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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Was Bill Clinton checking out Ivanka Trump at the inauguration?

Well, was he?

Answer: I do not have the answer.

If this post is not actually about debunking whether or not he was, then what is the point of this?

In the era of fake news being brought to the attention of, and even being covered by mainstream media, I think it is important to understand the virality of the video.

On my Facebook newsfeed, I noticed many people were sharing the video, which was posted by Being Libertarian. By reading comments, commentary, and the caption to the video itself, it looked like the video contained definite proof of Bill Trump staring at Ivanka Trump. Before I go any further, please watch the scene for yourself.

Thanks to the video, the page got thousands of likes, and the post itself received a plethora of likes, shares, and comments. It was highly popular. However, since then (maybe due to copyright laws), the video was taken down. Unlike this YouTube video, the video on Facebook was of high quality, and was a single shot, versus this video has a transition. (I think this video has a transition because it takes a while for Hillary to look at her husband, and it wants to get straight to the point.)

Even though the quality and editing of the original video I watched and this one are different, they share something in common - we do not even see what/whom Bill is staring at.

So why are these versions of the video going viral? Because of the captions and titles of the videos. We had the image, but all we needed was a suggestion to let our imaginations run wild. I see similar sensational headlines, usually having to do with a male politician "checking out" a woman who is not his wife. When I watch the video, everyone had been in the middle of turning their heads, and it just "happened" to be paused at an awkward-looking moment.

For this headline to go even more viral, the videos should have been edited to include a video of Ivanka at the inauguration, especially if cut into the middle of the clips of the Clintons. And that is what I found from some of the videos listed on YouTube. The problem is that we do not even know if the cuts to Ivanka Trump are happening at the same time, and even if they are, if Bill is even looking at her. To be fair, the photography and videography necessary to conclude whether or not he was staring at her would probably be hard to come by, especially since there were so many things (and more important things) happening at the inauguration.

Whether or not Bill was "mentally undressing" Ivanka (like I saw a few articles describe it), we will probably not know for sure. However, anybody seriously sharing these videos have been very misled. These are people who are confirming their biases that Bill is a terrible person. (There are so many other things that you can talk about regarding that, if you that is what you are going for.) A similar (but not identical) situation is currently happening with a video TMZ shared about A Dog's Purpose with its usage of cut clips, headlines, and captions.

"I see you sharing that video."

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Taking a look at Meryl Streep's Golden Globes speech

As a person who has just earned my BA in the theatre arts, I feel that it is my duty to selectively analyze bits of pop culture as it relates to the arts. Thus, I will be picking apart some of Meryl Streep's speech from the 2017 Golden Globes, and criticisms from antagonists. If you have not done so already, please watch the video. I find that it is better to observe something in its full context before critiquing it. If you are morally opposed to video watching, I guess a transcript will have to do.

The main reason I have seen people arguing over what Streep had to say revolved around politics and art: 1) Artists, including actors, are paid to make art, not talk about politics; 2) she said that football and martial arts are not the arts.

To clear the air...Yes, the arts and politics mix. A little too well. Because history has seen to it that art and politics should not mix. Governments, especially tyrannical ones, do not like freedom of speech and expression, including art. In recent times, the Cuban arts have been suppressed. Nazi Germany was not nice towards artists and their work (and other people) either. If you want to look more into the suppression of the arts, just ask...Google, because I am not an art historian. (Maybe check out Doctor Zhivago.) The point being if you are afraid about how your government is going to (or may) go after you or others because they do not like your art, you have the full right to speak out.

Also, when you write, perform, paint, etc. content, you are a product of your times. I am an early 21st century writer, and a libertarian. Whether or not I write about the 21st century or libertarianism, this background information will manage to show. Even if I strove to not make myself sound like I am from this time period or a libertarian, it would be hard to manage. Political and cultural events are some of what make us who we are. If you are trying to find deeper meaning within an artistic piece, you have to learn about the artist and where and when they lived.

Now with what is not the arts...It seems to me that Streep is saying if we keep out immigrants (or kick them out) and inhibit diversity, we will lose the arts. And she said that football and martial arts are not the arts, which upset many people.

Before I go into this, I need you to understand what art is. What is art if not all paintings are art? Neither are all illustrations, statues, performances, etc. Sure, they may have artistic elements or require great skill to be made, but that is not what makes art. Sometimes what people mistake for art is actually decoration, propaganda, imitation or whatever else. And remember, art is not about being beautiful; sometimes it is ugly or disgusting.

Stalinist propaganda. Beautiful, skillful propaganda.

