30 December 2010

Domestic tranquility

Men as performance artists .. in the kitchen. And more or less everywhere else (taking out the garbage, doing homework, making speeches, and having sex). That actually makes a good deal of evolutionary sense, at least the male part of that. I'm not sure where it doesn't become a "sensual act from which to derive pleasure" either however. I mean, I prefer better cooking and tastes and so on, and if I must do it myself, I'd eventually figure out how.

Finally! Somebody learned how to actually do this properly. The article makes heavy use of these "manners" people who somehow presume that it is incumbent on us, the gift receiver, to pretend to like useless or hideous items, or to object to gift cards procured in their stead. The high rate of consumption for gift cards in the modern world (something like a third of all holiday dollars), would suggest that we're moving toward a more efficient transfer for gifts. An idea like this, maybe integrated with wish lists and other ideas, would greatly simplify getting ACTUAL gifts for the gift giver. Which to me, the problem is being a gift giver in the first place and having to ask yourself: what will this person not despise, truly need/enjoy, etc, and then coming up empty. Presuming that we will fail in that mission, merchants have savvily marketed gift cards (over simply gifting cash to one another). This is simply the next logical step to avoiding the "shopping" madness that is the day after Christmas. Known also as the day of return. Ideal gifts are things that the other person will use and enjoy, and that you won't. But unless you are very much more a people person than I am, I will find it pretty hard to presume to know very much about most people. Even family members and long-time friends, and their possessions, their private entertainments, and so on. Not to mention that in general people (sometimes secretly) prefer receiving experiential gifts to "stuff", and this is even harder to come by as a giving tree item.

Rated R . I'm not a big fan of government censorship, so the MPAA's rating system is a vital market alternative to this. It has a generally transparent system: show a lot of flesh and drop a few f-bombs and we'll stamp a hard R on the bottom of the screen. That's fine, so far as it goes, presuming we're all aware this is what we're getting as a value set. But in real terms, what we, as consumers, or really as parents of consumers, are opposed to is particular items (generally sex and language, and I guess depictions of smoking and drug use now too, but not so much worrying about drinking and violence). It would better and more useful, particularly in a technical age, if this information was far more transparently available. As noted, HBO (and other premium movie channels) put this sort of thing out there. You'll usually see when some movie or show is being shown on TV without as much censorship some wording which describes that you're about to see human blood and guts and people screaming "foul" language at each other, or some such.

I'm fine with that. We as consumers will tend to want to filter out what we're consuming as entertainment, and be prepared if we have more sensitive tastes to avoid certain products (as we might look at a list of ingredients on a menu to avoid certain dishes). I'm not fine with a universal set of "avoid this". In the same way that I/we wouldn't be fine if particular palate and taste sets for food were imposed writ large. Quite simply there are lots of things depicted in a movie universe, on a kids show, on the news, whatever, that I'm "opposed" to, or would prefer people not watch. I don't get to impose that demand on the rest of you. I don't quite see why this approach which defines certain words as out of bounds (for no apparent reason), or presumes that violence is more acceptable than sexuality, and so on, gets such preferential treatment either. A more efficient response would divide out these markers and give each their own market of "objectionable" content ratings, so to speak. That way people could consume more freely violence or sex or whatever without being encumbered by other relative value sets which object to certain words, or certain depictions (say, Islamic prohibitions on the prophet Mohammed, and so on). We in effect have this for premium movie channels (and to a lesser extent TV programmes en masse), but it's not caught on for movies so much, where we have much more of an open market as opposed to government censors working at the FCC to protect us all from the word "fuck".
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