Like: Inglourious Basterds

August 25, 2009

Yikes. Inglorious Basterds might be my favorite movie of the year (for the record, I’m still deciding between Up, Drag Me To Hell, District 9, and Tetro in some fashion). It is also probably my favorite Tarantino movie since Pulp Fiction.

The revenge picture seems to be making some sort of cinematic comeback. It’s an odd little genre and unlike say Kill Bill, where the revenge is kind of a literal plot level thing, the revenge picture is kind of like a revenge surrogate for the audience in a larger social text. There’s some of the old blaxploitation movies that skewed that direction (eg. Sweet Sweetback’s Badaaass Song) and the rape-revenge movies (like I Spit On Your Grave). The goal of these movies is simple: catharsis. Show the revenge and the audience feels a sense of elation that often don’t get to feel in the reality of those situations. This is not an insidious practice. These movies aren’t advocating revenge in real life or anything (those who say they do, psssh… nonsense), but what does seem to matter is what exactly you’re justifying in revenge.  Racial injustice and sexual assault sure make a whole lot of sense , which is why the aforementioned movies relatively embraced by some critical communities. Meanwhile movies with bad revenge desires, like sayyy Death Wish (paraphrasing: “I’m going to go shoot up random minorities cause I’m sick of their shit!”) are much more problematic. Even something like Crash or Glory which are merely made to appease White Guilt I find kind of distressing. So either way it’s kinda murky territory but the point is there are revenge pictures and they serve a function.

So imagine if you will, a World-War 2 revenge picture.

We forget that we kinda used to make them all the time (Dirty Dozen, etc.), but the last decade or more has featured a lot of sobering, serious World War 2 movies. Don’t get me wrong, these films have varying degrees of  importance and immersion that I greatly admire, but they also made us forget that we can make audacious non-historical WW2 movies too. It’s OK. Not everything has to be Saving Private Ryan. This bears mentioning because I think I saw about 10 films that felt as if they simply had to be SPR, even with having no reason to be.

Enter Quentin Tarantino, who seems to have come at just a perfect time.

Inglourious Basterds is brash, audacious, tense, vibrant, list of great adjectives with wholly cinematic allure. 95% of it’s running time is rich with the highest quality Tarantino dialogue (not what I felt was sometimes a lame imitation in Death Proof) and those moments are punctuated by brief but intensely violent moments; the kind of moments that are well-served and often built up to brilliantly.  The film starts simply “Once upon a time in Nazi Occupied France”, which couldn’t be more perfect because although the settings are often startlingly intimate, the ultimate version of the Third Reich we get here is not all that different from the version we get in Indiana Jones movies; which is to say, the complete encapsulation of movie-time villainy. It’s like we’ve forgotten that you can portray the Nazis that way without turning into an Us vs. Them fascistic dick.  You can. It’s okay. It’s part of an accepted movie and cultural language and in our desire to be thoughtful rounded people we have somehow come into the belief that our villians have to be just as thoughtful or rounded. Nonsense. It’s knee jerk liberalism (and this from a hardcore liberal). God, they’re the NAZIS. They were the most hateful and evil group of dicks in the recent history of western civilization. It’s okay to make them the embodiment of evil. BECAUSE THEY WERE.

Now, that is not to say Quentin Tarantino would EVER make the mistake of hollowing out his characters to the point of simplistic archetypes and cutouts. Quite the contrary. For starters Brad Pitt’s Lt. Aldo Raine knows EXACTLY how to march right up to the line of ridiculousness and keep it… well not grounded, but just grounded enough not to lose the audience. Sure Pitt’s chewing scenery, but he’s doing that infamous tight rope walk where it’s all balanced in perfect movie reality. Ebert talked in his review about Tarantino’s uncanny ability for doing this. He can make a line or moment utterly ridiculous and yet finds this unmistakable way to ground it and give it emotion.  Pitt gets to give a tongue thrashing assault and does so with such utter committment I usually find missing in most of his “serious” roles. As a result, it’s probably my favorite Pitt performance. He’s having a ball and so are we; taking absolute delight in every little verbal tick and inversion of his oh-so-balls-out Tennessee diction. It wholly showcase’s Tarantino’s world famous ear for dialogue as it reverberates through and through. He’s a perfect vehicle for the basterd’s grim and unflinching philosophy/behavior as most of them don’t say a word; they’re just an outright presence, scalping their way across the countryside.

