Popular Phenomena I Will Never Understand

There are many things about popular American culture that absolutely baffle me. It goes without saying that I abhor media manipulation, but the increasing willingness of people to succumb to it leaves me both disgusted and saddened. In many instances it's as if logic has ceased to exist. To wit:

1.  Lady GaGa: For starters she looks like a drag version of Howard from the Big Bang Theory. I do agree that she has a beautiful voice, but whatever happened to letting that stand on its own? I have no problem with celebrities using their platforms to educate and inform about causes they believe in, but Lady GaGa is promoting nothing but her own self with all the ridiculous costumes and videos. In fact, by appearing as a freak show she's alienating a large portion of an audience she might otherwise be able to reach and instead appealing to the lowest common denominator. I'm a huge proponent of individuality  and self expression. I was saying "fuck the fascist beauty standards" long before people  like her came along, but there is a difference between drawing attention to a cause and drawing attention to oneself. Lady GaGa is doing only the latter, which is shame because she seems to be an intelligent and articulate person underneath all the BS.

2.  Miley Cyrus/Jonas Brothers/Justin Beiber etc.: Remember the days when musical success and chart topping hits were the result of talent? Sure, good looks and connections played a role, but overall it was about musical ability - a good voice, a mastery of an instrument, the ability to write both music and lyrics. Songs used to stay at number one for weeks. The same names dominated the charts repeatedly. Stars had staying power. These days "stars" are manufactured by giant PR organizations (Disney anyone?) and actual talent has very little to do with it. Whenever I hear Justin sing I can only think, "Shut up little boy! You know not of what you sing. You are a child!" Seriously! Songs have become nothing more than commercials for a brand. I'll pass.

3. Dressing your dog: The basic reason people wear clothing is decency. We simply do not live in a society where it's acceptable to let your nipples or penis hang out for all to see, therefore we wear clothes. As a result of wearing clothing we develop personal style. Dogs? They are not required to conform to standards of decency. They "wear" their skin. That should be the end of it. No matter how much one might want to believe their dog loves designer clothes it simply is not true. Fido does not prefer pink over black; Yankees over Cardinals; Cowboys over Patriots; Harvard over Yale or anything else his/her owners might want to project upon their pet. Unnatural fibers probably irritate their skin. Ruffles itch on their necks as much as flies would. A collar weighted down with rhinestones and charms strains their necks. Shoes and hats throw off their balance. Get it? This dog does not look happy - it looks stupid! The beauty of a dog is that it is perfect in its natural design: feet that are padded to sustain walking on various surfaces; whiskers to help with balance; ears and eyes shaped in specific ways to facilitate survival; and coats of fur designed to keep them both warm and cool as weather dictates. Dogs need us to feed them, protect them, and to obtain medical help for them when they are sick. That is all. if you want to dress something up in costume and carry it around then get a freakin' doll. If you simply must buy clothing for someone other than yourself how about spending your money to help clothe needy people - you know, the ones who are freezing to death on the streets in the winter b/c they do not have coats. For the love of all that is right and good please let your dog be a dog and maintain his or her own doggie dignity.

4. Facebook/MySpace/Twitter: Identity theft is an ever increasing problem in our society. Privacy is a growing concern. The ink is barely dry on our stalking laws. One of the biggest fears of the neocons is that "Big Brother" is watching. Spam infuriates everybody. And yet millions of people have signed up to post all of their very personal information - including their innermost thoughts - on the most public forum existing in our world today. Does nobody see the irony in that?!

5. Reality TV: Here's a medium that celebrates the worst of human traits: greed, lying, stupidity, selfishness, ridicule, manipulation, and a whole host of other base human emotions and actions. This is not entertainment. Why are people so quick to want to see a fellow human being debase his or her self in pursuit of the almighty dollar? Why do we want to see people thrown together in a community only to divide and form allegiances against one another? And for the love of all that is sacred why on earth do we wish to watch people eat disgusting things until they puke? Game shows based on intelligence and knowledge are great. Those based on bodily urges and functions are not.

6.  Sushi: Newsflash here ... Every since the discovery of that nifty thing called fire (along with the appearance of opposable thumbs) there is no longer any need to eat raw fish. I don't care how trendy, pretty, innovative or fresh it is it's still RAW FISH and unless your only means of obtaining food is to catch live prey with your bare hands/paws, rip it apart immediately as its lifeblood drains out, and growl to intimidate any nearby predators as you ingest it then there is no reason to eat raw fish or any other meat.
 7.  Angelina Jolie: A very wealthy white woman who travels the world purchasing human infants is also considered to be a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and bestowed with humanitarian awards? I will NEVER understand that one. We have limits on how many fish you can catch or how many deer you can shoot. Can we not limit this woman's collection of human children?!

8. SUVs: Unless you have to regularly haul large masses of equipment from place to place, or drive in areas without paved roads, there is no reason at all for you to drive an SUV. None. You choose to do so only because media manipulation has convinced you that all the cool people are driving them. And another thing: Quit trying to tell me they are safer because I'm not buying it.
9.  Birthers: We live in a world of instant information. The vetting process for elected officials - especially those vying for the highest office in our land - is extremely thorough, not to mention extreme. The background check required to obtain security clearance to work for the government is beyond comprehensive. Despite all of this there is an amazingly large part of our population who believes that Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen. My own teenage son could not get a job serving ice creme until he proved he was 16 and a citizen. I hardly think that Obama could survive the vetting process, background checks, opposition research and the process of gaining security clearance unless he did too. And if the whole thing is a conspiracy then all of those necessary to facilitate such a cover up would mean that the whole idea of his holding any actual power is moot, so it wouldn't matter anyway.

10.  Fox News: I don't even know where to begin with this one. You don't get to claim fair and balanced when you financially support one political party over another. I don't begrudge them their right to show only what they want, but at least call it what it is.

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