Mariah Carey: All I Want For Christmas Is You

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Let’s get in the Holiday mood, with a 90s Christmas classic…

The AVATAR Movies… Obvious Racism???

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Disclaimer: This may be an uncomfortable article for those sensitive or oblivious on issues of race and reality. In that case, you may not want to continue reading.
Okay, so last night I was coaxed into seeing James Cameron’s Avatar. Why coaxed, well because I never planned to see it, for some reason or another the movie never interested me, but my friend had an extra ticket and wanted to go with someone. I watched the movie at an imax theater, so I must say it looked absolutely amazing. But let me get to the meat of why I’m making this random posting. Well, I hate to have to go here, but, okay how can I put this in a “PC” way…. the movie Avatar by James Cameron, has “twisted diversity” (you guys can interpret that how you want). Nah, I think that doesn’t give the proper gist of what I’m trying to say, Avatar has “backwards/ignorant diversity” which made the movie completely wack in my opinion (and that’s putting it mildly).

Avatar consists of “humans” and “aliens/natives”. The native people, as you can see from the movie trailer, are blue. I guess the movie is placed sometime in the far future because the humans are very advanced. What riddled me though, was the fact that all the natives were african-american, hispanic, or native-american… and when I say all I mean ALL. While on the opposite end all of the humans, all of whom were scientist or in the army, were european-american (aka caucasion). And that, that was extremely perplexing. I caught on to this about 30 or so minutes into the movie when the main native girl Netyiri, played by Zoe Saldana, brought the main human Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, to see all the other natives. I honestly don’t want to drag this on and on, but let’s just ask the obvious questions– James Cameron, are you seriously telling me you couldn’t have any main human characters be african-american, asian, hispanic, etc? a main asian scientist? you couldn’t have a main african-american army guy? or vice versa? You couldn’t have one european-american native/alien? Are you really telling me these things?
Okay, now if I had to play devil’s advocate I’d say well, maybe it is okay that the natives were people of african or native-american/indian type descent, because typically the people being called “natives” in a country are. Places like Africa, South America (pre it being called America), and North America (mainly the US, pre it being called America, pre 1492) are all places that are extremely wealthy and rich in resources. The people originally from these places had no need to “search for resources” because they had it all. When you are wealthy and have all the natural resources anyone could ever need or want, for food, clothing, medicine, jewelry etc (ie. the many crops, animals, minerals such as gold, etc) you don’t need to take from other people. So in some sense, maybe this was okay…

Oh yeah, except for the fact that these were people on a different planet, lol, so do the “natives” on all planets look the same? in terms of facial features and speech, with the same accents/cadences? According to James Cameron, they do. Why could not the aliens/natives include people of all races, James? Then to analyze the humans… for the humans, who were obviously Americans, modern Americans at that (I don’t know what year it was supposed to be, but let’s just say the year 2500), for it to be the year 2,500 and there not be a diverse cast of scientist and army people was quite perplexing.

But that isn’t even the cake-topper, for me, the cake topper was the fact that the “savior” of the native people was of course one of the humans. AND he gets the girl, who was technically supposed to be “betrothed” to one of the main native men. Now don’t get me wrong Sam Worthington is hot, but could they not have gotten a mixed person to play his role just so that we can stop with the overwhelming cliches’? Is Zoe S. the Pocahontas, and is Sam W. the John Smith? This movie is full I mean FULL of cliches…. and that’s why this movie is extremely sub-par. Why would a 2009 movie (almost 2010 movie), directed/produced/etc by this major person, James Cameron, be so cliche?! Now I am finally able to get what that South Park episode, Dancing with the Smurfs, was doing; I understand why they were making fun of Avatar so much. If you haven’t seen that episode watch it here. (They basically compare Avatar to Dancing with the Wolves and other cliche’ movies, while integrating the clouded douche-like mindsets of people like Glenn Beck into the plot through Cartman.)

The movie offered excellent graphics especially in 3D, it looked great at the imax theater, but I left feeling bad for the overwhelming ignorance of the people who cast the movie. But idk, maybe I’m missing something.

