Anthony Bourdain Is A Piece Of Shit

Anthony Bourdain is a piece of shit.

Sure, I was a huge fan. I had read A Cook’s Tour and faithfully watched all four of his television shows, every one of the 290 episodes spanning 16 years. At times I was frustrated with his ignorance of the world, but more often than not he was alleviating my ignorance of the world as well as his own. And despite occasionally being self-indulgent, cynical, and even a tad melodramatic, he was always entertaining.

Bourdain’s appeal was universal. Nearly everyone could find something to love about the man. In many ways, I liked to think of him as the posterchild for 21st-century America: an affable if not somewhat obnoxious rake who is well-aware of his short-comings, humbled by humanity, and looking to learn from it.

And then he fucking hung himself. What a pussy. Sure, he had demons. Everyone has demons. But he also had a lot going his way, and on his terms.

Look, it’s not that I am entirely opposed to suicide. If you are living in chronic pain with no hope in sight, or dying a slow and agonizing death, it certainly is an option to consider. But those are extreme circumstances. Most people who take their lives do so because they simply couldn’t cut it. Rather than pick themselves up and get back in the game, they took the easy way out.

Which is fine if you are a loser that no one cares about. Good riddance. One less burden on this fragile planet we share.

But if you have started a family, let alone thrust yourself into the public sphere, seeking the spotlight and becoming a beloved inspiration for people around the globe, that gives you some responsibility – like it or not. So when you pull a chicken-shit move like that, leaving millions of fans, a handful of friends, two ex-wives, a girlfriend, and an 11-year-old daughter to pick up the pieces, that makes you a genuine piece of shit.

An 11-year-old daughter. It’s bad enough that your dad left you and your mom to run off with another woman, but then he fucking kills himself? Piece of shit.

Sure, one could argue that he gave generously of himself, and made the world a better place. But hasn’t he negated all of that? Hasn’t he erased everything positive he has done since stepping out from behind that hot stove?

Think of the millions of people around the world who looked up to Anthony Bourdain, who even came to love the man – flaws and all. Here was a guy, an imperfect person that everyone could identify with, who seemed to have struggled through it all to find unimaginable success in life – both on camera and off. And I’m not necessarily talking material wealth. He had found love, and started a family. He found a way to do something he loved for a living, and had become one of the best in the world at it. Really, what more could anyone ask for out of life?

And yet he kills himself. What kind of message does that send to everyone – the millions he inspired who have their own demons, and none of his success? If Bourdain couldn’t manage to live another day, then what hope do any of them have?

To make it even worse, everyone has been celebrating the man’s life over the past week. We’ve given him everything but a hero’s parade and an international holiday. What message does that send the millions of people who are struggling with suicide? If you don’t think a massive 24/7 outpouring of love in the wake of someone’s suicide isn’t attractive and even inspirational to someone who is feeling desperate, alone, isolated, unappreciated, and unloved, then you don’t know shit about what it’s like to feel desperate, alone, isolated, unappreciated, and unloved. These people have little hope of reaching Bourdain’s heights in life, but many will surely believe they can do so in death.

Is that Bourdain’s responsibility? Well, he put himself out there. He may have played the too-cool-for-school guy who never sought out fame and celebrity, but he stepped out of the kitchen in search of it. He spent nearly two decades trying to build that audience, that following. Sure, you can argue it was more to inspire than get rich, which is surely a bit naive. But, ultimately, what has he inspired? Throwing in the towel? Taking the easy way out? Quitting?

Forget all of that. Forget his fame and fortune. Forget the millions of people he touched and inspired. Forget his body of work. Just remember one thing: his 11-year-old daughter. He brought her into this world, and then the coward callously abandoned her in the most selfish way.

In the end, Anthony Bourdain proved to be a real piece of shit.

__________________

Am I a piece of shit for thinking this, let alone writing it? For besmirching the suddenly sacred reputation of one of the last individuals who was able to appeal to Americans across all of our growing divides, and even the world at large?

Maybe. I am just running with my emotions here. A gut reaction. It’s how writers deal with stuff.

And I may regret posting this tomorrow, a week from now, or 10 years down the road. But a blog post is a lot less permanent than the belt of a bath robe. You piece of shit.

Breaking (Faking) News: Kanye Covers “Empathy for the Devil”

Kanye West was all over the news this week, adding torchbearer of free (hate) speech, Trump apologist, and slavery denier to the many ways in which he demands to be seen. But his buffoonery has overshadowed some semi-legitimate news, including the announcement that West will make his Broadway debut this summer as the lead in Max Bialystock’s new musical Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden.

West’s fondness for Trump shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone. After all, both Yeezy and Sleazy are self-proclaimed geniuses and undeniably shameless attention whores. As for his surprising eagerness to star in a musical portraying the man responsible for the Holocaust, West offered this defense: “I feel when people think of Nazis they don’t think of empathy. We can’t ad [sic] empathy to Nazis by hating. We can only ad [sic] empathy with love and time and truly hearing all sides.”

He also mentioned that he has a new single out, a cover of the Rolling Stones’ timeless megahit “Empathy for the Devil,” though insisted that his latest litany of unhinged remarks weren’t just another publicity stunt to boost sales. Nor, he claimed, was it a desperate attempt to regain the fading spotlight (#MakingKanyeGreatAgain), after his Wikipedia page recently changed his occupation to “Kim Kardashian’s spouse.” He wants his music and the new musical to stand on their own merits. In fact, if this musical is even half as big of a hit as Trump’s inauguration, West said that he already has plans to star in another production next summer, Moulin Blanc: Singing and Dancing with the Klan Klan.

Come on, folks. If the “genius” doesn’t know how to spell “add,” then he probably doesn’t know the meaning of “empathy” either.

Frankly, I am trying to have some empathy for West, but it is difficult to do. After all, this isn’t just a guy who is trying to influence people’s political beliefs even though he’s too lazy to actually cast a vote. Apparently he is also too lazy to go to the gym as well, opting instead to have liposuction done – and then becoming a drug addict because he couldn’t handle the pain. It seems this guy is always cutting corners, looking for a shortcut, the easy way…the Yeezy way.

And don’t even get me started about his suggestion that slavery was a “choice.” He claims it’s all about “free thought,” which seems to be some sort of Conservative code for saying whatever stupid shit comes out of your mouth.

It is hard to have empathy for someone you can neither trust nor respect, and people like West and his new best buddy Trump certainly fall into that category. They speak without thinking, because they are delusional narcissists and therefore assume that whatever they say is not only accurate but outright brilliant. And then they viciously attack anyone who calls them out on their bullshit, claiming that they are the true victims.

I can understand that, intellectually, but I certainly can’t identify with it. Maybe Trump can. Which could be why West is calling it “Empathy for the Devil.”

The Problem with The Simpsons

Last year, a documentary entitled The Problem with Apu explored the ramifications of the character Apu on the long-running animated comedy TV show The Simpsons. Apu is the embodiment of many shallow and negative stereotypes of Indian males, especially those who have migrated to America. And as the documentary showed, the character, which is really more of a caricature, has directly contributed to furthering those negative stereotypes.

In defense of the The Simpsons, the show does make fun of everyone. There is even a Scottish groundskeeper, Willie, who exhibits many of the negative stereotypes associated with Scots. And while I have no evidence, I am confident that many Scots in America get called Groundskeeper Willie, just as The Problem with Apu documented Indians being called Apu.

Some have argued that there is a difference, in that there are so few portrayals of Indians in American popular culture, let alone favorable portrayals. Of course, that has been countered with the claim that this is not the fault of The Simpsons, as they have no control over that.

The Response
Last Sunday night, in the show’s 633rd episode, The Simpsons finally responded to the criticism of its Apu character. During the episode, Marge Simpson read a bedtime story to her daughter Lisa, which they found problematic because the book contained a number of negative and downright offensive stereotypes. Marge confessed that she didn’t know what to make of it. And then she and Lisa turned to look at a framed portrait of Apu on the nightstand, beside the bed, before turning to look directly into the camera (keep in mind that this is a cartoon, an animated show), and Lisa said, “Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?”

First of all, I find that response more offensive than the negative caricature that is Apu. I am sure many said the same thing about slavery, noting that they didn’t create it, that it started long ago, and was long considered a useful institution (except, of course, by those who were enslaved) before being deemed “politically incorrect” in modern parlance. Such things are always considered to be “applauded and inoffensive” – even “useful” – by the perpetrators. Those who created the show simply chose to embrace the applause it received and ignore those who declared it offensive.

As for “politically incorrect,” that’s become a popular catchphrase used to dismiss the fact that you have been exposed for doing something wrong (lest we forget that the show airs on Fox, a television network that seems to be a big fan of this cop out). Promoting racial stereotypes is not bad in a political sense. It is simply bad – in all senses.

Only those seeking to dismiss the use of such stereotypes for their own gains or entertainment will pretend that this is somehow a political decision, as opposed to moral one. After all, as the Bible says, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” In other words, do to others what you want them to do to you, which is also known as the Golden Rule. And that is why it is morally incorrect, not politically incorrect. And I’m a fricken atheist.

The Solutions
As for the question of what can they do, whether that be Marge and Lisa or those who write and produce the show, the answer should be obvious. It’s an animated series, so they can do pretty much anything they want. Apu could be transformed into a less offensive character. He could move away, or be killed. After all, he is not even a core character. They could even introduce another Indian character, who is a more positive role model – and perhaps voiced by an Indian actor, as Apu is voiced by a white actor pretending to have an Indian accent.

After Lisa’s statement, Marge said, “Some things will be dealt with at a later date.” And Lisa followed that with, “If at all.”

Not only is this totally out of character, especially for Lisa, but it leaves you wondering if they do plan on taking action – real, legitimate, and constructive action – or if that brief and insensitive interlude was in fact the only action they plan on taking. And much has been made about the fact that the show used its arguably two most sympathetic characters, Marge and Lisa Simpson, to deliver this response. After all, Lisa would be the first to boycott the show for the Apu issue. Maybe it might have made more sense coming from Apu himself, but I am sure that would have gone horribly wrong.

The Dilemma
Unfortunately, the problem is also the excuse. The show is a collection of negative stereotypes. There’s the clueless father, a white male working-class imbecile. The doting mother who not only tolerates it all but enables so much of it through her spinelessness. The irrepressible brat of a son, who has done more to champion a low GPA than the election (albeit disputed) of George W. Bush. The naive, self-righteous, and anxiety-ridden liberal daughter. Not to mention the bumbling school principal, nerdy scientist, self-absorbed journalist, foolish evangelical neighbor, geeky comic bookstore owner, evil white male captain of industry, fat cop with a pig-like nose, etc.

The point is that if you tone down Apu, you would have to tone down all these other characters. Evangelicals could be just as upset with the portrayal of Ned Flanders, the overly zealous Jesus freak that lives next door. After all, it’s not like there are a lot of other portrayals of evangelicals on mainstream TV. And come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a white male father portrayed as anything but a buffoon on a sitcom? And yet there are a lot of white male fathers out there, including many who are intelligent, hardworking, thoughtful, and genuinely care about their family. But you rarely see one on TV.

The problem may be that the people who create this show – and most others on TV – live in places where they are exposed to a wide variety of people, so they may be deaf to such concerns. I grew up in a small town, like the fictional setting of this show. We did not have any Indian kids in my school. In fact, there were no Asians, let alone Indians, in the entire town. And had I been born in 1989, the year The Simpsons debuted, I would have grown up with Apu shaping my understanding of what Indians are like.

However, in fairness to those who created the show, this certainly was not their intention, nor could they have foreseen it. They were just trying to make people laugh. And not just laugh at others, but even the characters – the caricatures – who most closely resembled themselves. The people behind The Simpsons couldn’t have imagined that those caricatures would be on television for nearly 30 years. Nor that they would become so wildly popular, etching themselves not only into American culture but also being broadcast around the world.

The Responsibility
But with such success comes a degree of responsibility. And once you become woven into the fabric of our culture the way The Simpsons has, you need to recognize the impact that the show has – and can have – on that culture. I think the TV show MASH did a good job of growing up – and into a more responsible, culturally aware role – over the years. Although there were times when I felt it got a little too preachy as it evolved, MASH remained one of the funniest shows on TV.

Laughs are essential, but they do not always have to come at the expense of others. And if the writers of The Simpsons are really as good as I believe they are, I think they can do better. Rather than hide behind false pleas of what can we do and political correctness, I hope they step up and do something magnificent. Or at least funny.

Thought of the Day: Sex, Love, & Money

RULE #1: If someone offers you money for sex, they do not love you. They consider you a commodity, not a person.

RULE #2: If someone offers you money for sex, they are not worthy of your love. Again, they consider you a commodity, not a person.

The Question to Ask Trumphole on Gun Control

I am not going to weigh-in again on the gun debate, as I have already shared my opinions several times over the course of the past five years. And, yes, that’s right boys and girls, this week we celebrated the 5th anniversary of Nipple Monkey!

