I have a very biased point of view.  I look at the lyrics to his music and I have a hard time believing that he is hateful of any group of people.  I honestly don’t believe that he intended for the crowd to see him doing what he ultimately got caught doing, as the gesture was recorded as he was walking backstage.  I can believe that he was gesturing towards a friend and not intended to publicly support any hate group or ideology.  I also don’t know if that is good enough.  I won’t pretend to know what a celebrity believes or is thinking from one moment to the next.  I have the same belief when it comes many of the legal allegations that the media makes way too public and often skews public perception, but Phil isn’t being accused of anything here, it is merely a report of a stupid thing that he did and has to be viewed as that.  Maybe part of the reason that people are defending him is because he knows that he is an addict and that he goes to far when on any drug to include alcohol.  I’m not saying that to defend the action, but to say that I know this event was a heavy trigger for him.  I’m sure that it offended plenty of people and helped to reinforce a racist perception surrounding hard rock and metal music that covers the people listening to it.  If you listen to Pantera publicly now, people might assume that you are a racist or that you are trying to convey hate by your musical choice, even if the lyrical content are saying the exact opposite.  That is the kind of burden that has always been a part of the metal community that we have been dealing with for a long time that will be worse now.

Part of me wants to say that this is all being taken out of context.  There are plenty of examples that Phil’s friends, family, and fans have posted online recently in his defense.  How after he got over drug addiction that he quietly toured college campuses and tried to get the word out about drugs and addiction and their glorification in media.  How he would bring disabled people on stage at his shows or the things he would donate to his community that is largely an African American community in New Orleans.  The question that a lot of people are asking now is if it were someone else that had made the gesture, would anyone be defending it.  I think that there is a weird answer to that in that because Anselmo has always asked for a meritocratic approach to race and people and that he was one of the only members of Pantera that was trying to disassociate the band from the rebel flag.  On the other hand, this isn’t the first time that Phil has been accused of being a racist or a white supremacist.  In the past, it was easy for me to dismiss this as him talking openly about race rattled a bunch of feathers and made him a target.

Part of me wants to change this discussion to racism as a general concept and context.  The context here is that you have a 50 something year old man that is at a memorial for a friend of his that he grew up with.  The people that he was with all had known the friend that had died, and I can only imagine that being around these people is similar as when I congregate with some of my old Army buddies.  We all love each other, but whenever we are together, all we can think about are the friends that are no longer with us.  It is like being caked in depression and there is a lot of drinking.  There is a tension there that longs for release.  I know that we tell a lot of “inappropriate” jokes among each other, some racial, but mostly not.  I am a big fan of the taboo and honestly do believe when it comes to jokes that involve race are some of the most healthy because they acknowledge difference in a society that seems to take these things too seriously.  I know that some of those jokes can go very wrong and especially when you have been drinking and are in front of a large group of people, this can make a person appear a certain way.  I also don’t see the joke about Nazi’s or white supremacy, though the one Dave Chapel told about the blind Africa American joining the KKK was hysterical.  The reality might be that Phil really is a racist and how we come to term with our heroes being less than we hoped them to be shouldn’t change their ideals.

Celebrities and artists are almost all hypocrites.  The Cosby Show was still a great show and still great for what it had to say about race relations, even if Bill is a rapist.  The show still holds up the way that it always has.  The lyrics and outward message that Phil wrote about isn’t any less poignant because he failed to live up to them.  In fact, there are a lot of great people that had sides to them that we often overlook because it tarnishes the image that we have of them.  Gandhi was a white supremacist.  I know that might be a little weird to think about considering that he was from India, who are kind of brown, but the term Caucasian comes from the Caucus of Asia which is kind of where India is.  Same is true of Persians.  Martin Luther King had a lot of misogynist beliefs and was a known womanizer.  Jefferson talked about freedom and owned slaves.  I think as people we sometimes have to look at the ideas and thoughts of these men and possibly take their work and their art away from who they were as people, because if we were so cautious to pick through history to only listen to the men that don’t have a few skeletons hiding in the closet, there are a lot of great thoughts and thinkers that would need to be discarded and we would be a lot worse off as a species.

