Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Real Reality TV

Reality TV sucks, especially the more recent trend that particular brand of television entertainment has taken. I despise it. I think it's the worst thing that has happened to television in the past 20 years, bar none. It's become so absurd and self-fulfilling that it eats…well, itself. Think about VH1's Surreal Life of Strange Flava of I Love New York's Real Chance at Charm School Academy…Rock. You get my point. It's smut. And that's just one TV network. I haven't even mentioned the Real Housewives of wherever-the-f*ck, and all of those God-awful "competition" based shows such as America's Next Top Bulimic Coke-head Model, The Biggest Loser, and American Idol. Although I'll admit that I respect those shows a bit more than the outright smut that VH1 airs. And lest we not forget the latest monstrosity that MTV has produced: The Jersey Shore.

This brand of TV will be the death of well-written shows that actually require a plot. More written shows are going off of the air, and timeslots are filled with reality TV. Really, I don't blame the networks (from a business perspective, at least). There's a demand for crap-TV. Why wouldn't they provide it and profit? I do blame the audiences to some degree. My reasoning for this is that the same people that watch this trash will also complain about the overall stupidity of our society, a stupidity that some of these shows surely contribute to, if only by glamorizing it. Think about it. What did you learn from watching written TV shows (be it an hour long drama, or a 30 minute sitcom) when you were growing up? How much did you learn about law, medicine, forensics, psychology, life etc. from watching The Practice, Law & Order, ER, New York Undercover, The Cosby Show, Family Ties, A Different World, Facts of Life, and even Martin etc?

One might read this and say that my opinion is a matter of taste. But I believe it more to be a matter of quality. I'm more disappointed than anything. And I'm particular disappointed in the show that fathered this genre: The Real World®.

MTV blew a golden opportunity to serve society and bridge many-a-gap between cultures, in my opinion. The Real World started out in 1992, in New York City, a city known for its cultural diversity, and heralded as the melting pot of the U.S. It was a social experiment…a study. The objective was to observe and analyze what happens when you put 7 strangers (from different backgrounds, cities, and cultures) in the same living quarters and force them to not only live together, but to also work together. And the experiment was filmed for the viewer to see. It was a brilliant concept…not only for its premise, but also from a business and marketing perspective. You could not watch just one episode of the show without getting hooked. You were sucked in as the cast struggled to overcome obstacles such as religion, addiction, sexuality, politics, love, and prejudice to name a few. They all had to compromise with at least one other cast member, as each of them had ideals that they rigidly supported. And as the viewer, you learned from that dynamic. You learned about the cast, people in general, and yourself.

Obviously, it was a hit.

MTV continued this trend for the next few seasons, selecting interesting combinations of cast members from diverse backgrounds and displaying more personal issues (abortion, rape etc). Eventually and unfortunately, MTV abandoned the social study aspect of the show for the more dramatic happenings (such as Tami Roman's skank ass overreacted to David playfully pulling a blanket off of her on The Real World: Los Angeles). They started choosing essentially the same type of cast members for each city/season: a homosexual/bisexual, a slut, a virgin, a bigot, a jock, a drunk/addict, a victim of abuse, and an eccentric (or some combination thereof). And in my opinion, throughout the years, these types have only gotten more extreme. It is here where I think MTV squandered an opportunity.

Think of the good MTV could have done for race/culture/gender communications with The Real World if they had continued to cast diverse groups, exploring cultural niches that had yet to be tapped. From the show's birth in 1992 to present 2010, this country has become more and more diverse. The Real World could have explored African American culture beyond the typical people that are generally cast. They could have cast a 1st generation U.S.-born Indian or Asian, people with true passion for particular careers such as journalism, photography, or teaching (as opposed to music). They could have cast someone with strong blood-line political ties…a Kennedy or a Bush, perhaps. And yes, they did attempt some of these…but it was very sporadic. And I also noticed that there was rarely more than 1 college student or college graduate per season.

