Sunday, September 28, 2014

Paris Plans to Eliminate The Love Locks

       Over the summer, I went to Paris and fell in love with the city. I was taking pictures the whole time. One of my favorites is the one below. 
       I’m sure many are familiar with the famous bridge in Paris with the “love locks” attached to it (Pont des Arts bridge). Couples will go and attach padlocks to symbolize their love for one another. The bridge is riddled with locks, each one representing a different, unique relationship. Paris is the city of love, and yet they plan to take down this enormous symbol of love that has been a site for couples to visit for such a long time. 
       One maintenance worker on the bridge feels the bridge will “lose some of its charm when the locks are gone.” I would entirely agree with him on this. Without the locks, it’s just another bridge. I find this so sad that the City of Love is giving up on such a beloved tradition. This is bridge has, in a way, turned into a public piece of art, with more and more people adding to it, attaching their locks to other locks. 
       While I understand that many think it’s cheesy, if you really think about it, the whole concept is very powerful. Couples have come to that very spot from all over the world to solidify their bond. Knowing that their love is “forever” locked on that bridge is something really special. The bridge is a place so beautiful and unique to Paris, and it baffles me that they would want to defile it. Does Paris have the right to just wipe out this tradition that has such deep rooted history?
       It got me thinking about how the situation would be handled if we had a similar situation in the U.S. What if the government said, “no more taking selfies in the reflection of the Bean in Chicago”? There would be an uproar.
It almost seems unpatriotic for the City of Love to be erasing part of a landmark that has represented that very idea for so many years. I think people in support of taking the locks down don’t realize what they are really destroying. It’s more than just some tourist attraction. 
       Is this really something the city needs to take control of and try to maintain? Can’t Paris have some sympathy for the tourists who want to participate this great display of affection? The same maintenance worker mentioned prior posed the question that I’m sure many of us are wondering: “‘Why do they have to take the romance away?’”

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Urban Outfitters Making Profit Off of Tragedy

       At first glance on the website, the sweatshirt seemed to fit the normal “look” of Urban Outfitters (distressed, worn-in clothing). Once I heard the story behind this clothing item, though, I was appalled. 

       In 1970, four students from Kent State University in Ohio were killed and nine were wounded in a shooting during a peaceful student protest over Vietnam. The National Guard fired on unarmed kids. It was a tragic event for the families and friends of these students, as well as the nation as a whole. Neil Young later wrote a song called “Ohio” about the tragedy.

       Four lives were lost that day, leaving so many individuals in emotional distress, and Urban Outfitters decides it’s okay to make a “loose slouchy sweatshirt” representing what happened that day in a tasteless manner. 

       This is apparently not Urban Outfitter’s first run-in with this kind of an issue. When I talked to my friends about the sweatshirt I learned there have been several other offensive clothes they have had to issue apologies for, one being a t-shirt that had a star on the pocket which resembled the badge Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. It’s really unbelievable what this company thinks it can get away with. They are a tasteless, exploitative, and nihilistic company that would do anything to make a profit. Exploitation of such an event should result in a financial punishment, so this company can really learn its lesson.

       I cannot fathom how anyone would think this is acceptable to try and make a profit off of. Obviously they knew they would get publicity for being “controversial.” It could all be for attention. But does this really relate to what people always say that “no publicity is bad publicity”? Or is something else going on here? Why is Urban Outfitters so dead set on pushing the boundaries?

       Clothing often gets scrutinized when it’s seen as controversial by the general public. Vivienne Westwood’s 1970’s era was seen as outrageous to so many people. But there’s really a difference between Westwood, who was a great influence on the “punk” era of fashion, and Urban Outfitters, who is making a statement in a much different way. Fashion is an art form, and there are no rules in art. But we have to draw the line somewhere.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The N.F.L's Callous Approach to a Domestic Violence Case

Football is America’s sport. It’s no wonder we will put it before so many other things in life. The weekend of Superbowl Sunday, several of my teachers did not assign homework. It’s important to America; it’s tradition. But the game should never come before a person’s well-being.

