ZeitBites: Beauty. Brains. Billionaires. And Anderson Cooper.

avoidanceI have to stop reading the news.

Avoidance has apparently always been my primary method of coping, although, true to form, I didn’t realize just how pathological my denial until the past few years. I took action, self-therapized and thought I had come to face some truths, had managed to correct my clinical escapism, only to discover I have – again – immersed myself in make-believe and blindness.

I’m not going to think about it. LOL. Which is what I do. Or, rather, don’t. For example, I haven’t turned on NPR or television news or picked up a paper or perused web-sources much in the past week because I can’t bear the deluge of CPAC reporting. Sadly, I was unable to avoid Sarah Palin’s exercise in Seussian copyright infringement, which is just the sort of thing I wanted NOT to see.

It disturbed me. As did a TEDxYouth Talk given by Caroline Heldman, the link to which was Tweeted by Betty Buckley. I love and adore Betty Buckley (Follow her HERE on TWITTER). She is kind beyond measure to her fans and followers, offering pleasant thank-yous and acknowledgments for our fan-Tweets. So, I click her links. Like this one (CLICK HERE TO FOLLOW THE LINK) which leads to the talk referenced above, all about the culture of objectification:

There are a number of incredibly valid and disturbing points in this talk, but, too, it does those things I find disturbing about so much media and in the work of so many pundits and columnists and religionists and politicians: it uses absolutes and extremes and selective exampling and floating, nascent point-supporting statistics of unknown provenance to make its points – none of which I am arguing or disputing – because I haven’t researched them, but the USE of which – by ANYONE – make me tune out, or, at the very least, suspicious.

I don’t know how – as she claims – we see 5000 ads a day. If each ad is even five seconds long, that’s 25,000 seconds. I’m bad at math, but, 25,000 seconds equals 416 minutes, which equals almost 7 hours a day of “being exposed” to commercials. I don’t doubt that in the effort to monetize every activity in the entire world we are under constant bombardment – for example, I spend a lot of time rejecting ads in my Twitter feed and I left Facebook, in part, because of target marketing, and I can see that I am being marketed at on nearly every website I visit when ads for books or shows on which I once clicked show up – so, maybe, I guess, I am spending seven hours a day looking at ads, but, wow. I don’t spend seven hours a day total on line, tv, radio, so, I think not.

All of which obscures the point Caroline Heldman was making about the culture of objectification in which we live. But, that’s why I don’t trust ANY media. Why it’s difficult for me. This kind of detail catches my attention and the inner obfuscation begins and the larger point is missed because I’m so busy obsessing on some minor detail, and, VOILA, my life of AVOIDANCE.

And, here’s the thing, objectification is not only happening to women, it’s happening now to everyone. There are standards of “beauty” and physical perfection being promulgated which are virtually impossible to meet. My gym is FILLED with teen boys (and grown up men) trying to sculpt themselves into porno-looking guys.

Go on CraigsList or a dating site, or, hell, Facebook or Twitter or (name the social media site) and there it is: Proof. But I don’t think this can be blamed on media or tech. The aspirational curation of one’s image has been going on since time began; its delivery systems may have evolved and changed, but the phenomenon has ALWAYS existed. The media reflects US – the culture – not really the other way around, which is why I avoid so much of the media. When CPAC is a reflection of the culture, I would rather wait it out until the culture changes.Hiding

And it will, eventually. And I would like to think that SOME DAY I would be attractive to a huge cohort BECAUSE I have an I.Q. in the genius range and am well-read and erudite and witty and know about the Algonquin Round Table. But, uhm, I won’t hold my breath. The Algonquin was bought by Marriott, and check out the list of billionaires in the world and other than J.K.Rowling, not a lot of writers on there and certainly none whose oeuvre is serious literary fiction. But, uhm, as reported by Joe. My. God (CLICK HERE FOR HIS BLOG)., designer Michael Kors was added to the list this year. He sells beauty. Not brains. It’s made him a billionaire.

Me. I mean - Anderson Cooper.

Me. I mean – Anderson Cooper.

So, yes, objectification sucks. I know. I can’t look at myself in a mirror because I am not pretty enough. But before you start talking about destroying the paradigm for a new model, instead of supplying us with lots of facts and figures about what has been and is and the number of ads we see each day, you’d better have some realistic idea about what that new model of reality is going to be.

I’d love to live in a culture without mirrors, where my I.Q. made me a catch on the level of Brad Pitt or George Clooney . . . but, like I said, not gonna hold my breath. And so, until then, guess I’ll keep lying about my age and my weight and using a modified Anderson Cooper shot as my “pic” – yeah, that’s right. What? At least he’s smart.

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