Someone messed up and it wasn’t Rex Grossman

It’d be easy to blame Rex Grossman for the loss today. He forced a considerable number of passes into triple and double coverage. He chucked up a few desperation passes as he was being dragged down by Carolina defenders as opposed to taking the sack. He made a questionable scramble play with the clock running down. But he also, despite consistently bad field position, led the Bears offense on three scoring drives stringing together big completion after big completion. The Carolina defense blanketed the receivers and swarmed the backfield all game long, but Grossman didn’t seem to care. I dread to make the comparison, but Grossman had moments where he looked like a young Brett Favre with his fiery competitiveness, his willingness to take risks, and his sheer moxie. It was evident the Bears’ secondary could not contain the Carolina offense, a.k.a. Steve Smith, in the first drive. And knowing that, Grossman came out of every huddle gun slinging. He and the Bears knew this was the only way the game could be won. Grossman is the player of the game on the Bear’s side of the ball. Grossman engineered three scores when Eli Manning and his high powered Giants offense couldn’t even engineer one. His performance was both gutsy and timely. Yeah, it would’ve been nice if he would have led the final drive to tie the game. But, at that point, based on the pre-game expectations, he had done enough. He had kept the Bears close in the kind of game no pundit thought the Bears could win let alone stay close. And most of all, he proved himself as the Bears’ quarterback of the future. The Bears defense, especially the secondary, are the ones that deserve the blame for today’s loss. Dubbed as the “best defense in the NFL” and drawing comparisons to the ’85 Bears, Lovie Smith’s squad was damn disappointing. They did a fair job at stopping any sustained drives up the field. The Carolina rushing attack was kept in check for most of the game. The Bears line got decent pressure on Delhomme, although not nearly as much as their last meeting. What killed them was bungling on big plays, especially to Steve Smith. All three of Steve Smith’s downfield catches were made by lapses in the Bears’ secondary. Two of them involved a Bears’ cornerback falling, and the other was a sure interception that was stripped by Smith on the way down. The Bears were cocky. They thought Charles Tillman could handle Smith one on one. And on the second or third play from the line of scrimmage, it was obvious he couldn’t. Tillman both metaphorically and literally fell on his face. Blame could also be issued to the sub par play of the special teams unit. Short kickoffs and shanked punts gave the Panthers consistently good field position. They didn’t even need long sustained drives to score. Furthermore, the Bears’ return unit, by failing to secure good field position, forced the Bears all game to make long drives up the field to score. The Panther’s average field position was at the 36. The Bears best field position all game long was at the 34. If you want to talk about bad performances, talk about the Bears secondary and the special teams unit. Grossman, if anything, kept the Bears in a game that even I thought was over after the first four plays.

January 16, 2006 at 3:51 am 1 comment

Rape and Responsibility

This a mini-essay I wrote a couple of months ago summarizing and extending beyond a conversation I had at a quad BBQ. If you’re a guy, you’ll probably find this a bit controversial. If you’re a girl, you’ll probably find this absolutely outrageous. But, as always, it would be best if you focused on the arguements before you focus on the conclusions.

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On Friday, I got in a rather heated arguement with Chris, my roomate, and Dhawal, a hallmate. The debate began with a rather bold assertion on my part, as is my style. Women are in part responsible/”to blame” if they get raped when they are intoxicated on a college campus. This may seem like a completely insensitive comment seeing that someone has just been violated and victimized. But social taboos aside, I believe it is an entirely valid comment to make.
We are all responsible for the conscious choices we make and the consequences that arise from these choices. The only qualifier to this is if we are ignorant of possible outcomes a choice could entail. For example, if a child strikes someone with his fist, he is less responsible for his choice than an adult. This is not to say the child is completely absolved, but his responsibility is one of lesser degree than the adult.
So let’s apply this framework to the decision and the consequence at hand. A girl goes out on a Friday night and chooses to get intoxicated. Don’t feed me any of that bullshit about it not being a choice. If your ability to choose is immediately impaired after a few drinks, you could’ve and probably should’ve chose not to drink at all. Back to the arguement at hand. When the girl chooses to get intoxicated, she knows that this choice carries its share of risks. An intoxicated girl on a college campus has an inordinately high chance of being raped. Rape programs on campus have told her, stories from her friend have told her, her mom has probably told her. But she chooses to get intoxicated anyway. This choice is key, because she is choosing to accept any of the known consequences resulting from her choice. In this moment, she is choosing, in effect, to take on the responsibility, if stemming from intoxication, that she dies of alcohol poisoning, that she is arrested for underage drinking, or that she is raped. The hard truth is she is repsonsible for whatever befalls her and especially responsible for whatever befalls her that she is knowledgeable on or has been prewarned about. Rape is no exception.
Dhawal brought up a few interesting counterclaims, four of which I find it pertinent to address here.
First, he questioned my intial framework by supposing a situation in which a girl walking in a bad neighborhood at night because that is where she lives and is subsequently attacked and raped. The risk and previous knowledge of it are there, but the responsibility is not. I don’t think this necessarily destroys the framework though. It just creates another qualification that was not stated earlier, because it wasn’t applicable to the college rape situation. Choice like responsibility must be viewed in degrees. The woman in the bad neighborhood has a low degree of choice. Yes, she can choose to not go home, but she has a family to feed and kids to watch over. As opposed to the college rape situation, where the girl has a relatively high degree of choice. If she doesn’t get intoxicated, no one will starve or get arrested. When we have a high degree of choice, there is a greater degree of responsibility for the consequences that result from that chocie. Think the difference between the man who steals because his family is starving and the man who steals for the challenge. Both made a choice, but the man with the starving family obviously has a lower degree of choice and subsequently the lower degree of responsibilty for the outcome of his theft.
Second, Dhawal made another assault on my framework by supposing an absolutely random consequence. For example, a man is standing in a parking lot looking for his car and an airplane crashes and kills him. I think this conveniently falls in my framework’s caveat about knowledge. Like the kid striking, the man had no idea standing in a parking lot was associated with the risk of crashing planes. He cannot be held responsible for a consequence that he could in no way have forseen.
Third, Dhawal challenged that my conclusion ignores the male responsibility in the situation. That’s because I was focusing on analyzing the girl’s decision to get intoxicated and the consequence of rape. If I was focusing on the male’s decision to rape and any consequences, I would find the same conclusion: he is responsible. How blame/responsibilty should be distributed is another question entirely. The point is that the man chose to rape the girl, and the girl chose to give the man that opportunity by becoming intoxicated. Both share responsibility. A crime requires intent by the criminal and opportunity by the victim. In this case, both parties consciously chose to provide these elements.
Fourth and finally, Dhawal asserts there is a inequality between the consequences of women and men for becoming intoxicated. Women are victims of rape, while men can hardly claim the same risk. This is unfortunate, but beyond the responsibility of an individual or even a group of individuals. Rape is an act born of societal structure reinforced by human anatomy. Men are by no coincidence the agressors and the penetrators. Men are, on average, stronger. Men posess what is often described as an unsatiable sexual appetite. Furthermore, men could make the same arguement about the consequences of rape. If a woman rapes a man, she is less likely to be prosecuted (my assumption). It also brings more stigma on the man than the woman. Dude, you got raped? Inequality between men and women exist in all the choices made and the consequences that follow. But as long as we are aware of these differences, there can be no mitigation of our responsibility.

January 12, 2006 at 8:56 pm 1 comment

I’m going back, back to…Durham?

Back to school and back to broadband. I’m obviously a lot more happy about the later than the former. I planned out some posts during the break and here is a (tentative) list of posts and their release dates.

  • Thursday (01/12/06) – Movie Primer, King Kong and Syriana Review
  • Friday (01/13/06) – Layer Cake and Roger Dodger Review
  • Saturday (01/14/06) – Memoirs and True Romance Review
  • Sunday (01/15/06) – Swingers Review
  • Monday (01/16/06) – Winter Break Recap
  • Tuesday (01/17/06) – Thoughts on feminism and indoctrination

January 12, 2006 at 1:03 pm 1 comment

Just Happy To Be Alive

WordPress lost my last post, which is pretty gay. It’s not the first time it’s happened so I’m not too surprised. Anyways, five days of hell ended at 5:00 PM today, otherwise known as finals period. Here are the relevant stats:

  • Finals: 2
  • Final Papers (in pages): 28
  • Most Hours Consecutively Awake: 30
  • Shortest Nap (in minutes): 30
  • Longest Nap (in hours): 13
  • Esimated total sleep (in hours): 20
  • Showers: 1
  • Teeth-brushing: 2
  • Food of choice (eaten most frequently): instant oatmeal
  • Times I played “Genie in a Bottle” to fuck with Gene: 6
  • Times I said “fuck”: Innumerable
  • All-nighter AIM Convo’s between me and Mike Koler: 2
  • Hours wasted talking to Belzer: 4
  • Times I saw the sun rise: 3
  • Times I saw the sun set: 0
  • Lessons learned about not procrastinating until finals: 0

I think that sums up the past week better than any long-winded narrative could. It was crazy. But I’m finished and alive, and, aside from good grades, that’s the best I could hope for.

December 16, 2005 at 4:03 am Leave a comment

We all look same, no?

A girl wrote a rather controversial editorial in the Chronicle, Duke’s newspaper, today about the upcoming film “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Here’s the link. Her grievance, simply put, is that films involving Asian cultures have been Americanized and manipulated, and therefore, grossly misrepresent the culture they are attempting to portray. For example, she takes offense to the blue eyes in the movie poster. Her argument for the presence of systematic and intentional manipulation on the part of the filmmakers and film marketers to Americanize “Memoirs…” is not very strong. She takes a lot of liberties and makes a lot of presumptions in the absence of empirical evidence. For example, when she suggests foul play in the casting of Ziyi Zhang, her only evidence is the plethora of Japanese actresses who also auditioned for the role. So her argument sucks, but it still raises a few important questions.

Is Asian Culture misrepresented in America Cinema?

I feel, like the author of the editorial, the answer is an unequivocal yes. In the last thirty years, the majority of films involving Asian Culture, made in the U.S., involve some kind of martial arts or swordplay. This is an obvious misrepresentation. If you were to get off a plane in China or Japan, you probably wouldn’t see anything close to what is portrayed in American Cinema. So there’s misrepresentation on the part of American Filmmakers, but what makes that significant?

Is this mispresentation significant?

Unlike the author of the editorial, I feel the answer is an unequivocal. Misrepresentation of a culture is not unprecedented at all. American Cinema misrepresents pretty much all culture in their films. Do you really think “You Got Served? is an accurate representation of Black culture? Do you really think “The Transporter? represents Western European culture? These misrepresentations, I would argue, are just as gross as those inflicted upon Asian culture. After all, all British men are not all spies and all Black women are not all big-boned and loud-mouthed. Furthermore, I’m sure Chinese or Japanese cinema does the same for movies involving American culture. I’d be curious to see how they portrayed us, but I can’t foresee it being anymore accurate than we do of them. Misrepresentation is endemic in all film industries, and the reason is simple.

Most movies don’t strive to accurately represent anything.

Movies strive to present only representations that will sell in their prospective market. Film is, at its core, about manipulating reality to make it more entertaining. The question in Hollywood is: how can we tweak this culture or selectively represent it to maximize its marketing value? So if misrepresentation angers you, don’t blame the film, blame the film industry and its priorities/goals. Blame the consumer. If you look at the top grossing films in Hollywood at any given time, few if any of them can assert to be an accurate portrayal of their source material; that’s why they’re raking in the cash. Put simply, American consumers want a misrepresentation of Asian cultures; they desire an Americanized geisha. It is a product they are more willing to buy. The bottom line is that cinematic misrepresentation is inevitable in a market where it sells. If you don’t like it the image marketed of your culture, tough cookies. If you like it, lucky for you. But if you’re like most people, just accept the fact that you’re misrepresented in film and move on. As for me, I’m more concerned about how I am represented to others than my culture, because at least that’s something I can control.

On a more comic note, the author includes a rather amusing boast about herself in the article.

“…I frankly don’t need any more American men marketing East Asian women as exotic. It’s bad enough that I’ve lost count of how many Duke men have described me as such.?

I’ll admit I haven’t seen her in person. But from her picture, that statement seems to be a gross misrepresentation of Duke men. We definitely have higher standards than that. Exotic? She’s not even pedestrian.

December 8, 2005 at 12:30 am Leave a comment

She’s So Many Words in My Vernacular

I saw this away message a few minutes ago, and felt compelled to provide some commentary on its idiocy. The message read as follows:

studying incesently, if you know what that word means please im me and give me a break

The great thing about this comment is it incorrectly spells the very word that is supposed to confer the writer with superior status to the reader. If you’re going to make condescending or elitist comments, rule number one is to make sure you spell everything correctly. Otherwise, it just doesn’t have the same effect.

December 7, 2005 at 10:09 pm Leave a comment

Cry Me a River

The coldest day of this semester was definitely today. It was about 30 F when I was outside, but the low is supposed to be in the 20’s. Just got back from class; here’s a quick summary. Woke up at 10:00, wasted some time, headed over to the gym for weight training, took a shower (the first in a few days), walked to BioSci for AIDS and Emerging diseases, took a little detour to the Law Library to pick up a book for my PS 142 research project, then headed back to the dorm. Here’s where the real story of the day begins. The door was locked, and Chris was lying down on the bed, face down, crying. The weirder thing is this isn’t the first time it has happened. He’s cried in the room on at least five other occasions this semester. I always try to ignore it, because I’m not a dick and don’t take pleasure in making the kid feel worse than he appears to be feeling. Yet, it’s repeated occurence has me a bit irked and a bit unsettled, more of the later. His ex-girlfriend broke up with him about three months ago. This is their second breakup in two years. She has made it clear she no longer has any feelings for him and does not want him back. He has listened, he has though, he has concluded to move on. Yet, he still holds onto the faint hope that they can still rejoin. He refuses to accept the finality of the destruction of their relationship. And it is because he loves her, and love is powerful thing. I won’t contest that. Love has started and ended wars. Love creates the most intense of passion and the most putrid of hate. But love does not do one thing. Love cannot make others love us; that is beyond love’s scope. If Kierkegaard and Donald in Adaptation has taught us anything, love is, at its core, personal. Love is ours to keep, ours to cherish, and no one can take it away from us. Why weep and moan over the fact that someone else does not share our love when we have it all for ourselves? It is their loss not ours. That’s why I don’t get Chris’s reaction to his breakup. You still have your love, and that’s better than any third go-around with her could ever be.

“We are what we love, not what loves us.”

-Donald Kaufman from Adaptation

December 7, 2005 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

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