Reflection

Reflection

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Poor-trayal

It is some sort of conspiracy.  I blame the media.  This job, the profession I've chosen, has a serious public relations problem.

Again, some guy wrote an overly complicated law, fessed up and said it was intended to fool us, and instead of calling him an ECONOMIST or a POLITICIAN, they called him (what?) an ARCHITECT.  Why, why, why???

So Called Obamacare Architect:  Jonathan Gruber


You cannot, by PA State law, call yourself an architect if you do not meet a certain set of predetermined requirements.  This is a good thing as the main responsibility of an architect is to defend the health, safety and welfare of those that are served.  So why is it that anytime someone gets their hand caught in the cookie jar, the press renames the scoundrel “the architect of greed”.  You remember Enron, don’t you?  Or do you remember them simply as “the architects of fraud”?  Or Adolf Eichmann, who is often referred to as the “architect of the Holocaust”?  Even Adolf Hitler’s real architect, Albert Speer, went to jail for twenty years charged with war crimes.  Where the heck are the architects of good things?  Where is my Mahatma Gandhi, the “architect of peace”?  At this point I am looking for anything; Mother Theresa, “the architect of empathy”?
The Quintessential Image of the Architect


It doesn't stop there, of course.  It bleeds into popular literature and film.  Most architects are portrayed as fiercely egocentric figures, like Howard Roark (The Fountainhead) and Stanley Kracklite (The Belly of an Architect).  If architects are not portrayed as tragically self-absorbed characters, they are shown to be buffoons.  Certainly some sitcom writer dropped out of architecture school after about six weeks, went into writing and made some real money.  Early on in the television rendition of Dagwood Bumstead in Blondie, Dagwood is a bumbling architect, working for the overbearing J.C. Dithers.  Move to more recent presentations in According to Jim, Jim Belushi (a contractor) rides roughshod over his brother-in-law, Andy (the inept architect).  Think about syrupy sweet Mike Brady (The Brady Bunch), desperate romantic Ted (How I Met Your Mother), or sorry Woody Harrelson as David Murphy, who couldn't keep Robert Redford’s character from scoring on his wife in Indecent Proposal.  Even the forlorn yet lovable character from “Sleepless in Seattle” (Tom Hanks) gets outsmarted by his nine year old son multiple times throughout the movie (and he lives on a boat).


Sappy Tom Hanks Architect


With every rule, however, there are exceptions.  For some reason, those in the information technology industry have taken to the term of “architecture” as the series of complex systems that runs their digital landscape.  I get this from one point of view, but they should really have their own title.  This concept of architect as creator was complete, when Bill Gates donned the title of Chief Software Architect.  It must be like a Medical Physician when he or she sees "Dr. Rooter, The Plumber" advertised on TV.  To me, it is a little unnerving.  I think of when Neo of the Matrix movies meet his landscape’s creator, The Architect (as he is known) explains away his lack of compassion by simply stating, “What do you think I am – Human?”

The Architect who Messes with Neo


As a postscript, another alarming fact is that all of the characters mentioned above, real or otherwise, are exclusively Caucasian and male.  This shall provide fodder for a future lesson learned.  One notable exception is Wesley Snipe’s character in “Jungle Fever”.

8 comments:

  1. Actually it was Robert Redford not Paul Newman in Indecent Proposal

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    1. You are so right, Jane - I must have been thinking of Newman in Towering Inferno!

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  2. ". . . the main responsibility of an architect is to defend the health, safety and welfare of those that are served."

    Perhaps that idea contributes to the problem? The main responsibility of an architect is to design good architecture. The health, safety and welfare part is an important component of that. But I suggest that the profession of architecture has harmed itself more than any of the examples above. Until architects can re-establish identity as designers of valuable spaces, they just deserve to become relics!

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    1. Fair point. The HSW aspect of those served can certainly include the building being good architecture. It isn't just about egress or fire safety in my opinion. But if a building falls on your head, can it still be good architecture?

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  3. to quote Louis Black, "it is not Obamacare, it is not the care a feeding of Obama!!"

    "some guy wrote an overly complicated law, fessed up and said it was intended to fool us, and instead of calling him an ECONOMIST or a POLITICIAN," call him a Lawyer!!

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    1. I like Louis Black! I think Gruber is really an economist. I wouldn't want to paint him with an unfair brush.

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  4. Go to Amazon books....'look inside' Philip Howard's "The Rule of Nobody" or check him out on TED.
    This is an insightful look at what's going wrong. It's pretty much how everything is screwed-up including the Arch. Profession.
    The most recent election has AGW Deniers in-charge of the House and Senate. God help us.

    The Rule of Law is a Key-stone in civilization. Conservatives currently conserve nothing of true importance. They cling to the Rule yet decry regulation.

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    1. If you do anything in American politics, at least 49.5% of the country seems to disagree with it. I wasn't trying to politicize the use of the word Architect. The media doesn't need much help on that front.

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