Saturday, January 24, 2015

Working, or: Leaving Retail and Getting that Professional Job People Have Been Asking About Since College

So since I'm getting back into the habit of writing here, it's only fair that I give a throughout explanation of where I've been for the last few months. It looks a little something like this:

http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140602231914/sailormoon/images/3/32/Tumblr_lp7ds7iywx1qjeya4.gif

For those of you who work forty hours a week, you already know this, but having a forty hour a week schedule is... well, a lot of work. Especially the schedule I had, working price change at a retail store, going in at 6am until 2:30pm most days. I could write a saga on the merits and pitfalls of working retail, but I'll save you. However, I'm not doing it anymore. I spent nearly a year and a half working in the store and now I've left, having been offered a full-time job at the theatre I worked in part time before now.

I'm elated. Retail is a job, but it's not the sort of job I could have forever. While my store was a pretty good place to work, it also had its flaws, especially in terms of technology and communication. I was also growing exhausted from my early hours. It's not easy to get up at 4:15 in the morning, especially in the dead of winter, and go to bed around eight at night to try and get enough sleep to repeat the whole process over again. I'd grown weary of the issues and emotional stress retail brings with it and I'd rather do something my heart is more drawn to. Also, having benefits and vacation days is sure going to be a nice change.

However, I am going to miss all the people I work with at the store and I feel a bit bad about leaving them, especially because the departure was pretty sudden (I'd been thinking about leaving for a while, but I didn't expect an opportunity to come along anytime soon). My coworkers talk about "getting out" and wanting me to take them with me. And I feel really guilty that I, who've only been there less than two years, am leaving with those who have been then for many are still going to be there for a while longer.

Now, I want to make something clear: I am pretty good worker. I work really hard. I have a college degree and decent job experience thanks to the retail work and a college job. But I wouldn't be anywhere that I am if it weren't for the people around me. I'm in theatre because of some really lucky connections, some major miracles, and being in the right place at the right time. If I hadn't sent a bunch of query emails about internships last summer, if I hadn't gotten a reply from one at just the right time, if I hadn't done well at the internship, been offered the part time house managing job and been convinced by my roommate at the time to say yes, and if one of the guys from the theatre hadn't put in his notice for the end of the year, none of this would have happened. Everything lined up perfectly and I am astounded by it all. Since I graduated from college, I'd applied to so many full-time professional jobs and none of them so much as sent me a rejection email. But now I've landed one in an area I've dreamed of working in. And I honestly don't know how entirely it happened.

That's the problem with the job market. There are jobs available, but submitting a resume and interviewing for them doesn't seem to be landing people jobs. Having a college degree puts some people at an advantage, but it doesn't guarantee anything. Being a good worker isn't always enough. Sometimes, it comes down to who you know and where you are. And it's not always fair.

I'm not feeling guilty - for once -  about landing this job. I feel I'm just being honest. Getting into certain fields can be difficult and, being new to theatre, I can't help but want to make a good impression to keep things in my favor and to stay in the field. I like people and I want people to get along with me to make life easier. Maybe this is some secret in job performance, but I don't really know. It's what I've always tried to do after realizing that being the ansty person I was in high school was unbearable to myself. And things have gotten a lot better since then.

There's a lot of mental changes I went through in moving from one job to the next. I'd never put in two weeks notice like that and knowing my time was limited at the store felt a bit weird and sad. However, I'm elated about not having to wear my work uniform anymore and am rebuilding my wardrobe, finally having an excuse to choose out some nice work attire. But the part that seems the hardest for me to accept are my hours - 10am to 6pm, not 6am to 2:30ish - and my salary. When I found out what I'd be projected to be making, I nearly died. Going from just above minimum wage to quite a bit above minimum wage is something I had only been dreaming of just a couple of months ago.

