X-Men advertisers make giant billboard misstep

June 5, 2016


CBC reports that Toronto wound up with several of these brainless billboards advertising the newest of the X-Men franchise.

So we have here a giant armoured up dude strangling the crap out of a dainty naked lady. My trim/enlargement of CBC’s photo is blurred a bit but the bit of writing beside Apocalypse reads “Only the strong will survive.” Now, I know Mystique’s power is chameleon-like and can change herself to look like anyone. Does the change include duplication of the powers and strength as well or is she kind of, well, fucked here?

Maybe the advertisers honestly thought, “let’s show Mystique at the brink of doom because people love Jennifer Lawrence and will worry about her character and buy tickets to the show to see how she gets out of this/how she’s rescued by all the awesome X-Men!”

Maybe the advertisers honestly never noticed what message they wind up suggesting here — men being stronger so weaker people (read:women) should be crushed by stronger men because only the strong should survive.

That’s the only message getting seen by people already concerned about the violent treatment of women already inherent in our society.

Nneka MacGregor, executive director of Women at the Centre [a non-profit charity focused on violence against women], said six billboards in different locations around Toronto were pointed out to her, prompting her to send an email to the film company.

“We were really worried about the use of that image,” she told CBC News. “It’s not the type of stuff you should be advertising.”

Fox has since apologized for the severe lapse of judgement and is replacing the ads with new promotional material.

CBC notes that some think “fake outrage” blows this thing way out of proportion, but I don’t think so. I think the backlash is just the latest example of people realizing we need to change they way we advertise things. Methods that were expected and acceptable before are less so now.



It’s called progress. There are better ways to advertise the film’s adversary and advertisers should have chosen something better than this in the first place.

Fox added that it “would never condone violence against women.”

Actual violence against women, I suppose they mean. Movie violence is kind of their bread and butter, and if it’s women characters getting hit, at least they’re in a position to hit back. We won’t see an X-Men film where the heroes and villains match wits in a zesty game of Chess instead. Oh wait, we did — Magneto and Xavier played a game when Mags was in that plastic prison. Nevermind…

There’s often debate on whether violent games and shows create violent people – a 2014 study says no – but there’s no debate on the fact that we have a society where women are often targets for violence by men and, unlike X-Men female characters, lack the mutant badassery to kick ass and defend themselves on equal physical footing and/or lay waste to their enemies.

I’ll probably wind up seeing the film because I’ve watched all the other ones. But, I’ll watch it for free when my local library buys it. Not because of this advertising flak; I’m just cheap. I don’t go to a lot of cinema shows anymore so when I do it needs to be money well spent.


Atheist scruples 2014 – hey “old man”

October 5, 2014

This was in my list of search terms for some random reason.

should i permit my 12 yr. old granddaughter to call me “old man” instead of grandpa?

I see many possibly answers here and they all depend on how much people want words to matter.

If this kid wants to call him “old man”, perhaps he should start calling her Princess Fartface or something equally stupid. She’ll either find it hilarious, or she’ll start getting annoyed.

This can be used as a jumping off point to a lesson in respect, remind her that “old man” isn’t a respectful way to address a grandparent, even when it’s true.

The other option is to just be cool and roll with it. Maybe it’s just a phase and she’ll grow out of it. If not, I guess you also have to ask yourself if it’s truly something to get bothered over. Maybe it’s meant as a gesture of respect, albeit one that might not make a bunch of sense as the old man in the scenario, but so it goes.

We really enjoy watching Community around here and in many of the commentaries the actors, writers and directors talk about Chevy Chase, who played Pierce on the show, and his consistent lack of understanding elements of the plot, jokes, and random lines he’d be set to deliver. Pierce was also a character frequently confused and out of touch with everyone. Chevy left the show due to artistic differences (to be polite about it).

“[Chevy is] a befuddled old man, but he’s also the guy who calls you to his trailer and shakes the script in the air and says: ‘I’m not a befuddled old man! I’m sexy! I could be the star of this show! I’m not gay. You’re writing me as if I’m gay,’ ” says Harmon, noting that he’d use Chase’s outbursts as story fodder. “I’d say to him, ‘Do you understand that what you’re saying is funny and it makes an interesting character?’ He would kind of blink and stare at me and go, ‘Whatever, I just don’t think it’s funny.’ “

And Pierce’s lack of tact and understanding would be a running joke between characters, which probably served more to annoy Chase rather than pacify him, too. But the “old white man says” Twitter feed is still pretty funny.

So, to finish up, times change fast and etiquette is having a hard time keeping up. Sayings and types of behaviour we find funny these days may baffle, alarm, or irritate our elders in ways that seem baffling, alarming or irritating to the one trying to make the joke.


Black Jesus haters: The best opinion is the uninformed opinion

August 8, 2014

First, I quote:

Monica Cole, director of One Million Moms, said the show is “blasphemous, irreverent and disrespectful.” Her group is basing its criticisms on the show’s YouTube trailer, which shows Jesus using explicit language and includes violence and drinking.

She, like other critics, hasn’t seen a full episode yet.

Okay, there’s the trailer. He swears a lot, likes getting high and won’t share his wine. He’s loved by some and persecuted by others. Some believe he is what he says he is, others think he’s a crackpot cult leader. He’s a man of the people in every way and looks like he’s willing to change minds if those minds are open to change.

I was quoting from a Christianheadlines.com article. I have no idea how popular Adult Swim is. The series premiered last night, late at night, and whoever felt like watching it watched it and those that felt like watching something else or sleeping did that instead.

There should be freedom of choice in entertainment and there should be freedom of choice when it comes to religion and the freedom to mock the ideas within them. We are not all the same and I don’t think we could be. This show showcases a culture I’m unfamiliar with and one the women of One Million Moms have likely never experienced either.

They’re also forgetting that, if he existed, Jesus wasn’t a white man with long flowing blondish hair.

Maybe it could be considered blasphemy to think you even have any idea what the man looked like. It’s not like he was ever described in the Bible. The authors never met him. Blasphemy is one of those ideas that should have been left in the middle ages.

Back to the article:

In a statement, Adult Swim said “Black Jesus is a satire and one interpretation of the message of Jesus played out in modern day morality tales; and despite what some may consider a controversial depiction of Jesus, it is not the intent to offend any race or people of faith.”

One Million Moms and the American Family Association, which have previously targeted Honey Maid graham crackers,the Disney Channel show “Good Luck Charlie” and JC Penney for gay-friendly messages, have launched a campaign asking people to send an email to the Turner Broadcasting Co. to pull the show before it airs. Supporters have sent more than 131,000 emails, according to the AFA.

Honey Maid, if you don’t remember (I didn’t), ran a #Thisiswholesome campaign and featured a gay family in one of their ads. One Million Moms didn’t like how Honey Maid was “changing the meaning of the word ‘wholesome'” and urged people to write the companies.

Please send U.S. key executives for Honey Maid and Nabisco (owned by Mondelez International) an email urging them to pull this liberal commercial immediately and remain neutral in the culture war.

Yeah, it’s quite a culture war between Teddy Graham lovers and people who’d rather eat Triscuits. Thousands of lives lost needlessly. Nabisco happens to own both and probably doesn’t care much which one gets the money…

Has anyone from Sesame Street actually come out to say Ernie and Bert were gay?

July 12, 2014

I agree, their lifestyle was a little weird. Who expects sheep to dance one’s self to sleep anyway? I don’t blame Bert one bit. Fuck! Ernie! Fucking hell!

Bert even says, “Not again…”

Oh, not the bugle…

Christian bakers got into a bit of a fix when they didn’t want to make and Ernie/Bert themed cake advertising gay marriage.

The McArthur family, who own Belfast-based Ashers Baking Company, decided against fulfilling an order from LGBT activist Gareth Lee who wanted a cake decorated with the words “Support Gay Marriage”.

The cake was also to be emblazoned with characters Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street locked in an embrace, along with the logo for QueerSpace – a campaign group for LGBT rights.

Though the order was originally accepted by shop staff, the management later decided to withdraw from the agreement on grounds of religious beliefs and Karen McArthur, who owns the company with her husband, Colin, phoned Lee to explain and offer a refund.

Just less than two months later, watchdog Equality Commission sent the McArthurs a letter accusing them of discrimination, and the family now face a legal battle in court.

Okay, fine. Your place of business, your right to refuse business.

“Imagine the uproar if the Equality Commission said that an environmentally-conscious baker had to produce a cake saying ‘Support fracking?’ Or if they threatened a feminist bakery for refusing to print a ‘Sharia for UK’ cake?” he said.

That’s a quote from Colin Hart of the Christian Institute, who may not be their lawyer, but is certainly on their side.

“Millions of ordinary people who do not agree with gay marriage, face intimidation and the real threat of legal action from the forces of political correctness if they, out of conscience, decline to provide goods or services to campaign groups they do not agree with or support.

“It establishes a dangerous precedent about the power of the state over an individual or business to force them to go against their deeply held beliefs.”

While I’m not a fan of Huff-Po generally, they had a very good list recently: How to Determine if Your Religious Liberty is being Questioned in 10 Quick Questions. Like this one.

2. My religious liberty is at risk because:

A) I am not allowed to marry the person I love legally, even though my religious community blesses my marriage.
B) Some states refuse to enforce my own particular religious beliefs on marriage on those two guys in line down at the courthouse.

If you’re answering mostly A’s then you have a case for attacks on religious liberty. If you’re answering mostly B’s, then you’re being a grouch and,

there is a strong chance that you are oppressing the religious liberties of others. This is the point where I would invite you to refer back to the tenets of your faith, especially the ones about your neighbors.

As in, love thy.

The bulk of the “don’t do’s” in the Bible came about from people wanting to differentiate themselves from the pagans and other religious nutsos of the time. We want to be our kind of nutso… don’t do what those other nutsos do. Don’t lie with men. Don’t eat shrimp. Don’t wear mixed fabrics…

Funny how only some of the don’ts really made it through to present day civilization…

Here we are now, entertain us

July 7, 2014

I found an interesting article out of the Guardian this week. Psychologists at Virginia and Harvard universities reported on the results of several recent studies that were geared toward testing people on their ability to occupy themselves with no distractions. Early results showed clearly that it ain’t easy for everyone. They tried this with college students first.

The first run of experiments began with students being ushered – alone, without phones, books or anything to write with – into an unadorned room and told to think. The only rules were they had to stay seated and not fall asleep. They were informed – specifically, or vaguely – that they would have six to 15 minutes alone.

When questioned after, on average (no number given for number of students tested) they found it unfun and difficult to concentrate on anything in particular.

Unsure if their results were the result of people put in unfamiliar settings, they reran the tests with people at home instead and found that many participants still rated the experience as “miserable” and some resorted to cheating.

To see if the effect was found only in students, the scientists recruited more than 100 people, aged 18-77, from a church and a farmers’ market. They too disliked being left to their thoughts.

So, the researchers tried something else. Time alone with no distractions save one “shocker” — an actual low-intensity shock they could give themselves. It’s not clear if they only tested students this way or the general public as well. In terms of the students:

They had been asked earlier to rate how unpleasant the shocks were, alongside other options, such as looking at pictures of cockroaches or hearing the sound of a knife rubbing against a bottle.

All the students picked for the test said they would pay to avoid mild electric shocks after receiving a demonstration.

To the researchers’ surprise, 12 of 18 men gave themselves up to four electric shocks, as did six of 24 women.

And some that first claimed they’d avoid the shock if given the choice chose the shock anyway once left on their own.

They include a link to Science Magazine and their larger write-up about this. Check it out if you’re a subscriber or check if your local library has this issue available: Science 4 July 2014:Vol. 345 no. 6192 pp. 75-77.

Jessica Andrews-Hanna at the University of Colorado said many students would probably zap themselves to cheer up a tedious lecture. But she says more needs to be known about the motivation of the shockers in Wilson’s study.

Which brings me to my thoughts on this.

I don’t think I’d have to resort to shocking myself if left in an empty room for fifteen minutes and, based on data provided in the article, many of the participants didn’t either. But those who did, what was their motivation? Did curiosity drive them to zap themselves, or were they so incapable of being alone with their thoughts that minor jolts of pain were preferable to feeling or doing nothing? And those who reported being unhappy or miserable but didn’t relieve the monotony with electrocution — why were they unhappy and miserable?

A back in time story since I can’t think of a current anecdote:

One summer during university I’d let peer pressure lure me into joining the Naval Reserves (a longer story I’m not sharing right now) and did a few weeks of basic training in Nova Scotia but I kept getting hurt. On one injured occasion my group was busy with some physical exertion somewhere on base and I was left alone in the gym’s locker room. I recall killing time by laying on the bench and singing to myself, seeing if I could remember all the words to the songs on Spirit of the West’s “Save This House” album which was my favourite at the time. That occupied me for a while. I also wanted to go Home for a Rest, the title of one of the tracks on there. (I also remember noticing for the first time that I could feel my hip bones. The things you discover when you have only yourself for company.)

The origin of the phrase “left to your own devices” predates devices like iPhones, tablets, and even television and while I can’t speak for the world as a whole, it can feel like local culture seems to be leaning toward a society where people have forgotten how to entertain themselves when no other entertainment is provided beforehand.

Not to be a hypocrite, mind you. These days I usually have my iPod running with a podcast when I take the bus or go for a walk rather than simply focus on the sights around me for the duration. But, that’s educational entertainment and potential blog fodder. That’s me using my time to best advantage. That’s me maybe making excuses.

I dunno. Thoughts? Think you’d prefer a shock than sit in a room with nothing to do? Sometimes I feel that way at work…

Reading Billy Graham’s mail again

August 10, 2011

It’s been a while since I did that. In fact, it’s been so long, I’m doing two.

Kids will be heading off to school again soon and Billy Graham is offering up his brand of “useful” advice for when whey they get there, be it grade school or grad school. First letter:

I’ll probably be in college when you get this, and to be honest I’m scared to death. I’m not worried about the classwork because I’ve always been a fairly good student. But I’m shy and have a hard time making friends, which worries me. How can I get over this? — S.L.

Before I get to Graham, I’ll give S.L the advice my grade 12 class was given by the daughter of our physics teacher who’d just finished her first year of university. In every class, just go ahead and introduce yourself to the people sitting around you. It’s the easiest way to make friends. And you get the added bonus of having people to get notes from if you have to miss that class for any reason someday. Of course this plot fails on the days when all of you ditch the class in exchange for a coffee fix, but no plan is perfect.

If it’s a residence you’ll be living in, there will be roommates or people in your dorm that you’ll take a shine to easier than you might expect and make more that way. There’s also the option of checking out clubs and organizations on campus if you can add any into your schedule. If you wind up having to work somewhere while you study, you’ll make friends easy enough there, too, once you feel relaxed enough to open up around them.

I used to think I was shy and friend-deprived, too, but I’ve since realized that all I really need are a couple good ones and I’m good to go. Maybe you’re a little like me.

Does Graham provide any advice that useful? His response to this letter is titled: “At college, seek out other Christians on campus” and here’s what he writes in addition to that:

You’ve probably discovered that people can be quite different from one another — and one of the ways they’re different is in their personality. Some are bold and outgoing; others (like you) are shy and retiring (and most of us are somewhere in between). Don’t, therefore, go through life wishing you were someone else.

Does this mean you shouldn’t try to break out of your shell and become more outgoing? No, of course not. Not only would you miss out on many of life’s good experiences, but you’d also miss the opportunity to be a friend to people who need your help and encouragement.

And with God’s help you can change. That’s why the most important step you can take is to commit your life to Jesus Christ. Turn your fears over to him, and ask him to help you overcome the negative side of your shyness.

Seek out other Christians on your campus. Not only will their fellowship help you spiritually, but their friendship will also help you socially.

Here’s the thing. The advice S.L. is given doesn’t encourage him or her to get to know people who are actually different beyond mere personality. Unless S.L. is stuck at a Christian college, there’s no sensible reason to limit one’s potential circle of friends to one particular group of people. By doing that S.L. would definitely miss out on many of life’s good experiences. New foods. New music. Hobbies and games. Cultural differences. College should be the ultimate eye-opening experience, not “everything just as it’s always been.” The whole point of going is to learn new things, isn’t it? What new can you learn if you don’t risk exposure to different thought processes and ways of life?

Shake the tree of life on which you hung every assumption and see what falls away. Doing so will make room for something better to grow there, I guarantee it. Befriend a Buddhist. Pal around with pagans. Meet some Muslims. Approach a known atheist. Hell, seek out the satanists if you care to or match wits with the witches. They could be a fun bunch for all you know.

But not if you go by Billy Graham, of course. Sucks to be so limiting.

Letter two speaks of limitations of a different kind, our inability to contact deceased loved ones:

My aunt raised me, and when she died last year I felt like a part of me had died with her. Now, a friend of mine says she knows someone who can put me in contact with her spirit. I guess I’ve always been suspicious of such things, but why shouldn’t I give it a try?

Because it’s pure hokum and psychics exist to sell you a lie you’ll believe can make you feel better. Honestly, it’s really no different from Graham and his ilk repackaging the concept of heaven every week and selling it to you, yet again, for the great low price of your tithe or donation. Does thinking about it every day make it more real, or does the constant craving for a heavenly future just reflect the desperation people feel in their daily lives when there seems to be no relief on the visible horizon?

Why do I urge you to stay away from this person? The reason is because at best you’ll be throwing your money away, since her supposed powers may well be fraudulent. But at worst, you could find yourself becoming involved with occult spiritual powers that are opposed to God and can only deceive you and hurt you. The Bible is clear: “no one be found among you … who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead” (Deuteronomy 18:10,11).

He was doing well at the start. I think the majority of Christians get around the “consulting the dead” thing simply by pretending Jesus isn’t. Like so:

Most of all, however, my prayer is that you will open your heart and life to Jesus Christ. He came to give us peace — peace with God, peace with each other, and peace within our hearts. Discover his peace by giving your life to Him today.

In order to do that, he’d have to be around in some way to receive it. Is he really, or is this just a pleasant fiction believers buy into to make themselves feel better? Aren’t those who pray to Mary or the Saints also guilty of “spiritist” activity? It’s defined as “The belief that the dead communicate with the living” so anyone who thinks a biblical figure, martyr, or relative is capable of guiding them from heaven must be guilty of it, too. Therefore, anyone who thinks Jesus is, is also guilty.

Funny how that one gets a diplomatic pass when it comes time to warn people about the dangers of being deceived, though, eh?

British Humanists want accurate census

March 4, 2011

and are hoping those who fill out their census information later this month take extra care when they get to the lines about religion. They’ve got a site up to promote their project (The Census Campaign) and I quote from British Humanist Association in October:

Announcing the new campaign, BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson said, ‘There were more Jedis than Jews counted in the 2001 census, but just as inaccurate a result was the conclusion that 77% of us are religious and only 15% of us are not. These misleading statistics are used to support policies that entrench religious privilege and increase discrimination on grounds of religion in our society and it is vital that the 2011 census results in accurate data for that reason alone.

‘The flawed wording and the positioning of the religion question in the Census in the context of ethnicity encourages people to respond as if they have a religion, and especially over-inflates the “Christian” category. People are counted as Christians who may never have been in a church, who don’t believe in god and who, if asked, “Do you have a religion?” would say, “No”.

The signs and banners they wanted to put up to state their concerns were going to read, “If you’re not religious for God’s sake say so” but according to Independent, that wording has now been changed to “Not religious? In this year’s census, say so” which is a better way to make their case, if you ask me. It’s less goofy and more straight forward and doesn’t make it look like god might actually exist to swear by.

The Carrick Gazette reports that starting today bus ads will be up in

London, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham, Cardiff and Exeter.

Three posters planned for display at railway stations with the original wording have been refused by companies owning the advertising space who viewed them as too likely to cause offence and will now be circulated online, the BHA said.

Andrew Copson, BHA chief executive, said: “This censorship of a legitimate advert is frustrating and ridiculous. The blasphemy laws in England have been abolished but we are seeing the same principle being enforced nonetheless.”

The BHA argues that the result of inaccurate census answers to these religion questions will create misconception over the number of Christians there actually are. The end result of that might be more money earmarked for faith schools and public religious groups. Policy makers, churches and journalists will never take the data and interpret it as merely “an indicator of broad cultural affiliation,” as it’s phrased on their site.

It does start to sound like the questions will be easy to “get wrong” as it were, and rather than get answers that reflect what people think and do today they’ll wind up being answered as what people think they ought to think and do. People shouldn’t think they need to affiliate with a particular religion just because they went to church once. People shouldn’t have to answer in a way that leads them to pick an affiliation if they don’t actually have one. It’d really be interesting to see how that section is worded.

And it turns out that wiccans and pagans are concerned about the wording of this census, too, and for a similar reason. I wonder how many people will put “Druid Network” as their religion this time around.