The AMPTP has launched a new site explaining their side of the conflict with the Hollywood writers.
Stand tough brass. Don’t let the little guys pick on you!
This also ran in the LA Daily News, Huffington Post and BrooWaha.
Rebranding is an All-American pastime. If necessity is the mother of invention – then bad press is the mother of re-invention . It’s not just Chevron, while having record profits on oil, trying to get the word out about conservation. Or Frito-Lay, whose non-recyclable chip bags decorate the sides of our nation’s highways, announcing its attempt at being eco friendly. Even Scientology has gotten a facelift with their social programs being embraced by Christian leaders. What’s next? A Uri Geller comeback? A new Imus show? Target being a hip place to find designer wears?With the right perspective – anything is possible.
There is a group of people who need an Extreme Makeover: Homeland Edition – illegal immigrants. Their press coverage is horrible. Antibiotic-resistant staph infections get better play in the media.
We have to redo their marketing strategy to give them better mass appeal.
The first problem is the word “illegal”. Americans don’t like things that are illegal – like illegal drugs, illegal abortions, illegal fireworks. Illegal we equate with immoral. You just can’t do something illegal and be a good person. Illegal is derogatory. Child pornography is illegal. Illegal is always bad.
Some presidential candidates want to use the term ‘undocumented’. That won’t work, either. It’s too bureaucratic. Too much paperwork. It reminds us of taxes. We hate filling out forms. “Paperless” rings of freedom. Documents give us paper cuts and headaches. It feels like asking a yes or no question and getting an encyclopedia for an answer. ‘Undocumented’ won’t do.
What have Americans always liked? Outlaws! Oh yeah, Jessie James is an outlaw. Butch Cassidy, Billy the Kid, Al Capone, John Dillinger, John Gotti – we love these guys. But call them ‘illegals’ and their luster fades. Naw, they’re outlaws. They didn’t play by the rules. They didn’t pay into social security. They blatantly defied federal law. And we love them for it. Outlaws are sexy. Still breaking the law – but with style!
Now the words ‘immigrants‘, ‘aliens’ and ‘workers’ aren’t going to fly with this image re-alignment. “That was the old Dole,” as Dole likes to say (mainly when they get sued). ‘Immigrant’ is too ‘huddled masses‘. Aliens are known for invading. As for ‘workers’ – it says union – it says ‘they’ll take your job’ – it says scabs. Scabs are bad even if you don’t like unions. Nix those words.
We have to get at why these folks are here. Depending on whom you ask there are 7 to 20 million them of in this country. Why? Who benefits from a unlimited work force that has no legal rights, recourse, or retirement plans? One or two people is a blue-collar crime – 20 million is a white-collar one! Of course we can’t call them ‘white-collar crime victims’ because Americans don’t understand it. Martha Stewart is a white-collar criminal and we still don’t get why. No they are casualties of lobbying! A couple of hand shakes and smoky rooms deals and voila! A couple of million people available for cheap labor.
So why don’t we call them ‘political outlaws‘? That would fit. It’s kind of engaging. But it sounds like they’re anarchists or Seventh Day Adventists or something equally as vexing.
We have to accentuate the positive. To work on a new image we must play up the remittance figures. Remittance, not to be confused with recidivism, is the sending of money to their countries of origin. According to a new survey , by Inter-American Dialogue, Mexican immigrants (legal and illegal) sent $24.25 billion home in 2006. Around half of the 100 million people in that country live below the poverty line. So it happens that this money sent back home is currently the most generous aid in existence to Mexico. So what do we have? Very poor people risking life and limb to help even poorer people! There’s a feel good story wrapped inside a heap of schmaltz. It’s just the kind of emotional connection you need in order to create brand loyalty.
Okay, for their public relations make over – illegal immigrants will now be thought of as outlaw philanthropists! Here’s their tagline: “Their leaders failed them. To take care of their families, they did what they had to do.”
See? Now they sound less like cockroaches and tapeworms and more like mammals.
It doesn’t decriminalize them – it re-humanizes them. And if we can be made to feel good about shopping at Wal-Mart, we can be made to feel concern for our fellow human beings…you know the ones cleaning Wal-Marts.
