disney films and stereotypes, beck the rabbi, the illusions of self help

In Disney Films, Beauty Is Far From Beastly

The researchers rated all of the 163 characters who were identified by name in the films. The animated men and women (and occasional nonhuman creatures such as Ariel in The Little Mermaid) were scored on attractiveness (on an 11-point scale), aggressiveness (defined by physical or verbal abuse of others), goodness and intelligence.

“Across the animated movies, attractive characters displayed higher intelligence, lower aggressiveness and greater moral virtue,” Bazzini and her colleagues write. “Moreover, physically attractive characters were more likely to achieve positive life outcomes at the film’s end, and were more likely to be romantically involved.”

“Thus the animated films of Disney seem to maintain and promote the belief that attractive people attain more overall positivity in their lives.”

Thankfully the researchers do acknowledge that it requires a pretty steady diet of Disney films with attractive human-like charters to have a lasting effect. Our general cultural climate does more to perpetuate the stereotype that attractive somehow equates to virtue and intelligence. The reverse of those is also true. Attractive women and men who are actually very bright still have to climb the bimbo/himbo hill to get respect for their inner qualities. Parents and teachers can have a much bigger impact on self-esteem how it is a separate quality that should not be confused with appearance. If they make that part of their approach to mentoring children about life and wisdom. No film company, no set of books has the last word on how self perception guides our lives.

netherlands street scene

Demonizing 101: Beck disappears Soros’ support for pro-Western, anti-Communist political movements in order to further conspiracy theory

As examples, Beck cited Soros’ purported roles in the Rose Revolution (Georgia), the Orange Revolution (Ukraine) and the Velvet Revolution (Czechoslovakia), as well as “coups” in Croatia and Yugoslavia. Author Richard Poe then connected Soros’ previous work to Beck’s accusation that Soros’ “target” is the United States.

Unmentioned in Beck’s program, but revealed in Shadow Party, the book Poe co-wrote and which appears to be the source material for a lot of the information being presented by Beck about Soros, is the fact that many of the governments Soros supposedly helped bring down were autocratic ones, often headed by former Communist leaders.

Shadow Party explains that “Soros helped bankroll the ‘velvet revolution’ that hastened the fall of a dying Communist regime and catapulted dissident playwright Vaclav Havel to the presidency of the Czech Republic.” (Shadow Party, p. 231) The Velvet Revolution led to the establishment of Slovakia as an independent nation and eventual inclusion in NATO.

Shadow Party also goes on to note that Soros’ support for the Otpor organization in Yugoslavia helped to bring about the end of Slobodan Milosevic’s reign, and points out that the International Criminal Tribunal later charged Milosevic with crimes against humanity.

One of Beck’s more egregious recent trends is to be the grand decider of who is a good Jew and who is not. It is possible for a former Mormon who converted to an odd strain of Catholicism ( he frequently takes positions which are the polar opposite of official church doctrine. Never giving the Biblical basis for such positions), but it seems more than a little pretentious to wrap oneself in the mantle of unofficial Rabbi.

Beck’s wild conspiracy theories about Soros and the Open Society have gotten millions of views and YouTube and an short fact based biographical video on Soros has only had a few hundred views.

respectful disagreement by picasso

The Science of Self-Help by Algis Valiunas. Let me get to one small section which is so stupid that it is a blight on an otherwise great look at the history of the self-help industry,

I have not read the books mentioned above, but have only read about them, in the accounts of severe critics. Three anti-self-help books I have relied on for information and that I strongly recommend are Tom Tiede’s Self-Help Nation, Steve Salerno’s SHAM, and Barbara Ehrenreich’s recent Bright-Sided. Ehrenreich’s is the liveliest and most learned of the lot, though one tires of her nailing home the point that conservatives are generally more upbeat than liberals because in their happiness they are oblivious to the misery of others. Surely the promise of the socialist paradise where joy shall be universally available has seen its day.

To point out a general truism and atrocious attribute of conservatism is the same as being pro socialist? Some birds quack thus all birds are ducks? A terrible break down in logic.

The peroration to Dyer’s 2009 book Excuses Begone! incorporates a quotation from Thoreau’s 1851 journal about boyhood moments of supreme exaltation: “There comes into my mind such an indescribable, infinite, all-absorbing, divine, heavenly pleasure, a sense of elevation and expansion, and [I] have nought to do with it. I perceive that I am dealt with by superior powers.” This is the American soul at its most eloquent. Dyer too claims to have known such transports, though they have not helped his creaking prose and pedestrian philosophizing, and he recommends the life of untrammeled ecstasy to the reader, who has only to rid himself of the excuses produced by “the habitual mind” — I am too old, I am too poor, I am too fat, I am too tired — in order to enjoy it. In short, Dyer is a self-styled Transcendentalist epigone. And while there is a lot to be said for the high fliers of mid-nineteenth-century New England, a large portion of their teaching is bunk — and so is Dyer’s. To say that one’s thoughts and feelings are within one’s power to control is one thing, and not an unwise one: the Stoics said as much — indeed, insisted that they are the only matters one always can control. To say that one’s thoughts and feelings can rid the earth of cyclones and water moccasins is another thing, upon which any further comment is unnecessary.

A good point about the Stoics, but even that may give the impression of having too much control. There is a duality at work. We can and should strive for as much control over our person as possible but we will always live in a place in between, a real life Purgatory. One between the control society places on us, an independent realm that we establish for ourselves, emotional baggage from our experiences, our physical limitations and fleeting circumstances of control which ebb and flow. Self help gurus almost never stake out that ambiguous territory.