Archive | March, 2013

State Fair Blues

30 Mar

Howdy Folks!

They say everything is bigger in Texas and in this case I believe they (whoever “they” may be) just may be right.  This week the local BillBraggBigTexbuzz has been all about the dismissal of Bill Bragg, the man who has voiced the larger than life mascot of the State Fair of Texas for the last 11 years.  Some are upset about the way that his boss, Sue Gooding, did the deed, letting him know that they would not be renewing his contract via email, some are upset that this “unofficial mascot” was fired at all.  Petitions are flying around and I am sure the in boxes at the State Fair offices are being inundated with hate mail.

Big Tex originated in Kearns, Texas as the worlds largest Santa, a way to draw in holiday shoppers to the small North Texas town.  In 1952, Tex made his first appearance at the State Fair, an annual “county fair” that draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Dallas area every October, when he was purchased by the Fair president, R.L. Thornton, who commissioned an artist to turn Santa into the iconic cowboy.

Why would the State Fair make such a potentially disastrous blunder as this?  It seems that Mr. Bragg is in violation of his contract with the Fair.  Apparently he liked to tell people that he was the voice of the 52 foot cowboy and he liked to tell them publicly.  He was known to be approached by children at the fair who would ask to have their picture taken with him, he would make speaking engagements with big named charities like the American Cancer Society, where, presumably, they would introduce him as the voice of Big Tex.  Just generally making a nuisance of himself (I hope everyone can pick on my sarcasm here)

So, the State Fair officials made a decision to not renew his contract because he wouldn’t follow their rules.  If this had been 50 years ago the Fair officials would recognize this for what it is, good publicity.  Mr. Bragg is not misrepresenting the Fair, he is not taking business away from the Fair, he is not making money by presenting himself as the voice of the beloved mascot, if anything he is bringing joy to children and fans of the icon by posing for pictures, he is bringing good press to the Fair by making charity appearances for well-known and reputable charities, in my opinion, he is a marketing dream.

So, why would the State Fair officials make such a bad PR move as this?  No one knows for sure, Fair officials are keeping pretty closed mouth about this one.  This leaves one to speculate that maybe this might have something to do with the fire that destroyed Big Tex at the end of the 2012 season.  Talk was for a while after that Big Tex would come back bigger and better than before but that he wouldn’t be the Tex that everyone remembered.  They have diversified Tex in recent years, growing up, Tex only spoke English but in recent years they have made him bilingual and during the fair you could hear Tex exclaim, “Hola Amigos!”  This led many people to wonder if the new Tex would look just a little darker than he had in years past.  Fair officials have denied this claim.

There have only been five men to speak for the giant over the last 60 years or so, Mr. Bragg took over in 2002, everyday during fair season, he would make his way to the booth to welcome visitors and make important announcements.  I have to wonder if, in this age of computers and technology, they haven’t figured out a way to digitally make Tex speak, surely saving the Fair thousands of dollars into the future since a computer won’t charge any residual money and would never break a contract.  Officials would be making a tremendous mistake by doing this, but I doubt that they care about that.

Whatever the reason and outcome, one thing is for sure, State Fair officials have started a firestorm of controversy.  They got publicity, but I don’t think it was the kind they bargained for.

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Just Another Small Town Friday Night

23 Mar

Ah, high school, the glory days of your youth.  We have all been there, that feeling of being invincible, like nothing bad will ever happen to you.  unfortunately, a group of teens from a small town in eastern Ohio have found out the hard way that everyone has a kryptonite.

This last week in Steubenville, Ohio the rape trial ended for two of the Big Red football team; a group of boys who it seems were kings in the small mill town near the Ohio River.  Seventeen year old Trent Mays and sixteen year old Ma’lik Richmond were convicted to at least one year in a juvenile correction center with a possibility of having that sentence extended until they are 21 upon the recommendation of state child services, Mays was also sentenced to an additional year for the distribution of child pornography, they must register with the state as sex offenders for the remainder of their long lives.  All of this stemming from the 2012 rape of a sixteen year old West Virginia girl who had come across the river, as it would seem she had done many times in the past, to party with the local teen heroes of the Steubenville High School football team.

