Archive for July, 2021

ok borderline gen xer

Saturday, July 10th, 2021

I continue to be amused that “social media influencer” is a job title, with people of fame to people who are not me so described in Entertainment news headlines. Today’s such headline features some comments self – mocking her lack of higher education as qualifier for an actual job in the Entertainment field with respondents on social media agitated because of their own comparative over qualification — six years of broadcast college and I got nothing but student debt. Yeah, I offer no remedies except suggesting one talks in the lyrics of Weird Al Yankovic’s original song “Skipper Dan”. It would be one thing if this were a crapshoot, but no– it is all rigged against you are staring at a closed system. This “social media influencer” of four months of higher education got to her social media fame by way of the Kardashians. The good news may be that the rote fixed headline “Celebrity/Politician/Influencer Says/Tweets Something, Twitter Explodes/Destroys Him/Her” will collect a handful of tweets and one may be yours, which is a kind of momentary fame.

I have to skip a beat on the next such headline. Tik tokers are on strike. It is a story that affects me not at all, and which there is never a point in my life when it might have, or hypothetically if I were in the next generation could have mattered to me — as I am now deprived of Tik tok video content. When last l saw a tik tok news story, it was on how bikini clad tik tok stars were getting around policy regulations against scantily clad as defined as sexual content, dress only acceptable if in a context where they may be wearing such, by bringing in hot tubs. This one maybe has a better social justice angle. Black tik tokers not getting credit as dance moves find their way into mainline televised content — it is enough that Jimmy Fallon has to comment. Hm. Last time I saw such a “cultural appropriation scandal” it was Miley Cyrus twerking — cue a bunch of YouTube video clips of (urban black girls doing such followed by smattering of YouTube clips of white suburban white girls included in the mix (as too suburban black girls and urban white girls) and, ultimately, the Underaged Dance club in the city holding a “Better than Miley” twerking contest. Or, an obnoxious piece of Black culture was co-opted into an obnoxious piece of white culture. I guess in the case here — sure, the random assortment of tik tokers need to get their due, even if I doubt there is any real origin point in real life, or clear delineation of who precisely deserves credit. But I don’t know if the world suffers by a few fewer clips of dancers.

The third story of famous “who?” headline with a “why?” headline — Andrew Cuomo’s daughter has come out as “demisexual”. Reading further, I get an exploration of her journey of sexual identity understanding — into “bi”, but then seeing that was not right somehow so discovering “demi”. And with that we have a full definition of “demisexual” and a headline on “How to be an ally” for demisexuals. Demisexuals are apparently one who needs emotional attachment for sexual fulfillment. Boring hetero normative guy I am, I scratch my head and ask “and that is an identity worthy of a letter or a color in a flag — why?” Maybe you need shorthand for Craigslist personals? Or, she still strikes me as the bisexual she conclulded she was, with the terms of bisexuality being thusly — no one night stands for her! Who cares, and I guess I make a poor ally. But best to ignore her and explore the policy decisions of her father instead.

I tested my sanity in theorizing out past editorial decisions of Archie Comics

Friday, July 9th, 2021

I had a half baked hare brained theory, one that I have managed to talk (or think) myself into. It started as a flippant thought as I read semi- chronologically a good number of old Archie Comic Llbooks. Then, when stuck having to extrapolate its basis I got caught me in a pile of dredging through explanations of company history for the basis of its suppositions and on to further clarifications and further clarifications of the clarifications, maddening in that I never assessed the matter as of any import, and until I stumbled upon one last piece of evidence, I was only half buying in the first place.

Okay, try this one:

Jughead was coming across as kinda gay round about the early 70s, and the editors were concerned enough to intervene and… straighten him out. Hence an aborted makeover in the 1970s which evolved into a sparodic tiptoed use of a contrived plot device for half a decade, that was later followed by another makeover attempt in the 1980s. The second half one gets covered in any official company history, where the first appears — to my mind much more obnoxious –basically unspoken of and crushed under.

Googling about, at least the final part of my thesis has been stated by a black queer fan with more assertiveness and certaintude as matter – of -fact ‘fact’ than I hald held — — which may mean that the most contentious premise I have is in placing any stereotypical “Queenie” Ness as popping in only in about 1970. But I kind of shrug away efforts and a desire to drag a 1950s asexuality informed by 9 year old readers’ attitudes on gender divisions (the male reader or the female reader’s younger brother thinking “ew – cooties”) — or perhaps something like Huck Finn’s attitudes toward Tom Sawyer’s infatuation with Becky Thatcher — into modern day identity political. So I gather this Twitterer may have more emotional investment than I in getting at a queer Jughead, in a world with a paucity of identifiable queer characters and where you find them where you can. Keep in mind that Jughead’s 1959 attitude toward homosexuality is seen here, with a puzzling to my eye insult at a swishy French hairdresser (seriously, I want to know precisely what Jughead is gettimg at), and then here’s a 1970 or thereabouts view on transvestism. I found that tweet linked from a bunch of commentary complaining on a ” queer erasure” due to Jughead’s romantic relationship with Betty in the Riverdale tv show — a romance which does indeed have some follow through from the comic books — or enough that there is an entire page devoted to fishing out pages and panels on their friendship — but it would be absurd that if the show had not followed this course anyone could complain about a “Bughead erasure”, all on a tv show that has refashioned, lsay, Cheryl Blossom as a lesbian — a sharp deviation from her portrayal in the 1982 – 1985 comics where she was… Um… Comics Code approved sublimated slut?

I suppose the long arc of Jughead’s asexual arc is fodder for hipster cracks. Chasing Amy sees Kevin Smith getting his jollies at the expense of America’s most mocked comic book — and if I guess if he needs any panels for the line I can point them out. But I gather this doesn’t come from any actual reading of them. In 1999, when Jerry Falwell outed Tinky Winky as beimg adopted by the gays as a symbol or totem (I always wondered if this had been, in fact, true), some semi notable alt cartoonist (Lloyd Dangle perhaps?) ran in his weekly a gag which ends in a parody of supposedly gay cartoon characters — Peppermint Patty for instance, probably Bert and Ernie — and thrown in was Jughead. Overall, the phrase that gets at Jughead’s personality is “Archie’s Spock” — and I never look at Spock and think “gay”. Somewhat alien, perhaps. But the gag sits there, apt to turn into fighting words, as Evan Dorkin sees in causing riots at hockey crowds.

But then, why the does my own “gaydar” go off when staring at about the 1970s? Sure, cultural shifts in how traits read and where “We’re Everwhere” signs pop up post Stonewall — that long haired pear-shaped bearded man joke would make no sense in 1960 –, but mostly it is an accident of commercial changes. The cartoonist Seth placed the “good years” for Archie Comics as 1959 – 1965. It seems that a few things happen thereafter. One — the core group cartoonists turn south — Harry Lucey contracts Lou Gehrig’s Disease and loses a couple steps an route to retirement, Samm Schwartz tries his hand at a different company, and Dan Decarlo’s work suffers through over-extension and apparent commercial demands for easy marketing use. The new hirees largely suck — Al Hartley is using his job as a soapbox to sell kids his fundamentalist Christian faith and socially conservative politics, which at least gives something to comment about as opposed to the page filling one dimensional pablum of what Dick Malmgren and Gus Lemoire offered.

The biggest problem at the end of the 60s, and departure from Seth’s defined “Golden era”, is that they take on the feeling of the Saturday Morning cartoon. Notably, advertisements for correspondent’s schools — suggestive of a secondary market of illiterate adults that the comics creators are writing for — fade away. And we have an annual occurence of the tv networks buying space to promote their Saturday Morning line-ups. In this shifting, the characters get reassembled somewhat, violent reactions sidelined, colors brightened and cartoon effects broadened to fit the somewhat changed audience.

And, as an accidental byproduct of this, Jughead starts acting kind of queenish. Certainly not a deliberate choice and certainly not a subtext anyone is reaching for, but if you are running a website like “Archie Out of Context” in the 21st century, this is the period you go to to fulfill “Jughead, gay panel” quota.

The thing about the Archies of the first half of the 60s is the characters are all kinds of jack asses to one another. They exist in an amoral universe where good and bad deeds are neither necessarily rewarded or punished. In this environment, Jughead trends to the damned surly. Post Saturday morning, reconfiguring moving plot devices for an audience hopped up on Sugar Smacks, and Jughead’s meanness is stripped away. For pc reasons we also shift definitions of misogyny where, moving into the 1970s this gets displayed by, for instance, him physically recoiling in peering into a locker room full of half naked girls. And what does that signify now? Not necessarily that “ew cooties” Frank Doyle is thinking. And I do have a selection bias here — no issues of Jughead where he would be chief protaganist — so it could be that a strangely lispy Jughead was only walking into scene when situationally a foil for Betty and Veronica — but then, those were better sellers on the market anyway, and by through that more important for popular conception.

