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March 16, 2004 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-16

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 16, 2004

OPINION

420 MAYNARD STREET
UlANN ARBOR, MI 48109
opinion.tmichigandaily.com
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

EDITED AND MANAGED BY
STUDENTS AT THE
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
SINCE 1890-

JORDAN SCHRADER
Editor in Chief
JASON Z. PESICK
Editorial Page Editor

Unless otherwise noted, unsigned editorials reflect the opinion of the majority of
the Daily's editorial board. All other articles, letters and cartoons do not
necessarily reflect the opinion of The Michigan Daily.

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
I think Spain's
participation in the
war has been a
total error.
- Newly elected Spanish Prime Minister
Jose Luis Rodriguez
Zapatero, as reported at a
news conference by cnn.com.

COLIN DALY THE MICHIGAN DALY
ANN! '
ar kN CANK-R! wu*b A LoT OF
~~*ic*n m1 o afr 1t (
CME~k TH 1oner ie.W Vv'N
Aroas I
*0
---- - ek ivy-

4
4

The ugly duckling stumbles into The Twilight Zone
AUBREY HENRETTY NEUROTICA

4

There is a fifth
dimension beyond
that which is
known to man. It is a
dimension as vast as
space, timeless as infini-
ty and cruel as someone
else's love story. It is the
middle ground between
reality and fiction,
between science and superstition, and it
encompasses the pit of man's fears, the
summit of his knowledge and the unwaver-
ing stupidity of almost everything he wor-
ries about. This is the dimension of the
deluded. It. is an area we call The Train-
wreck Zone.
Or, in layman's terms, the Fox net-
work's prime-time "reality" line-up.
Now, I have defended "reality" TV
before, and I still believe there is no better
place from which to observe the downfall
of humanity than the comfort of my own
living room - preferably with pizza near-
by - but this ... this is just creepy. There's
a new show coming out in a couple of
weeks called "The Swan," and its premise
is eerily reminiscent of a classic episode of
that eeriest of all eerie television shows,
"The Twilight Zone."
First, "The Swan." It will start with a
bunch of average-looking ladies. Then,
according to the official Fox website for
the show, "each of the contestants will be
assigned a team of specialists - a coach,
therapist, trainer, cosmetic surgeon, dentist
and stylist - that will work together to
design the perfect individually-tailored
program." Phew! For a second I thought
they were going to say "the perfect indi-

vidual." Nice save, guys. The best (by
which I mean "worst") part is, the ladies
won't get to see themselves in the mirror
at all during the entire three months of
filming, meaning they will be completely
at the mercy of the "specialists" and their
whims.
Train-wreck Zone, meet Twilight Zone.
There was an episode called "The Eye of
the Beholder" in which a distraught young
woman named Janet waited anxiously to
see the results of her 11th and latest opera-
tion, the one that would either fix her face
or damn her to a life of exile with the other
ugly people. Her face was completely cov-
ered with gauze as she fretted at shadowy,
faceless surgeons who said they'd done
everything they could. The big surprise, of
course, was that Janet was a knockout
under her bandages and nearly everyone
else in her world was hideously disfigured.
Go figure.
As a side note, I should confess that I
have more than a passing interest in I-was-
huge-but-now-I'm-hot stories. See, I was a
fat adolescent. I mean really fat. I had to
buy jeans from the fat-jeans store, which,
for added humiliation, was conveniently
located right next to Petite Sophisticate at
the mall. Fun, yes. We are an interesting
lot, we ex-fat kids, and I think most of us
would have traded our left kneecaps for a
spot on "The Swan," were it offered at the
right moment. I admit, part of me wants to
love this show for vicariously making my
longest lost and most embarrassing dreams
come true.
But I don't. I can't. It gets worse. Once
the ladies have recovered from their inva-
sive surgical procedures, the show's pro-

ducers will bring in the professional
primpers (whose job it is to make sure the
ladies are properly painted and plucked)
and hold a beauty pageant. As a reward, or
something, I think. Even allowing for the
fact that some people actually participate
in beauty pageants on purpose, this still
feels like an especially sadistic thing to do
to people who have as little self-esteem as
you'd have to have to agree to be on a
show like this in the first place. Hey, con-
gratulations, you're not hideous anymore!
But most of you, well, you're still too ugly
to win our beauty contest. Sorry.
The final and perhaps ugliest insult of
"The Swan" is its smarmy reliance on the
children's story of the ugly "duckling."
Fox's web site goes so far as to claim the
show "mirrors" the "classic tale of the
ugly duckling that transforms into a beau-
tiful swan." There are two glaring prob-
lems here. First, the eponymous character
in The Ugly Duckling was not an ugly
duckling. It wasn't a duckling at all. It was
a cygnet - a baby swan - and secondly,
it did not "transform" into anything. It did
not opt for elective cosmetic surgery or a
radical wardrobe makeover. It simply grew
up. Surprise.
So, in the immortal words of our man
Rod Serling, "Now the question comes to
mind ... where is this place and when is it,
what kind of world where ugliness is the
norm and beauty the deviation from that
norm?"
What kind of world, indeed. A lesson to
be learned ... in the Train-wreck Zone.