What's my point here? I guess my point is that there should be more to a TV show than how much drama (false or real) can be generated by the cast. TV networks are quick to sell their credibility for ratings. And we (the viewers) are quick to buy in. MTV (aka MUSIC Television) hardly shows any music videos now. The bulk of their programming consists of reality TV. And while some of it is…well-intentioned, the bulk of it is simply feeding trash to anyone who will eat it. Many of us constantly gripe about the lack of social sophistication we encounter daily. We are amazed and disappointed by the oblivious, zombie-like state that most of our youths seem to be in today. But we need only look at our TVs to find the starting point of this mindlessness.

Should all TV be "challenging" and mentally stimulating? Of course not. But damn, 'The Situation' (of Jersey Shore fame) is slated to make more than $5 Million this year, yet they're closing a gang of schools in the city I live in (and probably yours too). Where's the f*ckin' balance?

What do y'all think about reality TV in general? How do you feel about The Real World® 1992 vs the show now?


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

That's Gay

For what it's worth, I seriously considered not posting this one. It's one of those subjects that you can't breach without offending someone. You can't really express your opinions about it without appearing homophobic or some sh*t. But I want to talk about it so…Oh well…f*ck it.

Is it just me, or do gay brothas seem to be getting…well, gayer?...and more plentiful, now that I think about it. I swear there are more flamboyant, gay, black men now than I can ever recall. And while I know it's not fair to search for a "reason why" to any and everything, I can't help but to wonder what's behind the surge. And I've come up with a few possible answers.

But before I get into that, let me make the obligatory statement: I'm not a homophobe. I have gay friends AND family, and I love them as much as my straight friends and family. I don't want to change them. I don't think they're abnormal. This is NOT a display of bigotry or heteronormativity. I'm just trying to understand.

If you know me, you've probably heard me say this before, but I can absolutely understand how a woman can be attracted to other women. It makes sense to me because women can see and acknowledge another woman's attractiveness and still be considered feminine. A woman can be turned on by another woman's sex appeal and still be considered feminine. And so it only makes sense that a woman can be attracted enough to another woman to engage in that other woman, physically, and still be considered feminine...by other women AND men. And even if that doesn't make her gay/lesbian (only curious, if not bisexual), it is more socially acceptable for a woman to have and express such desires physically. Thus is NOT the case for a male because if a male is attracted to other men, men don't consider him masculine. And I'd bet that women don't consider them masculine either. Which brings me to my first point:

1) Social acceptance: There used to be a certain degree of shame associated with being homosexual. That's a terrible thing, IMO, but that was the case. And so a homosexual male had more incentive to stay "in the closet" and less incentive to be "out". And those same men had even less incentive to be flamboyantly gay…particularly in the black community. Today, it is significantly more acceptable to be gay, even though there is still a bit of a stigma associated with the lifestyle. There are entire cities where it is visibly obvious that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle (Atlanta, I'm lookin' at YOU). I don't know that I've ever seen more flamboyantly gay black men in one place than I did the last time I was in Lenox Mall in Atlanta.

In addition to that, mainstream media has popularized (if not glamorized) homosexuality through television shows, movies and music. The publicly accessible homosexual male has come a long way, even from the early 90's and Pedro Zamora's "character" on The Real World San Francisco. The funniest sitcom on television in 2010 (Modern Family) features a gay male couple as two of the main characters, one of whom is played by an actual gay man. Before that, there was Will & Grace. And before that, there was Michael Boatman's character on Spin City…and so on.

2) We live in a "try-it" culture now that rivals the "free love" counterculture of the 1960's and 70's. Particularly when it comes to sex, it is stranger to NOT be willing to try different things than it is to be liberal (a complete turnabout from some previous generations). It appears that it's more conservative to be sexually liberal. This phenomenon does not limit itself to heterosexuality…or labels in general. For example, I know probably as many women who have at least made out with another woman as I do women who have only experimented with men. It only makes sense that this more acceptable brand of experimentation would sometimes result in a dude finding out that he likes taking dong up the ass (graphic, yeah?).