0312_Steubenville_screen_grab-592x369The media and people surrounding the case would have you believe that this fateful night in August this young girl fell victim to the unwanted advances of Mays and Richmond after having entirely too much to drink for a 40-year-old man, let alone a sixteen year old girl.  Photos were taken and shared via social media of this girl’s limp body being “carried” by the defendants and witness accounts tell of the girl violently vomiting outside of another players house earlier in the evening before the defendants were seen groping and fondling the girl in the back of a car while another person video taped the incident.  The girl’s mother is quoted as saying “The adults need to take responsibility guide these children” while giving a statement to CNN’s Poppy Harlow and I whole heartedly agree, the only problem with her statement is that she is one of the parents that needs to take some responsibility.

As a rape survivor, I of all people understand what this girl is probably going through.  She has the upside of the alcohol impairment that fogs her memory since she was not even aware that anything was amiss until she started seeing the comments and photos on social media, I on the other hand have a vivid memory of that night, one that took many years to not haunt my dreams at night.  No woman asks to be raped and no man has the right to say to himself or his friends that her words say no but her actions say yes.  No one should ever have to feel violated because of the clothes they wear and the way they walk or talk, the look that they give someone or for just simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

These boys were all old enough to understand right from wrong, old enough to understand that just because she didn’t fight and scream no that she was in no way able to consent to what was happening, old enough to understand that passing around photos of a half-naked or naked teenage girl was not only legally wrong but morally wrong.Their friends that night are guilty of complacency, seeing the events and doing nothing about it, not stopping the boys from assaulting this girl and also of seeing that she was impaired and not calling a sober friend or parent to come take her to safety.  The citizens of Steubenville (and of any number of hundreds, maybe even thousands, of small towns just like it) were guilty of turning a blind eye to the “youthful indiscretions” of the Big Red players and their friends, guilty of providing an atmosphere that encouraged this behavior and enabling them to become the hellions that they had become.  The parents (like so many parents these days) were guilty of failing to see that their job, first and foremost, is that of parent to these children, because, at the end of the day, they are still simply children; they lack the perspective to see the consequences to their actions that an adult has.  They were guilty of mock ignorance, assuming that their “angels” would never do anything wrong.  Guilty of placating their children, allowing them to run amuck and failing to give them structure and a foundation of discipline.  They were all guilty of arrogance, thinking they were above the law, above authority, that this would never happen to them.  Yes, guilt can even be placed at the feet of the victim and her parents here and that , I think, is what frustrates me most about this situation, this “taking responsibility” quote from the victim’s mother.  Why does it simply fall to the boys parents to take responsibility for their actions?  Does she think she is above reproach here?  Where is her responsibility for knowing where her sixteen year old daughter was and not knowing that she was across state lines drunk and incapable of making that call.  This, I think, is the ultimate arrogance of all.

Pride goeth before the fall and there may be more fall to come in this case as the district attorney investigates the loose ends I expect to find a string of people who should all be held accountable for the blatant narcissistic behavior of the fallen heroes and its likely that none of them will have any real justice.  Immunity has already been granted to the witness to the crime, the boys who saw and said nothing.  There is no crime in feigned ignorance and arrogance, at most the stores and bars that supplied the alcohol to the teens may face fines and in the grand scheme of things that is a small triumph in a case where so many were guilty and the lives of a generation were altered in the click of a camera.

What’s a Girl to do?

2 Mar

The other day, while on Yahoo checking my email, a trending topic caught my attention.  “Toy Sex Change” it screamed from the right hand corner of the screen.  I had to click it.  To my surprise the story was not about a doll that looked more like Ken than Barbie but about Lego’s.

Lego beautifulLego’s, those wonderful building blocks of creativity from your childhood.  They honed your fine motor skills while allowing  your imagination to bloom with eclectic buildings and birds of prey.  Go into any toy department now and you will discover that these are no longer your parents Lego’s.  Now days there are Lego’s marketed to all types of genre, Star Wars fans, Lord of the Rings fans, Cars fans and now there is even an option marketed specifically to little girls, Lego Friends.

Reading the story about these little bundles of pink and purple girlishness I was a little inspired.   Not only did these little dolls offer girls an option of backgrounds and screens (a departure from the standard beach bikini backgrounds of the typical Barbie) by allowing them to pick careers for their dolls like Vet or pilot but the doll itself is more proportionate and looks more like a real person without being over the top risqué like the Bratz dolls were.  I was so inspired that I shared the story on the Facebook page of a Fat Acceptance group I am a member of thinking that it would be received openly and as happily as I had been

Boy was I wrong….

