the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: stereotypes

Typical Middle East News Story Comment Section

@David Gold, Queens, NYC

Why should we prosecute the filmmaker simply for making a film, even if it is a badly produced one about Islam? Don’t we have free speech in this country? Do we want to throw the makers of South Park in prison for making fun of Mormons. The Muslims needs to grow up and not act like a bunch of babies when their prophet is mocked in a stupid movie.

@Ahmad Khan, Beirut, Lebanon

When you say “The Muslims,” David, who exactly are you referring to? Don’t you realize that accounts put active participation in the anti-film protests at between 0.001 and 0.007% of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims – a tiny fraction of those who marched for democracy in the Arab spring. Most Muslims are peace-loving and have no interest in this stupidity. The Newsweek cover story on “Muslim Rage” was pandering to the lowest common denominator. The Muslim world does not hold the American government or its citizens responsible for acts of ONE irresponsible Israeli filmmaker, and the super-rich Jewish financiers who helped back the project.

@David Gold, Queens, NYC

You should know, Ahmad, that despite your glee in pinning this on the Jews, that the filmmaker was actually an Egyptian-born Christian, and was not financed by any “super-rich” Jewish financiers. Sorry.

@Matt Rallington, Waco, Texas

Oh, so it is the fault of the Christians, David! So typical of a Jew to turn in his Christian brother as the guilty party. It has been that way since Judas pointed his finger at Jesus, the Lord, Our God.

@Ahmad Khan, Beirut, Lebanon

I so agree with you, Matt, my Christian friend. Never trust a Jew. Look at how they stole the land from the Palestinians.

@Matt Rallington, Waco, Texas

Actually, Ahmed, I am a firm supporter of the State of Israel. The Bible says that only through the Hebrews will there be a War to End All Wars, causing the End of Days and the return of our Savior, who will then destroy all who don’t believe in him.

@David Gold, Queens, NYC

Including the Jews, Matt?

@Matt Rallington, Waco, Texas

Oh, definitely the Jews, David. You will live in Hell forever.

@David Gold, Queens, NYC

I see. Well, even though you hate the Jewish people, Matt, I respect your support of the State of Israel.

@Rivers Stillman-Thompson, Berkeley, CA

I’m an atheist, David, and I can’t understand how Jews can circumcise their sons like savages. This primitive practice should be banned.

@Ahmad Khan, Beirut, Lebanon

Actually, Rivers, Muslims also circumcise their boys and I find your views abhorent.

@David Gold, Queens, NYC

Right on, Ahmed. We agree on one thing. Oh, and our love of falafel.

@Rivers Stillman-Thompson, Berkeley, CA

I like falafel, also, David, but only if it is organic.

@Matt Rallington, Waco, Texas

WTF kind of name is Rivers, Rivers? Are you a dude or a chick?

@Rivers Stillman-Thompson, Berkeley, CA

Gender has no meaning to me, Matt. Every individual contain both genders.

@David Gold, Queens, NYC

What a fruitcake! Right, Ahmad?

@Ahmad Khan, Beirut, Lebanon

Yes, David. Definitely. 🙂

@Father Brian McMasters, Cleveland, Ohio

Hey, everyone! Are there any young boys on here?

@Matt Rallington, Waco, Texas

Father Brian, you are on the WRONG FORUM!

@David Gold, Queens, NYC

Neil, that was a really inappropriate punch line for this blog post.

@Ahmad Khan, Beirut, Lebanon

I don’t know about that, David. At least it wasn’t about Mohammed!

Geeky and Cool


If you would see the family “caricature” drawn years ago on a vacation in Cape Cod, still hanging on my mother’s wall of family shame, you might say, “Boy, Neil, you must have been a geeky teenager!”  Looking at myself back then, I would say you were probably be right.  Yet, I would still have the problem of identity that I was discussing yesterday on my blog.  Was I really a geek?  How do I give you, the reader, a fuller picture of reality?  Or even more importantly, how do I see myself honestly without spending thousands of dollars in therapy?

Despite my goofy caricature, I did not walk around at the time thinking, “I am a geek.”  I went around thinking I was smart.  I was shy with girls, but at the same time, I knew my time was coming.   Basically, I was a neurotic mess, but sexy in my own mind.

Movies and TV shows rarely portray nerds and geeks realistically.  A few years a go, I wrote a post about the TV reality show “Beauty and the Geek.”  In this show, a male geek is teamed with a beauty queen so they can “learn” from each other and win the competition against other teams.  As expected, the beauties meet the unsocialized guys with the broken glasses and unzippered pants and go “yuch,” while the geeks drool over the perfect blond cheerleaders.

Eh, I never bought it.   If these guys were really geeks, they would be comparing knowledge of Battlestar Gallactica triva, not wasting their time on these dopey women.   Some of these women were so dumb, picked that way for entertainment value, that I couldn’t understand why these guys would be remotely interested in them.  Yeah, yeah, men care about the boobs, but as a certified geek, I know that we also have high standards.   We fantasized about the hot girl in high school, but she was also the one running for class president!   No nerd or geek ever wanted to go out with a cheerleader!  We made fun of you.  Pop culture is so one dimensional, thinking that “hot blondes with boobs” trumps all, that the geeky writers who work on these shows forget their OWN experiences as geeky high school students.  Maybe the geeky writers are so desperate to portray themselves as the nice guy underdogs, that they forget that nerds and geeks can be assholes, too, mocking the pretty girl who doesn’t know the name of the vice president.

My high school was a NYC public school, vastly different than the suburban schools you see most movies.  As in any school, there were cool kids, but I don’t recall it being extremely clear-cut who was “in” and who was “out.”  There were athletes, there were druggies, there were criminals-in-training, there were math geniuses.  The “coolness” was segmented, which is probably too complicated to deal with a true to life movie script.  It is the same way that people say that “blogging is like high school.”   Of course it is — if you just hang out with the mommybloggers or the daddybloggers or the BlogHer bloggers, or the African-American bloggers, etc.   Outside of each niche and the set in stone hierarchy, no one might even know you exist.  I know when I was working on the yearbook in high school, I felt like I ran the school.  So did those working on the school newspaper.  So did those on the basketball team.

We all want to be the sun in our own universe.   When I worked on a TV show, every niche of the production team believe himself the true creative force.  The network executives who bought the show considered it their own.  The writers felt that the words were based out of personal experience.  The actors ignored the writers and acted like the dialogue flew out of their mouths through osmosis.  The advertisers saw the show as a vehicle to sell their products.

The mind is powerful, and distorts reality, usually putting yourself in the starring role.  So, yes, I was geeky back then, as can be seen in that caricature, but despite what anyone might have thought at the time, I considered myself quite cool, even if I was still trying to figure out how to ask a girl out on a date, something that has never quite been resolved.

The question remains:  what is the real reality — how I view myself now, how you might view me, or how I actually viewed myself at the time?

“Write Like the Opposite Sex Day” – A Question

Note written an hour later after emailing with Jane:  OK – forget this post!  Write Like the Opposite Sex Day will go on like I said in the last post.  But I’ll keep this post up anyway just so you can see how neurotic I am, and how quick I am to change ideas when I hear criticism, although she was completely right on.   But who cares!   Gotta have balls, like a male writer, and stick to my guns!

Jane made an interesting comment on my last post.  I decided to quote it as a separate post. 

Not meaning to critique your idea, my dear Neil, but stereotypical behaviors and expressions are probably not that involved, outside of some comedy, in the true-to-life expressions of most modern male and female characters. . .they just perpetuate the stereotypes. 

Maybe for your next contest, you could consider blind entries — people writing  characters — and then guessing whether the author is male or female.  That would go above stereotyped expressions into who really might understand the opposite sex more.

(Please don’t hate me.  I adore you!  [she said that, not me])

Perhaps she has a point.  If a writer tries to “write” like the opposite sex, won’t the results be characters who are stereotypes?  Sure, it may be funny, but it won’t help us understand the other sex any better, or create strong characters.  After all, not all women think about shoes all the time, like the gals on “Sex and the City.” 

I’m a man, right?  I don’t watch football.  I rarely drink beer.  I watch “All My Children?”  How do I fit in?  I worry that if we try too hard to write like the opposite sex, the results will suck.