3) Again, particularly in the black community, there is a lack of male mentors in the home. How can I put this?...there are certain personality traits, mannerisms, dispositions common in children in general that we as a society define as or associate with femininity. There are several examples of this that I'll get into if asked, but the point is, when a male child exhibits these traits, an adult male (his father, traditionally) will likely attempt to "break him" from those habits. Call it a fear if you'd like, but the reason for this "breaking" is that the elder male assumes that by allowing this behavior to continue, the young male may end up viewed as less masculine than his peers. Mind you, "less masculine" does not necessarily equal "gay". But…it's further down the gay path, so to speak. The elder male (in his mind) is trying to embed his own understanding of male social acceptance into the child's mind, and thus (presumably) steering him towards a more masculine existence. In general, this steering works, IMO. Why? Because man make men, and thus men define manhood.

Today, a significant number of young men that we see between the ages of 15 and 30 were raised without that steering. In fact, there are a significant number of men in that age range who had the exact opposite of that steering. The "opposite" was likely in the form of the young males contracting a more feminine steering from mother, aunties, and sisters who may have inadvertently nurtured the "less masculine" behaviors I spoke about in the previous paragraph. The results: More (or at least more visible) effeminate males.

(Aside: I've noticed on the re-read that I can't even describe these guys as "men" in my writing…I've referred to them as "males"…evident of my own acceptance of a certain degree of the heteronormative construct.)

Anyway, those are a few of my initial thoughts. Obviously there's more to it than that. Again, this is not me saying (flamboyant) homosexuality among males (particularly black males) is right or wrong. I'm just presenting the topic. What do you guys think? Do you think there are more gay brothas out there than there used to be, or am I just imagining things? Do gay guys seem a bit gayer these days? Do you think the 3 reasons presented make sense?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Out of Your League

I saw a romantic comedy (more comedy than romance, actually) recently called "She's Out of My League." Maybe you've heard of it or seen it. If you haven't (SPOILER ALERT), the synopsis is that an awkward, "average Joe" who is an airport security guard meets a woman at his security checkpoint who is "a perfect 10". To his surprise, she asks him out after witnessing him perform a kind act. Later we discover that she also asked him out because he is in fact the exact opposite of the type of guys she's used to dating. He reluctantly agrees to go on the date, and on said date, she gets to know him better. She eventually takes a more genuine interest in him. The protagonist absolutely cannot believe what is happening (and neither can his friends). In short, he almost ruins his chances with her because he's obsessed with the hotness disparity between them - her being a 10 and him being a 6…as per the plot of the film.

Aside from the comedy, I found the plot to be very entertaining. If you can forgive the obviously and intentional exaggerations of the movie, the situation wasn't much unlike real life. See, we all see people and group them based on some kind of rating scale…at least subconsciously. And we all see ourselves somewhere on that scale. So we all have the tendency to approach people who we think are in our reach. And unfortunately, this scale also leads some of us to think that others are out of our reach, whether we think they're beneath us or above us. What's worse is that we make this leap based solely on physical appearance. The reality, however, is that nobody is really out of anybody's league. Or at least you can't tell immediately…just from looking at someone.

Oh, you don't agree? Well how else does this happen?

Yes, I know they aren't together anymore…but still…

Kevin Bisch (the writer of the film "Hitch") took the thought right out of my head when he based the movie on the concept that ANY guy can have (date…start a successful relationship with) ANY woman. It's absolutely true…and it works both ways. I've never understood why a guy immediately assumes that a woman is out of his reach. I swear it’s the quickest way to miss out on an opportunity. If you see an attractive woman and immediately think to yourself, "Wow, she's gorgeous. She wouldn’t want to be with a schmo like me." Well of course she's out of your league then. You're all awkward and downtrodden, and your body language probably screams "I have no confidence and I'm insecure. I won't be man enough for you in the bedroom because I'll never see myself as the Mandingo you need me to be." Who wants that? But if a fly-azz honey catches your eye and you want to make a move, do yourself a favor and approach the situation like that woman should have absolutely no reason NOT to like you. In fact, you should be focusing on all of the reasons she SHOULD dig you. Because that's how winners are born, son. If you ain't first, you're last.

