Tuesday, 21 May 2013

On Repeating the Past and The Great Gatsby

I watched the Great Gatsby last night. I approached the viewing with massive trepidation having read the reviews online, and having heard the disappointed comments from reputable sources. Before I give my honest opinion however, I want to say a few things. I think the trouble with making a book like F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby into a feature film is that you really cannot please everyone. A novel with such timeless metaphorical authority is almost an impossible feat to accomplish, never mind getting people to like it on top of it all. Regardless, after reading the reviews, I was a little confused. I had hopes that the reception would be generally positive taking into account the director and the cast. To soothe my discomfort, I went back to the Internet archives to view old reviews of other adaptations of the novel, curious as to whether or not they fared better. They did not. In fact, the cumulative verdicts of the reviews more or less spoke to the same criticisms. Naturally, I could only come to two conclusions:

  1. All four adaptations did a job that the majority of critics believed to have not deserved more than 50% positive accolades. (I am not including the 1926 version since it is not a feature film in the typical sense). Or…
  2. F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby should not have been made into a film.

Similar to J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye or for me personally, Douglas Adam’s the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the Great Gatsby is in the rank of novels that are simply too cherished, too character-driven and robust, and too resonant on too many individual levels to be made into a film. If the brave director approaching this colossal project were to take his own creative course free from the restraints of the writing, then you would have overwhelming cries that great literature was changed and the film was not faithful to its muse. If on the other hand, the director stays true to the novel, quoting it word for word, then you would have cries that the film was too rigid and did not allow for deviation and thus originality to blossom. It is a lose-lose situation if there ever was one.

Ever since reading the Great Gatsby in high-school (and hating it by the way), I have since read it two more times and I have been absolutely taken aback by the complexity and aching beauty of it. Chalk it up to being older and wiser, or simply to the fact that I was not forced to read it, but for me everything was perfect during those last two readings. I loved it all from the imaginative characters, the unfathomable love story, and to arguably the greatest metaphor in the history of literature (I am referring of course to that ever distant and ever enchanted green light). 

You would think that considering all of this, I would be terrified about it being made into a film (I should mention I had never seen any of the prior adaptations so this would be my first time seeing it come to life on screen), but I was optimistic once I knew Baz Luhrmann was taking the reigns of direction. Luhrmann’s style of direction is not appealing to many people, but I have always been fond of it. I knew what was in store for me from the minute I saw his name next to the title: a feast for the eyes, sexy costumes, dramatic exaggerations in acting and quick shifts in focal scenes. Nevertheless, I was still hurt and fearful upon reading all the negative reviews. My optimism dwindled, but my curiosity bubbled.

Finally having said all this, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. It was a masterpiece visually, but I had already anticipated this fact. I found that I disagreed with most of the criticisms such as “It was too flashy,” or “It did not do the novel justice,” or “A novel like this cannot be modernized.” In direction, Luhrmann has a modus operandi where he gravitates towards keeping the muse (In this case Fitzgerald’s unforgettable words) authentic and unchanged, but at the same time playfully adding a whole bushel of sparks, dance numbers, glitter, extraordinarily over-the-top performances, and a kick ass soundtrack (seriously this soundtrack is amazing!!). Lurhman did this successfully with Romeo and Juliet’s adaptation in 1996, and he does it again with the Great Gatsby in 2013. I thought it was fun, visually spectacular, comedic in appropriate areas, and excellently incorporated the necessary metaphors and characters it needed to without taking away from the flow of the film or disrespecting Fitzgerald’s work. I’m clearly not a critic, but if I were I would tell you to go see it. I will probably watch it again myself just to see that beautiful little fool Daisy make me fall in love and out of love with her so quickly and with such devastation.

While I was driving home after the film, I felt the peculiar need to keep driving. I didn’t want to stop. My house zoomed by and pretty soon I was driving on Mavis toward my old school before I could realize where I was going. After over 4 years of being driven or driving to UTM, my legs and hands did the work of driving while my mind took a break and just enjoyed the wind and the music. Muscle memory you could call it I suppose. Before long, I was parked at one of the buildings on campus, called the CCT building. I got out of my car, and began walking aimlessly indoors. At this point, it was almost 10PM on a Tuesday, and as such the halls were vacant and quiet (not in an eerie way but in a peaceful kind of way). After so much time of getting to know these halls, studying for hours in their crevices, breathing in the air billowing from the concrete walls and the tiled floors, I thought I would feel at home. Instead I felt like an intruder, an outsider. I did not belong here.

