Exile, fandom, acne, hair, dance

And I’m back, everyone! The break was nice, although I never had any sort of great Passover-y moment of revelation. One thing I found myself thinking of a lot was the people who were born and died during those 40 years in the wilderness, who had no memory of Egypt and didn’t live long enough to see the Promised Land. I’ve never greatly identified with Moses — the Lord is always sayething unto him, for one thing, and the Lord doesn’t sayeth unto me very often, if at all. But those cynical Gen-Xers of Exodus, tired of the Greatest Generation’s war stories, wondering if they’re anything to hope for, really … them, I get.

Some good reading from last week: this article in the Globe about fandom. It focuses on sports fans, but many of the dynamics are true of fans of anything else (a celebrity, a television show, a band) as well. Are you a “fan” of anything, to the point of buying a t-shirt, following someone on Twitter, or joining a group (online or off) for the purposes of discussing that thing? I’ve become a fairly avid fan of several television shows, most notably “Deadwood,” to the point of writing fan fiction and buying a “Star & Bullock Hardware” shirt.

A piece in Slate on why humans are the only animals to have acne, and also the only ones that would be psychologically bothered by it. (Evolution is a cruel trickster.) New treatments have made acne rarer among teens, but that very fact might increase the suffering of those who can’t afford treatment, or for whom nothing has been successful.

I was fascinated to read that blogger S.E. Smith recently cut her long hair very short, and found that she was darned near considered antisocial for wanting to keep it her business what she did with the ponytail. Specifically, she faced a lot of pressure to donate her hair, a practice which has gone from being a nifty option for people suddenly in possession of a braid no longer attached to their head, to becoming near-mandatory, the default option. The thing you have to explain if you don’t do it.

This bothers me. A great deal. Two years ago, I wrote about a New Yorker article on people who donate kidneys to strangers. My reaction to it then was strong and visceral, and has since become more focused. This notion of one’s body as a resource that may be owed to strangers is deeply problematic. As I wrote two years ago:

I would not donate a kidney to a stranger, nor do I feel any sense of a moral call to do so merely on the grounds that I could. My body and its functions are not some form of wealth that I am hoarding like Scrooge McDuck: they are constitutive of my identity. They are ME. And no one has an a priori right to my blood, my organs, my womb. I may choose to share, but that is my choice. Having two kidneys when others have none is not the same has having two loaves of bread when others have none. The body is different. I do not owe anyone access to my body.

As an etiquette matter, let’s all take note that “Did you donate your hair?” is a question better left unasked.

Finally, on a less existential note, let this hilarious pantomime/interpretive dance by David Armand brighten your Monday. I love this guy’s work! Am I the only one who finds brilliantly talented physical comedians way sexy? (See also: Danny Pudi.)

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13 Responses to Exile, fandom, acne, hair, dance

  1. EA Week says:

    I’m a huge, nearly 25-year fan of Doctor Who, and a lot of my social activities and friendships revolve around the show. I’ve been in and out of nearly a dozen other media fandoms since then, but Who is pretty much my first and greatest love. I don’t own tons of merchandise (not enough room for it in my house), but I always get a chuckle when I see a car bearing a bumper sticker that says, “My other car is a TARDIS.”

    In addition to fun adventure stories, the show (especially in its rebooted incarnation) grapples with a lot of Really Big Issues, adding a nice layer of complexity to what would otherwise be a fun, family-friendly program. It’s for me what I think stories like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter are to a lot of other people–a kind of modern mythology that helps you think through life’s more serious and perplexing issues and also helps you make sense of the world and universe around you.

  2. Eeeeka says:

    I have no objection to donating my body to strangers if I’m not going to need them any more (ie, after my death). Before hand? Er…. Not so much.