The more you know.

Anyways, if you have the wrong attitude, you'll find a million reasons NOT to date someone…especially when you have the mindset that you are somehow above them, physically. I can't count the number of times I've heard a woman say she wasn't interested in a guy because he was too short, or too hefty, or not sexy enough. I can't count how many men I know that have not approached a woman because her hair wasn't the right color/length, or her ass and breasts weren't big enough, or because she was too tall. And this movie focused on the inverse scenario - a guy reluctant to go out with a girl because she has too many positive qualities.

My point is, as humans, we (I include myself) play ourselves out of the game. We do it early, and we do it often. And it's all a factor of one character trait: Confidence. You either have it or you don't. And yes, you can be drunk with it. As a man, you (internally) have to have the attitude that you are the most interesting, well-read, entertaining, attractive, biggest-dick-swingin'est, pipe-layin'est cat out there. And as a woman, you have to have the mindset that you are the sexiest, most clever, nurturing, stylish, loving woman with the absolute sweetest p*ssy there is. Again, internally. Externally, that translates into confidence as long as you don't take it too far. And of course, all of that has to at least partially be true or else SOMEBODY is gonna be mad at you later on.

Maybe it's just me, but in my entire dating career, I've never seen a woman and thought to myself, "Damn, Goodnight…you can't holla at that one. She's just too fly for you." F*ck that. I would have made a move on Halle Berry back when I was single. Because hey, why wouldn't she be into me? She's dated pro-athletes, models, crooners, and actors and that sh!t didn't work. Why NOT date a writer/blogger, renaissance-ass cat like myself?

Anyway good people, I'm looking for some honesty here. Have you ever thought somebody was out of your league just because they were too attractive or popular? Why? And have you ever turned someone down because you thought you were out of their league? Don't get me wrong, I know sometimes you're just not attracted to someone. But that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about turning someone down that you thought was attractive…just not attractive enough. Like you think you're an 8 and they were only a 6.5. Also, what do you rate yourself on the scale of physical beauty (1 thru 10…10 being the highest, of course).

Don't be shy, but be honest. Sharing is caring.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Men At Work

Like it or not, the way you look has an effect on your life. Some people choose not to accept this fact, but that doesn't make it less of a reality. We all interact with other people, and particularly the first time you interact with someone, they make assumptions and judgments about you based on what you look like. Sometimes these assumptions work in your favor. And as Ines Sainz recently found out, sometimes these assumptions work against you. Or do they?

If you haven't heard, recently Ines Sainz, a Mexican reporter with TV Azteca claimed to be sexually harassed in the New York Jets locker room as she waited to interview Jets QB Mark Sanchez. Sainz was reportedly harassed by players AND coaches, as players intentionally threw footballs in her direction so that they may get a closer look, and perhaps flirt, as they retrieved the ball. She also claimed that they cat-called at her in the locker room. Now, while I don't doubt the validity of her claims, and I don't want to minimize her feelings about it all, I think this deserves a look from both sides.

Here's the thing…and this is going to sound really basic: A men's locker room is NO PLACE for a woman. Especially a woman dressed like this:

I played sports growing up. Even in high school, the climate in the locker room was very masculine and very macho. Guys talk sh*t about each other, girlfriends, coaches…and no one and nothing is off limits. Everyone is a target of some form of ridicule or another. And such a climate is NOT very gal friendly. I'm not saying that it's an anti-women climate, but I am saying that most of the guys aren't going to change their behavior to suite a lady that just so happens to be present on THEIR turf (pun). I can only imagine how much that sentiment is extrapolated in the men's locker room of a professional sport where the players are bigger, bolder, well paid and have their pick of groupies.

I know what you're thinking: "But how is that fair, Goodnight? If women aren't allowed in the locker room, the only male reporters would get the immediate interviews." Well, then maybe that's how it needs to be. Maybe non-staff members shouldn't be allowed in the locker room. OR….OR…maybe if you're a woman and you'll be interviewing players in an NFL locker room, you shouldn't be dressed like this…

…if you don't want the players to react like a video vixen is on the scene.

