A song, a television show, and two thoughts.

Terra Naomi’s “Say It’s Possible,” a powerful song inspired by Vice President Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, has captured my fascination since first hearing it in 2007. You can watch it here. Lyrics are here.

Of all the lyrics I find the following most powerful and very unique. 

I’m not alright
I’m not alright
I’m not alright
I’m not alright

Think how rarely someone voices not being alright. Our society doesn’t make it easy to say such: We’re supposed to be content, be passive, be quiet. I absolutely love that this song for subverting the normative! And it narrates the cultural rhetoric of global warming most effectively.

Dan Fogelman’s This Is Us is another powerful cultural text. Two years old, this highly-popular, highly-rated, highly-viewed television drama follows a family and what happens to them by jumping forward and backward through time. The show is excellent in terms of acting and originality. This Is Us grabs viewers emotionally. All-around lots of strong points, except…

The show is entirely too heteronormative and patriarchal. Everything in the series centers around or relates to the family’s White patriarch, Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia). Jack Pearson is an almost-perfect character. This Is Us creates and celebrates an ideal (male) friend, son, brother, husband, and father. The cliché “wouldn’t even hurt a fly” applies to This Is Us‘s patriarch. History–big H and little h–begins with Jack Pearson. No such attention is given–thus far–to Jack Pearson’s wife, Rebecca. 

Within the context of an increasingly queered society, This Is Us serves as something of a push back toward change and diversity and equality. 

Within the context of Trumpism, This Is Us serves to convince people patriarchs are (overall?) good and hold society together.

These thoughts will be continued, but analyzing such cultural productions and their place in larger society is necessary.

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda