As an Avril Lavigne fanatic, yesterday was tough. On Monday, Lavigne released the music video for ‘Hello Kitty,’ the worst song on her latest album. It was pretty racist. Okay, it was really racist. And the predictable freight train of chastisement rolled quickly and forcibly through the interwebs on Tuesday. Now it’s Wednesday, and I have nothing to say in defense of Avril.

I mean, the video is genuinely racist. So racist that it’s not racist? I wish. But no. It’s just racist. And although they say all press is good press, it’s difficult to ascertain how this profusion of negative attention will benefit Lavigne. It’s also difficult to ascertain what Avril was going for here. Was she making some sort of political statement by frolicking among a cornucopia of Asian stereotypes? Maybe? Who knows. But with each viewing, I’ve only become increasingly dumbfounded and increasingly impressed by the horror. As a last ditch effort to justify the actions of my knight in shining glitter, I compiled a list of nine things that are less racist than her video. The results were not pretty.

1. Rush Limbaugh — the 63 year-old man who hosts a talk show and gives all conservatives a bad look by regularly likening African American sports figures to thugs and endorsing the term “Halfrican-American.” Limbaugh is decidedly racist, but he is less racist than the ‘Hello Kitty’ music video.

2. Plessy v. Ferguson — the 1896 Supreme Court Case which upheld the legality of racial segregation in public. This is literally the case of racism studied in high schools, but that may change when teachers hear about Avril Lavigne.

3. Julianne Hough’s Halloween costume — the famous actress who wore blackface to dress as a less famous actress at a party. Arguably racist; unarguably less racist than ‘Hello Kitty.’

4. The Office’s ‘Diversity Day’ episode — the collection of scenes wherein Michael Scott applies an assortment of racial stereotypes to the modern workplace. Facially (and farcically) racist, but less so than Avril Lavigne cavorting in a pink cupcake skirt before a row of Asian backup dancers.

5. My Uncle Barry — the man who hasn’t been to a movie theatre since 1997 because “them blacks are too loud in there.” He would probably appreciate Avril’s video.

6. LeBron as King Kong — the Vogue cover which featured LeBron James as a “mad brute” primate and Gisele Bündchen as a classic damsel in distress. This was a sad display of antiquated racism in modern advertising. The ‘Hello Kitty’ video, in contrast, was just sad.

7. Ethnocentrism — the term which describes the concept of judging other cultures based on your own. This is inherently racist, as it requires you to think of your race as superior to others. Of course, Avril’s video is pretty inherently racist as well.

8. Song of the South — the 1946 Disney movie which was so widely rebuked for its racism that Disney stopped selling it in the 1980s. Too racist for Disney, but perhaps not quite racist enough for Avril Lavigne.

9. 1940s propaganda — the series of war advertisements which blatantly urged Americans to view opposing races as inferior. About as racist as it gets. Though, isn’t that what Avril’s doing by mocking Asian culture for three minutes?

We’re quick to label things racist these days. We’re understandably hypersensitive, which, by the way, is a hell of a lot better than being numb to racist propaganda like we were seventy years ago. We’ve come a long way. Today, it’s acceptable to throw racial themes in an audience’s face. Sometimes it can bestow a positive message, like the satire effectuated in The Office ’s ‘Diversity Day.’ Racial satire can highlight racism without making light of stereotypes.

That is not what ‘Hello Kitty’ did. It may have been Avril’s intent, but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. We only care about her intent if we’re her friend. As audience members, our only job is to be influenced by her work of (art?) and to further influence others through the discourse surrounding her (art?). In 2014, no one is being influenced by ‘Hello Kitty.’ It’s racist and stupid and ignorant and worthless. It sucks and it’s terrible, but we don’t have to care about it. Caring about it implies that it matters, and in today’s world, the unintelligible propaganda of ignorant 29 year olds simply does not matter. Does that make it okay? Of course not. No, never. But let’s be thankful we’re not numb to the mass stereotyping intrinsic within the video. Let’s be thankful we can laugh at it. Let’s be thankful that no one’s opinions of Asians are changing, but rather only people’s opinions of Avril Lavigne.

In June, I’ll shamelessly attend an Avril concert. And I’ll shriek like a stereotypical schoolgirl when she sings ‘Complicated’ and ‘Sk8er Boi,’ because I’m not Avril’s friend. I’m merely an audience member who can sing along and enjoy the mostly meaningless lyricism she presents. If and when ‘Hello Kitty’ is performed, I’ll laugh and dance, because the song is stupid and unimportant, and sometimes it’s fun to laugh at dumb things that don’t matter. Now, if I was Avril’s friend — if I did know her on a personal level, and care about the person she is and not just her music — then I would immediately ask what the fuck is going on. TC mark

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I don't mind
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I always root for happy endings. I love them so much that when they are not provided I feel like I have been cheated. This is why I hated The Hunger Games, and why I originally hated How I Met Your Mother’s ending. I, for one, wanted the happy ending, with Robin making it work with Barney, and Ted finally having his perfect relationship with “The One.” But despite that initial anger, frustration, and disbelief, I’m starting to think that HIMYM’s finale was the much needed wake up call that we had not asked for, but required.

