September 29, 2016

"Like I said earlier, maybe I am being a little sensitive, but it is how I feel."

"This represents, to me, our society, and I do not want it up on this wall. Why do we need a BEFORE and AFTER?"

From a complaint about a mural in a University of Wisconsin – La Crosse residence hall, quoted in a National Review piece titled "UW Student Files Report Claiming Harry Potter Mural Is Transphobic and ‘Represents White Power,'" by Katherine Timpf. Timpf is too dismissive of the student's concerns, I think, and resorts to mockery.
Listen, kid. If that’s how you “feel,” then fine. Well, at least kind of fine, because I’d say if you really are so “angry” about having to even “know” people who put up a Harry Potter painting, then you probably have some anger issues you need to address. It’s not like they’re ISIS, relax. But in any case, the biggest problem about all of this isn’t even the fact that this kid seems to “feel” a level of anger over a painting that seems like it would be more appropriate to feel over something like terrorism. It’s the fact that he or she goes right from “it is how I feel” into “I do not want it up on this wall” — right from “I feel like this” into “I am telling you I want you to take it down just because of the reasons I just outlined, those reasons being my feelings.” Honestly, this student’s report shows a level of entitlement and narcissism that’s far more offensive than any painting I’ve ever seen.
It's not just a painting somewhere in the museum. It's a mural, a permanent part of one of the walls that house the students, and it's directed at the students with the obvious intent to make them feel good about where they live:



The intent of the artist is to say to the residents: You should feel great about living here; this place will make you happy. The complainant is saying: It's having the opposite effect on me. That's useful information to the university, and it is, in fact, expressed modestly.

"Why do we need a BEFORE and AFTER?" That is: Why are you portraying me as ugly and awkward before I got here and in need of a change?

Now, I'm sure many of you will object to something else in the complaint that I haven't quoted yet:
It represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.... etc.
That may sound a little hysterical, but as art analysis, it makes sense. The happy "after" character has distinctly lighter skin, and he is in many ways a conventional, idealized young white man. The boy looks gnomish and misshapen. I know it's a joke, and it's based on a real Harry Potter character, and I don't know enough about the Harry Potter series to have any insight into its race and gender politics, but the university can't assume everyone's into Harry Potter. I'm pretty sure the people involved in putting up the mural meant well and thought it was cute and pop and fun, but they should take seriously how they actually make people feel, and the anonymous complainant has brought new complexity to the analysis of art and that's something colleges should want to do.

Let's have more speech.

And let's have better murals. Come on. It really is a bad mural, a bad atmosphere for a college dorm. It's okay to be a funny looking kid. You are loved.

132 comments:

rhhardin said...

Bad mural is the right criticism. It represent bureaucrat power, not white power.

The kid is 100% wrong on that and Trump is right on. End whining power.

Trump has nothing against art criticism but it's not put that way.

mccullough said...

We look before and after and pine for what is not

Oso Negro said...

Goodness. Who gives a fuck about an undergraduate's reaction to a piece of art? As an undergraduate, I detested Pablo Picasso and all of his works. I was sickened by the legions of art students who idolized. No one gave a fuck. 40 years later I still detest Pablo Picasso and all his works. Still, no one gives a fuck. Why were MY feelings not considered? What about the people who are disgusted by Pablo Picasso and all of his little star-fucker girlfriends?

Laslo Spatula said...

Sometimes an ugly mural is just an ugly mural.

Still...

"It represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.... etc."

I don't know about that. I just see the strong homoerotic undertones.

The young boy, stunted and gnomish by society's conventional expectations. The older man that he looks to, hungrily: firm, strong, handsome and unquestionably gay.

'Unquestionably' you ask? Look at the guy: he is a Zima* ad. (*'Z' being a funny sound, discussed in a previous post).

Stunted Gnomish Boy: It's okay. The Handsome Gay Man can be the Father Figure you've always wanted, AND you get your cock sucked: Win-Win, right there.

I am The Replacement Laslo.

CStanley said...

Ridiculous, but even if you take her complaint seriously why not consider that the mural might be expressing the idealized version somewhat ironically? The fact that the image is so stereotypical seems to leave that interpretation plausible.

EMD said...

Bret Easton Ellis has some words for this kid.

Mingus Jerry said...

How do they know he's cis-gender? Maybe that's a trans man. Maybe he's gay. Seems to me the person is making assumptions based on looks. I don't recall Neville being described as cis-gender anywhere in the books or movies.

Kate said...

Even when I used to read NRO I passed on columns by Timpf. Her mockery was too mean-spirited to be funny, and her wheelhouse was always tearing down other women.

This mural could've used Hermione as its subject. She, too, begins as an ugly duckling: bushy hair, big teeth, and glasses. As a matter of fact, I dare this dormitory to repaint the mural to depict an awkward female who is magically (literally) transformed into a beauty. Empowering and triggering, all at once!

buwaya puti said...

There is a human physical ideal (and mental, emotional, moral, etc.) for good reasons.
A school is supposed to help young people approach this ideal state. Mine, back in the backwards Far East in a backward time, explicitly intended to turn us brats into "Christian gentlemen", that was the mission statement. It did a fair job on the whole, though as in all these things imperfectly, as may be evident. But imperfection is our lot in all things.
The complainer in this case isn't really complaining about the art or details like race, but about the concept of self improvement towards an ideal. This is the fundamental demand of the modern decadents, students, parents and teachers, that the mission of the institution is null if it makes any of the above question their state of perfection.

Owen said...

buwaya puti @ 9:36: "...that the mission of the institution is null if it makes any of the above question their state of perfection."

THIS. Slacker Nation.

Relatedly: You didn't build that.

buwaya puti said...

Re the Hermione character in the movies - which I had to watch because kids.
Anyway, the actress did a great job, and was very cute in the first movie, very improbable for that difficult age though, not anywhere as awkward and nerdy as the character seems to be in the book. She aged into a very pretty girl, but too much so I think.

robother said...

Somewhere in Spain there is an artist who touches up murals like this to make them more...inclusive.

Eleanor said...

If they just paint all of the walls white and forget about the murals, is that racist?

MadisonMan said...

Guess the Major.

Nonapod said...

I agree that this is just a bad mural, even without getting into the whole absurd hypersensitive culture of the modern college campus.

