Why Is My Niece Obsessed With High School Musical?

Richard Lawson · 10/17/08 11:41AM

In case your ears aren't capable of picking up the high-pitched caterwauling of girls (and, well, yes, some boys too) between the ages of 8 and 18, let me tell you something. High School Musical 3: Senior Year is step-ball-changing into movie theaters next week. It's the first of the series to be splashed up on the big screen, as the first two aired to tremendous success (255 million viewers worldwide, so far) on the Disney Channel. HSM-related product sales have reached upwards of $500 million, and its stars, or at least lead heartthrob Zac Efron, have been vaunted into the paparazzi-stalked realm of superstarletdom. Now advance ticket sales for the third (and final for most of the original cast) movie are huuuuge. It's going to be big, people. So what, dear tweendom neophyte, is all the fuss about? I'll try to explain it after the jump.

Wait, What's Up With ACORN?

Pareene · 10/14/08 10:28AM

Nationally, Barack Obama is between 5 and 10 points ahead in the polls. In the states defined by Rasmussen as battlegrounds, Obama ranges from a tie in North Carolina (North Carolina!) to slight leads in all the rest of them. Also Bush announced the nationalization of the banks or something today, prompting the Dow to jump in early trading. So Matt Drudge, who controls your news with an iron opera glove, is leading today with the news that ACORN registered Mickey Mouse to vote. Ha ha ha. Honestly, what the hell's the deal with the ACORN story and why are right-wingers already clinging to it like guns and religion? Sigh. We'll try to explain. What is ACORN?? An evil group that exists to organize poor people into a violent militia and overthrow the government via "voting." Or basically a lobbying group for low- and middle-income families, either one. Oh no, lobbyists! Right? ACORN is in some respects a lobbying group like, say, the oil or pharmaceutical lobbies. Except they represent poor people instead of profitable corporations so they're a much less successful lobbying group. What do they do? They started as a radical group dedicated to getting welfare recipients and underemployed non-welfare recipients together to demand socialist things like free lunches for kids and emergency room care. Now they lobby Democrats for terrorist things like raising the minimum wage and forcing the government to subsidize affordable housing. Also they organize voter registration drives. But what about all these crimes they're committing?? ACORN pays local losers in Florida $8 an hour to gather 20 voter registrations a day. So some of these losers are lazy, like all employees, and just make up the registrations. ACORN does try to find these made-up registrations and fire the employees who submit them, but, you know, sometimes they miss a couple. Also the law seems to say that ACORN has to submit all the registrations they gather no matter what, and even though the law is a little bit vague, they're still trying to follow it. Why do Republicans need to attack and delegitimize a damn voter registration drive?? Because a certain amount of passive voter suppression is built in to the Republican campaign strategy. If all the disenfranchised and disenchanted voters were organized and registered and informed, we'd probably be a crazy socialist 10-party country like Italy or something. The GOP engages in active voter suppression—voter ID laws and legal challenges—and the more passive kind built into the democratic process, like engendering cynicism about the democratic process. Obviously convincing the guys who disagree with you to not vote is part of any party's campaign strategy, but the GOP's by necessity targets poor people and minorities, and the vast history of suppressing the votes of poor people and minorities is way grosser than any history of disenfranchising white protestants. To us! Maybe you have some totally oppressed landed gentry in your family tree so you may feel differently. Quite honestly the very heart of the utter bullshitness of this anti-ACORN campaign can be found in one incredibly telling quote from a spokesman for the RNC: "Cairncross accused ACORN of engaging in a 'systematic effort to undermine the election process' through its voter-registration drives." Do you see the problem with that statement? And basically there is a CERTAIN CLASS of Republican voter that does not think that the poors, the Blacks, the homelesses, and so on honestly really deserve the same power to choose our rulers as a guy who's worked his whole life to get where he is. The politics of resentment are the last, most powerful weapon the McCain campaign has left this cycle. The details of the charges don't matter, actual proof of fraud doesn't matter, any evidence whatsoever of voter fraud being a real problem with a measurable effect on elections certainly doesn't matter, because the "fraud" is just that, you know, no-good hoodlum welfare recipients are being handed voter registration forms, and one type of person sees that as the point of democracy and the other type sees it as an utter perversion of democracy. Didn't McCain used to totally be in the tank for ACORN? Well Republicans have been bitching about ACORN and voter fraud for years now, but McCain definitely didn't used to be one of those Republicans. In 2006 McCain did give a keynote address, about immigration rights, at a rally co-sponsored by ACORN. Can you maybe use a little more false equivalence to explain this in a way I understand? Sure. ACORN's voter registration drives are to conservatives what Diebold voting machines are the liberals. The possibility of abuse is present and clear, but no one's yet convincingly proved that any abuse has occurred. OK so what's up with everyone suddenly talking about ACORN? As we said, nuttier conservatives have been on the ACORN-bashing bandwagon for years now. That it's finally trickled up to Drudge and Fox means they're scared they're losing the election and they need to preemptively delegitimize Obama. What are my talking points for when crazy relatives argue that ACORN stole the election? What we're dealing with so far is minor voter registration fraud. The questionable registrations number in the double digits in most states, and most of them have been flagged and caught by either ACORN themselves or election officials. Furthermore in many places the false registrations are required by law to be submitted anyway, so that ACORN isn't guilty of, say, tossing out the forms of Republicans they sign up. They do try to flag the fake ones as fake, but regardless, the fake ones are still being caught. Also: voter registration fraud does not coherently lead to voter fraud, because if you register one man 75 times, how will he vote 75 times, exactly? More importantly, the election can't be stolen if it hasn't happened yet, and voter registration fraud does not explain in any way a double digit lead for a candidate in national tracking polls. Like, wtf, how are you making this argument, are you slow? ACORN registering Mickey Mouse is why Barack Obama is up 12 in Pennsylvania? Ok, sure, whatever you say.

Read These Stories to Figure Out What's Going On

Pareene · 09/26/08 09:38AM

Hank Paulson went before Congress to ask that he get a shit-ton of money to purchase mortgage-backed securities. The bipartisan Joint Economic Committee hammered out a compromise, giving Paulson some of what he wanted but with more oversight and perhaps a better deal for taxpayers. John McCain ran back to Washington to solve this himself, and as soon as his plane touched down the compromise fell apart, with conservative House Republicans balking at passing anything resembling the Paulson plan. So what happened yesterday, exactly? Who do we blame for everything? And what'll happen now? Your financial and congressional newspapers have the story. In case you're not a Roll Call or Wall Street Journal subscriber, we'll explain what they're saying about this mess. The Wall Street Journal on what happens now:


Pareene · 03/04/08 12:40PM

Paul Tilley, the ad exec who killed himself because blogs were mean to him (or something), continues to inspire the most self-righteous and least self-aware of scribes to put quill to parchment, adjust their oft-dropped monocles, and write, more in sadness than in anger ("I think I'm more saddened than pissed off"), strongly worded letters to whom it may concern regarding those mean, mean bloggers. Today, Bob Garfield, who blogs at Ad Age, helpfully explains "the difference between commentary and vandalism." "Commentary" is when smart, mustachioed professionals who've written books and things blog. "Vandalism" is when people are mean to those people, on the internet. [AdAge, UnRelated]

Also, He Was Searching For the Man-Cub

Pareene · 02/29/08 10:23AM

Slate's "Explainer" answers the question no one asked: "Why did William F. Buckley talk like that?" Oddly, "because he was an asshole" is not their response. [Slate]

Gawker Explainer: Guest Edition

abalk2 · 12/18/06 05:40PM

It's a special edition of Gawker Explainer, the fun feature where we help you correctly pronounce names in the news so that you don't sound like an idiot when you sneak into Conde Nast parties. What's so special? Well, this edition comes to you directly from guest-explainer James Brady, Forbes media, uh, guy? Anyway, how might one go about saying Glamour EIC/ASME President Cynthia "Cindi" Leive's surname?