When I came home from school, my parents were talking about this “Ray Rice” incident. It related to what we had been discussing in class that day about Adrian Peterson, a player on the Minnesota Vikings, who “disciplined” (beat) his son with a tree branch repeatedly. He was released on bail and the Vikings seem to be standing behind him. 

I went to go check out some more details on my own. I was horrified at what I saw.
When you google search “Ray Rice” one of the first things that comes up is a video with over 8 million views within the past week. The video was astonishing. The caption reads “This is what a two game suspension looks like -- Ray Rice delivering a a crushing punch to his fiancee's face, knocking her out cold ... and TMZ Sports has the shocking video.” Rice punches his fiancee in the face and proceeds to drag her unconscious body out of the elevator, stepping over it quite angrily. This gets him suspended for 2 games. Once the public got a hold of the video; however, N.F.L commissioner Goodell modified his punishment to an “indefinite suspension." Goodell is reacting in such a manner now because of the public outcry over the horrifying video. 

Once I watched the video, I was outraged to find out that his fiancee (now wife) is actually standing by his side in all of this. In this picture, she holds his hand while walking into court with him.

I think the N.F.L’s attitude towards these types of situations are appalling. They don’t seem to particularly care what their players go home and do to their wives and kids. It speaks to how they feel about women and about domestic violence. What does this say about how America views child abuse versus spousal abuse? Is one more “tolerated” than the other? It seems that the N.F.L feels this way, since Peterson had much less of a punishment for beating his 4 year old defenseless child than Rice had for knocking out his fiancee. These 200-300 pound men are abusing their loved ones who have no defense. In my opinion, both certainly deserve more of a punishment for abusing another person than just a “suspension.” 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Does Everyone Like Country So Much?

       This weekend, I was driving home with my friend in her car; we were listening to the radio. When a country song came on, she instinctively changed the station. 
       We both share a dislike for this particular genre. We had a brief conversation afterwards asking why we thought people actually liked country music and decided we didn’t actually know. I went home thinking about it for awhile.
       Is it because it makes listeners feel patriotic? Does it take people back to a “simpler” time? Do people like the storytelling aspect of it? I wanted to know.
       I think people find each country song is telling a story. Perhaps people like and can relate to this whole narrative that goes on. It’s the same reason so many of us can’t help but enjoy watching dramatic soap operas. The story pulls us in and we keep tuning in so we can find out what happens at the end.
       There’s also this idea that it could serve as some sort of relief for people who are sick of hearing everyone talk about new modern technology all the time. The popular song “#Selfie” by the Chainsmokers is entirely about a girl who is taking a “selfie” and all that goes along with that (choosing a filter, choosing a caption, etc.). I can understand someone who feels overwhelmed by our social media craze and needs a break from it may change the station to country. Themes in country music are usually very simple. Country music tells a story, and listeners go in knowing the story will be somewhat the same as the last country song, since country songs tend to be quite similar.
       There is a popular argument that I do agree with that every country song is basically “the same.” Some key ideas that I frequently hear in lyrics of country songs are relating to this stereotypical idea of what an “American” is. To give some examples, a pickup truck, blue jeans, or a beer seem to be worked into the lyrics of most of these songs. That isn’t what we’re about as a country, though. These topics I have listed are more stereotypical of a person specifically from the South than from any given part of America.
       My older brother, who also dislikes country, recently sent me a link to popular country artist Zac Brown Band’s song "Chicken Fried" lyrics (, joking that it should be “America’s new anthem.” The song talks about some of the usual country song topics: fried chicken, beer, jeans, a woman, and pie. Later in the song, the singer says “Salute the ones who died/The ones that give their lives/So we don't have to sacrifice/All the things we love/Like our chicken fried/And cold beer on a Friday night/A pair of jeans that fit just right/And the radio up”
       The singer is saying how men and women are giving their lives so that we can continue on being Americans and eating fried chicken… Does that scream “patriotism” to you?
       And aren’t these country artists only furthering these stereotypes by writing hit songs about them? Is that their goal? They seem to all be contributing to enhancing this negative image other countries have about the stereotypical American. This is an oversimplified version of who we are as people. It's really not doing us justice.
       I know people like and can associate with country music and its themes, but in my opinion it’s doing a bad job at trying to represent us as a country. Country music is mocking the American lifestyle.