Laslo Spatula said...

Stunted Gnomish Boy says:

I've always known that I don't belong. I don't belong in my school, I don't belong in my town, I don't belong in my family. Sometimes I cry at night, but that only makes me hate myself more. God, please let me grow up to be something else; I'll take anything, just not 'me'...

There is a nice neighbor down the street. He is handsome, and so is his roommate. He always smiles at m with big white teeth and gives a little wave. I think he is the only person who is ever nice to me...

Lately I've been thinking about him in ways that I don't understand. Sunday he was washing his Suburu in the driveway with his shirt off and I can't help it, I pictured him soaping ME up like the car, all sudsy and playful...

After we washed the car he would rinse me off with the garden hose, and we would laugh. Maybe he would help me towel off, I don't know: when I masturbate about this I have usually come by this point...

He makes my Dad look like an old fat loser. An old fat loser who doesn't even acknowledge my existence most times. I don't want to grow up to be my Dad. I want to be like my neighbor. Maybe I'll go over there with some Cokes and we can just talk. Maybe we could even work out together sometime: I bet he could make me be as strong as he is: I like how he looks without a shirt...

I am The Replacement Laslo.

Ann Althouse said...

Even if the "after" guy seems gay, the complainant didn't say the mural seemed to be touting heterosexuality. That's not on the list. A gay person can be "cisgender."

MayBee said...

It's vital that every criticism and complaint gets addressed and publicized.
Heaven knows, it's way too hard to get written up in a national publication for doing something outstanding. Much better to complain and get the attention you crave.

rhhardin said...

A gay person can be "cisgender."

I'm happy report that I have no idea what that means.

I'm counting on the pronouns disappearing before any need for me to use them comes up.

AprilApple said...

Public art if often ugly. The mural is ugly - so what? Don't look at it.

rhhardin said...

Iowahawk wonders when the new pronoun lists will be forwared to the university's Spanish department.

rhhardin said...

It's Soviet art, with wimps instead of heroes.

William said...

The darker skin could just as well be referring to smudges or a poor complexion as making a racial statement. As someone who was afflicted with severe acne at that age, I recognize the the anti pimple sentiment in the before drawing. This triggered many unhappy memories, and I'm glad they were made to take it down......The good thing about acne is that it's a marker of longevity. The artist probably never had a pimple in his life. The clear complexioned are always so smug and privileged about their damned skins. But who's got the last laugh now, bitch.

MayBee said...

"This represents, to me, our society, and I do not want it up on this wall. Why do we need a BEFORE and AFTER?"

This is so funny though, considering this is a complaint at a University. Why, indeed, do you need to go to college to be improved? Why can't you just leave the way you came in?

rhhardin said...

If you can't have murals on walls, where can you have them.

rhhardin said...

With and without acne would be a more hopeful view.

rhhardin said...

Do a cis-tine chapel ceiling.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ann Althouse said...

A gay person can be "cisgender."

So, the painting could be of a lesbian trapped in a man's body?

traditionalguy said...

How can that after guy feel happy. He still has no blonde hair and no blue eyes. I feel that message oppresses me.
Our riots will start at dark.We will target the CVS store we missed last night. Join us.

Rocketeer said...

Everything about this little kerfuffle is dumb. The mural is dumb, the complaint about the mural is dumb, Timpf's reaction is dumb, and it pains me to say Althouse, your analysis is dumb.

Dumbest of all is that the whole thing is so dumb I felt the need to post a dumb comment about its dumbness.

smitty said...

It's confounding that a silly mural can generate an even sillier response. It's even more confounding that we are talking about both.

buwaya puti said...

Murals, like mosaics and statuary, are a privilege of institutional leadership. This is an ancient right going back to Sumer. Granted, most of what has come down to us from the ancients is in much better taste and was created with far greater skill, but there really is no category difference between your renaissance Pope and the college administrator. Both had a message to deliver through public art.

SGT Ted said...

"It represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.... etc."

That quote represents racism, misandry, heterophobia and hatred of normal, successful people in a free society. This hatred of the ordinary and the attempts to otherize and marginalize good people, using what amounts to "hate speech" by their own self-professed standards, is what stands out about the Cry-Bullies who attend the indoctrination camps that passed for higher ed.

This is the ranting of crazy bigots bent on wielding power over others.

'TreHammer said...

The character to the right in the poster looks
like a young Arnold Swatzenneger (sp?)

David said...

The fire alarm just above the offending scene is a nice touch.

Not sure I agree that I agree that the "before" skin is darker. He washed his face, went to an orthodontist, a plastic surgeon and a hair stylist and had an eyebrow transplant. Amazing what living in the right location can do, if only you have oodles of cash.

Nigel Tufnel said...

I get that Harry Potter is a reference all these kids understand, but isnt it a bit childish in a college dorm?

We didn't have any ET or Star Wars murals in my dorm trying to boost self-esteem or otherwise.

Time to grow up.

Or put a dress on him and celebrate his diversity like Bruce Jenner.

David said...

"As an undergraduate, I detested Pablo Picasso and all of his works."

Not many safe spaces for women in Pablo's art.

eric said...

I'm familiar with Harry Potter because many years ago I read the books. Then my daughter read them and became a fanatic. We just had a bunch of kids over for a Harry Potter marathon. That was a long day.

Anyway, to add a little context to the mural, the actor who played Neville Longbottom (kid on our left) grew up to look like the guy on our right. My daughter and wife say he is very attractive. So, it's the same person.

Maybe everyone already understood this and I'm just spinning my wheels here.

Birches said...

Neville is really good with plants; I assume the splotches on his face are dirt smudges. After Neville goes through his very awkward phase, he ends up being the Hero of all the Harry Potter books and not awkward at all.

Alexander said...

Harry Potter can't represent white power because it is a book and media franchise, which means it is a cultural output, and I am reliably informed that white people have no inherent culture, but only appropriate culture from others.

Yancey Ward said...

There's 5 minutes of my life I will never get back.

David said...

The scene in my avatar is part of the destruction of Charleston during the Civil War. Instructive but not a safe space for a diminishing remnant of white southerners.

buwaya puti said...

A model for an image of an ideal, for a university -
Look for the University of the Philippines iconic "Oblation", by Tolentino - a classic ideal, an aspiration, and a dedication to something greater.
This does not however work on decadent, insincere hearts.