It seems that I have been hiding under a big boulder and its name was gender.  No one seemed to get my excitement at the doll and that it opens little girls up to not being restricted to the confines of a Barbie with its unrealistic expectations; instead they were up in arms that Lego’s had introduced this line of toy that was gender restrictive by telling girls that they should like pink and purple and being girlie, playing dress up and house instead of building skyscrapers and malformed aircraft.  They scolded me in a way telling me that the dolls should be like all the other standard Lego dolls.   Someone even included a link to a YouTube video that features an attractive young women clad in a hot pink sweatshirt who traces the history of Lego and how they have consistently dismissed girls in their standard, run of the mill Lego sets and insisted that they would rather imagine and role play in a sea of pastel and home making fantasy.

Now, I remember my childhood.  I was a tom boy.  In fact, until recently, pink was my least favorite color in the spectrum.  Sure I had Barbie and My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake dolls to play with, but I also had GI Joe and He-Man and Transformers to play with.  I also had Lincoln Logs and Lego’s that were among some of my favorite toys to play with.  Never wanting a Ken doll (I guess even at 5 I suspected Ken was a little to fruity for Barbie with his kerchief, lol) I always chose to pair Barbie with GI Joe and they played in houses comprised of Lincoln Logs and Lego’s.  Gender roles never entered my mind as a young child, I dreamed of becoming a lawyer or a teacher or even President when I was little, at one point even dreaming of being a famous singer.  I wasn’t into science or I would probably have dreamed of being a doctor too.

At first I was really perturbed that my point was taken so far out of context, I mean, after all, my excitement was that they built this playland for girls with a doll that looked more realistic than a Barbie doll does but then I realized that, to some degree, they were right.  Lego has exclusively dismissed girls for the last 30 some odd years marketing their play sets to boys.  Now they have segregated the girls from the boys while enforcing to boys that they should be aggressive and combative and reiterating to girls that they are dainty and should be home minded.

I am not a feminist by any stretch of the imagination, in fact, I was horrified when the government recently lifted the ban on women in combat.  I personally don’t think that women can do ANYTHING and to be honest, even if they could I don’t think they should.  But, I certainly think that there is a lack of gender neutral toys that encourage both girls and boys to create and imagine and Lego’s is the perfect platform for that imagination.  Do I think they should get rid of the Friends play sets?  No and I don’t think they should get rid of the boys playsets either, what I do think they should do is focus more on their Creator Collection which is more a throw back of bygone days and enhance this with a variety of occupations that anyone could be drawn to, like Vet or Chef or Police.

This will allow EVERYONE to “Just Imagine”

Its a Small Wonder…

2 Mar

I know I shouldn’t judge and being a survivor I shouldn’t be saying what I am I am fixing to say but its the common sense side of me that compels me to share this rant today.

dance momsWhy is it when we have little girls we sign them up for all these dance classes and pageants that all require them to dress and present themselves as much older than they really are?  Every week as the weekend approaches I find my Facebook feed cluttered with images of friends and their little girls in uniform for whatever competition that they have that weekend and most of them (although they are mostly around the 6-12 age range) all look like they are ready to work the main stage at Willie’s House of Babes.

When did it become a prerequisite to youth activities for young girls to do their hair and make up and dress like they are preparing to be sluts?  I mean, most of us, if we saw a women our own age (33 for me) dressed like this with the heavy make up would begin automatically looking for the pimp hiding around the corner for his cut of the cash so why is it OK to send our daughters out of the house like this for dance competitions?

This kind of passive aggressive acceptance of what should give you a moment’s pause is what tells our daughters that its OK to dress like a slut to get attention from people (regardless of if it is positive or negative) and puts our daughters in a place where they leave themselves open to the wrong kind of attention.  Now, I know, maybe more than most, that we should all be able to walk down Main St. in the middle of rush hour traffic buck ass naked and not have to worry about that “wrong” attention, that a man should be able to control his urges and desires to know that just because I have my boobs on display does not mean that I am asking to be raped, but sadly enough, we all know that this is not the case and now we have a generation of girls who dress for attention and don’t stop to think of the consequences of what that dress may mean.

Not just that, but we are also teaching them that what matters is, not their (fill in the blank) ability, but how physically appealing they are.  Could they not achieve the same outcome in their dance competitions with an age appropriate costume that covers everything adequately and a little bit of lip gloss?  Why is it so important that they have so much make up on and a skimpy costume that is just a little too revealing for most grown strippers, let alone a 12-year-old girl.

Parents! WAKE UP!! This is not acceptable at any age but especially not your grade school daughters! Demand that the attire be age appropriate or withdraw your child from the class and find one that is! Self respect is a wonderful thing to teach your children and it starts when you respect yourself enough to stand up for them!