And yet, there’s nothing more bittersweet (or inappropriate, actually) than a forced happy ending. Like Carrie and Big from Sex and the City ending up together. Everything was wrong on so many levels with that relationship. The author, Candace Bushnell, has even admitted that she gave us this ending just to please us. Or like Harry Potter actually surviving the tearing up of his soul in that last fight with Voldemort. Harry should have died and not married Ginny (or Hermione, for that matter, which is apparently what JK Rowling now seems to wish had happened).

It is time we stop believing that happy endings are a finishing line where it all works out. I know, you’re going to say that the Disney movies you’ve been watching since you were a toddler have taught you otherwise. I know, you log on to Facebook and Instagram every day and are bombarded with picture perfects moments from all the people you know.

We all wanted for Robin and Barney to end up together. Barney is HIMYM’s best character, and the reason a lot of us continued to watch the show, season after season. Robin — being strong-willed and outspoken, with a working girl vibe — was the character I identified myself with. I desperately wanted her to have a happy ending; for her to have what Marshall and Lily, our favorite couple, have.

In my case, Robin and Barney’s divorce and, particularly, Barney’s relapse, were the most difficult things to watch. It was even harder than learning the mother was going to die. But I would have to kid myself to actually believe that Robin’s relationship with Barney could have worked, and that Barney could actually change. Adults don’t change. They improve, they worsen, but they do not change. And we’ve known for a long time that it wasn’t raining, it was pouring on Barney’s and Robin’s wedding day, and if you’ve read A Storm of Swords (i.e., the third installment of A Song of Ice and Fire) or, if you’re a TV viewer, watched the last season of Game of Thrones, you know that rainstorms on weddings, at least in fiction, are deadly premonitions. (You can hum “The Rains of Castamere” now.)

Enter Ted (God, I’ve always hated Ted). He is the most pathetic character in the history of sitcoms. He was a pest, he was childish, he was whiny, he was needy. He drove us all nuts with his constant searching of “The One”. Yet in our hearts of hearts we wanted him to meet the mother. And, yes, the mother was a spectacular woman and I adored their perfect first conversation at the Farhampton Train Station platform.

We already knew the mother was going to die; the show had dropped sufficient hints before the finale. Yes, it was cynical, because we had not watched eight seasons to be forced to cope with death in the finale of a comedy, for heaven’s sake. Yes, it was wrong that they killed her off in seconds and, yes, the show makers could have handled the whole situation differently. But, hey, maybe that’s how life is, just full of good and bad surprises.

Because even if you are fortunate enough to find “The One”, throw a spectacular wedding after a wonderful courtship and engagement, have two wonderful kids, someday, I grant you, your marriage is going to end. Maybe with an annulment, a divorce… or with death. Because unless you are Allie and Noah (in the Hollywood version of The Notebook, not the book’s), you are not going to die together, at the same time. And it’s going to be ugly. It’s going to be cruel. You will cry, you will suffer, and you will even feel like they have ripped your heart out from your body.

I know you want to see life through rose colored glasses. But please, take a moment and look back on you own life. It has not always been a joyride, where everything is fun and pretty. Life has thrown you down, but you have already picked yourself up thousands of times, probably with the support of your loved ones. Life is hard. But it is worth it, and you know it. And what makes it worthy is not the destination, like you’ve heard a million times. It’s the journey. So focus on being happy every step of the way, instead of on the “happy ending”.

But at the end, maybe we should love the plot more than the dénouement. After all, it’s the story we love — the ending is just one piece of that puzzle. TC mark

featured image – How I Met Your Mother

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Reading is dreaming with open eyes.
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You never call when you should and I never sleep when I should. Our inability to follow norms complements because when my phone vibrates at 2am, I know it’s you and you know I’m awake. 

Before I can mutter a tired hello, I am greeted by the sound of your tears. Instantly I am on edge, because when you cry, a piece of my heart dies. You sob and you sob, and I am breaking on my end, thinking of ways to fix you, heal you because that’s what friends do. I ask you the useless questions of are you okay? what’s wrong? but we both know the answers to such questions, we both know why you are crying, we both know it’s because of him.

Doesn’t this tire you, this routine of self-destruction? He does something or rather nothing, you bear and bear until you crack. You cry and cry until you’ve washed away your built up frustration. You empty yourself from momentary sadness and then lie to yourself and U-turn right back in his direction.

Love isn’t supposed to hurt, not like this anyway. He isn’t a variable of pain; no, he is a constant assembly line of sorrow.

Stephen Chbosky spoke no truer words when he said, we accept the love we think we deserve. Has your self-worth really degraded this much? You retort, you reply, you cry: but I’m being the brave girl you told me to be, I’m being the girl who went after what she wanted. By all means, be her. But your wants are misguided. Your objectives aren’t high enough, your standards aren’t at par.

Because when I said, be the brave girl, I implied be a smart, brave girl. Respect yourself enough to know the recipient of your chase should be fucking worth your time. Write your happily ever after with someone who makes you laugh more often than cry. Because everyone will make you cry and hurt you, but the key is finding someone who will give you more sunshine than rain. We get enough of the latter in this city anyway.