Now, lets move on…

Avatar: The Last Airbender is my ISH (that’s a watered down way to say “shit” btw, lol). Yeah, I may technically be a young adult now, but still Avatar: The Last Airbender, is MY show! lol. It’s probably the best thing on Nickelodeon and the best non-comedy cartoon out these days; I seriously love that show. So when I saw the preview for it earlier this year I was extremely happy.

Now you may ask, why am I bringing up Avatar: The Last Airbender? Well because on my google search to find out if other people shared my opinion on the “backwards diversity” of the blue Avatar, I discovered some mind-boggling information about the real Avatar movie, MY Avatar. What did I discover? I discovered the cast. The cast of a movie so OBVIOUSLY set in Asia. All the traditions, the actions, the everything, EVERYTHING on Avatar: The Last Airbender is Asian. From their wisdom, skills in martial arts, to the tea houses, to well, let’s see, hmmm, oh yeah THE SETTING!?! Lol, yes the setting for pete’s sake, is in Asia. But somehow, someway M. Knight Shyamalan and his casting crew, were not able to find one, not ONE, asian person to play one of the main characters in an Asian movie, lmao. I’m sorry, but that’s total BS. And not only are none of the actors initially chosen to star in the movie Asian, but the main character Aang is being played by an undiscovered non-asian kid from Texas.

Many of the actors in this movie are virtual unknowns in one sense or another, so why could not they have used their willingness to cast unknowns as an opportunity to increase the number of asian-american actors? They could have atleast used more racially-ambiguous actors (basically mixed people or perhaps pacific-islanders) to star in the roles. The only main character they got right was sort of unintentional. Prince Zuko, a character on Avatar, was supposed be played by Jesse McCartney, but the movie conflicted with his tour dates so he had to pull out. They replaced him with british actor Dev Patel (the main guy from Slumdog Millionaire), this of course was a huge relief. There are other indian people playing minor roles in the movie, but the overall lack of asian or atleast racially-ambiguous actors is a slap in the face to any competent person.

Dev Patel is the only one that favors his character. They just gave everyone else the hairstyle of the character they are playing which makes them look slightly similar, but still far from the tv show character. Simply put, the casting for Avatar: The Last Airbender was horrible.

I often find that people who feel they belong to the “majority” group in a country are often oblivious to these things. They don’t think twice about diversity, and I guess one could rhetorically ask, “why would they need to?” Well how about because it’s 2009, we’re more conscious as a human race, and we can do better because we know better. But James Cameron and his casting directors only cast european-americans in the human roles and only cast african-americans, hispanics, and native-americans in the alien roles. M. Knight Shyamalan and and his casting directors cast no asians in a culturally Asian movie, giving us direct flashbacks to movies like Cleopatra (I love Liz Taylor as much as the next person, but Egyptian people during the times of Cleopatra were brown). It’s okay for a director to change the intended ethnicity of a character, it really is, but it should not be done at the expense of an entire culture. And it makes more sense to do it for a race of people that are under-represented in Hollywood, so that includes people of color (african-americans), asian-americans, native americans, etc.
Were these directors and hollywood casting agents being racist when they picked the actors for these two movies? who knows. I only put the word “racism” in the title post for emphasis and effect, but it does make you wonder what the logic and intent of these directors were. Were they just oblivious? Unaware? Or was it intentional? Did they feel the need to perpetuate stereotypes or appeal to the “majority” of Americans? I for one am positive that people would have watched Avatar: The Last Airbender if the characters were all asian, if not more people. They certainly lost my ticket, support, and enthusiasm, and from what I have read from others around the internet they’ve lost alot of support and have lowered the moral of avid Avatar fans. I didn’t pay to go see Cameron’s Avatar, a friend gave me a free ticket, but for anyone struggling with whether or not to go see it… don’t. It looks great in 3d, but the movie honestly is not THAT good and extremely cliche’ (save your money).
Now, I know this is sorta off-topic, but entertainment topics (and politics) are brought up here and there, and when I see bullsh*t I have to speak up. This may also be irrelevant to many of you, and that’s cool, just ignore this post, and come back tomorrow, lol. But for those of you who read this post and know anything about either movie feel free to share your opinions, your observations, or your thoughts on either Avatar movie. Note: I know for many of you just seeing the word “racism” brings out a defensive attitude, causing you to not be as objective. You may want to just say, “no diversity, lmao” and then you’ll continue with a 2-4 paragraph rant on how you’re sick and tired of these conspiracy theories about Hollywood not being diverse, but just take a deep breath and try to see these points from various perspectives. No one’s mad here, a little sarcastic? sure why not, lol, but I’m not calling this racism, just simply posing the question… Again, let me repeat for those easily offended– I used the word racism b/c it just brings more attention to the topic. (And thanks to the head editor for letting me post this, I know it isn’t the usual articles we bring and its not the usually type of article I write as a contributing editor, but it had to be done) Mike.

