pahl not paul

"this poem is for those who think that/a man can only be a creative/genius/at the very/edge/even though they never had the/guts to/try it."
"gold in your eye" by charles bukowski
(header a detail from "The Painter's Honeymoon" by Frederic Leighton)
I would also like to personally apologize for the amount of coffee I drink before this class.

Response to Planned Parenthood Video

Everyone has heard of Planned Parenthood: liberals hail the organization as the epitome of feminism in the healthcare sector, providing mammograms, birth control, abortions, and other care for women, while conservatives disparage it as the leading enemy in the abortion debate.  In the video “Moving Beyond Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice Labels, You’re ‘Not In Her Shoes’ — Planned Parenthood,” the organization addresses various concerns raised in the controversial debate.

Rather than having a celebrity simply speak at the camera (as they do in other videos), the creators of this specific piece chose to use animation as their primary method of conveyance.  The animations they use allow their message to be more efficiently.  0:33, an image of the world, colored in with the American flag, surrounded by people holding hands is covered by the labels of “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life.  This intentionally symbolic image implies that these labels divide us unnecessarily, when the question is infinitely more complicated.

At one point in the video, the narrator makes the claim that most people believe that women should have the right to safe and illegal abortions, but would not label themselves necessarily as “pro-choice.”  By acknowledging that many people are uncomfortable with the conventional labels, the narrator intentionally reaches out to those on the fence about the issue, rather than those who may already agree with the position.  Inn addition, the image of piano keys while asserting that abortion is “not black and white” provides useful imagery for the viewer and keeps them interested.

The narrator’s soothing voice lends a tone of relaxation to the video, as does the soft background music.  In addressing such an intense and polarizing topic, the virtual comfort of the audience is essential.  Adding to the soft tone of the video are the cartoon characters, with their rounded edges and pastel colors.

The effectiveness of the video, however, is questionable.  Personally, I felt that — in terms of content — the video portrayed very well the issue of abortion and many standard pro-choice arguments.  It addressed the issue of faith and family (standard conservative arguments), by asserting over and over again that each situation is different.  Women do not consult the government for mammograms, they say.  So why is abortion any different? Expecting a staunchly pro-life tone to the comments, I scrolled down.  Much to my surprise, I found that the three displayed comments criticized the video from an intensely pro-choice standpoint.  Chastising the video for compromising the pro-choice standpoint, one of the comments declared that abortion should be available “On Demand and Without Apology(.)”  The comments surprised me, as I found the video relatively convincing and helpful in addressing many of the issues raised within the abortion debate.

(This apparently won’t show up on the original post even though it says it’s there! — corresponds to the Planned Parenthood video)

Video Project Update

To be perfectly honest, I am having a more difficult time with this video project than I anticipated.  I have no problem using iMovie or editing at all, but I am having issue with my content.

Because I am covering the abortion debate, I feel like there is an element of inexplicability behind a person’s opinion on the issue.  It is something about which I have relatively conflicting emotions, and I have found difficulty is expressing exactly how I feel about it.  Writing the op-eds we did and doing to strict analysis was no problem at all, because you could remove yourself and your opinions.  However, in standing in front of a webcam and talking (or however I end up editing my video) it has to contain my opinion, and I am not one hundred percent sure how to articulate that.

The issue with my stance on abortion comes from my belief that it truly is a very personal decision and, while I have my own views on the morality and necessity of it, I tend to be somewhat libertarian about the whole question.  My opinion tends to come off as very “ehhhh.”  I know that there is a way to express that, I am just having a difficult time articulating it.  I guess my main frustration comes in attempting to make a persuasive video when my entire opinion revolves around the premise that your opinion on the issue is what matters, and not mine.

The Good, Racist People

A great article in The New York Times by Ta-nehisi Coates relating to the “you are racist” verus “what you said was racist” (discussed in this video) debate:

The comedian Michael Richards (Kramer on “Seinfeld”) once yelled at a black heckler from the stage: “He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger! He’s a nigger!” Confronted about this, Richards apologized and then said, “I’m not a racist,” and called the claim “insane.”

