I borrowed a vehicle the other day and the station was tuned to one of those lousy easy listening dung-heaps of a station, the kind that play the John Tesh Show. If you haven’t heard of it, count yourself lucky. Its tagline is, “Intelligence for your life.” This guy goes on the internet and finds random facts or half-baked studies and spouts them off between elevator music tracks with a smug tone that sounds like that annoying kid in class who always had to raise both his hands when the teacher asked a question. I hated that kid.
I’m too much of a gentleman to change stations while borrowing someone else’s vehicle, so I grudgingly obliged and listened to John Tesh, enraptured in the exciting facts I would undoubtedly learn.
So this douchebag comes on after a song and says something to the effect of,
“Ladies, a recent study has shown that if you want to be taken seriously by your employer, wear lipstick. Studies have shown that those women who don’t wear make-up are not taken as seriously by their employer and are more likely to be passed over when it comes to raises and promotions. So ladies, make sure you’re wearing short skirts and tall leather fuck-me boots whenever you’re around your horny bosses because if you don’t look like you’re ready to get on your knees and polish his knob, he won’t take you seriously.” – John Tesh
Ok, that last part was a bit of hyperbole, but he totally said the thing about the lipstick in the workplace and how women should doll themselves up if they want to be taken seriously. He recommended that women should wear lipstick and go along with it, as if it’s an expected part of advancement in the workplace.
Dude, if you’ve got a platform where a lot of people look to you for information – however misguided they may be – and you just tell the world to conform to misogynistic stereotypes, you are part of the problem. If there actually was a study that showed dressing like a hooker is better for a lady’s career, the right response is, “What the fuck?!? We need to change this!” You answered with, “Don’t fight it ladies! Your merit is based on your fuckability.” You, my good sir, are an asshole.
It’s hard not to get a little cynical about the annual ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids. The event name itself gives me a twinge of agony every time I consider it. ArtPrize. It cuts right to the point in an almost patronizing way. In case we find ourselves walking around downtown and forget why we’re seeing all sorts of art, it’s because there’s a prize involved. It’s like the teacher trying to dumb down a concept for the lowest common denominator in class.
Don’t get me wrong. I usually have a lot of fun walking around and taking in all the different works of art around the city. The key is that you have to get off the beaten path. It’s a competition in which anyone with a text-ready phone can be a judge. The result is that the usual high traffic areas are often filled with large and memorable gimmicky pieces that, while often fun to look at, aren’t really the most artsy pieces. They often lack any real depth and are only there to collect votes, like last year’s giant steampunk pig (which was awesome, by the way) or this year’s guys painted bronze acting like statues (blech).
In the interest of full disclosure, I know absolutely nothing about art. That much should already be obvious.
Which leads me to my rant about this year’s top ten. There were three in particular that made me facepalm when I found out they were finalists. There were a couple bronze-painted construction workers who, for the most part, stood still except for the occasional surprise movement that you could see in any tourist-ridden city in the world, as well as a wax-museum-grade sculpture of Grand Rapids’ only claim to fame, America’s first accidental president, A Narcissistic Gerald R. Ford checking out his own bust.
But those two are merely tasteless hors d’oeuvres compared to this year’s winner. That’s right, I’m talking about Hover-Jesus. Er, I mean, Crucifixion, by Mia Tavonatti. Here he is, in all his hackneyed glory, soaring through the clouds on his trusty airship made of wooden beams and rusty nails:
This thing is made of tiny shards of stained glass that she individually selected and carved. There are even little glass circles for his nipples. It must have taken an awful lot of time, and as our previous ArtPrize winners have shown, that’s what we Grand Rapidsians adore. Our votes tend to appreciate hard work over content. She had an entry last year using the same medium and won second place. The only thing missing was Jesus. That correction netted her $250,000 this year. Congratulations, Mia, you gamed the system. I only wish I had thought of it first.