I mean c'mon…even some of you girls reading this right now want to squeeze that ass. Admit it.

Anyway, the bigger issue I want to address has more to do with women in less extreme scenarios. As any attractive woman will tell you (if she's willing to be honest, that is), there are ways to allow your physical beauty to work for you. Whether it's a fitting blouse or a skirt that shows just enough leg, it probably gets a woman some consideration that she otherwise would not have gotten. And I'm ok with that. There are many double standards out there, and a lot of them work against women. So if there is an opportunity for a woman to take advantage of a double standard that DOES work in her favor, by all means, she should take advantage.

But I gotta say…If you're willing to benefit from your looks, are you a hypocrite if you can't accept it when your looks work against you? Can you, on one hand, justify accepting the fact the combination of your sexy-ass dress and your curvy body gets you in the club free AND men buying you drinks all night, but on the other hand, reject the idea that a man can whistles at you and make a few comments about how good he thinks you look? If you accept the fact that certain attire will get you attention in some venues, shouldn't you also accept that the same attire will cause some to not take you seriously? And again, I'm saying "accept", not to be confused with "like".

This issue is a tough one because it's gridlocked in the old question of when my right to say infringes on your right to not have to hear what I say. I certainly don't believe that a woman should have to dress conservatively. Besides, that wouldn't stop men from "noticing" her. I also don't think that a man should be able to say any old sh*t to a woman. But there does have to be balance, and both sides have to be aware of one another…especially in certain venues.

So let me ask you: What do you think of this whole Ines Sainz situation? What do you think about women reporters being in the locker room period? And most importantly, what do you think about finding a balance between the positives and negatives of physical attraction?...whether someone is using their looks for good or naughty naughty evil?

Monday, September 13, 2010

What's YOUR Market Value?

What would you say the market value is these days for a blow job? No, really? Among the sexually active populous (whether you are single and dating, or boo'd up), what do you think the proper rate of exchange is for giving or expecting to receive some head? I'm oversimplifying here (maybe), but isn't that what sex, or the traditional pursuit of sex rather, really boils down to?

Guys want sex. Women want sex. So you would think that obtaining said sex would be a simple matter of a guy walking up to a girl (or vice versa) and saying, "Hey. Want to have sex with me?" But it's not that simple. Why? What complicates the situation? Respect. Throw any possible desires to be in a relationship out the door for a moment. Try not to think about this in terms of relationships. The need to be respected complicates the situation…and I'm not saying that's a bad thing.

Women (most of them at least) want to be respected, or they want a man to give the impression that he respects her so that she at least feels respected. Or maybe this is just what men think (ah ha!). I won't presume to know exactly what women think. But I do know that the reality (or the perception…whichever it is) of this scenario makes for the exchange rate I asked about earlier. The social dynamic of our culture is such that, for women, their bodies are paramount. For better or for worse, their bodies "are their temples", right? And so, when it comes to the social dynamic of sex, a woman giving of her body is typically a big deal. And men know that. So in a nutshell, a man must also give of that which he values the most. And there's the rub.

A hypothetical woman is looking to be respected before she gives her body to a man, which means she looks for signs that a man is giving or sacrificing a reasonable amount (according to her scale) to deserve her body. The complication (aside from how long that last sentence was) is that she has to understand what a man values as much as she values her own body. And that's tricky, because contrary to popular opinion, all men think differently. And…all women perceive what men value differently. For some it's money, for some it's their time, for some it's their car. Anyway, this is turning into the longest tangent ever.

Here's what I'm getting at. Sex is sex…it's a mutual exchange. Sure, the perception we've been taught in our society is that when it comes to sex, the woman is sacrificing her body, and the man is getting more out of the deal than the woman. But f*ck that…and if you believe that, pretend that's not true for a moment.

