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People had lots of thoughts and concerns about the Dr. Seuss story. Let's discuss the best ones.

People had lots of thoughts and concerns about the Dr. Seuss story. Let's discuss the best ones.
Public Domain

A very simple thing happened earlier this week. Dr. Seuss Enterprises—the company that runs the Dr. Seuss estate and holds the legal rights to his works—announced it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss children's books because they contain depictions of people that are "hurtful and wrong" (their words). The titles that will no longer be published are And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat's Quizzer.

This simple action prompted a great deal of debate, along with a great deal of disinformation, as people reacted to the story. (Or in many cases, just the headline. It's a thing.)

My article about the announcement (which contains examples of the problematic content that prompted the announcement) led to nearly 3,000 comments on Upworthy's Facebook page. Since many similar comments were made repeatedly, I wanted to address the most common sentiments and questions:

How do we learn from history if we keep erasing it?


A racist image in a children's book is a historical artifact, but it isn't "history." History is the recording of and study of events in the past. Things themselves aren't history. (If physically holding onto things were necessary to remember history, we'd still have segregated water fountains to remind us that they existed.)

What's happening with these books right now, though, is history. A famous author's estate choosing to stop publishing a handful of his books because they contain racist imagery is literally history in the making. It's not like the images have just disappeared altogether. Students can learn about this history with images in digital archives and museums where they can be learned from at an appropriate age with appropriate context.

Why don't they keep the books in print and use them as an educational tool?

There are at least two reasons for that, as far as I can see:

1) As Dr. Seuss Enterprises said, these depictions are hurtful. It really doesn't make sense to keep producing hurtful content in order to educate people who are not hurt by it. You don't keep punching someone in order to teach observers who aren't being punched that punching hurts. That's cruel.

2) These books are made for small children. Kids who are 4 or 5 or 6-years-old don't have enough background knowledge about the history of racism and racial stereotypes to make these books a useful tool for teaching them about racism. (That doesn't mean they don't have an impact on them—more on that in a sec.) While parents should be talking to their kids about race starting young, the imagery here is a more complex element of the topic that doesn't fit the developmental stage of the kids the books are targeting.

Imagine what that lesson would look like in a class of kindergarteners. "See this picture, kids? That's an exaggeration of racial features and cultural stereotypes that are hurtful to people of African/Asian descent. It's just one example of how racism was long accepted in America because they believed people who looked different or came from different places were inferior." That's already too much for a kindergartener to process, and that's just the basic overview. Developmentally, cognitively, educationally, they're just not there yet.

At that age, kids are just subconsciously absorbing these stereotypes. And what's worse is that they're enjoying absorbing them because Dr. Seuss's whimsical rhymes are fun and reading time is fun.

Seems wiser to just stop publishing them and use what we already have published to teach older kids, teens, and adults about the history of racism in literature.

So "WAP" song being Song of the Year is appropriate but Dr. Seuss isn't?

I'm personally not a fan of sexually explicit lyrics, but this is an apples and oranges comparison. A highly sexualized song that isn't made for kids is not comparable to problematic racial imagery in a book that is made explicitly for kids. I'm assuming (and hoping) parents aren't singing WAP when they tuck their kids into bed at night. Dr. Seuss is deemed innocent and his books are beloved. Warm and cozy childhood memories are made with books. Having warm childhood memories intertwined with racist imagery is a problem.

Dr. Seuss?!? Is there anyone cancel culture won't come for?

The term "cancel culture" is getting a bit overused, in my opinion. Criticism isn't canceling. A company receiving critical feedback and making a decision based on that feedback isn't canceling (unless you count self-canceling as canceling). I grew up loving Dr. Seuss books and read them to my kids when they were little, but I think the company made the right move.

Racism can't be perpetuated just because we like someone. If we think of this as an attack on racism rather than an attack on a person, it might be easier for Seuss lovers to digest. Ted Geisel was a whole, imperfect human being who evolved over time and left a complicated legacy. His early racism should absolutely be discussed as part of that legacy. His racist works should absolutely be "canceled" by ceasing to be published. People can debate whether or not to read his other books, but the idea that his racially insensitive stuff should continue to be published for children is a pretty gross take.

Get over it. It's a children's book.

The same could be said to people throwing a fit about these books no longer being published. The difference is that the people who are hurt by the imagery have an entire history of racial oppression—and likely a good amount of personal racial discrimination—behind their feelings about the images. The people who are offended that a company isn't making the books anymore have no actual harm to get over. Seems like the lesser offense, objectively and by far, is to stop publishing them.

Why do people even care about color of the characters? Why can't you just enjoy the stories?

Adults think kids are colorblind. They're not. Research shows that very young children—even infants and toddlers—notice racial differences. That doesn't mean that they discriminate, but they do notice race. So presenting racial differences in the form of stereotypical caricatures is a problem. It may not matter to you if you don't identify with the race being depicted, but it matters to many.

Who gets to decide what's offensive and what's not?

The people on the receiving end of racism get to decide what's racist or not. That doesn't mean there's always a unanimous consensus, but it's pretty clear when a large number of people point out that something is racially offensive. There's also research behind this decision. A 2019 study of 50 Dr. Seuss books found that only 2% of his human characters were not white, and nearly all of them were depicted in problematic ways. Whether the imagery is truly racially insensitive isn't really the question. The question is whether or not that imagery should continue to be published anew forever and ever.

Why is this just a problem now when these books have been around for decades?

It's not just a problem now. This isn't a new issue or a new complaint—the people who have been portrayed problematically just haven't been listened to in a real enough way for changes to be made until now. This is what learning and progress and growth as a society looks like. When we know better, we do better.

Yes! What took so long?

Despite the uproar, many people praised the decision, citing years of complaints about the racial stereotypes and caricatures in those books. People also pointed to the blatantly racist political cartoons Geisel (Dr. Seuss's real last name) drew early in his career as evidence that, yes, the imagery really was rooted in racism.

There's no question that some of Geisel's early work was racist. Some argue that he was a product of his time, but that doesn't make the works any less problematic. His views did evolve over the course of his life, and he tried to make indirect amends with his later books that had anti-prejudice themes, but never formally apologized for his early work. (As writer Danielle Slaughter points out, the kinds of apology statements that are standard now weren't expected in the time in which he lived, so a public apology would have been nice, but unusual.)

Some people have suggested that Geisel himself may have actually supported the Dr. Seuss Enterprises decision if he were alive today. If he was truly open to learning and broadening his understanding of race, the 30 years between his death and now may have prompted him to make that decision himself. Who knows. But undoubtedly Dr. Seuss Enterprises knows better than the average American what the author would have wanted, and they have the authority to make choices in his name.

So if people are still angry that Dr. Seuss canceled some Dr. Seuss books, they'll have to take it up with Dr. Seuss.

A woman is shocked to learn that her name means something totally different in Australia.

Devyn Hales, 22, from California, recently moved to Sydney, Australia, on a one-year working visa and quickly learned that her name wouldn’t work Down Under. It all started when a group of men made fun of her on St. Patrick’s Day.

After she introduced herself as Devyn, the men laughed at her. "They burst out laughing, and when I asked them why, they told me devon is processed lunch meat,” she told The Daily Mail. It's similar to baloney, so I introduce myself as Dev now,” she said in a viral TikTok video with over 1.7 million views.

For those who have never been to Australia, Devon is a processed meat product usually cut into slices and served on sandwiches. It is usually made up of pork, basic spices and a binder. Devon is affordable because people buy it in bulk and it’s often fed to children. Australians also enjoy eating it fried, like spam. It is also known by other names such as fritz, circle meat, Berlina and polony, depending on where one lives on the continent. It's like in America, where people refer to cola as pop, soda, or Coke, depending on where they live in the country.


So, one can easily see why a young woman wouldn’t want to refer to herself as a processed meat product that can be likened to boloney or spam. "Wow, love that for us," another woman named Devyn wrote in the comments. “Tell me the name thing isn't true,” a woman called Devon added.

@dhalesss

#fypシ #australia #americaninaustralia #sydney #aussie

Besides changing her name, Dev shared some other differences between living in Australia and her home country.

“So everyone wears slides. I feel like I'm the only one with 'thongs'—flip-flops—that have the little thing in the middle of your big toe. Everyone wears slides,” she said. Everyone wears shorts that go down to your knees and that's a big thing here.”

Dev also noted that there are a lot of guys in Australia named Lachlan, Felix and Jack.

She was also thrown off by the sound of the plentiful magpies in Australia. According to Dev, they sound a lot like crying children with throat infections. “The birds threw me off,” she said before making an impression that many people in the comments thought was close to perfect. "The birds is so spot on," Jess wrote. "The birds, I will truly never get used to it," Marissa added.

One issue that many Americans face when moving to Australia is that it is more expensive than the United States. However, many Americans who move to Australia love the work-life balance. Brooke Laven, a brand strategist in the fitness industry who moved there from the U.S., says that Aussies have the “perfect work-life balance” and that they are “hard-working” but “know where to draw the line.”

Despite the initial cultural shocks, Devyn is embracing her new life in Australia with a positive outlook. “The coffee is a lot better in Australia, too,” she added with a smile, inspiring others to see the bright side of cultural differences.

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

Maybe she's born with it. But maybe it just modern day cosmetics.