However, I do wish that one of these grieving parents from Florida would ask Trump the one question that might get his fat ass off the bench in the gun control debate. And, no, it’s not asking him to think about how his campaign contributors, the lobbyists and special interests who helped put him in the White House, and all the far-right Republican hypocrites who have swallowed every ounce of self-respect in order to keep him there would feel if he introduced legislation that would not only reinstate the ban on assault weapons (which, let’s be honest, are made for mass murder, not hunting) but also establish measures that would prevent people with mental health issues from owning a gun as well as prevent people who are on our nation’s terrorist watch list from owning a gun (yes, Republicans actually shot down legislation to prevent confirmed terrorists from purchasing guns).

Instead, I am hoping that someone will ask Trump how he would feel if it was one of his own children who were gunned down in a mass shooting. OK, if Ivanka was gunned down, since she seems to be the only one of his kids that he genuinely cares about – even if it is just for her looks. I’d like him to think about how he would explain his inaction on gun reform to Melania, assuming she’s still talking to him at this point, or whichever of his three wives was the actual mother of his freshly slaughtered child.

Yes, it’s a gruesome thought, but no more gruesome than what those 17 families have had to face. And given that Trumpo is clearly incapable of thinking of anyone but himself, someone needs to get his pea brain thinking about what it would be like if his family was on the receiving end of an AR-15 or some other assault weapon in a mass shooting.

But as we debate this issue, keep in mind that there are two types of gun owners in this country. There are the responsible people who may or may not fear that enacting any sort of legislation will open the door for the repeal of the Second Amendment (personally I love guns, but I would support the sort of legislation I mentioned earlier, in the second paragraph, because I don’t live in a world of fear and therefore am confident that we are strong enough as a nation to always retain our right to bear arms responsibly). And then there are the people who burst into a crowded pizzeria with an AR-15 assault rifle – the same kind used in the Parkland shooting – and start firing off rounds because they genuinely believe that Hillary Clinton, who has a net worth of $45 million, had to resort to running a child sex trafficking operation out of a secret room in some random local pizzeria (no, I’m not making this up), presumably so she could afford her private email server.

And I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the number of people who actually believe that kind of nonsense or the fact that they are walking around with loaded assault rifles. Which reminds me, as bad as the Russian trolls may be, they hardly compare to some of these alt-right ones who were responsible for propagating moronic shit like this.

The Shithole President

Most Americans are horrified that Donald Trump is president. The man embodies the worst traits of humanity. Plus, he’s impulsive, irrational, ignorant, and unstable.

Assuming we survive this, I think history will teach us that the greater horror is the realization that there are many Americans who are happy with Trump as president. They don’t seem to mind the ignorance, irrationality, instability, ineptitude, xenophobia, misogyny, and thinly-veiled racism.

So far, we have been trying to rationalize this support, pretending that they tolerate his behavior in hopes of furthering some political agenda. Though what that agenda is isn’t exactly clear.

Some would argue that they wanted to drain the proverbial swamp, removing the corrupting influence of special interest groups and their well-funded lobbyists on our government. But then why choose a wealthy one-percenter who has bragged about manipulating the system for his own personal gain? That’s like putting Bernie Madoff in charge of your life savings because you don’t trust Wall Street.

Others may have believed that Trump was genuinely all-in for Steve Bannon’s far-right agenda. But it’s equally hard to imagine that these voters would be foolish enough to entrust a man, an admitted political opportunist who has flipped more times than the griddle cook at IHOP, to become the vanguard for a political turn so far to the right that it makes Barry Goldwater look like a hippie.

Perhaps the most disturbing possibility is that these people truly appreciated Trump’s nationalistic fervor. Given the fear and uncertainty that has befallen America since 9/11 and the financial crises, those who enjoyed the relative comfort and prosperity of the 90s might be willing to sacrifice certain values, principles, and freedoms in favor of the presumed security of a more authoritarian approach to governing our nation.

Yet the ugly truth is that even when Trump is nothing more than a punchline in one of so many possible jokes, the people who thought he was a good choice – and many still do – will still be around. Though, depending on how bad it gets, it might be hard to find them after the fact, like people who are willing to admit that they supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But they will still be out there. And that may be the scariest aspect of this entire American nightmare.

Thought of the Day: Shake & Fake

Donald Trump is the Ricky Bobby of presidents. That pretty much sums the man up in a nutshell.

Not culturally, of course. That dishonor would go to George W. Bush.

But when you think of the character’s overwhelming confidence in his overwhelming ignorance, that’s 100-percent Donald Trump. We’re talking about blatant, brazen, flagrant, obstinate, pervasive, and reckless ignorance. It’s worthy of a comedy, but sadly it’s a national tragedy.