not a target market – an angry post

I’m basically a very cynical and negative person, though I have an outwardly cheery disposition. I hate advertising and TV. Let that be known, lest anyone wants to try to talk me into watching their favorite TV show. I have no time for TV. I do not own a TV. I will probably not unless someone in my household brings one home.

What I hate most about advertising is being interpolated into a target group. There are target groups for almost every “type” – the young college student (alternative music, ipods, apple computers, spring break, SMS messages, makeup), the baby boomer (retirement funds, special editions of mall stores like the Gap, the “Red Hat” society, a general sort of unquestionable “matriachal wisdom”, and gardening), and of course for my “type”, the mommy (soccer, SUVs, diapers, Martha Stewart, perky haircuts, General Mills products, etc). The ads make up all I should want and aspire to be, all I should think. I’m supposed to be responsible, loving, promoting my children’s education and extra activities, shopping for bargains but not ignoring quality, doing yoga and reading “Good Housekeeping”. Maybe I can be sexy now, as the producers of “Desperate Housewives” have ordained. Maybe I can even watch porn. But people expect me to live within these parameters, in my LLBean barn coat, a sensible smile on my Clinique lips. Whenever I talk it’s supposed to be some ironic wisdom about diapering or a “concern” about something. Soccer moms always have “concerns” about child-related things.
Who cares who I really am? Watch enough TV and you’ll find out without talking to me.

If anyone is interested, I would like to discuss conceptual art, early video art, the beauty of the new jersey turnpike, post-structuralism, 70’s progressive rock or marxism…I would like to talk to someone who can explain Foucault or Lacan or Fredric Jameson, or just someone who understands why Roxy Music was so great before 1980. I would like to meet someone who enjoys something more than shopping. See you.

places and moods

Here is a list of places I’ve been thinking about recently. These are places I’ve been and remember, or places I really want to go someday:

1) East Berlin or Moscow or anywhere in Russia. I’d love to visit one of these places. I’ve been on a campaign to go to Berlin recently, and Russia is my long-term goal. I am curious about a formerly communist place. Something about communism fascinates me, and not in a negative way. I don’t care if it didn’t work.
Something about people taking the theories of a group of intellectuals (Marx, etc) and trying to set up a society around them really impresses me. All that organizing and planning, all those manifestos and architectural projects and parades and stuff.

2) The Acropolis and the Hermes Hotel in Athens. I was in Greece when I was 9 and our family stayed in the Hotel Hermes in Athens. It felt very elegant to me at the time. It was a modern style facade with lots of glass. In particular I remember the lobby, with a very high ceiling and walls (possibly brick) going up the entire height of the building. They had a big painting or metal decorative map installed on one of the walls, and I thought it was so beautiful. I will always remember the feeling of that hotel lobby – modern and elegant in a European way. I loved the Acropolis too. It was grand and awe-inspiring that it had been the seat of western culture.

3) The UCLA art library – I did my BA in art history at UCLA. For a while I worked at the UCLA art library. I’ll always remember this beautiful light filled modern space with countless rare art books.

4) The library from “Wings of Desire”. One scene from “Wings of Desire” (my favorite film) takes place in a modern library in Berlin. I would love to visit that library as it looks very still and modern and elegant.

5) Unite d’Habitation – Can you tell I’m a modern architecture freak? I am. Well, I really just love good architecture of any style. Unite d’Habitation, designed by Bauhaus genius LeCorbusier, is what I consider good architecture. It’s a huge modern concrete high-rise in the south of France. Yet, the concrete is well formed and looks almost like sculpture. I’ve seen many pictures of the beautiful exterior. I’m curious about the interior. Having lived in a modern concrete building in Denmark, I believe that concrete walls do best with sculpture, pottery and weavings. Paintings don’t look so good on concrete as it is too rough.

6) Chicago. Chicago is a gothic city with it’s many stone buildings and gargoyles. Some of the earliest skyscrapers are in Chicago, the ones designed by Louis Sullivan. Then there are the stone and brick walk ups. Then there are the Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Oak Park and the Robie House. So much beautiful architecture in Chicago. Its all very solid because of the extreme weather. I love Chicago in a snowstorm. The buildings look so solemn and quiet and stoic against the driving wind and snow. They just stand there – year after year.

