Saturday, April 25, 2009

An L.A. Cinderella Story pt. 2: the MPAC Media Awards

So for those of you who may remember, about 2 years ago when I first came out to L.A. I got to attend the second season premier of "Big Love" on account of my artistically-connected uncle. That was Cinderella story #1 - it showed me the glitzy side of lala land. Kind of an "intro to Hollywood" that I was never interested enough in to follow up with.

#2 occured tonight: the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) Media Awards. Noticeably less glitzy, but probably just as good at making me feel out of place. And, being true to the Cinderella theme, took "economically challenged" Heather and put her smack in the middle of people who can afford things like a $150 per seat banquet.

The progression went like this: Heather has health problems. Heather has an existential crisis due to health problems. Heather starts spending time at the mosque. Heather then learns of an arabic class she can take at the mosque in her time there, then spending even more time at the mosque. Finally, Heather hangs out at the mosque all day due to the arabic class, and gets randomly offered a free ticket to a cinderella event. Fairy-godmother clothing provision not included (unfortunately).

So I put together my best attempt at "formal attire" and headed downtown. In L.A. fashion I was both late and got lost due to road construction. So when I showed up I was reminded of how uncomfortable these kinds of large, formal gatherings are when you don't know anyone - let alone when you show up an hour late. But thankfully I slipped in just in time to eat the salad.

The Media Awards are basically an annual event to celebrate those who help break stereotypes and bigotry against muslims and Islam in the media. Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now!" gave a very good speech. The guy from "Slumdog Millionaire" also had good words to say. The guy from the Simpsons seemed unprepared and I felt a little sorry for the comedian - he was good but it just wasn't really a good time for comedy by the end of the program.

But overall, what do I remember? Well, I can't remember any of the relatively inconsequential chitchat. Actually, what seems to be sticking in my mind is the banquet servers that I watched after the event was over. I worked as one for 2 years in high school and everything from the uniform to the stink and waste of leftover food brought back memories. It's been a while since I've been somewhere where class distinction is so palpable. It's weird, but somehow I felt like everyone there sort of fit into their clothes, spiritually or characteristically. But I felt like I was faking their dress - like I should have been barefoot in an old long skirt on a dirt floor. And then when the event was over and I watched the servers pulling the glasses off the table I remembered being on the outside of these things - wearing the same crap-covered shoes and old clothes to work, having to wait for the guests to have their "presentation" until you can eat any extra food there might be, and just generally aching and slaving (and earning next to nothing) while others are living luxuriously.

So what does this mean? Where do I fit in this community, in the world? I'm content with making my own place, I guess I just wish I knew where that place should be. It's very hard to be in the lower class. But it's too easy to just let yourself be lazy and enjoy everything in life when you're not.

I think this post was supposed to be a little bit more deep than that, but that's what it comes down to I guess.


No comments: