Thursday, February 13, 2014

a little less Black Beauty, a little more Seabiscuit

Steer clear of that Katy Perry girl. She’s into some dark stuff.

In her latest love song, “Dark Horse,” Katy Perry’s message is honest: sure, you can fall for her. But just know up-front that she’s a life ruiner. She ruins people’s lives.

The beat is dark. The key is minor. The message is threatening.

So you wanna play with magic?” she opens her chorus with, equating her vagina to preferred Friday night activity of nerds everywhere. Too much credit? I think so.

“Baby do you dare to do this?” she continues. “Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse/ Are you ready for (ready for)/ A perfect storm (perfect storm)”

How is it that Katy’s short chorus is able to reference two different 3-star movies? She must have confused her favorite online metaphor-generator with movies tagged on IMDB as “meh.”

Ultimately, she equates a relationship with her to gang membership: “Cuz once you’re mine/ There’s no going back.”

Not only are these words holy-Jesus inducing, the delivery is frightening as well: “There’s no going back” is said in that foreboding, gangster, slowed-down manner that you’d use to hold up your local Wendy’s.

Of course, Katy Perry is not alone in this endeavor. Juicy J, three-time winner of the White People’s Choice award, comes in with some...enlightened...lyrics. He starts off strong with “She’s a beast/ I call her karma/ She’ll eat your heart out/ Like Jeffrey Dahmer.”

That was a cannibalism joke.

It only gets better: “She’s sweet as pie but if you break her heart/ She’ll turn cold as a freezer.” As a middle school teacher, I would not give credit to those similes.

But wait, there’s more: “She can be my sleeping beauty/ I’m gon put her in a coma.”

What’s a love song without a little domestic abuse? Clearly Juicy J was reading the Grimm Brothers’ version of that one.

There is no video to put all of these magical words to yet, but it’s coming soon (as in next week), and it’s apparently going to be big. Juicy J stated at the Grammy’s that it will be a “major motion picture,” which leads me to believe that he doesn't know what that means.

Monday, February 3, 2014

on conformity

Scattergories is a great game. Why? Because it rewards players only when they don’t have the exact same thoughts as each other. 

Many things in life, I’m afraid, are not like that.

And now with Facebook’s new trending feature, as if it weren’t happening enough: people are only going to think to talk about what everyone is already talking about.

I have always been a black sheep. And not the kind of person who tries really hard to be one. No, it was something I never could have escaped. I mean, I got tormented mercilessly on my bus on the way to middle school for wearing things like silver pleather pants, which I didn’t really give two thoughts about not wearing, because I liked them and in my mind, they were cool. The bullying and the pity party aside, I will pass on this really great pun that a dumbass on my bus said to me: “I can see myself in your pants. In two ways!”

Now that I teach middle school, even my honors students wouldn’t be able to come up with that one.

I think the moment that my unconventional way of thinking really sank in was in second grade. We were in Waynewood Elementary, sitting in the “pod.” Probably sitting on a lot of dried pee. Some police officers came in to talk to us, and I guess we were still just a tiny bit too young for a scared straight talk, so we were getting the “strangers are dangerous” talk instead.

The police officer posed the following question: “What does a criminal look like?”

Now, if I were in his shoes, I think I would have been careful not to ask so loaded of a question. Especially to a very homogeneous group of kids at a school that was nicknamed “Whitewood.” That question had the potential for a lot of really awkward responses. But at the time, closing my eyes, this was how I pictured the criminal:

She was a light-skinned lady with black hair. The hair was cut into a severe bob. She was wearing a trenchcoat and bright red lipstick. She had high heels on. Honestly, she looked pretty fucking stylish in my imagination, but I knew she was a criminal.

I raised my hand, really wanting to use my words to paint a picture to my classmates. I thought everyone would be impressed with the thoroughness of my description.

But I wasn’t one of those fucking kids who waved their hand around, screaming “OOH! OOOH!” like they were about to pee or explode or something. I hated those kids. And those policemen weren’t used to standing in front of a crowd of 7 year olds, so they mistook their obnoxiousness for enthusiasm.

Every kid who got called on said basically the same thing: covered in rags, really dirty man, bearded, mustachioed, scary. They kept saying this, one kid parroting the other, just changing the words around and maybe adding a synonym, the same way they’d paraphrase from Wikipedia eight years later. I still had my hand up, but I held it with less and less confidence as they went on. After six or seven kids went, I decided that I would change my answer to: ”looks like a mummy.”

But I never got the chance, because the policeman quickly cut us short to basically say: “You’re all wrong. A criminal can look like anyone!!”

At which point I felt vindicated. And really fucking annoyed that these idiotic snot-faces had ever tricked me into changing my answer that I felt in my heart of hearts to be true. (If I’m being honest here, I guess this would be the time to share that the lady in my head was actually Lisa from Sister Sister. Something about the icy way she said “Go home, Roger” convinced me she could be a cold-blooded murderer if she wanted to.)

So it was at this point in my pretentious young life that I decided, Marissa, sometimes you’re going to think differently than other people. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just that they’re all fucking dumber than you. 

But sometimes it got hard. I remember in 6th or 7th grade playing this game at the pool called “Categories,” where we would have to think of our favorite something-rather and a messenger would call out to whoever was “it” all of our anonymous favorites. The person who was “it” would pick someone’s favorite thing and call it out, and then the two of them would have to race to the opposite sides of the pool. This was how it usually went:

“Limp Bizkit One, Limp Bizkit Two, Limp Bizkit Three, Limp Bizkit Four...The Beatles?”

Thank god I wasn’t a boy. Someone would have beaten the shit out of me. as the adult who supervises and grades these little humans struggling to fit in, I see it every day. And it bores me to tears. It scares me. It makes me sure that no one is going to find a cure for cancer, because everyone is just going to try to do the same thing as whatever all of their Facebook friends are doing. Even the kids who want to be different all do it the same way. Here’s how: they watch Doctor Who.

So, I do realize that it has taken me a while to get to my point it is:

Everyone’s talking about how Phillip Seymour Hoffman died? Maybe you don't have to give us your personal opinion on the matter. The Seahawks are killing the Broncos? WE KNOW. How is it that I could have had a play by play of the Super Bowl, several times over, without looking at anything other than Facebook?

Facebook, by telling us what is "trending," is basically telling us what to think about. But it doesn't even really need this feature, because we weren't having any unique thoughts anyway.