The Handmaid’s Tale

Ever since I read “1984” and “Brave New World” in high school I’ve been a fan of dystopian novels.  I love recent effort like “The Hunger Games” and I found the movie “Divergent” to be enjoyable even though the novels weren’t very original.  So the buzz around the Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale” caught my interest.

I borrowed the book from the library and I thought it was pretty interesting.  It was a suspenseful story and it inspired a lot of imagination.  The author Margaret Atwood left a lot of loose ends in her book.  She wrote the novel as if we were familiar with the country of Gilead and details did not need to be explained.

I enjoyed the book enough to watch the TV series because I was hoping it would fill in some blanks for me.  In some ways it did.  Since the book leaves a lot to the imagination the writers of the TV series were given a lot of artistic license.  There are several story lines in the show that weren’t in the novel and there were some aspects of the book that were completely left out of the TV show.  But I’m still left with questions about Gilead and the way society is structured.

While reading the book and watching the TV series I wondered what happened to the handmaids once their child bearing years are over.  Are they sent to the colonies?  If so why not stage an uprising?  There isn’t much to loose if you know you will be exiled and sentenced to a work camp or hanged in your mid forties.

In the TV show there were women that worked as domestic workers.  They looked to be in their late 30s or perhaps 40s and were attractive.  It is unclear if that was the next step after being a handmaid.  The book mentioned a social class of women called econowives which may have been the lot in life of these women.  But I thought the econowives were government issued women to low status men.  It was never made clear.

I also didn’t understand who benefited from the social structure of Gilead.  Everyone was miserable and oppressed.  Even the upper class of society suffered under the rules of the theocracy.  Why did they put up with it?  They were all slaves to the system and I saw no beneficiaries.  No one was above corporal punishment or the wall in Gilead.

The social structure that enslaved women of child bearing age didn’t seem to be very fruitful.  Despite all of the child bearing women being in bondage and having intercourse monthly on their fertile days pregnancies were still rare.  The entire exercise seems futile to me because it wasn’t very productive despite the systematic efforts.  It probably would have been better to harvest the eggs of child women and implant them with embryos.

There was no reward for delivering a healthy child.  Once a woman weened the baby that she birthed she just went on to the next post.  Women that delivered babies weren’t even given high status.  You would think that Gilead would offer some sort of motivation such as a respectable husband or her own income and residence at some point.

The book touched on this more than the show did but a lot of men were celibate in Gilead.  Men were issued women by the government based on status.  Low status men were not issued women at all.  It was hard to tell the status levels of the men in the stories.  The driver in the story was low status and the Commander was high.

I don’t know how men ranked in between and at what point they earned a woman.  There is no way all of those grown celibate men wouldn’t cause some sort of social instability.  The social structure of Gilead really wasn’t sustainable.

In the novel Serena Joy Waterford was a lot older than her handmaid Offred.  I got the impression that all of the wives and commanders were older and past prime child bearing years which was their problem.  In the TV show the actresses that play the wives and handmaids are around the same age.  So I don’t really know what was wrong with all the wives?  You would think one of them would have an unplanned pregnancy at some point.  And how did the government of Gilead know they were infertile?

Some of the wives in the movie were quite young and looked to be healthy.  You don’t really know that you can’t have children until you start having unprotected sex.  It was also unclear to me if the wives and husbands had sex with each other or was sexuality taboo outside of “The Ceremony”.  The Waterfords had a very distant and cold relationship.

There was a baby girl born in the story.  Her handmaid mother called her Angela and her adopted mother and father called her Charlotte (or perhaps vice versa).  I’m sympathetic to the handmaid so I will refer to her as Angela.  What did Gilead do with the baby girls that were born and raised in affluent families that had handmaids.  Would these families really turn their daughter over to the government if she was thought to be fertile?  How would they reconcile that with their conscious?

There are just so many questions left.  There are more seasons of the show and Margaret Atwood is working on a sequel to her novel that was published in 1985.  Perhaps my questions will be answered.  But based on the book and the TV program I don’t think Gilead could survive for more than one generation.  There would be a lot of instability and social strife that would cause upheaval.

 

Nothing is Promised

Last week supermodel and America’s Next Top Modelfinalist, Winnie Harlow a.k.a Chantelle answered questions from Bravo’s Andy Cohen that set off, I won’t say controversy but a bit of social media cattiness from former America’s Next Top Model contestants and fans.  Winnie said that the show didn’t do anything to help her develop her career.  Other former contestants and fans think she’s being ungrateful.  But a few ANTM alumni agree with Winnie.