As counterpoints, there are the two central females of the film: Melanie Laurant’s Shoshana and Diane Kruger’s Bridget von Hammersmark. I kind of think it’s better to keep their involvement in the plot a secret, not because it’s twisty or anything, but because it’s just no necessary. Suffice to say they are two completely realized characters with vibrant personality, layers, and depth. This bears mentioning because Tarantino is unfairly thought of as a kind of guy’s guys director and instead, looking over his filmography, he’s litered his films with about a dozen+ fascinating female figures.  They get to espouse rich dialogue. They get to perform their butts off. They get to be heroes. He never asks them to get naked. They are more or less treated on an acting level with complete respect. They’re simple characters in other films (ie “the girl”) and here they are something so much more. Let’s stop and think about not only how rare this is, but how incredibly refreshing it is.

This leaves “the bad guy” as a matter of discussion. It has been said many times already but Christoph Waltz as Col. Hans Landa of the S.S., is without a doubt one of the best performances of the year. Probably the best. Landa is such a all encomapassing figure: an authority, a mannered gentlemen, a seething detective, a fucked-up sociopath, a delighted nave, a touch fay, all-together menacing, and yet completely and totally coherent. How can you even do that? It’s a mystery for sure, but it is such a great combination of writing, direction, and performance to be sure. I can’t speak highly enough of it. But it’s one of those performances that EVERYONE gets, like Ledger’s Joker or Day Lewis’s Daniel Plainview; no one misses what’s going on from the visceral forefront to the many subtlties at play. It’s a remarkable achievement.

So as for what this whole freaking movie is actually about (and it is about something given my opening bit about Revenge films). Let’s get into what actually happens in this sucker.

WARNING HUGE FUCKING SPOILERS AHEAD BUT ITS WHAT I WANT TO TALK ABOUT SO TURN AWAY NOW IF YOU HAVEN”T SEEN IT. REALLY… AND IF YOU REALLY DON’T CARE THEN FINE I SUPPOSE… OKAY… Getting back to the Revenge film bit… Basterds is wholly cathartic because you get to see the war you want to happen and not the war that did. We get to see Nazis utterly shot, scalped, beaten to death, scarred, and blown up. And it’s not like some parade of violent delights either. I mentioned the matter of buildup and punctuated violence which gives all of this said violence some hefty weight. The idea is catharsis in every possible form. And if you’re doing Jewish revenge, if you’re going to go ALL THE WAY with that logic. Then your ending is simple (again spoiler, here’s the ending), why not have your jewish ww2 revenge picture end with  Hitler, Goebbles, and all the high ranking nazi officials getting gunned down and burned alive in movie theater? Why not have your more humane Nazis get forever branded with the nazi symbol on the forehead so they “can never take off the uniform.” What the heck is more cathartic than that?

Nothing. It’s the ending we never got. Sure WW2 was born out of revenge for WW1 (more debatable than is commonly accepted by the way), but that’s not a concern. In reality, Hitler was the true to form and cowardly shot himself in a bunker (we’re pretty sure about this). So, in the interest of catharsis, why not shoot him over and over again in the head?

Some critics seem to have a problem with this. Particularly David Denby of the New Yorker (not even going to bother to link to his knee-jerk nonsense). But to label this kind of revenge film as stupid or insensitive is just as stupid or insensitive. That’s because doing so means you’re mistaking Tarantino for an amateurish idiot who indulges in violence or revenge for revenge’s sake. Sure he’s a brash persona, but he’s no dummy. That kind of indulgent simplicity is what many of his imitators do, but not he. Tarantino is a master of both wholly exploiting a genre for all it’s worth and then subverting or transcending it in the most interesting ways. DFW once wrote a great piece on how his lynchian tendencies are played for “coolness” rather than discomfort and therefore lose effect, but I think his work from Pulp Fiction on works beautifully in terms of transcending that surface coolness. He simply cuts above garrishness. It’s not because he has lengthy dialogue scenes or simple tricks like that, which people often mistake for being smart, it’s because of a much more nebulous tone of intellect and emotional gravity. It’s beyond simple irony or dissaffect. It’s genuine care and love for these, the depraved archetypes and conventions at play.