A woman named Tallulah Rose recently went viral after sharing a well-intentioned, but oh-so misinformed compliment men tend to give her. It left a lot of other women nodding in agreement, because it revealed what still seems to be a common beauty myth.

"I actually just, like, don't understand men and how their brain works sometimes because today I was just minding my own business when this guy comes up to me and is like ‘you are so elegant, you are such a natural beauty,'" she said in the clip.

Of course, Rose is positive any other woman would instantly know that the beauty men are responding to is anything but natural.


“I think a woman can take one look at me and be like … this is fake,” she said before breaking down the costs of enhancements she’s made.

“My jawline cost $10,000, okay? My lips are clearly done. My hair is $2000, my lashes are $200 every two weeks.”

jawline cosmetic surgery, natural cosmetic procedures

"My jawline costs $10,000, okay?"

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

She then lifted her bangs to show a wrinkle-less forehead and immovable eyebrows, thanks to Botox or some other kind of anti-wrinkle injection. Plus, she has “enough makeup on to season a f***ing wok.”

Still, men will wistfully tell her “ 'they don't make them like you do these days.” to which Rose quipped, “yes they do with a needle and a scalpel!”

plastic surgery, cosmetic procedures

"They don't make 'em like you these days…yes they do! With a needle and a scalpel!"

@tallulah.roseb/TikTok

Since sharing this hot take, Rose’s video has garnered over 12 million views on TikTok and has been shared across several platforms. Most of the comments came from women who have had their own fair share of this experience.

Some were just as hilarious as the original video.

"My husband was like 'please never get Botox' If I could raise my eyebrows at him I would have,” one person wrote.

Another added, ““I’ve had male friends remark how I don’t wear heavy makeup like other girls. I spend at least 30 mins a day putting my face on.”

Over on X, people were just refreshed by Rose’s honesty.

Rose told news.com.au that many men “genuinely can’t tell the difference between a natural woman and a woman that has had cosmetic surgery,” primarily due to seeing celebrities who have had work done and assuming that’s the standard. She’ll often ask male friends to name a celebrity crush, and “they’ll name someone that has clearly had work done but they are just quite clueless to it.”

And that is really where the important conversation comes in. Unrealistic beauty standards aren’t necessarily a new issue. But now the paradox of cosmetic procedures being stigmatized while at the same time not even acknowledged in much of what is touted as natural beauty puts women in an impossible position. They can’t naturally live up to these expectations, and then are labeled as fake if they do make efforts to look enhanced (which is the new normal…make it make sense).

Point is: Praising a woman for her “natural beauty” might be intended as a compliment. But for many, it’s neither true, nor a compliment.

Pop Culture

SNL sketch about George Washington's dream for America hailed an 'instant classic'

"People will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

Seriously, what were our forefathers thinking with our measuring system?

Ever stop to think how bizarre it is that the United States is one of the only countries to not use the metric system? Or how it uses the word “football” to describe a sport that, unlike fútbol, barely uses the feet at all?

What must our forefathers have been thinking as they were creating this brave new world?

Wonder no further. All this and more is explored in a recent Saturday Night Live sketch that folks are hailing as an “instant classic.”

The hilarious clip takes place during the American Revolution, where George Washington rallies his troops with an impassioned speech about his future hopes for their fledgling country…all the while poking fun at America’s nonsensical measurements and language rules.

Like seriously, liters and milliliters for soda, wine and alcohol but gallons, pints, and quarters for milk and paint? And no “u” after “o” in words like “armor” and “color” but “glamour” is okay?

The inherent humor in the scene is only amplified by comedian and host Nate Bargatze’s understated, deadpan delivery of Washington. Bargatze had quite a few hits during his hosting stint—including an opening monologue that acted as a mini comedy set—but this performance takes the cake.

Watch:

All in all, people have been applauding the sketch, noting that it harkened back to what “SNL” does best, having fun with the simple things.

Here’s what folks are saying:

“This skit is an instant classic. I think people will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

“Dear SNL, whoever wrote this sketch, PLEASE let them write many many MANY more!”

“Instantly one of my favorite SNL sketches of all time!!!”

“I’m not lying when I say I have watched this sketch about 10 times and laughed just as hard every time.”

“This may be my favorite sketch ever. This is absolutely brilliant.”


There’s more where that came from. Catch even more of Bargatze’s “SNL” episode here.


This article originally appeared on 10.30.23

Family

Dad and son had no idea their pet octopus would soon hatch 50 eggs. Cue wholesome chaos.

It's an epic saga that's wholesome, captivating and heartfelt all at once.

Representative Image from Canva

Their journey became the best nature show on social media.

What started as a wholesome father-son bonding activity quickly became a full blown TikTok sensation, all thanks to one octopus. Actually…make that fifty octopuses.