David said...

"Let's have more speech."

So you would let the mural stand and embrace the dialog? Is that the objective of those who object? Is there a case for removing the mural if speech is the object?

Maybe a representation of a raging fire just below the fire alarm?

Darrell said...

The world needs an enema.

Laslo Spatula said...

Stunted Gnomish Boy says:

I went over to the neighbor's house and it was even better than I could've dreamed...

We sat in his backyard, and he took his shirt off. He told me I should take off my shirt, too, it was a warm sunny day and it is great to feel it on your skin...

I told him I never take my shirt off in front of anybody, but he told me that if I were to be at his house I had to leave such self-defeating beliefs outside the front door. I never thought about it like that: I took off my shirt, and the sun DID feel good, I felt like I was a soda commercial where everybody is at the beach, showing skin and being happy...

He told me I looked too tense for such a young age, and then he started massaging my shoulders, like it was no big deal. I closed my eyes and felt the sun on my exposed skin and his hands on my shoulders, and then I came...

I was SO embarrassed, but he said it wasn't anything to worry about: it was just a sign that my body was liking living this way, and it is true, I have never felt so relaxed...

It was getting close to dinner time, so I had to head home, but not before he invited me to come back whenever I wanted. Whenever I wanted? I wanted to be there, with him, ALL the time...

I walked home with my shirt off; when I went inside my Dad said I looked stupid and fat like that, and to put my shirt back on. I couldn't say it out loud, but in my head my voice was clear" Suck It, Dad. I can hardly wait to go next door tomorrow, where I can learn more about being myself...

I am The Replacement Laslo.

Earnest Prole said...

all speech should be tolerated except speech that is intolerant of tolerance

W.B. Picklesworth said...

This mural makes me think of a university dormitory's pathetic conception of itself as transformative while referencing children's literature. The controversy that has ensued just reinforces the point: higher education has grown childish and disconnected from real life.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

One fine day, these whining little brats will be out in the real world, trying to find a job and will be gobsmacked to discover that no one give a flying eff about their widdle feelings. No one cares if they object to a mural or even thinks about things like cisgender, patriarchy, transgenderism etc etc ad nauseum. You can stamp your little feet, clench your soft little fists and hold your breath until you turn blue. No. One. Cares.

The rest of us are trying to live, make a living, get by, raise a family, go shopping, and all the other mundane things of life and do it without getting killed or annoyed by these delicate snowflakes. Life is a blast furnace and these snowflake kids have no way to deal with the heat...melting, melting.....gone. Good.

coupe said...

This seems to be along the lines of - you can't write fiction anymore, because fiction could possibly be the reality of the author. Certainly the reality of the weak minds.

The thing is, instead of burning the books, we should burn the protesters.

I think the Germans were right to cremate so many people, it's just that they wated all that energy instead of generating electricity with the fires.

Unknown said...

Unremitting mockery is exactly what is called for in this case.

SGT Ted said...

"Like I said earlier, maybe I am being a little sensitive, but it is how I feel."

Good heavens, why should anyone care about your hypersensitive feelings, especially when it leads to the censorship of art you don't like.

William said...

I think the protester has, perhaps unconsciously, adopted a Game of Thrones attitude towards gnomish features and physical deformities. In Shakespeare, a hunchback was the outward sign of an inner moral deformity. In GOT, on the other hand, the struggles that a character makes to overcome his physical deformities and maimed limbs give him moral superiority to the better looking, more able bodied characters in the drama. (Except for the women, of course. No sense getting crazy about this ugliness = moral grandeur thing.)....,Shakespeare was against ugliness. GOT is for it. Does anyone know what position Harry Potter takes? Does he completely ignore the issue? Looks are very important for adolescents. How can Harry Potter dodge such an important issue?

Robert Cook said...

This kid needs to grow up and be an adult. Cheezis!!

Anglelyne said...

It represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.... etc.

Anybody entering the university already talking like that has been rendered a spiritually and intellectually deformed shrunken gnome by his earlier educational experience. So the "before" is apt. The time he's going to spend in a modern American university is likely to shrink and deform his mind and soul even further. So, aesthetics aside, there is a legitimate truth-in-advertising complaint to be made about the mural.

(Aren't college-age students a bit long in the tooth for Harry Potter?)

Char Char Binks said...

I think the kid looks kind of dark because there was a scene in the first movie with smoke or ash on his face, if I recall correctly, and he was probably in shadows, as most of the scenes took place in dark rooms and hallways. For those who don't know, the second pic is of the same actor grown up. People have made a big deal about him transforming from a chubby, nerdy, not-so attractive kid to a handsome, strong man. There's no guarantee that college will do anything like that for anyone, but all advertising is aspirational.

AprilApple said...

We need a new University - a Progressive University for the modern adult child.

Fainting Couch University

-or-

Safe Space University

No learning. Good Feelz.

Laslo Spatula said...

Stunted Gnomish Boy says:

I went over to the neighbor's house again, and something BIG happened.

We were sitting in the backyard, shirtless, when my Neighbor -- whose name is Brent -- said we should take off our shorts, too...

This seemed a little too far for me to go, but after he took off his shorts I figured I had to do the same: I do not want to be the 'old' me, frightened and afraid of anything new because everything new was just a new way to be hurt...

So I had my eyes closed, when I felt a shadow fall over my face: opening my eyes, I saw his erect penis, inches from my nose...

"You can touch it," he said, smiling.

"I couldn't speak, so I just shook my head a meager little 'No."

"You have touched your own penis, right? It's just like that, but among friends. Unless you don't really want to be friends..."

That last sentence was like a harpoon to my heart. Brent was my ONLY friend: I could never give that up, so I gently touch his erect penis.

"You are making me feel so good..." Brent said. "It is good to be friends..."

It felt like an out-of-body experience, like my hand wasn't even my own and I was watching all of this from above. Then he came on my chest.

"It's okay, I have a towel right here," he said...

While he was wiping me clean I came.

"Don't worry," he told me: "you'll get more patient with time..."

Then I played Grand Theft Auto on his Big TV while he took a shower. My Dad would never let me play Grand Theft Auto. I wasn't sure where I was going, but I liked being further away from where I'd been...