Then something one of my best friends said evoked within me sadness because it illuminated truth I had long been desperately trying to deny. He had said, “You can’t go back” in reference to my need to revisit my time spent within these walls. He was right of course, and so was Nick Carraway when he told Gatsby that he couldn't repeat the past. No matter how much I want to, and no matter how much things stay physically the same, people change and like it or not, I have changed. As much as I wish it would, my new self does not fit into my old home. I wish I could believe so genuinely and passionately in my ability to relive the past as Jay Gatsby had, maybe then I would not have felt so much like an outsider.

But I have come to learn that my hopeful imagining of a perfect time when I could revisit this place is merely a nostalgia I have for the past and all the emotions and experiences it encompasses. Emotions and experiences that I can no longer re-live for the first time ever again. Because no matter how far we stretch out our arms, or how hard we paddle against the current, we can only move forward. The past does its job, and then fades away, leaving behind nothing but slowly crumbling memories. Although I wish I could re-live those memories, I know logically I cannot. And so I simply march forward finding occasional solace in my recollection of the past, my little home inside my head where I can always return. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

It's better here...

A total of 2cm is what they said. The “they” snow people. Because I doubted the accuracy of that number, I stayed home from work today. I don’t think I am even expected to come in. I'm sure the main streets are better, but from my bedroom window, it’s a picture of white engulfing white. How beautiful.

I can’t imagine it being busy anywhere, at least anywhere that does not sell sex or drugs. They say those things are a necessity. Yesterday it wasn't this bad, and yet we still had a total of maybe 9 customers come into the bank. One of those customers was a man who I regularly see. We always meet eyes, and I’m sure I smile like an idiot, but I get nothing in return. Surprisingly I have never had him at my wicket. He’s always a little too far away. My mind wanders at moments like these, and I picture myself being pushed up against the bathroom stall during my shift by a married man who is sick of it all. Middle of the day fantasies are very telling about the kind of person you are, I think. I guess I am a bitch. Or maybe all these episodes of Shameless combined with the plethora of suited and ring-bearing men walking into the bank are inspiring my inner harlot.

Washington Phillips helped me wake up, and I spent some time on lumosity. I feel my neuronal growth accelerating already. Mr. Phillips though. Fuck. I could be drenched in adrenaline and ready to stab someone in the face, but if I hear that voice I will stop mid-sprint and fall into a pool of relaxation.

I feel like I should write more. I have been reading a book per week for a while now and with two jobs, that leaves little time for anything else. I have been knitting too thanks to Trinny at the retirement home where I volunteer. My first day at the place Trinny, this 92 year old lovely lady with a Russian accent, walked right up to me, put her hand on my face, and told me I looked like Audrey Hepburn. So later when she offered to teach me how to knit, I could not fathom declining the offer. Also, I have always wanted to knit. I'm getting pretty good too. Lately, I have been working on what was meant to be a sea blue scarf, but I ran out of  sea blue yarn. Maybe I will make it into a single leg warmer or something.

Today’s Tea: Long-stemmed Oolong.  

Friday, 14 September 2012

Tolerating Intolerance?

Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia are all in outrage over a film called "Innocence of Muslims," a terrible film made about an even more terrible man. The film that has sparked so much controversy was made by some amateur film maker in California.

After news of the film gained speed, some Muslims of the aforementioned countries got very hurt feelings because the film shows the Prophet Muhammed to be a violent and malicious man (which is not exactly an exaggeration for anyone who has done the research). So in order to show the world how wrong the film is, they burned shit down, stormed the United States embassy in Egypt, Libya, and more recently in Yemen, killing the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, along with three other Americans. YEA! That'll how 'em that Islam is a Religion of Peace!!!