This article ran in the LA Times.
Americans get really weird when we talk about obesity. We treat fat people like anorexic teenage girls. We don’t want to freak them out or hurt their feelings. It might turn them into cutters.
We dance around the reasons for obesity as if it’s a mystery, a phenomenon that modern science may someday unravel. It could be hormonal or glandular or genetic or — even worse — contagious! Every week, half-baked studies are published and reported on, and (like everything else) we eat them up. Bacteria in your stomach may cause a craving for chocolate, according to a study last month by Nestle Research Center in Switzerland. Um . . . it’s never OK to be your own spoof.
We think about obesity the way Cro-Magnons thought about pregnancy. It’s a fact of life, but random and unexplainable. If you can’t drink a couple of 2-liter bottles of cola a day and remain a size 2, it must mean that you have a slow metabolism or something. Just can’t figure it out.
According to oft-cited research published in the journal Obesity, the annual cost to the state of medical care attributable to obesity is estimated to be almost $7.7 billion. If every man, woman and child in California put $200 into a fund on a yearly basis, that wouldn’t be enough to cover that tab. And that’s just what the state spends.
So with these facts in mind, Democratic leaders in the Legislature, in the latest bid to get uninsured Californians covered, this week proposed to tax (drum roll) . . . tobacco!
The California Department of Health reported that as of May 2007, only 13.3% of adults smoked. So the financial burden for the 6.7 million uninsured rests on the shoulders of an estimated 4.7 million nicotine enthusiasts.
What’s worse, the proposed $2-a-pack tax — besides being punitive — is an attempt at prevention. In other words, the more effective the tax is as a disincentive to smoking, the less money it would generate. Opponents of the idea have been quick to point this out.
I have a better proposal: a snack tax. We had one for about 18 months in the early 1990s. Granted, it was shot down in the polls by a huge margin, but that never stopped George W. Bush or Richard Nixon, or Dennis Kucinich for that matter, from making a comeback. In fact, a tobacco tax also was voted down here last year. So we’re clearly not afraid of reruns.
I have a motto: Alliteration makes for good legislation. So we can sell the snack tax like this: Tack 10 cents onto anything beige, battered or bite-sized.
The obesity epidemic is a serious health crisis. Even cockroaches are coming down with Type 2 diabetes. And it’s all from — surprise — the food we eat. Fast food. Fried food. Sugary food. High-fructose corn syrup. It’s in abundance, and its super cheap. We’ve overindulged, and it’s driving up healthcare costs each year.
But it’s really unpopular to bring that up. We can sin-tax smokers all day long. Don’t let them smoke in public areas; don’t let them smoke in their apartments. Fine them if they smoke in their cars when there are minors riding with them. Shame them into being social pariahs. But mention the connection between late-night drive-thru and Lane Bryant, and you’re the jerk.
Tax junk. If you look on the package for the nutritional facts and there are none to speak of — that’s not food, that’s caloric entertainment. And paying another dime for that is reasonable. Junk-food makers won’t feel the pinch. Junk-food eaters might not even notice. Ditto for those who abstain (health-food nuts and terrorists mostly).
But it finally would force junk food to contribute to healthcare instead of just weighing on the system.
It is time to de-mystify why we are fat. It is what and how much we eat. As the state debates how to pay for healthcare, let’s keep what’s on our table on the table.
I love swag. I do. Free stuff! I have a menagerie of acquired t-shirts in my closet ranging from production companies to Bar Mitzvahs.
It was through my swag infatuation I discovered American Apparel. I was given a t-shirt that fit perfectly and I googled the name on the label. This was back in late 2003. There was only one retail store for American Apparel, and it just so happened to be walking distance from my house in Echo Park.
In 2003 “outsourcing” was the worry de jour. I was touring around the country at the time, and there were two kinds of towns – those that were complaining about the pollution left by factories and those towns that were just left by factories. American Apparel was made in the USA – more specifically in Los Angeles. It was great – reasonable label-free clothes made three miles away by people that were paid a decent wage. A Prius pizza delivery uses more fuel. That was something I could buy into!