The first winner of America’s Next Top Model Adrianne Curry said years ago that the show didn’t do anything for her career.  Other models from early seasons said that the show not only didn’t help them become successful but it was a hindrance to getting signed with an agency.  Other former contestants on the show credit ANTM for giving them their start in the business and giving them a platform from which to speak.

I don’t have a problem with Winnie telling her story and giving her opinion on the matter.  But I do take her words with a grain of salt.  I watched her season of the show and she didn’t come across as a very likable character.  There was an arrogance and sense of entitlement about her and she wasn’t well liked by other cast mates in the Top Model House.

It’s hard to gauge how effective ANTM is in launching careers because there aren’t many super star models anymore.  Fashion magazines use actresses, reality show stars and the children of famous people in their ads.  The models that don’t fit into those categories may be successful but they aren’t household names like the super models of the 80s and 90s.

I am a long time fan of America’s Next Top Model and while viewing each season I have questioned whether many of the girls could really go on and model.  The contestants that are chosen are people that look good on TV but they don’t really look like people that you see walking in fashion shows or in fashion magazines.  I don’t think that it matter much because each season thousands of hopefuls audition to fill fourteen spots on the show.

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Tyra also uses the show as her own personal soap box.  She has used the show as a platform to challenge beauty standards and she picks models accordingly.  Yet, fashion models are overwhelmingly tall, thin, young and European.  ANTM has featured contestants that speak well to Tyra’s beliefs but I’m not sure they are what the fashion industry is looking for.

Nonetheless, I have seen ANTM contestants acting on TV programs and in print ads.  I follow many of the former contestants on Instagram and they seem to have entertainment careers.  But I’ll admit it’s always hard to tell who is successful and who isn’t from Instagram pages.

I’m sure being on a show like America’s Next Top Model is a great learning and opportunity for young models especially in the social media age.  But just like American Idol, The Voice and other talent finding competitions there are some contestants that are successful once their season is over and others that are never heard from again.

So it seems that being a contestant on ANTM is a lot like going to college.  You show up with hopes and dreams for the future.  Your experience in the program may give some valuable lessons that will help you achieve your goals but winning ANTM, American Idol, making it to the NFL or NBA draft does not in and of itself promise success.  Often times people that struggle in the initial stages of their career become stars.

When you hear Jennifer Hudson’s powerful voice remember that she was an American Idol loser and she only got as far as she did in the competition because Randy Jackson saved her.  Tom Brady wasn’t a top NFL draft pick and Michael Jordan didn’t make his school’s basketball tryouts one year.  You just have to make the most of your opportunities and keep plugging away at your goals.  I believe that people that don’t give up achieve a measure of success but stay humble because nothing is promised to anyone.

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Why do Children Bully?

Bullying has been a hot topic for the last few years and this week the bullying hype has reached a fever pitch due to the #Keaton hashtag on Twitter.  People love to reflect on why children are so cruel to each other.  To me it is painfully obvious why children mistreat each other to the point that a student may commit suicide because of taunting at school.  Children mistreat each other because they are growing up in a mean, disrespectful society that does not value others.

I’ve been noticing for years that people love to strong arm one another in modern day America.  There is no respect for a difference of opinion and when people do not do what we want we try to force our will on them.  I noticed that in various customer service positions I’ve held.

If a store clerk says “Sorry you can’t bring this back you’ve owned it longer than what our return policy allows” or “Sorry this coupon is expired” or “Sorry you can’t substitute the sides and still get this at the same price” people become mean as hell.  They use language to demean the clerk and demand to speak with a manager.  If management doesn’t do what they want they call the corporate office and rudely make demands and if they don’t get their way they threaten to slander the company on the internet.  They’re bullies that don’t respect the boundaries of others and want to force their will.

The “Real Housewives”, “Basketball Wives” and “Love and Hip Hop” are popular reality show franchises that give us a glimpse into the private lives of the wealthy and privileged.  These tales involve adults, some of whom are grandmothers, that treat each other terribly and sometimes they are even violent to one another.  The characters on these shows are sensitive and have hair trigger tempers.  Their interactions often lead to mean words being thrown back and forth, wine being thrown in someone’s face and/or punches being thrown.  There is no doubt in my mind that a lot of these shows are family viewing in many American households.

Social media is another place where mean, rude, crass behavior has become normal.  People call strangers names and demean each other for their opinions.  The behavior gets even worse when people start talking about and to celebrities.  Geez, people love to build celebrities up and then drag them through the mud or “cancel” them.

To top it off look at who Americans chose to be their leader in 2016.  A man was democratically elected because Americans want a president that speaks his mind and isn’t politically correct.  In other words America wanted crass and brazen behavior in the White House.  He does what he wants and doesn’t consider others.  He grabs bitches by the pussy!  In other words Americans wanted a bully as a president.  The last president we had was considerate, polite, professional and tried to help people.  What a punk!