Demonstrations have also taken place in Lebanon, Gaza, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Indonesia, and India. Some of the accounts from these Protesters are laughable to say the least. They are all along the lines of 'Oh the Police shouldn't even get in our way! How dare they! Our honor has been offended, ect, ect...' So of course, the remedy for this would be to kill anyone in sight who is in anyway related to America and thus associated with the film by extension?? But hey, come on, its understandable! What are some attacks, the burning of American flags, and the killing of some people compared to the Prophet Muhammad being portrayed in a bad light? Wouldn't you say thats a fair trade-off? For those unfamiliar with internet etiquette of the modern world, that was sarcasm.

Correct me if I'm wrong but Americans are not telling Egypt for example who to elect, are they? Mohamed Morsi won in Egypt. He was elected despite being the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Americans, nor any facet of the Western world, did not account for this outcome (Trust me, if they were, results would have been different). And so, other countries do not get to tell America how to run their government. You see there is a little thing called Freedom of Speech- All rationalized and civilized minds would probably agree that it is a good thing. Sometimes Muslims, along with ANY OTHER party privy to criticism (meaning EVERYONE) may not like some of that speech, and in that case, we say tough luck. You and your religion are not solely exempt from criticism ! The world does not work that way, so calm the fuck down!

If your immediate response to having your beliefs offended is to go attack and kill someone, you desperately need to re-examine your beliefs, my friend. Those are not the actions of someone secure beyond a shadow of a doubt in the plausibility of their beliefs. Those are the actions of someone who acknowledges the fact that their beliefs cannot stand up to intellectual scrutiny and examination. Those are strange and misguided ways of saying that "Hey my ideas suck, and I obviously cannot fight back with ideology, so I will fight back with violence."

If these Muslims truly believed that their religion was correct, wouldn't the All-mighty Allah be able to handle this without the help of his puny and unworthy human followers? And I am using the word "help" very loosely here, because what is it exactly that these Muslims are helping? They are by their own actions CONTRADICTING themselves and the message they are trying to get across! I mean did any of them even watch this film? If not, I urge them and everyone else who has not seen it to not waste your time. It is probably the most poorly made film ever made. If the film maker spent $20 on it, it would have been too much. Despite all of this, the film maker was not wrong to make it. It is his freedom to do so, and I will defend this freedom to do so with every ounce of myself. If these Muslims don't like how America allows this type of freedom, then the solution is easy for them: Don't ever move to America.

I mean let us just put things into perpective: People, human beings, not at all associated with the film in any other way than they were born or lived in the same country that it was produced are DEAD. People were brutally murdered because other people were offended by a movie. A fucking MOVIE!!!! And its this movie???? Seriously?? There is nothing interesting, visually pleasing or in anyway remarkable about this film other than it has pretty much set off an international crisis!! WTF?!!!!

Are you kidding me? Is this 2012? Someone please freeze me and thaw me in a century or so when (hopefully) the majority of Religious fundamentalists, and for that matter, Religion in general, is completely obsolete and ancient history. PLEASE!

Even more disturbing is how Hilary Clinton and a string of other politicians have publicly condemned the film for daring to be critical of Prophet Muhammad. She had this to say: "To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have deeply cynical purpose: To denigrate a great Religion and to provoke rage." As a popular youtuber puts it, a good rule of thumb Hilary, is this:  If a crazy person has a crazy ass response to a mild stimulus, you don't blame the mild, little stimulus for pissing them off, you blame the crazy person for being crazy!

I am going to finish this post with the shatteringly wise words of Bertrand Russel:

"In this world which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way — and if we are to live together and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet."

If you would like more information on this or want to know where I got the pics, links, ect, go here.

Peace. Please!

Today's Tea: Matcha green tea.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Recalling Reality

I could not shake this line from my mind, so I thought I would post it here. Anyone who has ever read a good book can attest to the accuracy of this statement, and relish in the bittersweet misery that its realization invites.

"All I could think about now as night fell was how much you can love made up people. And how much you can miss them."

-John Green

Todays Tea: Organic green (Dragonwell)

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Just Call it Hate Speech!

I've been wanting to get something off my chest. Alright, now that my bra is off, I can talk about what's been bugging me as of lately.