Those are some of my favorite places. I’ll think of more later, maybe.

Why do we have to be important?

President George Bush is coming to Denmark tonight. The Danes all have something to say about this…there is live coverage on the media and everyone thinks it’s a very exciting event. Of course, no one likes George Bush, they are all just very excited becaues he’s so important, the most important man in the world, everyone says.

As a citizen of the USA in Denmark, I often have to take criticism about my countries policies. That’s ok. I don’t like the USA’s foreign policies, nor do I like George Bush. I think it’s expected that I don’t like Bush, yet I think Danes expect me, a north American, to be just a little in awe of him, and just a little proud that I am a citizen of the country whose president is the most important man in the world.

Let it be known, Danes and North Americans, that I am not proud of this. I think all this talk about security and democracy and saving the world from terrorism is so boring. If the USA suddenly became unimportant, I would in fact be happier.

I think the USA is an important place, but not because we rule the world. We are a great place because we are a post-colonial country, like the countries in South America. We have an ethnic mix of Europeans, Africans, Asians and Indians who all live and (sometimes) cooperate together instead of having constant racial and immigrant conflicts, as many European nations do. We are important because we have great music – blues, jazz, rock and roll. We are lively and humourous and relaxed people. Like the countries in Northern Europe, we have a good economy.

I wish the USA could follow the lead of and learn more from the countries in South America. Brazil, for example. We could be like them, just a nice place to visit with a low profile in international politics – great weather, music and mixed people. I think this is the key to the USA’s success. We should begin to look toward our neighbors in south America, see what we have in common with them, what we can learn from them, what we can teach them. Then we could start an “American Union” between North and South America. I would be proud to be part of this kind of a union. I’m sick of being part of a nation who stands alone and tries to rule the world.

come on, people!

Tonight I saw a news spot on Danish TV. As usual, the topic was Americans and the American election. Denmark has become a bit obsessed with Americans of late. The spot showed a conservative fat southern couple talking about why they believe religion should have more influence in politics. As they praised God and admonished democrats in the plainspoken way that only southern Christians can, they made their typical fatty southern dinner of sweet potatos loaded with butter, rolls, etc., saying things like “this go’ be good” as they cooked. Across the bottom of the screen rolled Danish translations of their viewpoints and enthusiastic eating. As I watched, I imagined the good Danish statsborgere sitting at home shaking their heads and thinking, “yes of course, this is the way americans are. Fat, conservative and religious. This is what we’ve always believed and it is true. Micheal Moore told us and so does TV2.”

The Danes get their stereotypes confirmed, so they can now happily line up with the American liberals (and with the rest of the world) to throw stones back at the American conservatives who will then throw stones back at the liberals, joining the fight from a safe distance, and thinking that they are superior when actually they are no less mean or brutal than the stone throwers themselves.

I don’t have much to say to non-Americans. I don’t think that their opinions are much more interesting than those of a thirsty mob watching a boxing match.

But I do sometimes wonder about us Americans. This election seems to be the most mean-spirited and divisive of any election I’ve seen in America. It’s like both sides have lost track of national pride and identity and are just trying to defeat each other. Sometimes when I look at the various maps of “Bush” and “Kerry” states it makes me think of the days before the civil war, when states banded together against each other and eventually split.

I think the questions that we hear on the news – Who can protect us against terrorism? When will the war in Iraq end? Was it wrong to start the war in the first place? Environment vs. development? – are not very interesting. These are just issues which come and go. The interesting question is – Aren’t we, divided so evenly and irreconcilably between liberal Kerry and conservative Bush supporters, forgetting something as we race towards the election – that we are all Americans? Has Osama bin Laden made us forget or have we done it to ourselves? What do we need to do to get unified again?

I think the answer to this last question is easy. After the election, no matter who wins, we need to start listening to each other and working together in a respectful way. We need to realize that America is not two different colors because it’s not. There are going to have to be compromises just as there always have been, and I think that there will. We are, after all, a democracy. Perhaps I am worried for nothing. Like I said, I’m on the outside looking in these days.