We’ve got our TiVo hooked up to get the latest Ted Talks on our TV, so we were delighted to find Mechai Viravaidya’s presentation “How Mr. Condom Made Thailand a Better Place” in our “Now Playing” list recently. Viravaidya is an eloquent and funny speaker, which alone makes it worth watching the 14-minute talk. But what’s really amazing is his account of how a country dedicated to reducing poverty and saving lives can really make strides when they’re not set back by a narrow-minded, religiously zealous, sexually repressed culture (yes, we’re talking about you, America).
A great article in the NYTimes this past weekend about cyberbullying — and in particular cyberbullying over sexual orientation — included this line which really made us stop and think: “the punishment must fit the crime, not the sense of outrage over it.” It’s wise and it’s true, but we’d forgotten that — and it doesn’t answer the question, what do you do with all the outrage you feel? The outraged part of us feels that Tyler Clementi’s college roommate — who secretly filmed Clementi hooking up with another guy then posted it online, leading to Clementi’s suicide — deserves to go to jail for a long, long time. Same goes for the assholes who bullied 13-year-oldÂ Seth Walsh about his sexual orientation — Walsh hanged himself fromÂ a tree in his backyard last month and died after more than a week on life support. And countless other gay teen suicides across the country — often as a direct result of peer bullying.
But now we’ve figured out what we can do — throw all our energies into supporting Dan Savage’s awesome new YouTube channel, “It Gets Better.” Savage and his husband filmed the first video themselves, and we dare you to watch it without crying, especially in light of the recent bullying and suicides. Their message to gay teens? Life after high school does get better, but only if you stick around and live your life. And if you don’t stick around, the bigots win. They talk about how they each found a community of supportive friends, how they came out to their families, how they found each other, how they adopted their son together, and how awesome life as a gay man can be, once you’ve left the teenage bigots behind. And now they are soliciting video submissions from anyone else who can help spread the same message (they already have more than a hundred submissions). As Savage writes in his column, “LGBT kids who don’t know any LGBT adults need to seeâ€”with their own eyesâ€”that gay adults lead happy and rewarding lives. So if you decide to make a videoâ€”and I hope that you doâ€”don’t just share your pain. Share your joy. Give ‘em hope. Save a life.”
Savage and his husband both say that their lives improved the second they graduated from high school, though sadly that wasn’t true for Tyler Clementi. But the ultimate message is, once you can choose where you live and who you live with and who you socialize with — which may not happen until after college for some people — you are going to have an awesome life. Please tell everyone you know about this channel; we can’t imagine a better, more uplifting response to all the asshole bigots like Clementi’s roommate. Also, will someone please make Dan Savage — who is, no shit, a good Catholic boy — a goddamn saint already?
We’ve been long-time fans (well, long-time in terms of Internet years) of the website and podcast “Know Your Meme,” a “web series and online database dedicated to documenting Internet culture, one scientismic investigation at a time.” They give you information on the back-story, viral development and spin-offs of every crazy contemporary meme out there, from Auto-Tune to Double Rainbow to shit you’ve never even heard of. While the whole thing is kind of silly, the “scientists” (read: comedians) behind KYM actually do pose — and answer quite well — some smart and interesting questions about our fast-paced viral Internet culture. Take their report on Antoine Dodson/Bed Intruder: Are we laughing at Atoine or with him, as his flamboyant threats against his sister’s would-be rapist to a local news crew are Auto-tuned into a smash hit available on iTunes?
How did we manage to miss this totally awesome quote from Ryan Gosling? In an interview with New York magazine about his upcoming movie BLUE VALENTINE (opening later this year, it’s a portrait of a marriage, co-starring Michelle Williams), he’s asked about his character’s tattoo of Shel Silversteinâ€™s The Giving Tree on his arm, and replies: “That book is so fucked up; that storyâ€™s the worst. I mean, at the end the tree is a stump and the old guy just sitting on him — heâ€™s just used him to death, and youâ€™re supposed to want to be the tree? Fuck you. You be the tree. I donâ€™t want to be the tree.” Now we can’t decide which we love more — Silverstein’s book or Gosling’s quote about it.
Warning: only hardcore nerds — or those with a soft spot for hardcore nerds — will find this YouTube footage (below) touching. Game designer Anders Howard, with the help of his friends, designed a video game to propose to his girlfriend Steffany; he got friends and family together for a launch event of the game and had her test drive it in front of everyone; in it, a Steffany-look-alike has to walk around a cartoon city collecting food (she writes a foodie blog called Dinner Love) and along the way gets help from an Anders-look-alike, as well as flowers, love letters and ultimately a ring. Super geeks can even play the game for themselves here.