Here's an honest fact about retail - you make very little doing some of the hardest, most thankless work in the world. For my early hours, my limited ability to take time off, and fast-paced heavy workload, I made $8.75. And that was after three pay raises; my starting wages at the store were $8. Minimum wage in Minnesota has gone up, so my pay did too at one point. But it's still not much. Hence the need for another part time job and the freelance gig since at least half of one month's pay check was going to rent alone. Which made me think of this post I saw ages ago on Tumblr:


This most rings so true with me. My idea of wealth is maybe being able to rent a house some where in Minneapolis and having a cat. That's it. Nothing larger. It used to be a lot different - pent house, trendy condo somewhere, having a summer home - though I think I projected those ideas on other people, perhaps never sincerely believing I'd have them for myself. But now my salary increase makes it seem a little more feasible to get a cat and maybe in a year or two move out of my studio into something larger. What makes me happiest is that I no longer have to work three jobs.

If you're a Millennial, I have a feeling this all sounds very familiar to you. People tell us that we're a privileged generation because we have all this access to technology, and we can go to college, and we don't have to work for anything. You probably already know it, but those people are delusional liars. I've been incredibly privileged in my life - so privileged - and I'm still working my butt off to pay rent and not have to feel guilty every time I want to buy lunch instead of bringing one from home. I don't even have college loans and I'm still worried about finances. The economy is in a very different place than it was twenty years ago, the job market is different, society itself is different. Being really good at something and caring a lot and interviewing well isn't enough anymore. So many jobs ask for technical expertise you can only get working the job, but they won't hire you without prior experience on a job like it, but you can't get the experience without getting the job. It's a convoluted vicious cycle. Meanwhile, there are retail and service jobs open, but people don't want them because they don't pay well and companies keep threatening to replaced such positions with robots (check-out lanes I understand because cashiering is kind of the worst, but seriously, what the hell is this, Lowe's?). And then there's my area of work, non-profit groups and theaters and such, which survive on donations and ticket sales and aren't the most stable of places. While I love that I've ended up here, I know it's not going to be without its own problems.

My former roommate always used to quote her father and say, "If work was fun, it wouldn't be called work." But I've always wondered why work can't be more fun. It doesn't help that what I've learned from my short time in the work world is unless you're a computer programer or have a business degree, life might be kind of rough for you. Which made me quite a bit bitter, then just kind of morose about it all. I've always been skeptical of people who gave doctors and lawyers more respect as people than teachers and plumbers and baristas. Working in retails has made me even more skeptical. Yes, certain jobs take a lot more training but all work has its importance. Maybe this is why I like Studs Terkels' Working so much.

The issues I have with work is hard for me to articulate. But this quote from yet another Tumblr blogger (again, seen ages ago) helps point it out.
the question, really, is ‘when did it become acceptable and even normal to constantly overlook your current present in favour of some non-knowable and never certain to even exist future?’
Having a job that isn't entirely inspiring and fulfilling causes a lot of dreaming for a future of something else. It's easier to cope with reality when you're dreaming of a different reality entirely. I spent a lot of time doing this at the end of my college career and post-college. I don't want to say that this sort of thing is entirely bad, because we all do it, but I was getting to the point where it might have been a bit unhealthy. I was focused so much more on the future than the present that I wasn't entirely aware of what was going on around me, but often this was the only way to get through bad days at the store. There was a point where I stopped doing this and settled into the present, but it caused me to change my relationship with fandom and with what I was planning to do in the future. I'm not going to lie - it hurt a little bit, and I had to give up a little bit of the dreamer I was and accept a bit more realism. It also caused me to change how I viewed my current job - not a temporary thing, but long-term until I found something more full-time than retail. It worked for a while, but I got burned out on it fast. It was hard for me to find a way in which I could do a job with minimal creativity and high stress long term. And the worry never went away, especially as to how long I'd be able to work three jobs until it became a problem.

I don't want to say that moving into theatre full-time will completely avoid the dreaming of the future. No job is perfect and I'm one hell of a daydreamer, after all, but it will definitely help me enjoy and focus on the present far more. But I'm left wondering how in the hell I'm able to move on to something like this and others never have this opportunity. I don't like the idea of pulling oneself up by one's own bootstraps - aside from being an entirely physically impossible action, it makes it sound like the person did it entirely on their own. Which I most certainly did not do. I avoid thinking about climbing a ladder to something greater - ladders have destinations and aside from my vague career goals, I have no idea where I'm going to end up. I cringe at the idea of standing on the shoulders of giants, worrying about those who might be getting crushed under the giant's feet. I'm deeply skeptical of consumerism and, while working retail, I worried constantly that I'm not actually good at work because I'm critical and self-depreciating and don't always respond well to authoritarianism. Yet somehow at my store I managed to put most of that aside and make a good impression. It isn't relevant any longer, but it sure confused the hell out of me. I'd go from the store to the theater on Friday evenings and realize what a different I was performing the two jobs. I felt far more comfortable in the theater and felt much more sincere and honest with patrons than I ever did with guests at the store. Even though there's a huge part of retail work coming into play with how I work with patrons, there's something at least more genuine for me. Eventually I think it was the discordance I felt working the two jobs that made me realize something had to change.

