black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

             

The Death of Adulthood in American Culture | NYT

TV characters are among the allegorical figures of our age, giving individual human shape to our collective anxieties and aspirations. The meanings of “Mad Men” are not very mysterious: The title of the final half season, which airs next spring, will be “The End of an Era.” The most obvious thing about the series’s meticulous, revisionist, present-minded depiction of the past, and for many viewers the most pleasurable, is that it shows an old order collapsing under the weight of internal contradiction and external pressure. From the start, “Mad Men” has, in addition to cataloging bygone vices and fashion choices, traced the erosion, the gradual slide toward obsolescence, of a power structure built on and in service of the prerogatives of white men. The unthinking way Don, Pete, Roger and the rest of them enjoy their position, and the ease with which they abuse it, inspires what has become a familiar kind of ambivalence among cable viewers. Weren’t those guys awful, back then? But weren’t they also kind of cool? We are invited to have our outrage and eat our nostalgia too, to applaud the show’s right-thinking critique of what we love it for glamorizing. …

Something profound has been happening in our television over the past decade, some end-stage reckoning. It is the era not just of mad men, but also of sad men and, above all, bad men.

Don is at once the heir and precursor to Tony Soprano (fig. 2), that avatar of masculine entitlement who fended off threats to the alpha-dog status he had inherited and worked hard to maintain. Walter White, the protagonist of “Breaking Bad,” struggled, early on, with his own emasculation and then triumphantly (and sociopathically) reasserted the mastery that the world had contrived to deny him. The monstrousness of these men was inseparable from their charisma, and sometimes it was hard to tell if we were supposed to be rooting for them or recoiling in horror. We were invited to participate in their self-delusions and to see through them, to marvel at the mask of masculine competence even as we watched it slip or turn ugly. Their deaths were (and will be) a culmination and a conclusion: Tony, Walter and Don are the last of the patriarchs.

In suggesting that patriarchy is dead, I am not claiming that sexism is finished, that men are obsolete or that the triumph of feminism is at hand. I may be a middle-aged white man, but I’m not an idiot. In the world of politics, work and family, misogyny is a stubborn fact of life. But in the universe of thoughts and words, there is more conviction and intelligence in the critique of male privilege than in its defense, which tends to be panicky and halfhearted when it is not obtuse and obnoxious. The supremacy of men can no longer be taken as a reflection of natural order or settled custom. …

It seems that, in doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups.”

In my main line of work as a film critic, I have watched over the past 15 years as the studios committed their vast financial and imaginative resources to the cultivation of franchises (some of them based on those same Y.A. novels) that advance an essentially juvenile vision of the world. Comic-book movies, family-friendly animated adventures, tales of adolescent heroism and comedies of arrested development do not only make up the commercial center of 21st-century Hollywood. They are its artistic heart.”

Maybe nobody grows up anymore, but everyone gets older. What happens to the boy rebels when the dream of perpetual childhood fades and the traditional prerogatives of manhood are unavailable? There are two options: They become irrelevant or they turn into Louis C. K. (fig. 5). Every white American male under the age of 50 is some version of the character he plays on “Louie,” a show almost entirely devoted to the absurdity of being a pale, doughy heterosexual man with children in a post-patriarchal age. Or, if you prefer, a loser.”

Y.A. fiction is the least of it. It is now possible to conceive of adulthood as the state of being forever young. Childhood, once a condition of limited autonomy and deferred pleasure (“wait until you’re older”), is now a zone of perpetual freedom and delight. Grown people feel no compulsion to put away childish things: We can live with our parents, go to summer camp, play dodge ball, collect dolls and action figures and watch cartoons to our hearts’ content. These symptoms of arrested development will also be signs that we are freer, more honest and happier than the uptight fools who let go of such pastimes.

I do feel the loss of something here, but bemoaning the general immaturity of contemporary culture would be as obtuse as declaring it the coolest thing ever. A crisis of authority is not for the faint of heart. It can be scary and weird and ambiguous. But it can be a lot of fun, too. The best and most authentic cultural products of our time manage to be all of those things. They imagine a world where no one is in charge and no one necessarily knows what’s going on, where identities are in perpetual flux. Mothers and fathers act like teenagers; little children are wise beyond their years. Girls light out for the territory and boys cloister themselves in secret gardens. We have more stories, pictures and arguments than we know what to do with, and each one of them presses on our attention with a claim of uniqueness, a demand to be recognized as special. The world is our playground, without a dad or a mom in sight.

I’m all for it. Now get off my lawn.”

Read on.

Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortas, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities. We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—as we sure employ a lot of them. Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs”. But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, provably, simply won’t do. 

We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.

So, why don’t we love Mexico?”

"In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in LA, burned out neighborhoods in Detroit— it’s there to see. What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead—mostly innocent victims in Mexico, just in the past few years. 80,000 dead. 80,000 families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.   

Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace.”

Bourdain: Under the Volcano |  PARTS UNKNOWN

"I wasn’t surprised that the President of France threw over his First Lady (who was not even his wife, but his ex-mistress girlfriend) for a pretty movie star. Americans expect that of France. (Except maybe the part about the First Lady being hospitalized for being dumped.) If an American president did something that he’d be in big trouble, but it seems like the French actually like Mr. Hollande more now that’s he dumped the woman who broke up his marriage for a prettier woman who’s a movie star. Apparently 89% of the French public prefers the new mistress. …

I understand France. But I’m still trying to figure it out the mistress thing. … 

For the French l’amour is a way of life and it seems kind of smuttily, interestingly attractive. ‘Fuck me now!’ For Americans l’amour is something to think about while you play with yourself.

