n. infantile pattern of suckle-swallow movement in which the tongue is placed between incisor teeth or between alveolar ridges during initial stage of swallowing (if persistent can lead to various dental abnormalities) v. [content removed due to Bush campaign to clean up the internet] n. act of nyah-nyah v. pursuing with relentless abandon the need to masticate and thrust the world into every bodily incarnation in order to transform it, via the act of salivation, into nutritive agency

Friday, December 03, 2010

I watched Glenn Beck

Okay, so I thought it was a fair insight on the part of my student to note that I assign some pieces that are very anti-Fox News, perhaps in the attempt to get my students to diversify their sources at the very least. But maybe I don't watch the sources that I am so virulently opposing (that was the insight). It's a fair criticism and truth is, I tend to try to watch Foxish News in the interest of not talking about what I don't know anything about, but I frequently get so offended by the first three seconds of what I watch that I switch the channel, afraid of the likelihood that I might smash the TV or kick my innocent dog in a mad rampage.

Surely there is some in-between ground?

Herald tells me there is in-between ground, especially in the leaves that he and ultra-conservative-owned dogs shit. "We all shit near the trail," he tells me, "and you all have a choice whether or not to pick it up." I'm sneaky, in that I pick it up on main trails, but hide the shit under leaves and branches if I think nobody will notice and I'm off-trail enough that I can imagine it won't affect the drainage. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one, political group notwithstanding. I still feel bad.

But not bad enough to pick up the poo when it looks so contextualized, so natural, so... at home in its chosen receptacle of mulch.

As I've mentioned before: it's tough teaching, and it's really tough teaching people who believe fundamentally different things than you, especially if you're a quiet queer just making the art-studio rent and utilities while living at home, and yet still seeking to care about what you're doing. I've ditched composition textbooks in the interest of seeking (cheapish) texts that represent different, yet interesting and modern, interests. Composition textbooks tend to be unrelentingly liberal, sometimes smugly and irritatingly liberal. So I develop topics, and try to find a range of academic weigh-ins on said topics. The problem is the 'academic' part. Why is it that conservatives don't write semiotic critiques on socially-aware comedy, sustainability issues, the problematics of cultural representations, or the difficulty of wading through various ideologies in order to find common ground?

I've always tended to think it's because many conservatives are racist, classist, homophobic, self-protectionist, wealthy (if they're educated) douchebags who don't care about the peoples at community college who are striving for a decent, productive education. My bias? Yes and certainly, so prove me wrong. I'm just dying for intelligent academics to come up with something interesting on these topics. So far, I haven't found the sources although I've searched and keep searching.

So... my conservative students are forced to go to "patriot-patriotism-of-ultra-patriotism" or "conservatives-hate-liberalmedia.dot.com" to find outside sources, which they consider balancing everything. But my liberal students don't go to "communist-communism-with-socialism-as-a-misnomer" or "unregulated-capitalism-is-unsustainable.dot.com" for sources... instead, moderate liberal critiques seem so well-represented in various academic journals, textbooks, and library books that seeking radical alternative voices doesn't seem to be even remotely necessary. Hmmmm; why is it that their extremist viewpoints aren't validated by the 'educated elites'? I have my theories; no doubt they have theirs.

(Thank god for the quarter of my students who try new things, like me, talk to me, let me know about new things I hadn't thought about, and appreciate the fact that I see them. Because I do, I see all of them.)

But I'm tired of every piece of information being attacked by my conservative students as the product of 'liberal media'. Many of my students challenge well-documented scientific, reputable research in ways that they would never consider using to examine their own opinions. Prove it, they say; but the proof means nothing when it's offered. It's like Senator McCain and the Pentagon Report: unless something supports his a priori opinion, it doesn't actually count. Conversation is useless, because nothing is considered 'real' that doesn't occur unilaterally.

My new saying and mantra as a teacher: "challenge yourself first." It amazes me, and is the topic of much of what I think about: how we are so frequently our own worst obstacles.

Anyhow, I'm just a small-town teacher, and I only see the small-town students--mostly young high school students, but also veterans, small business owners, single-parents, regular religious parents seeking to expand their thinking, intellects who don't know where to go, artists who have decided to study economics, former drug addicts seeking to clean up their lives, people scared. So, really, don't I have to consider it all? But what does considering it all really mean?

So, I watched Glenn Beck. My thoughts:

*Why does he mimic the 'elitist' educators he mocks constantly? Vest, tie, pressed shirt, framed glasses. Jeans that proves he is cool (classic academic move).

*Why does he bring in 'elitists' to verify his credentials by talking about how his choice to not finish his college education has allowed him to "think outside the box"? Like he could think outside the box less if he had more education? How is it that education--information, varying thoughts, contradictory experience, dedicated study and practice--must obviously deter any kind of talent for imaginative insight? Is it because of the liberal tendency to bring out the big screen with spirally liberal spirals that hypnotize one into thoughtful consideration of the difference between communism and socialism, or ideal economic systems versus actual ones? Is that the box?