Hate speech does not include talks, pictures, toys, blogs, or videos that are "religiously offensive." You cannot categorize atheist rants, speeches, and scientific battles that brilliant minds share daily under the same umbrella of shit that we call hate speech, such as racism, homophobia, or sexism. Critiques of a particular religion may be religiously offensive to believers, but they do not fall under the hate speech heap. Faith, superstition, astrology, and other forms of hokum are all beliefs that are taught and learned. You are not born a Christian. You are not born a Muslim. You are not born a Jew, ect...All babies are atheists! Opps did I just pop your little bubble there? Sorry for awakening your unsettling little revelation but it was needed. Because these fables, lies, and stories are learned, they (just like your wardrobe, or taste in music for example) are privy to criticism, dissection, research, and meticulous inquiry, just like any other claim in the scientific community would undoubtably have to face.

I bring this up now because as some of you may know, recently Youtube has moved from being an impartial media website that shares videos amongst people, to choosing the side of superstition. Youtube have suddenly and vehemently began to enforce the ridiculous and vague clause that any hate speech, including the so-called religiously offensive, will be removed, flagged, blah blah blah. Now this clause has always been there, but as of recently many of the youtubers I watch have had their own videos (some of which are months or even years old) removed with no chance of pardon, which needless to say thoroughly pissed a lot of people off, including myself.

Now I am pleased to report that after a couple of days of backlash from the atheist/rationalist/humanist community, youtube has reinstated most, if not all of these videos. Which just goes to show you, youtube and other sheepish websites of the sort, fear prosecution more than they respect freedom of speech or the right to individual opinion. They follow the lead of whoever makes the most noise. So rationalists everywhere, please never stop making noise. We (non-believers) are one of the largest, if not the largest, minorities. And yet we are still viewed in only a negative light by the vast majority of people. A clear example of this is the separation of Church and State debacle. Because non-believers push towards this separation, it is automatically assumed that we are in favor of a world of anarchy and degradation of law, which is complete bullshit. even more unsettling is that fact that it is just about impossible to run for office if you are a non-believer. Just admitting that you do not believe in any god is a major strike against you in a political race and a near guarantee that you will lose the election.

But just to make things fun, lets just say being religiously offensive, speaking of Darwinian science, the philosophy of Dawkins, Harris ect, the historical inaccuracies of the Bible, and mad atrocities of the Koran...lets just say for arguments sake all of these things are in fact "hate speech." If this were the case, then this argument must therefore work both ways in order to benefit equally both parties (the believers and non-believers). I am an atheist, and thus a part of arguably the largest minority in the western world, and I find Religious speech, preaching, and praying to be massively offensive. I fundamentally disagree with believers' claims, and find their supposed (and I use this quite loosely) debunking of scientific evidence to be hate speech against myself and others like me. So why does my claim not count? Why shouldn't all the Religious relics and leaders and followers delete their blogs and remove their videos, ect? Why? 

The answer is simple: Because they do not want to, and guess what? I don't want that either. I view freedom of speech as a beautifully vulnerable living organism that can be moulded into something dangerously one-sided if left in the wrong hands. And for a few days, youtube succumbed to these malicious demands and made it just that. As a whole, we must all work towards preventing similar actions against freedom of speech in the future so that they may never happen again.

It is kind of amusing to me actually, because I think the people lodging these complaints to youtube are the people who are silently questioning their own faith. How fucking insecure do you have to be about your imaginary deity that simple videos of others discussing the topic of religion in any manner other than in reverence will drive you to spend time and energy trying to silence them? Why would you go through all this effort and waste all of this time if you are truly secure in your faith? I have pondered this question for some time and the only rational answer I can think of is that these apparently avid believers are attempting to conceal these videos and opinions out of fear that they may actually resonate with other believers and even possibly make them abandon blind faith and take the leap into rationality, reason and scientific inquiry. It's all really very pathetic.