I am an American. I love women. I like women. Sometimes it has even seemed that I liked them almost too much. I have been married at least three times. And I wasn’t always faithful, although now I am on a long streak of my best behavior, but one thing is for sure: I never had a mistress. Never. Not once. Not even close. …

I will probably never know anything more than I know now. Americans live in a female dominated sexual police state. There is a conspiracy here to keep men from fucking around. You get caught fucking around and you are going to pay, big time. Getting caught is an industry.”

Glenn O’BrienThe Mistress (France’s Secret Weapon)

11 Persian-American Artists Bringing Iran to the U.S. | Vanity Fair

1. Artist, photographer, and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, named “Artist of the Decade” in 2010.

2. Nina Seirafi, named one of Architectural Digest’s top 100 interior designers in the world (the “AD100”) in 2010.

3. The bisexual writer-director-actress Desiree Akhavan, hailed as “the next Lena Dunham” by the New York Post. Her debut film, Appropriate Behavior, a comic and sexually graphic story of coming out, premiered at Sundance this year.

4. Nariman Hamed, the son of actress Fatemeh Motamed-Arya, “the Meryl Streep of Iran,” is directing a documentary, Shirin, about the artist Shirin Neshat, with animation by Persepolis author Marjane Satrapi.

5. Nima Behnoud got his start re-designing jeans that had been dropped by the Red Cross on the Iran-Iraq border during the Iran-Iraq war. Now, Heidi Klum and other celebrities wear his calligraphy-laced clothing brand, Nimany. His Web site has been banned in Iran.

6. Hafez Nazeri, the son of Iran’s most prominent classical musician, Shahram Nazeri, is a composer who brings East and West together in hauntingly beautiful orchestral pieces. His fifth album, Untold, released by Sony March 11, was recorded in five countries with more than 35 Grammy Award-winning artists.

7. Habibi, the retro, all-girl, punk-rock band, based in Brooklyn, fronted by Rahill Jamalifard.

"Don’t Call Girls Bossy. Or Grown Women Aggressive.
Seriously, don’t do it. And while you’re at it, don’t call them pushy, angry, brusque, ballbusters, bitchy, careerist, cold, calculating — you get the point. Also: shrill and strident, both of which imply high-pitched and screechy women a la your mother, finger pointed, scolding you to clean your room. Bossy is the subject of the new Sandberg campaign, but it’s something linguists have written about for decades. The reality is that these words are rooted in stereotype, and they are only applied to women. Think about it: girls are bossy, boys have “leadership qualities.” Women are deemed aggressive, while men are simply decisive (or just, um, bosses). From Ruth Bader Ginsburg (called “a bitch” by her law school classmates) to the “ball-busting” Hillary Clinton, historians will tell you: women in power have long been punished for exhibiting qualities of assertiveness, because it veers from the “feminine” mold. And yet, isn’t it precisely those assertive qualities that will help women get ahead? If you wouldn’t call a dude these words, don’t say ‘em of a lady.
Please Avoid the ‘Crazy Woman’ Trope. And While We’re At It: She’s Not ‘Moody,’ ‘Hysterical,’ or ‘Emotional’ Either.
Female hysteria was once the catch-all diagnosis for a woman with problems, and it didn’t disappear entirely from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders until 1980. But the trope of the crazy, emotional, moody, hysterical, PMS-ing, crazy woman — or worse, the crazy, emotional, hysterical romantic stalker — remains in full force. Crazy is the catch-all putdown for any woman you don’t like/makes you uncomfortable/doesn’t fit the mold. (Or as Tina Fey said in her book Bossypants, “the definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to f*ck her any more.””
Jessica Bennet on How Not to Sound Like a Sexist Jerk

"Don’t Call Girls Bossy. Or Grown Women Aggressive.

Seriously, don’t do it. And while you’re at it, don’t call them pushy, angry, brusque, ballbusters, bitchy, careerist, cold, calculating — you get the point. Also: shrill and strident, both of which imply high-pitched and screechy women a la your mother, finger pointed, scolding you to clean your room. Bossy is the subject of the new Sandberg campaign, but it’s something linguists have written about for decades. The reality is that these words are rooted in stereotype, and they are only applied to women. Think about it: girls are bossy, boys have “leadership qualities.” Women are deemed aggressive, while men are simply decisive (or just, um, bosses). From Ruth Bader Ginsburg (called “a bitch” by her law school classmates) to the “ball-busting” Hillary Clinton, historians will tell you: women in power have long been punished for exhibiting qualities of assertiveness, because it veers from the “feminine” mold. And yet, isn’t it precisely those assertive qualities that will help women get ahead? If you wouldn’t call a dude these words, don’t say ‘em of a lady.

Please Avoid the ‘Crazy Woman’ Trope. And While We’re At It: She’s Not ‘Moody,’ ‘Hysterical,’ or ‘Emotional’ Either.

Female hysteria was once the catch-all diagnosis for a woman with problems, and it didn’t disappear entirely from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders until 1980. But the trope of the crazy, emotional, moody, hysterical, PMS-ing, crazy woman — or worse, the crazy, emotional, hysterical romantic stalker — remains in full force. Crazy is the catch-all putdown for any woman you don’t like/makes you uncomfortable/doesn’t fit the mold. (Or as Tina Fey said in her book Bossypants, “the definition of ‘crazy’ in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to f*ck her any more.””

Jessica Bennet on How Not to Sound Like a Sexist Jerk

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