If I am going to write like “a woman,” maybe I should avoid thinking of her – first and foremost — as a woman.  She is a human being.   A mother in North Carolina might have more in common with a male Eskimo than another mother down the block.  Maybe the mother and the Eskimo both have phobias about snakes, or both had a controlling father!   I can delve into a female’s character motivation and emotional state without even thinking about her gender.  Wouldn’t this be the best way to make a female character three-dimensional?

When I talk to you on IM, I don’t say to myself “this is a woman.”  OK, sometimes when I look at your photos on Flickr I do, but that’s for another reason.   And it usually sounds like “This IS a WOMAN!” and my mouth is hanging open.  You are a person first, a person with neurotic character flaws — before you are a woman.    Some of you like to cook and some of you play roller derby.  Some of you do both.  And what’s wrong with me watching “All My Children?!”  And most of these external things are just the surface of the real person.

Of course, there are some stereotypes that exist because they are true.  Men and women act differently.  Our brains are different.  And there are differing social constraints.  But real character is internal…. what goes on in the brain.   Honestly — I have this strange feeling that some of you nice mommybloggers who write about knitting and cooking, are way more kinky and perverse in your minds, than any of us guys talking about our “dicks” all the time.

So, what do you think?  Should I continue my contest the same way I outlined it earlier?  Or will we just get stereotyped nonsense without stretching our writing skills?  Or should I change it to Jane’s idea? — you send me a paragraph of something you wrote as yourself, and then something written “as” the opposite sex.  Anything you want.  I will post them without revealing the author’s name.  Others will then vote on each piece — was it written by a man or a woman.   It would be like in the old “To Tell the Truth” game show:  “Will the real man or woman please stand up?”  Later on, I will reveal who wrote each paragraph, with a link to your blog.  The one who fools the most people wins!

I’m all about destroying gender stereotypes!  Would Jane’s idea be a better way of doing this?  What do you think?

And yes, Tootsie DVD will still be given to the winner.

They Watch Desperate Housewives in Manila?


I am so glad that the producers of “Desperate Housewives” have apologized for the racial slur against Filipino medical professionals that was on the show’s first episode of this season.

In the season premiere that aired Sunday on ABC, Teri Hatcher’s character, Susan, goes in for a medical checkup and is shocked when the doctor suggests she may be going through menopause.

“Listen, Susan, I know for a lot of women the word ‘menopause'” has negative connotations. You hear ‘aging,’ ‘brittle bones,’ ‘loss of sexual desire,'” the gynecologist tells her.

“OK, before we go any further, can I check these diplomas? Just to make sure they aren’t, like, from some med school in the Philippines?” Susan fires back.

There was an uproar in the Philippines.

The TV episode even became an international incident, with reports on it topping Philippine news shows and drawing newspaper headlines as officials there registered their displeasure. Filipinos could judge the scene for themselves when it was posted on YouTube.

In Manila, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he was writing the producers of the show to seek an apology and note the country’s “vehement protest.” Senior cabinet member Eduardo Ermita told reporters that an apology should be sought “on behalf of our Filipino professionals.”

“The producers of ‘Desperate Housewives’ and ABC Studios offer our sincere apologies for any offense caused by the brief reference in the season premiere,” cable news channnel ANC quoted the statement as saying.

“There was no intent to disparage the integrity of any aspect of the medical community in the Philippines,” they said.

I immediate called my family doctor, Dr. Mark Guinoo, a 1985 graduate of Manila Medical School, to hear his reaction. He was stunned.

“When will the negative stereotypes ever end?” he said.

Dr. Guinoo has truly been a lifesaver to me. Last year, during a bout with pnemonia, he prescribed “Dr. Scholl’s Foot Lotion” for me, and three months later I was cured.


Sorry, Leese, for the mediocre gag! I owe you some Puto Bumbong for Christmas!

P.S. — Do you know who really deserves an apology? Women with menopause! Teri Hatcher’s character acted as if she had just gotten a death sentence when she heard the news.

P.P.S. — I will keep my comment promises!

