The viral artist has made a name for herself with strange animal stunts, but does this latest one fit her MO?
In what world do pigeons wear cowboy hats?
Is it a world more beautiful than ours? A world where despised and filthy pests that inhabit our cities are recognized as–instead of scruffy outlaws—handsome little loners who puff out their chests and play by their own rules? All it took for the world to fall in love with a rat was to see it struggling to drag a slice of pizza down some stairs. So if a pigeon is a rat with wings, what then does a Pizza Rat with wings look like? A Cowboy Pigeon?
http://t.co/CgeXvpC6kt— Nathan W. Pyle (@Nathan W. Pyle)1442865835.0
If Zardulu is behind the latest viral animal story out of Las Vegas, these are the kinds of questions over-serious art critics may soon be asking. As for Zardulu herself, she is a mysterious figure. She projects a sort of voodoo witch persona, but a more accurate description would place her somewhere between Banksy and one of those guys with a pet snake who charges tourists for pictures.
Pigeons Wearing Tiny Cowboy Hats Spotted in Las Vegas www.youtube.com
For a start, no one knows her face or her real name. When she allows herself to be photographed, she is always in an elaborate, wizardly costume, with her face covered by an unsettling mask or a macabre headdress. It remains unclear whether she's actually responsible for all the events she's claimed as her work, and what other work she's done that has gone unnoticed. We don't even know if she is truly a single person, or some kind of artist collective. And is "artist" even the right term?
It's not enough to wish the world were more magical, sometimes you have to be the magician— Zardulu (@Zardulu)1487790710.0
Some have called her a performance artist, but what is her performance? In one sense you could point to training a rat to drag a slice of pizza down a staircase as a sort of performance, but that is only one aspect of her art. As an act on its own, that would hardly rank as a reject on America's Got Talent. Is she, as her Twitter bio claims, a "Sorcerer. Soothsayer. Painter. Sculptor. Writer. Disinformation Artist." Or is the better title for Zardulu the one she's chosen as her epithet: the Mythmaker. Because her real art was in making that rat go viral—making us pawns in spreading her work, and making us believe in 2015's Pizza Rat.
It had to be presented as a natural phenomenon observed and captured by happenstance. She couldn't take credit for it until after culture had already reacted. As a result, most people who've heard of Pizza Rat have no idea there was a person responsible at all—likewise for her lesser-known viral works, Selfie Rat and Raccoon Riding an Alligator. Perhaps that's why the newest strange animal story to go viral maintains a necessary air of mystery while erasing any doubt that there's a person responsible. Is Zardulu the one putting tiny cowboy hats on pigeons in Las Vegas?
Selfie rat snaps a photo www.youtube.com
If so, it's certainly an effectively viral moment. The pigeons look legitimately adorable in those hats, in a way that Pizza Rat could never hope to. On the other hand, if Zardulu is responsible, this might join the ranks of her unclaimed works, because there are both legal and ethical concerns. Does this qualify as animal cruelty? It's not clear how many pigeons have been cowboyed or what means were used to secure the hats to their heads. If glue was used, it could damage their skin or feathers, and regardless of how they're attached, as long as the pigeons are wearing tiny cowboy hats, their flight is likely impeded, and they may draw extra attention from predators.
The authorship of myths must go unclaimed, as such a claim tethers them to reality, where they would otherwise be f… https://t.co/DS78bmZP5n— Zardulu (@Zardulu)1575994374.0
Animal rescue workers from a pro-pigeon organization called Lofty Hopes are struggling to catch these pigeons in order to relieve the pigeons of their headwear. But if this is the work of Zardulu—and she decides to claim it—I suspect we'll find out that these are domesticated pigeons and that the hats will be safely and easily removed.
Zardulu, we await your next proclamation.
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Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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