So I actually started this blog a year ago, and after writing a couple of posts on American Idol (which were basically copied and pasted from a listserve email I was on) I gave up. I was, to keep it real, completely intimidated by the narrow focus of many of the brilliant blogs that I loved. With my varied interests and passions (fashion and sustainability, the intersection of culture and labor, gender/queer issues, identity politics, the corporatization of society) and the unfortunate circumstance of being a Libra AND the oldest child (indecisive, but also a perfectionist!), I basically decided to ‘gather my things and bid my farewell,’ as my BFF tells me whenever we’ve determined that a new job, boyfriend, or that retro-80s hot orange and pink dress I’ve tried on is probably not going to work out.
Two factors encouraged me to pick up my blogging again:
- First, my current research on sustainability, specifically focusing on the fashion industry, has invigorated me and made me want to share my research without the inaccessible jargon that has unfortunately become a fixture in cultural studies.
- And the second reason why I decided to start a critical culture blog? Chicken. No, the smell of my neighbor’s barbeque didn’t distract me. I am being totally serious.
OK, so here’s the thing. As someone who has taught critical media studies for the past few years, I was pretty aware of how seriously divided our country has become over politics and culture. The media only allows for the voices of a few partisan elites to control our dialogue, and I seriously think this has damaged the ability of many of us to nuance discussions about complex issues. But the Chick Fill A protests in August over the owner’s stance on marriage equality (please don’t call it ‘gay marriage,’ but I’ll get to that in another post), reiterated the fractured nature of our society. I mean here I was on Facebook, a social media network that has been touted for its supposedly democratic, inclusive, and even revolutionary potential, watching people defriend each other over different Biblical interpretations that determined whether or not they were going to eat poultry that day. I have to admit that I was one of those peeps engaged heatedly in debates with other people, and I was disappointed to see some of my Facebook friends supporting this franchise that I had admittedly frequented quite often.
And then I realized, that while I accused others of judging gay people, I was also judging by demanding a certain interpretation of the Bible. That’s not fair, and more importantly, it was beside the point! The protests over Chick-fil-A, and the larger issue of marriage equality, is not a religious one, it’s a civic one. And no one was really talking about that! Politicians weren’t, and the media was far more interested in getting pictures of a few gay men kissing in front of the store than having any kind of intelligent dialogue. And I found myself thinking, if we can’t even trust the media, an institution that was established to inform and engage its citizens, then where does that leave us as a country? How are we supposed to move forward?