Head, however, is not a mutual exchange. You don't mutually exchange head (unless it's a 69). Even if it's a 'you do me and then I'll do you' scenario, somedamnbody has to go first. Somebody has to "submit" to the other person first, and thus take the "risk" losing respect…which is utter bullsh!t IMO. Even if you LOVE giving head (God bless you, btw), you're still aware of that dynamic.

So again, I ask you: Ladies, what does a man have to do over a reasonable period of dating (whatever that is for you…2 dates, 2 months etc) before you say to yourself, "You know what? I'mma give this brutha some head." And don't lie and say that he has to eat you out first. And fellas, how much do you give of your most valued thing (your time, money, creativity etc.) before you start expecting some head? What do you value most, anyways? I know I value my time the most. That's the biggest thing I can give to a woman…my time and attention.

Don't be shy. Tell 'em how you feel.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lessons Learned X.0

Every now and then, I look back on the last year or whatever and write out a list of lessons learned. It's not usually too specific. Sometimes these are lessons I've learned recently. Sometimes they're lessons that I learned long ago, and something happened recently that reminded me of the lesson. Anyway, here's what I got this time.

In no particular order of importance:

1. When it comes to relationships, sometimes you have to choose between being happy and being right. You see, "right" is a fluid concept. And in a relationship, on issues where it's possible for two people to see things differently, both people think they're "right". And so…both people are right…and wrong. Each person has their way of doing things. If each person insists on being right and holding on to "their way", nobody is going to be happy. Let me tell you, people…THIS is the definition….the very precipice of compromise. So…be "right" or be happy. Sometimes you can't have both.

The more you know…

2. Modern contraception and medicine are good for your sexual health. Condoms are good. Birth control is as well. And condoms and birth control together will hopefully keep you from needing modern medicine. But absolutely NOTHING beats discretion…and I'm not talkin' about creepin' (no T-Boz). Sure condoms make it possible for one to f*ck (or get f*cked by) those who have the most unsavory of moral standards, yet the most appetizing physique. And sure, chances are, you'll enjoy the ride of your life without suffering the sting of an STD or an unwanted pregnancy. Probably. But then again…condoms break, don't they. And whore's are nasty. And unwanted baby's mamas can be nastier. So…choose wisely, yeah?

3. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right and doing BIG. The older I get, the more I see why my parents got annoyed when I would half-ass things as a kid. Don't get me wrong…there's an appropriate time for half-assedness. Like if you're doing something that you don't really want to do, that also won't benefit you. Yes, in that case, by all means, half-ass that sh*t. No need to put too much effort into rinsing out the garbage can or some nonsense like that. But if you're going on vacation, GO on vacation. Don't go to Hawaii and book a room at a Best Western. Don't give half-assed head. And for God sakes, season/marinate your meats the night before you BBQ.

4. Keeping score only satisfies (read: dissatisfies) YOU. This is especially the case in a relationship. I have a homegirl that keeps track of how many times her boyfriend washes dishes vs the amount of times she washes them. She makes sure they split meals evenly throughout the week. And if she sees things aren't "even", she bitches about it. It annoys the hell out of him…I know because he's told me. And he resents her. And resentful people retaliate. At the end of the day, he's not happy…and neither is she. F*ck the score. Do you.

5. Honey is sticky…no matter where you put it on your body. And it takes days to find it all (don't ask). But you know who finds it immediately? Bees. Trust me.

6. You no longer have to be talented to be successful. You also don't have to be lucky. You only have to be willing to exploit yourself. Don't believe me? Ask Kim Kardashian, The Situation (of Jersey shore), and anyone who has been on Real World/Road Rules or any other reality show in the last 5 or 10 years. They've made more money than most of us will make in 1- years. And while money doesn't equal success, money does make success matter a lot less. So I ask you…why bother being good at anything? Dignity? Pride? Prestige?