It’s a wholesale acceptance of the human condition, IE understanding that the desire for revenge (in cinematic form) is cathartic even for the most liberal, a-fascist personalities in the world, which once again I am. I’m practically a freakin pacifist, but I can wholly understand and engross myself in the Tarantino ww2 reality. Yet for some reason it seem to urk other critics, colleagues, and friends who find this kind of treatment of a “serious subject” to be offensive. The same people who find Dirty Harry to be some kind of fascistic guide to life.  I don’t understand that. It’s like they’ve never seen a movie before. Movies don’t have to espouse your sense of politics or life philosophy (hell, we kind of perfer if they don’t). And I don’t say that in a “it’s just a movie don’t take it seriously” kind of way. I say that in the sense that there’s this cinematic social contract that what you’re seeing is a representation of a kind of dream or inner will.  The best directors know what’s happening, acknowledge it, and go past it. But so many people get trapped in Tarantino’s acknoledgement of base tropes, they can’t get past it. Come on! You’re not falling victim to a movie, it’s falling victim to you, ultimately. It’s a such a freaking shame too because they’re missing out on the best kinds of movies. The kind where you get to subvert your own freaking pretentions of what is proper and ride your own id. And unlike most trash, Tarantino guides your id with such utter care and poignancy. God… You’re missing out on those movies.

And missing out on the genius of Inglourious Basterds, probably the best movie of the year.

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Don’t Like: This Asshat’s Logic on “Why Athiests’ Arguments Do Not Work”

April 2, 2009

First off he never really addresses atheist’s arguments and just makes hilarious statements and conclusions instead. But first, a qualifier!

1) I am somewhat at odds with logic. It’s is an incredibly useful tool of construction/deconstruction and often provides the crux of philosophical theory. But logic itself is not, and has never been, the definitive system for “answers,” philosophical or otherwise. The basic scientific principal of “correlation does not mean cause” prevents it so, and yet most logic depends on that being true. While it may seem that “science” as we know it was invented in the 17th-18th century, really the basic tenants have always been routed in the pillars of observation and appropriation. There’s a timelessness to those qualities, just as their is a timelessness to logic, but they are interdependent on one another and have always been. More so, in the age of increasing scientific propriety, observation, data collection, and technology, we have a legitimate ability to gain actual substantial answers to long theoretical questions and problems. With that, logic has become the currency of the intellectual disaffected and the occasional dead weight of lunacy.(1)

Enter this asshat.

There’s a lot of general stupidity out there with which I have absolutely no problem. I generally like to single out the most amusing or most outrageous in some kind of personal way. So like those, this guy is special (assuming he’s serious. Which I think is true. More on that later). But this seems to think he is the god of logic. But so often the problem with logic is that YOU define the variables and if you define them wrong you can go of an logic bender that leads you to a stunningly crap-tastic conclusion. So let’s go on a journey.

First off, there is his claim that Atheists don’t believe in god, because they can’t see god. He compares this to the fact that we can’t see air, but we know it’s there.  Sigh.  The obvious problem is that we can see air. You use a thing called a “microscope” (well a powerful version of one) or other scientific instruments with which we can look at and analyze the molecules that make up this “air” thing you speak of.  Even better, he then uses the comparative example of “not being able to see your own brain, yet it exists.” Well tell you what, I’ll go grab my dad’s Vietnam era machete and give a good slice across your forehead, grab a piece of your brain and show it to you before you die. Because you’re sitting and talking to a camera, yes, even you have a brain (of course this implies your sliced brain would still have visual functioning capability). See we have TANGIBLE ways of actually seeing these invisible examples you speak of. The atheist argument is dependent on the fact we currently have NO TANGIBLE ways of seeing god. (2)

The next part is equally awesome. Saying that proposition of God’s existence inherently begins as a 50/50 chance is a total falsehood.  Just because there are two possible answers, does not mean there is an equal chance of those answers being correct. It’s like saying there’s a fifty/five chance I’ll be hit by a falling lime green Boeing jet today. The odds are actually dependent on, you know, the probability of said event occurring, not the number of a possible outcomes. It is one of the most basic pillars of logic and one of the first things you learn on the subject: An either/or result does not facilitate either/or logic.

