aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, August 31, 2007
Bring In Da Noise Bring In Da Funk
And with Stevie Wonder.
Penguins subversive and banned
A big fan of Savion Glover, I rented Happy Feet last weekend. I have to say that after seeing the movie I better understand why he was omitted from the top tier credits. There wasn’t near enough dancing.
I read Mumble, the young dancing penguin, as a euphemism for gay. The ice breaking into the sea at the end of delightfully executed penguin ice ride and the over-fishing trawlers were wonderfully and appropriately environmentally evocative for young children. They cry out to be made into a simulator adventure at an amusement park. It made me wish my flat panel was 50” rather than 32.
In other penguin news, AP had the details this week on ”And Tango Makes Three,” the award-winning children’s book based on a true story about two male penguins who raised a baby penguin that topped the American Library Association’s annual list of works attracting the most complaints from parents, library patrons and others:
Overall, the number of “challenged” books in 2006 jumped to 546, more than 30 percent higher than the previous year’s total, 405, although still low compared to the mid-1990s, when challenges topped 750. [...]
“And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, was published in 2005 and named by the ALA as one of the year’s best children’s books. But parents and educators have complained that “Tango Makes Three” advocates homosexuality, with challenges reported in Southwick, Mass., Shiloh, Ill., and elsewhere.
The ALA defines a “challenge” as a “formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” For every challenge listed, about four to five go unreported, according to the library association. Krug said 30 books were actually banned last year.
Here’s some Tango backstory. And, why not? Here’s a Happy Feet trailer:
The future of spam
Alarming reports about the total volume of spam on the Net are beside the point. What we really care about is how much spam actually lands in our in-boxes. Thanks to new technologies, the fraction of spam that sneaks past the filters is starting to decline faster than the total volume of spam messages is increasing-so the typical user will see fewer and fewer unwanted messages.
Network operators and software firms are deploying ever-better filtering tools, using advanced machine learning and collaborative filtering (if others say that a message is spam, you won’t have to see it) to lower the odds of unwanted messages sneaking into your in-box. Eventually, we’ll be able to authenticate where messages originate, making it harder for spammers to hide. Sure, the spammers will fight back with technical tricks of their own, but we can fight on the technical front at least to a stalemate.
Thumbs down on Ebert’s trademark claim
I’ve only peripherally been aware of the dispute around the “thumbs up” trademark claim made by Roger Ebert.
The Chicago Tribune goes to Intellectual Property Answer Man:
Q: So if Richard Roeper or his new semipermanent guest host, Robert Wilonsky, flashes a thumbs-up sign, Ebert could sue him?
A: In the opinion of intellectual property/entertainment lawyer E. Leonard Rubin, no. Ebert and Siskel trademarked the “thumbs up"/"thumbs down” catchphrases in relation to movies, and “Two Thumbs Up” has become a powerful identifier for the show as well as a potent marketing tool for the studios. But the gesture of raising or lowering thumbs to indicate approval or disapproval dates back to ancient Rome, so it’s not original and cannot be trademarked. “Disney cannot use [’Two Thumbs Up’] to indicate the show,” Rubin said. “But people on television during the show, I believe, are not prohibited from using a gesture thumbs-up or a gesture thumbs-down: ‘I liked it,’ ‘I didn’t like it.’ ”
Ron Coleman agrees. But:
...what about the fuss we made a while ago about the Jay-Z / Diamond Dallas silly hand gesture dustup? Would the same reasoning apply?
It would — only the result might well be different, because (despite the sarcasm displayed at the time here) unlike the thumbs up / thumbs down gesture, the particular combination of joints at issue in the rapper-wrestler case seems relatively novel and, for its utter incomprehensibility, pleasantly arbitrary – as a good trademark should be.
Signorile & Crane on Outing in Newsweek
Chris Crain formerly of Window Media, where he edited Southern Voice among other gay publications and Michelangelo Signorile the activist co-founding editor of the now-defunct OutWeek, discuss outing (Signorile avers, “We don’t call that ‘outing’-we call it reporting") in Newsweek:
Signorile: For me, this is all about journalism and equalizing the reporting of homosexuality and heterosexuality. For that reason, no, I do not believe this is only about politicians nor only about those like Craig who have done some kind of harm. That would in fact be making it into a weapon or a tool, or holding people to a litmus test, as you imply of some. There are a wide range of views on this among those who might say they favor “outing"-and I have always hated that word, a violent, active verb coined by a Time magazine writer. Some people adhere only to the hypocrisy test; others, like me, are about normalizing sexual orientation in journalism and not keeping homosexuality as the dirty little secret while heterosexuality is glamorized. For me, a public figure’s homosexuality should be reported on when relevant to a larger story, just as when heterosexuality is reported on or asked about whenever relevant. [...]
Crain: I agree entirely with Mike about equalizing the standard applied by journalists in dealing with sexual orientation when it comes to reporting on public figures. For years before the Mark Foley scandal broke, he was regularly seen in public in Washington and West Palm Beach with his longtime partner, a respected physician. The media-gay and straight, with the exception of the publications I edited-largely ignored the public facts they knew about that relationship because Foley had not chosen to “come out.” I would agree with Mike that it’s not “outing” Foley to report his public appearances, ask him “the question” and print his response. If Larry Craig (before his arrest) or Ed Schrock had been engaging in public conduct like Foley, then absolutely it would have been fair game to report. But there is a huge difference between bringing your long-term partner to Washington cocktail parties and recording an ad on a phone-sex line. Both are technically “public,” since anyone could call the chat line and hear his voice, but most people would agree that the latter is within a zone of personal privacy that ought to be respected by the media, even for public figures.
Most? Signorile disagrees. Me too.
Where’ the GOP outrage about all their other scandals?
Noting that the Republican Party rush to disown Senator Craig, the NYTimes sees no similar call for judgment about any of the other scandalous revelations on the party’s plate.
There’s the F.B.I.’s inquiry into whether Senator Ted Stevens swung a quid-pro-quo deal for a government contractor who eventually renovated his Alaska home. There’s also Senator David Vitter’s presence on the client list of a Washington brothel. Mr. Vitter, a social conservative, pleaded guilty to “sin” (heterosexual) and no leadership call ensued for a thorough in-house ethics inquiry. Certainly, no Republican called for the resignation of Mr. Vitter, who comes from Louisiana, which has a Democratic governor who would then replace him. Mr. Craig is from a safe state with a Republican governor.
Mr. Craig’s explanation of his behavior may make little sense to the average voter trying to fathom how he was taken in by a police sting against lewd public behavior. The senator quietly copped a disorderly conduct plea after taking two months to consider his arrest and his options. Once it hit the media, he claimed his judgment was clouded but his heterosexuality unblemished. [...]
Underlying the hurry to disown the senator, of course, is the party’s brutal agenda of trumpeting the gay-marriage issue. To the extent Senator Craig, a stalwart in the family values caucus, might morph into a blatant hypocrite before the voters’ eyes, he reflects on the party’s record in demonizing homosexuality. The rush to cast him out betrays the party’s intolerance, which is on display for the public in all of its ugliness. But it also betrays their political uneasiness as the next election approaches.