Lowered Expectations — Media, Money, & Mad Men

It’s not that I’m in a bad mood on this rainy Tuesday, it’s that I don’t have any energy left for annoyances. Yesterday started off with someone relaying a situation to me: what if a woman was being pestered to get an HIV test because a previous boyfriend of her hers was HIV-positive (or so they presume). What if the boyfriend refused to get one for himself and refused to use a condom? Could I test her and call him to say she was negative? Also, can people get AIDS from toilet seats?

There are so many things wrong with that hypothetical that I scarcely know where to begin. But maybe this is a good Square One:

screen still from Mad Men: The Crash

What about this syringe looks like a good idea?

If you’re concerned your sexual partner has HIV or AIDS, don’t have sex with them without a condom. I don’t know, seems like decent practice to me. Also, if your fiancee insists you have an HIV test, tells people on social media he thinks you have AIDS, refuses to get a test himself, and IS SUCH A DUMB ASS HE SCREWS YOU USING NO PROTECTION, do not, under any circumstances, marry him.

I open up my work email inbox, and lo and behold, there are two messages asking for me to donate money to a person who is crowdsourcing some thing or other. My work email. And I have no fewer than four personal email accounts.

I must get 7–10 indiegogo or other crowdsource requests a week. These are on top of the emails from the Pride Foundation, Planned Parenthood, the alternative high school’s health clinic, any nonprofit I’ve ever donated to, and any nonprofit I’ve ever worked with as an executive director. I just do not have enough money to give to all of these organizations and people. So I am drafting a set of guidelines for my future giving. It’s nothing personal, people and organizations who need funding. I know what the economy is like. I know the 99% of us are working with less than ever before. But from here on out, I probably will not donate to any of the following:

  • A project that should be funded by your employer—as in, this is a project that benefits a larger institution—This should be funded by the organization, not individuals, and especially not individuals who are themselves on the margins, with little access to institutional power/money.
  • A project that is super-tentative or extremely vague—I want to do something with kittens and global capitalism and the performative—don’t we all, my friend. Don’t we all.
  • A project to give the creative grantee “space to think.” That’s called time management. I mean, I get that it’s hard to do anything creative when one has no time, and/or lots of responsibilities. Forgive me if I sound flip, but carving out such space and time is part of the creative process, not simply a precursor to it. Okay, so maybe I’m talking myself out of my reservations for this, but there are a few funding requests on this subject that just strike me as somewhat unnecessary.
  • A project that already has several established funding avenues—I get that lots of grant programs are really competitive, or limited to nonprofits, or unavailable to individuals, so in those cases it makes sense to think about crowd funding. But if the the project is mainstream enough that there are other ways to get funding already open, consider knocking on those doors first, and not mine.
  • A project that is looking for $250 or less—There may be some situations that come up that need mircofinancing, of course. But I’m going to reserve my giving for people who need an amount of money that they couldn’t collect in a year on their own.

Maybe a list of excepted funding requests sounds harsh. Maybe it makes me a bad person. But honestly, I’m making these decisions on a regular basis, and at some point, and I have to say no more often than yes. I’m definitely partial to trans-related health care and surgery, moderately well defined book or creative projects, projects that benefit a group of underserved people, and projects that have a principled purpose but no institutional or alternative means of getting funded.

Okay, so Mad Men. I realize after last week’s descent into urban hell that the entire show is an apology for men’s ability to deal with past traumas. We’re watching them through the figures of Don Draper, Pete Campbell, Roger Sterling, and others, be cruel to women, over and over again. If Dick Whitman grew up the orphaned child of the house of prostitution, then no amount of speed doping in the guise of a vitamin shot is going to restore his soul. We’re watching 40-something and older white men take their frustrations out on the people around them. I suppose my unease watching the first few episodes of the series was well founded, in retrospect and all. Now watching a show about a man named Dick created by a man named Mr. Weiner is making me feel like I’m on the bad side of a penis joke. Mad Men is losing me.

Back to the rainy afternoon, now. Hopefully I’ll find a new mood soon!

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Categories: Pop Culture


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