Sunday, December 21, 2014

George Clooney Interview on The Interview

Hollywood Cowardice
A Deadline Interview with George Clooney
Mike Fleming
December 18, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: As it begins to dawn on everyone in Hollywood the reality that Sony Pictures was the victim of a cyberterrorist act perpetrated by a hostile foreign nation on American soil, questions will be asked about how and why it happened, ending with Sony cancelling the theatrical release of the satirical comedy The Interview because of its depiction of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. One of those issues will be this: Why didn’t anybody speak out while Sony Pictures chiefs Amy Pascal and Michael Lynton were embarrassed by emails served up by the media, bolstering the credibility of hackers for when they attached as a cover letter to Lynton’s emails a threat to blow up theaters if The Interview was released?
George Clooney has the answer. The most powerful people in Hollywood were so fearful to place themselves in the cross hairs of hackers that they all refused to sign a simple petition of support that Clooney and his agent, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, circulated to the top people in film, TV, records and other areas. Not a single person would sign. Here, Clooney discusses the petition and how it is just part of many frightening ramifications that we are all just coming to grips with.

DEADLINE: How could this have happened, that terrorists achieved their aim of cancelling a major studio film? We watched it unfold, but how many people realized that Sony legitimately was under attack?

 GEORGE CLOONEY: A good portion of the press abdicated its real duty. They played the fiddle while Rome burned. There was a real story going on. With just a little bit of work, you could have found out that it wasn’t just probably North Korea; it was North Korea. The Guardians of Peace is a phrase that Nixon used when he visited China. When asked why he was helping South Korea, he said it was because we are the Guardians of Peace. Here, we’re talking about an actual country deciding what content we’re going to have. This affects not just movies, this affects every part of business that we have. That’s the truth. What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it? Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down. Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.We have a new paradigm, a new reality, and we’re going to have to come to real terms with it all the way down the line. This was a dumb comedy that was about to come out. With the First Amendment, you’re never protecting Jefferson; it’s usually protecting some guy who’s burning a flag or doing something stupid. This is a silly comedy, but the truth is, what it now says about us is a whole lot. We have a responsibility to stand up against this. That’s not just Sony, but all of us, including my good friends in the press who have the responsibility to be asking themselves: What was important? What was the important story to be covering here? The hacking is terrible because of the damage they did to all those people. Their medical records, that is a horrible thing, their Social Security numbers. Then, to turn around and threaten to blow people up and kill people, and just by that threat alone we change what we do for a living, that’s the actual definition of terrorism.

DEADLINE: I’ve been chasing the story of the petition you were circulating for a week now. Where is it, and how were these terrorists able to isolate Sony from the herd and make them so vulnerable?

 CLOONEY: Here’s the brilliant thing they did. You embarrass them first, so that no one gets on your side. After the Obama joke, no one was going to get on the side of Amy, and so suddenly, everyone ran for the hills. Look, I can’t make an excuse for that joke, it is what it is, a terrible mistake. Having said that, it was used as a weapon of fear, not only for everyone to disassociate themselves from Amy but also to feel the fear themselves. They know what they themselves have written in their emails, and they’re afraid.

DEADLINE: What happened when you sent the petition, and who did you ask to sign it?

CLOONEY: It was a large number of people. It was sent to basically the heads of every place. They told Bryan Lourd, “I can’t sign this.” What? How can you not sign this? I’m not going to name anyone, that’s not what I’m here to do, but nobody signed the letter, which I’ll read to you right now.
On November 24 of this year, Sony Pictures was notified that it was the victim of a cyber attack, the effects of which is the most chilling and devastating of any cyber attack in the history of our country. Personal information including Social Security numbers, email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers and the full texts of emails of tens of thousands of Sony employees was leaked online in an effort to scare and terrorize these workers. The hackers have made both demands and threats. The demand that Sony halt the release of its upcoming comedy The Interview, a satirical film about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Their threats vary from personal—you better behave wisely—to threatening physical harm—not only you but your family is in danger. North Korea has not claimed credit for the attack but has praised the act, calling it a righteous deed and promising merciless measures if the film is released. Meanwhile the hackers insist in their statement that what they’ve done so far is only a small part of our further plan. This is not just an attack on Sony. It involves every studio, every network, every business and every individual in this country. That is why we fully support Sony’s decision not to submit to these hackers’ demands. We know that to give in to these criminals now will open the door for any group that would threaten freedom of expression, privacy and personal liberty. We hope these hackers are brought to justice but until they are, we will not stand in fear. We will stand together.
DEADLINE: That doesn’t sound like a hard paper to sign.

CLOONEY: All that it is basically saying is, we’re not going to give in to a ransom. As we watched one group be completely vilified, nobody stood up. Nobody took that stand. Now, I say this is a situation we are going to have to come to terms with, a new paradigm and a new way of handling our business. Because this could happen to an electric company, a car company, a newsroom. It could happen to anybody.

DEADLINE: You said you won’t name names, but how many people were asked and refused to sign? 

 CLOONEY: It was a fairly large number. Having put together telethons where you have to get all the networks on board to do the telethon at the same time, the truth is once you get one or two, then everybody gets on board. It is a natural progression. So here, you get the first couple of people to sign it and … well, nobody wanted to be the first to sign on. Now, this isn’t finger-pointing on that. This is just where we are right now, how scared this industry has been made. Quite honestly, this would happen in any industry. I don’t know what the answer is, but what happened here is part of a much larger deal. A huge deal. And people are still talking about dumb emails. Understand what is going on right now, because the world just changed on your watch, and you weren’t even paying attention.


DEADLINE: What kind of constraints will this put on storytellers that want to shine a critical light on a place like Russia, for instance, with something like a movie about the polonium poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, the KGB officer who left and became an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin?

 CLOONEY: What’s going to happen is, you’re going to have trouble finding distribution. In general, when you’re doing films like that, the ones that are critical, those aren’t going to be studio films anyway. Most of the movies that got us in trouble, we started out by raising the money independently. But to distribute, you’ve got to go to a studio, because they’re the ones that distribute movies. The truth is, you’re going to have a much harder time finding distribution now. And that’s a chilling effect. We should be in the position right now of going on offense with this. I just talked to Amy an hour ago. She wants to put that movie out. What do I do? My partner Grant Heslov and I had the conversation with her this morning. Bryan and I had the conversation with her last night. Stick it online. Do whatever you can to get this movie out. Not because everybody has to see the movie, but because I’m not going to be told we can’t see the movie. That’s the most important part. We cannot be told we can’t see something by Kim Jong-un, of all f*cking people.


DEADLINE: Some have pointed fingers at the media that feasted on these tawdry emails. Were they culpable in giving the terrorists a foothold, as Aaron Sorkin has said?

 CLOONEY: I do know something about the news world. I was sitting on the floors of newsrooms since I was seven years old, and I’ve been around them my whole life. I understand that someone looks at a story with famous people in it and you want to put it out. OK. It’s a drag, and it’s lame. But there’s not much you can do about it. You can’t legislate good taste. The problem is that what happened was, while all of that was going on, there was a huge news story that no one was really tracking. They were just enjoying all the salacious sh*t instead of saying, “Wait a minute, is this really North Korea? And if it is, are we really going to bow to that?” You could point fingers at Sony pulling the film, but they didn’t have any theaters, they all pulled out. By the way, the other studios were probably very happy because they had movies of their own going in for Christmas at the same cineplexes. There’s this constant circle, this feeding frenzy. What I’m concerned about is content. I’m concerned that content now is constantly going to be judged on a different level. And that’s a terrible thing to do. What we don’t need happening in any of our industries is censorship. The FBI guys said this could have happened to our government. That’s how good these guys were. It’s a serious moment in time that needs to be addressed seriously, as opposed to frivolously. That’s what is most important here.


DEADLINE: As Amy and Michael took their turn in the barrel because of these emails, some questioned why they’d approve a movie that ends with the death of a standing dictator in a hostile foreign country. Others have said she should be able to make any film she wants. It’s a satire. What do you think? 

CLOONEY: The South Park guys did it. They blew up his father’s head. The truth of the matter is, of course you should be able to make any movie you want. And, you should take the ramifications for it. Meaning, people can boycott the movie and not go see your film. They can say they’ll never see a Sony movie again. That’s all fine. That’s the risk you take for the decision you make. But to say we’re going to make you pull it. We’re going to censor you. That’s a whole other game. That is playing in some serious waters and it’s a very dangerous pool.


DEADLINE: You mentioned Team America. Some theaters wanted to show it on Christmas after The Interview was pulled as a show of defiance and Paramount pulled it back. They too are afraid of being in the hacker cross hairs.

CLOONEY: Everybody is looking at this from self interest and they are right in this sense. I’m a movie theater and I say, “OK, there’s been a threat. Not really a credible threat, but there’s a threat, and my lawyers call and tell me, “Well, you run the movie and you could be liable.” And all the other movies around it are going to have their business hurt. I understand that, and it makes complete sense. But that’s where we really need to figure what the real response should be. I don’t know what that is yet. We should be talking about that and not pointing fingers at people right now. Right now, it’s not just our community but a lot of communities. We need to figure out, what are we going to do now — when we know the cyberattacks are real, and they’re state-sponsored.

DEADLINE: Knowing what we do now, what does the government owe Sony?

CLOONEY: I’ve seen statements they’ve put out and what the president said and what the response is. The truth is, it’s all new territory and nobody knows how to handle it. I don’t think anyone was prepared for it. So now we’ll be prepared for it, hopefully. Everybody was doing their jobs, but somehow, we have allowed North Korea to dictate content, and that is just insane.

DEADLINE: You said everyone acts based on self interest. What’s yours?

CLOONEY: I wanted to have the conversation because I’m worried about content. Frankly, I’m at an age where I’m not doing action films or romantic comedies. The movies we make are the ones with challenging content, and I don’t want to see it all just be superhero movies. Nothing wrong with them, but it’s nice for people to have other films out there.


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Friday, December 19, 2014

Crash...into us

Guam is on the edge of another large buildup of forces. The political stumbling blocks that existed in Washington D.C. for several years, stalling and slowing the US military buildup are now disappearing. The buildup isn't the psychotic, frenetic, diplomatic-cocaine-fueled nightmare that it was almost ten years ago when it was first announced and proposed. It is somewhat smaller and will take place over a longer period. At that time, the focus was on Pagat. Now, new locations have been mixed in, Fena, Litekyan, Pagan and Tinian. These sites were always there on the map of American militarization in the Marianas. There are maps that link them together. There are study documents that discuss and theorize them in tandem. There are lists of resources or assets in the regions that connect them. In some ways, when the US military and its analysts and its decision-makers look at the region, they do a much better job linking locations together than many activists or even average people do. When Pagat was threatened, people had no trouble looking at it and feeling it should be protected (at least at that time). It is interesting to see the response to Litekyan and how it is far more subdued. As if people feel like this should already be over or somehow this is something different. Litekyan is a place that is far more loved in my opinion than Pagat, because it fits the idealized portrait of an island paradisical sanctuary, whereas Pagat is jungle, a cave and a hike. Litekyan is history, culture, beauty, on a beautiful beach that if you sent pictures to your friends elsewhere in the winter world right now, they would be insanely jealous. For Pagat we were able to collect several thousand signatures to protect it. My students alone ended up collecting four thousand. An online petition for Litekyan has a little over 1000.

One thing to be cautious of, during any period of militarization is the likelihood of accidents or catastrophes. As I've written about several times on this blog, during the last period of a heavy increase of activity and training in the region, there were multiple accidents involving aircraft around Guam, several of which cost the lives of military personnel. Here is a list of the incidents and also an article that came out in the UK after one of the accidents took place. Two crashes involving B-2s took place in that year alone, each plane costing more than 1 billion dollars.

*******************


B-52 Bomber
July 2008
Crashed 30 miles northwest of Apra Harbor

B-1 Bomber
March 2008
Collides with two emergency vehicles during a landing

EA6B-Prowler
Feb. 2008
Crashed two miles northeast of Ritidian

B-2 Bomber
Feb. 2008
Crashed shortly after takeoff at Anderson Air Force Base

Helicopter Sea Combat - 25
September 2007
Crashed during a training mission at Fena

2 F/A - 18 Hornets
August 2007
Collide during Valiant Shield traning, are able to land

F/A 18C Hornet
August 2007
Crashed 400 miles southeast of Guam

******************


Published on
by
The Independent on Sunday/UK

The Most Expensive Air Crash in History

by
Raymond Whitaker
Nobody was seriously hurt and no damage was done on the ground. But the crash of a B-2 stealth bomber on the Pacific island of Guam yesterday - the first involving this type of aircraft - was the world's worst air disaster by one measure: money.

Only 22 B-2s have ever been made. The cost of building each one is between $1.2bn (£610m) and $1.3bn, but once development costs are factored in, the figure approaches $2bn per aircraft. By comparison, the British Airways Boeing 777 written off in the Heathrow crash last month (again without serious injury) would have cost around $160m.

The cause of yesterday's crash is unknown. The bat-like B-2 plunged to the ground shortly after take-off from Guam. Both pilots managed to eject safely; one remained in hospital in a stable condition last night. A thick plume of smoke rose from the crash site, but the US Air Force reported no injuries on the ground or damage to buildings.

The crash happened as the B-2 took off with three others on their last flight out of Guam after a four-month deployment, part of a continuous US bomber presence in the western Pacific. The other three aircraft are being kept on Guam pending investigations.

Sixteen B-2 bombers have been used in combat, over Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iran. One mission over Afghanistan in 2001 took 44 hours, with a pair of aircraft taking off from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, where all B-2s are housed, and landing on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean after the attack. The aircraft were refueled in flight, and the pilots took it in turn to sleep. It is believed to have been the longest air combat mission ever.

© 2008 independent.co.uk




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rudof Agaga' Gui'eng-na


I didn’t grow up singing any Chamorro Christmas songs. There was little to no Chamorro in my house growing up in Mangilao. We celebrated Christmas, but didn’t do it in the way that many Chamorros do it. Where it involves a bilen, the creation of a nativity scene, the making of bunelos dagu, or the singing of Chamorro Christmas songs, the majority of which are Catholic in nature. So learning about Chamorro Christmas experiences, the stereotypical, more general kind is bewildering in a way. I am coming into traditions that people who sometimes know far less Chamorro language than I do and much much less Chamorro knowledge or history than I do, know more intimately than I do. To them these experiences are commonplace, are normal, are kind of boring. For me they are interesting. While for most of my students the idea of gathering material for a bilen is irritating and frustrating, it is intriguing to me. Something I would like to do one day, not because of any affection for the nativity scene, but because it would be fun walking around the jungle looking for moss and sticks to build something with my kids.