I am The Replacement Laslo.

David said...

"I wasn't sure where I was going, but I liked being further away from where I'd been..."

Nice.

Lawler Walken said...

JK Rowling specified when she sold the movie rights to her books that no non-British actors or actresses could be cast in any of the main roles. Supposedly this was to protect how she saw these characters and the environment in which she presented them to the world.

But I think it was just cultural chauvinism. Which the Brits are known for.


Henry said...

Other fantasy figures considered and rejected:

* Tom Riddle / Voldemorte
* Smeagal / Gollum
* Dennis Rodman / Dennis Rodman

Gahrie said...

One fine day, these whining little brats will be out in the real world, trying to find a job and will be gobsmacked to discover that no one give a flying eff about their widdle feelings. No one cares if they object to a mural or even thinks about things like cisgender, patriarchy, transgenderism etc etc ad nauseum. You can stamp your little feet, clench your soft little fists and hold your breath until you turn blue. No. One. Cares.

Which is why this type tends to stay at college or find a job working in Human Resources.

Limited blogger said...

I painted the album cover art from "Grateful Dead / Europe '72" on my dorm room wall. It came out pretty good. The foot stepping thru the rainbow.

JPS said...

Reading this complaint made me feel bad. Then I read the Professor's comment and decided she had a point. Then I rematched the commercial with R Lee Ermey as a therapist, and really felt better.

http://preview.tinyurl.com/zc4njql

Balfegor said...

The boy looks gnomish and misshapen. I know it's a joke, and it's based on a real Harry Potter character,

It's based on the actor, more than the character.

pdug said...

"That may sound a little hysterical, but as art analysis, it makes sense"

That's the problem right there

HoodlumDoodlum said...

"It represents white power." That's a valid criticism to you, Professor? You consider that both a valid criticism and good art criticism?

If so aren't you basically admitting that "white power" as a concept is just about meaningless? If any representation of a white person is an expression of "white power" then I guess I'm a racist just for having a (white) face.

How smart people like the Professor buy into such idiotic Leftist bullshit when the topic is race is a mystery to me. Just profoundly stupid.

Hagar said...

Megyn Kelly and Kellyann Conway kept talking about their gender last night. "Gender" is not a definite term any more, so they need to speak English and say "sex," even if it feels a little rude in polite company.

Laslo Spatula said...

Stunted Gnomish Boy says:

I went over to the neighbor's house again, and saw something that made my heart hurt SO bad...

As I approached I saw Johnny Baker leaving Brent's house. Johnny Baker! he was a year ahead of me in school, and everybody liked him. No: everybody LOVED him. He was smart, and athletic, and he looked good with his shirt off...

I asked Brent why Johnny was there, and Brent said that Johnny was a friend, too. Brent had another friend? Like me, only better in every way? I didn't think anything could hurt so much, not even my Dad laughing at me was like this...

Brent saw the look in my eyes, and spoke in a soft voice.

"When I met Johnny he was like you, you know?"

No, I didn't know.

He was shy, unsure of himself, a little overweight and din't wash his hair often enough. I guess that WAS like me.

"So what happened?" I asked.

"Johnny and I hung out, and he built up his confidence and his body. Like you're starting to do, now."

"Okay..."

"But you are better than Johnny," Brent said, and I couldn't help but feel Hope stir inside me.

"Me? Better than Johnny?"

"Yeah. Johnny, in all of out time together, never once kissed my penis. He is a selfish boy."

"But I've never kissed your penis, either."

"I know, but I also know that one day you WILL. You are a stellar friend."

'Stellar"? I would never have guessed in a million years that someone should call me 'stellar.'I let the moment float around me like warm water.

"So do you want me to..."

""No, not now," Brent said with authority in his voice. "You're not ready yet. No need to hurry."

I felt both childish and relieved. I was relieved that I didn't have to kiss Brent's penis right now, but I felt childish for feeling that way. But Brent said I would know when I was ready. Brent was really good at understanding things like that...

I am The Replacement Laslo.

Peggy Coffey said...

It's paint on a wall. These stupid snowflakes should be kicked out onto the street and live with the homeless for a while or take care of abused animals or work with the disabled. Then maybe they would lose the smug, holier than though attitude. No one should take them seriously.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Let's have more speech.

Right, and lets pretend that the University won't punish "more speech" when that speech doesn't strictly conform to the approved Leftist line. Let's pretend that someone at the school engaging in speech critical of this writer won't be branded sexist, racist, etc. It's fun to pretend!

Smilin' Jack said...

Let's have more speech.

Using "speech" to refer to communication in general is offensive to the deaf community.

So shut up.

CStanley said...

If there is anything culturally offensive in that mural it's that the artist found it ok to mock British bad teeth. Which is ok, because Imperialism, I guess.

Annie said...

Perhaps this snowflake needs to read some Harry Potter and he/she will find themselves identifying with the mural instead of lashing out and triggering other students with his/her bigoted complaint.

The Neville character was an exceedingly awkward boy, struggling for acceptance, being the butt of jokes, tripping over his own feet, throughout the series. He did find some acceptance in his House (dorm) and came into his own towards the end. He went from the struggling ugly duckling into a mature, comfortable in his skin, swan.

Considering other murals I have seen painted in dorms, this one is pretty good.

Peter said...

So, perhaps the complainer is a sad, ugly, angry misfit. If so, how is removing the mural going to change that?

Paul Snively said...

If the complainant has this level of difficulty with a representation of a specific individual, albeit fictional, who happens to develop as a person in this fictional context, and that development is symbolized in literature and/or film by some collection of outward changes—weight loss, dressing better, etc.—then this complainant is in for a really crappy real life once they are out of school. And as much as that bothers me for their sake, yes, what bothers me even more is that they seem overwhelmingly likely to do their level best to ensure that everyone else has a really crappy real life, too.

Socialism spreads economic misery. Political correctness spreads psychological misery. The constant in the equation is misery.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

BY THE WAY: This student isn't just "engaged in speech," Professor. The article is about the student FILING A REPORT with a University "hate response" group. The student's action was a request--however pathetic--to get someone in authority to intervene on their behalf. This was an individual attempting to use an institution's authority and power to prevent the mural from staying up. This wasn't a letter to the editor or even an anonymous flier distributed around campus.

When I'm trying to get an institutional authority to take an action on my behalf I'm not really just "engaged in speech." Don't you think that's an important distinction to make, Professor?

Martin said...

From your photo, it is a TERRIBLE mural--a bad idea, poorly executed.

This is what happens when people who are not hip try to be.

Anyway, today's Freshmen were just being born when the first Harry Potter book came out in late 1999. It is really more something their older sibs were into. Even the last movie was 2011, when they were about 12-13.

Whenever you went to college, imagine a mural celebrating someone who was big when you were 12 and is now decidedly old news. Insulting, pandering, off-putting are words that come to mind.

And a mural is for a long time, the disconnect only gets worse--better to stick with something timeless, unless you really can count on re-doing it every second year.

My name goes here. said...

"It represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.... etc."

This person is an idiot.

The mural clearly shows a pudgy forest gnome can grow up to be Miley Cyrus, or you know K D Lang.

I think the critic's real problem with this mural is that it advances use of orthodontics.

Brando said...

Timpf seems to specialize in the "find some crazed whiny leftist" hunt, and while these are often amusing vignettes of oversensitive college kids, let's not assume they're representative of millenials. We just see it more because of the virality of social media.

Most students, I assume, just want to get through school and have fun and get their credentials. That's the way it was when I was in college, and sure there were loud crazed activists (there was a feminist group that staged a march over a frat house that put sneakers in a tree, because they heard a rumor that the shoes represented women deflowered or something) but most people were doing what college kids always did--party a bit, study when they had to, and stay out of trouble.

The mural looks bad, but who cares enough to lodge a complaint? Sometimes I wonder if these are done in satire.

Jonathan Graehl said...

i wouldn't want to walk by that. hideous looking and not *that* cute.

however, normal folk *who have watched the harry potter movies* can't possibly (i imagine!) feel anything but a benevolent spirit in the intent

if it's really about ugly-person insecurity (which many of us have experienced), better start growing up now than later.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

I am sympathetic to those who are overly sensitive and that's why I got the Chris Christensen wooden pin brush for my little puppy.

The Ice-on-Ice pretty much rocks as well.

Put the two together and that's some smoooooooth sailing, there, baby!!!

lemondog said...

How will UW respond? How will the Hate Response Team respond?

Will the ‘artists’ of the mural report her (?) labeling of their ‘art’ as white power, man power, cis power, able power, class power.... etc., to the Hate Response Team?

RichardJohnson said...

Brando
The mural looks bad, but who cares enough to lodge a complaint? Sometimes I wonder if these are done in satire.

I was thinking the same thing before I read your comment.

Annie said...

Martin, I disagree. While the mural is not the greatest, it's certainly not terrible considering the setting and message. Students are commissioned to do these things. I remember a horrible rainbow painted in my dorm lounge (this was before rainbows were associated with 'gay').
A lot of artwork is done by those students hired into residence life - Resident Advisors and Hall Directors. Some of it sucks, some of it doesn't. 99.9% of students DON'T CARE.

And I'm pretty confident that most of todays college students have read the Harry Potter series. My daughter ran a dorm while in grad school. She graduated this past May, and it was rare to run into anyone who didn't read the books.

Sebastian said...

""Why do we need a BEFORE and AFTER?" That is: Why are you portraying me as ugly and awkward before I got here and in need of a change?" It's not "you," you know. It's a funny, slightly ironic way to represent but also just ever so lightly spoof the college conceit that the experience will make you a better you.

"Now, I'm sure many of you will object to something else in the complaint that I haven't quoted yet: It represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.... etc. That may sound a little hysterical, but as art analysis, it makes sense." Sure, it makes sense from the point of view of prog insanity. Otherwise, not so much.

One problem with today's colleges is that the main before/after they care about is to convert cons into progs. They are happy to let ignorant narrow-minded Timpfianism flourish unchanged, endorsing mindless raving as "art analysis that makes sense."

Sigivald said...

Indeed, the core problem here is that it's a horrible mural, badly executed.

Idiocy about "fill-in-the-blank-power" and how it's oppressing by its mere presence because of that is asinine and should be ignored.

(Cis power? How is a fictional character's "path of heroes" progression supposed to relate to their gender identity, which is thoroughly irrelevant to the context and his story?

For that matter, would not then almost all people be examples of "cis power", on the grounds that the vast majority of people are, in fact, cisgender?

Even proponents of the term - the sane ones - suggest only using "cisgender" in contexts where it needs to be specified rather than assumed, for that very reason.)

Ann Althouse said...

Remember: The mural is the government speaking day in, day out, with no opportunity for dialogue and interchange, at the students, in the students' home. It's like a "Big Brother Is Watching You" picture in your house. And the student is just writing about how it makes him feel. The fact that he is using the government's complaint system is just one more damned thing the government is doing.

It's not the young person's fault that this is the approach the government has set up to create the semblance of a conversation. The whole thing is repressive. Lashing out at this student is really perverse. And I'm sure the university really wants the students to feel good. But the message that you will feel good if you look like that "AFTER" guy isn't a good one and isn't even what the artist intends.

Brando said...

"I was thinking the same thing before I read your comment."

That's my reaction with a lot of Timpf reports. You see something like "anonymous coed complains that having classes before noon is racist" and you can sort of imagine bored pranksters sending them in and making a stir.

Robert Cook said...

"Remember: The mural is the government speaking day in, day out, with no opportunity for dialogue and interchange, at the students, in the students' home. It's like a "Big Brother Is Watching You" picture in your house. And the student is just writing about how it makes him feel. The fact that he is using the government's complaint system is just one more damned thing the government is doing.

"It's not the young person's fault that this is the approach the government has set up to create the semblance of a conversation. The whole thing is repressive. Lashing out at this student is really perverse. And I'm sure the university really wants the students to feel good. But the message that you will feel good if you look like that "AFTER" guy isn't a good one and isn't even what the artist intends."


If this is "the government" assaulting the childish student's feelings, the student should protest in the appropriate anti-government way: deface the mural with graffiti, rather than whimper for someone to make it go away. Some apt graffiti would create the dialogue that is missing.

I suspect this student's parents were way too indulgent of their child's sensitive nature.

EMD said...

