Friday, November 10, 2006

Studs and Stripes

YOU don’t have to own cattle to be interested in stud watching.

Last Monday, while waiting in line at banks, I had my first sighting of one in the Nov. 6, 2006 copy of Time I was browsing.

Predicting who will prevail in the fantasy and adventure “Survivor” sweepstakes, the newsmagazine singled out Yul Kwon, described as “smart and studly (italics mine).”

When did word merchants let the stud out of the pen to propagate an adjectival offspring?

After checking out Kwon’s photo though, I agree that, except for the dimples, there’s nothing in the man’s construction that would not be coveted by a bull about to service a pen full of mooning cows.

A stud, according to The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition, 2000), is an animal for breeding. A well-developed physique and a clear sense of one’s predominance in the circle of life are prerequisites to join the Stud Club.

But, like some misbehaving scions, studly exhibits non-endearing qualities that can’t be traced to the root word but on context.

In the same Time issue, studly appears again in Richard Corliss’ review of Patricia Foulkroud’s “The Ground Truth.”

The documentary shows how young Americans are seduced into joining the military because of its “seemingly studly glamour.”

One soldier’s brainwashing began in high school when he saw the Marines: “I was like, that’s it! They’re mean, they’re tough, they got cool uniforms, and chicks dig ‘em.”

Corliss’s use of studly hints of artifice and deception. Strength is not just the prowess to spawn but also to destroy and conquer, or “keep the peace” through invasion and occupation.

What makes one studly spectacle more viewable than the other?

Footages of war, carnage and atrocities make good TV news. Unless you’re a student of animal husbandry, a habit of watching rutting pigs or humping dogs is borderline, if not pornographic.

That one version of studly is packaged as heroic while the other is bestial surely requires a drafting of word use, such as the Rules on Stud.

Last Nov. 8, when websites first reported the overwhelming victory of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, my idea for studly protocols was reinforced.

The Democrat takeover, ending 12 years of Republican rule, has been seen as a rejection of President George W. Bush’s war in Iraq.

Unhappiness over the bloodshed, ambivalence over the invasion and interference, impatience for a conclusion to a war that has dragged on for four years—media point these as the reason why American voters booted out the Republicans in all regions (conservative, liberal and moderate) and districts (urban, rural and suburban).

The victorious, aside from the Democrats, also included independents, moderates and suburban women.

For someone who was so “steadfast” in “staying on the course (of war)” or “constantly changing tactics to meet the situation on the ground,” Bush has not had the distinction of being described by Time as studly.

But if, years after 9/11, the man decides the legacy of that day of infamy is dialogue, human rights and trade, not hatred and war, I will be first to draft him for perpetual membership in the Hall of Stud.


* Published in Sun.Star Cebu’s Nov. 12, 2006 issue

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