Which then brings him to the “51%” thing where he goes from his already incorrect 50/50 probility of god existing to the the long-pause-inclusive “but. there. is. evidence!… of him, existing!” deduction is high comedy. Needless to say said evidence isn’t presented and instead we’re just treated “we exist” followed by a statement which implies 100% of god existing by saying “And if he didn’t exist there would be nothing.” Just awesome. It becomes evident he has no idea where he is in his logistical timeline and is pretty much winging. Then sequeways with a sort of nice equivalent of saying science can’t prove anything “because it’s logic.” Which is oh so failsafe.

The also also best part comes right after that with “the four most evil people in history of human history” (nice repeat) were atheists… followed by the hilarious DOUBLE eyebrow raise (a kind of awesome you get me? you GET me? ATHEISTS ARE EVIL, eh?). Followed by the prefect double hand open of obviousness.

Just Killer.

The also also also best part is his other videos are even more hilarious, offensive, and culturally charged (the one on sex hurting the vagina being okay in particular), but this one highlights his logistical failures much more acutely.

Psychologically speaking, his arguments are oddly solipsistic. He is taking special care to deny almost any other singular influence on his opinions. Most like to reference and support, his logic is instead a wholly insular enterprise. It is an increasingly common behavior on the internet and something I find to be a result of 1) a disconnected society and 2) bad learning habits. But that’s all conjecture. The dude is funny to watch.

There’s a lot of belief that this guy is playing a character and these segments are a joke. Who knows? The problem is that it doesn’t pass my gut test. I look at him and it reads real even if his statements are ludicrious (a good deal of Christians seem to be just as offended by his nonsense giving them a bad name). He’s just too good the personality type. He’s simply too good at playing the self assured, withdrawn, intellectual type who is probably a libertarian, thinks no one is as smart as he is, and dismays that society does not live up to his standards. Which makes me sad… I’m going to hope he really is playing a character.

It should be said there scientific arguments/theories for god’s existence (the big bang, etc) that are at least somewhat interesting. It’s all deeply theoretical and miles away from having scientific legitimacy, but it’s still interesting and enjoy reading about it. And no, I’m not talking about intelligent design. Any scientific theory that is built on “we haven’t figured this shit out yet, so it must be god” is about as faulty in logic/science/basic life skills as you can get.

For those  questioning my motives, as everyone tends to do, I really don’t have a stake in the answer. I might believe in God, but I lean sort of atheist. I’m not sure. I just know that I care about the methods we use to come up with “answers”, because often the methods inform the answers themselves.

Addendum

1- This statement however does ignore the problems created by conflicting data and the mass amounts of misinformation.

2- There are some interesting theories, which I address a bit at the end above.


Like: That I Had No Idea It Was Ash Wednesday

February 27, 2009

Growing up Boston Irish Catholic could be… difficult.

If you’ve seen any movie on the subject my statement above is self-explanatory.  I even have a couple horror stories. Also, I’m actually Scottish, but make no mistake I grew up Boston Irish Catholic.

So consider my delight when I turned on Around The Horn and saw Tony Reali and Bill Plashke with their Ash Wednesday… smears(?) on their forehead. I had completely lacked all awareness of its approaching date. This is a good thing.

I used to be able to give you a speech on Ash Wednesday and what it meant, but I have since forgot because of great effort not to revisit my childhood memories of Catholicism.