So the next time anyone ponders why children bully each other just look at what is surrounding them as they grow up.  They are surrounded by bullying in real life, in the media, in entertainment and in the White House.

Bullying and treating others with disdain is normal for children because of the behavior the see modeled before them.  So don’t blame children for the bullying.  It’s not their fault that they are growing up in this modern day trashy American culture.

 

Curtis Granderson: the Great Unifier

Absolutely anything can turn into an argument on social media.  The most innocuous comment can draw a sharp tongued response from a fellow social media user with a chip on their shoulder.  We can’t agree on anything these days.  America is sharply divided by ideology: Democrat, Republican, faithful, Atheist, does pineapple belong on pizza or not, who do you hate more the Patriots or the Cowboys?  In this day and age we have a hard time respectfully allowing others to have an opinion without passing judgement on their character.  I do it too.

But I’ve noticed that there is one subject everyone agrees on: Curtis Granderson. No one ever says anything bad about him.  Like never, ever.  All of the social media comments that I’ve seen about Curtis have been admirable.  That’s an incredible accomplishment in an environment where a picture of a cupcake or puppy can start an argument.

Curtis is the outfielder Curtis Granderson for the LA Dodgers.  I’ve followed his career since he played for my Detroit Tigers around ten years ago.  I’ve had a crush on the man since then.  He’s tall, athletic, Black, wealthy and absolutely charming with old fashioned manners.  You can tell he was raised by adult parents with common sense and morals that instilled good values in their son.  That’s rare.  The only person that compares is J.J. Watt who is the blonde, blue eyed NFL equivalent.

I think the secret to Curtis’ popularity is that we don’t know much about the man.  I’ve looked for information about the man’s personal life because I’ve been in love with him for like a decade but there isn’t much out there.  Other than a Wikipedia page, articles about his charity and stats Curtis Granderson is a mystery.  He has not given us anything to talk about or judge.  Instead of seeking attention he uses discretion.  Discretion is not appreciated much in this social media world of ours.

Anyway, God bless Curtis Granderson.  I’m still hoping the Royals will win the Wild Card and make it into the Pennant Race and make a good run for another World Series ring.  Honesly, it’s not looking great for the Royals so I will jump on the LA Dodgers bandwagon and cheer them on for a World Series ring.  Curtis deserves it.  He’s had an impressive career and is a more impressive human being.  Thank you Curtis Granderson for standing for class, tact and professionalism.  The world appreciates you.

#TeamRob

I think we all knew this day would come.  I’m talking about the crash and burn break up of Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna.  I watched the show “Rob and Chyna” and I strongly suspected that Chyna was using Rob for attention and financial gain.  The relationship did not seem genuine and Rob seemed kind of vapid.  Chyna was not very nice to Rob at all and she was very controlling.  I don’t think Chyna is a nice person at all and she’s a complete idiot to top it all off.

Before Rob and Chyna started dating Rob was struggling with his weight and he was not getting along with his family.  He seemed to have self esteem problems and then Chyna came along and acted as an earthly savior for Rob.  Chyna took full advantage Rob and his fragile mental and emotional state.  But I could tell on their reality show that she never really loved or liked the man.  At best I thought she was lonely and desperate and was just trying to make the relationship work out.

It has been revealed through social media that Rob showered Chyna with expensive gifts and even plastic surgery.  I don’t believe that anyone should use someone for money but my goodness if you’re going to do it maximize the potential of the situation.  Blac Chyna short changed herself if you asked me.

Chyna probably could have married Rob.  And then she would have been Mrs. Kardashian, the only Mrs. Kardashian.  That would have been a proud moment in Black history.  I also think she missed a huge opportunity by having one baby and dumping Rob.  She needed to have a boy in order to keep the Kardashian name going.  Being Mrs. Kardashian, ex Mrs. Kardashian or the mother of Baby Boy Kardashian would have supported her and Dream for the rest of their lives.  But Chyna’s dumb ass blew it.

Chyna was thinking short term which is child support while Dream is a minor.  But then what?  Chyna will be an ex D.C. stripper in her mid forties.  She’s probably not going to go to school and become a nurse or something respectable.  She and dream are going to be back to hustling.

The problem there is that they are Black women and Black women could never get away with the nonsense that the Kardashians have gotten away with.  If Ray J had made a sex tape with a Black women she never would have had the opportunity to turn that into a multi million dollar family business.  The American public would have never taken interest in that.

Besides that we don’t know what Dream is going to look like and looks are everything in the world she was born into.  There’s a good chance that she will be attractive because both grandmothers are beautiful and her mother is gorgeous when she’s working with her stripper body.  But we just don’t know.