"Remember: The mural is the government speaking day in, day out, with no opportunity for dialogue and interchange, at the students, in the students' home. It's like a "Big Brother Is Watching You" picture in your house. And the student is just writing about how it makes him feel. The fact that he is using the government's complaint system is just one more damned thing the government is doing."

Wait a minute. I didn't realize you were such an anarchist.

Sebastian said...

"The mural is the government speaking day in, day out, with no opportunity for dialogue and interchange, at the students, in the students' home." Wow. Who would have thought that if you make your home in a government institution the government might be speaking to you, might set rules you have to follow, might make you do stuff you don't like.

"It's not the young person's fault that this is the approach the government has set up to create the semblance of a conversation." The government wasn't trying to create the semblance of a conversation. It was just trying to use a lighthearted way to express its usual propaganda, namely that college makes you a better you.

"The whole thing is repressive." Actually, no. It's the kind of "repression" you can safely ignore, make fun of, or get away from entirely. This is defining repression down.

"Lashing out at this student is really perverse." Actually, no. Mad SJWs are the ones invoking institutional power to restrict public discourse to messages they approve.

"But the message that you will feel good if you look like that "AFTER" guy isn't a good one and isn't even what the artist intends." Of course it's not "what the artist intends." Nor would any half-sensible 18-year-old art connoisseur infer that "you will feel good if you look like the "AFTER" guy." I know you may just be trolling here, but this is absurd.

I have walked across a few college campuses over the years. They are full of all kinds of propaganda. Mostly one kind, and one kind only. Of course, cons object to stifling PC culture etc. etc. but to my knowledge no con snowflake ever objects in the same SJW terms to the barrage of "repression" that is entirely standard.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said.... The fact that he is using the government's complaint system is just one more damned thing the government is doing.

No, Professor, absolutely not. The student had many options. The student could have expressed themselves in any number of ways that did not involve a "hate reporting" authority. The student filed a complaint in order to get the authority to use their power to get rid of an expression the student doesn't like. The student CHOSE to use that method, and the student should be accountable for that choice. Your comment attempts to absolve them of their responsibility--they should be mocked for filing a complaint against this mural (as emotionally harmful, sexist, racist, etc).
Now, if the student protested, or wrote letters to the paper suggesting the mural be replaced, or handed out pamphlets against it, or did any number of other "speech" activities that did not rely on crying to mommy to make the mean picture go away, then you'd be correct--it would be "perverse" to "lash out" at the student. (Is lashing out not a form or speech, too? I forget.)
But, again, this isn't about a disagreement among equals each using their speech to try and persuade and get their way. This is about a student using a formal complaint process to try and label an expression they dislike as forbidden (because it's racist, sexist, etc) and have it taken down on that basis.
This isn't happening in a vacuum, Professor. This is yet another example of the way the Left works--instead of engaging in "more speech" they work as quickly as possible to label anything they disagree with as sexist, racist, homophobic, etc (you know...as "ugly") as a tactic to shut down speech. If they can they use that tactic specifically as a way to get institutional authority to shut down speech they don't like. That's what "no platforming" is, essentially--you label people you disagree with as racists, then get different outlets of speech/expression to ban those people from speaking since that speech would be harmful (since it's racist), and you've won! That's why the fucking "hate report" channel exists to begin with--so that the University can take action to prevent harm that might arise from some form of expression.
It's ridiculous to pretend that's "just speech" and to lump active efforts to use power to restrict speech in with actual speech & debate/disagreement.

Limited blogger said...

The 'government' didn't design the mural. Probably some student run residency group at the dorm chose it. I believe it was done in a friendly, collegiate way; proud of the Laux residence. The fact that it got mis-interpreted is a shame, but I suspect the complainer's feelings are real. I bet it gets painted over.

Mike Sylwester said...

I like the mural.

I don't understand why everyone here is criticizing its artistic merit.

AlbertAnonymous said...

My son's college now has gender neutral (or whatever you call them) bathrooms in each dorm. There's still a men's room, and a women's room, but there's also a third bathroom. In order to make it inoffensive (or whatever you'd call it) they have BOTH a standard toilet AND a urinal. WTF?

Why couldn't you just put in the standard toilet like every bathroom in every house. Everyone uses it, male, female, cis, non-cis, my sis, everyone....

Seriously, does the added expense of the urinal make any sense to anyone? "I want the special snowflake bathroom, but I want it with a urinal, too. Don't judge me, Bigot."

I'm betting someone will complain that the added urinal is so stereotypical male that it actually offends the trans perpeople because, you know, gender is a construct or something.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Robert Cook said...If this is "the government" assaulting the childish student's feelings, the student should protest in the appropriate anti-government way: deface the mural with graffiti, rather than whimper for someone to make it go away. Some apt graffiti would create the dialogue that is missing.

No, defacing the mural would be anti-speech, too. But the student certainly could make their own mural--could ask for space to do so (that's pretty much the definition of "more speech") if "the government" wouldn't let them, and then make that the issue. That's speech, and that's responding to speech with more speech. The student could start a petition to get the mural removed or painted over. Hey, still speech!

If I write an article criticizing something you said (or even one calling for people to boycott you) that's just me engaging in speech. If I file a complaint with your employer in an attempt to get you fired (so that you can't use your job as a platform to express yourself) that's not "more speech." I'm positive you appreciate the difference, Professor.

dda6ga dda6ga said...

Old Sarge say: "F__k 'em if they can't take a joke or a mural"

Real American said...

I'd file a complaint against whoever filed this complaint. I'd demand that person at least leave the university because I feel threatened by someone on campus with such unrepentant racist and sexist views and clear mental instabilities. Plus, I do not like this knowing such petty narcissism exists. Since I am entitled to feel this way and it is not entitled to offend me, I should prevail on my complaint.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Also, just to point this out: the mural is based on a meme...it's a joke (you usually see it as something like "master of the puberty spell). The mural shoehorned the location in to the general meme. All of this is over a lighthearted joke. I'd say something like lighten up, Francis" but that's probably sexist & gender-shaming or some shit.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

As a matter of fact, the books (IIRC) say absolutely zero about what Neville Longbottom looks like. That's a little odd, because we know all about Harry's untidy hair and glasses, Ron's red hair, Hermione's bushy hair and buck teeth, &c. All we know about Neville is that he's terrified of Professor Snape, lousy at most coursework but great in Herbology (he ends up teaching it at Hogwarts in the last chapter of the last book), is the son of two Auror parents who were driven insane by Bellatrix Lestrange, lives with his grandmother, and has a toad named Trevor. Oh, and manages to destroy the last of Voldemort's Horcruxes in the last book by chopping off the head of Voldemort's pet snake. He's awkward, sure, and the artist was probably trying to express that somehow, and he certainly matures (like everyone else) over the series, but people's sense of his physical appearance comes entirely from the movies.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Won't someone consider the crushed feelings, the crumpled up soul of the muralist? He/she (whatever the correct term is now I don't know) spent a great deal of time on the mural. Probably was pretty proud of his/her/its work and hoped that the positive message of growth would come through.