The first time I went into the store front I was engaged by a bunch of enthusiastic kids that fancied themselves as stylists. I rarely ever interact with anyone who likes their job, especially when that job is retail. These people were the exceptions. They liked clothes, liked talking about clothes and were excited about American Apparel. They boasted about their company’s mission statement. And I was given a 10 percent discount because I lived in the neighborhood! Almost as sweet as swag.
However, even though at times I wanted to, I could never fully embrace the company. It’s like my relationship with tofu – yeah, it’s good for a lot of reasons – but it’s also kind of gross.
“Gross” meaning the cult of personality of the founder Dov Charney. He is a now slightly under 40 hipster who wears his sexuality (literally) on his sleeve. Think Angelina Jolie pre-Brad Pitt…only very oily, hairy, and male. He famously started masturbating during an interview with Jane Magazine, boasts about sleeping with employees and is solely responsible for those saucy advertisements.
I’ve never liked the ad campaigns for AA. It’s not that I am afraid of sexy images of 15-year-old girls. It’s just that you can only be so edgy until you fall off into parody. It’s like, okay, we get it – you’re a pervert – is that all you got? I like my perverts to have some depth (see: J. Edgar Hoover).
Your feelings on it would depend on whether you view Hugh Hefner as a stud or as a one trick pony.
I won’t defend the advertising but I will say that not buying AA clothing because of the sexual nature of the ads and opting instead to buy Chinese imports from Walmart because it seems more wholesome…is ridiculous.
With some consumer power comes some responsibility.
So, almost overnight American Apparel started to use the condensed Starbucks business model. Suddenly, there were stores everywhere. According to the latest press release (in Aug. of ‘07) the company now has 157 retail locations (half of which are on Sunset Blvd.) in 11 countries. The business boomed and then they announced a merger with Endeavor Acquisitions in December 2006. They will go from being a private company to being traded publicly. Will they still be sweat-shop free? Their idealistic mission statement was taken off the website.
Then it started happening. The sales people started becoming more and more like Emo Gap Store rejects with a fraction of the vocabulary. The clothes started becoming more shoddy. I bought three garments at one time and they all shredded after the first wash. Where I used to be able to walk in and exchange an item with no questions asked, now it’s a lip smack and a, “Yeah, we’ve never done that.”
To which I asked, ”How long have you worked here?”
“Like almost (dramatic pause emphasized by author) a year.”
“Uhm, do I still get the ‘hood rat discount?”
To which he replied with yet another lip smack, “Yeah, we don’t do that anymore.”
I can deal with the apathetic yet snotty sales people. I can deal with the nauseating advertisements that were provocative back before Gray Davis was recalled. I can deal with the occasional pair (or two) of defective yoga pants. I can deal with the lack of a mission statement. I can deal with having to pay full price. I can even deal with neon colored clothing (which should be listed as a crime against humanity).
I just can’t deal with all of them from the same store.
Now I’ll buy all my t-shirts from China, but all my produce from a farmers’ market. I’m hoping the two cancel each other out.
With some consumer power comes some responsibility.
In the goodwill spirit of Hollywood, I will stand together with my fellow writers.
I am happy to report that I have preemptively not written a joke in almost two weeks.
I wish I could say the same for Tucker Carlson.
But seriously, I have been watching the fall season and I think that the ‘writers’ of Dirty Sexy Money have yet to work this year.
Them going on strike is like a truant officer picking up a corpse.
The point is – that show sucks and it made my TiVo itch.
Damn it…I think that was a joke I just wrote. Oh well. The internet stuff is off the table anyway.
I won first place in the BrooWaha writing contest! I’m honored – I’m humbled. I’m horrible at this kind of stuff. I’m fighting the urge to make Marrissa Tomei jokes in the comments section.
Anyway, here is a quote from one of the judges:
” Easy to relate to the writer. [S]he takes you into a situation that most people try to avoid — but because [s]he makes fun of it — you know [s]he isn’t crazy h[er]self…”- David Cohn, Editor at NewAssignment.Net
Because she makes fun of it – you know she isn’t crazy herself? HA! If ONLY it were that easy.
This is cross posted at Huffington Post:
We’re doing well as a country when the Religious Right is unhappy. When James Dobson and Pat Robertson are upset, the canary is alive in the coal mine!