So let’s go to wiki!:

“In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days (forty days not counting Sundays) before Easter. It falls on a different date each year, because it is dependent on the date of Easter; it can occur as early as February 4 or as late as March 10.”

and:

“Ashes are imposed on the foreheads of the faithful (or on the tonsure spots, in the case of some clergy). The priest, minister, or in some cases officiating layperson, marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes in the shape of a cross, which the worshipper traditionally retains until washing it off after sundown. The act echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ashes over one’s head to signify repentance before God (as related in the Bible).”

So that was interesting.

I think instead of giving something up I’m going to add something. I’m going to start drinking alcholol.

Just kidding. I already drink.

So I’ll just drink more.

UPDATE: After reading the first couple of sentences of this post my bastard friend wrote the following:

“I’m now 100% sure you were raped by a priest”

That did not happen. I did, however, know people who were. The Catholic church’s response to which, was unforgivable.


Like: That there is a god, and he likes the same TV I do

February 19, 2009

I had a funny experience a few months ago and wanted to blog about it, but I am just remembering it now.

I was waiting for my mom’s flight to arrive and she would be 9 hours late… and would be arriving at 4 in the morning… and I had work the next morning. Rather than fall asleep and fuck everything up I decided to stay up. But alas, I had no new netflix yet! I was up to date on all my favorite shows! It was late at night! GASP!

Then I found a FUTURAMA marathon on comedy central and problem solved. It was true, there is a god, and he likes the same TV I do.

… and then I remembered I’m pretty much athiest and the chances of me finding something I reasonably like on 500 channels is pretty fuckin’ good.


Don’t Like: 4th Wave Feminism (But It’s VERY Complicated)

October 18, 2008

Warning: This is a discussion of semantics.

I am a Feminist… I am a dude.

Understand I’m not trying undermine the notion of being a feminist. I know some women take issue with how liberally men are willing to label themselves as such and deeply respect that. I know this guy who considered himself a feminist and he was also a remarkable verbal abuser and one-time physical abuser.  But in his deranged head, he was “oh so feminist”. So one can understand the apprehension.

But… well, I’m going ahead and saying it anyway.

I’m doing it because feminism has a lot of different definitions, and most of them are pretty reasonable definitions. That’s what happens in a good discourse.

To be fair, 4th Wave Feminism isn’t even a thing. It’s a term some people kind of assigned to describe what’s happening right now in feminism. There were of course other real waves: 1st wave) suffrage. 2nd wave) women’s lib movement of 60’s-80’s. 3rd wave) early 90’s corrections to the “failures” ie women have the right to act like a man, earn the same wages/positions/etc. There’s more to third wave, but since there’s no singular defining trait/event, that’s an okay description.

So… 4th wave.

First off, let me state that I think that sexism is still such a huge problem in this country. HUGE.

Societal Problem #1- the mixed messages we’re sending young girls. We live in a culture with an increasing religious population which abhors both women’s sexuality, femininity, and homosexuality. At the same time, we have a secular society where sexuality is increasingly out in the open (some in a good way too, but mostly a bad way). Think about MTV/Reality shows. Hell, most everything on television is nuts. It’s not the “showing of the skin” it’s the unintelligent and crass way this sexuality is presented (HBO may be the most gritty but they deal with their subjects so intelligently it’s often to make a point… except Entourage but that show sucks).  With the two conflicting messages, every young girl is trying to fight between being a madonna and a whore. This conflict has always been an element to humanity no doubt, but within today’s culture there are a lot of new kinds of obstacles. (There was a great recent movie about this subject: “Towelhead” by Alan Ball.)

Societal Problem #2 – Frat culture – I’m not speaking ill of fraternities necessarily. I’m speaking ill of the associating stereotype of how “frat guys” behave. And we all know what I mean by that. Now going off that mentality, I have this dumb pseudo-pop-psychology theory and it goes something like following: Elementary school boys grow up and are afraid of girls. They want the approval of their guy friends and for those guys to think they’re totally awesome. They start to grow up and have problems relating to teenage girls and react by starting to get angry/misogynistic. It gets worse and worse and soon they’re just trying to score chicks so they can get high fives from their buddies. So they hate/resent women and only use them patriarchal status symbols…. And I think this is fucking 50% of the male population. I really do. I see it everywhere and it pretty much disgusts me. Don’t get me started on the college boys who put drugs in girls drinks at parties. To me there’s nothing more abhorrent than that kind of behavior. It’s a hate crime to me.