I couldn’t tell you this on the phone, I couldn’t catch a pause in your sobs so I’m writing it here instead. The boy you deserve will open doors, literally and figuratively. He will have the grace and charm of a mature adult and not the idiocy of a horny child. He will teach you new things, new bands to discover, new books to read. He will speak with actual words and not the lingo of a disenfranchised boy whose pants are too low. His pants will be on properly, he will wear actual clothing. He will know what common decency is. He will drive you even when you don’t ask, and if he doesn’t have a car, he’ll be your companion on a late night commute back home. He won’t text a meager few words every few weeks, his conversations will be grammatically correct and far more frequent. In fact, he will call because he isn’t a coward who hides behind the accessibility of technology. He will make the effort to call because he will want to hear your voice, a voice that is sweet and melodious like the nightingale. He will be sweet, he will be kind, but he won’t be perfect. He will be awkward at times, but in the adorable sense. He will be shy but only because he likes you that much. And he won’t just like you, he will love you, and actually mean it.

Listen to me when I say, you deserve such a boy. All you must do is believe it and have the courage to fix the status quo and throw out the trash for once. Stop settling, stop accepting and start expecting. Expect someone better, someone worthy of a girl like you. Trust me when I say, you’re worth the adoration, you’re worth it. TC mark

featured image – super awesome

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I never understood the logic of the term, “losing your virginity.” What is there to be lost? Why is a “V-card” an object that we have and somehow by having sex we lose that precious, irreplaceable possession?

If anything, it’s an experience you gain.

Somehow there is always a negative connotation when someone asks, “You lost your virginity to him?”

Sex is a beautiful thing. There is nothing to be “lost” by having sex with someone for the first time. (Granted that you are having sex because you are ready and not for extraneous things such as peer pressure or insecurity)

I’m not advocating that you should simply have your first time with anyone- but that there shouldn’t be this notion that you are losing a part of yourself to that person, or that he/she suddenly owns a part of you. Using the phrase, “lost my virginity”, to address your first sexual encounter only leads to unneeded sentimental attachment to that partner.

Once we let go of the idea that a “virginity” is a part of us that we give up, the tension and anxiety that surrounds having sex for the first time with someone we care about will lighten. And so, we can enjoy gaining these experiences instead of fretting over “losing” a part of ourselves that doesn’t actually exist. TC mark

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I made this edit myself
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Frank Herbert, the celebrated author of the Dune series. If you haven’t read Dune yet, I suggest you do. Do not watch the movie! (Some authors to read: Larry Niven, Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, and William Gibson)
Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty. Chapterhouse: Dune
There is no escape—we pay for the violence of our ancestors. Dune
Truth suffers from too much analysis. Dune Messiah
What do you despise? By this are you truly known. Dune
Hope clouds observation. Dune
Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. Dune
The mind can go either direction under stress—toward positive or toward negative: on or off. Think of it as a spectrum whose extremes are unconsciousness at the negative end and hyperconsciousness at the positive end. The way the mind will lean under stress is strongly influenced by training. Dune
Do actions agree with words? There’s your measure of reliability. Never confine yourself to the words. Chapterhouse: Dune
The purpose of argument is to change the nature of truth. Children of Dune
Empires do not suffer emptiness of purpose at the time of their creation. It is when they have become established that aims are lost and replaced by vague ritual. Dune Messiah
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain. Dune
The child who refuses to travel in the father’s harness, this is the symbol of man’s most unique capability. “I do not have to be what my father was. I do not have to obey my father’s rules or even believe everything he believed. It is my strength as a human that I can make my own choices of what to believe and what not to believe, of what to be and what not to be. Children of Dune
It is so shocking to find out how many people do not believe that they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult. Dune
The mind commands the body and it obeys. The mind orders itself and meets resistance. Dune
Most civilisation is based on cowardice. It’s so easy to civilize by teaching cowardice. You water down the standards which would lead to bravery. You restrain the will. You regulate the appetites. You fence in the horizons. You make a law for every movement. You deny the existence of chaos. You teach even the children to breathe slowly. You tame. God Emperor of Dune
Survival is the ability to swim in strange water. Dune
Power attracts the corruptible. Suspect any who seek it. Chapterhouse: Dune
If you need something to worship, then worship life – all life, every last crawling bit of it! We’re all in this beauty together! Dune Messiah
The flesh surrenders itself. Eternity takes back its own. Our bodies stirred these waters briefly, danced with a certain intoxication before the love of life and self, dealt with a few strange ideas, then submitted to the instruments of Time. What can we say of this? I occurred. I am not…yet, I occurred. Dune Messiah
The surest way to keep a secret is to make someone think they already know the answer. Heretics of Dune
Highly organized research is guaranteed to produce nothing new. Dune
Face your fears or they will climb over your back. Chapterhouse: Dune
Show me a completely smooth operation and I’ll show you someone who’s covering mistakes. Real boats rock. Chapterhouse: Dune
The truth always carries the ambiguity of the words used to express it. God Emperor of Dune
He who controls the spice controls the universe. Dune TC mark

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