But....nooooooo. Now everyone is dissing and critiquing the mural. Imagine the poor muralist sobbing in a corner somewhere. Perhaps even deciding that life is not worth it anymore. AND it will be all the fault of the whiny student who only cares about HER feelings and all of you who are making fun of this artists hard work and imagination.

Have you NO compasion? How cruel can you be!!!!

/sarcasm tag: just in case

Mike Sylwester said...

Maybe when the complainer was selecting a university to attend, a recruiter gave her the impression that there would not be any murals in this university's dormitories.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Seriously, does the added expense of the urinal make any sense to anyone?

@ Albert anonymous

No the added expense makes no sense. Just use a regular toilet like everyone has at home.

We have a urinal at home. We got it when we remodeled a deli/smoked food place that we owned many years ago and got rid of one of the bathrooms and only had one single use bathroom for everyone. We needed the extra space for storage. My husband, being a plumber decided that the removed urinal was too good to throw away so we kept it and eventually hung it on a wall off of the deck outside. Turned it into a water feature/fountain with a constant stream of water trickling down the back of the urinal and into the basin, where we put a potted plant each spring. Fuchias look quite nice trailing down from the basin.....or a pretty feathery fern in a ceramic pot.

The urinal amuses our guests and makes us laugh.

The Cracker Emcee said...

My son's freshman dorm RA littered their hallway with Harry Potter themed signs and name tags. I was offended because I thought it was juvenile and belittling for the young adults that lived there.

mikee said...

Sorry, but ridicule is the appropriate response when people use their feelings, rather than any factual or rational or philosophical or principled basis, for demanding anything. Part of becoming an adult is learning to think, rather than just feel, in life.

Mac McConnell said...

A better mural would be a graph of WU student debt load over the last two decades.

Another idea would be a mural like natural museums usually have where apes morph into modern man. Start out with only white men in suit and tie, then add well dressed white women, then add AA blacks of both genders and still well dressed, then add asians. On the timeline around 1965 have all the students wearing bell bottoms and Frye boots, then around 1980 put everyone in polo shirts and deck shoes for the preppy revival, slowly debase their costumes to present with pajamas and flip flops. Of course sprinkle scenes of frat boys and jocks gang raping coeds throughout.

Static Ping said...

At the core of this is a person who has, at worst, suffered a very minor slight but is making a big deal out of it as to gain credibility and sympathy as a victim, using all the proper buzzwords to classify himself as a favored class and therefore give himself power. It is pathetic. A society that would cater itself to this person's complaints would cease to exist in short order.

Honestly, the mural is dumb and ugly but the proper response is to make fun of it and give it no further attention.

Paul Ciotti said...

Anyone who can say "cis power" with a straight face needs to leave school, get a job and work for a living.

Sammy Finkelman said...

And after Laux, you no longer need to wear a coat and tie.

Quaestor said...

The happy "after" character has distinctly lighter skin, and he is in many ways a conventional, idealized young white man.

I did a little art analysis and discovered Althouse is off her chump art-wise in this case. The flesh tone of the face on the right is demonstrably darker than the one on the left. Here are the CMYK values: 12% 34% 54% 0% (before image) 13% 39% 57% 0% (after image).

The "before" image shows the subject illuminated from the right, which creates more shadow on the face, while the "after" face is illuminated from the front, hence fewer shadows, but the skin is nevertheless darker.

Bryan Townsend said...

I guess what bothers me is the sheer irrelevance of this or any other mural. When I was an undergraduate they could have had every building plastered with the most godawful murals ever painted and I wouldn't even have noticed. Why? BECAUSE I WAS STUDYING! This is, after all, why you are there, or why you should be there. You should be much too busy studying to be paying attention to stuff like this. And so should we all! Ohmigod, Ann Althouse tricked me into paying attention to something silly yet again!

Bad Lieutenant said...

Just think, I used to think I had missed something, not reading the Harry Potter books or seeing most of the movies.

Quaestor said...

When I moved into my first and only dorm room, which was in a residence hall built in the 1930s by the WPA, the walls were a uniform institutional green, and the floors were covered with that polished aggregate tile beloved of maintenance staff everywhere. Pretty depressing, actually. When I returned as a sophomore the building had been renovated over the summer. The corridors had been repainted in alternating shades of taupe and pale rose, and the bare title hallway floor had been carpeted in a mushroom grey — quite attractive I thought. However the newly finished wall presented a tempting target for our resident stoner. Presented with a primed yet blank canvas he was moved to render a larger-than-life Mr. Natural à la Crumb striding down a country lane lost in thought, which was done first in pencil, then over-traced in magic marker, then finally colored in acrylic. If you were of a mind to like that sort of thing it was a masterpiece. I never liked the so-called underground comics (or any comics for that matter, accept for a very brief fling with the Fantastic Four) yet I found Mr. Natural both refreshing and engaging.

Unfortunately, the Floor Assistant (perhaps affectionately called the Floor Ass) reported our unauthorized mural to the Dean of Students. A disciplinary hearing was called, and in spite of the residents' near-unanimous approval of the mural Mr. Natural was condemned to be executed and his creator billed for the bullet.

Freedom of expression is one thing, the sanctity of University property is another.

Richard Dolan said...

Try to imagine a mural, painting, poster, or any other form of expression that couldn't possibly offend someone. When you're done, I suspect all you will come up with is an empty canvass, wall or other frame.

