You Scratch My Media, I’ll Scratch Yours: Yin-Yanging in the Digital/Cable Age

“So should I join Facebook?” The Mate mused a few weeks ago.

I was startled. “You?! Why?”

Him: Well, you do seem awfully caught up on things like babies and hospitalizations and retirements and stuff. I always have to find out from you what all our friends are going through.

Me: Exactly! You find out from me! So what would you need to join for? It’s perfectly obvious to me that Facebook would drive you mad with its stupid advertising, not to mention all its bells and whistles which even I can barely keep up with. You think I want to listen to you grousing about that?

[That last part was unspoken, you understand.]

Him: Yeah, guess you’re right. You can keep doing my Facebooking for me.

Which, it occurred to me the other day, is only fair, because The Mate does my Lamestream Media-ing for me. I can’t abide TV news in this day and age–sorry, my heart will always belong to Walter Cronkite. When Al-Jazeera America was on, I watched that pretty happily, mostly because they were so shunned by U.S. advertisers that most of their ads were for their own programming. But CNN? MSNBC? Faux “News”? No, no, and NO. Too much snark. Too much slant–even when it’s a direction I agree with, I don’t like feeling the bias. And WAY too much focus on stupid stuff, like Donald Trump rallies, than on real stuff, like what the hell is going on in Venezuela anyway?

(Orig. photo courtesy Wikimedia)

(Orig. photo courtesy Wikimedia)

But I do appreciate knowing what’s going on. NPR only covers so much, and I only have the radio on occasionally, like when I’m making dinner or driving to town during the hours of Morning Edition or All Things Considered. [Given my 4 a.m.-1 p.m. work hours, that doesn’t happen very often.]

Enter The Mate. He watches CNN and MSNBC daily, during his morning and afternoon workouts. (Also a lot of ESPN, which can sometimes get pretty political in itself.) Thus…

Me: [arriving home from work mid-afternoon] Hey, babe, how’s the world been going today?

Him: Well, the House and Senate passed Zika virus funding bills, but they don’t match up, so they’re going to conference. And Puerto Rico’s still broke. And there was a big plane crash in Egypt. And…

Me: [thinking about all the advertising, snark and slant I didn’t have to expose myself to]: Ahhhh….

So here’s to Media Buddies. A whole new definition of marriage. 🙂

 

 

 

Hunted: Why My Book Would Be Banned in Russia

If you’ve been paying the slightest attention, you would know that Russia is not a good place to be gay right now. If you have any doubts, Ben Steele’s documentary, Hunted: The War on Gays in Russia, clears those doubts right up.

I’m not going to post the trailer of that film here. It’s too disturbing. Go to the official website to see for yourself. But here is the synopsis:

In modern-day Russia, where it is estimated that just 1% of the LGBT population lives completely openly, a recent anti-gay amendment to a “propaganda” law has triggered a rising number of assaults on gay men and women by vigilantes who, more often than not, go unpunished for their crimes.

Directed by Ben Steele, the startling expose HUNTED: THE WAR AGAINST GAYS IN RUSSIA looks at this climate of hostility. Matt Bomer (Emmy® nominee for HBO’s “The Normal Heart”) narrates.

Homosexuality was legalized in Russia 21 years ago, but gay people in the country have yet to win mainstream acceptance. In fact, attitudes in Russia appear to be moving backwards. With jobs and relationships at risk if their sexual orientation is exposed, most gay Russians remain closeted. As one gay man who lost sight in one eye during a recent unprovoked attack says ruefully, “Hunting season is open…and we are the hunted.”
HUNTED: THE WAR AGAINST GAYS IN RUSSIA features disturbing insider footage of homophobic Russians who, in the name of morality or religion, beat and torment gay people, posting graphic videos of their encounters online with few or no legal repercussions. These vigilantes see homosexuality as related to pedophilia, stating publicly that their justification for violence is protecting Russia’s children.

images

 

Mainstream US media like MSNBC agree with me, reporting on this phenomenon while choosing not to show the worst images from the documentary. Mainstream US media!

The original law in Russia focused on “practices.” But, according to Wikipedia’s unusually well-documented article on this subject, “The 2013 amendment, which added “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” as a class of harmful content under the law was, according to the Government of Russia, intended to protect children from being exposed to content that portrays homosexuality as being a “behavioral norm”. Emphasis was placed upon a goal to protect “traditional”family values; bill author Yelena Mizulina (the chair of the Duma’s Committee on Family, Women, and Children, who has been described by some as a “moral crusader”),[20][21][2]argued that “traditional” relations between a man and a woman required special protection under Russian law.”

Headwinds is not a book about gays. But two side characters are gay, and this author makes it very clear that sexual orientation, like flying, is a personal characteristic that others have no business trying to stifle.

That would be enough for Putin. Homosexuality a “behavioral norm”??!! I am officially “promoting” the “pedophile lifestyle.” Headwinds would be banned. I could be arrested.

(image by Lanphear Design)

(image by Lanphear Design)

That makes me feel equally proud and sick to my stomach.

Not sure what to do about this, other than what people are doing: keep talking. Keep the lines open. Listen to those on the front lines for their advice on what people who care about their Russian (or, for that matter, Arab, or African, or Asian, or American) neighbors can do to remind people that love is not a crime.

And go see that documentary. Maybe that will give you your own source of inspiration.

Thoughts? I don’t have a specific question here, but I’d like to hear what you have to say at this point, so I’ll stop. Sigh…