The Intentional Harm from an Unintentional Governor

Those of you who live in South Carolina may not agree with my views of our current governor, but you would definitely agree with me on one point about Governor Henry McMaster: like him or not, he is a very polarizing figure. For the most part there is no middle ground with McMaster. Many people, including myself, find McMaster to be wrong on just about every issue. Personally, I feel the only reason he got to be governor is because he took a gamble on supporting President Predicament knowing that he would return the favor and select Nicki Haley for his cabinet allowing McMaster to get the job he had failed numerous times to get. Obviously, not everyone agrees with me. Many people think our Governor is doing a fine job – even if he does sound like Foghorn Leghorn.

In yesterday’s edition of The Greenville News an article was published addressing the new Budget that McMaster would either sign or veto for the state of South Carolina. Before I continue to discuss why I disagree with some of McMaster’s decisions, I have a challenge for you: I want you to watch all of the following clip. Don’t skip them, and make sure to watch the whole clip. There is a reason I want you to watch them the whole way through.

All of the above clips were brought to you by Kleenex – because if your face looks anything like mine after watching those clips then we look like Russel Crowe looked in the film Gladiator when he found out his wife and child were both murdered. There is a reason I wanted you to watch each of those clips. I think every single one of those clips is a work of art in some way. More importantly, however, every single one of those clips moved me to tears the first time I watched it. Whether it was the actor, the singer, or the dancer, something about each of those performances touched a part of me with its joy, or sadness, or just straight beauty.

In the first clip, Taraji P. Henson plays Katharine Johnson in the film Hidden Figures. The beauty in her performance when she mortifyingly has to explain why it takes her so long to go to the bathroom. The second clip is three dancers from the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio who represent the main character at three different stages in his life as they dance to the score from the Oscar winning film Moonlight. I would give my pinky fingers and pinky toes for my body to be able to move as beautifully as those dancers. When added with the music from a phenomenal movie movie it takes my breath away. The third clip is from the tv show Parenthood. When Max’s parents have to pick him up early on an overnight field trip after an incident with his classmates because of his Asperger’s, it breaks my heart. The look in Peter Krauss’ eyes and his face as he so desperately wants to take the hurt and the pain away from his child is something everyone can relate to – regardless of whether or not they have children. The last clip is from the musical film version of RENT. Rent is one of my favorite musicals and this scene finds Jesse L. Martin (most will remember him from Law & Order fame) as Tom Collins sing the reprise to the song “I’ll cover you.” Earlier in the film “I’ll cover you is song as a duet between Tom and Angel. Now Angel has died from AIDS complications leaving Jesse heartbroken. It is true love at its finest.

Now that I have explained the clips, back to my purpose for writing this post. I guess that Governor McMaster has not seen any of these films or TV shows. I can tell you for sure he never saw Moonlight or RENT and has never listened to Wrabel. Because god forbid a republican be anything but ass backwards when it come to gay people. Since they don’t exist in the eyes of most republicans. My guess is our illustrious insignificant governor doesn’t make time to see movies, tv or dance performances. He most certainly doesn’t go to the theater so he doesn’t associate with gay people. Otherwise our governor would not have vetoed $500,000 for the South Carolina Children’s Theater, $250,000 for the Charleston Public Library, or $100,000 for a statewide music education program. Out of the 26 billion dollar budget, the moron in charge of our state that it was a good idea to veto those items that count for 0.025% of the over all budget. The asinine excuse of “earmarks and pork” that the governor gave is just downright insulting as well. We all know good and well that if we went through the budget line by line we could find things that were far more worth of the “Earmarks and Pork” title than arts education programs.

"I see the art budget's been cut again."In an effort to keep this post short (especially since I had you watch those videos) I am not going to write about why arts education is vital to every student’s overall education. I am going to post several infographics below that explain why our governor is being shortsighted and is downright idiotic when it comes to these vetoes. Look over them and share them with your family and friends. And then write your state representatives and tell them to please override our governors shortsighted veto. They are easy to find. All you have to do is google “Who are my state representatives” and it will prompt you to type in your address and tell you exactly who they are. Finally, I will leave you with two important pieces of information.

