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Truthdig Radio: Helen Caldicott, Mr. Fish on Ice
Posted on Mar 31, 2011
Josh Scheer: Now—Loretta, this is Josh again—basically, one last question, I think, to wrap this up, is you obviously are saying we’re in trouble. And do you trust the governments that we have, or the people that we have in power, to kind of fix this and get us out of this hole? You know, we’ve spent money, we’re going to continue spending money…I mean, what’s the endgame?
Loretta Napoleoni: No, I don’t think this government or any other government—I’m talking about European governments—really can get us out of the hole we’re in. I think we’ve got to get out of the hole ourselves. I think one way forward, especially for young people—so I’m talking about the millennium generation, but also people in their 40s and even 50s today—is to manage your finances independently from what the big Wall Street is telling you, and use a new approach, which is the collaborative consumption. So, save money; do not buy a car if you don’t need a car, you know, just rent a car when you need it; do not go on holiday spending a lot of money, because you may need that money very soon. So do a sort of out-swap, or share some of your properties with other people. So that, I think, is the only way forward, because we are not going to get out of this hole, and there’ll be another crisis. And until the system actually comes to a halt, nothing is going to change, because nobody has an alternative vision. And the few people, the few economies that actually put forward a sort of different economic system are not the people that are listened to. So, unfortunately, the future is bleak.
Peter Scheer: Well, speaking of economic systems, can you give us a preview of your new book, “Maonomics”?
Loretta Napoleoni: Yes. “Maonomics” is basically a book that looks at the success of the economic model in China. So…always, really, the winner of globalization is China; and why is China the winner of globalization? Because the Chinese economy is not based upon individualism, but is actually based upon the group identity. The loser, of course, of globalization is us. So the book, to a certain extent, uses the success of China in order to analyze and criticize our own system. And the conclusion, of course, is that the system, as it’s in place today, is not working, and actually is working against us.
Peter Scheer: Thank you so much for speaking with us.
Loretta Napoleoni: Well, thank you.
Peter Scheer: That’s Loretta Napoleoni, whose new book is “Maonomics.” She is a best-selling author, an expert on terrorism and many, many other things. And I hope you come and join us again sometime.
Loretta Napoleoni: Sure.
Peter Scheer: Truthdig cartoonist Mr. Fish is radical and wickedly funny, but he’s also a father of two young daughters who really, really, really love Disney. He sent us this special audio feature of a father in torment.
Mr. Fish: Ice, Ice, Baby.
On a recent rainy Saturday morning at around 11:20, I found myself inside the Los Angeles Sports Arena in Exposition Park, sitting 13 feet away from a girl wearing ice skates, a bare midriff and a mermaid tail. I was choking back the tears and biting my lower lip to keep it from quivering, the same way that one might close his eyes to stop the day from dawning, but it was no use. The sentimentality of the moment was way too much for me. Just 20 minutes earlier, Tinkerbell had hit the ice with the grace of a goalie having just thrown off the gloves, her torso as thick as a stack of tires, her swinging fists the size of pot roasts. Her appearance was baffling to both my 4-year-old twin daughters, whose concept of the famous Disney fairy had been that of a spirited pixie as lilting as a 9-ounce, 60-watt asterisk. But here, now, was what looked like Bill Shatner in a wig and a green-sequined mini-dress, his polyurethane pantyhose pulled hard over hockey skates, his neck swallowed, like his pride, by middle age.
Immediately, I worried that the fairy-tale magic that my wife and I had promised to our children might not come to pass, and this pissed me off. After all, the title of the program was “Disney on Ice Presents Princess Wishes,” and unless all the princesses were due to suddenly appear and to link hands and to wish aloud for a normal-sized pituitary gland for the Neanderthal currently charging around the ice like a baboon, I was ready to ask for my money back—or, more precisely, I was ready to ask for my wife’s money back. I had to admit that I, myself, would never have wasted my money on anything as sexist and redundant and maniacally optimistic as a Disney production called “Princess Wishes.” “Howard Zinn on Ice,” yes. “Karen Finley and the Baloney Zamboni,” definitely. But “Princess Wishes”? All I can say is that it was a Christmas present that my daughters and me found in our stockings a month earlier. It was the kind of Christmas present that had me hating the baby Jesus all over again and looking forward to Easter when He would get what was coming to Him.
“That’s a big Tinkerbell,” I leaned over and whispered into the ear of the twin sitting on my left.
“Yeah,” she said, her brow furrowed like she was trying to decipher Sanskrit, her eyes locked on the behemoth pumping her gargantuan thighs around the rink. I then started to wonder if this wasn’t one of those rare teachable moments that a parent was obligated to recognize and then to seize with both hands. After all, wasn’t a remarkably telling reality trumping a rather abusive fantasy on the ice right in front of me? Wasn’t this Tinkerbell, by being the stark opposite of the megapetite, superunrealistic body type that defined the animated version, someone to be revered and not criticized? I thought of the agony that many parents are made to suffer as helpless bystanders forced to watch their daughters develop eating disorders, in an attempt to approximate a Barbie-doll thinness that the mere existence of bulky internal organs makes impossible. Of course, to come anywhere close to approximating the body type of the slugger galloping around before us, my daughters would have to learn how to unhinge their jawbones and to grow a second stomach capable of digesting hoof, bone and fur.
Nevertheless, I felt that I had a responsibility as a father to be a truth commentator, rather than a complacent apologist for the brutal commodification and starvation of girls everywhere. Feeling a certain satisfaction that the day might turn out not to be a complete waste of time, I leaned back down towards the same twin, same ear, to tell her that a 7-foot Tinkerbell with an Adam’s Apple and an equine lather was both normal and beautiful, but was interrupted by an explosion of applause celebrating the appearance of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. Both were practically nude by Disney standards, meaning that I could see their navels, their armpits, the dimpled smalls of their soon-to-be-glistening backs, Aladdin’s nipples…Jasmine’s shoulder blades. Plus they were in baggy pajamas; pajamas that, when blown against their bodies, became megaphones for the shape and contour of their parts and services. Immediately preoccupied with the details of a completely invented back story involving these two, I forgot about correcting my daughters’ assumed misinterpretation of what was going on, and I concentrated on my own lurid misreading of the situation.
First, I imagined that Aladdin and Jasmine were really in love with each other, passionately, and not merely actors hired to feign affection. I had them groping each other after every performance, his little red fez being pushed off by her knees, her head thrown back in ecstasy as her baby blue brassiere, festooned with plastic gems and gold lame trim, is rolled up roughly into a twisted annoyance below her chin.
“Popcorn?” said a sweet buttercup of a voice next to me in the dark.
“Hang on a second,” I said, ignoring the tugging on my forearm. “Daddy’s trying to listen to the words.”
Ironically, with the appearance of each Disney princess into the spotlight, each a virgin yearning for true love and getting it right between the eyes by a square-jawed Disney prince—the debauchery that I was imagining slowly gave way to an attention to the song lyrics they were lip-syncing while flamboyantly overacting.
In no time at all, not only had I convinced myself that Aladdin and Jasmine were so perfectly matched, both physically and spiritually, I’d also found myself forgiving the thinly veiled racism personified by the prosthetically hook-nosed Arabs chasing the couple around the ice, along with the missed jumps and falls of the entire troupe.
Well aware that I was demonstrating the same exact brand of willful ignorance practiced by the supporters of every politician who’s ever been elected on the cruel and empty promise of a fairy tale, I decided not to care. Slippery ice was slippery ice, whether it gave Snow White all that she needed to express the exquisite grace of her woodland horniness, or it made Barack Obama and his political credibility fall down and get up, fall down, get up. Fall down, get up. For the sheer spectacle of the fantasy, I was perfectly willing to hate myself in the morning. I was willing to believe.
In no time at all, I was sniffling and wiping my nose with my palm, wanting more than anything else in the world for Ariel to get the human legs she so coveted and to walk with Prince Eric into the soapy Christian goodness of the rest of their lives, scentless and as gleeful as freshly minted coins. This, I figured, is what I got for having no church to go to or any belief in even a smidgen of the optimistic balderdash of any political person, party or platform. I was like a gynecologist who suddenly had his speculum and flashlight confiscated and replaced with a lava lamp and a Barry White eight-track, my analytical understanding of what was unfolding directly in front of me as impossible to conjure as the words water, mucin, lipids, lysozyme, lactoferrin, lipocalin, lacritin, immunoglobulins, glucose, urea, sodium and potassium to describe the substance dribbling from my tear ducts.
And then the world blew up. And, regretfully, it was beautiful.
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