mercredi, novembre 16, 2005

Maybe I Need to Chill Out

How many progressives does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Zero. Do you know that there are many people in the world without lights and electricity?

How many progressives does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Zero. I won’t screw in this light bulb until we either power it with clean, renewable, alternative energy, or until we join an electric cooperative!

How many progressives does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Speaking of screwed, we’re all screwed if we don’t stop burning fossil fuels and trapping greenhouse gases!

Many of you know I have this debilitating weakness for a wonderful horrible show on ABC called Wifeswap. It airs every Monday night at 7:00 central, and I rarely miss it. It appeals to my voyeuristic tendencies (no, not those kind), my nosey side, and my interest in all things anthropological, sociological and cultural.

If you distill the messages of Wifeswap, this is some of what you’ll come up with:

There are a lot of people who fail to understand that marriage and cohabitation require compromise. It is not unusual for one person to require everyone in a house to hold their values. This week, a wife decided to eat raw foods, and, without consulting anyone else in the house, got rid of the stove.

One in four persons has an obsessive-compulsive disorder. It manifests itself in diet, in cleaning habits, in all manner of things, but OCD is out of control in America.

It’s usually a woman. The messages can be a bit sexist on this show.

A man connected to an OCD woman is weak and despicable because he allowed his wife to have an OCD - he's not standing up to her. As I said, the messages can be a bit sexist on this show.

Christians are mean and judgmental.

People in the south love confederate flags and guns. LOVE them.

Vegetarians are so far out on the fringe that they can never be a part of normal society.

Progressives are uptight.

Now, let me underscore that these are not higher truths, but these are the messages of Wifeswap. And yes, of course, I understand that a show of two relatively normal families would not make good television (much better to juxtapose a family who intentionally lives on $6,000 per year with a family that is prolific in its consumerism).

But of the list, the one that seems most likely to be true is the last one. Progressives really are uptight.

We progressives are too serious. We’re overly obsessed with subverting the dominant paradigm. We eat strange food, watch weird videos, cry for animals, and, what’s worse – our marriages are horrible. We’re so busy philosophizing and shaking our fists at the man, that we forget to actually love up our lovie dovies. But really what is comes down too is being too uptight.

I know all this because I saw it on Wifeswap.

But in a way, it’s true. Here’s a case in point. This weekend, Mrs. Duf and I went to see the hit movie “Shopgirl,” and I didn’t care for it. The film itself was fine, but what bugged me, and what I could not get over was the politics, the message.


If you boiled the messages of “Shopgirl” down to their essence, this is what you’d come up with:

Women want men to protect them.

Men learn how to protect and converse with women through books and audio tapes.

Men protect women by holding them (there are five holds: the two-hand, full body hold is best (it makes the gals feel really safe) the least acceptable (but still acceptable) is the hand-on-the-stomach-look-her-in-the-eyes hold).

Rich men pay off women’s student loans in exchange for sexual relationships; expecting only that the woman understand that it’s a physical thing.

A woman, if she finds herself depressed, may talk to her doctor on the phone, and they may agree that she should not have stopped taking her meds, but if she wants to go to the doctor and begin recovery, then she’s going to need a man to take action and get her there.

Pete Sampras’s wife flat-out can-not act.

…and I think what we’re intended to do is enjoy movies on another level. And, I’m kidding about the progressive part, I know that the religious right is busy looking for hidden messages in PBS programs, to they can be uptight too.

Perhaps the lesson from all this: from Wifeswap and “Shopgirl” and politics and blogging is:

It’s possible to take things too seriously.
Extremism is rarely a good thing.
Balance is amazing and admirable and worth aspiring toward.
Happy cohabitation requires healthy compromise.

Maybe a dose of Sarah Silverman would help.