Update: I finally got around to listening to the Rob Flynn recording.  I didn’t want to give it a view at first, because if there is one thing worse than what Phil did, it is bands that are not very good or popular trying to get publicity for these situations.  I tend to think Rob says a lot of things to try to get attention and don’t have much respect for him.  After watching the video, it first came off to me as someone with a personal grudge.  He goes out of his way to point out there was no wine, when Dime’s widow stood up for Phil and said that there was and that she believes, like I had, that Rob posted his video as a response to an unrelated argument they had earlier in the day.  The one thing that stood out to me in the video was that Rob claims that Phil had and has always said “white power” in the line from New Level.  I called his bullshit and googled live recordings of the song.  The ones that are more professional don’t have it, but when you get to the fan recordings that Phil didn’t think he was being recorded on, they are definitely there and so are the Nazi salutes.  It changed the whole way I view that and him.  I still stand by his songs being powerful, meaningful, and even forward thinking on race, but not sure if knowing that in his mind he is singing about Nazis changes those songs for me like knowing that Mathew Broderick killed a guy right about the time that he shot Ferris Bueller’s Day Off changes that film.  You read into them differently.

With all that being said, much like how there were a lot more people that contributed to that movie, there have been a lot of different artists that are part of the songs that he has made, and ultimately they do stand up, I just have to think about what I’m supporting.  I saw Pantera back in 2000 and didn’t catch any of that racial stuff, probably because I was too busy in the pit.  I’ve seen Down and Superjoint several times each and love those bands.  I heard Phil talking about asking those bands to go forward without him and just feel in a weird place about giving this man my money knowing that he not only is part of the band but that he releases those records.  He owns them and gets an owner’s cut.  There is a part of me that is ok if someone has a private opinion or feeling that is racist.  We all are a bit racist whether we think we are or not, but to blatantly try and signal and recruit skinheads during your shows is overt racism and it makes me ashamed to have supported it.  I don’t want to feel like a hypocrite but at the same time, I’m not sure if Phil and Down can ever go back to business as usual and the last thing I want to hear is some lame apology track or to try and speak with any kind of authority on racism like he has in the past.

I’m rather selfish as a fan.  Down used to be a Super group that made an album once in a blue moon and it was amazing.  Then they started being the main band for all those guys and Kirk left because he didn’t have time to do Down and Crowbar.  He has called on for Down to get a new singer and go on without him, but at this point, the only “super” part of the band is Pepper and Bower.  Down should be something that he earns after a lot of time off. In a lot of ways I want to hear more from the Illegals, the small band that almost no one likes that tours the really small clubs, because I actually did the music but it allows Phil to talk about his own struggles.  The first album was mostly about his injury and how that affects him and his motivation from day to day.  As someone that has a debilitating injury and knowing that struggle every day when you get up, I Love that record.  What I really want to hear is some really struggling personal recovery about his feelings on race.  I don’t want to hear about how he isn’t racist, but about why he is now.  After a career of him talking about hypocrisy I really want him to own this.

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Weeds

Weeds is one of those shows that has a special place in my heart, at least for the first three seasons.  They were almost perfect and then things started to change.  I didn’t even pay that close of attention at first, and I could find things that I like here and there, but then it just got to a place where I was watching more because I had been watching for some time and had invested a lot of time in these characters and I wanted to know how they all ended up only to feel more cheated by knowing than if I had assumed.  Like so many great shows that ended “too soon” that we remember for their amazing openings, this show took that and beat all the life out of it, replacing a stellar supporting cast with guest stars, celebrity appearances, and people that aren’t any good.  There are so many actors that I wish they had been able to bring back for the final season to really wrap things up, but the show wasn’t about the group of people.  It was about Nancy, and that, if for no other reason makes me hate her.  It is as if the entire point of the show was that you were supposed to fall in love with a girl that is bad for you and doesn’t really care about you.  She gets rid of all of your friends and then just up and leaves you, long after you cared anything about the relationship.  Sure, you can think back to when it was amazing, because beginnings always are, but in retrospect it is mostly just a shame.

