Monday, March 25, 2013

Suits and Social Justice

For the past year or so one of my favorite shows on TV has been the law drama "Suits" on USA Network. It is tactfully written with a good plot and not nearly as predictable as many other shows on TV now a days. I was out of town when the season finale aired last month and have just now had the opportunity to blog about it. 

As interesting as it is, over the last season I have grown increasingly concerned with some of the content featured in the show. The more I watched the more profanity I noticed, and I consider myself to have a relatively high tolerance for profanity. It was not just that the characters cursed, but how and when they cursed. It wasn't the occasional d*m* or sh*t but the excessive use of GD, which, for me, crosses a line that the other words don't. It was the fact that at times it seemed as though these vulgarities were thrown in just for the sake of being thrown into the script, so people know these are "bad a**" lawyers. 

I know what these comments will seem like to many people, that I am young and naive and don't know how the real world works or how people in the real world talk. And you are wrong. I know how people talk. For goodness sakes, I just graduated from college and there is no shortage of it there. I was even at a healthcare conference with my parents recently and upon entering the hotel heard a twenty-something year old at the conference using horrific language in the loudest voice he could muster with my mother, whom he did not know, right next to him. That kind of behavior is classless and poorly represented not only him but the company he worked for. 

And the same goes for television. Let's be honest, it's nothing but sloppy and lazy writing. If you have to throw out that many obscenities to prove  how bad or tough you are, are you really that tough? Are you really that crafty of a writer that you have to add unnecessary expletives to establish the character of the role?

 So this was one thing that bothered me about the show this past season and then the last episode really pushed it over the edge. Since the beginning of the show there has been a budding (and at times, dying) romance between two of the main characters, Mike and Rachel. It has been one of those together, not together, together, not together type of plots. Well, **SPOILER ALERT** in the last episode, they end up together, like reeeeeaaaaaaal together. My problem with how the writers and producers decided to portray their relationship is not that they had sex, plenty of shows have the characters under the sheets and they leave the rest to the viewers imagination. However, "Suits" left nothing to the imagination and no room for any other interpretation. Although, I have been told pornography is much more than just sex nowadays, Suits clearly crossed a line in the realm of porn. 

What is more disturbing to me is that "Suits," nor any other program on tv now, takes responsibility for or even acknowledges the effects that this type of content has on viewers or our society as a whole. It is not simply degrading to society but studies have linked "everyday tv porn" to higher uses of more explicit pornography which is a "gateway" to even more explicit acts like child pornography, prostitution, sexual assault, and human trafficking/sex trafficking. If you don't believe it consider this, the fastest growing demographic for pimps who force girls against their wills to sell sexual services is high school age boys and most of these were introduced to this "industry" through pornography. 

Like I said above, it is extremely disturbing to me that "Suits" does not seem to have any idea what type of effect this content has. This is evident in the conflicting messages they send with their brief ads for the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) about women's equal rights in the work place that aired during episodes featuring a storyline concerning a lawsuit dealing with gender discrimination in the work place. The company at fault, "Folsom Foods," was sued because they failed to promote or hire women because they felt that women are less devoted to their work because take time off for things like pregnancy or taking care of their children.

This simply doesn't add up. It appears that "Suits" and USA Network are very concerned with women  being treated fairly and not discriminated against in the workplace but, by featuring such sexually explicit content, contribute to the sexual exploitation of women and underage girls. Not to mention the fact that sex in the workplace is never a good idea and certainly does not help women break that "glass ceiling" we hear so much about. 

So I'm sorry "Suits," but I will not be watching you any more. Clean up your content and learn about the effects your materials have on society and I'll consider tuning back in.

Oh and to anyone reading this who feels similarly, USA Network wants to know how you feel! Please click here for a link to their feedback form and feel free to tell them you heard about it here. 

For more info on sex trafficking check out the Polaris Project
For more info on how pornography feeds the sex trafficking industry check out this recent study, although others are out there too.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saint Patrick's day has never been a big deal in my family. At most, if we think of in while getting dressed we may try to dig out a green shirt or something but that's about it. I actually had to look up what day it is because I can never remember when it is (it is March 17th if you didn't know). 

Saint Patrick's Day

However, last year I was doing some research on the old hymn "Be Thou My Vision" which finds its origins in Ireland and actually has some links to St. Patrick when the day found a new place in my heart.  

To most people's surprise, St. Patrick was not actually Irish but Scottish. Long before he was a saint, he was kidnapped from his homeland Scotland some time between the ages of 14-16 and taken as a slave to Ireland. In his writings he describes how God used this time of captivity to grow his faith but also a time for him to learn the language and more about the pagan culture. He was in Ireland for several years (some say between 5-6 years) before escaping. 
St. Patrick
Saint Patrick Stained Glass Window
After reuniting with his family, Patrick had a dream that the people of Ireland were calling out to him asking him to return. He then began studying to become a priest so that he might return to Ireland as a missionary to the people there. Patrick preached and shared the Gospel there for over 40 years and is credited with the country's conversion to Catholicism and he is the only missionary to have his own international holiday. 