I don’t think I could date Rob Kardashian but he also doesn’t seem that bad to me.  Chyna should have just stuck it out for the long haul.  I really don’t understand these people that get attached to people with tons of money and then show their ass.  The best opportunity folks like Blac Chyna, Amber Rose (Wiz Khalifa’s ex) and Kindu Issacs (Mary J. Blige’s ex) was their marriage.  How did they mess this up?  None of them are going to make as much money as their former partners so why not make nice and stay in the relationship.  They need to take a lesson from Vanessa Bryant who is a smart woman.

Chyna sent Rob a picture of herself kissing some guy and another picture of a different guy in Rob’s bath robe.  Are either of those men going to buy her a diamond watch or a Lamborghini?  Neither one of them probably can which is what makes Chyna is an idiot.  I really don’t know why Rob is even pressed over this.

I’m a believer in everlasting love, loyalty and friendship.  But if you’re going to hustle for a come up do it right and make the most of a situation.  Chyna had the whole world in her hand and blew it and she probably won’t get it back.  I really hope this is all just a Kardashian publicity stunt that the entire family will cash in on.  Because I hate to see a Black woman making such poor business decision.

My Analysis of “Catching Kelce””

I know I’m way late. But I was a bit busy. In fact I didn’t even see the finale of “Catching Kelce” at the time it aired a few weeks ago. I had to have my mom DVR it for me and I watched it several days later. For those of you that don’t know, “Catching Kelce” was a dating show patterned after the “Bachelor” where Kansas City Chiefs tight end looked for love from a group of fifty starry eyed NFL wife hopefuls. I thought about trying out for the show myself but I am far too old. Yes, I looked into it.

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I’ll skip right to the end. He picked a young woman from Kentucky named Maya Benberry. I was glad that he picked Maya because she is Black or at least mixed or something. I always cheer on Black people regardless of the contest. It could be the Olympics, a pageant, pro sports, political election or game shows. Before you label me a racist keep in mind that Black women are the least likely demographic to get married. And if you’ve ever watched “The Bachelor” you know that the Black women rarely even make the qualifying round. I’m a Black woman so I support Black people especially women. And regardless of race, if I was a betting woman I would always put my money on the long shot. Black girls are the long shot in everything.

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So I’m really glad to see a handsome prosperous bachelor choosing a Black woman but I kind of wish he hadn’t picked that one. Maya was actually one of my least favorite people on the show and even from the field of Black women on the show I think he could have chosen better. I hope Travis is happy because I love him but I just don’t see it. But hind sight is 20/20 and I think she was his favorite from the start. The heart wants what the heart wants I suppose.

My favorite contestant on “Catching Kelce” was Cee Cee from Michigan. I thought she was super cute with a bubbly personality. She was light hearted, funny and didn’t seem to take the show too seriously. But I will say that the idea of Cee Cee and Travis operating as a couple gave me pause. If you are familiar with Travis you know that a pairing between him and a somewhat vapid party girl that enjoys drinking whose friends refer to her as “the Reckless One” may not be the best help mate from an athlete that was once described as having character flaws. Nonetheless Cee Cee was the greatest and I wish her well in life.

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I was also fond of Avery. I saw a lot of myself in her. Avery has a reserved personality and was a bit mysterious. I think that Avery is an old fashioned woman that expects a man to earn her love, attention and affection even if you are an NFL star. She didn’t compete heavily with the other women for Travis nor did she dangle her body in front of him like Christmas ornament. I can tell that Avery wants to take her time in order to get to know a man.

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People these days like instant validation. They don’t want to take the time to search a person’s mind and heart. The focus is usually sexual gratification, personal validation or ownership. That’s why romance is rare in these modern times. I don’t believe you can ever really fall in love with a person without learning their mind, heart and soul. Intimacy takes time but most don’t want to invest the time. Even Travis said that Avery was a lot of work because of her somewhat aloof personality. But maybe he was right. She might just not been that into him.

The two girls left standing at the finale in Kansas City were Maya and Veronica. They were two of the most competitive and assertive women on the show. They also both have huge boobs. The lovely blonde Veronica from New Jersey was the runner up. I liked Veronica. She seemed like fun and I think she would have been a good pick for Travis. I’m not concerned for her in the least. I’ll bet she ends up marrying one of the Philadelphia Eagles. She would probably like that better anyway.

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Anyway, congratulations to Travis and Maya. I hope the two of them get married and turn the wedding into an E! channel special. I will be sure to tune in. But if it doesn’t work out I hope that there will be a “Catching Kelce II”. I know how difficult it can be to date in Kansas City. I understand Travis. So if there is a “Catching Kelce II” I hope they relax the age restrictions.

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