UnAmerican Football

A lot has been said this year about the NFL already, and very little of it has had anything to do with the game that is being played.  The first thing that is being talked about is Ray Rice.  I’m going to start there because we really do have to break this down piece by piece to understand just how much these recent dealings have affected our national way of life and understanding.

Ray, unfortunately, hit his then fiance in the elevator, striking her unconscious and then dragging her out of the elevator.  We knew this way back in February.  We saw some of the tape then.  I had seen the tape that everyone is so up in arms about then.  It was not some big secret.  Even if it was, Ray came out in his police statement and said that he struck a woman unconscious by his fists.  If I, as a nobody, can read that report online, then I’m sure that if you are a billionaire that stands to lose millions of dollars in endorsements based upon your player’s popularity, has somebody on the pay role whose sole job is investigating this sort of thing.  We all knew what he did way back then, but we didn’t have it shoved in our faces like in the current news cycle telling us how and what to think about it.

I want to be very clear in saying that I am not trying to defend what Ray Rice did.  I am an avid Steelers fan, and was never a fan of Rice’s.  On a side note, I should also probably point out that I am also not a Christian, and all the talk that Rice and former Safety/Guru Ray Lewis gave about football and God strikes me that these two men are wife beaters and murders, and how much religious piousness has lead these two to commit heinous acts despite all of their outward zealousness.  It stands to my reasoning that the more rigid and repressed your religious beliefs are, the more you are likely to act out when no one is looking.

Ray also does not deserve the hate that he is getting.  Working in investigation, I can tell you that the first time someone gets caught doing something wrong is very rarely the first time that they have ever done the infraction.  Though legally we can’t prove otherwise.  For all that any of us know from that tape, his wife was drunk, as was he, and spouting all sorts of vitriol towards him to which he responded without thinking.  That is not an excuse for his actions, but they are a description of them.  He was week, lacked self control and did something wrong.  I agree that the man should be punished.  If initially, he had been suspended for 8 games or the whole season, I would not have protested it in the slightest.

The reason that I am protesting this has to do with the mob mentality and the harm that this is doing towards victims of abuse.  Now, in terms of Ray Rice, his wife, who married him for what I imagine is for little more than money, is going to face the same fiscal cuts as Rice.  I think that she is a big girl, and capable of making her own decisions on the matter, and in turn, is being handsomely rewarded for her silence and support of Rice.  Hardly the face of abused women in this country, being paid millions for their silence.  Mark my word though, in ten or more years, when the man’s money has run dry, she will end up on talk shows talking about how scared she was for her life and how he forced her to support him.  I’m sure such details will be in support of her new book, for which she will make millions more.

The only reason that Ray Rice’s suspension was extended was because of the response from people, most of whom do not watch football.  Despite all of the negative press that all of this has gotten, the ratings for the NFL have stayed about the same.  They haven’t gone up or down.  The fans of the game don’t really care.  What this means is that with the NFL trying to expand past the primary audience of football fans and trying to incorporate a larger female audience that might contribute to those enormous SuperBowl ratings that we see every year.  That game is an event that has become larger than the sport it represents.  Since football is the largest sport in America, that game is all about this country, whether you watch the sport or not.  It is about watching the game, not who is playing.  I mean for most of us, our team will not be in the big game, but we watch because it is supposed to be the culmination of the two best teams in the league giving it their all for their chance at glory in the history books.  We love winners and closers.   Women play largely into the statistics of untapped potential supporters.

