The Danger of the Ugg Theory
November 15, 2005

Back from my online slumber, it does me great pleasure to announce that 50 Cent's biopic flick "Get Rich or [end up in hell] Tryin'" was beat out its opening weekend by none other than the heart-warming tale, "Chicken Little." Sometimes it's the small victories that make me smile. With much of what is currently being propagated through mass media, it's easy for us to throw our hands up in disgust, declaring our multi-sensory media to be a mere reflection of all that's wrong with the world today. To be honest, I'm not so sure this is the case. Television, movies and music don't follow the culture. Instead, they dictate, prophesy, and cast vision and ideology to the culture. We become what we eat.

Television is quite clever really. Every week, in 30-minute or 1-hour increments, philosophy and worldview can be disseminated to the masses, one channel, one reality show, and one series at a time. I am not now nor have I ever been a conspiracy theorist. I like my television and tune in regularly to get my unnecessary fix. Will my children be doing the same on a regular basis? Not under my hawk-eye watch. I am increasingly concerned by the suspicious and subliminal doctrine that consistently hits our airwaves. I'm not fond of using a pop culture references as a launch off for intelligent discourse, but it's been awhile so indulge me for a bit.

This fall, ABC announced a new show, "Commander in Chief," starring Geena Davis as President Mackenzie Allen. Via this new show, all of America has been introduced to the idea of an acting female president. Wow! What coinky dink! While the natural mind ponders how cool the fake scenario would be, the more rational me is inclined to see something so blatant as a postured attempt to ready the American people to vote a female Democrat (whose first name rhymes with "Killer Bee") into office. It is commonly known that despite Democratic loyalty, liberal America isn't quite ready for a woman in the Oval Office (and for reasons I will expound on later, I pray we are never ready).

Yes; the theory sounds crazy. I mean, how on earth could a piddly television series affect the voting decisions of the American people? I'll tell you how. Image creates desire. I call it "The Ugg Theory." For those who are unfamiliar, "Uggs are a popular brand of sheepskin boots currently being fanatically purchased by millions of men and women throughout the world. Incidentally, Uggs are also arguably the most hideous fashion trend to grace America since the days of hammer pants. My theory is simply this: as uggly as they may be, if you see enough pairs of Uggs flashed before your eyes, eventually you will accept them. Soon after that, you might even like them, and if you're a reluctant follower of trends, you might even buy the darn things. So ask me why $119 later, the very pair of shoes that were once the object of my ridicule are now sitting in my closet? See it enough times without counter reinforcement and you're bound to buy in.

But this is not about fashion. This is about worldview (also known as the perspective through which people dissect and comprehend life).

A week or so ago, I tuned in to a show I thought I'd sworn off a few years ago. Unfortunately, like a thief in the night, Donald Trump's hair and "The Apprentice" once again captured my Thursday evening attention. To be entirely honest, half of me tunes in every week just to see if the Trump organization would actually hire a black person without crack-head-like tendencies (for my working definition of crackhead, see the #1 entry here).

Without getting into the sloppy, soap-operaesque details of it all, let's just say that on this particular episode of "The Apprentice," when it came time to do the firing, there was a brief exchange of words in Donald Trump's (fake) board room that were so egregious, they could be the subject of a hefty dissertation. In this particular episode, Adam, 22, a young man who happens to be conservative and Jewish, has his leadership abilities called into question because of his questionable sexual experience. Throughout the show, people hinted that Adam might be a virgin but it was never explicitly stated. The task this round involved teaching a workshop called, "Sex in the Workplace," which was intended to focus on how to deal with workplace romance. Adam's team lost the task and when facing Trump in the boardroom, the following abbreviated discourse took place:

For reference, the board room scene can be viewed here (runtime 6 min 56 sec).

TRUMP: Adam, let me ask you this question.

ADAM: Yes sir.

TRUMP: Have you ever had sex before?

ADAM: Honestly Sir, I don't feel comfortable answering that question.

TRUMP: Because don't you think that you sort of put yourself in a very bad position talking about sex and something that you're just not very familiar with?

ADAM: I think that I put myself in a difficult situation in the beginning, but I was able to take that difficult situation and make it into an even more productive class and more interesting.

TRUMP: How can you be afraid to talk about sex? I mean, sex is like not a big deal. How can you be afraid?

ADAM: And I've come a long way throughout this process. In the very beginning I was extremely uncomfortable with the whole idea of it. But by the end, I bought into it and realized how important of a subject this [Sex in the Workplace] is and I embraced it.

...................

TRUMP: "Listen, Adam isn't good with sex. You might be in ten years, but right now, you don't feel comfortable with sex. Do you agree with that?"

ADAM: I agree with you sir.