Even more so once you take into account that these people are probably the same people who defensively and angrily ask a non-believer to prove there is no God....I mean really? Come on! Even without any proper education or even without common sense, you still have to have half a mind to know that you cannot prove a negative! Besides, the burden of proof is not on the non-believer, it lies with the person making the claim. It is the believer claiming the existence of an omnipotent higher power so how the fuck does it make any sense that the non-believer should have to prove the believer wrong??? It is the believer who must adequately prove their claim is valid beyond a reasonable doubt because they are the ones putting forth this claim in the first place!! Until this happens, believers' have no business in asking non-believers to "prove that their god doesn't exist." And no, reciting some verses from the Bible or the Koran does not count as proof that your god is real, just like me reciting some verses from The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh doesn't count as proof that donkeys, tigers and bears can talk and are also buddies with each other.


Today's Tea: Oolong ginger.

Ps. Reason Rally 2012: http://www.reasonrally.org/

Monday, 7 November 2011

Another Earth

Watching Another Earth was like watching something bigger than myself. I was surprised by how encapsulated by the idea I was. This blog entry may have spoilers so those who have not yet seen it but wish to should stray away.

The film centers around this young girl (Rhoda Williams), who we see at the start of the film make a drunken mistake that she would carry around with her for years to come. She drives inebriated, and gets distracted by a radio broadcast revealing (for the first time) our discovery of a mysterious planet that randomly appeared in Earths' orbit. This planet resembles Earth a great deal, and would later be referred to as Earth 2. She crashes head on to a stopped car, killing instantly a pregnant wife, a son, and injuring an accomplished composer, College Professor and father (John Burroughs). Rhoda serves 4 years in jail due to being a minor at the time of the accident. When released, she tracks down where John lives intending to apologize, but she loses her cool last minute, and convinces him she works for a cleaning company that is offering a free trial in hopes that in doing so, she can begin to make amends. John, whose home looked as if a tornado had just rummaged through it, accepts the free trial. At the end of the day, he asks her to come back next week to finish cleaning his entire house for pay.

At the same time, Rhoda enters into a contest to win a trip to Earth 2. Other than the information about Rhoda getting a scholarship to MIT which is revealed at the beginning of the film, not much else about her character is disclosed. But fom the visual cues available, she seemed to obviously be an Astronomy/Physics/Sci-Fi enthusiast. Her academic and personal priorities change after getting out of the big house, and she begins making money by cleaning at a high school in her area. She is fascinated by the existence of another earth, and feels like the only way to escape what shes done is by leaving everything behind.

However, after spending time with John, she gets to know him, and feels strongly that she may be making his life a little better. The viewer witnesses John's demeanor and life slowly change for the better, paralleled by the increasing cleanliness of his home. On various occasions, she contemplates telling him the truth about who she is and what shes done, but something always holds her back. Instead, she distracts herself by continuing to clean his house while keeping him company. Their relationship gradually becomes more and more intimate, finally climaxing to them sleeping together. Feeling closer than ever to Rhoda, John reveals to her what had happened to him, and how much anger he has held with him over the past 4 years. He admits to making sure he never knew the drunk drivers identity in order to avoid a temptation to confront his family's killer.

Meanwhile, it is revealed that Earth 2 may be an exact replica of our Earth. The possibility of another you is proposed, and theories are thrown around. Soon, Rhoda learns that her essay was chosen, and that she has won a seat onto the ship to go to Earth 2. She tells the good news to John, but he asks her to stay admitting that he feels strongly for her and she is the reason he has been content with his life lately. Feeling guilty, she finally reveals to him who she is. Infuriated and hurt, John turns her away and tells her to never come back. Without giving away too much, Rhoda arrives at an epiphany regarding Earth 2 which she hopes could help John, and help her to survive what she has done to him.

Obviously there are some huge critiques in this film that I want to discuss. For example, not once is it mentioned how the hell the second Earth is not at all significantly disrupting the tides of our Earth, which would (in reality) lead to pretty devastating outcomes for our planet. It's also never explained how the planet just appeared in Earth's orbit out of thin air, taking residence right by the moon. But really, if you're expecting an astonishingly accurate Science Fiction film, then don't see this because these things will just piss you off. Having said that, it didn't bother me at all, because the film was centered around Rhoda and John's growing relationship and how the accident connected them and brought them together. Yes, Earth 2 was there but I would say it was just in the background, like a lingering piece of hope and mystery Rhoda held onto in case her attempts at bettering John's life did not pan out.

