Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial to Memorial Day

It's Memorial Day weekend: the start of summer and all that comes with it.  That includes warm weather (except in Chicago where we wait until June), grilling, al fresco dining (except in Chicago where we wear parkas until June), outdoor sports, and the onslaught of bugs. 

We will see many stories this weekend about those who serve or have served in our military. We will be asked to remember their sacrifices and to honor their memory. Some of us will fly flags and watch parades. We might even visit a cemetery. But mostly, we will spend time recreating, enjoying picnics, and being grateful for the day off work.  Many of us won't think about the soldiers, sailors, and airmen until we watch the evening news and when the news is over, we will go on about our business.

The ability to go on about our business is why we should all be honoring those who serve. They don't always fight and die for our freedoms. They go where our government sends them to fight and die for others. Whether or not we agree with the politics of these ventures, the military personnel that goes includes our family, friends, and neighbors. Every generation is touched by war and we all share in the consequences of that, no matter how justified the cause may be.

It's a shame that Congress decided to move this holiday in order to create a long weekend.  There was something special about May 30th. It stood apart until the National Holiday Act of 1971 moved it to the last Monday in May in order to create the three-day weekend. Somehow our delight in a long weekend supplanted our honoring of those who have served us so well. (Get more history about Memorial Day here.) 

So how about doing something special on Monday in addition to the ball games, the cookouts, and the family gatherings? How about saying thank you by flying that flag, donating to the USO, or observing a moment of silence?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Disney Destroys a Difference

The Walt Disney Corporation makes me sad sometimes. I realize that all its decisions are about making more money but please - sexy, slinky Merida?  Fans are disgruntled and I am one of them. (Read about it here.)

I never fit in comfortably at school. While I wasn't a tomboy, I did things the other girls didn't do. I read, I went to plays, I loved classical music. I didn't look like them either. In fact, when my hair wasn't short, it looked exactly like Merida's. It is naturally curly and when I was a child it was so tangled it was nearly impossible to brush. I shared more than appearance with Merida. I, too, was fiercely independent and anxious to be on my own. While, as a rule, girls do not suffer through arranged marriages in this country, there were certain expectations for females that I fought against. In so many ways, she is me.  Even as an adult, Merida is the Disney princess who speaks to me.

So what's the deal? Why the redo?

The marketing and merchandising people at Disney Corporate don't care about a girl's self-image or about girls at all. All marketing mavens know sex sells so they made Merida sexy. It's that simple.

Hey Bob Iger.  This may not be as bad as Classic Coke but do you really want to do this? What about you, John Lasseter? Pixar created the look.  It seems you should defend it.

Sometimes a company should do what's right and concern itself with more than the bottom line. Sadly, it doesn't appear that this is one of those times for The Walt Disney Company and that is why I'm sad.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

CNN and its Boston Backdrop

CNN stands for Cable News Network. When Ted Turner started it way back in 1980, it was amazing and new. Reporters went everywhere and covered all the major stories, providing such thorough coverage that military operations adjusted to allow for its presence. It was unique and it was the only 24-7 news source. It could be replied upon. How things change.

By now, most people are aware of the reporting errors made by CNN, Fox and several others. That was bothersome for sure but it has been addressed and assessed extensively. What troubles me in addition to its inaccuracies is that CNN remained in Boston well after all the other networks had pulled out. It was as if they had nowhere else to go.  The network used Boston and Watertown as backdrops for their anchors for an extra week.  Why? What was the network communicating to its viewers by staying so long?

I can think of only one thing - CNN wanted to milk the bombing story for all it was worth.  Never mind that there was little additional news to report. Never mind that the viewers had seen all the footage hundreds of times before. Never mind that the constant repetition might have been hard on the local citizens and the victims. Boston in the background meant money in the bank.

I don't blame the anchors. They were working where their producers and editors put them. It just seems to me that someone should have figured out that enough was enough.

I know CNN got a ratings bump during the event. I also know that our household was surprised and disappointed by CNN's staying in the area so long. Add that to the inaccuracies and we decided to get our news elsewhere in the future.

There is news and then there is salaciousness. Apparently CNN can't tell the difference anymore. How sad for it and for all of us - especially at this time when accurate and timely communication is so important.