Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Weblog Slumming and Related Opinions

Every time I see the phrase "kudos to..." I picture someone handing out Kudos bars to everyone involved. Not that I had a hyper-commercialized childhood or anything.

I was born in late 1981, for reference. During the 1980s, Reagan and the FCC and other folks relaxed restrictions on advertising to children. There were more commercials during children's programming than any other decade, and you could also have things like a Transformers TV show with commercials for Transformers toys in between, which I guess you can't do anymore. The theory is that while adults can typically differentiate between what is advertising and what is "informative" programming, children are less able to make those distinctions, and as such are more readily sold to. Which makes sense.

Now, however, you have what I'd consider much more insidious and problematic marketing to children. While TV is a powerful device, it doesn't quite have the immediacy of, say, a big Coke machine in the cafeteria. Worse, many schools need the money that the presence of these machines brings, despite the obvious problems with selling kids soda and other sugary beverages at school--since most kids, given a choice, will prefer the soda to milk, juice, or water.

It really does make me sick how much we're all constantly being sold to. This isn't just a "I hate the big evil corporations" sentiment; I think it's more damaging than that sort of rudimentary cynicism implies. This isn't my endorsement of Adbusters, which I think is just a smidge pretentious (if entertaining, but not worth the price to me). This isn't a scathing critique of capitalism. I do recognize that in many ways we are all complicit and have our own caveats about what is and is not okay marketing. It just bothers me.

I'm trying to read more news lately. So I'm going through the papers (links in navbar, left) and posting links to a few stories. If I'm not posting blah diary content or boring digital photos, I'm slumming it in mundane weblogland, dammit.

I've found the contrast between the U.S. and Canada painfully striking the past few weeks. Canada legalizes pot; the U.S. lets media corporations own more outlets in a market. Canada allows gay marriage; the U.S. bans partial birth abortions.

Sometimes I must question my loyalty. What makes this country so great? What makes other countries lesser; what are the dealbreakers? What makes me lucky to be American and not Canadian? And this can go in my FBI file for all I care, but I've really got to wonder. It seems that my main reason for being here is complacency and laziness rather than actual, well-founded reasons. I mean, I guess you gotta believe in something--or so some people like to tell me--but I do feel troubled by so much of what our country actually does as opposed to what it supposedly believes. There's a great disparity that I'm sure exists everywhere, but it still makes it hard for me to feel passionate about my nationality. Maybe I shouldn't.

This kind of fence-sitting is not unfamiliar to me at all, of course. I've been doing it with religion, with spirituality, with my conviction to my psychology, my interests, my self for years because life is a struggle of belief. Very little is certain.

Anyhow, I'm getting rambly. And I said I had nothing to say, right?

My neighborhood is in the process of being "revitalized" by the city. Everyone thinks it's run down and gross and full of bums and the housing is overpriced and yadda yadda. They've been repaving the main street for a year or so. They've widened the sidewalks, but put in trees, so the widening isn't very helpful for pacing ahead of slow-moving couples and tourists.

I could write a whole entry on why I love the U District as it is, as it was, and as I hope it remains, post-revitalization. Granted, I'm no business owner and I haven't lived here forever, but I do care. I patronize local businesses and I live here. I don't understand all the issues, though I have researched and read a little more than I normally would. You'd be surprised how much politics go into one little neighborhood, really.

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