It’s like – look at us, we’re still a democratic nation! The Ten Commandments haven’t replaced the Bill of Rights. Evolution is still being mentioned in schools. Planned Parenthoods haven’t been completely outlawed. And it’s STILL against the law to stone homosexuals, pornographers and uppity women (pending a two-thirds majority vote in Congress).
I’m no pollster – but I am willing to bet that there is a big chunk of folks who think that the Puritans and the Founding Fathers were the same people. Yes, they argue, the group of people that branded a ‘H’ on the cheeks of accused heretics were the same people responsible for the phrase ‘freedom of speech’.
But that’s what the Religious Right wants us to believe. It gives them a sense of entitlement. They’d have us assume a bunch of pious, simple folks clad in wool and buckles made their way across the Atlantic – plagiarized the chapter in the Bible about forming a republic, called it The U.S. Constitution and then had July 4th fireworks.
The Puritan rule – early 1600’s, the Founding of the United States of America – late 1700’s. There is less time between the Lewis and Clark expedition and Sputnik.
John McCain now famously told Beliefnet that the United States is a Christian nation. Pundits and preachers alike parrot that this country was founded in religion. It’s a nifty little sound bite.
The politically ravenous use it as a ruse. The tale is that in the ‘olden days’ things were somehow better than they are now. More innocent. Free of New Ageism’s tolerance and dreaded hate crime bills. If we can just go back to that time – if we can just get back to the time when we were more devout – then we’ll all be better off. It’s elusive, but just around the corner.
It’s a fabrication that an exclusively religious – peaceful and ultimately blissful era ever existed. It can’t happen ‘again’, because it never happened in the first place. The Puritans came to this land to practice THEIR religion without being persecuted and (at least in the Boston colony) quickly persecuted those who didn’t practice their religion. Quakers were hanged and tortured for blasphemy. Native Americans were killed for being heathens. And sassers, gossipers and adulterers got their ears cropped or their noses split.
Looking back to colonial days for religious precedent is like looking back at the Black Plague for health care reform.
But for the politically ravenous, selling the idea that a Christian state is a birthright and a good idea – gets the untaxed revenue flowing. Revising history and bleaching out some of the objectionable stains makes a new sense of purpose by making, well – ‘new sense‘!
There is the idea that American Christian’s are right and entitled “because we were here first!”
So when Christian Conservative leaders threaten to support a third-party candidate because they don’t like Republican frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, it’s a relief.
It’s like when Rick Santorum failed to get re-elected; it proved that we can come back from the brink of theocracy. And yes, we are having an ‘ideological struggle’ in the Middle East and that kind of seems like a different way of saying ‘holy war’, but if James Dobson doesn’t see any of the GOP candidates as being his future lap dog – there’s hope.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox claims George W. Bush is afraid of horses. Bush’s Crawford, Texas, ranch is reportedly “equestrian-free.” It’s a little shocking. It’s kind of funny. But more than that it adds to my theory that Bush has contempt for anything smart and hardworking (see Valerie Plame and U.S. Armed Forces).
Really? He pretends to be a cowboy, and he doesn’t like horses? I am deathly afraid of monkeys. I am. They’re gross. But you don’t see me dressing up like Tarzan as part of my public persona.
But maybe that’s how you get to be the Decider. Like WWF wrestling, you have to choose a character for theatrics. “Sunday Night – the Decider meets his arch nemesis – The Inquisitor! In a smack down of biblical proportions!”
So in the contest to be the next Decider – the tights are pulled on, and we’re ready to rumble! The latest contender is Fred Dalton Thompson. His character? Multi-millionaire former lobbyist, Hollywood actor? Naw, he’s an unassuming Southern bumpkin lawyer. It’s Ben Matlock – played by Fred Thompson!
Now it’s going to get interesting! And when has hype ever been wrong?
Thompson played a committed, competent yet tough public servant on television‘s Law and Order. He can do this. He can read the script and be convincing. That’s all we need in the ring.
When Thompson announced his candidacy on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, it was like time stood still. Really. I think time actually stood still.