UPDATE: Wow, I didn’t know how many people were boycotting Avatar: The Last Airbender, pretty cool in my opinion. There’s a site called Race Bending that is organizing the boycott and trying to shed light on the lack of color in Hollywood. They not only discuss The Last Airbender, but the constant discrimination at places such as Paramount studios (displayed in movies such as Transformers), among many other interesting topics. Depending on how open your mind is and how culturally diverse you are on a personal level, you may or may not be able to understand the website, but it’s worth checking out.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving Gentlemen!

Sagging Pants? So Unsexy. The Woes of Two Extremes- Saggy Baggy vs Saggy Skinny.

On Friday, when I was on the way to my local park for my daily jog, I was met with a few very disturbing sites… So I'm driving along and was stopped at the intersection because of a red light, so I'm sitting there, waiting, then looked around and noticed two, seemingly high school aged, young guys sort of joking around with each other. This was normal- I know guys can be goofy, especially in high school. What was abnormal though were the clothes they wore… tightly fitted jeans that hugged their lower thighs, knees, and calves; their undergarments were fully exposed as their belts were strategically tightened below their buttocks.
I sat there.
in my car.
highly perturbed.
at what I was seeing.

Two FULL grown boys wearing jeans that were not only ill-fitting, but quite frankly made them look foolish. They paired these atrocious jeans with white v-necks, studded belts, and sneakers- now those things were okay and actually coordinated with their brightly colored extra saggy skinny jeans… but I… I was just upset. I just couldn't understand how these, probably intelligent young men of color, could not just look in the mirror and see that their ensembles were absurd.

The light turned green, so I moved on, I couldn't wait to jog now- to ease my temporary frustration.

So I'm driving along and then I am met again with yet another crazy siting. This time I had the displeasure of seeing two young guys wearing extra baggy jeans that could literally fit two average size humans in them. But that's not the worst of it, the worst of it is that they were actually holding their books in one hand and in the other- their jeans.… (sigh).

I thought to myself "this is amazing, this foolishness still floods the streets and it's 2009"… you guys just don't understand how truly perturbed I was. The neighborhood I was in was a nice one- one of the wealthiest in America even. I KNOW that these kids can afford a belt, but yet and still their pants were hanging off them as if, well I hate to be cliche', buuut as if they were members of a chain gang.

soccer (football) stars David Beckham and Thierry Henry

At this point I was in d e s p e r a t e need of a jog. I spent the last few minutes of my short drive thinking about men with style and trying to figure out who these young guys were trying to appeal to. It's an obvious and a mute point that the men with the most style wear pants that actually fit them: David Beckham, Kanye West, Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, Thierry Henry, and the list goes on. I thought about the best-dressed men in my life… none of them have ever worn baggy/saggy jeans (including my brothers). So it is clear that stylish men do not wear clothing that expose their briefs, that means these young high-schoolers are obviously not trying to be stylish… so maybe they're trying to impress someone?

I do know that most of what young men do between the ages of 12 and 18 is in an attempt to impress girls. So this led me to quickly bbm (black berry messenger) a nice sampling of females- ranging in age 15-27, european-american, african-american, hispanic, and asian about 9 girls total. I simply asked them "what's your take on guys sagging- do you like, dislike, and why?" The results were unanimous and two of my friends actually answered with the same phrase "sagging pants? so unsexy." All of these girls are gorgeous with alot style, their backgrounds vary: 2 professionals, 1 married, 3 of them my mentees (in high school), 3 college girls… and every last one of them prefers a male who wears his pants on his waist with a belt rather than hanging below his derriere.

Alright, so now there's two things that are clear, guys who wear sagging/baggy jeans are:
1. Not stylish
2. Not Attractive to (attractive) women.

