Friday, February 20, 2009

Masculinity and Gran Turino

Clint Eastwood brilliantly portrays a great, stereotypically male role in Gran Turino.

He is the old racist, sexist male living in a decaying urban neighborhood with Hmong neighbors.

Eastwood "Names" his neighbors using crude, rude stereotyped names. The neighbor's daughter gently accepts and plays on his words, accepting him into their extended family community, using food as a prime mediator.

Eastwood's guns and guts in standing up to the local Hmong gang members, including the cousin of his neighbors earns their respect. His teaching their lost son how to "be male" includes the tough outer persona as well as his work ethic.

In Eastwood - we can see both the positives and more clearly the negative parts that push us as men to cope with fear, using ridicule as we muddle through things, trying to ignore our feelings.

The movie is a brilliant tale, despite its limitations in tolerance -race and gender.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Limitations on Executive Pay - for Bailed Out Companies

Recently in the news was talk of limiting executive compensation to a maximum of $500,000/year for executives of companies which receive federal bailout assistance. In response to this proposal was some mention of the "impossibility" of this for some executives living in Manhattan. The reported on costs such as: mortgage payments of $8,000/month with cooperative assessments of another $8,000/month for their residences which had an average purchase price of around $3,500,000. On top of these expenses were the costs of private school tuition for several children as well as various other significantly high expenses which were deemed necessary.

In reading this I wonder about those fellow citizens who have lost their jobs, and have minimal, if any, income coming in as well as the workers making $25,000, $50,000, or even $100,000/year who are working less hours and getting less pay, or losing their overtime pay. I think also of those living heavily on investments whose values may have dropped 30-35% or more now.

I heard no talk of how such executives might need to sell their co-op apartments and move to less expensive places to live, or send their children to public schools, or do many other things that "regular Americans" are needing to do as the economy crumbles.

It seems sad that some such people don't seem to "get it" related to the need to make significant sacrifices because of what has happened recently.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Boycotting Israel - in Part -

I find this interesting and positive, whether one agrees or disagrees - from Jewish Peace News:

February 3 2009

Dear All,

Last week, with initial hesitation but finally strong conviction, I endorsed the Call for a U.S. Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel. HYPERLINK "" I’d like to offer my reasons to friends, family and comrades. I have tried in fullest conscience to think this through.

My hesitation: I profoundly believe in the visible/invisible liberatory social power of creative and intellectual boundary- crossings. I’ve been educated by these all my life, and by centuries-long cross-conversations about human freedom, justice and power—also, the forces that try to silence them.

As an American Jew, over almost 30 years, I’ve joined with other concerned Jews in various kinds of coalition-building and anti-Occupation work. I’ve seen the kinds of organized efforts to stifle—in the US and elsewhere-- critiques of Israel’s policies--the Occupation’s denial of Palestinian humanity, destruction of Palestinian lives and livelihoods, the “settlements,” the state’s physical and psychological walls against dialogue—and the efforts to condemn any critiques as anti-Semitism. Along with other activists and writers I’ve been named on right-wing “shit-lists” as “Israel-hating” or “Jew-hating.” I have also seen attacks within American academia and media on Arab American, Muslim, Jewish scholars and teachers whose work critically explores the foundations and practices of Israeli state and society.

Until now, as a believer in boundary-crossings, I would not have endorsed a cultural and academic boycott. But Israel’s continuing, annihilative assaults in Gaza, and the one-sided rationalizations for them have driven me to re-examine my thoughts about cultural exchanges. Israel’s blockading of information, compassionate aid, international witness and free cultural and scholarly expression has become extreme and morally stone-blind. Israeli Arab parties have been banned from the elections, Israeli Jewish dissidents arrested, Israeli youth imprisoned for conscientious refusal of military service. Academic institutions are surely only relative sites of power. But they are, in their funding and governance, implicated with state economic and military power. And US media, institutions and official policy have gone along with all this.

To boycott a repressive military state should not mean backing away from individuals struggling against the policies of that state. So, in continued solidarity with the Palestinian people’s long resistance, and also with those Israeli activists, teachers, students, artists, writers, intellectuals, journalists, refuseniks, feminists and others who oppose the means and ends of the Occupation, I have signed my name to this call.

Adrienne Rich = source