As part of the UOG Chamorro classes, each December, we organize Puengen Minagof Nochebuena, a central part of which is the singing of Chamorro Christmas songs. The first time I participated in this, I was lost, knowing none of the songs, except for those that were translated from English Christmas songs that I was familiar with. Now, after several years, I know a couple songs by heart and can sing along in a choir with others. This week I joined the Young Men’s League of Guam or YMLG or Inetnon Lalahin Guahan and sang for the sick in GMH. It was lots of fun. I got to join others in belting out a variety of songs, the diversity of which, reminded me of something which always bugs me this time of year.

The “holiday” season nowadays is familiar to all. It is something now embedded into the collective consciousness here. Some of it is spurned on by the same capitalistic fervor that drives other places. Some of it is spurned on by a colonial and Americanizing desire. But ultimately, during the last two months of the year we have a series of rituals and ceremonies that are not intimately tied to people here, but have only been so for a few generations. Thanksgiving was not celebrated by Chamorros as a people prior to World War II. Thanksgiving was something that was taught in schools and was promoted by the US Navy, but it wasn’t something that stopped or dictated the rhythm of Chamorro life. Students were forced to celebrate it in schools, dressing up, even before the war as pilgrims and native Americans. Christmas as we celebrate it today is almost totally unfamiliar to the “Christmas” celebrations of the past. Christmas was primarily a religious celebration and the commercialism and the materialism that inundates life today was absent primarily because of the lack of money on the island. Those wanting to Americanize would try to copy the way things were celebrated in the US, but for most Chamorros, that was a hollow, empty celebration, that was missing what Christmas is supposed to be about, the celebration of Christ’s birth.

I find it both fascinating and depressing as to how fast Chamorros shifted their entire cognitive calendar not to match their own culture, their own history, their own values, but simply to match the way things are done in the US, as part of their desire to assimilate, to prove that they were worthy wards, that they were good and loyal enough to be minor Americans. This is a discussion that few people want to have because of the way it opens up things they would rather take for granted and rather not think about. You can argue that the “spirit” of Christmas is in line with the Chamorro values of gineftao and giving. You can argue that celebrating Christ’s birth is important because of that being a founding myth in Christianity and Catholicism. All of those things can be given, can be accepted. But why take Christmas songs from other places? I understand that certain songs come into Guam via religious beliefs, but why would people on Guam sing songs about snow? Songs about winter wonderlands? Why do people in Guam import and buy Christmas trees from the states? These things only make sense in a rather pathetic assimilationist context. They only make sense if we see Chamorros not really thinking about anything but just wanting to copy American style, do American things, pretend and act like they are Americans.

This is why, I am not sure how I feel about the translation of those ridiculous songs into Chamorro. On the one hand I don’t like it because it is just another way of bringing in colonizing artifacts, but with more local flavor. It is way of ingesting colonialism, but giving it a nice local touch so it doesn’t feel as bitter or silly. But, as someone who translates lots of songs that have nothing to do with Chamorro culture, history or language into Chamorro, the taking of those songs and making them Chamorro is also exciting and interesting. When I look at many of these songs that have been translated, they rework the imagery, the metaphors, the contexts and make them fit within a Chamorro tradition or framework. For example, many of them abandon their original scenery of snow or Christmas elsewhere and focus on Chamorro familial closeness and gatherings. Some however resist this shifting, such as the one below, “Si Rudof” a Chamorro version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. While the story of Santa and Reindeer is just plain stupid, especially when people try to fit it in a Christian framework when Santa has more to do with Odin than Saint Nicolas, I have to admit that just singing a familiar song in Chamorro and seeing the language wrap around it is fun.

Here are the lyrics below, translated by Joe Peredo.

***************


RUDOF
(Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer) Trinanslåda: J. Peredo

Rudof agaga' i gui'eng-mu
lålamlam kada puengi,
ya kada ma attan i gui'eng-mu,
sigi hao di ma kasse,

todu i mangga'chong-mu,
sigi hao di ma kasse,
sa' hågu ha' nai na binådu,
sasahnge yan na'ma'se'.

Pues un chi'op na puengi,
måtto si Santa Klos,
ha faisen si Ru-dot-fu,
para u giha i karetan gigipu,

Manmagof todu i binådu,
ya ma guaiya ta'lo si Rudof,
put i gui'eng-ña ni kulot agaga',
siempre ma onra hao gi manmamaila'.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I Malago'-hu Para Krismas

Ti este i minagahet put i minalago'-hu para Krismas. Guaha mas malago'-hu para i familia-ku para i manguinaiya-ku siha. Lao gi este na tiempo, anai fihu manstrinessed hit todu, maolek na ta hahasso este na siniente, i nina'chalek gi kuttura-ta.

Gi minagahet sen ti ya-hu bunelos dagu. Ga'o-ku todu i otro klasin bunelos kinu este. Ya-hu bunelos manglo, bunelos aga', bunelos manha, bunelos mangga, bunelos pina. Lao ya-hu na rumhyme dagu yan hagu gi fino' Chamoru. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Teaching Privileged White Kids


This Is What It Means For Me To Teach Your White, Privileged Kids

Written by Linda Chavers
11/30/2014
http://damemagazine.com/2014/11/30/what-it-means-me-teach-your-white-privileged-kids


I'm an educator. I teach English at one of the top independent boarding schools in the world. I'm also a Black woman. With a Masters in English, which qualifies me to teach it, and a Ph.D. in African-American Studies from Harvard University, which, among other things, scares the shit out of everyone.

Yet, here I am, in rural New England, teaching the literature of my choice and with an interdisciplinary bent (read: African-American) and how to write the personal essay to a mostly White, upper-class population.

And this is a good thing.

When applying to grad schools I wrote in my personal statement that my presence in a classroom is a revolutionary act. I fill a space of authority that is still very much White, male and very, very privileged. When I visited my current school's campus and saw the alumnae list full of governors, Supreme Court justices and presidents I felt emboldened. What ran through my head would become a recurrent mantra since my time here, “I'm here for the White boys.”

In August, a month, before starting my job I'd visited Ferguson. I snuck into Governor Jay Nixon's first press conference to address the recent riots following the killing of Michael Brown. I watched him speak. It was one of the saddest and most enraging scenes I've ever witnessed. I won't even address the things he said or, rather, didn’t say. By now, we're aware of his urging for townsfolk to "go to sleep" while the National Guard took control. His body language at the press conference was just as offensive. There was a moment where he seemed to hide behind one of the Black officials. He never made eye contact with any actual human present.

I remember thinking, This man has never dealt with a Black person in his life.

I'm sure he's existed among Black people: The people who clicked his ticket on the train, put his items into the grocery bag, panhandlers on the street as he as his driver waited for the light to change.

I remember thinking, He has never had anyone like me in his life in a position of authority, in a position higher than his.

So while it was absolutely jarring to go from this—from scenes of razed buildings, burned-down gas stations, and from the memorial site where a boy's dead body lay bleeding on the street under the blue sky for four-and-a-half hours to a nearly 300-year-old, billion-dollar-endowed institution and sit in meetings where colleagues happily discussed their child's first bike ride or another's trip down South to discover his forefather's Civil War roots, I felt a strong resolve that I was in the right place. That I was there for the White boys.