First, As someone who has taught in schools for the past 7 years, one of the greatest things in the world, is to watch a student who most would label as lazy, disengaged, or not interested in school light up with passion on the stage or in the chorus room or at an art exhibition as they proudly discover what they love and were born to do. It is a miraculous moment to watch as a teacher and one I cherish every time it happens.

And Second, since Governor McMaster does not think art has a purpose in the lives of South Carolina’s students, I leave him with this quote from Pablo Picasso:

pablopicasso1

Certainly from those two things alone, we can all agree that these intentional vetoes will harm our students and our accidental governor needs to figure that out quickly. $750,000 is a small price to pay if we want our students to succeed in a global world.

Have a great Monday everyone! Don’t forget to check out the infographics below!

-WB

think_again

art-education

steam-not-just-stem-infographic-550x575

arts-education-infographic

The Slander of a Sex Worker: How Stormy Became Salomé

By now the world is well versed in the sexcapades of our current President. Whether or not he cheated on Melania Trump with Stormy Daniels is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. We know he has cheated before – multiple times. Court records prove he cheated on Ivana Trump with Marla Maples while still married to Ivana and their have been a host of women who say they have been in relationships with Trump or have had affairs with Trump while he was legally married to all three wives. One would think that  would be enough to turn the general public that makes up Trump supporters – as well as the GOP – away from Trump, but this not just any President or just any other republican politician. Especially since they claim to be the party of family values.

800px-Gustave_Moreau_SalomC3A9_1876

Salomé’s Dance. Painting by Gustave Moreau.

Any other republican politician this happened to would be on the receiving end of statements from officials distancing themselves from him, declining his endorsement, and denouncing the behavior. We would also see evangelicals and leaders from the religious right like Franklin Graham outraged at what is being read on our news programs each evening. Especially when our President openly admitted to grabbing people by the pussy.We would hear shouts of “Think of the Children!” But since this is the presidency of Donald Trump we do not get any of that. We instead hear the right offer Trump a mulligan for his past sins, and we hear nothing except the right’s pharisaical and two-faced attempts to turn Stormy Daniels into a modern day Salomé.

Allow me to explain. The story of Salomé is a long and twisted one. Emerging first as an unnamed figure in multiple Gospels of the Bible as a dancer for the Birthday celebrations of King Herod, Salomé and her legacy if she was indeed even a real person has been through many incantations and depictions. The metamorphosis from nameless dancer for King Herod to notorious seductress did not happen over night. Throughout time and throughout art, her image shifted as countless master painters (Titian, Caravaggio, and Gustave Moreau), playwrights (Oscar Wilde), and Hollywood variations (most notably Rita Hayworth in the classic film and Jessica Chastain in the Al Pacino update) on the person that Salomé was moved towards a more seductive and deadly portrayal of woman. God forbid a woman actually own her sexuality and the power that comes with it. That would be absolutely SCANDALOUS!

Salomé is perhaps most known and most infamous for the so-called dance of the seven veils. As a birthday present for the king she was brought forth and she danced with seven veils. The dance was supposedly so inspiring and so enchanting that Herod agreed to grant her anything she wanted. As a friend of King Herod’s wife, she followed the prodding of the Queen to ask for the execution of Saint John the Baptist- his head was given to her on a silver platter. While the title dance of the seven veils was the entire creation of Oscar Wilde, the story has scandalized the world since and turned Salome into a trope that has been used to define women in positions of sexual power into women of no moral standards. Below is the Jessica Chastain version of Salomé’s Seven Veils Dance in the 2013 film Wilde Salomé. The Second video is the Rita Hayworth 1953 version of Salomé – considered so scandalous at the time it took a year to get it released.

While I freely admit (and I am sure Stormy Daniels would agree with me) that Stormy Daniels is not the Virgin Mary, she does not deserve to be turned into a modern day Salomé who is after something or someone. Throughout this entire Trump – Stormy Daniels ordeal these few things have consistently stuck out in her favor:

  1. Stormy Daniels has not changed a major piece of her story  even once.
  2. Daniels is fully cooperating with federal investigators.
  3. Trump has changed his story or had to have the Presidential Press Secretary clarify aspects of his statements or other factual areas of the case.
  4. Daniels has offered to return the $130,000 payment.
  5. Daniels gains nothing from this ordeal other than her good name and reputation – and yes she still has a reputation.
  6. Trump is getting nervous.

Daniels gets no money for going on the morning news shows or for being interviewed by Anderson Cooper – news organizations do not pay for stories. As of right now, it seems to me that all Stormy Daniels is getting out of this is insults and death threats being thrown her way. All of these people hurling the insults at Stormy Daniels seem to focus on one thing: her career choice. As Daniels as now sued Trump for Defamation of Character, people have been quick to pile on just how little character that they think she has. Upon looking at the WYFF4 News Facebook page, the evidence is plainly stated. Below are a few screenshots of what people think in regards to the April 28, 2018 News Channel 4 Facebook post about Daniels’ suit against the President¹:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

cover

The original artwork of Oscar Wilde’s play version of Salomé

The thing that sticks out to me first as I scroll through the comments is how most of the comments questioning whether or not Stormy Daniels has character overwhelmingly come from women- and this is what saddens me the most. The majority believe it inconceivable that someone like Stormy Daniels is capable of telling the truth. They seem to imply the support the president’s assertion that this is all for her to somehow make money off of. Never mind the fact the this president has consistently said some of the most vile, misogynistic, and disgusting things about women. Never mind the fact that this President has been proven to have lied or had this administration lie on his behalf MULTIPLE times. Never mind all that. Stormy Daniels screws people. Stormy Daniels makes money screwing people. Stormy Daniels is a slut and that means Stormy Daniels cannot possibly be defamed.

Humans (along with pigs, bonobo monkeys, dolphins,) are one of the only species of living animal that we know for certain has sex for pleasure. To put it simply, we have sex because we like the feeling that comes with it. Most people enjoy being naked becasue they feel there is something liberating that comes from it. Stormy Daniels found a way to make money off of doing something that feels good while being naked with somebody else. Sometimes multiple somebodies. Props to her. I tip my hat in her direction. Does that mean that Stormy Daniels is a terrible person? Does that mean she is immoral or not capable of contributing to our society? Absolutely Not.

Stormy Daniels is a grown ass woman. Allow me to say it one more time for the people in the back. She is a GROWN. ASS. WOMAN. As long as it is legal under the law, Stormy Daniels can screw whoever she wants, whenever she wants, however she wants. Consensual sex between two (or more – if your into that) able-minded consenting adults has no baring on whether or not a person has character. We have got to get away from a society where sex is something that is taboo, immoral, and wrong. It has dangerous consequences. It teaches women that they shouldn’t enjoy sex and the power that can come with owning the sexuality in all its glory and it directly contributes to depression, shame,  and HIV/AIDS in the LGBTQ communities. Some All people like sex. Some women enjoy sex more than some men do. Some people like watching other people have sex in pornographic videos. That doesn’t make the people in the video or the watchers of the video bad people. There is nothing wrong with any of those things. The sex positive movement is growing, but we all need to embrace it more quickly – especially if we get upset over people starring in adult films.

The adult film industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. It employs thousands of people across the country (mostly California, Nevada, New York, Florida, and surprisingly enough Atlanta, Georgia), both in front of and behind the camera. It brings in billions of dollars in online revenue and the adult entertainment industry conventions that happen across the country bring millions of dollars to the cities that they are held in. Porn is a multi-billion dollar business worth more than the NFL, NBA, and MLB combined, and the reason it is worth more than those three organizations is because people watch it. They buy it. They enjoy it. Do you call the cashier at Dunkin’ Donuts a jackass for selling you a donut and making you fat? I didn’t think so. So stop calling the porn star a slut for doing what you paid her to do and then feeling guilty or ashamed because you watched it.

57600b598a65f.image_

Rita Hayworth in 1953 for a Salomé still. The film was produced by Hayworth’s company specifically so she could star in the film. 

One of the people in the Facebook comments of the news page asked if there was any lower she could go. Since she apparently believes the lowest she can go is adult film star allow me to answer that question: Yes, Linda Jameison, there is lower she can go. There is nothing wrong with consenting adults having consensual sex. There is however something wrong with murderers, rapists, drug dealers, bigots, homophobes, racists, neo-nazis, and a host of other groups that spread hate and intolerance. As a teacher, I loathe cheaters of any kind because it is unfair to those who work hard and follow the rules. I also believe someone who lies is worse and lower than someone who makes no apologies about enjoying getting paid to have sex. Donald Trump has cheated on all three wives and it has been proven he has lied multiple times before and throughout his presidency. So suck on that lollipop of knowledge for a while, Linda. If you need some pointers, I suggest you watch some of Stormy Daniels work. I am sure she would be happy to give you some tips. But it will cost you. And there is nothing wrong with that.

-WB

Author’s Note:

¹Just so you can see the article for yourself and make sure I did not randomly pick the posts of people from other articles, if you scroll through WYFF4 article the title was “Trump Sued by Daniels for Defamation” on April 30, 2018. Also I debated about blurring out the names of individuals making the posts, but I decided it was unnecessary since they were posting them on a public page of a news organization’s social media website.

 

Act 1: March Madness – The Broadway Musical

I vividly remember the first time I went to The Peace Center here in Greenville for a show. My great aunt “Marcar” took me and my siblings to see the traveling production of Disney’s Beauty and The Beast. She pulled some strings and was able to get us seats in a box. The first time in my life I felt bouije – and I ain’t even sorry about it. I remember wheeling my chair all the way to the edge of the box and resting my head on the balcony. I did not move until the show was over. I was enamored with everything. The costumes were gorgeous, Broadway people are beautiful (jawlines for DAAAYYYYSSS) and everyone sings and dances throughout the entire thing! This is how life truly should be.

681410190262

Over the years I have kept every single playbill from every single production I have been to. They are in a shoebox under my bed. I have laughed, sobbed, cringed, held my breath, exhaled loudly, prayed, and so many more actions at these productions. There have been a couple that are rare enough to have made me do all of these in one evening. Many of these shows can teach us so much about life, who we are, and how we can be better versions of ourselves. The theatre going experience is something I wish we could require for all people. It is a vital art form that deserves protected status in our society. What does it need protection from? The constant barrage of attacks to funding and the continued questioning of whether or not it is necessary.

Money Makes the World Go Round. And apparently to use that money you should have something called a budget (I don’t know what that means either). When making budgets you don’t always have enough money and so everybody gets less or somethings get cut from your budget all together.When it comes to making budgets for funding everything from countries to schools, one of the first things that gets cut is funding for the arts and other subjects (including social studies) that get lumped into the category of humanities. This is both wrong and shortsighted. It will save you pennies today but it will hurt you in the long run. If you disagree, thats fine, but you are still wrong and now you go rock on somebody else’s less cultured front porch. Research backs it up.

Studies have shown effective arts integration raises test scores AND increases social learning (empathy, tolerance, etc.) skills that are vital in everyday life. You don’t like that one go and Google it yourself. There are thousands of studies that have come to similar conclusions. And with all that information our current Predicament President continues to advocate for cutting funding or completely eliminating funding altogether for important programs like The National Endowment of the Arts, The National Endowment for Humanities, and dozens of other agencies. I want even mention the millions he wants to spend on a military parade that the military doesn’t even want; I will just leave you with today’s hashtag instead: #overcompensating .

If none of the above sways you on why the theatre is important and why you should go, allow me to give you my personal reasons as to why you should give it a chance. This list could have equaled the number of minutes in a year, but for the sake of brevity, I will keep it to the most important.

#1 – Theatre is Life.

There is a well known saying that says “Theatre is Life. Cinema is Art. Television is Furniture.” While I don’t 100% agree with it putting theatre completely above cinema and television I do feel it is the most authentically human experience you can observe – because you are actually watching people do it. Oprah once struck me over the head with one of her many pieces of wisdom during a commencement address when she said:

“There is a common denominator in the human experience that we all share. We all want to know that what we do, what we say, who we are matters. We want to be validated. Every single person in every single confrontation in every single encounter than you have is really about do you see me? Do I matter to you?”

That speaks perfectly to the crux of every single Broadway Production I have ever seen. I challenge you to try and come up with a show where that is not a major piece of the plot line or one of the character’s journey throughout the story.

#2 – Theatre is for Everyone.