But my mind is still stuck at the "how did I get here?" stage. I did work hard to get here, but how in the world did it all work out when nothing else has before? I honestly owe a lot to the theatre I work at and a lot to the people around me there. I'm deeply in the honeymoon phase of all this and once I settle into my job, maybe I'll feel a bit differently. But right now, I'm right where I want to be. I also have a whole lot more creativity streaming through my mind, which means a whole lot of strange, rambling posts like the one you just witnessed. So brace yourselves. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Once More, With Feeling

It feels like half a century since I last posted on here and, while it has been quite some time, it's only been since October. Admittedly, I haven't written a substantial post since the middle of last summer, but none the less, the amount of change I have gone through in that short time period is quite large. So it's time I get you all caught up and I get this blog caught up - content-wise as well as structurally - to where I hope to continue posting.

Not long after I had posted back in October, I got a biting response on something I'd written a while back on celebrities, criticizing my infatuation with celebrity culture and defending their actions. It was around the same time that I realized my relationship with celebrity standing was greatly changed. Working three jobs - retail, house managing at a theater, and writing in a freelance gig - caused me to have a whole lot less time to daydream about celebrities, watch films, and surf Tumblr. In fact, I willingly stopped going on Tumblr all together due to a lot of the hostile posts I saw on there. I think I had mentioned on here somewhere before that I was beginning to enjoy a more private and less social media influenced appreciation of texts such as Sherlock and Doctor Who. Now, nearly at the beginning of a new year, I haven't been on Tumblr in over a month or two and I don't miss it at all. It works great for some, but it's not the place for me. My blog still exists out there, but I never use it.

Aside from my changes in fandom interaction, I myself was changing as a person. One doesn't move to a new apartment, travel to London for a second time, and start writing a new novel that's highly personal without having at least some parts of these events change you. I had a hectic autumn and, as we reach the deep midwinter, I am in the middle of another series of great changes, some of which I might elucidate when the time is right.

Most of all, I've been doing a lot of theatre. Given that my dream profession lies here, it's a good thing. But it's also changed on how I want to focus here. I'd like to have the freedom to write a bit more about my experiences working in a local theater arts community while also talking about larger media events. Fandom is still a major part of my life, but not in the way it once was. The way I regard my favorite actors is so far changed from where I was a year ago that I can hardly compare the two. It isn't age but my experiences that have changed me, and I'd like to discuss that as well.

And so I've changed the layout of this blog to better suit my mindset and my mood. I rather doubt content will change all that dramatically - except hopefully the posting frequency will increase again.

The question you might have is - why now? Why start posting again after all this time? For one, I finally got the internet in my apartment better configured. But I've been waiting for a time that seemed right to start again - and for some reason this is it. The year is ending, my freelance gig is over, I feel like I've mentally aged a lot in just a matter of days, and I feel like it's time to come back here and start things anew.

So if you're still out there, let's see where this goes.

Friday, October 3, 2014

#NotDead, Part 2

http://asset-4.soup.io/asset/4121/7223_4d6b.gif
So.... hello again, dear readers. It's been a while. A long while. Way too long.

I feel this needs an explanation. And while I'd rather not write yet another post about my personal life and used grandiose excuses as to why I haven't posted on here since - what, July? the 15th century? does it matter at this point? - I feel that it's probably necessary as: 1) Just jumping back into the fray seems a bit dishonest, rude, and oblivious to the time and changes that have gone by, 2) Some of you dear people are actually interested in what I'm doing with my life which, in my baffled simultaneous egomaniac and self-loathing state is both wonderfully self-indulgent and completely impossible to understand, 3) I'm probably a very different person than I was earlier in this year and most certainly different than I was when this whole blogging shenanigans began. And so, an explanation.

