Sunday, October 26, 2008

Risqué Kid’s Halloween Costumes: Demagoguery over Reality?

The issue is probably as old as the Bush Administration’s Neo-Conservatives’ tenure in power, but is this the issue of risqué Halloween kid’s costumes grounded in reality?

By: Vanessa Uy

This particular issue might move to the proverbial backseat this time due to the hotly contested 2008 US Presidential Election – especially with the sale of presidential candidate Halloween masks predicting the winners with bizarre accuracy. But together with the stories of folks who are now fast approaching 60 telling stories about how the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 27, 1962 had them making their own family's ad hoc fallout shelter back in the day. The issue of Halloween costumes that are too sexy seems to manage to stay forever relevant.

Probably it was the FOX News broadcast from last year that shone a light on this thorny subject. Especially that guest who looks like Eddie Munster who testified on how the Genie played by Barbara Eden on the 1967 TV series I Dream of Genie had made him “sexually traumatized”. Given that this particular costume derived from Scheherazade – i.e. the wife of the sultan of India and narrator of the tales in the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments - is one of the most aspirational Halloween costumes for girls aged 10 or below. Probably up there with Wonder Woman or the leotards worn by Degas’ “Tiny Dancer” sculpture. That guy would probably be appearing next on Chris Hansen’s “To Catch a Predator” on Dateline NBC.

Recently, the “arbiters of taste” on CBS Early Edition on their October 22, 2008 broadcast has presented new sets of girl’s Halloween costumes which they deemed “too risqué”. The black suede leather “streetwalker” costume definitely passes muster – to me at least – as too risqué for young girls. But when they brought out a bumblebee ballerina costume similar to that worn by that little girl in a Blind Melon music video titled No Rain back in 1994 as too risqué, I said to myself oh boy here we go again… But seriously though, are these people who point out age-inappropriate Halloween Costumes doing their part in halting the global scourge of child pornography, or are they just desperate for attention? Maybe Penn and Teller can do an exposé on this on their show.

The problem with labeling Halloween Costumes, as too risqué is that 100% of the cases presented on the media only applied to girl’s costumes. What about boy’s costumes? Should we be – together with the Federal Government - start banning little boys from wearing Robin Costumes (Batman’s young sidekick)? Especially in Boston because of the inappropriate effects it might incur on their local parish priests?

Maybe this is just a ploy by TV networks to prop-up their sagging fall season ratings. But the risqué Halloween costumes issue will probably be here to stay. Especially if that Larry Flynt “movie” about Gov. Sarah Palin’s “Drill Here, Drill Now” energy independence program becomes famous and every girl in America aged 10 and below starts to dress like Gov. Sarah Palin – the way Hustler Magazine CEO Larry “Barely Legal” Flynt sees her.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Popular Music Goes to Washington

A concept that used to be inconceivable back in the good old days of “Reaganism”, does the increasing use of copyrighted popular music in US Presidential campaigns mere kitsch, or does it expose the ugliness of American politics?

By: Vanessa Uy

The trend probably first gained widespread media notice during the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign ticket using Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t Stop (you know the lines: “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow…”). But the 2008 US Presidential Race has made the issue of using copyrighted popular music in campaign ads an especially contentious one, especially the Republican McCain-Palin campaign ticket’s practice of “drafting” songs like Van Halen’s Right Now and Heart’s Barracuda instead of nicely seeking permission from the artists themselves. Instead, the GOP ticket drafted these songs like the way they use young Americans in their prime as cannon fodder for Halliburton and KBR. If this isn’t bad enough, Senator John “The Manchurian Candidate” McCain even used Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty on an anti-Obama political campaign ad highlighting Senator Barack Obama’s lack of experience. McCain did this without asking permission from Jackson Browne which is a sure sign of GOP-style hypocrisy given McCain and his ilk's propensity of admonishing musicians inspired by Woody Guthrie’s “socialist” views. A move that’s even worse than McCarthyism.

Maybe the Democratic Party always has a penchant for doing things like this right. Like Senator Barack Obama’s choice of using Stevie Wonder’s 1973 R&B classic Signed, Sealed and Delivered. A song brimming with an eternally optimistic view on life, which surprisingly doesn’t sound corny in comparison to the song’s hackneyed brethren.

So far, the Democrats had managed to avoid the pettiness of their GOP rivals by officially releasing ads criticizing their rival candidates that utilized copyrighted popular music. To me, it would be very interesting if the Democrats ever attempt to pull-off such an undertaking. Especially the Lunachicks’ song Spoilt is ripe for the taking as an almost biographical critique of the 8 years worth of George W. Bush’s miserable failure - which the GOP’s Vice Presidential candidate and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin affectionately termed as the Bush Doctrine. Or what about Lunachicks’ Fallopian Rhapsody as a critique for Governor Sarah Palin’s anti-feminist Heinrich Himmler inspired Lebensborn pro-life stance. Given the choices, how long can the Democrats resist to be drawn into such political pettiness, or maybe the Democrats are a better bunch of people than I am? Maybe the message is Washington D.C. will never be like your private listening den or I-pod.