The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion.

"Richard Mourdock’s Rape Comment"

In his segment “Richard Mourdock’s Rape Comment,” comedic news anchor Stephen Colbert criticizes remarks by Richard Mourdock and other members of the Republican party on the subject of rape.  When introducing Mourdock — before mentioning the substantive comments made by Mourdock or any others — effects of thunder and lightning play, creating a sinister atmosphere.  After playing the clip, in which Mourdock characterized pregnancies resulting from rape as an intention of God.  Colbert incredulously pulls out a whiteboard with the words “Days without a GOP rape mention” on it, pointedly changing the number from “13” to “0.”


By comparing GOP mentions of rape to “Accidents in the workplace” (where those whiteboards are most commonly found), Colbert asserts that these comments are detrimental to the Republican party.  He additionally addresses the detrimental nature of these comments by displaying a fictional graph with “Rape Approval Ratings,” and their decline following the ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote.


He offers the politicians some advice, saying that the next time they feel inclined to even use the word “rape,” they should stick a pencil in their eye.image

When mentioning comments made by these politicians, Colbert does not need to elaborate, as the reactions of the audience provide the necessary tone.  When the following statement by following statement from Representative Roger Rivard was mentioned, the audience gasped, making any further commentary by Colbert unnecessary:image

Not only does Colbert attack the content of their comments, but he attacks the character of the politicians themselves.  With the aforementioned thunder and lightning affects, Colbert portrays Mourdock from the outset as evil and sinister.  Later in the video, he refers to Representative Steve King as an “angry dinner roll” and a group of five politicians including King and Mourdock as “Team Rape,” even saying that they angered God because now people will think he is a bad gift-giver.  By attacking not only their personalities, appearances, and the content of their comments, Colbert humorously critiques the GOP’s unfortunately-articulated opinions regarding rape.

Let Me Explain Why The Onion's Quvenzhané Wallis Tweet Was so Hurtful.

An excellent articulation of why The Onion was wrong.

Here is the Jon Stewart clip I mentioned today. This is one of my all-time favorite pieces from him.

No Jobs in Sight

The May 28th, 2012, cover of The New Yorkermagazine depicted an image especially powerful to those of college age: college graduates, still in the caps and gowns, floating on icebergs in the middle of the sea.  The illustrator understands that college students today primarily worry about getting a job after they finish school, and many are worried that their degrees will prove useless in the real world.

Published in 2012, this cover appeals to the fears of not only the college generation, but those responsible for and even dependent on them.  Parents looking at this image will wonder why they spent so much on a college education that simply leaves their children out to dry, and them with mountains of debt.  Students who pay their own way will wonder if they will ever be able to repay their student loans.  Older students returned to school will wonder if the financial risk was worth it.  This cover effectively appeals to the emotions of a whole generation of students worried about the decreasing value of their increasingly expensive education, but also to those on whom the increasing price of versus the decreasing value of a college education has.  While, at one point, an undergraduate degree was sufficient if not more than sufficient, at present an undergraduate degree is seen — in some circles — at the bare minimum achievement.  This cover reminds us that no matter how much you pay for your education, it is entirely possible that you are left stranded with an expensive degree, mountains of debt, and no job prospects in sight.

Memoirs versus Autobiographies

An interesting article — addresses (in a way) what we were discussing in class.

What separates ”creative” writing (memoirs) from “analytical” (autobiographies)?

I particularly like this passage from the article:
"The memoir could be defined as autobiography that uses fictional, novelistic devices.  But even that handy rule of thumb ranks fiction aboive all else, placing nonfiction leagues below.  Maybe it is better to say that memoir is autobiography that relies less on chronology and more on good writing, which, in order to be aptly labeled, usually has to be seen — kind of like pornography.  Randall Jarrell once said that a novel is ‘a prose narrative of some length that has something wrong with it.’ Well, there are some critics who might define a memoir as a prose narrative of some length that has everything wrong with it."