In 1978, we are tossed a “magic pin” which Jughead wears and is irrestible to the ladies. And I see here an origin point, and an index note offering that this plot device was originally less tentatively deployed than I had initially thought and seen in its usage in sparodic appearances in nonsensical stories through the late 70s and early 80s.

This issue introduces one of the most unusual continuing storylines in Archie comics history: an unseen, mysterious force finally makes Jughead attracted to girls, and gives him a new, supernatural pin on his hat. The storyline was strung through stories in “Jughead,” “Archie” and “Betty and Veronica” around this time. After reader reaction was not positive, the story was dropped without explanation. However, Jughead’s attraction to girls, as well as his magic pin, were briefly brought back in 1982 during another attempt to make Jughead more of a ladies’ man. The stories in this issue also try out a new design for Jughead, more conventionally handsome and with a square jawline. It was dropped along with the storyline.

A couple details here are striking. The name of the story, “Genesis… the Beginning” implies that they really want to start over with Jughead for some reason… somehow. But most notable is that “square jawline”, a blunt symbol for masculinity — and a change not seen in take two (or take one point five?) and take three (two?) in a Jughead Rehabilitation Project. When I first saw this rendition of Jughead, I assumed that the cartoonist, Dan Decarlo, Jr — was getting his feet wet and just wasn’t copying his father’s character designs right yet. But then a couple stories into this i!sdue of Archie and we have Archie’s parents remarking on his spiffy new appearance — a very obnoxious deviation from his “don’t give an eff” established personality. Perhaps in this Attempt number one at fending off the Gay Panic Archie Comics is over-compensaLlll ting, because this one comes across as dropping Jughead off at a Gay Reparation clinic and him coming back manly, and false.

Around this era, we get two stories that stem out of a “Son, we need to talk” narrative. If there was one story, I would assume that in cranking out material, the writer — Frank Doyle — just wanted to change the pace for his own sanity and throw something in more sentimental than the standard. But two leaves me to suspect an editorial injunction. And I can’t say I buy any ofthe commentary on “Jughead dances with his mom” — again, a paucity of actually gay characters will lend people to seeing subtext in characters whose statuses (outsider) share some experiences (Jughead’s dad wants to know.) Overall, this wouldn’t be that “the dad concerned that the son is gay” as much as that the son is shy — except that we return to the same premise and see that Jughead’s dad needs to have that talk again — within the same time period — and now I’m reading in the editor (Gorelick, I guess) shouting across the room a “And he’s not gay!”

… as we commence with effort number two (or, maybe, one point five), and the “magic hat pin” — an imterstitial use which is seemingly designed to ponder the mark time and wade in on the question before they decided to plunge forth on effort number three (or two?) That interstitial attempt — returning to an occasional “magic hat pin” story — is curious in that the object is more important than the character — so, the hat falls into the hands of his uncle and for comedic effect (I… guess?) middle aged women are suddenly attracted to him. Or, to help out Betty and Veronica when the sexually aggressive new character Cheryl Blossom attracts Archie, by putting that pin in his hat.

When we return to trying for a heterosexual hormonal Jughead in 1987, the publishers get more conscientious in selling a Jughead more consistent with his established character, just… now… more interested in girls. (The publishers hope he can be taken as a late-bloomer, and if not for staring at that 1978 rendition of the theme, I would partially or wholly accept this line). And I suppose I lay at a point of contention to those queer readers as not really being bothered by this one, an indifference aided strongly by the ultimately temporary nature of this story arc — where in giving an 80 year overlview I can just view it that Archie does this one for awhile (and since this is Archie, your lazy plotline is to throw a love triangle — predictably that is exactly the story they threw shortly after introducing Kevin Keller and encountering some criticism that onle gay token does not la progressive make), then they try that skater punk thing to decidedly mixed results (good lord they reach for hipness and stumble into incoherence), then –as I look over that cover gallery — one can probably just skip all that Al Hartley and Stan Goldberg and over compensatiom for the “into the 90s with Skater Jughead and a jive-slang spewing white editor” attempt to the company’s reinforced back to basics mission statement bludgeoning for “wholesome, family oriented, safe harbor in tumultous culture” eral defined by his new sister — before Craig Boldman and Rex W Lindsey offer somelthing more interesting and a worthwhile female foil Jughead can work against — a good use of a dopey old ptemise from 60s issues that probably won’t translate well in women’s or gender study analyses.