Cameron Clifford of Edmond, Oklahoma, had promised to get his cephalopod-obsessed 9-year old Cal their very own pet octopus. After making a call to a local aquarium, Clifford made good on that promise, and a California two-spot (or bimac) octopus, which they would name Terrance, arrived via mail order. Cue Cal’s instant tears of joy.

Only, in hindsight, they might have wanted to name him Teresa instead, because only two months later, Terrance’s already too-small tank was filled with dozens of eggs.



"We kind of estimate there was about between 40 and 70 eggs but every one that hatched, that I saw, I was able to catch and contain. It was exactly 50," Clifford told Good Morning America.

As Clifford explains in one TikTok video (using a posh british voice for the narration, making it even more National Geographic-esque), once female bimac octopuses lay eggs, that usually signals the end of their life cycle, and they stop taking care of themselves in order to protect their young.

@doctoktopus Terrance signals the end of her life-cyxle, but we have no idea how mich time we have left wirh her. #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #petoctopus #aquarium #octomom #biology #mom ♬ Heartbeats - Remastered 2023 - José González

So, even though Terrance (who was eventually renamed Terry) could recognize Clifford and Cal, nothing could coax her out of her cave after the eggs were laid. However, latching onto their arms remained one of her favorite pastimes.

Terrance’s eggs were at first deemed infertile by several experts that Clifford talked to, which made her upcoming demise all the more tragic. When the unexpected miracle finally did happen, Clifford begged for other aquariums in his area to take the hatchlings. They all declined.

So naturally, he reached out to TikTok. He shared the previously private videos documenting their journey, including the insane saga of capturing each newly hatched octopus and putting it in its own incubated container, so that they wouldn’t eat each other. The Clifford home honestly became a bona fide marine biologist training center. Only with exponentially more puns.

Behold, "Clamsterdam":

@doctoktopus SOONERS DEFEAT DARWIN IN BIG 12 CONF. CHAMPIONSHIP 🏈 🐙 #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #saltwatertank #aquarium #octomom #mom #clambake #poseidon #tank ♬ original sound - Shoptopus

Speaking of puns, viewers also helped give each of the octo-babies. Some examples include InverteBrett, Swim Shady, Bill Nye the Octopi, Sea-yonce and Jay-Sea…you get the picture.

Luckily, after Clifford’s account went mega viral, other aquariums, universities and research facilities agreed to give them homes, per USA Today.

Clifford might be out thousands of dollars—and hours—on his impromptu project, but he wouldn't trade it for the world.

@doctoktopus 😳 #octopus #marinebiology #shrimpdaddy #saltwateraquarium #fyp #cephalopod #petoctopus #octomom #biology #saltwatertank #mom ♬ original sound - Shoptopus

"As far as regrets, there's so many," he told USA Today. "I wish I wouldn't have opened that valve that way and dumped all that dirty seawater onto my kids' white carpet. That's certainly a regret. But overall, no, it's been an absolutely fun experience, not just for me, but also for my kids."

And in case you’re wondering: Yes, Terrence is still, miraculously, alive. Though she is expected to die in the next several weeks, the Cliffords are more than prepared to be surprised. Again.

Though Clifford attests that one should probably refrain from have an octopus for a pet, he tells his followers that “you will learn a lot about yourself” by taking care of one.

“There’s always some valve or seal that’s not completely closed, and your storm resistant carpet isn’t rated for gallons and gallons of seawater. You’ll learn that seawater and electricity don’t always get along. You will learn new things and meet incredible people and will learn that wildlife is magnificent. But most of all, you’ll learn to love a not-so-tiny octopus like Terrance.”

Follow along on more of Clifford and Cal's octopus adventures on TikTok.

Image created from @maymaybarclay Twitter page.

The courage to speak up to join in the fun.

Meet Mason Brian Barclay, a teen and self-described "very homosexual male." He recently wanted to attend a sleepover at his "new best friend" Houston's house, because teens are gonna teen. But he's a boy, and everyone knows boys aren't allowed to attend girls' sleepovers, because of cooties/patriarchal norms.

So he behaved more maturely than most adults, and crafted a long text message to Houston's mom, Mrs. Shelton, in which he politely asked for permission to attend Houston's sleepover.


"I think the common meaning behind only allowing the same sex to share sleepovers is due to the typical interest in the opposite sex, when, in this case, I do not like the opposite sex," he explained in the text.


Mrs. Shelton's response was so good that Mason tweeted it out and it went viral:

"Hmm. Well my husband is hot. Should I worry?" she responded.

via GIPHY

Evidently Mason found Mrs. Shelton's text hilarious. So does Twitter.

And others are just wondering if the sleepover is on, or not??

Others need to know if Houston's dad lives up to the hype:

This article originally appeared on 11.26.18