Societal Problem #3 – It was kind of always this way. These are not new problems for our society. It’s mostly just that sexual abuse is FINALLY starting to be reported with more frequency. And these aren’t the final numbers by a long shot. The amount of rural sexual abuse that goes unreported is simply stunning. Absolutely stunning… And historically it was even worse.

Societal Problem #4 – there’s no central concrete obstacle for feminism at the moment – the problems with the third wave feminism are only multiplied today because the perceived problems are all conceptual. With the advent of title 9, increased support for equal pay, etc. there are fewer and fewer concrete obstacles.  So why are things still so shitty? It’s because the attack is now on a thought system and that makes things, uh, rather difficult.

As a result, I think 4th wave feminism is pretty fractured. It’s somewhat like today’s music, it’s like there’s competing genres. Do you like emo or hip hop? Are you super indie Mr. Hipster or top 40? Feminism has similarities. There’s some more militant forms of feminism now, but since I tend not to like militant forms of pretty much anything, I won’t even get into that.  One the other side of the political spectrum, there’s the amazingly strange “feminists for life” group . The name does not imply they are feminists for the remainder of their living years, but instead being women who are intensely pro-life… that one’s… interesting. But most kinds of feminism today are now in the form of micro-analysis; the daily interaction of men and women, the subtexts of film and literature, and international comparison. It leads to a lot of fascinating stuff that I enjoy reading with vigor.

… It also leads to a lot of unfair stuff.

What’s specifically is unfair? Lots of stuff really, but one example of the negative aspects would be modern feminism as a game “of gotcha”. Now the dynamics of “gotcha” are now surprisingly popular in the era of Palin and her complaints of “gotcha” media tactics. The main difference is these journalists are trying to expose the woeful political ignorance of a candidate. Asking about the Bush Doctrine is not a gotcha question. Heck, if I know what the bush doctrine is it is NOT A GOTCHA question. Anycrap, I digress. Gotcha feminism is taking valid arguments and points and applying them to situations where they don’t necessarily apply.  It’s like (a) set up a valid point (b) apply point to a given situation that may not apply and (c) tear into it. Examples:

Example #1: The bechdel test

let’s go to wiki: The Bechdel test: The strip popularized what is now known as the Bechdel test, also known as the Bechdel/Wallace test, the Bechdel rule, Bechdel’s law, and the Mo Movie Measure. Bechdel credits her friend Liz Wallace for the test, which appears in a 1985 strip entitled “The Rule“, in which a character says that she only watches a movie if it satisfies the following requirements:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it,
  2. Who talk to each other,
  3. About something besides a man.[4]

(ignore the boldness here, I’m have formatting problems, sorry) First off. I really love Bechdel rule. As a writer it helps me immensely. I also think it’s pretty obvious the point of the test is to really just point out how few movies actually do this… which is great. But following this test? My god. There’s so many great movies that say a heckuva lot of interesting things that do not pass this test in any way. AND there are a lot of shitty, pandering movies that say awful things about females and DO pass the test (I’m looking at you 27 Dresses). And yet I’m constantly surprised by how many people use the test as some kind of justification for a movie’s validity. (It all goes back to how most screenwriters are males who have no idea how to write female characters, that’s how simple it is).

Example #2 – Firefly is sexist!

Here is an excerpt from a feminist blog that got passed about the internet for awhile for it’s almost stunning over-reaction. It was in regards to Joss Whedon (a popular figure in the “girl power” arena) and his show Firefly. The author decided to tear into the show and expose it for the sexist piece of shit she thought it was:

Aside from women being fuck toys, property and punching bags for the men, the women have very little importance in the series. I counted the amount of times women talk in the episode Serenity compared to the amount of times men talk. The result was unsurprising. Men: 458 Women: 175. So throughout the first episode men talk more than two and a half times as much as women do. And women talk mainly in questions whereas men talk in statements. Basically, this means that men direct the action and are active participants whereas women are merely observers and facilitators.