When last we met, I had recently taken on a new position at my workplace, working in price change at my retail store instead of working on the salesfloor. I work forty hours a week from six in the morning until two-thirty in the afternoon and for the bulk of August, I was somewhat in charge as our team lead for price change was out with a broken ankle. So work has taken up a great chunk of my time, but in a (more or less) good way. I've also been interning with the History Theatre in St. Paul in a dramaturgy role which has recently ended, but I've been taken on as a house manager there, which means I'm working front of house on my weekends, instructing the ushers and making sure that everything goes smoothly as far as getting people to their seats and presentation of the house. I'm also freelance writing for a website about Minneapolis and still trying to do my own personal writing on the side. So somehow I ended up having three jobs as well as actually having a job in theater... which is my life-long dream and required every bit of control I have to not type out in caps locks. It's really kind of bewildering and amazing. And I've also been working with Theatre Pro Rata as a dramaturgy observer, attending their rehearsals and watching the process of their fall production transforming. It's been a very theater heavy autumn so far, and I love every minute of it.

However, things have also been a bit rough at parts. I moved  to a new apartment building in a different part of town, which is wonderful, but the move was not as easy as I'd have liked. I can feel things changing and shifting in the people around me but things are moving too quickly for me to process what's going on and I don't have enough time or energy in the day to keep in contact with people the way I'd like.

Yet to contrast this blue bit, I also went back to London in the first week of September, which was absolutely brilliant. I'm so sad I haven't had the chance to post about it - hell, I haven't even had a chance to upload the photos I took to Facebook or to my computer at all - but perhaps I'll get the opportunity soon. I hope.

That's where I'm at personally. Blogging-wise, I've realized that I really need to address how I've changed as a writer and a fan of things, which I'll be discussing in my next post - which will get posted soon, I assure you. I hope I won't be abandoning this again, though my writing might be changing a bit - just a bit. So there we are. Let's give this another go, shall we? :D

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

#NotDead

Considering I haven't posted in what feels like a very, very long time, I feel it necessary to open with this:

http://shockingblankets.tumblr.com/post/59537368952/masterpost-updated-here-x-and-here-with

While I can explain my absence, it doesn't excuse it and I apologize for the lot of nothing I've been posting. But this summer has been epically busy for me - and very, very good so far - and I have a bit of catching up to do on my personal posting of things in order to move on to whatever this strange little internet entity is striving to be.

First, work. I'm still working at Target, despite the fact that earlier in the spring I wanted this not to be the case. However, my work at Target has changed greatly since then. For one, the focus of the store feels different that it did during whatever strange transition we were going through post-Christmas and pre-summer, and it's a far more enjoyable place to be. Also, I've been promoted to price accuracy (at least I think it's the full promotion - regardless, I'm doing price accuracy work and it's fabulous). Price accuracy, or price change, entails coming in at six in the morning (the only drawback) to scan through select items, pulling out what's going on clearance, changing price tags, and salvaging items that can no longer be sold but can be donated. It's rather fun, as I work with the same group of people each day, have a less solitary tasks, am learning facets of the backroom, and feel generally like I'm doing better, more precise work. I've pulled an utter 180 about my job, rather enjoying it and actually looking forward to coming in each day. And to those companies I applied to when I was looking for other work (all of whom never even gave me a rejection notice), I can only shrug and say, "Their loss." Because I feel really at home at Target and really appreciated. And it's fabulous. (But more on that in another post; I feel I need to write another "working in retail" post because I rather enjoy those and I can't seem to shut up about my job).

Secondly, writing. In some epic twist of fate and blindly searching through Craigslist for freelance writing gigs, I actually managed to land one. I've just started contributing to Apartments.com, writing about Minneapolis, and I'm so excited about it I can hardly believe it's real. Not only am I being paid to write blog posts on whatever topics interest me, I'm writing about one of my favorite places in the world.

Thirdly, dramaturgy. Somehow, it's happening. I'm dramaturging. This summer, I've interning with History Theatre and providing research for the play guides of three productions they're doing this fall. And I'm going to be doing an observership with Theatre Pro Rata with fall on their production of 1984. I'm uncontrollably excited about both companies and feel incredibly lucky.