Every Broadway Queen just said “YAS!”  There is a reason the LGBTQ community gravitates towards the theatre. It was the first place that truly accepted them for who they were. There is a reason theatre kids literally glow when they get on stage. It gives them permission to exude the art that is a fundamental piece of their souls. And while they are on that stage people will clap and cheer for them instead of tease or belittle them. Some of the greatest Broadway songs of all time speak directly to this point. While many of us have been moved to tears the lyrics behind these powerful songs are so relatable because we all want to find our place in the sun where we belong. If you would like examples look here. Or here. Or this one too. But don’t forget about this one. And last, but certainly not least, Shrek! Two years ago the Tonys had the tough job of airing on the same Sunday that 49 beautiful souls lost their lives at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. James Corden scrapped his entire opening monologue that was filled with what I am sure are funny jokes to do a somber cold open that was backed up by the Broadway community’s most important stars say this:

It was powerful to watch. It was an elegant remembrance that didn’t darken the whole night of an awards ceremony. It was a hug the LGBTQ community needed. It was proof that somewhere there is a place for us all.

#3 – Theatre is Political Activism

As a history teacher allow me a chance to give you some historical background. HIV/AIDS was discovered and diagnosed in the early 1980s. There was no funding and research being done by the government – President Reagan didn’t even say the word AIDS until the late 1980s. The LGBTQ community was hit hard and the Broadway community was being decimated. Writers, choreographers, musicians, dancers, and singers in the prime of their lives were dying by the hundreds. When they government offered little help the Broadway community began doing it themselves. They have been protecting their own and many others since then. Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS were created and eventually merged into Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. The organization has raised over $285 million for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, education, and research funding. And how might they have done that? By singing. and By getting naked for Broadway Bares. Attending a Broadway Bares is one of my bucket list items.

1-Fine-Art-Broadway-Bares-2017-photo-by-Matthew-Murphy

One of the only tame photos I could find from Broadway Bares, Google though. You will see what I am talking about in point #4. Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

#4 – Theatre is Sexy, Talented Eye Candy

jeremy jordan

One of my favorite things about a show being in town at The Peace Center is it makes scrolling through certain “social networking” apps a whole lot more fun. Most actors (and yes I am including females in this statements) range from early 20s to late 40s. Then men have jawlines and cheek bones for days. I would literally chop of my arm for hair that swoops like theirs does. Ladies have impeccable smiles and legs that come up to most women’s shoulders. And I am just gonna throw this out there. Broadway booties are better than non Broadway booties. On top of all that going for them, they sing and dance. At. The. Same. Time. It is just not fair. If you are skeptical of my analysis perhaps you will take the advice of the lady who sits behind me. She is somewhere in the area we would call middle aged and she comes to the show with her sister. Last time Book of Mormon was in town when one of the Mormons appeared on stage she whispered (my teacher hearing kicked in) to her sister: “he could ring my doorbell any day, but I would prefer he ring at night.” I laughed through most of the first act. Sebastian Stan and Jeremy Jordan are all you need to know. Or you can check out other actors and actresses yourself.

sebastian-stan33223

Sebastian Stan. He even makes the name itself sound sexy.

#5 – Theatre is an escape from life about life.

This one might just be the most important of all. Theatre is about real life, but that only matters because it let’s you forget about your own life for a few moments. You may be stupid. You may be ugly. But you are HERE! Take a load off our your Kinky Boots and let some awesome people sing to you just how wonderful it is when you go “dancing through life.” You will love it! They will make you laugh, make you laugh and beg for more all in under three hours. After its over I will take you to a whoopee spot – and you don’t even have to rouge your knee. Only an artistic medium like the Broadway Stage could accurately portray the bitch of living.¹

To have a full circle moment from where I started in the beginning I will leave you with this: A Great NC State basketball coach who once led the WolfPack to a National Championship. Years later as he was dying from terminal cancer, Jim Valvano let the world in on an excellent piece of wisdom. He said there were three things you should do each day for it to be a good day. Those three things were: Laugh, Think, and Have your emotions be so powerful they move you to tears. Coach Valvano was right. Its a helluva day when you laugh, think, and cry in one day. So go to the theatre, and have yourself a helluva day.

 

¹  10 Points for Slytherin (are you surprised I was sorted there) if you can tell me how many musical references I have in this post and what musicals they came from.  Good Luck!