That’s what we call gotcha tactic. The points she brings up have no real baring on whether a show is sexist or not. It simply can’t. It’s classic scientific conundrum of correllation and cause.  Add in the fact that most of the characters are male (especially all the evil baddies) and one of the female’s main character is crazy and only talks rarely, then well… it just seems even more irrelevant.

I really suggest giving this blog post a look http://users.livejournal.com/_allecto_/34718.html … the funny thing is the more I read the post the more I find bits of validity to her points… but it is such a strong reaction to something that doesn’t have nearly the kind of malice she is describing. Of course the show doesn’t stand up as the perfect model of feminism. That’s not what he’s trying to do in the slightest. The kinds of feminist issues in Buffy aren’t even on this show’s radar. And more importantly, they don’t have to be. Firefly is really about a universe that’s crumbling. It’s crumbling on a epic scale and they live in a stunningly depraved world. So a lot of bad, bad shit happens. On top of that, much of whedon’s “sexism” is coming from a critical view. Every one of them is a deeply flawed character, that I don’t think he even had a chance to scratch the surface with (look at the first season of buffy… and where it ended up going. That first season was crap in comparison). I’m inclined to think that he’s cognizant of the females and I think he’s hyper-aware of their feminist drawbacks. But oh yeah… the show happens to be pretty darn good.

I showed the blog post to my friend and he simply wrote back “here’s a list of things that do not fit in with my narrow world view”

Sure that’s a little curt (he did so for humor’s sake) but it gets at the very point I’m trying to make. It may seem like I’m just picking on these two examples but there are countless other instances that overwhelm my impression of the direction of feminism (at least on the collegiate level). Most forms of modern 4th wave feminism are just so darn limiting in their scope. Does “not feminist” = bad? It’s just an inherent question one has to ask themselves when participaing in “feminism”. By adopting any ideology do we limit the exceptions?

At one point in the blog the author digs into the interracial relationship in firefly and makes this comment:

Let me just say now that I have never personally known of a healthy relationship between a white man and a woman of colour. I have known a black woman whose white husband would strangle and bash her while her young children watched. My white grandfather liked black women because they were ‘exotic’, and he did not, could not treat women, especially women of colour, like human beings. I grew up watching my great aunts, my aunty and my mother all treated like shit by their white husbands, the men they loved. So you will forgive me for believing that the character, Wash, is a rapist and an abuser, particularly considering that he treats Zoe like an object and possession. Joss Whedon does not share my view, of course, and he paints the relationship between Zoe and Wash as a perfectly happy, healthy union.

First off, I’ve personally known healthy white male/black female relationships. That statement is wholly fucking ridiculous and maybe even racist. There can’t be? Really? That’s simply naive. The author may claim I’m naive because I’m being ignorant, but that’s horseshit and i’ll stand by it. And yes, OF COURSE the aforementioned racist exoctism is an issue in our society. But that doesn’t mean we have to rush out and make every interracial relationship ABOUT the problems of the interracial relationship. That’s ridiculous. She even goes onto bring up excellent films which deal with the subject of racial sexuality and says we should watch those instead. The movies she mentions are all excellent (like Rabbit Proof Fence). But, folks, wtf does that have to do with Firefly. That’s not the subject

As a result of this kind of feminist gotcha-ism, many males go on to make ridiculous conclusions about feminism on the whole… like this:

Needless to say, but that’s a dumb conclusion. Is it complete without merit? YES. That is a sentiment without any merit. It’s a sexist statement down to its very core. But what it does highlight is an unintended consequence to some of the 4th wave’s more unfair analysis. Now I’m not JUSTIFYING a reaction like this in the slightest. A sexist reaction is a sexist reaction. But in the wake of discourse, it awakens the notion of pragmatism in micro-analysis.

There it is… pragmatism. It seems like the biggest obstacle of the 4th wave is the limits of its structure. Does micro-analysis eliminate the scope of macro-analysis? Does feminism need to incorporate the human condition? Can feminism adapt to incorporate a wide range of definitions?

Most of the male/female relationships I know are pretty even handed, both economically, socially, and fundamentally.  But some of them definitely would run against the grain of someone’s differing notion of feminism. And once again, YES this even-handedness is CERTAINLY not the consensus on the whole of this country. How can it be? The 50% frat culture I mentioned before and religious sentiments make me nuts. Most pornography makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Those are the obvious battles and I’m talking about the more subtle ones that stem from battles over the things that shape our modern cultural landscape like Firefly and the Bechdel test.

With that, how does 4th wave feminism, in it’s current position, move forward?

There are still some public obstacles. The glass ceiling in the economic front. I think there needs to be some rebellion against the confines of the growing religious attitude, the confines of frat culture, and a global movement toward feminist aid in 3rd world countries where human life is worth less than an IPhone.

And heck I’ll say it… In some ways I think the American feminist experience is becoming much more about redefining the male role than ever before. How do men indeed become feminists while still owning, well, let’s just call it “the male mystique?” (to borrow a phrase). Yes, I’m sick of the “frat” culture. I’m sick of the blatent sexism… but how does feminsm combat that? I simply don’t see the trend of micro-analysis helping. I don’t know… Sometimes it does very well and I’ll read an article that pinpoints these exact problems in our daily life… but a lot of times I encounter the other stuff.

Maybe we’re just approaching a difficult time where the line between feminism and humanism is becoming blurred.

* Final note: I fully realize this whole post is dangerous. Please keep in mind It’s not a paper. It’s not well thought out. I only looked over it once.  It’s kind of a stream of consciousness tangent designed to bring up points. That’s all it is intended as. And I hope all it’s taken as. Thank you.

UPDATED –

-Finally have a second post that sort of adds to this discussion in somewhat tangential ways. About Gene Tierney’s performance in the 1944 film LAURA.


Like: Fasting

October 9, 2008

So I’m fasting today in comraderie with Yom Kippur.

Sure I’m not techincally Jewish, but like I said, it’s in the spirit of comraderie.

I’ve actually done the Yom Kippur fast in some fashion of many years now. Many of my collegiate buddies where Jewish. Many of my old family friends were as well. So it’s something of a tradition.

So what’s the deal? Why do it? What possible reason could one have for not eating for denying their body nutrition? Especially for religious reasons?

Well, it’s kind of the old adage of overcoming obstacles. Of showing willpower and fortitude. Of course it’s all kind of silly but in some ways that’s the point. Hunger is such a natural feeling and to focus through it is something of an act of self-discipline. It shouldn’t be used as a feat “look what I can do” thing. Ideally, it should be a little deeper than that.

Back in college my friends and I did one of those dumb juice fast cleanse things. Technically it’s supposed to help cleanse your colon or something like that,  I don’t think any of us really believed in it with total seriousness. I think it was more curiousness than anything else. So we drank natural juice for 3 days and no food. We all made it except for one of us who nearly had a breakdown after 24 hours without a cigarette or coffee. ..It was probably good he quit the fast. But the idea is we all did it in camaraderie and maintained self-discipline.

… You know… Writing this I see this the same kind of BS that leads to group mentalities, frattyness, and communism… huh… I like to think that this is a case of those disciplines going for good and not, you know, evil.

So fasting is important.

… I think.

Plus I’m gonna look super skinny this week!


Like: The High Holidays

September 30, 2008

Why?

Well, aside from my approaching foray into Judaism (which i may tackle in a like at some point later), there’s a much more simple and incredibly selfish reason to love the High Holidays in Los Angeles:

There’s no traffic.

Seriously. It takes me roughly 35 min (on an awesome day) to 50 min on average to get to work.

Today, on Rosh Hashanah?

17 minutes.

Yeah.

Awesome.

Happy New Year Everyone!

(note: the only time I had a quicker commute was during the immigrant rights march where the entire hispanic population of the city congregated downtown. This was not nearly enough to change my pro-immigrant rights stance I guarantee you… but I don’t think it helped the cause since there were a good lot of people talking about how great it was to have no commute.)