Henretty can be reached at
ahenrett@umich.edu.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

4

LSA-SG reform restricts
power to seven members
TO THE DAILY:
While noble in intent, the Daily's editorial
dealing with the LSA Student Government elec-
tion reform (Reforming government, 03/15/04)
fails to recognize that the main issue lies not
with its intent, "to ensure that executives are
elected based on competence," but rather with
the inherent problems and voting system follow-
ing implementation of this system.
I will give the system the benefit of the
doubt and assume that the president and vice
president will represent the students effectively
while in office. Still, without receiving the input
of a single constituent, the indirectly elected
president appoints the executive board, five vot-
ing members, granting him/her full control over
the fundamental parts of the government: the
rules at a meeting, communication, academic
affairs and part of budget allocations. Amidst
these five president-appointed votes and two
more indirect votes, an effective voting bloc will
form, holding more than 25 percent of all votes
in the assembly with 50 percent needed to pass
most motions.
While indirect democracy doesn't violate
the principles of democracy, this seven mem-
ber voting block not only votes during gov-
ernment business, but also receives a vote in
the election. Thus, my issue lies not with
moving away from democracy but with the
fact that this proposed system effectively
eliminates democracy providing the leader-
ship with the largest say. In other words, the
proposed system exacerbates elitism and fails
to eliminate the conniving politics that will
occur on the way to the top of LSA.
I am not against reforming the current
system, but I strongly feel that this new sys-
tem fails to address the main issues in elec-
tions. When looking at the proposed
resolution, I hope students consider the dan-
ger of allowing the powerful few at the top to
hold a significant part of the vote.
STUART WAGNER
LSA freshman
LSA Student Government representative
People must step outside
racial boundaries

the diversity of the Daily, to which she was
forced to assimilate, was what brought
about meaningful relationships. How could
she not parallel these two? Is it that difficult
to see an immersion into the dorm system as
forced assimilation? I guess she had to
deliberately try to overcome the dorm life. I
understand that she had friends outside the
dorm and hung out with them, but she did
not see these friends constantly, as she
would her roommates. From this, one can
infer that she simply chose not to develop a
relationship with them.
As an Indian, I face none of the segre-
gated examples, which she unfolded; I do
not sit with all Indians, nor do I associate
myself solely with them. But in no way do I
want Chirumamilla to think I am some
Indian whose culture has vanished. I visit
India biannually, know Hindi fluently and
can recollect countless traditions specific to
my heritage, yet this did not stop me from
making friends with people outside of Indi-
an origin. Originally, I had made reference
to Chirumamilla's social skills because they
hinder her from presenting an adequate rep-
resentation of a minority's life on campus.
In no way am I bashing her for keeping
close ties with her Indian friends from
home. Instead, I think it's pertinent to point
out that when we, as minorities, only hang
out with each other, it perpetuates the idea
that we are uncomfortable and ashamed
when associating ourselves with society.
Thus, by hanging out with people who are
racially similar, we may feel at par. But this
insecurity only leads to social segregation.
Because of this very idea, I am opposed to
many people of my own race, as they lack a
social sphere that encompasses others.
Despite the ideas she tries to invoke, Chiru-
mamilla just exemplifies that if you hang
out with the same people, you just won't
meet new ones. A shocking revelation.
ANANT DIXIT
LSA freshman
Advertisement promotes
racism on campus
TO THE DAILY:
We, the undersigned students and student
organizations of conscience, respectfully request

sage to its readership that this ad does not
transcend the boundaries of racism. How-
ever, aside from being historically inaccu-
rate, the content of this advertisement is
clearly racist. He refers to Palestinians as
"the terrorists" and "the murderers." Arabs
are generalized to be "xenophobic" and
"filled with hate," in addition to being
placed on a lower moral ground than Nazi
Germany. These are only a few excerpts
from an ad that is filled with this kind of
rhetoric.
This ad is blatantly racist, as it seeks to
divide the extreme complexity of the situa-
tion into simplistic right-versus-wrong,
good-people-versus bad people terminolo-
gy. Unfortunately, the bad people as pre-
sented in the ad are the entire Arab
population. Basically, the sponsors of the
ad take the actions of an extreme minority
and essentialize their entire ethnicity based
on this; this is racism. To further this point,
given most any other ethnic group, this ad
would unambiguously be seen for what it is
and not be published.
Furthermore, the publishing of this ad
only serves to increase the atmosphere of
intimidation that already exists on this
campus. Given the rift that already exists
between the pro-Israeli and the pro-Pales-
tinian students on campus, along with the
tensions created by the current occupation
of Iraq, such ads as this serve the sole pur-
pose of perpetuating stereotypes, demoniz-
ing an entire people and endangering the
safety of Arab and Muslim students on
campus. It should also be noted that dur-
ing the Persian Gulf War, the war on
Afghanistan and after Sept. 11, and hate
crimes against these communities
increased significantly.
Also, in this society, racism against
these communities has become acceptable
- as evidenced by the Daily's own lack of
acknowledging what is clearly racist, as
otherwise.
We request that the Daily, in line with its
precedent, cease publishing this sort of adver-
tisement, for the aforementioned reasons.
Furthermore, damage has already been
caused by the publication of this ad.It has
intensified an already ever-present atmos-
phere of hate and racism against Arabs and
Muslims on campus, and due to the prece-
dent, it has sent the message that this

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