I'm here for the Black girls and boys, too, so that if, for nothing else, they can see a Black woman exerting authority in a manner and in a space not traditionally filled by us. This particular institution is faculty led. The administration is also the faculty, decisions are not passed down—they are shared. In other words, I am not just an English teacher, I'm among the keepers of the gates.

And they need to see me here for the White boys.

Sure, Whites see us putting on Band-Aids to scraped knees, pushing baby carriages, herding the very, very small children of others, doling out their peas and carrots and Happy Meals. In fact, around here, usually other Whites tend to fill these roles. That doesn’t mean the kids see Whites in more diverse roles—they do but it's not registered that way. Rather, Black people become completely disappeared in their surroundings and their imaginations.  The students go home and see Blacks in our usual lesser-than spaces or they simply don’t see us at all. Maybe they see us on screens dancing, running, singing, and every once in a while, one of us as a head of State.

This position I'm in is fraught with anxiety—of constantly wondering, of fretting—that every single statement I make, movement I make, facial expression I let loose—is just right. Such a nervous state is nothing new. At 32, most minorities in mixed spaces have become professionals at this chameleon effect.

What is not as typical is when this—the pricelessness of mastering how to be Black in White spaces, spaces that can and do deny my existence—is duly recognized by Whites.

My advisee's father, a White man, told me it was important to him that I was his son's advisor because he wanted his son to have exposure to people's different perspectives and backgrounds before he's in college, specifically before he was 19 years old. In my 32 years here I was faced with a man who was not asking me to teach his son about blackness, no. Rather, he was sharing with me his desire that his son be exposed and guided by that which he could not offer him in their hometown: In short, that his son see difference differently. By age 19, a young adult's thinking becomes more abstract and less tied to reality. This man wants his privileged White son to have me in his imaginative and mental maps as part of his developing basis for his future decision-making.

This was a father expressing a deep need for his son to grow into a White man who might just rise above his race and to be a global citizen; to have empathy, to question more than answer, and to have a Black woman be his guide. It was as uplifting a moment for me as it was humbling.

That was in October. It is now a week since Darren Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury for shooting and killing Michael Brown. A week since he testified that he felt as if Brown was an “it,” “a demon” that would not die. A colleague tells me she and her husband are taking their 1-year-old son apple-picking. An old high-school friend posts pictures of a warm, wholesome Thanksgiving dinner. I want to scream, Fuck your apples! Fuck your turkey! Fuck your holidays! Fuck your smiles! Fuck you! Fuck. Your. Children. Since the grand jury's announcement I've been simultaneously addicted to and repulsed by social media. Professionally, I have no business on Facebook when there are stacks of papers to grade. Yet, that's also what feeds my ire: How can I do anything, how can anyone do anything remotely normal like motherfucking apple-picking?

How can I teach at this world-renowned private institution to these privileged White kids? What does that even do?

As a follow-up to our meeting I'd emailed the parents thanking them for such a rewarding exchange. The mother wrote me back: "The lack of diversity of religion, race, and opinion in rural Vermont has been a real concern for both of us. I am pleased to hear that your advisory group has discussed the situation in Ferguson (which echoes situations across the country and across the world). [Our son] has the opportunity to hear from fellow students in advisory who have a variety of backgrounds both international and domestic, Black and White. I do not know what other diversity is present in your advisory group, but I hope that his experience on campus causes him to think frequently about other people and expands his worldview beyond that of Vermont, America, White, and male. We are a very privileged group. It's one thing to know it intellectually. We have to hear other people's stories to begin to internalize what that really means and how we can effect real and significant change in this world. Thank you for helping my children to grow as human beings by mentoring them, by teaching them, by facilitating their experiences, by sharing part of who you are with them."

I keep returning to this note, to help remind me that what I'm doing is worth it, worth the pain and frustration.

This essay has been particularly painful and frustrating to write. And I cannot articulate exactly why. I can say I am deeply anxious that, in telling this, White people will feel good about themselves. You'll read that encouraging note from a White family and think, See, that's how I feel, too. Yes, we are good people, doing good things. My fear is that when White people feel good about themselves you think that the problem is solved. It is not.

Remember, it's only once you start feeling uncomfortable that we're getting anywhere. Remember, Darren Wilson had a defense fund. Remember that what you will not see are the many White folks who will shake his hand.

So I share that heartfelt message with you and then I want to remind you that it also doesn’t mean shit.

Linda Chavers is this week's guest columnist for "What's Going On."
- See more at: http://damemagazine.com/2014/11/30/what-it-means-me-teach-your-white-privileged-kids#sthash.moJYnYr
This Is What It Means For Me To Teach Your White, Privileged Kids
Written by Linda Chavers
http://damemagazine.com/2014/11/30/what-it-means-me-teach-your-white-privileged-kids
11/30/2014 

I'm an educator. I teach English at one of the top independent boarding schools in the world. I'm also a Black woman. With a Masters in English, which qualifies me to teach it, and a Ph.D. in African-American Studies from Harvard University, which, among other things, scares the shit out of everyone.

Yet, here I am, in rural New England, teaching the literature of my choice and with an interdisciplinary bent (read: African-American) and how to write the personal essay to a mostly White, upper-class population.

And this is a good thing.

When applying to grad schools I wrote in my personal statement that my presence in a classroom is a revolutionary act. I fill a space of authority that is still very much White, male and very, very privileged. When I visited my current school's campus and saw the alumnae list full of governors, Supreme Court justices and presidents I felt emboldened. What ran through my head would become a recurrent mantra since my time here, “I'm here for the White boys.”

In August, a month, before starting my job I'd visited Ferguson. I snuck into Governor Jay Nixon's first press conference to address the recent riots following the killing of Michael Brown. I watched him speak. It was one of the saddest and most enraging scenes I've ever witnessed. I won't even address the things he said or, rather, didn’t say. By now, we're aware of his urging for townsfolk to "go to sleep" while the National Guard took control. His body language at the press conference was just as offensive. There was a moment where he seemed to hide behind one of the Black officials. He never made eye contact with any actual human present.

I remember thinking, This man has never dealt with a Black person in his life.

I'm sure he's existed among Black people: The people who clicked his ticket on the train, put his items into the grocery bag, panhandlers on the street as he as his driver waited for the light to change.

I remember thinking, He has never had anyone like me in his life in a position of authority, in a position higher than his.

So while it was absolutely jarring to go from this—from scenes of razed buildings, burned-down gas stations, and from the memorial site where a boy's dead body lay bleeding on the street under the blue sky for four-and-a-half hours to a nearly 300-year-old, billion-dollar-endowed institution and sit in meetings where colleagues happily discussed their child's first bike ride or another's trip down South to discover his forefather's Civil War roots, I felt a strong resolve that I was in the right place. That I was there for the White boys.

I'm here for the Black girls and boys, too, so that if, for nothing else, they can see a Black woman exerting authority in a manner and in a space not traditionally filled by us. This particular institution is faculty led. The administration is also the faculty, decisions are not passed down—they are shared. In other words, I am not just an English teacher, I'm among the keepers of the gates.

And they need to see me here for the White boys.

