Saturday, August 27, 2016

J.K. Rowling Enters the Anti-Homophobia Conversation Again

J.K. Rowling's outspokeness about homophobia continues. Recently, when the organisation Christian Voice attempted to link British olympic diver Tom Daley's performance to his sexual orientation in a twitter post, she defended him, predictably causing waves on social media.

Homophobia is sad, but unfortunately it is still a fact of life. While I believe society should embrace freedom of speech, it is also imperative that people with certain moral stances use their freedom of speech to promote their values. We should all follow Rowling's example here, and use our voice to improve society whenever we can. It's a responsibility we all have.

Download the full song here.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

So Better Midler is a Bigot Now? When PC Goes Too Far, Again.

Bette Midler, of all people, would be the last to be accused of bigotry, you would think. But apparently, in the age of the social justice warriors, she, too has become the latest victim of the witch hunt.

It all started when Bette posted on twitter comments about Caitlyn Jenner, suggesting now that I Am Cait is over, perhaps Caitlyn may become Bruce again. Surely insensitive, but I'm sure it was meant to be tongue in cheek. Predictably, accusations of transphobia poured in, and Midler soon apologised. But even that was not enough. Because Bette wrote that she had misread the 'temper of the times' in her apology, the SJWs thought that she needed another lesson, regarding the 'fact' that she thought it would be okay to be transphobic in other times. Of course transphobia is never okay. But this SJW-type response is certainly a feature of the 'temper of the times'!

Not that the SJW crowd like Caitlyn Jenner either, remember. Her Republican party affiliation is an eyesore to most of them, since they apparently believe that all minorities should be leftist. As if being a minority should take away your political choice.

Not only totally ridiculous, but also totally sad. Social justice surely doesn't get achieved this way.

Let me suggest a better way. How about, just educate? Maybe we should have told Bette Midler that what she said was insensitive to trans people. And she would have gotten it, I believe. Much easier, much less divisive, and much more effective indeed.


Download the full song here.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne: Dating women but no 'labels'. A new era of equality?

Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne have become two of the latest celebrities to be openly dating women, but opting not to put a label on their relationships status or their sexual orientation.

In the past, people would have expected those dating the same sex to 'come out as gay'. But times appear to be changing. And it may just be another step towards equality. I mean, those dating the opposite sex don't have to 'come out as heterosexual' or describe their relationship as a 'heterosexual relationship'. It may be described as such by other people, but the couple themselves don't have to actively own the term, or identify with it. So why should there even be an expectation that people 'come out as gay' if they want to date someone of the same sex?


Download the full song here.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Jared Leto speaks up about Hollywood's discrimination problem. But it may be difficult to fix.

Jared Leto may be one of Hollywood's most successful actors today, but he's not blind to the fact that some people still have more opportunities than others in the industry. He recently spoke out about the fact that Hollywood remains a conservative business, where people from minority groups would not have the same level of opportunities as he had.

Jared should be congratulated for speaking up. But I don't think this is something that can easily be fixed. Hollywood is, after all, a business that wants to make money, and to make money from selling movies to large audiences, appealing to mainstream tastes, including having characters that the majority can readily identify with, just makes business sense. The number of characters who are from minority ethnic groups, who are LGBT, or who are disabled would generally have to be limited. It would then follow naturally that minorities would have fewer chances in the movie industry.

This is really a problem with mass media in general. Mass media has to appeal to many, many people at once to achieve enough audience to make enough profits to offset the huge costs involved, which means it generally has to go for a more 'common' appeal. On the other hand, 'narrowcasting' on the internet is not bound by such restrictions. That is why people from minority groups have more readily found success as independent cultural icons in the age of the internet. And ultimately, this is why we should be happy that the mass media can't dominate our culture as much as it used to.


Download the full song here.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Clint Eastwood blasts PC 'Pussy Generation'. I think he has a point.

Clint Eastwood recently added to the already very loud chorus of voices against political correctness, blasting what he calls the 'pussy generation'. He also said that he would vote for Donald Trump in November.

While I don't think that voting for Trump is the wisest decision, I have to thank Clint for adding to the opposition to political correctness. For somebody like myself, political correctness is a detriment to the improvement of society, including in the campaigns to solve the problems of racism, sexism and homophobia. It's like, if you disagree with someone, just state your case. Free speech means debate, and debate means real progress. Shutting down useful debate isn't helpful to anyone.

While anti-PC used to be a mainly conservative concern back in the 1980s, nowadays it's one of the few things that unite conservatives, libertarians and progressives (including President Obama) alike, even if for different reasons. We may want PC gone for vastly different, even opposing, reasons, but it's clear that a building majority of us want our freedom of speech back.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Some Berners are still Bernie or Bust. Maybe they just don't understand how history works.

I hate to break it to the remaining 'Bernie or Bust' people: Bernie Sanders definitely won't be president next year, but either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will. And if you don't want to be part of the decision making, then other people will make the decision for you. (I'm also guessing that, if it's the Donald, they won't like it very much.)

