The least funny thing on the internet

I had not met the acquaintance of Angelina Belle until this morning, and maybe I’ve just encountered her internet alterego, but I’ve been feeling a certain way for the rest of the day.

Ms. Belle posted a video to Facebook called “A list of instructions for all you men out there who want to understand women (;” She adds a disclaimer, “This only really works if you two are talking / dating… if she no like you and you a creep, these don’t apply to you!” which only marginally qualifies her message as less offensive.

In a sampling of things women often say, which roll in back-to-back flash spurts, Ms. Belle offers a part/counterpart of “When she says…” versus “What she really means.” Examples include, “When she says, ‘Leave me alone,’ Ms. Belle counters, ‘What do you do? Yes, that’s right! You stay!'”

Having been a woman who speaks for herself for the better part of 35 years (which apparently makes me eligible to run for president) I can say with some measure of confidence that I do not need an Angelina Belle anger translator. I have never ever wanted someone to stay whom I’ve just told to leave me alone. Not a harassing guy on the subway, not a megalomaniac boss, not a lover who is driving me all kinds of crazy. President Obama may appear to need the anger translator of Key & Peele, but should the presidency fall into my hands, I’d hope an internet entertainer wouldn’t flip my script just because I am a woman.

Ms. Belle goes on to clarify that only when a woman calls the police should you really leave her alone because, “Damn! This girl actually means what she says…which is really rare.”

Let that settle in your mind for a minute. We should expect that women will rarely say what they mean, and only when armed authorities are called in should we take them seriously.

Perhaps the most harmful thing that Ms. Belle espouses is a belief that women’s “‘NO’ can mean yes and her ‘yes’ can mean no…the last two can be a little tricky so you have to watch for her tone.”

Here is what I say to that. See if you can watch for my tone.

Rape Culture.
Is a Thing.

When the lines of no and yes are so blurred that we are supposed to be tone monitors, we have a problem. When women are painted as incapable of meaning what they say when they say NO, we’ve got a communication crisis.

On her Facebook page, Ms. Belle offers a signpost that says, “Please do not take my jokes and sarcasm the wrong way. I exaggerate to create humor. I just want to make people laugh :)”

If people had not found Ms. Belle’s video funny, I’m sure I wouldn’t have stumbled upon it. Obviously, there is humor to be found in the chronic double-speak women are inclined to use. As Ms. Belle points out, when she says, “If you want,” she really means, “No.” I suspect every woman knows what this is like. We don’t want to be painted a diva who must always get her way. And why is this? Why do we as women resort to passive-aggressive speech patterns, to relinquishing control, to living a life fearful of being branded the bitch?

Here are a couple of places we might start to look:
Are strong women who speak their minds celebrated in the media or are they often vilified, portrayed as shrew-like, unmanageable?

Are there enough arenas where women show strength of character and competition other than so-called reality programs where women are belligerently fighting over a potential husband?

Are young girls encouraged to speak their minds in school, rather than prefacing what they say with, “I might be wrong but…” or “This might sound kinda crazy but…”

Are we training up young men to remember their privilege can be used to empower those whose voices are often marginalized, whose strength is often compromised? That they are at their strongest when they are lifting up another?

In her parting thoughts, Angelina Belle recommends that men “just be” a mindreader.

In one of Christ’s parting thoughts, he said, “Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (Mt 5:37) I’m going to trust that the reader of hearts was on to something.

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Fuller House, fuller heart

I was not the first to board the “Fuller House” bus. I was not in the least bit hype about seeing Uncle Jesse curling his Elvis lips or Uncle Joey insisting we “cut-it-out” for the kabillionth time. The repackaging of shows and movies is such a dull formula for ratings and box office success. They so often miss the mark in trying to deliver on the present-day relevance, when really all we want is for Brandon and Brenda Walsh to grapple with all the problems of racism in 45 minutes like they did in 1997, rather than be all heavy handed with consciousness like the revival was.full house

Yet, something compelled me tonight to give “Fuller House”–exclusively on Netflix–a whirl while I suffered through my nightly torture by Tracy Anderson.

I didn’t quite know what that strange compulsion was. Within 5 minutes of test-driving “Fuller House,” though, with its familiar kitchen gags about Danny Tanner cleanliness and Kimmy Gibbler’s feet, I knew what it was. Full House was always 30 minutes of corny, clean humor. It was manageable conflict with well-cued resolution. That’s what sit-coms used to offer us: predictability. It’s even in the theme song, for crying out loud. A very predictable set of characters and situations that could only be viewed at a certain timeevery week unless, of course, you remembered to tape it on a VCR.

There is very little about my own kids’ entertainment that is nostalgic for me. They play Go Fish and color in coloring books but their cartoons are hyperactive, they understand the mechanics of Snapchat, and they don’t have to blow on a Nintendo cartridge to access a video game. “Fuller House” harnesses all of this by setting in contrast the children of DJ Tanner and Kimmy Gibbler who are cellphone-dependent with their parents’ steady repetition of their old shticks including a dry erase Chore Chart posted in the kitchen. Ah! DJ has to do everything! Whatever will she do? Cue piano keys of reckoning! imgres

TOMS Shoes

It doesn’t take a PhD to deconstruct why “Fuller House” is a win. Sometimes you just want to go back to a seemingly simpler time and even if you don’t get MK + Ashley, just about everything else? You got it, dude. imgres-1

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A newish musician you need to know: Ben Mixon

I tried hard to make a joke about how Ben Mixon’s last name predestined him to a career mixing songs, but nothing quite flowed. Which could not be said of his new album “Waters.” Aptly named, the whole album flows.

Mixon is young in his years but his commitment to his craft is commendable. His second self-produced his album, following up on 2015’s “From Greenery with Love” EP, mixes his own vocal tracks with ambient electronics. Each song elides from one track to the next in an atmospheric haze of longing. The ache in Mixon’s voice is strong but doesn’t overpower the score and evokes the feeling of exploring a cave, being acutely aware of the sensorial world within. A major theme of the album is one of longing for a love departed, as with the tracks “I was sleeping when you left me” and the introductory track, “She keeps me warm” which does well to set this mood, seeking for what came before and what one is now seeking. An especially interesting track is “Beneath” with shades of Bjork in the latter half.

The album as one organic composition shows Mixon’s mastery of conjuring atmosphere and plays well with a pot of tea and latenight studies. I look forward to seeing where Mixon takes his production work, whether remaining a solo recording artist or collaborating with the likes of other ambient mixologists.



Special thanks to Ben Mixon for entrusting a musically illiterate professor with the tracks for listening.
Follow Ben on Twitter @benmixon, Instagram, Spotify or on Soundcloud. Stay tuned for more tracks to be release on iTunes/iMusic, as well.

Other endorsements:

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