“It was about as riveting as a steel worker on strike,” as Matlock might say as he was driving a pick-up truck on his way to fetch some fried chicken and biscuits.
Ahem. Thompson’s real political record is as follows: He won a special election seat for the Senate in Tennessee in 1994 and was then reelected in 1996. He was the alleged ’down to earth’ candidate that drove a now infamous red pick up truck along the campaign trail.
The Washington Post reported that his red pick-up truck was leased.
He didn’t BUY it – but the voters did!
When Thompson doesn’t know something on the campaign trail, he uses, “I can’t pass judgment.” “They were good people.” “We can’t take anything off the table.” And then there are times when he just flat out states that he doesn’t know. Questions on anything specific are all curve balls to him. He said he couldn’t recall the details about the Terri Schiavo because it was ’going back in history.’
I thought only tweens considered 2005 ’back in history.’
While in Clarksville, Tennessee, The Jackson Sun quoted Thompson saying the US is “on a good course” in Iraq.
On a good course? Maybe that’s ‘going back in history’. Like to 1991.
But it‘s been working. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. So we don’t have to know either. And that has made him tied for second place with McCain in some polls. I think that’s the definition of ‘failing up.’
Fred Thompson is a skillful producer of white noise. It’s soothing once you get used to it. And it frightens me to think that’s enough of a qualification to be the next president of the United States.
Because with his All American story of coming from nothing and becoming a television star – he just plum picked himself up by his bootstraps and accidentally stumbled on power, money and fame – he’s like a Norman Rockwell painting.
If there was a Norman Rockwell painting of a simple farmer and his trophy wife.
There’s just something about that twang. “I’m just a simple Southern Lawyer.” It makes people want to trust him. Colonel Sanders won’t do nothing that’s bad for you. Foghorn Leghorn don’t mean no harm. Matlock has got it all figured out. Aw, shucks, that’s why you should vote for him.
Like politics, professional wrestling is fake. But like we have seen with Benoit, the wrestler who killed his family and then himself – real people can actually get hurt.
With a botched trillion dollar vanity project known as the Iraq War being dropped in the lap of whomever is the next president, it’s time to end the make-believe. We’re in real trouble.
It’s pretty safe to say that gay marriage is getting more presidential candidate support now than in any other time in our nation’s history. There’s former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich…okay, there’s two. You can’t accuse Kucinich of just playing to his vegan base to get the nomination. This time, he’s branching out.
I’ll be the first to admit that marriage isn’t for everyone, whether they’re gay or straight. And I’m not alone in that feeling. According to recent data released from the Census Bureau, there are now more unmarried households than married in the US.
Just last week, in the feverish debate over same-sex nuptials, the San Diego city council passed a measure in support of gay marriage. The mayor had promised to veto. Then in a stunning development announced that he would support the decision. No matter what city this has happened in – it gets dander flying and San Diego has proved to be no different.
However, despite all the overturning and the protesting with the hope of ‘saving’ marriage, the institution itself has quietly slipped away. The majority of Americans are now not getting hitched.
So people who WANT to get married – can’t and people who CAN get married – won’t. It’s like how rich people who have everything are thin and poor people who have nothing are fat. Or how the Axis of Evil has more countries than the Coalition of the Willing – its just one of those weird things in modern American life.
So why aren’t people getting married these days? I think it boils down to one simple reason: cost.
According to a survey done by the Fairchild Bridal Group, the average American wedding costs $30,000. On the other hand, according to the US Census Bureau the median American household income is only $44,389.
And if anyone thinks, ”Well, it doesn’t HAVE to cost that much.” – you might as well be talking about the surface of Mars, because you haven’t been there! I wasn’t into conspiracy theories until I was a bride. Then I experienced one firsthand. As soon as you mention you are getting married – blood is in the water and the sharks come to feed.
The hook propagated by those who work in the bridal industry (note that they don’t call it ‘the groom industry’) is that if your mate isn’t able to take out a second mortgage for the cake, then maybe you’re not marrying the right person. “If your fiancé can’t afford a decent wedding, what’s the marriage going to be like?”
What will it be like? Wracked with debt. Overextended on APR. Monthly installed financial serfdom. Foreclosure! Isn’t it romantic?