Another Earth is the exact definition of an independent film: Handheld camera work, long and appropriately placed close-ups, characters longingly staring off into space, lingering pauses, and a tiny cast with simple sets and wardrobes. But honestly, I thought it all worked. The movie was heart-felt, it was a fascinating and original (albeit impossibly improbable) Sci-Fi idea, and the acting was great. John (played by William Mapother) played a really intense and emotional part in a very understated way, which I think is really difficult to pull off. Despite having very little dialogue, I found myself quite tense and uncomfortably mesmerized by the plot and the characters. I admit it is a faulty Sci-Fi foundation for a movie, but if you actually try to get passed that and just take it for what it is, it will not only win you over, but will stay with you long after you stop watching it.

So yea...go watch it!

Todays Tea: Decaffeinated gunpowder green.


Saturday, 22 October 2011

Oh....THAT "F" Word

I have always considered myself a feminist, and for the most part I thought most women were. But the idea of feminism has been contorted over and over and over again rendering the concept nothing more but a picture of a frozen, man-hating bitch who just wants to take men down. I think this is a big shame, and it makes me feel disappointed and frustrated when I mention my passion for feminism or when someone asks, and I catch a glimpse of their facial expression right before they change the subject, or ask me why I hate men. lol It is just so ridiculous to me, because I never understood why this is the usual response. But then I took what could have been a great class-unfortunately taught by a notoriously bad Professor-and everything started to make sense...

Taking Women and Gender studies during my first year in University left a bitter taste in my mouth. My only memories of so-called empowered females were those close-minded women who infested the seats of the WGS200 course that I took first year. Those same women who made me rethink my entire idea of feminism within a few short months. My views on feminism before taking the class were based on equality, and a woman's right to choose. But the only themes that seemed to linger within the confines of the class were that of a feminist utopian society where males did not exist. Even more unsettling was the idea put forth that if you hold any traditionally true feminine qualities and liked yourself, you are not a true feminist. 

As I do enjoy playing devil’s advocate when my sanity and values are held at stake, I often challenged authority in the classroom and once (or twice...) in a tutorial session, I was subsequently asked to leave the class until I “cooled down.” One of those times, I really thought I would be castrated by a heard of stampeding angry self-proclaimed feminists. I began to view the feminist persona as an ice-cold ideal held high by women frozen in their stubbornness and sexist thought patterns. In my eyes, these women were simply acting towards men in the same way they claimed men were acting towards women. Things like prostitution, pornography, and being a house wife were talked about with disgust and viewed as being a stab at feminism as a whole, and an overall disgrace to being a strong woman. 

This really confused me, because I had spent all of my life envisioning feminism as a place where women encourage and celebrate other women in whatever venture or avenue they want to pursue. If a woman chooses to be a prostitute, to get an abortion, to be promiscuous, or to be a house wife, what business is it of ANYONE to tell her otherwise? Or even worse, to tell her that what she wants or chooses isn't good enough? It's her body, its her life, its her damn choice! 

At the time, I was a child of Psychology (and still am), so I tried to reason and understand the science of the what these women around me were trying to force down my throat, but in the end, I found in order to achieve good marks and not be targeted in class, I had to assimilate my ideals, beliefs and love of some of the greatest minds of Psychology (i.e. Freud) in order to be accepted. I swore to no longer advertise myself as a feminist because I understood now where those facial expressions came from and why they were commonplace. I never wanted anyone to ever associate me with any of the values and beliefs encompassed within that first year course. 

Never could I imagine that four years later, I would resort to taking WGS205 as a filler course and as a result, have my constructed views and distaste for the “frozen feminist” as I once called her, to be once again broken and rebuilt into something beautiful. Sitting uncomfortably in the front seat of the class, I was shocked upon hearing the Prof. Doctor Radia openly introduce the course with differentiating between mass culture and popular culture, and then encouraging us to envision our own understanding of what the terms mean to us. 