    I have donated my hair to Locks for Love, but that last time I just took my pony tail home. I still have it actually. :}

  3. Nona says:

    s. e. smith strongly prefers the all-lower-case writing of the name. smith does not identify as female, and prefers the pronoun “ou.” (see here http://meloukhia.net/2009/12/beyond_the_binary_names_and_pronouns.html and here http://meloukhia.net/about-2#ou )

  4. veronica says:

    My fandom has many manifestations…

    Star Trek. I’m on a mission to netflix every episode of every series. I’ve finally reached Voyager…the later years, where the writing isn’t as strong and I’ve become sick of it. The discs come further apart as a result. I have all the movies (except motion picture, it’s just hours of boring. and I only watch it once a decade in an attempt to see if it got better with age. It never does.) I’m finally going to my FIRST convention this summer in Boston. I’m going by myself because I don’t know any other rabid fans, but I figure it will be an interesting experience.

    Disney. This includes princesses, animated animals who talk (my ultimate favorite is Donald), and of course the parks. If I see something with Donald Duck, I buy it. I’m trying to see if I can swing a trip to Disney World this fall and make it an annual thing. There’s something about being a kid while not yet having my own kids that I like.

    Teddy bears. I have more stuffed bears than a not quite 30 yr old woman needs, but I keep buying them. And people keep buying them for me. Anything that uses a bear as a marketing device usually ends up in my shopping cart. Like Charmin toilet paper.

    I’m also a beer fan. Maybe it’s more of a hobby. But I like trying out new beers (sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t) and talking about beer. It’s actually my devotion to bears that led to the devotion to beer. Long Trail uses bears on most of their packaging. So one day I was like, hmmm I should give this a shot.

    And….the Jets. Despite the fact they’ve made the AFC Championship Game two years in a row, I never believe they’re going to be good. I always think they will break my heart. I hope there’s football this season so I can make a pilgrimage to New Meadowlands Stadium…

  5. Robin says:

    Nona, S.E. Smith is entitled, as we all are, to use whatever language seems appropriate to describe herself or himself. This does not put an obligation onto any other writer to adopt unconventional typography or pronouns.

  6. Shulamuth says:

    I’m a science fiction and fantasy fan, as in an aficionado of the literature (and to a lesser extent the genre in other media) and I am also a member of the science fiction and fantasy fan subculture. I’d say 90% of the people I know share, or at one point, shared this interest.

    I’m also a member of several living history/historical recreation subcultures, but I can’t say I’m a fan of anything but the subcultures themselves. I’m interested in history, but not in a fannish way.

    There are also a lot of things that some people might accuse me of being a fan of, because I have some of the accouterments of them, but which I do not pursue with anything like the dedication of a true fan thereof: stuffed animals, Hello Kitty (mostly ironically), weird weaponry, corsets.

  7. Robin says:

    I didn’t realize what geeks my readers are! LOVE IT!

  8. veronica says:

    Well Miss C: I’ve yet to meet a smart person who isn’t a geek in one form or another.

    Basically, you called all your readers smart!

  9. Carolyn says:

    “I suspect it has something to do with the idea that long hair is unfashionable, and only dour, boring people have long hair, while fresh, fun, youthful, friendly people keep their locks short and manageable.”
    Oh, Oh, Oh.
    That’s –but not exactly– why I did cut my own hair, but I agree with SES in finding such a characterization pretty appalling. I think my short hair is cuter (so does my mother, but let’s not go there) but I don’t want to hear any hating on my previous choice.

  10. Carolyn says:

    Owning complete runs of Terry Pratchett and P.G. Wodehouse hardly even qualifies, since I’ve never joined a group; the guilty pleasure that comes with its own catalog is Frank Lloyd Wright glass, specifically the Coonley Playhouse Window.

  11. Anita says:

    I *might* own a giant chicken leg from my favorite show.

    (see about 25% down the page)


  12. Anita says:

    Also, my hair is long, and I’ve been seriously taken aback by the pressure to cut it off and donate it. People are constantly commenting that it must be long enough to donate, and assume off-hand that I know what the rules are for donation.

    It feels really invasive.

  13. Robin says:

    Carolyn, don’t you think that’s a “grass is greener” situation? I’ve had both long and short hair, and whichever I have, I feel that the other kind is more feminine and glamorous!

    Anita, that’s really appalling. I’m no fan of tit-for-tat putdowns (despite how often I’m asked to provide them) but I’d be awfully tempted to respond “But enough about me! Are you an organ donor? Get out your driver’s license, I can witness for you right now! Come on, whip it out, now! Let’s not let those kidneys go to waste!”

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