Curiously, the website I stumbled upon for a batch of commentary despising Jughead’s not queer portrayal in the Riverdale tv show as deviating from core characterization in the comics appears to hold the skater punk era of Jughead dear. This, we see from this cover where that group sees Jughead as too weird for them, as drastic deviation of personality traits as anything else.

Of course, when Archie did throw in an actual opengay charlacter, in your standard issue Three’s Company punchline, Veronica thought Jughead was gay. At the risk of accounting for the full implications of easyL out gags, it is curious to see this flowing easily for Veronica for one page after having known and interacted with Jughead for maybe ten years. But then again, maybe they just recently met as in her original appearance in 1942 she just moved in to Riverdale. But then again, she moved to town twice in that period. And has moved to town subsequently at earlier grade school ages through the next batch of decades. So, you know, Veronica has no problem picturing Jughead as having been gay for ten years when it fits this story need, and her mind is wiped out completely of the 1978 square jaw machismo or his 1988 duo of girlfriends…

premature Biden assessment

Sunday, July 4th, 2021

A generational flub, I guess.  This zoomer writer for crackef not aware that, yes, there has since 1941 been a “Pearl Harbor Inside Job” conspiracy theorizing.  I suppose we may split a difference as the bulk of this I pink lol n holds that no, FDR did not do it but he let it happen — as the saying went “Bush Knew” this is a “FDR Knew.” Desperate to bolt our reluctant isolationist country into war, and intercepting the Japanese intelligence, he made something of any value at Pearl Harbor and let the attack do its job.  This Cracked writer does not know about that one?  How is that possible?  It makes more sense than, what I guess, the term “inside job” has come to mean — the whole “government directed it”.

I presume this historian does not hold to that view, though he already has a high view on Biden (and has not read his own poll for W.)

It’s interesting that many of our worst presidents (#44 Buchanan, #29 George W. Bush and #36 Herbert Hoover) were all followed by top 10 presidents (Lincoln, FDR and Obama). As I was filling out C-SPAN’s survey, it occurred to me that this speaks of American resilience. It shows that we have a powerful ability to self-correct. Over our nation’s long and stormy history, we have made some grievous mistakes with some of our leaders. And we have replaced them every time with someone better.
It is early in President Joe Biden’s term, but he appears to fit that pattern. In this regard, our system still works.

29 is right about near center, but I guess he is figuring ” worst” from the pre Trump assessment or his own.  And there is also that thought that maybe if that historian thought “Pearl Harbor was an inside job” had validity in terms of “FDR knew”, that might not necessarily hobble a positive view on him.  Cunningly and crafty, right?

now it’s 1984. Or 2002. Or –?

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

I admit my impulse on the facebook policy

A creepy message alerting you that you may have been exposed to harmful material and suggesting a support group for ex klan members —

— Hm…

Understood, we are stuck in a world where I just now see the article “Why people believe in ufos and lab leaks” — I suppose sliding away recent circumstantial evidence that grants credence to what is a not racist on its face but claimed to be so for reasons no one has ever exlained to me —

Even if the premise were completely bogus —

theory of viral origins —
Or have we gotten enough since then so that the original headline for this Washington Post story is back on?

— is now apt to garner its own Facebook “disinformation” warning.

I admit my first impulse on the new Facebook policy…

is to want to test the waters…

Or see someone do so…

Figure out some boundary lines.  Concoct a bizarre Byzantine conspiracy theory.  Make up a name for a “them” that does not comport to anyone real.

The one problem is I think that’s how qanon started.

Imagine the year is 2002, or at a a similar public opinion makeup.   The government comes out swinging against weird conspiracy theories.  You are marching in anti-war marches as a good liberal – leftists, kitty corner with 9/11 Truth believers, and it is that which at some point whatever thoughts you entertain in parsing through alternative media to “get through the military propaganda lies” disects with theirs.  And WordPress and friendster and Google adopts a warning label policy… How does the partisan makeup of the nation respond?