This St. Patrick's day rather than just wearing green, looking for four leaf clovers, and drinking green beer, take a minute to pray for the missionaries around the world or send a note of encouragement to those missionaries you know.

Note: All pictures are taken from Google Images

Monday, March 11, 2013

Philadelphia- The Birthplace of Our Nation and Home of Cheese Steaks

Although our time was short in Philadelphia I already want to go back, preferably when it is warm. My mom and I flew up to attend the Justice Conference but we went a day early so that we could explore Philadelphia since we knew our conference schedule would be pretty busy.

City Hall
Part of Philadelphia City Hall lit up at night. It was massive!
We stayed downtown in the center of it all at the Downtown Marriott (I like to pronounce it with a British accent similar to Downton Abbey) which connects to the Philadelphia Convention Center. This is a great location, especially if you don't have a lot of time and need to be close to it all.

The night we flew in we got there too late to go see anything but too early to just hang in the room or go to bed. Thankfully my mom is an awesome trip planner and found out that there was a Macy's across the street from our hotel. I know what you are probably thinking, "You go to a famously historic city and you go shopping?" Before you judge us for being shallow or unpatriotic or frivolous, let me explain.

Macy's in downtown Philadelphia has the largest functional pipe organ in existence. The organ was built in 1911 and has 30,000 pipes and sits right above the shoe department. The best part is, they have organists who play it twice a day Monday-Saturday, once in the morning and once in the evening.


My mom, a pianist who took organ lessons in college, loved it! It was probably the highlight of her trip. We were able to go and hear it played twice, and, yes, do a little shopping as well (only because they had an unbelievable sale going on though!).

The next day was our official "touring day." Although I'm sure many people think it is cheesy, our family has found that one of the best ways to see a city for the first time is to do a "hop on, hop off" bus tour. Our favorite is the Big Bus Company which has locations all over the world, including Philly. Unlike every other Big Bus Tour we have taken, which has been a double decker bus, our tour was on a trolly car. Later the tour guide explained that during the busy tour season they use the big double decker buses but during the off season they use the trollies because they are warmer. It was really cold so I didn't mind.

Our tour started right outside our hotel and took us by almost all of the famous sites and learned a lot of neat facts about Philadelphia. For example, the inventor of the game Monopoly was from there and that is where all of the railroads, the electric company and water works come from or that we get the word "penitentiary" from Philly's East Penitentiary because the Quakers would give each prisoner there a Bible and tell them they needed to ask for penance. These are some of the things we saw:

Me and the Rocky Statue
Betsy Ross
Betsy Ross's House
Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin's Grave- Awful picture but the best I could do. The tour guide said people leave pennies on his grave. Ironic since Franklin was the one who said, "A penny saved, a penny earned." 
We rode the trolley around straight through the first time and then got off at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. It was so cold we had to pretty much run from building to building.

Me and the Liberty Bell
Of course if you have read my previous blogs about DC or the Capitol you know how much I love historic sites. Philadelphia was no different. There is nothing quite like standing in the room where our nation's government began, where men, knowing the risk, made the decision to break away from tyranny and establish a "more perfect union." More simply put, there is nothing quite like standing in the footsteps of history.

First House Chamber
Me at a Congressman's desk at the first House Chamber
Needless to say, we couldn't go to Philadelphia without getting a Philly Cheese Steak. We didn't have time to seek out the best in the city, but we were able to get one at Reading Terminal, which has hundreds of food vendors. Reading Terminal (pronounced "redding") is the former home of Reading Railroad, an actual train terminal that is now out of commission.

Reading Railroad

Our Philly Cheese Steak

Reading Terminal is also where you can find Bassett's Ice Cream, America's oldest ice cream company, which began making and selling ice cream in 1861. Naturally we had to have a taste and it didn't disappoint.

Reading Terminal
Bassett's Ice Cream

Reading Terminal Market
Another great trip in the books! Can't wait to go back to Philly and explore some more!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Oscar Results and Comments

Sorry it has been awhile for me. I have been in and out (more out than in) of town for the past 3 weeks, but now I'm home and have some catching up to do!

So the Oscars did not turn out well for me this year. Obviously I am most excited about Anne Hathaway winning best supporting actress. However, many of the other categories I did not agree with especially, as you may imagine, Best Picture.

I got a few right and a good many wrong, and, of course, feel like my choices frequently got robbed. However, I am excited for Ben Affleck, I think he is a pretty cool guy, but I still don't think Argo deserved it. I also thought the First Lady's presentation was odd and extremely out of place and made the whole thing look rigged (Affleck and fellow producer George Clooney are both major Obama supporters). In my opinion, organizations should always avoid the appearance of any kind of fraud or deceit, especially in this day and age where everything is so highly scrutinized. It also does not help that Argo has a political element to it, adding to suspicions. 

I also was not a big fan of the host or his hosting. I do not understand why they go to so much trouble to make the event "funny." I enjoyed parts like the cast of Les Mis singing as well as Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum dancing. Those were classy. But as for the rest, leave it for Family Guy Seth McFarlane. 

Well, there is always next year. Maybe it will be better for all of us.