Sure, Whites see us putting on Band-Aids to scraped knees, pushing baby carriages, herding the very, very small children of others, doling out their peas and carrots and Happy Meals. In fact, around here, usually other Whites tend to fill these roles. That doesn’t mean the kids see Whites in more diverse roles—they do but it's not registered that way. Rather, Black people become completely disappeared in their surroundings and their imaginations.  The students go home and see Blacks in our usual lesser-than spaces or they simply don’t see us at all. Maybe they see us on screens dancing, running, singing, and every once in a while, one of us as a head of State.

This position I'm in is fraught with anxiety—of constantly wondering, of fretting—that every single statement I make, movement I make, facial expression I let loose—is just right. Such a nervous state is nothing new. At 32, most minorities in mixed spaces have become professionals at this chameleon effect.

What is not as typical is when this—the pricelessness of mastering how to be Black in White spaces, spaces that can and do deny my existence—is duly recognized by Whites.

My advisee's father, a White man, told me it was important to him that I was his son's advisor because he wanted his son to have exposure to people's different perspectives and backgrounds before he's in college, specifically before he was 19 years old. In my 32 years here I was faced with a man who was not asking me to teach his son about blackness, no. Rather, he was sharing with me his desire that his son be exposed and guided by that which he could not offer him in their hometown: In short, that his son see difference differently. By age 19, a young adult's thinking becomes more abstract and less tied to reality. This man wants his privileged White son to have me in his imaginative and mental maps as part of his developing basis for his future decision-making.

This was a father expressing a deep need for his son to grow into a White man who might just rise above his race and to be a global citizen; to have empathy, to question more than answer, and to have a Black woman be his guide. It was as uplifting a moment for me as it was humbling.

That was in October. It is now a week since Darren Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury for shooting and killing Michael Brown. A week since he testified that he felt as if Brown was an “it,” “a demon” that would not die. A colleague tells me she and her husband are taking their 1-year-old son apple-picking. An old high-school friend posts pictures of a warm, wholesome Thanksgiving dinner. I want to scream, Fuck your apples! Fuck your turkey! Fuck your holidays! Fuck your smiles! Fuck you! Fuck. Your. Children. Since the grand jury's announcement I've been simultaneously addicted to and repulsed by social media. Professionally, I have no business on Facebook when there are stacks of papers to grade. Yet, that's also what feeds my ire: How can I do anything, how can anyone do anything remotely normal like motherfucking apple-picking?

How can I teach at this world-renowned private institution to these privileged White kids? What does that even do?

As a follow-up to our meeting I'd emailed the parents thanking them for such a rewarding exchange. The mother wrote me back: "The lack of diversity of religion, race, and opinion in rural Vermont has been a real concern for both of us. I am pleased to hear that your advisory group has discussed the situation in Ferguson (which echoes situations across the country and across the world). [Our son] has the opportunity to hear from fellow students in advisory who have a variety of backgrounds both international and domestic, Black and White. I do not know what other diversity is present in your advisory group, but I hope that his experience on campus causes him to think frequently about other people and expands his worldview beyond that of Vermont, America, White, and male. We are a very privileged group. It's one thing to know it intellectually. We have to hear other people's stories to begin to internalize what that really means and how we can effect real and significant change in this world. Thank you for helping my children to grow as human beings by mentoring them, by teaching them, by facilitating their experiences, by sharing part of who you are with them."

I keep returning to this note, to help remind me that what I'm doing is worth it, worth the pain and frustration.

This essay has been particularly painful and frustrating to write. And I cannot articulate exactly why. I can say I am deeply anxious that, in telling this, White people will feel good about themselves. You'll read that encouraging note from a White family and think, See, that's how I feel, too. Yes, we are good people, doing good things. My fear is that when White people feel good about themselves you think that the problem is solved. It is not.

Remember, it's only once you start feeling uncomfortable that we're getting anywhere. Remember, Darren Wilson had a defense fund. Remember that what you will not see are the many White folks who will shake his hand.

So I share that heartfelt message with you and then I want to remind you that it also doesn’t mean shit.

Linda Chavers is this week's guest columnist for "What's Going On."
- See more at: http://damemagazine.com/2014/11/30/what-it-means-me-teach-your-white-privileged-kids#sthash.moJYnYrA.dpuf


Friday, December 12, 2014

Klas Mamfok

This semester I was very excited to offer a new course, Tiningo' Tinifok at UOG, which focused on teaching the basics for weaving. We had 12 students for the class, who learned how to weave a variety of objects in both hagon niyok (coconut leaf) and akgak (pandanus). I look forward to offering more courses like this in the future, which focus on material culture and traditional knowledge and make academic connections between the two.

Here are some images from the class:





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hellraising in Hagatna

 Even though almost everyone in the world will probably tell you that democracy is the greatest system of government in the world, that doesn't mean that people don't loathe it. People will generally loathe their own particular forms of democracy and only praise or love it when its existence is being shaded or overshadowed by some competing alternative. But even though they may loathe the ideas of Senators, Mayors, Governors or Presidents as being positions that are often held by cheats and liars, they tend to either tolerate or like the people who actually hold those positions. In a purely commonsensical level you might assume that since Congress is so incredibly unpopular, people would be in a hurry to vote out all incumbents and bring in fresh blood. You may think that since nearly everyone on Guam complains about Senators or Governors as being self-interested crooks who don't do anything more than wave by roadsides, no one in Guam's history would ever get re-elected. You would be completely wrong on both accounts. The unpopularity for the governing body or irritation with the system doesn't always affect the leaders themselves. Often times people like them or connect to them, even if they are spitting fiery tirades at the system they belong to.
 
This has come to mind because of the recent controversy over pay raises for elected officials and cabinet members. You can check out the articles and statements below to learn more about what is going on.

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Pay raise flap not over: San Nicolas to reintroduce bill in next Legislature
by Shawn Raymundo
Dec. 11, 2014
Pacific Daily News

During the next Legislative term, Sen. Michael San Nicolas, D-Dededo, will reintroduce a bill to repeal a recently enacted law that gives elected and appointed officials pay raises.

Bill 435-32 was aimed at repealing Public Law 32-208, which raised the annual salaries of the governor, lieutenant governor, cabinet members and senators based on recommendations from the Competitive Wage Act of 2014. In addition to their raises, the officials will receive retroactive payment dating back to January.

San Nicolas introduced the proposed legislation Tuesday.

Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz, D-Piti, and San Nicolas were the only lawmakers in favor of the bill. The nine remaining senators voted against it.

Speaker Judith Won Pat, D-Inarajan as well as Sens. Tina Muña Barnes, D-Mangilao, and Mike Limtiaco, R-Tamuning, were absent from Tuesday night's session.

"We always ask 'where are we going to find the money?' But yet we can find it when we're talking about raises and pay being retroactive?" San Nicolas asked Tuesday, referring to sessions held in the past over funding issues with various agencies.

San Nicolas said, although his bill had minimal support at the end of this term, he would like to hear input from the new senators who will be part of the upcoming Legislature.

The four new senators and other incumbent lawmakers will be sworn in next month.

"I think it will be good for us to get the perspective of the newly elected senators and weigh in on it," he said.

Unlike the pay raise bill, which senators passed on Nov. 21 in a 10-1 vote, San Nicolas said he will make sure his bill in the 33rd Legislature goes through the proper procedure of introduction, public hearing and then deliberation on the floor.

"We're definitely going to put that through the full course," San Nicolas said.

San Nicolas slammed lawmakers Tuesday night for not holding a public hearing prior to passing last month's bill. He wanted his bill to receive the same treatment.