Which is generally how I've felt all summer. Expecting this to be a gloomy, stressful season, this has actually been an exciting, busy, wonderful time so far. Not to mention we've been having some glorious weather (in between the monsoon rains we've been getting!) and I'm writing this from the wonderful vantage of the porch at my apartment (perfect Minnesota weather - warm enough for shorts, cool enough for a sweater. I love it). In part, my lack of writing has been greatly due to my exhaustion at the end of the day when I get off work, but also because I'm afraid of sounding too gloating or boastful. I've been amazingly fortunate considering my plans changed greatly since the spring and now, finding I'm happier than I've been in a long time, I also find myself struggling to keep from letting my privilege and overwhelming joy sound pretentious and bragging. Though this isn't what I'd planned, I realized the other day (while getting my hair cut, of all times) that I'm living a dream. So many people dream of moving to a big city and having an apartment and doing what they love and, somehow, I've suddenly ended up doing just that. It's incredibly humbling to have realized that. It may not entirely be how I pictured it, but I'm doing it, and it's all the more beautiful because I didn't see it this way, I didn't have the stale images dreamed over again and again in my mind come true. It's all new and it's kind of scary, but it's also marvelous.

The view from the porch. Now I'm definitely gloating.

That's where I'm at. I can't promise you that my post is going to stick to the same consistency it once did with work and everything the way it is. I've also found that my content may be shifting in a new direction - I've hardly been on Tumblr at all in the past few weeks and other than missing the updates from the people out there, I don't actually miss much of the site. It's nice to get away from the celebrity gossip and the fandom bickering and really sit back and remember what it is about certain media that I really like, what's complicated about them, and how it feels to get away from the acidic, spiteful negativity I too often see online. I might be doing some changes here to the content, appearance, and general being that is this blog, but fear not - it won't be major overhalls. I'm not changing anything major - only finding a way to keep talking about fandom without using the same drawing source (I'm not getting rid of my Tumblr, mind you - I'm just using it far less.) There's a lot I want to write about and now, it's just finding the time and energy to do it. Despite my fatigue and work load, I have loads of energy and feel a motivation I haven't felt since last winter. So, with your patience and indulgence, more posts will be coming. I just don't know quite when (especially as I'm visiting my family in Indiana next week and will have limited internet access).

So, dear readers, I'm happy to say all is well. I'll be back soon with more of my ramblings :D

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ableism

This blog post is a long time in coming and greatly motivated by my stumbling across these two videos. Watch them, and I'll catch up with you after:




There are three huge points the videos make that tie into my focus of this post: Zayid's description of disability as race and disabled people being the most underrepresented minority, Young's statement that believing disability is a bad thing and that it's an exception to the norm is a lie, and the mention both women make of social media's influence on disability.

http://www.ronnelsonlaw.com
Working retail has seriously made me think about society's views on disability more, mainly because it's the first time in my life I'm actually interacting with disabled people in a way that, as Young describes, isn't about inspiring objects. Because I live in a metropolis, the diversity of shoppers are much greater at my store than if I were working at a Target in my hometown. Often sales floor team members will do shopping assistance for guests who need additional customer service, not because they aren't completely capable of doing things, but because the world hasn't taken very kindly to people who have a different array of senses or a different spectrum of movement. Never before had I given thought to the fact that no products on shelves have braille on them. Never before had I realized that shopping carts are built for people with a very specific height and movement assumption in mind. I, an unknowing ableist, had spent my life thinking of disability in the way that it was presented in high school - a hurdle to be overcome, an obstacle that must be conquered, not a part of everyday life that was accepted and acclimated to. Perhaps if I had learned about disabilities in a different way, I would have realized much sooner how awkwardly stores are laid out and how narrow aisles are and how, essentially, everything is made with a certain idea of the human body in mind. Instead, I learned about how great Helen Keller was, not so much because of the things she did, but because she "overcame being blind and deaf." And, considering Helen Keller was the only disabled person I remember learning about in school, my knowledge of disability stayed limited until college, when it began to come up in more varied ways. But only in working retail have I really had better exposure and gained understanding to realize just how ableist I and the world around me is.

