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WARNING: This post discusses a song with lyrics that explicitly refer to homosexual sex. In the interest of art criticism, I'll quote when necessary to make my points, but in the interest of my readers, I'll keep those quotes to a minimum. Some of the words, themselves, are very common vulgar terms for male anatomy. As an addendum to my thread on Charles Tew, I am going to provide some thoughts on Rucka's parody music. I'll start with his video entitled "Am I Gay?", which Tew simply called "vile," after watching "about fifteen seconds of it." Before getting into the heart of my critique, I'll note that, literally speaking, the first fifteen seconds are not vile, unless you can find vileness in the first line: "Never been up inside of any man." Maybe that meets your standard for vile language, but keep in mind that this is supposed to be a humorous song about gay sex. Frankly, I'm not that easily disturbed by jokers. The music itself is lifted from Fuel's song "Hemorrhage," which is a rock ballad. So I doubt that Tew finds the music particularly vile. Perhaps he actually made it through the second vocal line, where we do get our first vulgar word for penis: "dick." However, it seems unlikely that this rather mild vulgarity caused him to stop watching, when he endured other, much more foul-mouthed Rucka songs. I'm guessing he simply couldn't stomach the explicit talk about sex, which in the second line is actually about heterosexual sex. It's not until the third line that Rucka begins crudely describing a first, gay sexual encounter. Now, to fully appreciate any work of parody, we should first be familiar with that thing which it parodies. I suggest you take a few minutes to watch Fuel's video. https://youtu.be/ZbHfgXJKn1Y I note that Fuel's music video is ostensibly about a man whose girlfriend nearly bleeds to death in his hands. It's unclear, but I guess she survives at the end, or maybe he was having some thoughts about her hemorrhaging and then realizes that she's okay. It's not a particularly well-formed plot, and the ambiguous lyrics themselves are even less helpful; I won't try to tease out their metaphorical meanings. The video's story imagery is intercut with scenes of the band performing inside a modern building. The music is a sort of lightly distorted, electric guitar-driven rock ballad, starting softly and cleanly, and then building to a more gritty and aggressive chorus. Wikipedia describes their style as post-grunge. Now, if you don't mind gross humor, check out Rucka's parody. https://youtu.be/hB1LVqIcYVo It seems obvious to me that Rucka intended to make fun of the original video and the band. If taken out of this context, it might appear essentially as an R-rated story satirically and vulgarly poking fun at a man who questions his sexuality after having his first gay experience. However, if left in context, we might also detect some actual, parodical elements. To start, it seems like the central question, "Am I Gay?", is aimed at the band Fuel, particularly the male singer, who, in my opinion, does spend a little too much time pressed up against that window glass looking longingly into the camera. There's also his tight clothing, bead necklace, and the hairdo. But mostly it's the window-glamming, right? Of course, none of that means he's actually a homosexual. In fact, Brett Scallions is married to a woman, Abby Gennet. But parody is about mocking that which deserves ridicule. So here we have Rucka taking this example of a man acting feminine and turning him into the receiver in a gay relationship. To emphasize the point, I guess, note that his partner has a similar hair color and style as Scallions, and Rucka does some window-glamming of his own in the shower scene. If you're looking for real parody, there you have it. It's actually hard to miss when you're not focused on simply trashing Rucka's work. This sort of comedy might not be your cup of tea, but it's there, whether Rucka consciously intended it that way or not. I suspect he did. The mimicking is fairly blatant. Plus, this isn't exactly a unique observation: that some rock bands dress and act like girls sometimes. Rucka, however, has perhaps taken the ridicule to a uniquely explicit level. There is also the purely musical aspect. The original hit song used electric guitar, but Rucka chose to use an acoustic version that the band also released. This might also be a statement on the band's feminine qualities, turning their original sound into something softer. Or, it might be that Rucka simply preferred that version for the video. As for parody songs in general, it's true that laying joke lyrics on top of someone else's music has the appearance of nihilism, because it severs the original music from the original lyrics. But nihilism seeks to destroy the good for being the good. If the original isn't in fact good, then making parodical fun of it serves a valid and rational purpose. I challenge the reader to look up the lyrics to "Hemorrhage" and explain how, by a rational standard, they are good lyrics. They represent disintegrated drivel. Putting aside Rucka's vulgarity, his lyrics tell a clearcut story of a confused man. Furthermore, even if you remove the parody element, the thing he's most mocking is confusion, which is not a value. In terms of clarity alone his lyrics far surpass the original. Also, the original video is a typical modern mess in terms of visual elements. Rucka at least integrates his singing scenes with the story being told in superior photography and composition. In all aspects, except the borrowed music, his parody is more artistic and meaningful than the original. I've watched the original several times now, and I still don't fully get it. I doubt there is much there to understand anyway. It seems intended primarily for stimulating the eyes of zombies. Now, I think we need to accept that using Fuel's music was necessary for the parody to work properly. It's kind of like the movie Spaceballs using very similar characters to Star Wars. It needs to be clear what you're parodying. This is done in movies by mimicking the characters of the original work. And it's typically done in music by copying the music. Rarely do song parodies work by merely imitating the style of the original music. If a particular song is being mocked, then basically that particular music must be used in the parody for people to understand what you're doing. And so I can't really fault Rucka for lifting the music. I do think he's too vulgar and explicit. But, in this case, that's more a matter of personal taste than moral condemnation. I don't see a strong argument for nihilism here, with this particular example of Rucka's art.
Apathy comes from any degree of belief in any of the theories which teach it, whether explicitly or implicitly. Ayn Rand writes “For some two hundred years, under the influence of Immanuel Kant, the dominant trend of philosophy has been directed to a single goal: the destruction of man’s mind, of his confidence in the power of reason. Today we are seeing the climax of that trend.” (“Philosophy: Who Needs It”) One example, she explains, in her essay “Causality Versus Duty” is Kant’s notion of “duty” which she notes is “intrinsically anti-causal” and that “a ‘duty‘ defies the principle of efficient causation-since it is causeless (or supernatural); in its effects, it defies the principle of final causation- since it must be performed regardless of consequences”. The idea that thoughts and actions are fundamentally inconsequential provide no reason, and no motive for an individual to care, i.e., to objectively determine values, and morals, or to identify one’s self as a rational, consequential, productive, valuable entity. How then is a person to determine his or her values, which theoreticians should one look to for guidance, which have been most influential and why? Obviously, given the fact that our political system is veering towards communism, and given the typical explanations claiming to justify our political direction, it is indeed safe to say that Immanuel Kant, as well as Karl Marx, have had a tremendous influence on the majority of people, whether they know it or not. A product of Immanuel Kant’s ideology, which Ayn Rand does not mention too often, is Friedrich Nietzsche, who ironically was unaware of how influenced he was by Kant. Essentially, four theoreticians progressively dismantled the value of the mind and the idea that there is either no reality, or no way of knowing there is a reality or what reality is, which is central to the propagation of apathy. David Hume initiated the atrocity by saying that the best the mind can calculate is probability, and thus, there is no absolute- which is of course a contradiction in terms, because then their could not absolutely be no absolute.).Hume served as Immanuel Kant’s greatest inspiration. As Wikipedia explains, “[Kant] also credited David Hume with awakening him from “dogmatic slumber” (circa 1771). Hume had stated that experience consists only of sequences of feelings, images or sounds. Ideas such as ’cause’, goodness, or objects were not evident in experience, so why do we believe in the reality of these? Kant felt that reason could remove this skepticism, and he set himself to solving these problems.” (http://en.wikipedia....i/Immanuel_Kant; retrieved 4/21/12) He did so by establishing that we are to live for the sake of others out of duty, and that the mind does not indicate anything about reality- which is the evasion metaphysics. Immanuel Kant then served as Arthur Schopenhauer’s great inspiration. Schopenhauer essentially said that everything is an illusion called “maya” and anybody who tells you differently does so because he or she has evil motives, thus Schopenhauer is the quintessential pessimist. Schopenhauer was Friedrich Nietzsche’s great inspiration. Nietzsche said, in essence, that even the concept “evil” is an illusion, and that even the concept “illusion” is merely an indefinite word. Nietzsche did not believe in anything other than whatever served to empower him. The nihilism of Friedrich Nietzsche is the climax of David Hume’s skepticism, the product of which is the anti-concept “post-modernism”, which means truth is what ever each individual deems it to be, and that we must never judge what another person claims to be true because it would be offensive, disrespectful, and lead to conflict. The idea that one should not judge others, or proclaim that truth is absolute makes it quite challenging not to become apathetic. You are lost in a culture of intellectual chaos, and extreme uncertainty, and as I stated earlier, you are tempted either to become an apathetic nihilist or an apathetic altruist. The nihilist is an absurd, and pure whim-worshiper; a freak show, and tends to be an anarchist, not because he or she cares, but because he or she is a pure immoralist, and does not want to be hindered by philosophy, or law. “A rebel without a cause” so to speak. Now just as there are two forms of apathy (nihilistic or altruistic), there are also two forms of altruism. There is apathetic altruism, and there is manipulative altruism. Apathetic altruists simply don’t care that they subordinate themselves to the manipulative altruists- the ones who take complete advantage of the apathetic altruist. For example, John Nicholson is an apathetic altruist (A Nietzschean of sorts), whereas President Barack Obama is a manipulative altruist (A Kantian of sorts). To those of you who would say my characterization only describes the secularists within American culture, and that, to the contrary, those philosophers I mentioned are of minimal influence in contrast to Jesus Christ, I regret to say that Christianity has become obsolete in America. Approximately 78.4% of Americans claim to be Christian. ( http://en.wikipedia....e_United_States ; 4/21/12) but if we examine cultural trends, do they reflect fundamentalist Christians of pure conviction, i.e., absolutists, or liberal, pragmatic Christians, i.e., non-absolutists influenced by Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, and/or Nietzsche? In other words, regardless of what the majority of Americans claim to believe, to what extent do they actually care, fundamentally, about what they claim to believe? Are they “Christians” or “apathetics”? The 8th commandment says “you shall not steal” and yet theft is a major trend in this county which is supposedly dominated by Christians. This theft is committed by anyone who supports income taxes and demands government subsidy in any form. These thieves, most of whom claim to be Christian, certainly do not ask for forgiveness. Instead they demand more expropriation! Their latest demands, among the tamest of them, is that anybody who earns an annual income of $1 million or more pay higher taxes than everyone else, that the government allow people who get jobs to continue receiving unemployment funds, and that everybody be forced into purchasing health insurance. Now, in contrast, a Christian is a capitalist by virtue of the eighth commandment. It is obvious that most self proclaimed Christians and thus most of the U.S. population does not care about their philosophy and thus possess weak, apathetic, ever changing minds. These minds are the targets of communists and Islamists. Now keep in mind that today, America, a country where the majority thinks philosophy is ultimately irrelevant, is in an ideological war against Islamic terrorists. On what basis, since even the concept of a philosophical basis does not matter to most Americans, can those Americans firmly oppose the evil ideas of their enemies? They cannot. We see this inability explicitly articulated by President Barack Obama’s flimsy foreign policy, and extremely unstable staff. (His Secret Service, the GSA, et cetera). And yet, a firm ideology, or the semblance of one, and the ability to articulate it, at least within the menagerie of our government, in the midst of a war on terror and catastrophic debt, is now more crucial than it has been since Americans debated legalized slavery. In an ideological war. i.e, a war between nations of groups of different ideologies, if you are anti-philosophical/apathetic, you will be unable to defend yourself on intellectual grounds- you will lack conviction where as every terrorist has conviction- they know exactly why they’re fighting and can explain themselves. Furthermore, their conviction motivates them. What motivates the majority of Americans? Only the sedation of their apathy. Both the communists and the Islamist terrorists are competing for the role of sedation supplier for the American apathetic. (For eloquent, and detailed analysis of this, I refer you to The Glenn Beck Program). ((You may read the entire essay at http://seanoconnorli...25/hello-world/ ))
Debate on "Fossil fuels: are they a risk to the planet or do they improve it? Thoughts? I'm interested to see how Alex will handle someone at this level... I've seen him debate people from OWS - but most of those people were complete door knobs. Here's the article which triggered this whole thing (referred to in the video) Global Warming's Terrifying New Math Alex's original challenge video: For anyone who's interested you can get DVDs, T-shirts, background info, etc here: McKibben vs Epstein Campaign
http://www.appliedphilosophyonline.com/batman_and_justice.htm Batman and Justice Symbolism over Substance? Thomas M. Miovas, Jr. 08/11/2012 It was with a great deal of interest that I went to see the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” after some of my online friends, including Objectivists, highly praised it. I do think the characters were well drawn out and clearly defined insofar as Nolan presented them, especially the bad guys – Bane and the Rabble he roused from the prisons of Gotham City. The struggle of Bruce Wayne / Batman was well worth seeing, since he starts off as a man who has given up on everything, including his business and his campaign for justice, and doesn’t even have the strength to catch a jewel thief who walks into his bedroom to steal a pearl necklace. It is from this beginning that we see Batman having to rebuild his love of justice to combat the strongest villain he has been up against, Bane, who not only has great physical strength, but the motivation to destroy Gotham City based upon the egalitarian principle that no man ought to be permitted to rise above another. Consequently, Bane releases the violent criminals to tear down the societal hierarchy of Gotham, including putting political leaders and businessmen on trial for taking their positions and their wealth from the people. Bane and the Rabble make this exceedingly clear in several open statements as to their motivation. My disappointment with the movie (and in fact the whole Batman Trilogy) is that neither Bruce Wayne nor Batman give any type of counter statements to the Rabble. This makes the movie and interesting case of symbolism versus substance. I fully acknowledge that throughout the history of Batman that he represents a man of justice – a masked avenger against evil as it attempts to take over Gotham City and become too much for the police to handle. In the Batman Trilogy, Batman takes on environmentalism, nihilism, and egalitarianism, insofar as these ideologies – if taken to the extreme – will lead to the total destruction of Gotham. Certainly, the symbolism of a man dedicated to justice fighting off these evil ideologies ought to be appreciated – the very fact that a Hollywood writer considers these ideologies to be evil (in the extreme) and seeks to present their battle with justice is encouraging. And one can take the attitude that it is about time *someone* saw these as evil and against proper justice. However, these are ideologies and have been presented to the world as ideologies, with scores of books written in their favor and having a long history of philosophical grounding all the way back to Plato and Kant, who put justice and the concerns of man into some other dimension having nothing to do with reality. In fact, it is precisely because they have little or nothing to do with reality that makes them so appealing to some, who would rather not think about real life and who fantasize that in a better world plants and animals would be superior to man, or that everything is nothing and ought to be destroyed, or that the man of talent and skills ought not be permitted to earn his better life. But Batman has nothing to say against these ideologies! He’s willing to fight their progeny to the death, if necessary, but he has no words against their intellectual positions. If taking an intellectual stance is a form of substance, then Batman did not present any substance against the evils confronting him and Gotham City. One reason these ideologies are spreading throughout the world – destroying capitalism and America in the process – is that no one has risen to challenge them intellectually: To show with logic and facts that the position of those fighting against man’s happiness on earth is evil and to offer a better alternative. The Objectivists, those following Ayn Rand, certainly do this, and can ground their ideology firmly to the facts and back it up with reason; but very few others can. And Objectivists also know that the primary battle against the man-haters does not require physical combat, but rather a counter-ideology that will put evil on the defensive once again. It is because these evil ideologies have not been confronted intellectually that they are so virulent and come across as unstoppable. In this regard, it is good that a symbol of justice was shown to be combating them in the Batman Trilogy, but it is going to take a great deal more than the Batmobile and the BatCopter to lock up those ideologies hell-bent on ruining everything for the rational man. And I sincerely doubt that any marginal environmentalist, nihilist, or egalitarian would be swayed by the Batman Trilogy to check their premises and to find a better ideology, or be cowarded into not taking their explicit positions because Batman is against them. So, while I can say that the Batman Trilogy was good – insofar as even symbolic justice can be encouraging to those of us on the right side of the issues – it is not good enough to change the trends – not without an explicit pro-man, pro-reason presentation of justice. “Justice is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake the character of men as you cannot fake the character of nature, that you must judge all men as conscientiously as you judge inanimate objects, with the same respect for truth, with the same incorruptible vision, by as pure and as rational a process of identification—that every man must be judged for what he is and treated accordingly, that just as you do not pay a higher price for a rusty chunk of scrap than for a piece of shining metal, so you do not value a rotter above a hero—that your moral appraisal is the coin paying men for their virtues or vices, and this payment demands of you as scrupulous an honor as you bring to financial transactions—that to withhold your contempt from men’s vices is an act of moral counterfeiting, and to withhold your admiration from their virtues is an act of moral embezzlement—that to place any other concern higher than justice is to devaluate your moral currency and defraud the good in favor of the evil, since only the good can lose by a default of justice and only the evil can profit—and that the bottom of the pit at the end of that road, the act of moral bankruptcy, is to punish men for their virtues and reward them for their vices, that that is the collapse to full depravity, the Black Mass of the worship of death, the dedication of your consciousness to the destruction of existence.” [from Galt’s Speech, Atlas Shrugged, a novel by Ayn Rand]