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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have not already discovered Downton Abbey (and if not, why not?), it is a British period television show filmed at Highclere Castle in England that begins on the morning after the Titanic sinks and continues to follow the Earl and Lady Grantham (‘the Crawley family’) and their staff and the people of their estate through the next few decades.

The show examines class and wealth and privilege while providing an entertaining and intelligent human drama that is set firmly in place and time. The relationships are interesting and complicated, and for those of us who like pretty things, there is plenty of eye candy to be had.

Viewers who watch in Great Britain get to watch each season approximately six months ahead of those in America (except for those industrious enough to track down a British version of the show). As an American, I am (usually) patient enough to wait until it comes over the airwaves here, so currently I am on episode three of season three.

I’m going to break the question set in two, one for those who have never seen the series, and one for those who have. Please, no season 3 spoilers in the comments, as I know there are fans from all over the world who read the posts here.

If you have never seen Downton Abbey:

  • From what you have heard of the series, what appeals to you? What doesn’t appeal to you?
  • Are you thinking of watching it at some point, or are you just sick of listening to us enthusiastic fans?
  • Do you like period pieces in general or is that one of the reasons you haven’t watched the show?
  • Are there access problems keeping you from watching the show? Is it not available locally to you or are there financial issues?
  • Is it on your ‘to watch’ list?
  • Do you like to wait to watch some series so that you can watch them ‘all at once’?
  • What would it take for someone to convince you to watch it right now, today?

If you watch Downton Abbey:

  • Who is your favorite character? Why?
  • What storyline do you find most believable? Least believable?
  • How well do you think the series handles the class issues it attempts to portray? What does it do well? What could it do better?
  • If you were a new character in Downton Abbey, who would you be and how would you be introduced?
  • Imagining yourself in the life of one of the staff members, how would that compare to a working or middle class job today? Easier or harder? In what ways?
  • Imagine yourself one of the nobility of that time. Do you think that Downton Abbey ‘soft pedals’ the attitude of the aristocracy to the people of their estates and to their servants?
  • In what ways are the women in the series more alike than different despite class?
  • In what ways are the men in the series more alike than different despite class?
  • How different is the world of Downton Abbey from today’s world? How is it similar?
  • What do you find funny in the show? Tragic? Heartwarming? (remember, no season 3 spoilers)

As with every other Today’s Dance, feel free to ponder your responses silently, leave them below, and share them with friends using the buttons at the bottom of the post.

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

Today's Dance

Introducing Today’s Dance

Today’s Dance is a new feature on Am I the Only One Dancing? Using current news, pop culture, geek culture, or miscellaneous interesting things in the world, I will create a question set to spark a discussion among readers. It will be posted each morning and you are encouraged to join in and share your experiences and opinions.

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

I was exhausted last night and didn’t get my post ready for today. Here is something interesting and useful about the empathic nature of society to tide you over until I get home from work tonight and finish my post on Wrath, the first of the (Christian) Deadly Sins.

I’m interested in your thoughts on his reasoning (RSA Animate has tons of thoughtful videos out there… I invite you to ‘waste’ a day wandering through them.)

Also, this:

Empathy and Civilization

Cover via Amazon

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Combating the Death of American Education

Combating the Death of American Education

I recently read an article (linked below the fold) about the deliberate destruction of the US post secondary education system. I would go farther and say that the same people who are deliberately destroying public post secondary education are deliberately manufacturing the death of American education in general (with the exception of private schools).

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

 Getting Rid of Welfare

Lots of people talk about how poor people ‘rip off’ the system and how money is ‘wasted’ on programs for the poor. There is a lot of emotional energy invested in these arguments, and people get loud, and start shouting over each other, and friendships end over discussions of why poor people don’t ‘deserve’ help.

So let’s not go that route. I want to ask you a question, instead. How will you benefit from getting rid of welfare? Lets imagine a world in which ‘entitlements’ for the poor in America have been eliminated, and give it about twenty years for the results to show.*

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Imperial Daleks

Imperial Daleks (Photo credit: Kaptain Kobold)

But first, a quick introduction. I am a sophomore in high school, with decent grades in most classes, lots friends of varying styles, personalities, and morals, and a joy to experience many things and this has led to an interest of philosophy and so I think about EVERYTHING too much. I will lead you into conversations about zombies, Daleks, cooking, music, books, tv shows, video games, and philosophy. If any of you wish to rage about “teens today” then come to me, and I will often rage rage with you.

Now to the challenge:

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Originally published at Am I the Only One Dancing?. Please leave any comments there.

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The full article that inspired this post is here at Sociological Images

The author of this response, Beau Sia, has posted an excellent performance piece on the basic concepts of privilege and prejudice, in the voice of Alexandra Wallace of UCLA, without mocking her for being female, or for having large breasts. It is very refreshing to see a response that doesn’t rely on misogyny.  Watch the whole piece.

His piece does not only apply to Asians in the library, but to young Black men at the grocery store, or women at the construction site, or Muslims at the high school.  This is a fundamental bit of education, done in an entertaining fashion, that applies to the concept of privilege more broadly than the original prompt.  Beau Sia’s YouTube bio lists him as an Oklahoman who currently lives in New York City and is a slam poet, whose parents are Chinese immigrants from the Philippines.

This also goes back to the series that Chally at Feministe is doing about origins, titled Where Are You From (parts 1, 2, 3 and 4), and who really belongs someplace.  I am a Caucasian American, and most places I’ve been, I felt like I belonged, with one exception.  In the deep south, when visiting, I was clearly a Yankee, and it was made clear to me that if I lived the rest of my life there, I would never belong.

Beau Sia makes a poignant case (as does the Feministe series) that many, many Americans never have the experience that I have, that I am automatically accepted as belonging.  In some cases, as in the ever increasing hysteria on the Right regarding Hispanic Immigrants and Muslims, the ‘not belonging’ of it all is vicious hostility.

This has been perennially an issue for African Americans and women, two groups (among others) that wake up every day with the sure knowledge (conscious or unconscious) that the world they live in wasn’t built for them and doesn’t reflect their values.

Unconscious privilege is an insidious trap, and it is easy to get caught in it.  This makes Daniel Jose Older’s piece “Beyond Manning Up”, in Racialicious all the more astounding.  As an EMT, Older describes the process he went through as he realized, slowly and gradually, how normal violence against women is in our society, how utterly banal.

He compares the stages of understanding privilege to the stages of grief, and it is an apt description.  When you have been raised to believe in a “level playing field”, which is a truly wonderful ideal, to allow yourself to stop believing that it exists is a deep loss. He rightfully concludes, however, that getting to the final stage, understanding, is only the beginning.

I can only hope that Miss Alexandra Wallace at UCLA learns a similar lesson, and that the rest of us can take something from her example, the fine response of Beau Sia, the series by Chally at Feministe, and the excellent article by Daniel Jose Older.

 

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