One of the first things I realized was height. I am 5'2'' and I struggle to reach the top shelves in the store, but often guests ask me for help to grab merchandise because shelves are not designed for anyone under 5ft to reach without assistance. A team member who uses a wheelchair often has others help him with work because there are certain shelves he can't reach. Working with this same team member has been a huge learning experience for me in several ways - for one, it's the first time I'd ever worked with a disabled person in an environment where he wasn't inspirational; he was just a part of the team. However, he is inspirational in the way that he's a fundamental part of the team - without him, we'd spend a lot more time trying to find where merchandise is because he remembers where almost everything is and generally by approximate or exact aisle number. Secondly, working with this team member made me realize how others treat disabled people and how utterly messed up it is.

Last Christmas, I spent nearly everyday working in toys with this team member. He knew the store far better than I who had only been there for a couple of months, but when a customers had questions, they turned to me and not him. Despite the fact that he has the general stereotypical markers of someone with more knowledge - male, older than I - being in a wheelchair overrode this. Often it seemed guests wanted to avoid him or ignore him if possible. This made me angry, especially as it just resulted in me referring guests to him anyway because I had no idea whether or not we had any of those damn Rainbow Looms/Crazy Looms in stock (if you have not heard of this loom thing, then you are a lucky, lucky person. They were all the rage last Christmas).

Doing shopping assistance for disabled guests has showed me similar issues with other guests. While helping a guest in a wheelchair, the guest accidentally backed into another standing behind him. I felt bad, as I didn't realize the two guests were so close to each other, but I also felt annoyed that the guest not in the wheelchair just stood there, not thinking the other guest might eventually back up in the very narrow aisles and that he might be a bit in the way. When helping guests who are blind, other guests either don't move out of the way and get stepped on or over-avoid and look as if they are afraid. Seeing this in others, while it irritates me, also causes me to realize instances when I've done this myself. And it makes me realize that everything I know about working with disabled people is self-taught and that I genuinely hope I'm not doing a terrible job of it.

Like Zayid says, disability is as visible as race. Disabilities cannot be ignored and should not be avoided. I, as terrible as it sounds, used to be afraid to work with people who were disabled because I didn't know how - I'd been told all my life not to treat them any differently, but that's a little hard to do when there are large differences. I didn't want to hurt or offend them, but I didn't know how to balance working with their differences and treating them as I would anyone else. While I wasn't supposed to single them out, they were singled out in a world that exceptionalized them and didn't always make life so easy for them. As Young said, smiling at a flight of stairs will do nothing, and it doesn't matter how nice or positive I am - if I can't do something to treat them as I would anyone else while still respecting their differences, I've failed.

I've failed at this a lot. Partly out of ignorance, but partly out of the structure of our world. I've learned to not be worried about asking what a guest prefers, whether it's taking the elevator over the escalator, or to grasp my arm while we walk, because at least I'm asking and not assuming. But short-comings extend beyond myself  - for example, check-out lanes are rarely wheelchair friendly, stores do not design themselves to allow for chairs, or assistance dogs, or really anyone who doesn't have the assumed sensory and motor perception that dominates our ideas of the norm. I learn from disabled people all the time, but it's what I learn from anyone else - that the world is a lot more diverse and a lot more interest than we accept it to be. And that we should really work on that.

I really enjoy doing shopping assistance because it allows me to spend more time with a guest than I would usually and to have a conversation with them that's more than "How are you doing?" and "What do you think of this weather?" but sometimes it's a bit difficult to feel like I'm doing it properly, as we never received training about doing such assistance, and the faults of the environment (ie: what the heck do we do when the elevator isn't working?) become faults I take personally. Thankfully, I've grown a lot more aware of the ableism around me, but I can't help feeling like I'm still failing, that in some ways I shouldn't even have to do shopping assistance because shouldn't stores be shoppable for any- and everyone? And yet at the same time I'm grateful that my Target offers shopping assistance because I have the sinking suspicion that my hometown store may not and that other stores wouldn't know what to do if someone requested it.

