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Police Violence: What Crimes Deserve the ‘Death Penalty’?

At what point has someone committed an act so heinous that they deserve the death penalty? Is it when they set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, or when they run from the police officer that just pulled them over? Over the past few months and longer, there has been a lot on the news about police officers using excessive force that ends up killing an American citizen. Recently, there was an event where a cop, perused a man who ran from a car he pulled over, shot him multiple times in the back and then planted a taser on him so he could claim he feared for his life. People are saying that, if someone hadn’t been recording this event, the cop would have gotten away with it. I actually wonder if that was the nail in this guy’s coffin. Even with a camera recording, could he have gotten away with it if only he didn’t illegally plant evidence?

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Voluntary Amputation: The Model of the Future?

Viktoria Modesta calls herself the model of the future in a music video that has me thinking about Ghost in a Shell. To make a long story short, Viktoria is missing one of her legs from the knee down. In the music video, Prototype, she hold this up as something to be desired. The video tells the story of a movement, of people wanting to be just like her and of some who go through extremes to be her. My first thought was that the video was creative and interesting. I love how she depicts her missing limb as a thing of beauty, even going to far as to have a provocative scene where we see the stump of her leg. I know this has been asked of every single celebrity ever, but is this going too far?

Already, people are getting plastic surgery to look like the people who entertain our television screens. Is the model of the future one where limbs are cut off and replaced with flashy, bionic parts? Is that a healthy future to see?

Once upon a time, the television was a revolution. It was this amazing wonder and I don’t think anyone stopped to think, “should we allow this new wonder, or will it grow to cause us harm?” Now, we live in a world where there is a large amount of correlation between the number of hours people spend in front of their televisions and their health. This is what lead me to Ghost in a Shell. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the series, but I remember the concept. The line between man and machine had become so blurred that you practically had to be an expert to tell the difference. Almost everyone had these fancy eyes implanted. Imagine everything you can do on your smartphone literally being in your eye. That was part of the story. The villain in the first season hacked this system, so he could only be seen by people who hadn’t had their eyes replaced.

Imagine being the person to create something like that. People will never lose their phones again! They will never have to truly be away from work or entertainment. The whole of the world offered on  the internet would be available right in their eye. Would that creator ever stop to think, “should I be encouraging people to replace their eyes with my technology?”

Yet, here we are, one step closer to that reality. Here we have a video where a girl sees Viktoria and proceeds to rips a leg off her doll. We see a photo of a man who appears to have just cut off his leg, proudly displaying his bleeding stump. What is Viktoria’s reaction to this? She smiles, switching to a scene where she dances with a spike in place of her missing leg. Words proclaim, “Some of us were born to be different. Some of us were born to take risks.”

Perhaps I’m the odd one out, but I can’t help but love this video. Some may say she should sing, perform and not rely on her missing leg to make her way up in the world. Yet, her missing leg is what makes her different and unique. Is it not what makes each of us unique that provides our place in the world. These celebrities we often fawn over, don’t they have some quality or skill that makes them stand out among the rest? So what if Viktoria is riding on her missing leg?

What I love about Viktoria’s Prototype video is that it makes out people with missing limbs to not only be ‘normal,’ but to be desirable people. They are people worth emulating and worth being. She’s not standing up and saying, “my disability holds me back.” She’s not even saying, “I can be successful in spite of my disability.” Viktoria is proclaiming that her so-called disability propels her success further. I love that message.

Now, as a perform, she certainly needs to be more than her missing leg just as much as Nicki Minaj needs to be more than her rear end and Jessica Simpson needs to be more than her bosom. When I first saw Prototype, I thought it was Viktoria’s first video. Turns out, she has released a lot of songs and none of the videos I watched so much as eluded to the fact she didn’t have a leg. Prototype isn’t her first and certainly won’t be her last hit.

As I wonder if her message is healthy for us to consume, I think the most important question is if she is any more or less problematic then any other celebrity. Certainly Viktoria’s video is as likely to convince a person to voluntarily cut off their leg as watching Anaconda is likely to convince someone to get butt implants.

At the end of the day, I really don’t have a problem with videos and messages of celebrities saying, “isn’t it great to me awesome, successful, attractive me?” The only real problem is not having much diversity there. A skinny person deserves to be just as proud as a larger person. A person with all their limbs deserves to feel just as bad ass as Viktoria Modesta. In short, any single song or music video isn’t a problem. The culture and/or business who assumes only one body type deserves an anthem is the problem. I, for one, am happy to see Viktoria proudly being just who she is meant to be. We should all be so happy and proud.

What do you think of Viktoria Modesta’s Prototype video? What do you think of the imagery and the music? Do you think her message is a positive one, or will it do more harm than good? What songs or music videos trouble you the most?