Friday, December 2, 2011

Saudi Arabia Allows Women to Compete? You Guys Are the Best!

I'll just get to the point on this one, since it's so insulting on so many levels.

After never having allowed women membership on its country's Olympic team, the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee has decided to finally allow females to compete.

Good news, no?

Well, not really. It's not like the Saudis woke up yesterday with a new found estrogen sensitivity. The kingdom was threatened with an International Olympic Committee ban if they proved unwilling to provide at least one woman athlete to this year's London summer games.

And that's precisely how many will be attending: one. Oh, and only if she trains outside the country's borders.

I'm telling you, if those guys weren't sitting on top of all that petroleum, they wouldn't be the cool kids and we wouldn't keep trying to sit at their lunch table.

It seems almost worse to allow a single woman to take part on the Saudi Olympic Team than none at all, simply because she then adopts the "token" label, which is rarely perceived favorably in our society.

Tokens are symbols of patronization; they're bones thrown to mollify the underthinking masses and offer up a least-common denominator.

Mitt Romney is the Republican Party's token handsome, commander-in-chief-looking candidate (who also just happens to believe that after Jesus died, he arose and road-tripped across North America. I'll believe that when someone digs up a black and red "JC '01 Fishers of Men Tour" t-shirt).

Besides Mitt, that GOP slate of candidates is stuffed with more tokens than a Donkey Kong machine at a Battlestar Gallactica convention, but let's not pry open that cat food can of crazy.

In some forums, tokens are necessary, and often welcome, like in sitcoms,  cartoons and politics where characters like Gilligan, Shaggy and Rick Perry portray token idiots. They're predictably unpredictable; their characters contribute tension and drama to any storyline.

Who can forget Jeff Spicoli, Sean Penn's constantly high surfer dude in Fast Times at Ridgemont High? He's what made the film a classic, at least among my generation, through his stereotypical role as a token stoner (or, should we say "tokin'" stoner?) portrayal. Spicoli's relationship with Mr. Hand, the representative hard-ass teacher, drove the movie.

Other Hollywood small-screen tokens appear merely absurd when viewed through our contemporary prism of tolerance and social awareness. Otis, the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show, made audiences howl as he voluntarily stumbled into the city jail and passed out in the cell as Andy and Barney shook their heads.

Come on, what's funnier than a ruddy-nosed, stumbling alcoholic? Hello, Emmy Awards.

Linc, the only black guy on the 1970s hip cop show, The Mod Squad, muttered maybe one or two lines per show, but for the most part, the talking was left to the white folks. His job was to kick ass.

Pat Boone and the Osmonds were white people's safe, far less talented token answers to Little Richard and The Jackson 5. Hey, Michael Bolton and Kenny G, Pat and Donny called and they want some credit next time you crank out another awesome album.

Make no mistake, however. Saudi Arabia's lame gesture doesn't stand alone in contemporary society's recent history, either.

John Kerry, during his failed 2004 Presidential run, committed a cardinal sin, which I'm sure contributed to his eventual demise among East Coast voters and sandwich lovers.

During a campaign stop in Philadelphia, Kerry was handed a famous Pat's cheesesteak. Rather than biting into it as I would, by making it disappear into my gullet with more gusto than a Linda Lovelace movie, Kerry took a small nibble, barely encroaching on the cheesesteak's magical ingredients.

John Kerry, while running for our land's highest political office, had taken a token bite of a Pat's Cheesesteak.

I was appalled.

McDonald's offers salads as a token attempt at healthy food alternatives. I read somewhere that they've sold six of them since 2007.

Budweiser advises us to drink responsibly. In my opinion, drinking Budweiser is irresponsible.

And my final example is probably the most ill-advised token of all. It's the perfect example of an afterthought, of a stupid, pointless gimmick meant to pander to an entire gender:

The Trojan Condom: Ribbed, for her pleasure.

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