I also want to be clear here and state that I know that some of the most loyal football fans in the world are women, my wife being one of them.  I’m not going to belittle that demographic and suggest that there are not many of you that love the game and your team and know as much about the game if not more than I do.  What I will also say is that the women the NFL is courting right now is not like that.  These are the types of fans for which the New England Patriots, along with their color coordination and sexy quarterback schtick, have finessed them into the game.

This is entertainment that costs people in the real world.  For all of the big hits that we see, real people are being hurt, potentially ending their careers, abilities to support their families, or injuring them so completely that they have drastic health issues for the rest of their lives.  We have somehow made our peace with all of that, and so have the athletes for that matter, though an increasing number are finding themselves broke from overspending and not preparing for their careers to end when the eventually do.

The second aspect to this is the Adrien Peterson thing with his kid.  I have not seen the picture, nor do I care to.  Pictures rarely give an accurate portrayal of what they are showcasing.  I am also a firm believer that, for the most part, the state has no place in dictating how a parent raises their child.  For what I can tell, Peterson is actively trying to raise his kids.  I know that he has a bunch of them from a lot of stupid decisions that he should have learned from a lot sooner than he did, but he did have the will and resources to be a dad.  I’m going to dismiss the idea that he has a history of abuse because the first incident didn’t come out until the second did.  That mother was not worried about her child, she was worried about her pay check, or she would have gone to the cops a long time ago.

Now for the real question.  Does taking away Peterson’s ability to make money really help these kids.  I mean these mothers, who obviously were with him because he was rich and famous and got pregnant as a paycheck for life, are not thinking about the big picture.  They are going to rob him dry, and without him getting paid, the well will run out.  There will be no more money and I don’t see how that is in any way better for the children.

I have never been a fan of lynch mobs.  The more that you give in, the more that the demand from you.  Punishments are supposed to be balanced.  This conversation really isn’t about victims.  Social consciousness for this issue really hasn’t surpassed the idea that it is socially unacceptable and a hot button issue.  That is it.  People calling in talking about how they too have lost their temper and really yelled at their kids, as if emotional abuse was so much better.  We are marginalizing the issue and the intricacies of people and relationships.

QT

Quintin Tarantino.  He is the shadow that all American independent film makers live in.  I loved Pulp Fiction.  I love his love of films, but I have to say that I love him more as a talking head than I do as a film maker, and it has been more and more this way for a long time.  I don’t mean to disrespect him.  I want to love him, but the 90’s version of him, the prefame scripts, it is long gone.  True Romance, Natural Born Killers, PF, Reservioir Dogs, all original.  Now he wants to put “his” spin on popularish genre movies.  It is like after PF he has had huge performance anxiety.  Everyone was doing Pulp Fiction knock offs. Some were really good.  I don’t blame him that his next film was Jackie Brown, and way different than PF.  It was a cool, unique one off.  Then the long break.  He did a lot of live theater and found himself.  He did Kill Bill.  I didn’t hate it.  Either part, though I thought it could have been one film.  I let him go on plot holes, cause it is a movie movie.  Not what we were used to, but it was fun.  Also, not the best revenge movie ever made.  People Talk about it being the film version of the television show that Mia had been on from PF and it is interesting, but not great.  Then we get Inglorious Bastards.

I loved the opening scene.  One of the single best scenes ever in a movie.  The scene in the basement is very similarly good.  The rest of the film is crap.  You can’t mix camp and real violence.  It worked in his early work because these were not from the narrative, but character driven.  Hitmen talking about sex before a kill.  It seems real.  Stranger than fiction.  Having a 70’s style cartoon introduction kills credibility for everything interesting you might want to say.  Similarly, killing Hitler is silly.  It is like trying to wish away bad things in the world rather than address them. That is what art is, is addressing the world to people.  Sure, escapism is great.  I love it  If his genre was truly the WWII adventure film it set out to be, then go for it.  But make it ridiculous.  Making a film go back and forth, with a silly story of the girl and her black lover.  Who cares.  The race card is not edgy anymore.  I feel like I am being beaten over the head rather than entertained.

