Monday, October 29, 2012

I bet Mr. T is also an ass-man

For some reason, the last few conversations we've chosen for the blog are themed around asses. As usual, Dad graced us with yet another over share from the inner workings of his brain, and Sara found out way more about her brother-in-law's preferences than she wanted to know.

Dad: So _______ used to have a perfect  JLo ass and now it's the size of an axe handle. (We PROMISE it's not anyone you know or who would read this. )
Sara: What does that have to do with anything?
Dad: Well it's true. 
Lindsay: Dad's an ass man, Sara. It's what he looks at.
Dad: See? Lindsay gets me.
Lindsay: Jesse's an ass man, too. If I leave him alone with a camera and stop paying attention there will be half a dozen shots of my ass on there that I'll find later when I go through the pictures. 
Jesse: Well, I can't help myself! It's there, and the camera's in my hand!
Sara: I think we may have another blog post.
Dad: DON'T include me in this!
Sara: Why? You started it!
Dad: I did no such thing.
Sara: You started talking about how you find ______ less attractive because her ass doesn't look like JLo's anymore.
Dad: I forgot about that.
The next day, Mom was walking around the house, saying things like, "are you using MY stove? Are you eating MY anchovies? Are you drinking MY wine?" She also likes to troll people when she's in a mood like this. 
Mom: Lindsay, your butt's getting big. 
Lindsay: If you mean it's getting more awesome because I can squat for days, than thank you. 
Mom: I'm just kidding. It doesn't look any different. I just wanted to see what you'd say. 
Lindsay: Feel my butt! It's like a rock! Feel it!
Mom: <Pokes her butt> Yah, that's ok. Feel mine. 
Lindsay: <Pokes Mom's butt> Ok, that's pretty hard. 
Mom: I know.
Sara: Feel mine!
Mom: <Lindsay and Mom poke Sara's butt> Not as hard as mine.

Last night we went out to a fancy bistro for Mom's birthday dinner. At some point during the night, Mr. T was mentioned. 
Mom: Who?
Dad: Mr. T. You know, the black guy from the 80's with all the gold chains. "I pitty da fool!"
Mom: Oh yeah, the guy who's on Law & Order: SVU.
Lindsay: <laughs> Mom, that's Ice T, the rapper, not Mr. T.

Monday, October 8, 2012

An Ungrateful Brat's Rant on Fox News

Dad thinks that I (Sara) swear excessively. He claims that it dumbs down my vernacular and maintains that I should speak “more intelligently,” considering he spent thousands of his own dollars on my college education. Mom, on the other hand, always bristles when I criticize Fox News for being a misleading and unethical news source. So, I’ve decided to piss both of them off simultaneously by writing an essay on exactly why Fox is misleading. As an early graduate, cum laude, of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications, one of the best colleges in the nation for ethics in reporting, I am actually ridiculously qualified to speak on this subject. And I’m going to swear like a goddamn fucking sailor the entire time. Why? Because it's my goddamn right as a red-blooded, beer drinking, tax paying American.

I’d also like to point out that I’m not doing this with a political agenda. I’m not showing my support for any other news networks (like the astonishingly dysfunctional and unreliable fucktards at CNN or the bleeding-heart puff-piece pussies at MSNBC), nor a political candidate, nor any point of view. Fox News would be equally jaw-droppingly awful if they instead portrayed liberals as ball-crushing super mega-awesome champions of the universe and conservatives as piss-poor excuses for human beings. I am simply trying to piss off my parents, like any other well-adjusted little brat would do.

Let’s start with something simple: framing. Framing, as a communicative tool, is a linguistics-based process that selects certain aspects of a subject to present which then influence our understanding of the subject. Think of it like someone’s Facebook profile picture. The picture may indeed be of a human being with goals, ambition, and opinions; but the sucked-in cheeks, puffed-out lips, oompa-loompa colored skin, obscene amounts of make-up, and caption that passively and irritatingly begs for the validation that daddy never gave her (OMG I’m so ugly lol, ready to go out with my bestiezzz! #YOLO) predisposes you to think of her as a tragic genetic accident between a rejected barbie and a duck. You can do the same thing with news stories. You select a frame through which to present the information, and your audience’s understanding will be affected by that.

