“70% of the people in this room are women. Grad students… maybe 50%. Tenured professors? It drops down to about 20%. Think about the professors you’ve had. How many of them were women? If we had more women in science, maybe we’d spend less time trying to help a 70-year-old man maintain an erection and not be bald and more time trying to develop male birth control.”—tyrone HECK YEAH hayes, master of endocrinology and clear-headed sociopolitical thinker. (via shiny-fang)
It was a direct reference to Puccini’s ITALIAN opera “Madama Butterfly”, which depicted a Japanese woman (played by an Italian woman) who falls so madly (UNCONDITIONALLY) in love with a Western man that she takes…
Here’s the thing: this chatty little summary gives Puccini far too much credit. “Madame Butterfly” doesn’t admirably tackle themes of white imperialism and racism; “Madame Butterfly” is a work of white imperialism and racism; it’s a work which, regardless of any interpretation, has in effect promoted racist misogyny, predatory pedophilia targeting Asians, and the stereotype of the tragically suicidal oriental for more than a century, since it hit the Italian opera stage in 1904.
Puccini wrote the opera based on a short story by American writer John Luther Long, who in turn based his short story on the memoirs of French imperial naval officer and renowned orientalist Pierre Loti. If there’s any self-awareness about white imperialism in this story lineage, it’s about how hard it is to be a white guy looking into the eyes of your child rape victim and how heartbreaking it must have been when she killed herself in desolate solitude out of her unending love and devotion to you because of her lack of comprehension that you had actual real white family obligations.
Personally I was introduced to “Madame Butterfly” when I was in 4th grade, attending public school in Montreal as one of about 7 or 8 children of color in a student body of 700, getting in fights with white kids all the time, and my sister’s 6th grade class put on a performance in which her entire class of white kids donned geisha yellowface. Let’s just say, it was memorable. I remember sitting in the auditorium next to my mother, whose father died when she was a child during the Japanese invasion of China, as she watched stoically. And I remember the two elderly white ladies in front of us, who exclaimed when my sister came forward on the stage “Elle est vraiment japonais!” meaning “She’s really Japanese!” I considered saying something to them, but there was a song in progress. When we walked out, all my mom said was, “That was terrible.”
Coming all the way back around to Katy Perry, yeah obviously there’s nothing to discuss, it’s a shitty racist yellowface performance and what a pathetic attempt at snobbery to defend it by saying it’s an allusion to Italian opera, as if that makes it cool. Mussolini liked “Madame Butterfly” and he also liked his pal Adolf and his war in Ethiopia and a lot of other stuff that’s pretty fucking far from cool.
In the fall of 1973 I was studying as a freshman at NYU, and after failing to make my initial train home to Maine, I was rushing through Grand Central on the evening before Thanksgiving 1973 when I spotted you, emerging from one of the railways, with a look of utter confusion on your face. You had the blondest hair I had ever seen, and a plaid dress. I had never seen a plaid dress before.
I was, in those days, terribly shy, and if I am honest with myself, I’ve never shook that stubborn sense of timidity or loneliness in crowds. To this day, trying to explain the uncharacteristic courageousness that seized me in that moment, and inspired me to walk up to you and say “are you lost?” is almost completely beyond me.
You were studying at Olberlin, and on your way to spend Thanksgiving with your aunt in Jersey City. After explaining to you where you could get a bus, I asked, in spite of knowing it would mean sacrificing my last chance to spend the holiday with my family (and likely infuriate my over-protective mother), if you wanted to get a drink and you said yes.
We walked out into a rainy Manhattan street and ducked into the first (cheap) bar we saw, where I ordered us two bottles of beer. Now in my 50’s, when with any luck a man might finally begin to acquire that elusive thing called wisdom, I know that there is nothing more exciting yet rare in life than making a true connection with someone. I have always been too sentimental for my own good, but in all honesty, I have never felt more at ease with anyone than I did laughing and talking to you that dimly lit midtown bar.
When I confessed that I purposefully missed my train to keep talking to you, you smiled slyly and said “well I guess it’s only fair that I miss my bus.” With no money for a cab, we walked to my Lower East Side dorm room, which was deserted aside from my German classmate Franklin, who kindly gave us a half-finished bottle of red wine.
We made love that night, and in the morning coached one another through shaky phone calls to our angry relatives back home. With the November cold turning the night’s rain into a dreary wintery mix, we stayed in bed all day, sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes, discussing politics and philosophy. You told me you had never felt “so New York before.”
That evening, you took a bus to Jersey City. A few weeks later I received a letter from California. You sent no return address, and I never saw you again.
I have been married twice since then - once divorced, and once widowed. I have had a successful career as an English professor, and am a proud father. My life has known its share of triumphs and heartaches, of love and loss. Against my better judgement, I haven’t forgotten that day - and, at least once a year, while mowing the lawn, or reading a newspaper, the details come back to me.
Perhaps, if life’s strange circumstances can permit it, we can have a second drink.
Grand Central - November 1973 - m4w - 58 (Midtown)
Found on Craigslist Missed Connections - The post has since been taken down.
For the first time ever, I did a late night run! I started at around 11 and came back home a little before midnight. It felt so good; I didn’t have to worry about seeing people (though I had to worry a little bit about seeing the ground). November nights aren’t too chilly yet. The streets were fairly quiet, with barely any cars passing by.
This will be the first of my efforts for dealing with stress. With my final film project approaching in two weeks and graduation is in less than a month, I really need to work in some healthy coping habits.
I’m (temporarily) giving up processed sweets! Bwahahahaha.
I’m planning to
sleep before 2 AM every night.
do yoga once a week
run 3-5 miles a week
sit on my balcony for a little bit every morning (just enough time to sip my tea).
Wishing everyone a glorious week ahead! Peace and love, ya’ll.
“Ass is not pass, grass, or sass. It is also not donkey, leg, or butt. The donkey butt leg axis is related to and imitating of meaning. The pass, grass, sass axis is related to likeness. So is this a transcendental signifier? I’m pretty sure, but can anyone help me out?”—
Actual words spoken from the mouth of a GSI in my Film 100 class. (via fabthings)
One of the most confusing yet entertaining lecture about Lacanian theory! Unfortunately, I still don’t understand it…