By the time we get to Django, I mean any credit we might give him for bringing up slavery as a topic just seems so outdone by the superior 12 Years a Slave.  It is a silly idea of a Western, with a couple of great scnes that should have been tightened up.  I can’t tell if I am supposed to take any of the violence or the situations seriously which is a weird world to set such a serious subject, unless he wants us to escape from the reality of it as well.

The one plus side I’ll give him is Death Proof, which had the one great car wreck scene.  I love the idea of giving the audience so much of what they want from build up that they regret ever wanting it.  I love to punish the audience.  You want a car crash, well not the one I’m going to show you.  Again, great ideas, but poor construction.  I really want him to go back and make some old school stuff. Something set in the really real world.  I’d love if he handled Natural Born Killers 2.  He now wants to do another Western.  Then maybe another coule of genre films before he retires.  He wants to retire before he tarnishes his brand, but the sad fact is that I fear he already has.  Now the stories are about him as celebrity.  With the script being leaked, the lawsuit, on again off again.  Great publicity.  I wish I was in that position, but it isn’t honest.  It isn’t the man on the street.  I know that he has paved the way for so many.  The indie circut would not exist without him  All the stories I hear about him are of him being very helpful to artists, and I love that.  I want to be that.  But what upsets me is that so much talent will not be discovered.  So many better films will not be seen because he is the system now.  He is there to tell you what to think as much as everyone else is.  He is safe.  As much as he says he doesn’t want to talk about violence in movies, he pushes the issue.  It is his Golden Goose.  I really wish he would do a Rom Com.  No violence, no cursing.  Just all working on form and composition and story.  Somethign about him as a person.  Something personal and vulnerable.  I want him to evolve and come around to the potential we all wanted him to have.

Network Dating

A friend of mine brought this up to me, as she is really trying to find the man of her dreams.  She really wants this, but is also, and rightfully so, not willing to settle.  She rights her own dating blog, and is very successful with it.  I might mention it later, but don’t want to try and run this on her coat tails.  She has become an actress that I work with, but we started out dating.  The dating thing didn’t go very far, but we had a lot in common and it has been great working together when she has time for my projects.  She is my muse in a lot of ways.  I have made some connections this way.  You go out on a date, and before you know it, you feel close enough that you are willing to do each other professional favors.  You need a lot of those in the entertainment media business.  You help work and build each other’s portfolios.

The flip side of that, which my friend pointed out, is that you never really know if you are dating or networking.  Networking is a huge part of what we do.  Sometimes it is not about having the best ideas, as everyone in the field has ideas, some brilliant, most not, but about getting those ideas to the people who are going to promote your projects and get them out there.  I go to bars now, not to drink, because you don’t want to come off as too much of a party person, but to just meet people and tell them about my story.  I kind of hate it and resent that I have to do it, but it is part of the job.  Along those lines, I talk to a lot of people.  We conference to more greatly go over ideas.  By the nature of two people having drinks or a meal together, sometimes one or both gets the wrong idea.  I’ve had men who assumed that I’m gay, I’m not, who thought me being a film maker was just a ploy.  Some women who I have no interest in tend to think I’m flirting when I’m not, to assume that I’m a creep.  I’ve had girls that I have worked with, who I respected very much, that I would have done anything to be in a relationship with them.  It has come up after we stopped working together and they were with someone else, and they had no idea.

Another big issue is that I am not going to go after someone completely as long as there is a chance that we are going to work together.  There are things about myself that I enjoy, that I would never just share to a crew of people, because it is none of their business, and I’m going to be more reserved.  I went on a date once with an actress, and she told me at the end of the date that she preferred aggressive men, and I seemed rather laid back and timid.   Generally, I am the opposite, but I didn’t want to scare of her wanting to work with me later.  A similar thing happened not too long ago when I went on a date with a girl I met online.  We had talked for a while, and she worked at a company that I really wanted to work at in the same field as me, and she said she could get me a job, hours before our first date.  Now, for the date, I’m again on my best behavior.  Despite that we had been talking for months, this is a job that pays a lot of money.  By the end, she lost that connection with me, and receded her offer to help me get the job.

