Tag Archives: Loie Fuller

Get Over Yourself

Loie

Look, America doesn’t have a monopoly on being the light of democracy, the beacon of hope, the shining city on a hill. Actually, it’s far from it. Since they elected their current president, with one tragedy after another, I keep hearing “we are better than this,” “this is not us,” and “not all Americans.” Now I do agree that Trump and his supporters are not ALL Americans, but I disagree with everything else. Particularly with what’s happening right now at the American borders, the separation of immigrant children and their internment in abandoned Walmarts, this is exactly what America is.

People often say that America’s original sin is slavery and white supremacy. But even that statement ignores a much earlier sin, the displacement and genocide of Native Americans. But just looking at the Trump presidency as a microcosm, there is a pattern which is very similar to the rest of America as a whole. The vilification of Mexicans, the Muslim ban, the attack on NFL players, the blatant disregard to the crisis in Puerto Rico, the splitting and internment of immigrant families… one key they have in common is the absolute vile treatment of people of color. If you’re not white, there’s a great chance you might have a shittier American experience. And again, not all of America is to blame for what is happening. But it is very telling that despite the crisis on the border being the top news item for a couple of days now, instead of Trump losing popularity, he actually gains favorability. Not only that, he appears to have more power among his political party. Being disgusting towards young, immigrant children and putting them in internment camps is proving to be quite good for Trump. Americans might like telling themselves that they are the land of the free and the home of brave, but those same free and brave people often allow awful things to happen right in their own backyard. This is not the first time Americans kept an internment camp. They did so just a few decades ago.

After the Muslim ban was announced last year, there were lots of protests. It was great to see people standing up for their Muslim brothers and sisters. Eventually, the courts ruled that the Muslim ban was unconstitutional, and the president’s own words betrayed the hateful intent of his policy. But since then, there hasn’t been much collective outrage and action over the many injustices which Trump has orchestrated. Why didn’t Americans march for Puerto Rico? Aren’t Americans marching every day for Flint, police shootings, school shootings, or any other issues? Heck, even when the Muslim ban was finally partially enacted, there was nary a protest. Did people just get tired? Were people distracted? Did the free and brave people have other plans that day?

Unless Americans can exorcise their demons, they really shouldn’t be allowed to wax poetic indulgently about being American. Americans can’t say, “this is not who we are. This is not what we do.” No, this is exactly what you do. America is the one person in the room with the most guns who regularly lets bad things happen to minorities. That’s just how it is. And I don’t want to sound too high and mighty, but as a Canadian, we have a long history of sins against our Native populations as well, but you will never hear me say that that is not what we are, that “we are better than this.” Canadians are vile towards their Native populations. That’s what we are, and we should be better than this.

I love Americans. I have friend and family in the US. My nieces are Americans. I really hope that their future America would be better than this. The America I see in the news is the ugliest I’ve seen in years. It can be ugly for people like me and my nieces. As a person of color, I’ve seen racism rear its ugly head in Canada and even here in Seoul. But as Americans, I worry about my nieces. I can handle racism. I’m old and I’ve seen it enough times to know how to roll with it. But they are still far too young. And judging by how the US government and Trump supporters are being vile towards child immigrants, it is apparent that not even children are spared from the dark ugliness of the American experience. In truth, my nieces are raised in a fairly privileged lifestyle. I like to think that they’re growing up in an environment where deplorables have very little chance to make contact with them.  But despite all of that, I fear that it only takes one ugly accident to ruin a person’s day if not a person’s life.

In any case, Americans really do need to get it together. This has gone on far too long. People used to joke that “Trump is bad, but at least he’s not building internment camps.” Well, the camps are now here. What do you do? Where are the free and brave people?

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That Was Different.

Burlesque

My wife and I saw a burlesque show with a friend over the weekend.  It was my first time seeing a burlesque show. I was never really keen to the idea since I really never understood the attraction. We have modern establishments now. We also have the Internet. What need is this fulfilling other than the curiosity for what burlesque is? I am familiar with the likes of Loie Fuller and how she was a pioneer back then. But we have long moved on, and I’m not sure modern burlesque acts are breaking any new grounds.

Then again, what do I know? I’ve only seen one show. Perhaps I’m only basing things on my caveman biases (though I challenge any caveman on their knowledge of Loie Fuller!).

The women that night were amateurs and had “real” bodies.  It wasn’t anything like Spearmint Rhino; otherwise my wife wouldn’t have been with us. It was quite artsy and not raunchy. I don’t think the acts were meant to be titillating at all. I’m not saying that as an offense to the performers, I just don’t believe that that was the goal.

It was a very interesting experience as a whole, something a little different to watch during drinks; however, I don’t understand what the women performers get out of it. I know people come to see it out of curiosity. Some locals might even think it’s a proper strip show since North American style strip shows are illegal here in South Korea. There was a group of guys out on a bachelor party that night, so maybe they were thinking that way. What an odd and artsy choice for a bachelor party!

But again, what about the women? What do they get out of it? It’s certainly not the money because there weren’t that many people watching. And I don’t imagine these women getting rich off of the act, otherwise they would be playing more regularly or have a better financial scheme. It could just be they’re showcasing their dancing skills because some of the acts were genuinely impressive. But some of the dances weren’t even that technical. Maybe it was some feminist, meta-empowerment thing… a sort of reclaiming of their sexuality of sorts, I don’t know.

Or maybe they’re just true artists. Maybe they’re performing because of the love for it. In a way, that makes them a little better than me because sometimes I hate drawing.

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