Which is why I’m announcing my entry for next year’s competition. I’ve learned the ArtPrize game. Years one and two showed me that whatever I make, it has to be big. Last year’s entry also showed me that you don’t even have to create art; you can get by with just a pencil, a wall of paper, a projector, and some photograph you find in granddaddy’s shoebox. Seriously, the dude who won last year just used a pencil and a projector to magnify an old military photograph from 1921. He’s like a human laser-jet printer. It was genius.
All I need to do is combine that with what I’ve learned about Jesus to make my vision complete. I submit to you my proposal for a thirty foot tall, pencil-drawn reproduction of this masterpiece I found wandering around the internet:
I’ll have some stiff competition, but my art will be loved. Next year, vote for me. And Jesus. And Santa. And 9/11. To vote otherwise would be unAmerican.
Actually, don’t vote for it. Vote for what you like, but for Hover-Jesus’ sake, just make sure that the next time you visit ArtPrize, you go off the beaten path. There is a lot of good stuff out there if you take the time to look. Just try and avoid all the gimmicky kitsch so prevalent in the open spaces.
We were in San Francisco the day of the Pride Parade but I’m sorry to say we missed the main events. With New York finally coming on board with their adoption of a same sex marriage bill, there was plenty to celebrate and it was supposed to have been awesome. California is still suffering the setback caused by some overzealous Mormons with deep pockets, but Proposition 8 is bound to come down. It’s only a matter of time.
I’m looking forward to a time when this sort of thing is as mundane, when loving couples aren’t singled out and discriminated against because they happen to have the same toolset downstairs. Perhaps that’s too hopeful. There are always going to be douchebags who would do anything to sever the rights of any group of people they frown upon. We’re hoping for a governmental policy change and as much societal change as is possible.
I’m sorry to say that I used to be in the camp of those who loved to hate. Of course, we fundies called it, hate the sin, love the sinner. Ugh. What a crock of shit. When I was in high school and a devout Baptist, we had a pastor who loved to talk about the evils of anal sex. He had reams of Christian-biased “studies” that went into explicit details regarding all sorts of things that apparently every gay person did with the ol’ turd cutter and how angry it made baby Jesus.
I know this because in my creative writing class, we had to write a paper in which we took a side on something controversial. I hate to admit this, but I wrote a paper on all the evils of homosexuality and used a bunch of bullshit studies provided by my pastor as research. My controversial paper’s subject was nothing more than a denouncement of butt-sex in a feigned scientific tone. And I got a fucking A. I feel dirty, and it‘s not because my pastor’s literature introduced me to such terms as rimming. It’s because in my ignorance and conceit, I accepted and parroted that nonsense without giving it a second thought. Being an anti-gay Christian is all about accentuating the ewwwww factor, and that absurd indoctrination the most disgusting thing of all.
Most of my life was lived as a devout Christian fundamentalist. I know that when the subject of homosexuality comes up, most fundies can’t get past their mental picture of a two dudes going at it. I’m pretty sure that straight Christian men think more about gays having sex than do homosexuals. They are obsessed. It’s all they see.
Fundies often refuse to see people as people when it comes to gay tolerance. It doesn’t matter how skewed their frightful image of what physical love between same-sex couples may be, they can’t separate their picture of what might be happening behind closed doors from the people involved. I find this sadder and sadder every day. Why the consensual sex acts of any adults are the business of holier-than-thou, complete strangers is beyond me. It’s unnerving that their obsession with other people’s sex lives has such a stranglehold on public policy.
A few months after my wife and I were married, I made a comment about how the whole push for gay marriage made so much more sense to me. I was greeted with a confused and distrustful gaze until I assured her that, indeed I was straight, but that I understood things much better. Relationships and marriage aren’t defined by the hanky-panky that goes on behind closed doors between consenting adults. It’s so much more than that. I love my wife completely. I can’t imagine being without her or even away from her for an extended period. To think that some selfish twats want to ruin that kind of relationship for people with matching bits just sickens me.
I applaud the gay community for the pride they carry and for the strength which they’ve gained. It’s a movement which can’t be stopped; only stalled. Equality will come. I disdain the type of person I was when I focused on all the wrong things. I look forward to the day when this is just another surprising period in our history books: one in which a bunch of douchebags wanted to deny equal rights to all but were eventually overcome.