It's all well and good to be considerate of the feelings of others. But at some point you just have to accept that you can't please everyone. Part of the reason is that there are so many today who want to feel offended -- it makes there day. Whether this kid is one of them, no one here could possibly say, and for present purposes I accept that the student is being entirely sincere. Still, the feelings of the most sensitive can hardly be the determinative factor. When it comes to being offended, where there's a will, you can be sure there will be a way.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Whether homosexual, crossover, or another deviant behavior, the natural world is transphobic. As for "white power", "black power", "female chauvinism", etc., [class] diversity, as well as abortion rites, are the refuge of transhumans that judge people by the "color of their skin", not the content of their character (e.g. principles). Transhumans are bitter clingers to the Pro-Choice quasi-religious/moral philosophy instructed by gods in the twilight zone and interpreted by liberal judges.

AlbertAnonymous said...

Apparently at Michigan, the university asked all students to log onto their student portals and designate the pronouns with which they identify. Once designated, the chosen pronouns get printed on each class roster and the professors are apparently required to use the chosen pronouns when referring to the students. So some student just officially designated that he be referred to as "His Majesty"

Brilliant!!!!

wildswan said...

The best thing to do is say that the mural wasn't finished. Then show Neville attending a re-education class led by Delores Jane Umbelton. Then we see him in a Safe Space, free to be himself and transformed from his cisgenderableist self - once more short, fat, clumsy and ugly. And now he's green.
The mural says: At Wisconsin you have choices.

rcocean said...

Yeah, lets not make fun of Leftists. Yeah, thats:

a. stupid
b. unnecessary
c. fascist
d. All of the above.

Instead, lets make fun of Trump and conservatives. That's

a. Funny
b. Smart
c. Progressive
d. All of the above.

rcocean said...

People keep LOL over this crap - yeah except the lefties who think up this stuff are brainwashing your kids

In 10 years, this will be the new "Normal".

I can remember people LOL-ing over Gay Marriage and Trans-gender bathrooms.

protestmanager said...

"Why do we need a BEFORE and AFTER?" That is: Why are you portraying me as ugly and awkward before I got here and in need of a change?


Because if you're not coming to college to learn, and therefore to change, you shouldn't be coming to college.

You're a student. No, you are NOT "good enough" right now. If you were, you wouldn't be a student.

So get over your arrogant, whiny, BS, sit down, shut up, and start learning.

Or else go home, and stop wasting taxpayers money.

protestmanager said...

It represents white power. Man power. Cis power. Able power. Class power.... etc.
That may sound a little hysterical, but as art analysis, it makes sense.

No, as arrant stupidity it's top of the class.

"The happy "after" character has distinctly lighter skin, and he is in many ways a conventional, idealized young white man. The boy looks gnomish and misshapen."

The little boy is dirty, the adult male is not. If this is "white poser" then it's a magical "white power" that takes "non-whites" and makes them "whites". You know, I'd missed the white power activists pushing to turn non-whites, white. Could you point me to some of them?

They took a loser boy, and turned him into a winner man. Because that's what school is supposed to do!.

So, here's some more speech: the complainer is a whiny loser, who should be ruthlessly mocked for the rest of his life.

But, then again, anyone who writes "Man power. Cis power. Able power" non-ironically is a pathetic loser who should be mocked ruthlessly for the rest of its life.

protestmanager said...

Kate said...
Even when I used to read NRO I passed on columns by Timpf. Her mockery was too mean-spirited to be funny, and her wheelhouse was always tearing down other women.

This mural could've used Hermione as its subject.


Wrong. Hermione came into Hogwarts as bright, hard charging, hard working, top of her class.

Neville, OTOH, came in as a pathetic loser. When it comes to "most improved", Neville has everyone else beat, hands down.

Moneyrunner said...

Why is UW such a cesspool of racist, cisgendered bigotry.

Lucien said...

Just another example of oikophobic hatred on display. Oikophobia traumatizes me, driving me to seek out safe spaces where straight, cis-gendered females serve chilled Martinis, which are bad for my health.

Eric Landgraf said...

The rise of Oikophobia hatred parallels the rise of the urban, professional, socialist liberal global-deep-state. A ruling elite driven to 'normalize' mankind in pursuit of corporate profits, world power and standardization of human culture. I suspect that it will fail. The overlords are too resented by their restive proles who neither trust them or respect their lordships.

How unsurprising of non-whites and other critics to raise this issue as white domination gives way to a [so-called] multicultural state. LOL. The end result will not be global brotherhood based on reason and [LOVE] . No it will be a horrific global race and religious war between groups too aggrieved and to angry to reach a compromise.

Who ever launches first will win this war. No quarter will be offered or given.

Andrew Pardue said...

Professor I think the below link provides some context for the mural. The film makers lucked out picking the actor who played Neville in that he underwent the exact transformation the fictional character does. Few people have won the puberty lottery as well is this guy.
https://www.buzzfeed.com/elliewoodward/times-neville-longbottom-ruined-you-for-other-men?utm_term=.uw6KaZ6dEK#.iulJXEnwGJ

The mural losses on two counts.
1. I am confident enough in my manhood to say that it doesn't do Matthew Lewis justice.
2. No school can beat damn good genetics

openidname said...

I don't think it's possible to be too dismissive of this student's concerns. But I'll give it the old college try.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Quaestor: A similar thing happened in a dorm at UC Berkeley in the 70s. Except, instead of erasing the painting, the relevant Authority decided to allow the residents to paint murals on all the hallway wall sections between the dorm room doors. On every floor of a 9 (?) story building. They only specified that certain paint types could not be used because of fumes.
The result was as you might expect from Sturgeon's Law, but the best 10% were excellent.
They all disappeared a few years later when the building was refurbished, but by then the artists had all moved on. No kerfuffle - perhaps even UCB was sane in the 70s.
(I did an adequate image of sunrise on a planet orbiting Beta Lyra. The best image was right outside the elevator on the 7th floor, aptly titled "7th Heaven". The best on my floor was a copy of a "Yes" album cover - not original but very well executed.)

Quaestor said...

Here's the great Chesley Bonestell's version, notice how the companions are stretched into ellipsoids by their mutual gravity.

And here is a later version done after the accretion disc was discovered

Fred Drinkwater said...

Mine was more or less the accretion spiral version. I was never satisfied with my layout of the spiral - the visual problem of viewing it from no farther away than the width of the hall was a PITA.