Berners may have taken the recent 'victory' of Hillary Clinton as their 'defeat', and some have taken it very personally. But nothing in politics should be taken personally, or the consquences may be quite unpalatable (for those who are interested, you can look up the 'fight' between former Australian Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, and how that all ended). Besides, it's not like Berners and Bernie 'lost' everything. They brought important ideas and conversations to the table, ideas which will have some influence on a future Clinton administration, ideas that may even change the Democratic Party forever. Although I didn't support Sanders, I acknowledge he had some great ideas, and the Democrats' plaform has become stronger in considering these ideas.

Which brings me to my next point. History and change work incrementally. I, too, believe in universally available public health care insurance, but it needs to happen gradually, like everything else. Same with a higher minimum wage. Some change leads to more change. So it's always good to take whatever 'some change' that is available, rather than to just take the 'moral high ground' and walk away from any prospect of change. (Or should I say, walk towards the prospect of the repeal of even the modest progress we have, under an administration who believes in things like that health care is a privilege.)

p.s. the last paragraph also speak to the far-left in Australia, who are proposing to block the marriage equality plebiscite even if it means waiting 3-6 more years for marriage equality. Guess what? Not only do we not know what political climate we will be in at that time, many people who have been waiting their whole lives for this change may not even live that long to see it. Talk about dressing up selfishness as moral purity.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher remind us that Weddings don't have to be Expensive

It has recently been revealed that Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher got their wedding bands at Etsy, for just $90 and $100 respectively.

People have been complaining about how weddings have become too expensive, even putting them off for years as a result. But all that is required is actually commitment. Maybe this will remind people that, there's no shame in not choosing the most expensive wedding. If rich people like these two can 'go cheap', it's no shame for everyone else to do so either.


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Karl Stefanovic, Sonia Kruger, and the Marriage Equality Plebiscite: Sometimes, we just need to have the conversation

Australian morning television show host Karl Stefanovic recently made some transphobic jokes on air. Unsurprisingly in the current cultural climate, he got into major trouble almost immediately. He has since apologised for those 'jokes', and promised that it would never happen again.

Also unsurprisingly, the social justice warriors (SJWs) got into full battle-mode over this incident, as if that would be helpful. This episode comes just weeks after another Australian TV host Sonia Kruger voiced opinions against muslim immigration on air, over which the SJWs also reacted in a very similar way. (I don't have firm statistics, but my impression is that Australia seems to have more SJWs than the US per capita.)

But I actually think it's good that these people said what they wanted to say, and it triggered a reaction in society, causing people to discuss the associated issues. Transphobia and Islamophobia are of course things we should 'fight' against. But I believe we should 'fight' these things in the classic (small-l) liberal way: over society-wide conversations, winning people over with reason. These two incidents have caused society-wide discussion on these important issues, and provided an opportunity for true liberals like myself to offer our alternative viewpoints. In the case of Stefanovic, he has already been enlightened, and has sincerely apologised. That's surely a win for reason.

On the other hand, SJW type behaviour only serves to muddy the picture, making it look like a big fight between two opposing sides, from an outsider's perspective. This means we cannot have those conversations properly, and we cannot inject reason into the debate properly. It also means many people, wanting to be 'neutral', will just stand between the 'two sides' if asked for an opinion. Clearly not an ideal outcome.

Australia is most likely to have a plebiscite on same-sex marriage in the first half of next year. I will, of course, be voting yes. I believe the side of reason will win the debate. But it's crucial that SJWs don't ruin it, or people like myself will have to make sure they wear the blame for delaying marriage equality for another decade. (The fact that some are already saying they will 'boycott' the plebiscite is making me worried. That's not how a responsible citizen in a democracy acts, right?)

p.s. some may wonder why a Labor voter like myself would support the plebiscite. But if you look at all the major polls, the majority of voters for all three parties support the plebiscite (about 70% of Labor and Coalition voters and about 60% of Green voters). I think Labor and the Greens should just listen to their voters and stop delaying the inevitable.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why it's Big News that Sia becomes the First Woman Over 40 to top the Billboard Hot 100 since 2000 (And Why it Shouldn't Be)

It's official. Australian singer Sia has grabbed herself a Billboard Hot 100 chart topper with Cheap Thrills. And it has not gone unnoticed that she is actually the first woman over 40 to do so, since Madonna topped the charts in 2000. That's 16 years!

In fact, it highlights how ageist the music industry is. In every other walk of life (except maybe sports), 40-years-old is not considered old. In fact, it is an age many would consider way too young to be a CEO of a major corporation or the President or Prime Minister of a country. And unlike in sports, it's not like people can't sing as well after 40, right? And then there's the sexism. People have pointed out that plenty of men over 40 have had number one hits. Just not the women.

It's a thing we must fight to change. We should make our disgust over this situation heard loud and clear. And we should actively support female musicians over 35, especially those new to the industry, whenever we can.

On the other hand, there may be hope that things are finally changing, at least slowly. Rachel Platten got her first top ten hit last year at the age of 34, something that would be an anomaly not so long ago. The year before, Idina Menzel got her first top five hit at age 42. Hollywood itself is also less ageist-sexist than just a decade ago, with over-40 female celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jennifer Lopez still in high demand. But it wouldn't be enough, in my opinion, until the median age of entertainment industry icons rises to about 45, as in most other professions.

Related: Idina Menzel - Let It Go (cover/parody)