I have dated actresses and photographers that worked with me before.  I had an ex girlfriend that I have stayed close to over the years tell me how unprofessional that appeared from the outside.  And while I completely see her point, there are two points that I completely think that you have to consider.   The first is that I would love to have a long term relationship that I worked with in this field.  i love to talk about my work and my stories, and would love to have a muse that I could come to at home, and work with.  The second is that so much of my life revolves around work, that it would be nice to have that person in that work.  If my partner is not, they often feel completely left out by my schedule, especially at night.  But there is the risk of offending the cast/crew with favoritism and people in this industry are often rather flaky.

In terms of me giving advice or telling you how to do this, I don’t feel that I am in a position to tell anyone else how to live their life.  I can give you my experience and warn you of the dangers that I have seen or encountered, but I am not where I want to be.  I am sure that there are other better ways to get the job done.  I would love to have advice myself, but like anything else, you learn from doing, so my only advice is to get out there and work at it.

Post Racial America

Here is just a thought.  I might be wrong, but my heart is int he hopefully right place, and if not, please feel free to start a discussion.  I won’t get into Obama and his racial politics and what that has done to this country.  We are all afraid of being racist.  Somewhere in the late eighties and early nineties, almost every sitcom on every network had the racism episode, that generally featured an all white cast (unless you were the Cosby’s of course) discovering a racist person and spending the rest of the episode to call out the practice and lament about a better future.  It was impossible to grow up and not be afraid of being racist, regardless of that one old uncle that would scream obscenities and talk about the good old days.  I have read a lot of online blogs calling out these old people dying as a positive thing that is the wave of the future.  The sooner these all racist assholes die off, the better the new world will be.

First allow me to point out that almost everyone alive has racial tendencies, no matter which race you are.  I tend to find, that at least in this country, the black/white thing seems to be the end all be all of racial thought, or the white and everyone else kind of idea, but aren’t these ideas in and of themselves racially motivated.  Most of us don’t even realize that most Asians don’t see themselves as simply such.  I mean, I wouldn’t suggest confusing Korean and Japanese people, as they kind of tend to hate one another.  Also, rather than the general black person, if you talk to an actual African person (read someone that was born in raised in the continent of Africa) they tend to take great offense to be lumped in with every other person from a place so large.  Africa is huge.  Maps that are greatly used in the West are greatly distorted, often affecting people’s world view.  Africa is much bigger than most people think that is, and there are a lot of different kinds of races and racial features that are seen within African society that aren’t even greatly picked up on here.  Because we don’t pick up on it, much like White has become this great cultural divide for lumping people and ideals together.

In this lumping of peoples, only 7% of all marriages in the United States are between couples from different ethnic backgrounds.  Consider that for a second, that after all the movies and racial things that we hear about in the media, after Guess Who is Coming to Dinner, and the 1960’s, only 7% of all marriages are between different ethnic backgrounds.  Now I imagine that this does not include people of Irish decent marrying people of English decent (my first marriage) or people of Mexican decent marrying someone of Brazilian decent (don’t you dare call them Hispanic) or someone from North African decent marrying someone from South African decent, unless that South African person happens to be White, then feel free.  Or unless that person from North Africa happens to be from Egypt, then lets just lump them in as Arab, though somehow this doesn’t seem to be the case with Sudanese people (also considering themselves to be Arabic in culture).