Sooooo? ? ? What the heck is going on?

Music legend Tupac Shakur

Firstly, from about 1989-2005 there was an overwhelming issue of guys wearing quadruple X clothing and sagging like belts were taboo. We all know that this trend was inspired by "gangster rap" and music icons like Tupac. And their original inspiration was from experience in state penitentiaries. And you know what, I'm not even going to knock that because trends stem from many places and they come and go- that's life. But then thanks to guys like Pharrell and Kanye most guys started wearing jeans that properly fit them. This started around 2003, but has heavily caught on over the past 3 years. But now, noooow, somehow guys are wearing jeans that are tooooooooooooo small and they're STILL sagging. Okay, now let me be very clear- I don't dislike skinny jeans, I even love them on certain guys- usually slim built artistic types and rock stars. I just have a MAJOR issue, a m a j o r issue, with guys going from a dramatic 5XL to a dramatic XS… the extremes are so very unnecessary.

Skinny jeans have been a topic on this blog several times… first, last summer discussing 'can men wear them', then a look back on skinny jeans, Lil Wayne in skinny jeans, Jay-Z's take on skinny jeans, etc.

What you young guys must realize is that females may like stars like Lil Wayne and think he's the sexiest thing in the world, but that's just it- it's because he's a star. Every star, male or female, has their groupies. Mr.Belding from Saved by the Bell has his groupies… girls don't like these guys because of their clothes per se, they like them because they're famous… famous people, especially male celebrities, can unfortunately get away with wearing foolishness like this. Plus this look goes along with Wayne's demeanor and image- lackadaisical, marijuana lover, "don't care" type personality, etc. Unless you plan to be exactly like him (i pray you don't) then you can't dress like this without someone getting the wrong impression. I'm not saying everyone has to wear button-ups and oxfords, I'm not saying that in the least bit. I'm just saying pull your damn pants up, please :-)

I still stand by who I think can and can't wear them, but I don't think I was clear on what kind to wear or how to wear them. There are several types of skinny jeans and the type that I think is appropriate for most guys (even heavyset/husky men) are the kind that are skinny but a little baggy- meaning they don't tightly hug your thighs, they technically are not even skinny jeans, but they're skinny in comparison to the over-sized pants a good number of guys were wearing before.

I know that in the past I said Lil Wayne has style in his own way, but that's where that ends- he has style in his own way. His individualized "I get high every single day, I let little girls dance on stage with grown men" rapper type way— this is NOT an example of how you should dress or even of how you should want to be (no offense to Mr. Carter). Realize that there are some people who you must only admire as artist and for their works not necessarily for who they are or how they dress- you can't emulate all of your favorite people even if you think their lyrics or words changed your life.

Okay, I don't want to drag this out any longer than I have to, but I just had, just HAD to write about this. Urban Gentlemen wear jeans that fit them, they do not wear jeans that expose their undergarments as they walk or that are 3xs their proper size. Guys, especially my young readers, understand that people do judge you by your appearance, this may not be fair, but it's life.

The moment you walk into the room people are trying to figure you out: how you look, how you dress, how firm your handshake is- these are queues people use to evaluate you. Leave a bad impression and it may last forever. You never have a second opportunity to leave a first impression. And these days with this tough economy, and with opportunities not being as vast, you really want to paint yourself in the best light- that includes wearing clothes that properly fit you.

I really really want you guys' feedback on this topic-
why do you or your friends wear sagging pants?

These days alot of skater kids wear sagging pants too… like I mentioned in the skater king article, skater style has grown to be the stereotypical hip-hop style (a style that can only really be seen on tv and in movies since most rappers dress preppy these days).

I would fully appreciate everyone's candidness about this, be honest and open and I promise not to judge. If you want, be anonymous, but just honestly and straightforwardly think about why you wear jeans that expose your underwear or why your friends or associates do, then post a comment.

*I know some of you are thinking, "what the heck, you know I don't sag my jeans!!" so I'm sorry if I've insulted any of my readers with this, I know the majority of you do not wear derriere exposing jeans, but I'm thinking some of the youngsters do and that's mainly who this article is for. I know no educated man over 25 would be wearing sagging jeans even if Weezy is his favorite rapper.