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Donut Shop Redux

Old People Who Do It


After yesterday’s post about being honest with my readers, I’ve decided to come clean about another subject: my growing reputation as a Don Juan. The truth is that, unlike my online persona, I’m exceedingly dull and unadventurous. I inherit this from my father. Although he was a loving and caring man, his attitudes towards women and sex were straight out of “Leave it to Beaver.” (not an intentional joke) About the only “birds and bees” advice he ever gave me was to “never hurt a woman.” He actually sat me down and said:

“Neil, you should never hurt a woman.”

If I could bring my father back to life, my first question would be:

“Dad, what the hell are you talking about? What do you mean? Do you mean hurt physically? Or emotionally? Can you be any more vague?”

My grandmother considered herself prim and proper. And my father was a bit of a mama’s boy, so he grew up with her attitudes.

My grandfather was not like my father, or anyone else in my family. He went dancing every weekend at “Roseland” in Manhattan — without my grandmother. We think he had affairs. Even when he was seventy years old, he was incredibly built and had beautiful curly hair. I’m convinced that after my grandmother passed away, he had sex with every widowed Jewish woman over sixty-five in the tri-state area. When he was done, he moved to Miami to begin again. Half of my family refused to speak to him when he married some flashy woman from Miami Beach.

I always liked him. He wasn’t very smart, like my grandmother, but he was way more interesting. He would take me to Jewish delis for pastrami sandwiches, and he would always bring over jelly donuts. He would sneak into Broadway shows during intermission, so he saw every top musical’s second act. He flirted with every waitress.

After my father died, I met many of his co-workers from Queens General Hospital. I was surprised to hear all these stories about my father flirting with all the nurses. Was he just prim and proper at home, and completely different at work? Maybe he was influenced by his father more than he let on.

I think my grandfather would love blogging, especially with all the hot women online.

My memories of my grandfather came up after I read this on a post at Alexandra’s blog:

I woke up this morning to a news story that sexually transmitted diseases are on a rapid rise among the elderly, and for some reason that made me happy! I mean, not that they are catching STDs, but that they are still out there hugging, squeezing, well, a lot more than that, if they are getting STD’s! I hate that we live in a society that so isolates them from the rest of society, treats them as if they still don’t have needs, longings physical and otherwise, and so very much to pass on.

This was my comment:

I don’t know why it is so surprising to hear this news. Our vision of a senior is very outdated. Mick Jagger is a senior. Soon, all of the kids dancing around at Woodstock will be seniors. And since we are living longer, (and with drugs like Viagra to help), why shouldn’t there be activity? The fact that we are “shocked” just shows how we still stereotype senior citizens as sitting around playing gin rummy.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the FAT are stereotyped as the OTHER. Many of us fear getting fat. But if there’s one thing we fear even more, it is getting OLD. Just like we see the FAT as the OTHER — and that’s why we don’t women over size 4 in magazines — we consider the elderly the OTHER as well, especially in a youth-oriented society.  We see OTHERS as a group, rather than individuals.  And this group frequently becomes a metaphor for something we fear:

Fat = lazy.

Old = decay.

Many of want to separate the elderly into being an OTHER. That’s why it is shocking to some that seniors are doing “it” with other seniors. What’s the big deal? I hope to be doing it when I’m eighty.

Most of the comments on Alexandra’s post were very supportive of older people finding love and comfort. But, even there, it felt that some were uncomfortable talking about the elderly and sex. Why do think of young people as f**king, but the elderly “finding comfort in each others’ arms?”  Do people immediately lose their mojo when they get Social Security?  And why do we still think of seniors as “nice old ladies” or “wise old men?” It almost seems condescending.  In my family, the relatives who were assholes at 30 are now assholes at 80. Only nice young ladies become nice old ladies. Are we so afraid of getting old that we push the elderly into some sort of one-dimensional world? While someone who’s lived many years has more life experience and deserves respect for that, I would think that a senior wants to be thought of a living, complex being with urges and desires.

In fact, I would be glad to hear that my mother, who is currently touring Spain and Portugal, found some hunky retired matador, and is f**king him every night.

Of course, Mom, assuming he is Jewish.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: A Night Without a Phone Call

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