*I think Beck's true skill is that he starts smart. That is, he begins with statistics, concerns, fuck-ups, differences, worries that are genuine and problematic. He lures us in with his accuracy in locating the base.

*But he refrains from any degree of contextualizing.

*Then he over-inundates with information. Beck goes back and forth from blackboard to blackboard. Each is decorated underneath with the hubcaps no doubt collected from 'real' working America. First, he is there. There is the fancy chalk image of the world. There are the facts all tallied up - all four of them. Next chalkboard, also with hubcaps, five statistics this time. Discuss one chalkboard, consult expert who flatters his nontraditional education and talent for scrying the inevitable. Consult audience, poor fucks who are constantly asked what they think, only to be cut short. (Is it me, or do all three of those who talk sound prepped). Switch to next chalkboard, consult expert who is cut off this time because he already served his function. Compare one chalkboard to another. Make bizarre comparisons that sound smart because Beck started smart. Consult audience, interrupt what they have been possibly coached to say in order to ask for other thoughts, swap to chalkboard. Talk about the big picture, which is only related to what came before by vague topic. Scariness. Scaresville. Doom and Gloom and Beck-Boo!

*One quarter of what he says makes sense. It really does. Greece really is a problem nation in the economy of the EU. It could potentially fuck a lot up (no need to mention the banks that deliberately hid its dept and recommended its inclusion into the EU despite what all the experts surely surely knew was true. no need to mention deregulation of the banks that were providing said misinformation. no need to mention our part in the fiasco.)

*But then it's time to remind everyone that Germany supported the most fascist horrific episode in recent history. Merkle, the Green Party, and all that economic progress that is actually rather impressive, despite having its own problems, etc., is actually nothing more than a reflection of its past. Fascism. Fascism is mentioned a couple of times. Along with socialism, its natural brethren.

*America is different. It is not nationalist. Beck talks about nationalism, and how Germany is still nationalistic. We wouldn't want to get trapped into the patterns of the past, and patterns of the past are clearly local, not behavioral, right?

I figure I'll have to keep watching, but the tendency already makes me sick. Condescend to people while validating their particular knowledge so they can feel like experts even if they don't know (or maybe only can't articulate in the two seconds given) the difference between socialism and communism, or regulated markets versus non-regulated markets. Use enough real problems and statistics without exploring the actual root causes (except to blame everything on everyone else), so that the viewing public is amazed when he is right, and... and... the economy gets FUCKED UP, just as it has been since Bush fucked us over with a rubber dildo up the wazzoo (I want to say all governments in the past 30 years because Clinton did his mess of shit, but at least he balanced the budget).

But hey, really if we don't locate blame at home, we don't have to make changes, other than root for the government that toes our line. And we all know who precisely that is for Beck: people like my students who tell me that sustainable living is a "communist-socialist plot to destroy humanity as we know it," people who are scared of change, people who are never going to own up to their mistakes. Never mind the portion of the government and culture that has participated equally, if not predominately, in the shitstorm that his condescended-to audience is told to blame on everyone else. Just, you know, like, admire his jeans.

I'll keep watching because, as my student noted (p.s. there's really only ever 1.5 students. so why is it that they take up some much of my attention? is it that they represent a quiet seething majority? is it that I fear them? is it that I seek their approval? why the undo attention?), it's not fair for me to assign criticisms about that which I am unfamiliar with. I doubt this is a favor likely to be reciprocated. And unlike the Democrats, a party I don't belong to because they're such pussies and rollovers, I will listen and seek out new sources, but I'm not about to "compromise" (bellyup) just because it makes me more popular with my kiddos. For starters, I seriously doubt my compromise would serve the hopes I have: balanced budget, sustainable living, less war, more compassion, equal playing field, education for all, more pursuit of life, more pursuit of the freedom to be whomever you are, and more pursuit of happiness. For seconders, I don't like their style.

And Herald doesn't like their style either. "Bite them," he says, "give them some nips." "Herald!" I say. And he says, "Yeah, right? You didn't know I cared. But I am fluffy too, you know." And I say, "You are, Herald. You're really fluffy and even adorable. Thank god for puppies like you." Then he mutters about not having enough walks...
/me hugs you

"racist, classist, homophobic, self-protectionist, wealthy (if they're educated) douchebags" sounds as cynical as me, which is both good and bad. Good because it's funny, but I always tend to think of you as not a cynic...
I love this. I love everything about this. Go, go, go! Or as I say to Charlie, "Go GIT it!"
Thanks, you two. Accepting hugs and GITTING it. I don't know why the rant quotient is high lately, but... oh well.

Andrew, I have questions for you. I will be sending email soon. xoxo

akr, I might be down in Portland this break... trying to see SS before she takes off... would love to see you, perhaps stay with you. We will hatch diabolical plans for my creative writing class, yesssss? heeHEEE
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