7. Marriage is not the destination, it's the journey (just like sex). It's some people's goal to get married. Like, that's THE goal of a relationships in their opinion. I beg to differ. Sure, marriage is a goal…a milestone. But it should not be THE goal. The trip isn't over just because you got married. Getting married just means you're driving insured now. And you can do a lot more sh*t when you're insured. There's still plenty of traveling to do and enjoy. Like any journey, there are straight stretches, hills, beautiful scenery, unexpected curves and turbulence, rain, and some down-right scary towns in central Pennsylvania and West Virginia that you end up driving through, praying that the car doesn't break down. Don't sell yourself short on enjoying the journey of marriage by having a "well…this is it" attitude about it as if it's something terminal. So where are YOU going?

8. As some of y'all know, I like to cook. I think I've figured out why (besides the obvious desire to unleash my inner fat-boy on occasion). Cooking helps me deal with life, man. Dead serious. Cooking boils down to two things…patience and preparation. The perfect grilled chicken breast, for example, can't be forced. It's got to be seasoned/marinated early enough to have time to take the flavoring. When you cook it, you can't crank up the heat to speed up the process without burning the outside while the inside is still raw. You can't cook it for too long or it will dry out. It takes however long it takes. And ain't sh*t you can do about it. Just like in the kitchen, a lot of things in life are like that. They are what they are…they require what they require. And it's out of your control.

9. You have to believe in something…something that's real to you. I don't like to get entangled in the rubber-band ball that is our world's collective religious diversity. But I'll say this much: you have to operate under some code of beliefs. Maybe it's God for you, or Allah, Buddha, cause-and-effect, Vishnu, money, the golden rule, nature…I don't know…anything. But you better believe in something. Otherwise, what are you loyal to? What shapes your decision making?

10. And finally (for now, at least), dept is a bitch. I think I'm going to personally see to it that my kids finish college with zero debt. Admittedly, I've not yet figured out how I'm going to do this, seeing as how tuition will be at least twice what it is now and Advil will cost $20/per pill AND a pint of blood. But I swear, the deck is stacked against you when you have debt. I have a homegirl (28 years old) who lives in an apartment not far from Uptown Charlotte. Like, she can walk to a Panthers game…not that anyone would want to this year. It's only a one bedroom, but I'd bet money this place costs at least $1200/month. Oh, and when I say apartment, I don't mean 3 story wood building with brick and vinyl fa├žade and outdoor entrance stairs. I'm talking about a concierge service, elevator man, door man, and parking garage. The sh*t looks like a hotel. In addition to that, she bought a jeep last year…outright. She went to a car dealership, test-drove a new vehicle, and wrote them a check for it. She went to college and grad-school out of state, and has no student loan debt. What this means, for you slow people, is that (assuming all salaries equal) she probably has about $1000/month more money in available funds than most people. Do you know how dangerous I would be if I had $1000/month to stack?...or invest? Do you know how much more house you could afford?...how much nicer of a neighborhood that could put you in? Do you know how much more traveling you could do? I don't know who financed her college years or what they had to do to finance it, but I do know that she's better positioned (financially) now than a lot of college grads will be 10 years from now. I should slap her. Bitch. Lol

Aight, that's it for me today. What have you learned recently, or what's something that you've been reminded of recently that you already knew?

Sonuvabitch, they rapin' errrbody out here!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Alicia Keys vs Fantasia Barrino

Let me start this piece by saying that this is NOT an assault or judgment on Fantasia Barrino or Alicia Keys, nor is it an assault on Nsenga K. Burton, editor-at-large at TheRoot.com. But this IS a shot at the media, in general, and those who insist on falsely playing up any situation available to create drama.

This is a topic that has annoyed me for at least a year now, but it really came to a head in the wake of the alleged Fantasia Barrino affair with a married man whom shall remain nameless.

There are some (Nsenga Burton obviously is one of them, judging by this article) who think Fantasia Barrino has unfairly been on the receiving end of media scrutiny as of late. This began with Fantasia's supposed attempted suicide, which apparently was motivated by said media scrutiny, resulting from details of her "private life" being exposed. Now, notice the term "unfairly". In order for something to be unfair (and transversely, fair), there must be a measuring stick…a means of comparing said situation with one that has been deemed "fair" or moderate. Get it? For an extreme to exist, a normal must also exist…and an opposite must exist as well. Well, the Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz saga has provided such a measuring stick in the media's eyes.