When I said that I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something, whether it was my dress – the invites – or the minister – I was treated like I just walked onto a dealership and said that I want to buy a car with no tires. “You can’t just cheap out on the MOST IMPORTANT part,” they would chime.
For the record: I married for looks because I deeply believe marrying for money is shallow.
It’s the wedding industrial complex that has made marriage into the Spruce Goose. The bird is just too heavy to fly for most Americans.
The idea of spending 30K with no chance of a return investment and no low-end sailboat to show for it – is deterring. Instead of the idea that being married is a way to improve one’s income and lifestyle (there is data to that effect), now it’s the idea that you need to have money in order to deserve to get married.
If the American Dream is to come from nothing and make something of yourself, then the American Fantasy is that some undeserved windfall will make you rich. No one wants an entire industry to look at them as poor or cheap. The pressure is intense. People are putting off marriage until that ‘some day’ comes and they can afford a wedding.
A law recognizing same-sex spouses won’t destroy marriage. But grandiosity will.
I consider myself to be a decent citizen. I vote. I recycle. I don’t litter. I yield to most pedestrian traffic.
But when I got a notice that I was selected for jury service, I did what every red-blooded American does – I wondered if I should pretend it got lost in the mail.
“Notice? What notice? I’ve never seen a notice. Maybe this notice you speak of, maybe it had a little …accident?”
The draft has been gone for over 30 years. Today if you’re like me, you consider “compulsory service” to be putting down a book to listen to a flight attendant go over the safety announcements .
Why is that? Maybe it’s because in the wake of 9/11 we, as Americans, shocked and bewildered, asked President Bush what we could do. Instead of volunteering or enlisting he told us to spend money. Oh what sacrifice! Finally, going to the mall is our patriotic duty! I love my country – buy me something shiny!
Anyway, I suspected that the phrase “no good deed ever goes unpunished” was written by a juror. But that still didn’t stop me. No proverb was going to deter me. This was my chance to participate in a justice system of the people, by the people, for the people. I didn’t even ask for a deferment. I was going against my instincts.
I was stepping up to my civic duty with enthusiasm even though it was started at 7:30 AM.
The notice stated that jurors should dress “business casual.” I’ve always considered business casual to be something ironed worn with uncomfortable shoes. Maybe it depends on your vocation. From the looks of some of the other jurors plodding along the halls of the courthouse their “business” was either a Crocs model, a lifeguard or an adult industry professional.
It’s justice that’s blind…as for the rest of us – we see you!
It was like their outfits were trying to increase their chances of being dismissed. “You’re looking for someone who is impartial and has common sense. As seen from my corduroy cut offs and Megadeth t-shirt – clearly that’s not me.”
I felt like some dingbat on a reality show that just realized the other housemates have a STRATEGY!
When we reported for jury service, we were asked to sit in a large waiting room. We were given our badges. We were asked to fill out paperwork and turn it in. Then they called out a list of everyone who filled out their paperwork wrong or incomplete. Out of 80 people, about a third weren’t able to fill out the paperwork on the first try. No butterfly ballots or anything. Just a straightforward, fill in the bubble and sign here questionnaire of eligibility. At first I thought this was a good argument against the death penalty – obviously these folks shouldn’t be able to dole out any punishment that you can’t go back and correct later. But afterwards, I think it was another attempt – feeble of course – to get out of serving.
There I was: dressed appropriately, on time, paperwork completed in black ink. Just a sitting duck, vulnerable with no exit strategy. I would say I felt like Donald Rumsfeld – but unlike him I still have a job.
We were told to wait for our names to be called. I read a couple of magazines. More names were called. I checked my email. More names were called. I turned on my iPod to drown out the kvetching of the others without a strategy. You’d think they had been drafted to stack marbles in Siberia by the whining. Hours went by. My name was never called. Finally at four in the afternoon, the announcement was made that I had fulfilled my duty and could go home. That was it. I was done. Maybe I was over qualified. Maybe it’s all random. Maybe I should be happy about it.
I literally sat around, did nothing and that was performing my civic duty. It made me feel like a member of Congress.