Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Mummers Day Parade

I tended to my Philadelphian obligation and went to yesterday's Mummers Parade, for about ten minutes. To be honest, that's a new personal record. I get it. It's a fun and uniquely local tradition, and if I was accustomed to binge drinking at 10am, I'd probably do a little more than show up for one picture. 

Besides, I'm there for the costumes, and they're easy to see on social media, so that's where I went next. And believe me, social media's reaction to this year's festivities was certainly present, and vocal.

One of the unfortunate traditions that seems to plague the Mummers Parade every year is an amateur knack for insulting various cultures and races, most notably through blackface. This year's targets by two of the bands were Mexicans and Caitlyn Jenner. What's truly unfortunate is how the actions of a few boobs can ruin a good time for everyone.

If you were to read Facebook or Twitter today, you'd think that the Mummers Parade was solely dedicated to mocking minorities and Caitlyn Jenner. It even made it to PerezHilton, where the celebrity blogger repeatedly confused the actions of one band with the entire parade, stating "this year the parade poked fun at Caitlyn Jenner." To anyone outside the Philadelphia region, you'd think that this were a parade put on by professionals, that the city was promoting bigotry, and that the entire parade was a hateful tribute to Caitlyn Jenner. 

This makes us all look bad. 

Let's get one thing out of the way, Caitlyn Jenner is a superficial fame-whore. She's primed for parody. But resorting to tasteless jokes and witless memes doesn't make you clever, it just proves you're as shallow and vapid as she is. Further proving that Finnegan's performance was not simply a tasteless joke, one member decided to shout "Fuck the gays!" at a camera. 

It shouldn't be too hard to figure out who this idiot is.

While Finnegan's Captain repeatedly apologized for the words of one member, pressured apologies have become routine on social media. It's difficult to determine what apologies are sincere, and that sincerity is certainly suspect in Finnegan's case following its choreographed routine that mocked the transition process of a member of the LGBT community. Was it really the words of one man, or just one man's words caught on tape? What kind of environment does Finnegan's social club foster, and where the motives behind their performance cluelessly ignorant or deliberately hurtful.

Finnegan's wasn't the only offensive culprit this year, either. The Sammar Strutters went with a Mexican theme, which in itself might not have have been so offensive...if one didn't dress up like a taco.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Social justice is swift and often unfair. It only take a few hours for Social Justice Warriors to tap into a cause, vicariate the city involved, and move on. In one day, social media has unraveled all the progress we've made rebranding our city's image. We're no longer the hip new "it" city, we're now a city of bigots, all thanks for a very small group of ignorant morons. 

Keep in mind, there are 10,000 performers in the Mummers Parade, and 99.9% of those Mummers put on a wild and wonderful show, including the Miss Fancy Brigade of drag queens. 

I'm not going to apologize for the hateful actions of a few idiots anymore than the drunken slobs pissing in the street all day, because they are not my Philadelphia. My Philadelphia is the city that recently received a perfect score from the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index. My city is the one that embraced same-sex marriage before the Supreme Court of the Unites States did. My city is the one that effectively ended veteran homelessness last year. And my Philadelphians are the roughly 1.5M residents who cooly embrace diversity with a, "Yeah, so what? Let's go grab a Lager." 

My Mummers are those who spend months crafting meticulously colorful costumes and live to play a role in the nation's oldest surviving folk festival. 

This is what it's all about.

Residents who confuse insults with comedy are bigots, and when a Social Justice Warrior's cause ends with one broad stroke of reactionary hate, they are an equal offender. Philadelphia is an amazing city and the Mummers Parade is one of many reasons why. 

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