TRUMP: You will. Someday, you will. It's gotten me into a lot of trouble, Adam. It's cost me a lot of money. You understand that? You'll probably be there. In many respects, I hope you are. Because there's nothing else like it.

Adam: Thank you very much.

Aye.

In watching the entire scene again, there is so much gone wrong, but today let's just state the obvious: gross. I cannot tell you how many other mental images I'd rather have in my head right now besides Donald Trump's sex life. Thanks for that, NBC. The viewers' emotional scarring aside, in that brief and somewhat staged exchange we learn some very important lessons:

  1. Apparently, abstaining from something is a sign of weakness. (In retrospect, I am certain AC Green would beg to differ there)

  2. Sex is no big deal. In fact, it's just sex. (I'm certain Planned Parenthood salivates over this sentence.)

  3. You have to have experienced something to be able to form an intelligent opinion on the matter. (Starting today, let's all go out and break the law so we can speak intelligently on it at the Sunday night dinner table.)

  4. Experience and maturity are determined by age divided by number of sexual escapades.

  5. Due to nominal financial success (we'll turn a blind eye to the multiple bankruptcies) Donald Trump's life and reputation is a stellar example of how to carry on as a man.
And to think, that was only 7 minutes worth of television damage. I often hear people question just what the "big deal" is. When we talk about the culture war, is it just some figure of speech derived from vain imaginations? Absolutely not; the culture war is real and takes place right before our eyes. We find that more and more, our belief system is being formed by what we see and not what we know. This scene on "The Apprentice" is a minor example of how "relative" truths creep into every orifice, presenting themselves in ways that leave little room for disagreement. Human nature tends not to question the damaging realities presented before us. Changing the face of the status quo--that's what the culture war is about.

And yes despite my disgust, I'll still be tuning in to "The Apprentice" next week.

Posted by Ambra at November 15, 2005 3:59 AM in Culture
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AMEN

Trump is a bore. Yet, he is iconic in our capitalistic and narcissistic culture. Why?

He is a genius at intuitively understanding how to get people to want him.

Anyway, Ambra, I think TV is nothing more than a reflection of our instinctive desire.

Although it is incredibly overblown in practical importance, the dude with the biggest appendage is the one most desired. This is a literal and metaphysical truth.

Girlfriend Tyra recently affirmed how important the external is in our lives. It seems she figured out it IS a big deal. Of course, how she could not have known this before would make for an awesome article by a savvy young lady (hint, hint). Anyway, my overall point is that we make decisions overwhelmingly based on the visual, which is to say, shallow stimuli. 'Twas ever thus.

I had no idea what Uggs were until a couple weeks ago when my sister held up a pair. Ugly, I said, and she said they were popular. Ok, well in that case, I'll get them cuz they're popular. Great post.

Wait, grown men buy these?

Get Timberlands. Like having pillows for your feet.

And my Thursdays have been given over to Run's House.

I love the theory. Totally agree. Sorry you bought the Uggs, but I guess every generation needs something in their closet for their kids to laugh at.

Wow: I am on the end of your message concerning Sonship. Just want you to know I am really enjoying it! I ran across your site via a link from Modestly Yours. Excellent message. Keep runnin the race girl!

Yuk! Turn the TV off! Although, then we'd have to miss your brillian commentary on it! Well said!

Moon Boots are back in style now. They are 1000x uglier than Uggs.

Just $270.

"It is commonly known that despite Democratic loyalty, liberal America isn't quite ready for a woman in the Oval Office (and for reasons I will expound on later, I pray we are never ready)." Ok , i've been away for some time because my stupid apartment complex couldn't get its internet right, but I'm really ready for you to explain this sentence in detail. I can somewhat agree with you on some of the other stuff but this i have to know about. Hope evereything's going well for you.

Young lady, your words mirror my own opinions and concerns built from a conservative upbringing in the stupidly liberal Bay Area. However it took me far longer to find my way back to conservative ideals. Unlike you, I was swayed by the culture surrounding me and traversed a few strange roads wasting votes on the way. Happily, the ongoing shenanigans of the ACLU got me thinking again. The ceaseless, utterly purile filth spewed by the media has helped me maintain direction. While you have no party affiliation, each day I become a more confirmed participant in the "vast right-wing conspiracy", a rock-ribbed Republican.

Ha ha! "Hammer pants" hee hee hee If you want to read about some strange airwaves, check out that show "Book of Daniel".

Aw man, you missed your chance!
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Why I'm Not a Republican Parts I, II, III, IV
Reflections on the Ill-Read Society
The ROI of a Kid
The Double-Minded Haters
Hindsight
Hip-Hop in Education: Do You Wanna Revolution?
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Requisite Monthly Rant: the State of the Nation
College Curriculum Gone Wild
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An Open Letter to American Idol
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