Art is a creation using emotional labor and technical skill, resulting in a piece or presentation that naturally comments upon the subject and produces an emotional or intellectual reaction within an individual, understanding that the reactions will (and should) vary. It is really hard to define art. People have been doing it for thousands of years. Then there are debates about what is and isn't art. (If the debates don't get too hostile, they're pretty fun.) I would not think that any two people who understand what art is would agree 100% on what constitutes it.

Both football and martial arts have elements of art in them. Would I call them art? No and yes. I do not think that football is art. Martial arts? Yes, to an extent. It is kinda in the name, but what I think can make martial arts an actual art is if it is performed theatrically, such as in a presentation. I would not call fighting art, even if it is skillful. You could argue that wrestling WWE-style is art. Related: The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity is a play that looks at wrestling and art.

My problem with Streep's statement is not that she does not think football and martial arts are not art, it is that she comes off as dismissive of these activities, whether she meant to or not. It is true that sports (or athletic activities - whatever you want to call them) is not the same as art. In putting down martials arts and football, she provides more ammunition in furthering the divide between socioeconomic classes. If she had worded it differently, I think much of the controversy regarding football/art/martial arts would have been avoided.

Now that the art versus football and martial arts section has been covered, it is time to move on to another controversy - speaking out against Donald Trump. As I had mentioned earlier, politics and art are linked. So, were her criticisms fair?

I think so. We could probably argue all day about whether or not Trump actually did make fun of the disabled reporter, as Streep and others have claimed, but I think this really comes down to something else. Other than saying artists should not talk about politics, I have noticed Trump supporters clinging onto a few other arguments: 1) These artists would not dish out criticisms towards liberal politicians, and 2) she is (and the Hollywood Elite are) out-of-touch.

So what if Hollywood artists are hypocrites, staying silent when their favorite politicians do things that they would be all too eager to harshly criticize a conservative politician for? Like I said, it is hypocritical, and I wish people would notice their inconsistencies more often, but people are going to criticize no matter what, and if I have a liberal criticizing the bad stuff Trump does while ignoring what Obama has done, I will still take it over no criticism at all. Some of these conservatives just come across as being infuriated that anyone has opinions different than their own. (And it is not just a conservative thing...Look at liberals and the 2016 presidential election.)

Meryl Streep mentions that it is a privilege to be an actor, although I would not say in the way we are used to using the word now. The whole reason she gave this speech was to remind the room and the world about the diversity of Hollywood, and that those who are privileged need to stand up for immigrants since Hollywood is shaped by (and currently consists of) them, as well as First Amendment rights because of his feud with the media.

Will a Trump presidency be as bad as Hollywood is making it out to seem? I hope not. Does Meryl Streep have valid concerns? I think she does. Was it appropriate to make this kind of speech at an awards ceremony? I don't know, and I don't care too much. I do not watch them, and I know that people make all kinds of speeches while there, including letting others make speeches for humanitarian causes. Instead of dismissing what Streep has said, we should weigh each of of her points. Everyone has a right to let their political views be known, so let us brush aside the guise of shutting down misinformation by saying, "This person doesn't know politics!" (in this case, artists). That is just an attempt to silence people.  (How do we even figure out who is qualified enough to talk about politics? Am I? I'm an artist.) What we need is to engage in dialogue, and most of the criticism I encounter does not do that.
Maybe Trump supporters are still butthurt over this.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Annoucement: Speaking at 2016 Seattle Hempfest

Finishing up my undergraduate "career" (if you can call it that) has me all sorts of busy. Fortunately, I should be set to graduate in December. My senior project for my theatre major has been approved and is underway. Instead of taking a seven-credit anthropology credit, I am trying to get an internship at a local museum. If I am accepted to that, I will only have one course that actually meets in a classroom.

Two years ago, I spoke at the 2014 Seattle Hempfest on all three stages. Last year, I missed the opportunity by a small window (one day) because I had not been aware of the timeframe of when they were requesting speakers. I received an email from the organizers a few months ago, inviting me to speak at the 25th anniversary - special invites to speakers who have come before.

Because I accepted, I have three speaking slots this year. What is special for this one is that, although I will not be on the main stage this year, I will be on a panel in the Hemposium. For those of you who do not know, the Hemposium is a tent that hosts panels all day, as well as the VIP party on Friday night.

My line-up:

Friday 8/19 12:30-1:05 pm
"Activism: Can One Person Truly Make a Difference?"

Saturday 8/20 5 pm
Seeley Stage
"How to be an Effective Cannabis Activist"

Sunday 8/21 2:40 pm
Black Stage
"What the Upcoming Elections Mean for Marijuana"

To keep up with me at Hempfest, follow me on Snapchat - KatTheTrina. For more updates about my life and writing, visit my crowdfunding campaign.