Probably the best example of framing is Fox’s slogan: “Fair and Balanced.” Before you even hear the fucking story, they’ve shoved it in your head that what they’re saying is truthful, unbiased, and well-thought out. That’s the biggest fucking crock of bullshit on the goddamned planet. The first rule of reporting without being a manipulative douche nozzle is that, because we’re fucking human, everything we say is biased. The best way to deal with that is to not ignore it;  but to grow a fucking pair, accept, understand, and try to mitigate our own biases.

Basically, by not even acknowledging the possibility that what their reporters have to say may be affected by their personal opinions (Pfft, who lets their feelings affect their work? Goddamn communists, that’s who), Fox effectively frees their information from any sort of accountability. If someone says “that’s an opinion” Fox can point to their truth and legitimacy frame, using such phrases as “It’s a fact,” “You can’t deny that,” or “Fuck you, I’m an anteater!” in order to discredit the accusing party as a stupid asshole and reinforce the audience’s misguided trust in themselves.

Okay. I don’t think anyone on Fox has ever said that last one, but to be honest sometimes that’s what I hear in my head when Hannity starts yelling about the Founding Fathers’ opinions or something else equally irrelevant in a conversation about modern-day issues.

Another totally lame-ass technique Fox employs is priming selected concepts. Priming is the process by which you strengthen the connections between two concepts through repeated
activation. This is an observable physical process, called neuroplasticity, that mainly takes place in the Hippocampus and other areas involved in memory consolidation. As the pre-terminal neuron fires more and more action potentials, the axons grow and the terminal buttons release more neurotransmitters with each action potential (Bet you thought a Com major couldn’t talk biology, didn't ya fuckers?). For example, if I say “Bitches ain’t shit,” you may find yourself thinking “But hoes and tricks.” Those two items have a very strong primed connection, strengthened through repetitive activation, because no one listens to that song just once. However, if I give you some time to list all of the things that come to mind, you may come up with some weaker primed connections, such as Ben Folds or even the place you were when you first heard the song.

Fox News primes concepts like bros roofie girls’ drinks: constantly. Concepts like the mainstream media and liberalism (I especially like the part where they don’t self-identify as
mainstream media. It’s like when that guy at the bar in the Ed Hardy shirt and spiked hair says he’s just trying to be friendly. We both know it’s bullshit, and it makes him an even bigger sleazebag), letting the Bush tax cuts expire and class warfare (a complete fucking misappropriation of Marxist theory, but I digress...) Christianity and morality, Islam and radicalism, or even unions and corruption. The more they bring up these connections, the more available they are in the audience’s minds...and therefore more likely to be interpreted as trustworthy and accurate.

So. Fox reports on a story...say Romney’s statement about his proposed foreign policy in the Middle East* (which includes arming the Syrian rebels. Yeah. That strategy has TOTALLY
worked out for us in the past. Just LOOK at how much fucking fun Afghanistan is having), the audience is predisposed to form the exact opinion Fox wants them to. They read the story and activate primed concepts, such as the Middle East and a fundamental difference in values, or Obama and naivety. Because those concepts come so readily to mind, they don’t bother saying “Hold up, why in the Hell do I think that we have an obligation to fuck with Syria and Iran and, by extension, mother fucking Russia?”, but instead accept the legitimacy frame as an explanation for the activation of the previously primed connections, thinking “Goddamn right we should intervene. Everyone knows the Middle East is completely tribal and fundamentally fucked. That’s just a fact.” And that’s how perfectly rational people turn into fucking shitheads.

So...there’s my rant about a corrupt butthole of a news organization that is slowly chipping away at the little bit of integrity left in broadcasting or journalism. You don’t have to agree with anything I’ve said; I’m not arguing semantics, but rather pragmatics, and I invite anyone who would like to challenge that I have been inaccurate in that respect. But I could give a fuck either way, as I accomplished my goal: I just wrote with more substance than most Fox correspondents can muster, and I cussed up a goddamn storm while I did it. This is the part where, if this was a rap battle, I would throw the microphone down and walk away, just fucking dripping swag. But it’s a blog so...I’ll just sit here smugly and quietly and pretend I didn’t waste an enormous amount of my time just to be a little shit to my loving parents.

*If you would like to see exactly what I’m talking about, here’s a link to that story: