Monday, March 29, 2010

Pet Names: A Hate Song

Okay, so not all of them. I happen to know a certain Charles who would object to my cessation of this term of endearment. But there's something, and it's not just my personal history talking, that feels really wrong about the word "babe." I feel like the noun form (e.g. "S/He's a ~ .") is less irksome, but is still kind of obnoxious, especially when paired with the qualifiers "total," "hot," or "totally hot."

It's also not just that it reminds me of the Two A-Holes skit from SNL, because I'm sure they were inspired by a like-minded-thinker's like-minded distaste for this specific pet name.

It's also not just the Oleanna feminist anger saying "Don't call your wife 'baby'." Somehow, I have less of a problem with baby, perhaps because my dad uses that one, although the infantilization of women in this practice can absolutely be debated. One of my aunts uses the term "babes" generally like others use "sweetie" or "darling."

Indeed, and ultimately, as this seems to be my problem with other relationship weirdness, it's certainly not because I've never been verbally marked with this moniker. I've had a handful of guys "babe" me, and it's always taken me out of the mind of affection: it always sounded forced, patronizing, and placating, and it always made me awkward and uncomfortable. [Please note: I did vocalize this distaste to the guys in question, and they were respectful, but it's such a strong part of casual "dating-speak" that they would say it unwittingly, in much the same way professed atheists will slip "oh god..." into casual conversation.]

But in spite of all these qualifications regarding why it *doesn't* bother me, there's something about "babe" that just really makes my skin crawl. It comes across less infantilizing than proprietary, particularly when it's a man saying it to a woman. If "baby" is infantilizing, then is "babe" your way of saying "I'm too lazy and casual to give you a second syllable because you don't deserve it"?

Maybe I don't like it because I can't put my finger on why it bothers me: infantilization is bad, and something on the lines of "dat my girl" is a whole different can of disgusting worms puking up cans of other worms, but this one is kind of just plain annoying.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

And the Winner Isn't...

Okay, without getting into too much depth here, it's been a while since I posted and I thought Oscar night would be as good a time as any to say that I really don't like that they've gone back to saying "And the winner is..." instead of "And the Oscar goes to...". To some of you this might sound like loser talk, but you've just been told that you're among the top five performances of that year. That, in my book, is a win.

And there has already been all kinds of uproar about Avatar not winning and about Sandra Bullock winning and... grumble, grumble, blah blah blah. That's why they have the People's Choice Awards.

You know what other movie didn't win best picture? Citizen Kane. You know what did win that year? You don't? For the record: How Green was My Valley. Did you ever see it? You know what other films didn't win? The Wizard of Oz and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington didn't, the same year Gone with the Wind did.

Okay, yes it matters. But ultimately, it doesn't matter.

But here's the bottom line: the Academy is just as predictable as it's not.

Sometimes they pick the box office favorite (cf. Titanic), or the one that everybody expects to win (cf. Slumdog Millionaire) and sometimes they take the surprise (cf. Crash when everybody was sure Brokeback Mountain had it in the bag). What's predictable is the chance to make an easy political statement: Crash vs. Brokeback was a case of "What's a bigger issue for everyone in America today: gays or racism?", which is shortly followed by Sean Penn in Milk (because let's give the gays the voice that they complained about losing to Crash).

This year, without any intended denigration to the people who do this in real life, it had to be The Hurt Locker for that same reason. Racism is a problem, so here's an Oscar for Crash. Homophobia is a problem, so here's an Oscar for Milk. Feminism isn't where we thought it should be, so here's an Oscar for Kathryn Bigelow. Our president is promising to bring the troops home, but we need a reminder, so here's an Oscar for The Hurt Locker.

So if it's really about what movie is the "best," or what performance is the "best"... well, let's face it. It's not about which is the best. It's about which is best *for that year*, and *under those political circumstances*.

And if you don't agree? You can cool it and make your own awards ceremony.