Beginning with our first discussion, I noticed a dramatic change in structure of the course. Of course there were still those who had not changed from first year (those who held the same concrete and hypocritical views), but there were also a lot more women who thought like me. Women who were not looked down upon or burned for sharing their opinions and visions of choice and freedom for women. Compared to the overly organized, constrained, and limited atmosphere of the first year course four years prior, WGS205 opened up possibilities of thought and arguments from every angle, where each was presented with understanding and intrigue. Doctor Radia was charming, warm and non-threatening, quoting thought provoking series, empirically scientific articles (which were rarely raised first year), and to my pleasant surprise, she even quoted Sigmund Freud on a couple of occasions. I became excited to attend class and felt at ease sharing my thoughts and opinions without fear of judgment or retribution. 

I remember the second week in class inspired an analytical spirit in me that peaked its head for the first time as we sat and watched the opening scenes of Pocahontas. Although somewhere within my mind I knew that passed the entertainment and the cute characters, the function of Disney movies were to educate children, I never really sat down and pondered what the films were actually educating. Things that were staring me right in the face never really surfaced until it was brought up and discussed. 

For example, when we began watching Pocahontas, all the sexualized and gendered aspects in the film became salient after discussion. Most shocking was the distinct difference in picture, colour and music when shifting between the grey and dull “western culture” where John Smith and his mates crudely sing about killing natives to the colourful and music-filled scenes of the “New world.” Watching and discussing the themes that varied between John Smith and Pocahontas made me want to go home and revisit my old Disney VHS tapes to try and pick up on the blatant gender differences that I could easily find when I no longer looked at these films through the eyes of a toddler. I was also taken aback by Dundes' (2001) article, which I found furthered points made in class and allowed me to better understand the material, although I did find that Dundes was annoyingly one-sided in some of her arguments. 

However, what was interesting was the point Dundes made in that from childhood, girls are taught to be selfless and constrained in everything that they do while boys’ actions are dismissed under the “boys will be boys” sanction. In fact, in a lot of these films, the boys are praised, or regarded as heroes by doing really reckless shit. She uses the example of how John Smith jumps off the ship during a major storm at the beginning of the film only to be promoted and called a hero by all of his crew mates. The viewers watching feel immediately like 'wow, this guy is so adventurous and fearless.' But not two minutes later, Pocahontas jumps off a cliff into calm water, and her friend asks her when she is going to stop being so immature? Although the viewer finds her quirky and fun at first, her actions are presented in a static way, hinting at the underlying fact that she is still young, immature, and will have to change eventually. In other words, she still has a lot of growing to do....apparently nothing that Mr. Smith's dick can't fix. 

Even more staggering was the statement Dundes made regarding culture’s growing expectations of women in today's supposedly "equal" Western society. She claims that although women are now encouraged and expected to be independent and strong career women, underlying signals to be a good wife, mother and provider are still present, thus creating what I like calling, a double-edged sword. More specifically, it's because mothers now encourage their little girls to take advantage of more and more opportunities in life that adds to women’s ever-increasing pressures to succeed. 

Because on top of being an independent, strong, well-rounded career woman, she is also expected to be a perfect wife and mother. And all before she turns 30!!! When women feel that they cannot succeed in all these avenues adequately (because no human being can!!!), or they hold one avenue (i.e. having a career) with more importance than the other (i.e. being a mother), they believe they have failed. It is a sick, sad, and relentless cycle that is in reality only strengthening over time, but this in itself is hard to see, because all of this is being expertly masked with a veil of "independence" and "Oh look how far we've come" slogans. We still have a hell of a long way to go in my opinion. 

My hope is that women who choose to reproduce, raise their daughters with their best and unique interests at heart. All we can really do, regardless of the child's sex, is to provide guidance, and let him/her make their own choices, regardless of whether or not you (as a parent) agree with their choices in the end. And needless to say, keep your morals, or religious pre-determined expectations completely out of it for fucks sake. To women reading this blog, do what you choose to do: whether that be going into pornography, becoming a C.E.O. having 5 children and settling down, or getting your tubes tied, just do it. It is your body, and it is your life. No one can ever tell you otherwise.                                                                                                                                                                    

Anyway, I am off to bed. I really hope I got my point across at least half-decently.

Todays Tea: Pai Mu Tan White tea.