Race is all in the mind.  And what is worse is that largely in this country it is being driven by White people that have for the most part been in control both culturally, economically, and as majority share holders to the population.  And for the last fifty years or so, have been getting a strong dose of white guilt.  The trend that I find most alarming is that most people that try to make like they are completely devoid of racial motivation have dated outside their race, but still, statistics prove that overwhelmingly, they eventually settle down with someone from their own race and culture.  This would suggest that as much as we like to pretend like culture and race don’t matter, that somewhere deep within us, we really think that it does.  I am currently married to a foreigner that could not have come from a more different ethnic and moral background than my own.  There was a time that I thought that none of that mattered, but living with them, and having a daughter with her (due in May) there have been a lot of arguments that I don’t think would have happened if I had married someone that came from a similar background.  Now, while this hasn’t been enough to split us up by any means, I will say that it is something that we both talk about and is hard on both of us.

I have also noticed a trend in the people that end up marrying outside their race, that they have some sort of fetishizing or fixation on the race that they marry, and very rarely see them as just normal people.  The point is that people continue to see race and fixate upon it in both cases and the idea of racial blindness really doesn’t exist.  That being said, we are in a society that would have us ignore this and move on, though we have all probably been discriminated against at one point of our lives or another, which makes it really hard to compare with someone else having it worse or better than us.

Phil Robertson

I really have had a hard time with this one.  I really can see both sides to this one and I can also see why both of the main view points on this is completely wrong.  I should probably start off by pointing out that I am not Christian, but I am religious.  I am Celtic Pagan, and while I don’t want to go too much into my own personal faith here, because it really doesn’t matter in terms of who I am as a person, it scares me that someone claiming to have a faith is being viewed the way that it is being viewed.  I have absolutely nothing negative to say about gays of any sort, in terms of their lifestyle being a sin or what have you.  I really don’t care what people do in their own homes, and am in no place to judge about sexual propriety.  Pat would probably also tell you that I am going to hell as well.  To him, or at least to many Christians, all people, of all other faiths, that are not Christian are going to go to Hell.   That is what he believes.  I understand this idea that even though those were his beliefs that he should have kept them quiet because he represents this other company and that they have a right to fire one of their employees that does not agree with their company line.  But this isn’t somebody who is truly representing the company.  That is like saying that any of the other reality stars that the A&E network carries represents the network.  Mr. Robertson is not their CEO, and really doesn’t represent the company any more than the crazy cat lady from hoarders.

One of the first things that upsets me about this is just how little of an actual argument or a reflection of religious freedom in this country this ploy for attention is.  Consider just how much support the Duck Dynasty clan have received since the controversy.  The controversy would not have come about if there had not been consequences.  I mean really think about the average viewer response had he said what he said, the LBGT movement reacted like we can expect them to, and A&E simply been like, he is a religious redneck with a shotgun, deal with it.  Did you really expect him to embrace you?  I’m pretty sure that even fans of the show would have thought that was a little harsh, but because he was banned from the show, even if it was just on paper as he was reinstated just before new episodes that were filmed well before all of this so they would include the patriarch, will now be that much more advertised.  Because there was a reaction, that was well calculated to make him look like a martyr, sales of the Duck Dynasty merchandise has skyrocketed, and guess who owns all of that.  It is not the Robertson family.  What would have been an interesting campaign is if fans of the show actually boycotted the show, realizing that even though the t-shirts they were buying had the face of their favorite character, that in fact their hard earned money was going into the very pockets of the villain that fired the man they were trying to defend.

With that being said, once we have established that this is a commercial venture, and is being brought out inorganically to drive a divide amongst people without actually furthering the argument or actual thought, much like how abortion is talked about on campaign trails, not because any political figure actually has a shot in hell to affect the issue one way or the other, unless they are campaigning for a supreme court justice, which of course are appointed.  Why do politicians talk about an issue that they have no affect over (I’ve even seen local sheriffs talk about it)?  It is because they know that both sides are very passionate about the issue and they know that is a way to endear themselves, and keep the conversation away from they own record, or more complicated issues that most of our population doesn’t properly understand.  It is part of division culture, that we have to take sides with very little information, without ever really trying to examine the issues and a way to make them better for all involved.