After writing all of this, I am abundantly aware that I shouldn't really be the one posting about this - we should be listening to disabled people, like Maysoon Zayid and Stella Young. We need their representation far more than we need more like me talking about how messed up things are but are not deeply affected by it. However, I hope this post comes across more of a "Hey, look, this is an issue; go learn more about it - because I'm trying to and we can learn together!" instead of a "Ughhh, the world is unfair to people of difference and I'm privileged and I can whine about it for you because I'm privileged" but I'm not entirely certain I've succeeded at that. So I'm going to stop talking now and hope that Zayid and Young's words speak louder than mine and that theirs' are the ones you remember while that mine are just a tangential, correlated piece that contributes, not obscures or undermines.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"A Celebrity is Not a People"

After a zany week that resulted in two new tattoos, an internship with a local theater, and the realization that I like retail too much, I have a little more time to blog this week. However, I am tremendously sleep-deprived as I start at 6am every day this week, though I could be starting even earlier and I should stop being such a complain-y pants. Anyway, I'm keeping today's post relatively short.

Another great struggle with this post is how to make it discussive and contemplative without making it call-outy. You see, once more I'm addressing the issue of fame. And I'm hoping that this scene from The Muppet Movie can help take another look at this:

http://feministbatch.tumblr.com/post/82715325813

The title of this post comes from the last panel of this, with it being declared that "a celebrity is not a people." I find this scene from the movie ridiculously humorous, perhaps because at some level it's too painfully true.

I dig up this topic again like a grave robber (whoops, that's a morbid simile there) only because last week this five minutes I spent on Tumblr expressed to me that apparently people have been spreading rumors about Tom Hiddleston being rude to fans and doing cocaine, and because I came across this article about Lana Del Ray and her struggles with fame, with her stating, "I wish I was dead," a dark, trouble reaction to the harsh criticism she's gained. Both of these incidents are terrible and, given my respect and admiration for both of these artists, I cannot understand what leads people to be so cruel to others. Is it some reaction to success that some feel compelled to insult people without caring about what their words will do? Is it some attention-seeking endeavor? Bitter jealousy? Fandom and appreciation gone wrong?

http://www.kirstyfairclough.co.uk
I truly don't know. But somehow, I think, the mindset becomes precisely what The Muppet Movie (in jest) describes: we stop thinking about celebrities as people and think of them only as "celebrities," some other sort of being who cannot be affected by what we say because, somehow, it's believed that they are too insulated to hear such criticism or too full of themselves to let it affect them or utterly impervious in some other manner I can't even conceive. I'd try to liken why thinking this way baffles me, as I would never spread such rumors about my friends or complete strangers, let alone celebrities, but then I recalled this Morrissey song and realized that dealing with success of others is difficult and maybe these reactions, while inexcusable, do come from the fact that certain ideas of success are prized more than others and so difficult to obtain.

Regardless, there is a difference between envy and outright destructive responses and it seems rather harmful to hate someone to the point of no longer seeing them as deserving as the same privacy and respect you would demand for yourself. As a blogger on Tumblr put it, "[Mr. Hiddleston] is a person and should be left alone. Admiring his work is one thing, chopping his private life to pieces another!" This discussion is nothing new; I've posted about it time and time again. But I feel it bears repeating, especially when discussions of privacy are very integral to media and internet discussions. If you want privacy for yourself, then you should also respect the privacy of others. However, the yearning we have to know things about each other, especially people we are distant from, is a powerful thing. But if the rumor and criticism mills are embedded in such a desire, it seems far more distancing than bringing celebrities closer to their fans. Perhaps, then, its linked to a different mindset - that there can be no familiarity between fans and celebrities, that neither are people who deserve respect. And that is a very scary thought indeed.

I could muse and prattle on about this forever, but I will stop myself before I get into erratic, circular tangents. Once again, more to think about, nothing resolved.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Critical Fans

So as you might notice, I'm posting on a Wednesday, not a Tuesday. This week is super busy for me and, due to a marvelous interview for an internship yesterday and work, I didn't get the chance to write anything up. Instead, I'm going to share with you this cool and interesting video on fandom, focusing on being a critical fan. Hopefully I'll have a chance to write something up for you all on Friday, but no promises - this is a week of utter madness (but in a good way). Enjoy this Youtuber's thoughts instead - and her awesome pink hair :D