Highlights from Hair Balls
Texas, we're starting to earn our reputation.
When we look at the recent headlines out of Texas that have made national news, it's pretty easy to see why folks outside the Lone Star State think that we all ride our horses to work. Our antics are becoming the punch line for national jokes, and really, none of them are all that funny. Let's stop this madness, please, before someone loses a foot. Or a horse.
Here are the more recent Texas headlines that we could have done without the nation seeing. If we don't get our acts together, Rhode Island and Delaware are going to think we also pack our six-shooters and lassos by our hips, just in case there's a pregnant lady who needs lassoing.
A twerking mob of ladies robbed a store in Bryan, Texas, and CNN posted the video because Texas is Texas, y'all.
Really, guys? Must we show the world all our cards at once? CNN doesn't need another reason to point fingers at Texas. Rick Perry has given major news organizations enough ammunition to last a lifetime, really. So when the twerk mob flashed across the "Now Trending" section of CNN's homepage, it was all we could do to keep from burying our heads in the Texas dirt.
If you haven't been privy to this bit of Texas grandeur, it's basically exactly what it sounds like. A twerking flash mob of lady robbers was caught on videotape in Bryan robbing a store and, well, twerking for their lives. The overwhelmed cashier, whose interview was both incredulous and hilarious, was as confused as we are. Who was the mastermind behind this twerk-robbery, and why must we do this in Texas? Louisiana is right there.
Texas courts hijacked a brain-dead woman's body and turned her into a fetal incubator against her and her family's wishes.
In Fort Worth, 33-year-old Marlise Munoz remains on a ventilator. She was 14 weeks pregnant with her second child when she collapsed from an apparent blood clot in her lung back in November. Munoz is brain-dead, and both she and her husband are EMTs who have stated their desire to be removed from such devices if the time ever came.
Unfortunately, Munoz's husband can't remove her from those machines because she's three months pregnant, and Texas law says that in such cases, the person's body is to be kept "alive" artificially, as the fetus trumps all. Munoz's husband doesn't want her kept on the respirator, nor does her family, but Texas wins because she's pregnant, even if it's only a couple of months into the pregnancy.
The clincher in all this is that no one is really sure if Munoz's fetus will be viable long-term. There's no clue as to how long Munoz went without oxygen, which in turn leaves questions about how long the fetus was deprived of oxygen as well. Not to mention the fact that bodies kept "alive" through artificial means still deteriorate, and there's no guarantee that she'll make it to term with that pregnancy, whatever "term" means in this situation.
Munoz isn't a woman who's nearing the end of a pregnancy. She had expressly stated her wish to be removed from any devices like the ones she's being forced to wear. Her husband doesn't want her on the machines. Her family doesn't want her on the machines. Take her off the machines, Texas. She has a right to go without becoming a zombie womb, especially given that no one has a clue whether the fetus is viable.
Side note: It's also a bit sketchy to force this on a family when you take into consideration the uproar over keeping California teen Jahi McMath on a ventilator while she's brain-dead. McMath has been called a corpse, and we've read in explicit detail how her body is decaying. Doctors refused to treat her, citing that she is indeed a corpse, and a death certificate has been issued by the coroner at Children's Hospital in Oakland. What is it going to take for Texas to stop making up definitions — and therefore laws — for medical terms?
Our archaic laws on pregnancy termination wiped out safe abortions for the entire Rio Grande Valley.
So, our state's archaic, sweeping restrictions on abortion providers have made it impossible for women in the Rio Grande Valley — in McAllen, Mission, San Benito and the like — to receive adequate reproductive care. The restrictions have shut down all clinics within a 150-mile radius of the Rio Grande Valley, which means that the women of the Valley have two options — they can drive an insane distance in order to obtain a termination or they can hop on over to Mexico, where as we all know abortions are so safe and sterile and all. Or they can have their wombs hijacked for nine months because the state says so, I guess. So perhaps that leaves three options. Three totally garbage options.
The court system really couldn't care less about the women of their state receiving adequate care, though. When lawyers for The Center for Reproductive Rights attempted to explain to Judge Edith Jones the 300-mile termination quandary, she suggested that women simply make the drive, since the roads are "peculiarly flat and not congested." Perhaps Jones is forgetting the mandatory ultrasound and 24-hour wait time that a woman must be forced to adhere to in Texas, which will clock those miles in at not 300 but 600, given that the trip must be made twice. A woman cannot simply drive herself home from a medical procedure, either. And certainly not for 150 miles.
Texas is quickly becoming the land of the safe fetuses, and that's great and all if that's your thing, but what about the women whose bodies incubate said fetuses? Are they any less human than those fetuses you keep touting? Stop hijacking our bodies, Texas. It's kind of creepy, and the other states are noticing your obsession with our wombs.
Sharkeisha went viral, the video was brutal and her name was somewhat funny, and it embarrassed us some more.
Oh, Sharkeisha. Sharkeisha, the high school student who was caught on tape beating up another girl over her man and who also happens to hail from Houston, isn't doing our state any favors when it comes to our rep.
As funny as her name is given the whole Sharknado thing, the video behind the Sharkeisha meme isn't nearly as humorous. Sharkeisha is freaking brutal in that video, sucker-punching and then kicking the face of a girl who used to be her friend over some beef with a dude, all while her cohorts stand by filming. At one point, someone on the video yells out, "Ooh, not in the face, Sharkeisha!" and as funny as it sounds, it's just really not.
Kicking the crap out of anyone on tape, especially as bad as this chick did it, isn't worthy of a sweet viral meme. Nor is it worthy of being attached to Texas's rep. Behave yourselves, high school girls. Even those of you with names reminiscent of Sharknado.
Thanks (again) to our court system, "Affluenza" is now a real, and really embarrassing, thing we're responsible for.
Freaking "Affluenza." Nothing is particularly funny about this national headline coming out of Texas, either, especially when you take into consideration that this story involves a North Texas teen driving under the influence, killing innocent people and getting off because of his "dysfunctional relationship with money/wealth or the pursuit of it."
But if you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of the Texas Affluenza epidemic, here's the gist. Sixteen-year-old Ethan Couch, who happens to be from a family with a ton of money, drove not only drunk but with Vicodin and THC in his system, killing four people and injuring two more in the process. The truck in which Couch was speeding was owned by his father's company, and he had some stolen beer sitting in the truck bed. Pretty simple, right?
Not so much. Couch got off with ten years' probation and some time in Newport Academy, a treatment facility where he'll have access to the beach and recreational activities — and which also costs $450,000 a year, by the way — all because of a clever interpretation of the term "affluenza." See, Couch admitted guilt during his trial, but his defense team went with the argument that Couch should get off lightly for the crime since his wealthy upbringing caused "affluenza," a condition in which his wealth led him to believe that his actions had no consequences.
But perhaps Couch's defense team was onto something with the "affluenza" defense, considering the teen had received two prior alcohol citations in February 2013 in which speed was a factor as well — think 89 mph in a 40 mph zone — and he received a very light punishment for those, too. Receiving community service and alcohol-awareness classes for speeding — while drinking underage, no less — sure is a slap on the wrist, but that's exactly what Couch got. Four months later, Couch killed four people while speeding and drunk, and now gets to spend a year in a posh treatment center on the beach. Affluenza sure is a tough ailment to deal with, eh?
Way to reiterate that affluenza illness the kid is plagued with, Texas courts. And way to reiterate every backward Texas stereotype to the rest of the nation, too. We sure do appreciate it.
A good movie is a good movie, whether it's a romantic comedy, a drama or an animated feature. It can be about love or hate, war or peace, joy or sadness. It's all in how it gets its point across. In the case of Lone Survivor, it's the story of Marcus Luttrell, the surviving member of a team of Navy Seals that fought in a dramatic battle in Afghanistan. By all accounts, it's an excellent film with a solid performance by Mark Wahlberg as Luttrell. But was it so good that it trumped every other film in an entire theater? Apparently so.
According to reports, a theater in Conroe, so besieged by people wanting to see the movie, canceled the presentations of every other film so fans could see Lone Survivor. That's pretty remarkable, unless you are from East Texas and you understand that the God, guts and glory that come with a film like this one are a perfect storm for a theater in Montgomery County, a hotbed of conservative thought, Jesus and guns.
The film supposedly doesn't preach any of that, but it isn't much of a shocker that, with the intense trailers, it would get a few people in that neck of the woods worked up enough to crowd a theater to see it.
Still, this isn't Saving Private Ryan or even Inglourious Basterds. It's not Zero Dark Thirty, another taut thriller about Navy Seals. None of those closed down theaters, but none of those had Wahlberg holding a grenade to the face of his enemy and saying in breathless desperation, "I don't go home, you don't go home," either. It is the sort of perfect combination of flag-waving patriotism and clearly undeniable bravery in the face of horrible adversity that would make anyone want to bust out a country song and put his hand over his heart.
No word on if the theater sang the National Anthem after each performance or required the Pledge of Allegiance for attendance, but anything is possible in East Texas.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.