Implementation

Under the new law that Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio enacted late last month, senators received a nearly 40-percent raise, as they will soon be taking home an annual salary of $85,000. The governor and lieutenant governor now have their salaries set at $130,000 and $110,000 respectively.

Gov. Eddie Calvo told members of the media yesterday he would like to see the retroactive payment and paychecks reflecting the raise go out before Christmas.

He said, however, it all depends on when GovGuam's fiscal team completes its financial review of the raises.

"I'm waiting for my fiscal team; I told them just get it calculated," Calvo said. "And I told them I'd like to do it before Christmas."

The fiscal team includes the Department of Administration and Bureau of Budget and Management Research.

Calvo added that he, along with his appointed officials, deserve a raise and added that his Cabinet members were cheated earlier this year when lawmakers excluded themselves and the appointed officials from the Wage Act raises.

The Wage Act, submitted to senators in January, included recommended pay raises to government of Guam employees.

"I think my people deserve a raise," Calvo said, adding, "I believe I do deserve a raise."

Calvo said he plans to use the raise to help pay for his kids' college education and would also contribute to various charities.

Calvo also said he instructed Tenorio, who was acting governor, to call the Legislature into special session last month because senators weren't moving forward with legislation to get Cabinet members their raises.

"I've been preaching on this since January, since (senators) first tinkered around with it. I've always been wanting to get this thing on the floor," Calvo said. "Obviously no one's moving on it so I decided moving on it."

Public reaction

On Tuesday, San Nicolas cited several issues around the island that should be addressed before the elected officials and Cabinet members receive raises. He pointed out that the transit system is underfunded, and there are many roads in need of repairs.

Island resident Pauline Gumataotao, who works as a clerk in Piti, agreed with San Nicolas that elected officials shouldn't be getting pay raises while the island faces issues with its infrastructure.
"There's a lot of stuff that needs to be fixed up," she said, such as "buildings that are eyesores and roads that need to be fixed."

She said only Cabinet members who can prove to the public that they have been working hard to make improvements to the island deserve a pay increase.

Resident Jared Aguon, a 24-year-old delivery driver for Luen Fung Enterprises, a food supply company, doesn't agree with the raises either because he said they already earn enough money.
"I don't like it," he said. "I don't think they need the pay raises. The wealthy is already wealthy."
Even with the pay raises, Calvo said GovGuam is in position to take care of the needs of the island. He added that during his first term in Adelup, he has been able to improve government agencies such as Guam Memorial Hospital and the Guam Police Department.

"This doesn't mean we neglect the goals of those agencies," Calvo said.

***********************************

Hafa Adai,
My name is Shannon Siguenza and I am a 28 year old resident of Agana Heights. I teach psychology at the high school level and dedicate much of my time to community rugby and other community organizations to improve our island and restore balance to an island that is far from healthy. This is not my first time writing to the 32nd Guahan Legislature. Through experience, I’ve found that not all of my messages make it into the hands of their intended recipients; that, or as a regular everyday person, my concerns weren’t important enough for your time or energy. It is truly my hope that these words meet the eyes of each member of the legislature. I pray these words sit in your conscience and that your hearts make decisions as quickly as your hands emptied our pockets.
A servant is a devoted and helpful follower or supporter. It is my understanding that being a public servant would require helpfulness and support that benefits the public. After all, it was only through the people’s help that you possess any power at all. Our island is in need of so many things, it is no secret to anyone. YOU are the people the island depends on to support us in our needs, to help us in our struggles, to devote yourselves to improving the island for generations to come.
Our public school system is failing! FAILING! Proof that you are aware of this too, is the number of you in the government who send your children to private schools. And you ask us to trust in the public school system that you won’t send your own children to? Teachers are working with few resources, if any, while sports and afterschool programs lack attention and funding. A few weeks ago, I watched a heart breaking video of a boy slamming a girls head on a sidewalk. More disturbing than the act itself, was the fact that someone stood there and FILMED it, instead of calling for help or assisting in some way. Education dictates the movement of a people! The improvement, the growth and restoration of our island depends on our youth being knowledgeable and empowered! How have you devoted yourself to helping us achieve this?
The Guam Memorial Hospital and Behavioral Health and Wellness Center are hurting so badly. The vicious cycle that is created through a lack of education and a lack of community support is poisoning every part of our daily lives. As you continue to fail us, the uneducated and struggling members of our community live each day without purpose, unproductive and at risk for substance abuse which leads to an array of more problems. What have you done to provide our people with better health and behavioral wellness options?
Culture and language education and perpetuation programs also have the power and ability to restore a society that is barely hanging on to its last thread and yet, these programs have been neglected too. Not only do these programs restore identity and empower individuals, they also help with tourism, which is widely known to be our islands main source of income. What have you done to help our people with opportunities to know their culture and history and to share that unique heritage as a means to sustain the island?
As leaders, you often blame the failures in our broken systems on a lack of funding. There is no funding to give each teacher more than a ream of paper each quarter. There is no funding for sports programs. There is no funding for medical professionals and programs. There is no funding for behavioral health professionals. There is no funding for culture and language perpetuation and education. There is no funding.
As a public servant, someone who is supposed to support us in our needs, help us in our struggles, can you truly justify your recent legislation for pay increases? Are these pay raises part of your devotion to us? Do they, in any way, fulfill the promises that you made when you were asking for our help in the way of votes and support? Do these pay raises help the island? There is no doubt in my mind that you know the answer just as well as I do. I’m calling on you to be that servant that you promised you would be. Taking those raises is plainly as evil as stealing the food off a starving child’s plate.
I know that some of you work extremely hard and that some of you deserve better pay for the work that is done for the island. We all deserve better, but the larger question is CAN WE AFFORD IT?
Please consider all that is truly good for Guahan and her people and take appropriate action concerning the law to raise wages. Introduce a new law re-appropriating that money toward a greater need in our government, like the hospital, behavioral health and wellness, or schools. I am also appalled by the fact that many of you denied the pay raise earlier this year to save our government money and ensure that other government workers received their raises. If you did this in good faith, then why should you also be given retro pay for this time in which you refused a raise? I urge you to also repeal your retro pay.
I close with a reading from Matthew 25: 35-40:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.
The righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison to visit you?
The King will reply, ‘Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Be greater than those that came before you, because there are thousands of futures that lay in your care. I hope that your decisions will move the entire island and her people in a direction that is good for ALL of us.
Saina Ma’ase’,
Shannon Siguenza


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Raises show imprudence, greed

Dec. 4, 2014

Season's Greetings from The F.I. Report. Here we go again; a special legislative session was convened at the request of Lt. Gov. Ray Tenorio. Our senators voted to give themselves (and other elected and appointed officials) fat, retroactive pay raises.

Do you recall if there was a public hearing to discuss the merits of the bill? I don't. It was passed and signed into law in record time and without shame it seems. Man tai mamalao.

Two years ago, senators voted themselves a raise from $55,000 to $65,000. Now it will be $85,000 a year -- with back pay.

The governor's pay will go from $90,000 to $130,000, while the lieutenant governor's will go from $85,000 to $110,000.

Wow!

Host of problems

Our kids are brawling on campuses, classrooms are vandalized and we can't seem to improve school security. Our health care system is substandard and GMH cannot pay its bills.

Our streets become increasingly unsafe because of a shortage of police officers. Police cars and fire engines need regular maintenance, but there is no money for oil changes. The Department of Corrections is vastly overcrowded and ever so closer to federal receivership.

Our educators are struggling to meet student demands and often have to dip into their own pockets for supplies. The air conditioners and vehicles need maintenance, but there is no budget for the basics.

The Hagåtña library is closed because of a failed air-conditioning system, while they await a $600,000 grant from the Department of Interior.

All these failings are evidence of continuing fiscal problems. They don't fund necessities, yet blithely delude themselves that we are operating in the black.

How can they justify the fat, retroactive pay adjustments? Are they imprudent or just greedy?

The pay raise will cost additional millions of dollars but the lieutenant governor does not know how much. He responded to a KUAM interview question concerning the cost of the pay increase, plus back pay: "It's not a single, well it is going to cost $5 million, but will cost X but we don't know the X yet but we'll get that answer to you."

Are you confused like I am? Bad move for a gubernatorial hopeful who might plan to run in four years.

Shouldn't salary increases be a reflection of good performance? I'm searching but don't see it.

What'll be next?

I can't help but wonder what's next. Borrow more money to pay for operational expenses?

I suggest that the pay raises be axed and that some courageous senator introduce a bill to retroactively reverse the fat pay checks.

I applaud Sen. Mike Limtiaco for voting against it. He cast the one and only opposing vote.
We are not out of the financial woods, folks -- we have borrowed to the maximum allowable limits and the monthly payments of additional millions of dollars is just around the corner.

During the urgent "special session," Vice Speaker Benjamin J. Cruz inquired about the funding source for these raises. According to KUAM, my old friend Tony Blaz said, "We're very confident, vice speaker, we're very confident we'll work within our resources and we have our due diligence at BBMR we're going to do our part."

Did Tony answer the question? I think not. Just how are we going to pay for the early Christmas presents?

All about timing

"Timing is everything!" my FBI recruiter once said to me as I hesitated at his recommendation for me to report to the FBI Academy the following week.

For this maneuver, their timing was exceptional. The call for the special session, the vote without a public hearing, the vote to pass and the quick signing of the bill into law was accomplished within days after the General Election.

Matson lines just announced a rate increase, so the cost of rice, Spam and ramen will go up. Our wise leaders will be eating steaks and lobsters while the rest of us count our pennies.

By next election, we will have forgotten about their slick maneuver. They are counting on poor collective memory, but we shall remind them.

I welcome your comments.
Frank Ishizaki is a retired FBI special agent, chief of police, Homeland Security adviser, director of Corrections, senator and CSI. He can be contacted at friendscrimelab@live.com.

******************

‘Pay raises deserved’

GOV. Eddie Calvo yesterday said the recent pay raises for elected officials and political appointees established by P.L. 32-208 was a move he supported, and he believes he and his appointees deserve a raise.

“I believe my people deserve a raise,” Calvo said. “I do believe I do deserve a raise but a raise that was not calculated by me but by a group that the government of Guam paid good money for.”

On Dec. 3, Simon Sanchez High School teacher Andre Baynum started circulating a petition online pleading with politicians to repeal the new law with respect to elected officials.

More than 800 people yesterday signed the petition as of 7 p.m. Baynum wrote that the law is “an affront to the general public on Guam who continue to endure substandard results on social and economical issues facing the island.”

Baynum told Variety he thought the pay raises are “unconscionable.”

Calvo, however, said the pay raises are deserved for the people in the government and are needed to stabilize inequities among the wages between autonomous agencies and line agencies.

The timing of the bill, Calvo said, was to ensure the issue was not politicized as it was in the beginning of the year. “Unfortunately, Sen. (Michael San Nicolas) has politicized the issue again.”

San Nicolas introduced a bill to repeal P.L. 32-208 on Tuesday but the measure failed to pass during Tuesday’s special session.

Not forgotten

Calvo said he has not forgotten about the other issues on Guam, including dilapidated roads and the condition of Guam Memorial Hospital. He said under his governance, he’s been able to repair roads, add police equipment, add police officers and improve conditions at the hospital.

“Rome was not built in a day,” Calvo said. “I’m seeing improvement and obviously we have to do a lot more but it also means as we improve, we pay the people the fair worth of their salt.”

All the government employees received wage increases according to the Hay Group’s study completed in 2010 and the elected officials were initially taken out at the beginning of this year. Calvo said he has been fighting for this raise since the beginning of the year and he advised the legislature in February not to tinker with the Competitive Wage Act of 2014.

However, now that the act has been tinkered with, Calvo said continued tinkering will further cause inequities among government employees’ salaries. “My recommendation is this: If they’re going to continue to fool around and kill off the portions that we put back, then maybe we should consider everything,” Calvo said. “Then maybe we consider just taking everybody’s pay increase away and look at autonomous agencies and start from square one. I don’t think we should do it but in order to create harmony and equity, to ensure we don’t cause an imbalance.”

Calvo said he’ll donate his salary as he and his wife decide.

On retroactively paying the salaries, the governor also said they should have been paid since the beginning. “I think these hard-working government employees that were excluded in January were cheated,” he said.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Photoshopping Keira Knightley



Body Matters
 Keira Knightley's latest photoshoot is a protest against all the Photoshopping she's ever received
 Kit Steinkellner
November 4, 2014
 
When you think of a protest, you tend to think of picket signs, sit-ins, rhyming chants,and so on and so forth. What you usually DON’T think of is a topless celebrity photo shoot. However, that’s exactly what actress Keira Knightley had done with her recent photo shoot for Interview—she turned her shoot into a protest. She posed topless for the magazine on the condition that Interview would not enlarge her breasts in post-production, something that apparently happens to Knightley’s photographs constantly.

Case in point, check out the (virtual) boob job Knightley received when she was featured as Guinevere on the poster of her 2004  film King Arthur.


18jh4ejc3j75ijpg-1

That is a cup size difference for sure. If I were Keira Knightley I’d be weirded out by my body always looking like someone else’s body every time I did publicity shoots for films or posed for magazine shoots.

Not only is Keira Knightley taking a stand in her un-retouched topless photo shoot for Interview, she’s also got some powerful words to back up her actions.


keira+knightley copy 2

“I’ve had my body manipulated so many different times for so many different reasons, whether it’s paparazzi photographers or for film posters,” Knightley told The Times of London. “That [Interview shoot] was one of the ones where I said: ‘OK, I’m fine doing the topless shot so long as you don’t make them any bigger or retouch.’ Because it does feel important to say it really doesn’t matter what shape you are.”

This is obviously a personal issue for Knightley (and girl is not asking for much, she just wants her photographed boobs to look the same as her real-life boobs, for crying out loud!) but Knightley as a public figure also recognizes the influence her image exerts and how detrimental digital retouching is for women on the whole.

“I think women’s bodies are a battleground and photography is partly to blame,” Knightley told The Times. “Our society is so photographic now, it becomes more difficult to see all of those different varieties of shape.”

Knightley’s absolutely right. We are absolutely inundated with digitally altered images of women and it’s all too easy to look at these retouched-to-the-point-of-ridiculousness photos and believe that this is how women are actually supposed to look. It’s all too easy to feel inadequate in real life without software constantly following you around changing out your filters and adjusting your proportions in real time. It’s so important for women who wield power in the public eye to take a stand and be transparent about what they look like in real life, and moreover, to be proud of what’s real about them. Big ups to Knightley for wanting the world to see her as she really is and loving everything that is real about her body.


