Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

Rant: A Wolf In Bunny’s Clothing

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Bunny StalkerHow is it that grown-ups so often invent such horrible distortions of what children will find appealing? Is it that we really can’t remember what it was like to be three years old? Is it our need to impose on them traditional ideas of what makes something cute? Or is it just a problem of scale: what seems like a good idea in miniature just doesn’t work when blown up to life size?

Case in point: there could never be a more mind-boggling creation than Hello Kitty. Those clever Japanese took the basic formula for adorability (the big-head-little-body proportions of kittens, infants and stuffed animals) and pushed it to the extreme. Hello Kitty’s enormous head and beady, wide-spaced eyes would seem to be illustrations of some of the more serious birth defects that can befall mammals. Yet, the character has been wildly popular with children — principally pre-teen girls in Asia — for three decades. And the formula works just fine in miniature: coin purses, barrettes, pencil cases.

Hello Kitty in Hong KongBut, visit a San Rio store where some underpaid employee has been forced to don a Hello Kitty costume and watch the reactions from toddlers. If they don’t run for cover from the encephalitic monster stalking them, kids will certainly burst into tears of terror and confusion.

So, for most adults of a certain age, it’s understood that people in big character suits are a bad idea. We tend to see them as misguided and creepy. And that’s what makes it so much fun to look at pictures of kids posed along side these oversized characters: it’s easy to read into them some horrible menace, to see the John Wayne Gacy behind the Easter Bunny mask.

My dear friend, Dennis, lives in rural Pennsylvania and knows that a clipping from his local newspaper which features some adult in a character suit will always leave me in stitches; and he shares them generously. Add to that image a child and some fortunate choice of camera angle or framing, and you’ve got the picture of a crime scene.

Bunny KidnapperSo, I’m sharing my delight with you today. And, even though Easter is a few weeks behind us, here’s a link to Holy Taco and a really rich collection of Easter Bunnies and the children they torment. [Unfortunately, a few have been manipulated, killing the real joy in a found image. But most are choice.]

Enjoy “25 Terrifying Easter Bunnies.”

Count Me In

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Queer the CensusIt’s census time again: that special time of the decade when the federal government counts the citizenry to determine the proper apportionment of representatives as laid out in the Constitution.

But besides determining how many congressmen each state gets, the federal government also uses this count to apportion the distribution of federal tax dollars. A great many government agencies — as well as non-government researchers, policy makers and advocates — also rely on census data as the last word on who’s who (or what) in the country. So if you and your kind don’t exist, statistically speaking, you’re not likely to be part of the policy picture.

I admit there’s a certain romance in feeling like you belong to an exclusive subculture that works and plays right under the noses of the masses with only a very few of their members tuned in finely enough to pick up on your inside humor and conspiratorial winks. But there are practical drawbacks to relegating your life to a world of secrets and shadows. For example: you might live in fear of losing your job if discovered. Of course that job may not matter if, after discovery, some forthright delegates from the masses tie you to a fence on some windswept prairie and beat you to death, anyway. But you get the idea.

The number of questions the census asks is pretty limited, so there’s not a lot of room to get granular in assessing the makeup of the population. But, since 1990, when the Census Bureau added a designation for Unmarried Partner, those of us with an inclination toward the members of our own gender have had a quiet means for announcing our presence … if we happen to co-habitate with that partner.

Being counted by the census doesn’t sound like a lot. But it would bring queers of many stripes — lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender — closer to becoming a statistical reality in the eyes of the government and of everyone who depends on that government for information about the population.

That questionnaire will be in your mailbox very shortly, so it’s not likely that any pressure we exert now will coerce the Census Bureau to include any specific questions about sexual orientation or gender identity. But we can still use this census as an opportunity to make our annoyance (or anger, if you have that much energy) known. Here’s what we can do:

  1. Sign the on-line petition at the Task Force’s Queer the Census site and pass the link on to anyone you know who might also sign.
  2. Then add to your response the question we really want to answer by sealing your census questionnaire envelope with this sticker from Queer the Census. And just in case you don’t receive your free stickers in time to mail your response, you can download one as an Adobe .PDF document. Just print it out and slap it on with a little glue stick.

For more information about the Census, its importance to queers in these United States, and what you can do, visit the site of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.