So what is the religion debate in this country and how do I feel about it?  I agree with the first amendment.  I think that we as a population should be free to worship as we choose.  The problem with that, is that we are a country that is a conglomeration of a lot of different cultures, and there is a huge coloration between the two.  I also believe that there needs to be a separation between church and state.  It is the only way that a bunch of people from many different faiths can all not hate each other.  We have to be reminded of what we have in common, not constantly be forced to deal with why we are different.  I personally don’t care how or what you worship, but don’t want to be personally subjected to it.  There is a very annoying idea that I read about a lot concerning the founding fathers being Christians that would be rolling over in their graves that children are not allowed to pray in schools, and while I agree that many rights groups have taken things to an extreme, there is a reason for that.

Here is the point that we need to realize.  That religion can be offensive.  Religion is not PC.  Religion, if it intends to answer the question of where it is that we came from and connect that to where it is that we are going after we die, needs to be very, very old.  Ideals that might seem antiquated in modern society are the basis for what religion is.  While it might seem offensive, or against convention, but I think to put your faith into a religion, you have to take every aspect of that faith.  I hate the modern practice of picking and choosing what it is that you believe.  So many Christians that I know call themselves Christians, but they don’t believe in the parts that are against modern morals, and for us as a society to expect such convictions is wrong.  Religions are a bit racist, passing down old feuds and old societal rules that we can not properly judge without becoming a little bit bigoted for judging.

I recently read a post about the ACLU complaining about prayer for soldiers and how this evil organization was trying to take God away from men in uniform, who “obviously” need it going to war overseas.  I seriously doubt the ACLU would have become involved if their had not been some complaints from someone involved.  I served in the military and fought overseas.  I again am not Christian.  I was forced to sit through multiple prayers that were not even thinly hidden to be Christian in origin.  The only masking was as to what denomination that was being represented.  I would also like to inform you that as of when i got out in 2011, it was against regulations for the Army to hire Chaplains that were not Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon, or Hindu.  That means that Pagans, Wiccans, and Buddhists were out of luck if they sought spiritual guidance.  I also want you to guess how many times the Jewish, Mormon, Hindu, or Muslim Chaplains were allowed to lead prayer during ceremonies and other mandatory formations.  While I fully agree with the purpose of having Chaplains in the military, and that there needs to be that sort of counseling,  the existence of systemic bias goes a long way to show the issues with religious rights in this country.  Consider marriage in this country.  There are many definitions of family in the world.  There is the homosexual argument, but think of Polygamists such as in the Mormon and Muslim faiths.  Consider that many Pagan faiths do not believe in monogamy.  Consider how state laws set up marriages, so that if there is any infidelity that can be proven that the other partner gets a huge pay day.  Consider that in terms of immigration, they do not recognize homosexual or poly relationships of any kind.  You have to be in a monogamous Christian outlined household.  Then you think about the Muslims that live in Michigan, who play the call to prayer loudly, early in the morning.  Many non-Muslims have complained.  Think about gay pride parades that are almost pornographic.  I have a lot of kinky sexual practices, yet I can’t imagine an I like to choke people parade for white heterosexuals.  There is something about the majority that scares people.  They should just have to deal with everything, and then, there is the backlash that the majority, Christian, white people have in the form of Duck Dynasty.  They are a majority of this country, and while you might not think that if you live in a big city on the East coast, there is a lot of room between you and California.

The point is that both majority and minority should been mutually respectful of one another.  Both sides need to realize that to be tolerated does not mean that the other side has to like them.  That is ok.  We don’t need to continually keep picking sides, because the more that we do, the more that we allow ourselves to be used by a system that doesn’t care about us or the issues that they are presenting to us nearly as much as they enjoy controlling us and keeping us divided for their own profit margins.