American Conversations: But, I’m a Product of my Environment…

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i ran across this conversation on one of my friends fb pages… and had to repost it- unedited. *names have been changed to protect identities (lol).*
andre initially asks the following question (via his status update):
If I’m a product of my environment and my subsequent conditioned behavior unconstructively contributes to society, which then directly effects my environment… where and how does the cycle end??
melody: the chicken came before the egg
anisha: when you make the conscious effort to end it.
andre: So what’s the origin of the conception of the chicken? Is society to blame or am I as an individual to blame for my contributions?
If you’ve always only known how to write with your right hand, how quickly and to what level of efficiency can you learn to write with your left?
franchesca: depends on how much u really wanna learn to write with ya left hand…
the cycle ends when YOU decide to let it end…
amerie: I agree that it is a matter of the amount of determination that the individual has to change. Doesn’t the saying go, so a man thinketh so is he..
andre: What if an individuals attempts to reform and break from their environment’s cycle are in vein, as the recipient(s) of the reformation have also been conditioned by society? Although their conditioning may be slightly altered, the recipients then act as entities of society that force the motion of the cycle.
So if you have two groups within an environment that have both been conditioned and are increasingly consumed by an opportunistic cycle with each passing day and experience, unknowingly implementing that learned knowledge to antagonize the progression of breaking both cycles AND the single cycle that is thus created… where or how does the cycle end??
franchesca: the individuals attempts will be in vein ONLY if he gives up and decides not to pursue the desired end. IT still would be the recipients choice 2 ACT as he has been conditioned by his society. Maybe the recipient needs to change the society he’s finds himself in then.
again both individuals must decide n want to break the cycle
amerie: I still think that it is an individuals choice. Even for those on the receiving end. If each person makes a conscious decision to live by a certain code of ethic, then even the altered conditioning of society won’t take over. You have to deny yourself daily to be become who you are suppose to be.
kenya: I was once a believer that we as “Americans” have the same opportunities to achieve at the same magnitude of our peers if we were determined to do so. I can say that I feel as though I fully used the resources that were given to me to my advantage to become a young college graduate working for a fortune 10 company. Does that mean I was more determined than the next man; or that I had the knowledge and guidance from those around me, to know the resources I had at my finger tips, and how to use them. Sometimes it’s not the lack of determination of a person that keeps them trapped, but the unawareness and the ignorance around them that keeps them there.
andre: A single individual cannot break the complete cycle that effects their environment, the individual can only attempt to change themselves. Furthermore, a single individual can change the environment they’re in but cannot change the society of which they exist. If their society directly effects their environment then the new environment will only be a deviation of the original.
Could it be that there is no correct answer, our minds were not created to fathom the intricacy of the synopsis, or that complete reformation is simply too late for our society?

nicole: Indeed a single individual cannot alone break the cycle. Instead, it will only change as a result of a combined effort of many in the society. Let us not forget, though, that society is made up of individuals and institutions. If many individuals decide they want to change the cycle (and actually make efforts toward that goal *KEY*), then, and only then, will they be able to also change the institutions that construct the societal norms.
andre: I agree completely. My only fear is that our society is no longer cohesive enough to make such a change as a unit. This misfortune leaves individuals who comprise the society to ask questions such as the one originally presented. I suppose the only true resolution is the unity of actively reformed individuals from each of the two groups. However, the reformation must be continuous within each individual, otherwise they will once again fall victim to the cycle. Tsk tsk
nicole: agreed. Enjoyed this conversation… Great thoughts.
what i enjoyed most about the conversation was the fact that each individual knew exactly what the true nature of the discussion was… they knew who, or what group they were specifically conferring, but conversed in such a way that would not make one who was, let’s say, not within the (knowing) group become defensive– which would in turn takeaway from the progression that is clearly trying to be made… furthermore, this is a perfect example of “our” daily conversations, we, americans, are still fighting to break an “institution” a “conditioning” that has been so deeply ingrained within our culture, fighting a mindset that was strategically placed there for centuries upon centuries by… well, by our oppressors. . . and now some ex-oppressors and some of the lineage of the oppressed perpetuate behaviors that do our country, our world, a disservice…
we must change one by one… discuss. ask questions. and diversify yourself as a being.

via The Urban Gentleman II
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