Criticism

When Restaurant Workers Can’t Afford to Eat

In July, the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) of New York, an organization dedicated to improving wages and conditions for people who work in restaurants, released a report called “Food Insecurity of Restaurant Workers.” The report, based on surveys and interviews with people in the restaurant industry in New York and San Francisco, shows the ways in which the employment conditions of restaurant work make it very difficult for workers to feed themselves.

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Point/Counterpoint: Does Empowerment Sell?

POINT, via the New York Times: People are paying lots of positive attention to that new Pantene ad about not apologizing so much and the Under Armour one featuring ballerina Misty Copeland! Perhaps we are finally feeling the winds of change.

Ms. Copeland, standing at 5 feet 2 inches tall, muscular and busty, faced similar criticism as a young dancer, not fitting the willowy mold of the typical ballerina. But she succeeded, making herself the perfect face — or body —  for Under Armour’s empowering tagline “I will what I want.”

“For aspiring dancers (and their teachers) to see that her body — her skin color, her monster glutes, her bust — do look right, that’s just huge,” writes Hana Glasser at Slate, in one of the many articles gushing about the campaign’s inspirational power.

Whereas the straight-up sex ads for places like American Apparel feel tired, retro. Or is that merely the brand?

Maybe Empowerment has the edge these days! Maybe we consumers, especially ladies, want to be feel inspired to part with our money rather than shamed into doing it, out of the fear that otherwise we’ll be insufficiently attractive to men.

COUNTERPOINT, via the Hairpin: I’m sorry, what

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Class Consciousness In Kids’ Books

Last night I read the children’s book Corduroy to babygirl for the 15,000th time. A small bear in green overalls wanders a department store at night looking for his lost button, because that button represents everything that is out of his reach: love and acceptance, family, security, home. He is rescued by a girl, Lisa, who believes in his potential so much that she empties out her piggy bank for him. Once she and Corduroy have settled in her bedroom, she sews on a new button for him, not because he needs it but because he’ll be more comfortable with his strap fastened. And then they share a big hug.

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Here Is Your Open Thread

Really, I’d never do this.

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We Need a New Kind of Financial Advice

The vast majority of us, try as we might, are not going to be the Rich Dad, living off passive income while some hapless schlubs labor for our cigar-smoking benefit. We are going to be the schlubs. We need financial literature that recognizes this. We don’t need advice on how to be rich and idle. We need concrete tips for effectively treading water.

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The Artist Survival Simulator Divides Life Between Work and Art

There’s a new browser game in town: the Artist Survival Simulator. I’m hoping there’s a secret joke I’m not getting, because every time you click “work for a living” you lose artistic inspiration, and every time you blow your savings on an inspirational excursion you get more excited about making art.

That’s not how any artists I know work.

Making a game that states “if you get a day job, you’ll lose inspiration and never create art” is a bit of a dangerous presumption. Maybe the most dangerous presumption an artist can get in his or her head.

I want a game that expresses the complexities of balancing a day job and making art while acknowledging that the day job is nearly always part of the artistic equation.

What do you all think?

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“Unable to Handle My Candy”: The Maureen Dowd Story

Grey Lady columnist Maureen Dowd wrote an already-classic column this week about purchasing some edible, legal marijuana in Colorado. Things did not go well for America’s favorite opinionated redhead and her last dance with Mary Jane:

The caramel-chocolate flavored candy bar looked so innocent, like the Sky Bars I used to love as a child. … But then I felt a scary shudder go through my body and brain. I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn’t move to get water. Or even turn off the lights. I was panting and paranoid, sure that when the room-service waiter knocked and I didn’t answer, he’d call the police and have me arrested for being unable to handle my candy.

I strained to remember where I was or even what I was wearing, touching my green corduroy jeans and staring at the exposed-brick wall. As my paranoia deepened, I became convinced that I had died and no one was telling me.

I remember that feeling! One time when I got high — also legally, in Copenhagen — I too ate more hash cookies than I should have because there was no guidance on the packaging and what started out as a lark in an art museum turned into hours by myself in my dorm room climbing the walls. I crawled to the phone and stared at the keypad, willing myself to remember the phone number of my parents back in DC. Somehow, I decided, if I could remember all ten digits in order, that would save me.

Like Liz Lemon, I was never good at drugs. Once, in college, I smoked up with a friend before a QSA meeting and when I got there realized I had somehow put my knee-high Doc Marten boots on the wrong feet. MEMORIES. The key takeaway here is that the Internet is making lots of fun of Maureen “The Fires of MoDo” Dowd, and Colorado is giggling uncontrollably all the way to the bank.

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What Can We Do About Subconscious Racism?

Ester Bloom has joined Ta-Nehisi Coates in urging us to have a frank conversation about how to fix the massive racial injustices that inhere in our country. Coates proposes monetary reparations as an institutional remedy for the crushing toll of slavery, Jim Crow terrorism, and subsequent racist public policy. But what about the deeply ingrained attitudes, especially among white people, that perpetuate racial injustice? I don’t mean the cartoon plutocrat racism of Donald Sterling, which is ultimately a distracting anomaly. I mean the subtle favoritism that crops up in the choices we make when dating, hiring, and choosing where to live—the implicit racism we never consider. What’s the reparations for that, and are we willing to pay the price?

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Ready? Let’s Talk Reparations

Have we all had a chance to read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s cri de coeur about the historical argument for reparations? If not, take this opportunity to grab a cup of coffee and dive into it. We’ll wait. The piece is well-written and well-argued; you will emerge from it with a much deeper appreciation of the effects of several hundred years of Constitutionally-enshrined, community-enforced, and, up until only a few decades ago, government-supported white supremacy.

Spoiler alert: He isn’t asking us to agree on a dollar figure. He wants America as a country to face up to the facts and have the conversation:

We must imagine a new country. Reparations — by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences — is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely. … I believe that wrestling publicly with these questions matters as much as — if not more than — the specific answers that might be produced.

The Internet being what it is, naturally some interesting response pieces have come in and are worth reading in conjunction with TNC’s:

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“That’s Not Sharing, It’s Selling.”

Enlighten your capitalism today with the always-incisive Susie Cagle’s illustrated report back from the “Share” conference. It’s so good.

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