Kit Steinkellner 

In her online life, Kit is a contributing editor for the websites Book Riot and Food Riot. She also writes about film and television for the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper, and her work is featured on Huffington Post and xoJane. She writes the high school-centric webcomic Aces which her genius artist sister Emma illustrates.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Sakigake Chamorro #6: Attack on Titan


I haven’t done this in a while, but I’m traveling this week and so it gives me quite a bit of down time on planes, with little to do other than get airsick. A few years ago I was watching quite a bit of anime and one thing I really enjoyed doing was taking anime theme songs, from shows like Gantz, Naruto and Cromartie High School and then translating them into Chamorro. Each translation was an interesting experiment, since although many of these shows are considered to be low-plebian culture, pop culture animated shadows on the cave wall for the masses, the lyrics to the theme songs tend to have a very epic and sophisticated feel to them.  These songs presented interesting challenges since translating them directly would be difficult and not necessarily match well with Chamorro. But finding ways of expressing similar epic thoughts in Chamorro, while trying to maintain a sense of the language would be fun and worthwhile.

I still read manga regularly even if I don’t watch any anime anymore, and one manga that I have being storing up for almost a year now, since I want to binge read later, is Attack on Titan. For those not familiar with this show it can be pretty gritty and pretty bleak. Humanity at some point in the future is forced to live in giant walled cities to protect themselves from Titans, huge humanoid figures that eat humans. Some of them are just 10 feet tall, while the largest can be more than 100 feet in height. The show follows characters who are trying to defend humanity against this threat, and use a unique grappling hook system with giant exacto blade knives to hit the weak spot on the back of their necks. I won’t give away too much, although what starts off as a truly compelling story in my opinion, eventually descends into ridiculous twisty turny plot shifts that make it incomprehensible at times.

The theme song for the show is “Guren No Yumiya.” It is a call to arms. The lyrics try to stir up a fiery passion in those listening, to fight and die if necessary, but not to slip quietly into oblivions by try to take destiny into their own hands. Here first is the Japanese version.

fumareta hana no namae mo shirazu ni
chi ni ochita tori wa kaze wo machiwabiru
inotta tokoro de nani mo kawaranai
ima wo kaeru no wa tatakau kakugo da

shikabane fumikoete susumu ishi wo warau buta yo
kachiku no an’nei kyogi no han’ei
shiseru garou no jiyuu wo!

torawareta kutsujoku wa han’geki no koushi da
jouheki no sono kanata emono wo hofuru jäger
hotobashiru shoudou ni sono mi wo yakinagara
tasogare ni hi wo ugatsu guren’ no yumiya

As usual this isn’t much help to me since I don’t read Japanese or understand it at all. Interestingly enough finding good English translations of the lyrics was very difficult. I found so many variations, it was quite confusing at first. Eventually I realized what was wrong. Many of the translations weren’t true translations, they weren’t meant to reflect what was being said, they were meant to be sung, in the same tune as the original Japanese lyrics. This is something I am no stranger to, I do the same normally when I translate songs that someone wants to sing with the same tune. But a faithful translation is lost in this process, because what may actually take 10 words to say, it reimagined in a very different way in order to say something kind of similar in five words. This often leads to a shifting in metaphors and imagery as one moves to find the most appropriate but efficient way to say something.

Here are the English lyrics that I settled upon, which matched closely the official translation that the show would use in its English subtitled.

Sie sind das Essen und wir sind die Jager!

Our names won't be remembered
If we die like trampled flowers
I refuse to be forgotten
Written off as less than worthless

Scream and cry
But none will hear you
Plead and beg
But none will help you
You no longer live as cattle
Will you rise and join the battle?

There are beings that live off of fears
And their words are like knives
As they play with our lives
They'll try to control you
As if they own you
Will you let them steal your freedom?

Channel the anger swelling inside you
Fighting the boundary 'till you break through
Deep in your soul there's no hesitation
So make yourself the one they all fear

There is a wild fire inside you
Burning desire you can't extinguish
Your crimson arrow
Rips through the twilight
This is the moment for war

Here is the Chamorro translation I came up with. Which in some ways fits faithfully with the original, but in others takes things in a new direction. Sometimes it is reducing the number of subjects or objects in a thought to make it simpler. Sometimes it is changing it to something in Chamorro that would be more commonly used instead of simply translating the English idiom.


Kao hita i kinenne’? Ahe’ hita i kekenne’.

Siempre maleffa i na’ån-ta
Anggen matai kulang flores magacha’
Lao Guahu ti bei sedi este
Na mayute’ hit sin båli

Essalao yan kate
Lao ni hayi u hungok este
Fanggagao gi dimu-mu
Lao hayi pau ayudu?
I mangekematai na poyitos?
Kao para un tachu yan mumu?

Ma kakanno’ i ma’a’ñao-ta (li’hån-ta)
Ya i kuentos-niha kalang sapbla siha
Manhugagando ni lina’la’-ta
Ma kekehoske hit
Ma fa’iyon-ñiñiha hit
Kao para un sedi i sinakke’ i libre-ta?

Sotta i binibun-miyu
Esta ki un yamak i chi-mu
I minatatnga gi korason-mu
Sina muna’fanlu’han todu

Enao na guafi gi sanhalom-mu
Ti chaguayon na minaipe
I agaga’ na acho’ atupåt-mu
Ha chachak i trankilun långhet
Måtto på’go i gerå-ta

Some notes for my Chamorro. Most Chamorros use “sapble” for sword, borrowed from the Spanish word. For some reason, my grandmother used the word “sapbla” at times and so this is what I ended up learning and use til this day.

The first line is often translated to, “Our we the prey? No, we are the hunters!” In Chamorro this presents an interesting possibility. In English there isn’t a close etymological relationship between hunter and prey in the same way you find between interviewer and interviewee. In Chamorro there are several options for expressing this. I ended up going with “konne’” and using it in two different ways. Konne’ means the take a human somewhere, but when used for lower creatures such as animals it means to catch. Kinenne’ in most cases is translated to “catch” or literally the thing that was caught. “Kao Hita i kinenne’?” means “Are we the thing that was/is caught?” From here there is a choice. Most people would then use “peskådot” to mean “hunter.” I preferred to use something that had a connection to the word konne’, two options were kumokonne’ and kekenne’. The first means “the one who is doing the catching” the second means “the one that catches.” I chose kekenne’ although it is not commonly used, because it fit better in the rhythm of the line.

The prefix “e-“ which is used to indicate someone who hunts or looks for something, but I would this cumbersome to use for this song, and dedicated to go with the above instead.

And as usual, now we take what was translated from English to Chamorro and translate it back into English to see what we have come up with.

Are we the catch? No we are the one that catches!

Our names will surely be forgotten
If we die like stepped on flowers
For me I will not allow this
That we get thrown away without value

Scream and cry
But no one will here this
Beg while you kneel
But who will offer help?
The chickens about to die?
Or will you stand and fight?

They are eating our fear
And their words are like blades
They are playing with our lives
They are trying to oppress us
They are pretending we belong to them
Will you allow the theft of our freedom?

Release your rage
Until you break your limits
The bravery in your heart
Can make them all afraid

That fire inside you
A flame that cannot be extinguishes
Your red sling stone
It cuts the silent sky
Our war has now arrived


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