La La La La Lola

For the last few days, Sky One has been running teasers for a show in which six hottie guys compete for the affections of Miriam. It’s your typical Temptation Island/Joe Millionaire reality show with clips of Miriam and the guys in the hot tub, Miriam and the gents at dinner, blah blah blah. Whatever. The twist? Miriam is hot, but she’s also a pre-op transexual.

“While viewers would know from the start that Miriam is a male-to-female transsexual, the contestants – who include a Royal Marine commando, a ski instructor and an ex-lifeguard – only discover the truth when Miriam picks the winner and then lifts up “her” skirt.

One contestant was so furious he is said to have punched the show’s producer when he found out.”

The guys filed a lawsuit , claiminig they were “tricked.” The suit has been settled and it looks like the show will air as planned.

I’m not sure that the lawsuit restores any dignity to the “humiliated” guys. It’s okay to broadcast them swooning over our heroine, as long as they get paid enough. There’s a joke to which the punchline goes: “I know what you are, now we’re just negotiating the price.”

In spite of all the trashiness, there could be some interesting dialog as a result of the show. Possible questions to be asked in the living rooms within broadcast range of Sky One include:

Transexuals: who are they and what has to happen to get them to where they want to be?
What’s the deal with Miriam anyway?
Could they really have had NO idea? I mean NONE?
There’s ALWAYS a twist. Who signs up for a reality TV dating show and expects to keep their dignity intact?
Would the guys have been equally hacked off if the show was filmed post-op?
Are homosexuals now so mainstream to have lost their shock value?

And so on.

Oddly enough, an the same day I first saw the teaser for “There’s Something About Miriam” this story aired about a tranny golfer who’s playing in the Australian Women’s Open.

Transexuals. They’re here. They’re- um – near? Dear? Get used to them.

More on Pabst

A couple of remarks on Pabst… one professional, the other personal.

First, you should read Rob Walker’s original version of his big NYT Mag piece on Pabst and “the marketing of no marketing.” Basically, Pabst has worked very hard to grow its sales without doing anything so overt as to gross out the urban hipsters who have been so critical to their new success. Savvy marketers have come to understand the dynamics of audiences like these only recently, thanks to The Tipping Point, the rise of coolhunting, and the prevalence of guerilla marketing. (With the exception of the geekier enterprise stuff I do for a certain software client, this is pretty much the kind of thing I get paid to think about.) My company has done a tiny bit for Pabst along the way, but clearly if we were working for them now you would not be pondering the backlash. (Ahem.)

The other story is funnier, and of about the vintage as the great old ads Gary linked to. My mom’s side of the family was for decades entirely teetotaling–nary a drink for anyone, and very holy about the whole thing.

My mom might have been three or four, and was at dinner with my grandparents and some family friends. It was a big night out at the nicest restaurant in their small town in southern Oklahoma and she was dressed up like a proper little lady. The waitress waited until last to ask her what she would like to drink: “What’ll you have little lady?”

“I’ll have a Pabst Blue Ribbon, please!” said said, smiling, a perfect parrot of the TV slogan.

My grandparents tried to be mortified, but everyone just ended up cracking up. Behold the power of advertising.

She is teased about this to this day–which is funny, because though The Judy is emphatically no longer a teetotaler, she cannot stand beer.

So when people talk about Pabst being old-school, that’s what always comes to my mind.

See the Creamy Head

I found these two commercials (in a single streaming clip) for Pabst Blue Ribbon while I was doing research for a comment on one of Jay’s posts. They’re funny!

Something about the first, with its three-qualification test seemed familiar, and I wonder if I saw some version of that ad campaign while I was still young and impressionable (instead of old and impressionable). I hope I remember to order a PBR from Kim the next time.

The second ad is wonderful. The protagonist is an urbane suburbanite, and in his soliloquy he tells us he hasn’t "always been a Blue-Ribbon drinker", and he doesn’t quite remember when he started—a memory lost in the squalid, pre-Enlightenment past, no doubt. Definition through consumption! And I can apparently catch up even if I haven’t yet gotten it together. Get me a case!

It seems like I’ve had more than one conversation lately that reveals a backlash against PBR’s recent rise in popularity. I guess too many people are drinking it for the wrong reasons—that is, stylish anti-stylishness. Perhaps like subsidized housing, one should only be allowed to purchase PBR if one’s income is below a certain threshhold. (One legitimate reason to drink it regardless of income: your only other choice is Rainier.)

With Intent to Preach

In a time of faith based initiatives and encroaching theocracy, it’s refreshing to see this ruling that reminds us about the separation of church and state. This NYT editorial sums it all up rather nicely, but isn’t there a loophole in this ruling you can drive a popemobile through? If it’s all about intent, couldn’t theology students become the newest edition to the “don’t ask don’t tell” crowd? The student denied funding was a “major in business administration and pastoral ministries” – what if he’d just declined to state the “pastoral ministries” part? And is the choice of theology as a major always an indicator of aims towards the ministry? Or couldn’t a student with an interest in history of religion choose an academic theology course of study?

Andrew Sullivan: frustrating, brilliant

So he can be such a silly conservative twat at times, but I can’t help loving Andrew Sullivan. Especially with tears in my eyes after having read this article from Time. He’re the best bit:

When people talk about “gay marriage,” they miss the point. This isn’t about gay marriage. It’s about marriage. It’s about family. It’s about love. It isn’t about religion. It’s about civil marriage licenses – available to atheists as well as believers. These family values are not options for a happy and stable life. They are necessities. Putting gay relationships in some other category – civil unions, domestic partnerships, civl partnerships, whatever – may alleviate real human needs, but, by their very euphemism, by their very separateness, they actually build a wall between gay people and their own families. They put back the barrier many of us have spent a lifetime trying to erase.

My sense of humor

…on the marriage issue has been successfully relocated, thanks to this link from Gary, which I’m elevating from his comment:Attack of the Agenda! Thanks Gary, I really needed that.

All of your comments were excellent. I’ll admit that NPR surprised me this morning with measured comments even from the likes of Frist and DeLay–who actually wants to delay a vote on the matter. Will wonders never cease!

So yes, Pam, I’ll wait to pack. Just knowing that other people are up in arms on our behalf is incredible reassuring. Just promise to return my call when I invite you to man the barricades!

The Passion of The Christ

So I can’t decide if I will go see it or not. If I do, I’ll be buying a ticket to something else (anything else) and slipping into the cathedral to Mel Gibson’s ego at the last second.

The NYT’s A.O. Scott gives me pause:

“The Passion of the Christ” is so relentlessly focused on the savagery of Jesus’ final hours that this film seems to arise less from love than from wrath, and to succeed more in assaulting the spirit than in uplifting it. Mr. Gibson has constructed an unnerving and painful spectacle that is also, in the end, a depressing one. It is disheartening to see a film made with evident and abundant religious conviction that is at the same time so utterly lacking in grace.

The sublime David Edelstein’s review in Slate, which is even more negative, ends with a critical question:

What does this protracted exercise in sadomasochism have to do with Christian faith? I’m asking; I don’t know. Gibson’s revenge movies end with payback–or, in Braveheart, the promise of payback to come. When Jesus is resurrected, his expression is hard, and, as he moves toward the entrance to his tomb, the camera lingers on a round hole in his hand that goes all the way through. Gibson’s Jesus reminded me of the Terminator–he could be the Christianator–heading out into the world to spread the bloody news. Next stop: the Crusades.

I’ll ask another tough one: Shouldn’t a devout Christian thank the Jews for bringing about a horrible event that was entirely necessary to the completion of prophecy, the miracle of resurrection, and the intercession? After the Diaspora, centuries of persecution by Christians, and the Vatican-complicit Holocaust, can’t we say, “Wow, we’re sorry for all the trouble it caused you but somebody had to do it”? Apparently not, as Mel shows blood-thirsty Jews hissing for crucifixion through rotten teeth.

I cannot say it in any other way: It is hard to be, in the grey spring of 2004, a thinking, caring Christian–let alone a gay one. It is hard to look my Jewish friends in the eye these days (or my Muslim ones, or my atheistic ones). A movie this bloody and hateful resembles a Santeria ritual more than it represents the faith I hold.

If there is anything positive to come from a film that lingers on the most imflammatory and politicized (as in, polticized-when-written, by writers locked in a messy market-share battle against a much better-established multinational organization) and passages of the Gospels, it may be this. The film captures perfectly the dominant strain in current American Christianity. Paranoid, beset by a thousand enemies, triumphally convinced not just of its goodness but of its good-versus-evil-ness. In other words, a Christianity that has for decades been steadily distilling itself down from the worst dregs the religion ever had to offer–bitter as the cup Christ asked be taken from him, but devoid of the promise of grace and forgiveness the crucifixion really stands for. The Christianity that this movie both reflects and panders to is not real Christianity at all. To follow Edelstein’s phrase, it is “Christianatorism,” a perversion whose slogal should be “Jesus is coming back–and he’s pissed.” Bravo, Mel Gibson, for serving up the false prophet in such great Hollywood fashion.

Mix in a little crass commercialism, a little transparent demogogery, and it’s a spectacle as disgusting as the moneychangers in the Temple. (No, really… follow the link.)

I suppose I should see the movie before damning it, but even the clips turned my stomach. I’ve used the phrase “theological porn” here before, but nowhere does it seem more apt. In every quivering mortification of the flesh, in every ecstatic moan, in every glistening drop sacred bodily fluid, in every voyeuristic insistence that the faithful wash themselves in the hot, sticky blood of the Lord–the film’s incandescent realism leads its lambs not only to slaughter but also to an orgasm of spritual violence. In that empty moment after, there is no embrace or consolation–only incitement to the spirit of vengenace that, in the slander the film seems designed to deliver, Mel wants to pin on the Jews some two millennia later.