Monday, October 20, 2008

The Beauty of the Bride

I love the show "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC (Fridays at 9p). It's amazing what reality television can dramatize. Who knew it was possible to make a half hour program about the vendors at a bridal boutique and soon-to-be-brides choosing a durn dress? Who cares about such things? I do, for one. I love wedding dresses and weddings and pictures of brides on their wedding day. When the day has gone well and the bride's hopes for her wedding have come to be, there is an elusive joy in her eyes and a smile that is like no other. She has no idea what the future holds and as far as she is concerned, on that magical day, she expects nothing less than perfection for her life. Does that happen? Rarely. Could anyone convince her otherwise? No. The pictures bear witness to a combination of joy, hope and the wonderful unknown. The pictures capture emotions that cannot be replicated because even as soon as the evening of her wedding the unknown doesn't exist anymore. From the church, to the reception hall, to the hotel, from moment to moment she acquires something new about her husband that sends a message loud and clear that the wedding itself is not going to be the marriage and forever is a very long time. I have looked at my wedding pictures and there is that elusive look in my eyes and a smile that is unrecognizeable because I had never been so happy and because I had no idea what was in store. But this truth isn't a bad thing. I wouldn't trade what I know now for what I didn't know then. When I look at my bride-self in my beautiful champagne colored dress I marvel at her but I don't envy her. I embrace what I have learned about my marriage, my husband, myself and marriage has made me a better person and best of all, a Mom. I imagine if my husband and I had another ceremony on Nov 12th, our third anniversary, the smile that would emerge would be just as worthy of my awe. Because I have lived. My husband and I have treated the word marriage like a verb and we have tried our best. Now my smile would suggest pride, anticipation for more of our shared life come what may, and knowledge as well as life's great constant, the unknown.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Secret Life of Stereotypes

Sassy; A word defined in the dictionary as "saucy" A word in our culture that may as well have a picture of a black woman next to it. Ya know, cause black women are "sassy". We're also wise. We also really like to help white people. In Hollywood film versions of us that pretty much is all we like to do. Case in point, in "The Secret Lives of Bees" starring our reigning-sassy-black-actress Queen Latifah, the Academy Award winning Jennifer Hudson (who won her statue for her "sassy" performance in Dreamgirls), Sophie Okenedo and Alicia Keys, these women get to be SASSY four times over. AND!!!! They get to save a white girl! (Dakota Fanning for God's sake) And of course these aren't modern women we're talking about. Heaven forbid. The story is set in 1964 because modern black women aren't half as interesting as those who don't exist anymore. And finally, to add insult to injury the G-D story is set in the South. Do black people in Hollywood movies live anywhere else but the South?!!! Oh yeah, Los Angeles. By the way, Sophie Okenedo plays the part of a woman-child. A WOMAN-CHILD! When I saw this character described in the Chicago Sun-Times I was incensed. Why do people who write black characters love to write about the WOMAN-CHILD? Or the MAN-CHILD? What the hell does this actually mean? Are they afraid to give them an actual conditon for fear that they couldn't create the most generalized, cloying, crowd pleasing character possible if they were confined by the actual specifics that would cause a person to be emotionally stunted? Boy, those pesky details would be a downer. Patooey!

I will not see "The Secret Life of Bees". I hope no one sees it, ever. I am not concerned that lack of attendance will send a message to Hollywood that black movies don't sell because if I never see another movie with black characters that keeps us locked in the same ole antiquated roles played since "Gone with the Wind" it will be too darn soon. Instead of seeing "The Secret Life of Bees" have a conversation with a black woman and find out what's going on in her life right now in 2008. See how see feels about Barack Obama. Don't assume she loves him because he's black. Or if she does love him give her an opportunity to articulate the reasons beyond the color of his skin. Listen to how she may not have a southern accent and does not actually work in a domestic position. Or if she does work in a domestic position ask her about it. I'm going to let you in on the secret to busting stereotypes. Let's stop "buying" into them. Money talks. Let's walk away from the cineplex with our money in our pockets and black women's dignity restored.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

John McCain Has Issues

There are all sorts of theories surrounding McCain's recent downslide. Granted all of the reasons make sense. In the second to last debate he really did look like he was walking around aimlessly. I'm sure the people from his campaign wished they could run out on stage and staple his feet to the ground. His big-bold-superhero move to save the world through economics crashed. Oops! And when it comes right down to it, he just hasn't seemed like he's all that pleasant to be around. Never mind "having a beer" with the guy, I wouldn't even want to be in the same bar with him lest the irascible politician felt tempted to crack a joke. Despite these things, I think there is more at play when it comes to McCain most likely losing in November. I believe he's done it to himself because he has unresolved issues with rage due to unresolved issues with his father and unresolved issues with what happened those five years he was a p.o.w. I think he is prone toward self sabotage and that he only allows himself a certain degree of success before he finds or forces a way to fail. Being a senator is an accomplishment that merits praise but being voted the President of the United States? Does John McCain think he deserves that? Apparently not. How else would one explain choosing Sarah Palin as his Vice President? How was anybody able to convince him to gamble like that so late in the game? They were able, because McCain was already starting to look for an out. Why would McCain rush to Washington on a promise to change the trajectory of our economic situation and then not close the deal? Self fulfilling prophecy. That's why. Why would McCain bring up a solution to the housing problem that was more Democratic in it's ideals, consequently alienting his party even further? Why hasn't he hammered Obama to his face, toe-to-toe on any of his relationships in question or any of his views that threaten the Republican ideals in a substantial manner. Because, he doesn't want to win and if he did that, he might win. He's gotten too close and now he must recede. Granted his flubs give me hope that the change Obama promises is indeed this country's future but I am fascinated by McCain's struggle with his destiny. I was just as intrigued albeit much more disappointed when we all watched Gore crash and burn in his run for the Presidency. Do you remember that horrible moment in the first debate when he rushed his opponent like a bully while he was answering the moderator's question and Bush appropriately responded with an expression that suggested, shock, confusion and disdain? In that moment the hope of Gore becoming Clinton's successor drained out of me and I knew our fate as a country was sealed. It is something to watch someone stand in their own way. No Democrat could've written a better script for McCain's decline. After the third debate his programmed-old school-joe-the-plummer-nonsense annoyed me to the point of disgust then I heard his "stand-up routine" at the "Alfred E Smith" dinner and through humor I was able to at least designate him as a human being instead of a robot. Unfortunately, his human status reminds us that humans make mistakes. I'd call his entire campaign an "oops" that could be a template of what not to do in future campaigns. His loss is hopefully Obama's gain. His loss is a lesson to all of us in the perils of being human.