Monday, November 2, 2009

We're Only Human



Larry David has pissed some people off because of his namesake character’s latest awkward social fiasco on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Not familiar with the show? All you have to know is that episodes consist of David, co-creator of Seinfeld, muddling through an imbroglio that he has stirred up through some misunderstanding, and hilarity ensues.

In this case, David’s urine splatters approximations of tears onto a picture of Jesus. Others notice the droplets and think the image is weeping. The Week offers some different perspectives on the (non)controversy. As usual, the loudest and angriest pundits railing against David have neglected to really assess the facts, claiming David would never make fun of Jews or Muslims. Fact is, Curb Your Enthusiasm has always been equal opportunity when it comes to mocking organized religion. So, why all of the fuss?

The easy answer, unsurprisingly: the media. Once it, with its oh so many tentacles of dissemination, gets a hold on a story it doesn’t like to relent until all of the life has been squeezed out of the story. In the US, outlets like Fox News are prolific when it comes to this sort of inflation to the point of popping.

Sure, with the exception of bathrooms and choice plots of open ground, urine can be quite offensive should it land on you or your property. But David accidentally peeing on a towel that someone will inevitably dry their face with would not become international news. Yes, he’s having a laugh at the expense of religion. But on a Madonna of the Toast level the core criticism is of the human tendency to invest importance in the idea of a painting of Christ or Mary crying, or a Star of David bubbling up in oatmeal. Maybe it’s not even a criticism but more of a revealing of this tendency, and that’s what really rubbed people the wrong way.

No one wants to admit that they find meaning in a stain or wood grain but they are quick to congregate where Jesus has appeared in an oil stain or Mary in a panel of siding. Those inclined to act upon such visual manifestations don’t discern between the object and the image (and they sure don’t get into the semantics of worshipping, or belittling, an image of an image). David isn’t desecrating Jesus, but the way in which some people view not just Jesus but the whole of Christianity.

Of course, people who find the topic repulsive don’t have to watch the episode, the same as the people who ridicule the surprising appearance of an iconic form don’t have to pay it any attention. But in both cases, they(we) do, and that’s the point.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The charity 'Raising Malawi' (PR firm) founded by Madonna AND TWO OTHERS in '06' held fund raisers for over two years before finally getting registered as a non-profit. In other words, Madonna and the others were free to squander that funding any way they saw fit for those first two years. In fact, they still havn't accounted for the 3.7 million raised from a single event in the fall of '07' (The grand opening of a Gucci flagship store in Manhattan.). She also pleaded with her fans worldwide for donations along the way. In the meantime, she toured the world to promote her latest CD and raked in another $280,000,000 gross in just over 12 months. To date, the basic financial info for 'Raising Malawi' still hasn't been posted on the website or anywhere else. The 'progress' page only tells of the collective works by over 20 seperate charities. Each of which have their own sources of funding and may have recieved some sort of promotion or support from 'Raising Malawi' in order to be considered 'partners'. But no indication is made how much of their funding came from 'Raising Malawi' or how much of their progress if any could be directly attributed to 'Raising Malawi'. The fans/donors have no clue how many millions of dollars were raised in that first two years, no clue how much Madonna herself chipped in, and no clue how the money was spent before they finally registered as a non-profit. No clue what fraction of funding or works listed on that 'progress' page could be directly attributed to 'Raising Malawi'. Nothing to go on but the vague and misleading word of Madonna. For example: She states in her latest promotional video that she will match any contributions made to her charity (PR firm) "dollar for dollar". However, there is a disclaimer posted on the website for 'Raising Malawi' that Madonna's total contribution will not exceed $100,000. Thats not per donation. Thats a maximum of $100,000 TOTAL. Less than a single days pay for Madonna. Also much less then she will surely rake in by promoting her own CDs, DVDs, and 'for profit' merchandise through this massive worldwide publicity stunt. So I called the office of 'Raising Malawi' in an attempt to verify some sort of efficient financial operation (310) 867-2881 or (888) 72-DONOR). These details are ALWAYS made available by legitimate charities. But not in this case. I got nothing but recorded messages and hangups. So I did some research on my own. 'Raising Malawi' still hasn't been given any kind of rating by ANY independent charity watchdog like Charitywatch.org. The vast overwhelming majority of 'celebrity' foundations never are. In general, they are inneficient and riddled with corruption. Like the promotion of CDs, world tours, commercial websites, entire lines of jewelry (not just the single piece from which proceeds are donated), and high end retail flagship stores. Its far less expensive to promote your image and product with a contribution to your own charity (PR firm) than it is to buy commercial airtime worldwide. This is why its become such a trend. Celebrity foundations are also notorious for squandering much of their funding on private jet rides and super high end accomodations for their managers, PR crews, and celebrity figure heads. Its legal even for a nonprofit but not noble or efficient by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, non-profits are not actually required by law to be efficient. This is why the independent rating is so important. In general, 'celebrity' foundations never even get one. They are a twisted inefficient mutant of charity, self-promotion, exotic travel, and PR crap. Still, they compete for funding with more efficient legitimate charities. The celebrity figure heads often disregard the primary donors, co-founders, and managers, take personal credit for any collective work done, and seek maximum publicity shortly before or after the release of their own commercial projects. Its a sham. So if its not rated, then don't support it. Instead, support a top rated charity like any of those given high ratings at Charitywatch.org.

Buzz said...

Ha! This spam stays by virtue of its length and scandalous claim that Madonna (not of the Toast) has been stealing from her Malawi charity.

sarah said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alena

http://grantfoundation.net