You see, those who believe Fantasia is being treated unfairly seem to also want to see Alicia Keys on the receiving end of an equal amount of scrutiny. After all, they both did commit the same crime in the court of public opinion. That is, they both were involved with a married man. Right? Many bloggers and columnists have implied that Alicia Keys has been "let off the hook" because she is a larger public figure, she's light skinned, she fits a more universal definition of beauty, she's more polished in that she went to and graduated from a prestigious performing arts school, thus she took a more traditional path to achieving showbiz stardom. And Fantasia is apparently the anti-Keys in every way. She's dark-skinned, has struggled with abuse, illiteracy, she's from a small town in a "small state", she's not the classic beauty that Alicia Keys apparently is, and she happened upon her stardom and fame as oppose to earning it. Thus making Ms. Barrino an easier target. Right?

But they both got involved with married men, right? Their situations are exactly the same. Right?

It has even been stated that, in the court of public opinion, Alicia Keys has done far worse than Fantasia in the steal-a-man department. She "stole" Swizz from Moshanda. She got pregnant by him, and married him. All Fantasia did was make some sex tapes with her married guy and get his name tattooed on her.
Same situations, right?


In my opinion, it's clear and obvious why the media dived on Fantasia in a different way than Alicia.

Alicia Keys didn't get the level of public scrutiny that Fantasia got because, up until recently, Alicia Keys kept her private life just that…private. Hell, up until about 3 years ago, half of y'all suspected the broad was gay! She'd never been photographed in a romantic or intimate setting with a man (nor woman, for that matter). She'd never spoken openly about her relationship(s) (if there were any). And she'd never done a reality TV show or tell-all biography, exposing the gritty details that we all (read: you all) love so much. And that combined with the messages in her music (no matter whether she lives those messages or not) allowed the media to create a squeaky clean image for her (be it deserved or not). So at the end of the day, when this Swizz-Mashonda-Alica-Beatz scandal emerged, many weren't sure what to believe.

Fantasia, on the other hand, rose to fame with the media in her personal life…before she dropped one single album. She played herself (no pun intended) in the Lifetime Movie Network biographical film about her life. She had a Keisha Cole-style reality show. And she openly and publically has discussed her troubles. Some may think this is admirable. And maybe it is. But unfortunately, when you give the media that kind of access to you…that kind of insight into your personal life, people (and the media) feel they have a certain right to your privacy. And so yes, the media felt perfectly fine with sinking their teeth into the juicy Fantasia scandal

But even bigger than that is the fact that we don't know what the f*ck was really happening. I know I haven't been married that long, but I can tell you this about marriage: If you're on the outside looking in, you don't know half of what's going on in that marriage. I don't care if you're getting daily updates from one of them, you don't know half. For anyone to hear second-hand (or hell, even third-hand) rumors about a marriage…one that involves 2 people that they don't even personally know, and then think that based on those rumors you can form a relevant opinion, is ridiculous. Marriages end far far far before the divorce. And to two people that want to be rid of each other, the divorce is only paperwork…just as a marriage license is only paperwork for two people who are really committed to one another. But that's another blog. Separation is real.

When a couple decides they no longer want to be together, THAT is the end of the marriage. Not some government documents. Some people like to wait until the divorce is final. Some move on as soon as the couple comes to an agreement that the relationship is in fact done. And we don't know where on the scale Swizz, Alicia, Fantasia (or her guy and his wife) fell. We only know what we hear. Of course Mashonda publicly and verbally lambasted Alicia Keys after she found out Swizz was dating her. Wouldn't YOU do the same if you found out your soon-to-be ex-husband was climbing Mt. Alicia?! I'm just saying.

So with all due respect, media personalities and bloggers, if you don't know any of the parties involved personally, please, shut the f*ck up. And stop trying to turn the situation into a light-skinned vs dark-skinned issue. Y'all wear me out.