… Apt to create the sensation the “Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics” did for the market in music — create more attractive commodities… Lure kids to “the good stuff”…  For some, it is not a good Facebook page until it gets the warning, so what do they have to add to get that warning?

new presidential rankings

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

All right. Another “presidential ranking” game item, and here try to analyze the shift in Opinion On High as presidents rise and presidents fall.

Risers over the course of this century: Eisenhower from 9 to 5. Grant from 33 to 20. The second Bush started at 36 and now sits at 29.

Droppers over the course of this century: Wilson from 6 to 13. Polk from 12 to 18. Jackson from 13 to 22. Cleveland from 17 to 25. Carter from 22 to 26. Ford from 23 to 28. Nixon from 26 to 31. Hayes from 25 to 33. Van Buren from 30 to 34. Taylor from 28 to 35.

Grant has been on a steady rise in esteem, his reputation changed from “drunkard sitting by as the Credit Mobilier Scandal and Whiskey Ring scandals fleeced America” to the last President to give a damned about civil rights and enforce Reconstruction in the South. His reverse figure is Hayes, a uniter at the price of leaving the South enact Jim Crow. We at first understand Jackson and Van Buren as in tandem — the troubles of “Manifest Destiny” — , but looking closer it is interesting Jackson’s drop did not come until 2017 — when Steve Bannon was hard selling Trump to model his presidency after him. The rise of the second Bush has to be understood in the light of comparison with Trump — Eisenhower as well (Ike too a shove off from Bush — the search for a decent Republican Party figure.) Curiously Bush’s perceived error in ” World Building” is one of two factors for Wilson’s slide, along with us casting eyes on his racist policies. Carter’s fall may be a result of now having multiple contemporary Democrats to point on, and no longer having to accept or look over his limitations. Nixon may see that lquick rise post death glow fading, and the comparisons to any scandal to Watergate remimd everyone — oh right, Watergate.

I am at a loss for Cleveland and Taylor, but imagine a kind of “fill out the survey” akin to sports reporters deciding rankings for # 16 or thereabouts through 25 in college athletic teams — splitting hairs on middling teams who beat one another and lost to one another.

Junk food politics

Thursday, July 1st, 2021

Noting the batches of stories about President Biden eating ice cream, the National Review miffs a tad:

Reporters who join in pushing this association are effectively acting as unpaid promoters of the campaign or politician. Which is why Jennifer Epstein has shown very little interest in, say, Donald Trump’s ice-cream consumption. Zero tweets on that, as far as I can tell.

The funny thing is that as false as this is, the correction would make his decent partisan point… at least narrowly. We did get news coverage of Trump’s eating habits — well done steak and ketchup, for instance. Garnered from me this commentary:

Today we see a snicker that Trump ate steak out at his Trump restaurant well done and with ketchup.  I realize that when we’re talking about Trump eating steak well done and with ketchup we’re not talking about steak, but an attitude — so tasteless, so smothering of taste and so just like his proposed budget and immigration policies and presidential demeanor — but I’m stuck feeling like people who have been outraged when I order a salad without dressing.

Enough of this accrued that The New Yorker published an article on Why Trump’s non-aesthetic eating habits mattered, reading which unwittingly told some things about the class divide in America and attitudes on the Nuevo riche or any rich guy acting as such. Tom Cotton goes on to make a speech about it — elitist late night talkers making fun of Trump eating at McDonalds an assault on us all — interesting to dissect: sure I guess, but nay, you really should not eat much McDonalds.

He served up a table full of fast food at a college championship sports meeting — when a budget impasse had shut down any other symbolically palatable option — the photo of him gesturing at it all immediately symbolic of… Something … An image of Big Boy replacing Trump at the table going viral.

So yes, Trump eating was frequently discussed. The problem, perhaps, was that he could not trump into any ice cream shop in any urban center in America without some resistance — owner running the other way to avoid a photo op with him in frame. That part of the equation comes in to that big difference of “studied boring”Ness from Biden versus Trump’s elbowing everything approach — the two diametrically different approaches that brought each one here in reaction to the other and regardless of policy, but lands at its drawbacks– chief amongst them for Trump that Biden can get in a human interest bit coverage on eating ice cream. Note, Bush at his most controversial and divisive could do a workabout and get ice cream coverage, and indeed at his highest point in 2002 pick and choose anywhere for a folksy local news soft serve presser…