On this week’s Past Present podcast, Nicole Hemmer, Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, and Neil Young discuss David Bowie, bikini bods, and Ted Cruz and natural born citizenship.
Here are some links and references mentioned during this week’s show:
- Fans around the world have mourned the death of David Bowie. Niki remembered she first encountered Bowie in his 1986 movie, Labyrinth. Neil argued Bowie’s gender bending and sexual boundary pushing made his death particularly poignant in a year when transgenderism has been so in the news. Natalia reminded that Bowie’s sexual history was a complicated one, including statutory rape allegations. Neil contrasted the individualized mourning of Bowie through social media with the collective public mourning of earlier figures, such as the crowds that came out to see Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s funeral train in 1945.
- Women’s Health magazine has banned the phrase “bikini body” from its covers, but is this really a revolutionary move? Natalia recommended Joan Jacobs Brumberg’s book, The Body Project, for thinking about how the “bikini body” ideal fits in a longer history of women’s changing bodies and beauty standards. Neil noted male bodies have also changed through time, especially the changing physical ideals gay men have adopted historically. Niki observed those changing standards often have dangerous results, including the high rate of eating disorders among gay men.
- Donald Trump has argued Ted Cruz can’t be president because he was born in Canada, but Cruz – and most legal scholars – contend he qualifies under “natural born citizenship” because his mother was born in the United States. Neil observed that presidential candidates like George Romney, Barry Goldwater, and John McCain had all been born outside of the US, but didn’t face questions about their natural born citizenship. Neil also noted that the “birther” controversy regarding whether Barack Obama had been born in the U.S., originated from a small group of Hillary Clinton supporters in 2008 before being taken up by right-wing Republicans.
In our regular closing feature, What’s Making History: