Archive for January, 2013

January 28, 2013

Forget Rihanna, or: in 2013, live a life without gossip

If you feel the urge to gossip, just go watch Revenge — you´ll have a lot to talk about: most characters are awful people and are very creative in talking behind each other´s backs. The men and the women alike…

Gossip is one of those subjects disturbingly related to women: put it together with fashion and miracle diets and you have yourself a so called female magazine, as opposed to masculine matters such as politics, naked gals and cars. A protest against this categorization on the present post would sadly be absolutely pointless, as a good number of magazines targeting each gender is there to confirm this unfortunate truth about how simplistically the ladies and the gents are generally portrayed.

The worst part of it though is our passive acceptance of these generic portrayals; worst, we indulge in it, by consuming products that define who we are in a quite unflattering way. I diet, I enjoy fashion, and as a human – not as a woman – I do fall prey of that morbid curiosity that results of – and from – gossip.

But here is what I don´t understand: while dieting is O.K. and fashion is fun, and both matters can have somewhat uplifting effects on a person´s life – after all, being in a great shape (thin, in our days) and dressing well are self-esteem boosters – gossip thrives in the most horrible emotions, envy being at the top of the list. So why admitting in such an open way our deep, dark feelings towards a gorgeous, talented (this may be open for discussion), millionaire young girl from Barbados because she has offered the world, publicly, something that can be constructed as a personal flaw (her love for a man who once hit her – No, I´m not defending men who hit women. I just think my speech against domestic violence doesn´t need to turn Rihanna into a victim or an idiot or into anything at all)? Worse, why should women accept gossip is a gender-related concern? Because we do it by consuming self-proclaimed feminine products that insert gossip as part of what is offered.

On top of already having tried a few times to induce you to abandon your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts — surely without success — I now take an even wider step by urging you to share with me one of my favorite New Year Resolutions: no more gossip, in none of its forms.

Hard. Gossip is a favored corporate social interaction: everybody loves to talk about each other at work, usually not in a flattering way nor in the subject’s presence (this is one of the male´s favored form of gossip, at least where I work. Women are far less aggressive on their work environments and more concerned about their friends). Gossip and family — I know it’s what binds mine together on Christmas (and also what sets us apart while provoking epic fights among “enemy” relatives).

The thing is we spend a lot of good energy hating someone else, or simply over-examining their faults. Our attention could be probably put to better use if we just focused on bettering ourselves and finding our own flaws and living our lives instead of wasting time worrying about Rihanna being irresponsible or whatever for getting back with Chris Brown, or getting extremely upset because a third-grade cousin has knocked up a 14 year-old and she doesn’t want to abort and he’s clearly been set-up (even though your cousin is ugly, has no money whatsoever and the girl is underage and he shouldn’t have been playing with games other than those you can play in a public park, some in your family think she’s the bitch here). If you want good and dirty little secrets and a lot of shit to say about dubious people, go watch Revenge — one of ABC’s hit series with the previously sweet (Everwood anyone), now kick-ass manipulative millionaire avenger Emily VonCamp. You can definitely go wild talking behind the backs of every single character in that show, with the advantage that (1) they are really mean. All of them and (2) they are not real, so your conscience is clean.

Do this for me and abandon this preferred form of judgment for good. No more InStyle, no more Kardashians, no more royal pregnancies or marriage scandals, no more taking behind your aunt’s back about her new 24 year old boyfriend. No more telling everyone at work that you saw your boss hand in hand with his assistant on a family barbecue picture his sister published on her Facebook profile. Ride on that boat with me and save your wisdom for the mirror. Forget what else Paul McCartney has included in the lyrics of that (extraordinary) song, and stick with the part that says live and let live.

January 20, 2013

Academy enslaved

Django Unchained

This year, two of the movies running for the Best Picture Academy Award are about American slavery. This may or may not be a coincidence, considering there would be some political interest in such thematic in 2012, but the fact is, in spite of any other reason for it to be done as it was, Django Unchained is a hell of an interesting movie — I am not sure I can say the same for Lincoln, and when I say I am not sure, I actually mean it, because I couldn’t put up with it for more than 20 minutes. Back then, when I tried to watch it, I didn’t know there would be such a buzz about it, and now I am trying to commit to see the entire thing and maybe change my mind, but I remain unsuccessful in achieving that commitment.

Tarantino is a master of tasteful lack of taste. He doesn’t take his time to grab his viewer’s attention, going for our guts immediately as his movies starts showing on the screen: awesome (and loud) opening music, brilliantly designed credits, clashing colors and great photography are made available right from the beginning, as if to win you over without even a fight, or maybe, before you feel like putting up one when he starts doing the repulsive things he likes to pair up with his quirky, cheesy, and at the same time somewhat genius offers of sound and vision.

All in all, Django Unchained lacks somewhat in taste, as all of Tarantino’s work does, but that lack of taste is lovingly enveloped in some excellent acting, good screenplay, and some subtle reminders of the beauty of America which I have rather enjoyed (note to readers, I was not made in the U.S. of A.), particularly of it’s beauty — there is one scene in which the sandy desert and the mighty Rockies covered in snow appear side by side and that made me wonder, why did American filmmakers forget the amazing landscapes their country offers? — and the fact that it actually does harbor actors. Tarantino has understandably fallen under the spell of Christopher’s Waltz amazing acting talent and language skills (the man has no noticeable accent in any of the languages he speaks, and that is a rare gift), but at least the man has so far always played German characters in his movies, and the Americans are Americans. Now tell me, on a side note, why, oh why, is a British actor playing Abraham Lincoln? In fact, why are all American actors actually NOT Americans? I have been fooled so many times, now. I mean, Dr. House was a great shock for me, but I believe NOTHING compares to how hurt I felt when I discovered Sergeant Brody was a child of England too (an AMERICAN soldier has been turned, you know!?).

I have nothing against actors with U.K. citizenship — in fact, I share everyone’s enthusiasm about them — but I also believe it is kind of strange that American actors have become so irrelevant to a point that Meryl Streep is nominated to the Oscars every year she stars on any movie just because if she doesn’t, all contestants will be from the other side of the pond (or eventually from across the borders) and you know, the Academy just doesn’t dig that. Not to say Meryl is not a great actress, because she is, plus I’d much rather they’d chosen her for Lincoln’s wife instead of digging Sally Fields up from wherever she has been rightfully hiding. The fact remains, however, that there are not many other fellow ladies that share the birthplace of those two women and are having the opportunity to up their games.

Back to Django Unchained, well, it is beautiful and distasteful and somewhat erratic, but I truly believe that a movie such as this needs no commitment to taste: it can be as ruthless as it was, as crazy and violent and filled with dark good humor as it was, because honestly: slavery needs not be treated with seriousness anymore. The subject is beyond that. What it deserves is what it got here: strong mockery against the vile groups that perpetrated that unspeakable cruelty against mankind and that still have their distorted and disgusting beliefs echoing in the society of our days, disguised into something else, or not, but either way disturbingly present.

I have a radically different opinion of Inglorious Basterds, a movie that also mocks of unspeakable cruelty, but in a distasteful distasteful way — I must say I actually wouldn’t be surprised if calling on Waltz to play a German abolitionist in 1850s America was Tarantino’s way of saying he too believes Germans can be nice people. I confess, however, to having had a lot of fun watching that movie; what changed my mind towards my present opinion was an episode when a young German friend of mine looked genuinely sad when I mentioned it; that is when I realized how much those past events still impact and cause a lot of suffering on many good, innocent people, and here, mockery does not apply.

Having said that, I am not, as of this moment, rooting for Django, nor Lincoln. My favorite here is Argo fuck yourself (you need to watch the movie to understand why I, for no apparent reason, have just told you to fuck yourself) but I still haven’t watched Amour (very much admire the work of Michel Haneke), Les Misérables (love a good musical and Victor Hugo is definitely a plus here), Life of Pi (tiger and kid on a life saver boat? could be very good) or Silver Linings (enjoyed the trailer very much) so, basically, my opinion is worthless here. What is worthy, however, is Django Unchained of being watched by an immense crowd and nominated for a lot of awards, because if maybe it’s not good enough to win the prize, it is definitely ballsy enough to get a lot of credit. And well, if blood is not your thing, just close your eyes, and listen to the music.

January 18, 2013

I can´t idolize anyone. Is there anything wrong with me?

I don´t have permanent platonic girl crushes. I don´t endlessly admire anyone. I am not an obsessed fan of nobody. There is no one I´d rather be but me. Am I too self-centered? Should I have an idol? According to the Old Testment, I shouldn´t — some terrible punishments were bestowed upon those who indulged in devotion for anything other than the Lord, although the Catholics later introduced the concept of saints and then a few other Christians really disliked that idea and later the Islamic folks also didn´t get into it, and this is where I stop concerning myself with religion and I go back to the fundamental question, which is: is the worship of another fellow human a natural, expected, even somewhat healthy thing?

Is it obvious that it isn´t? I´m not sure. Again, my pet peeve against social networks is fed by the perception that they have aggravated immensely not only the general obsession for celebrities and public figures in general but, also, that which we used to privately nurture against charming, but relatively unknown people such as the girl from your yoga classes that makes her own patchwork and recycled cork handbags, has a PhD in Irish literature and currently works as a classic ballet teacher for kids with motor disabilities.

A temporary crush, well, it´s O.K. But a platonic admiration that endlessly grows and is fed by legitimate stalking, made possible through the various ways people can offer information to the entire world population with free access to the world wide web as though it was actually necessary to ensure everyone knows what you ate for breakfast — see From Rome With Love by Woody Allen and the story starred by Roberto Benini.

I guess nobody actually believes in filters anymore, and everything is potentially relevant, and the worst part of it is that I actually believe that is true, but I don´t see any potential — much less concretely interesting results — coming from most twitter, Instagram or Facebook individual profiles, or from blogs or whatever else there is that are platforms for the commoners to publish their minds away (although to be quite fair, I do not see a lot of good writing coming from the good old publishing houses and journalistic vehicles that remain, either). Basically, what there is is a lot of self-idolizing, done with the purpose of convincing others you are actually worthy of their worship. As often as not, it works, and my question remains: why??? And why do I not indulge in this numb and blind admiration for others? Why do I retain that realistic sense of contentment with who I am, always reminding myself that there is nothing relevant anyone is that I couldn´t be too if I truly deemed it important? And most of all — why do I bestow such hard criticism on other bloggers and users of social networks, idols or stalkers, when in fact, many might find my blog is bullshit too?

Maybe I am too self-centered, but I post what I believe are thoughts that will be of service, not just stuff that make me look cool. Again, relevance is all I can hope for here.

January 9, 2013

truly undone


Goudurix – the done undone teenage nightmare from Lutèce in Londinium

Even in old Lutèce — the ancient Gallo-Roman city that once was where today lies Paris — the allegedly French “done undone” look was a must among true hipsters, or so are we led to believe when watching the adorable movie Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia, starred again by the excellent Russian actor Gérard Dépardieu.

In my opinion, the current obsession with “done undone” looks suggests control issues have become epidemic and psychologists are probably earning huge amounts of money originating from the wallets of highly disturbed fashionistas. Why, oh, why, would one carefully pretend not to care about how they look?

Care, or care not; done undone is madness, friends. Why the need to look like you did not put a lot of effort in your self-image? I know you are not perfect, my friend. I know you do not sleep on heels and that your manicure chips. So why should you hide from me that you also did something to your hair… by striving to make it look like you did nothing?

On the other hand, truly undone is something rather relaxing and honest, meaning — I truly do not have waxed legs underneath my leather and velour leopard print pants; I truly did not wash my hair today and also decided not to comb it; the results of either grooming strategies needing not be offensive and certainly being the kernel of French coolness. One gives oneself a break and instead of compulsively manicuring, just puts the nail file to a quick work; instead of blow-drying the manes to perfection, twists the hair into a simple high bun; instead of a leg shaving update, maxi-skirt.

At this point, honesty again must prevail, and there is no truer fact than this: if you feel good, smell nicely (this is of utmost importance) and look clean, well, you are clean as far as society is concerned. And isn´t this far more interesting that striving for squeaky cleanliness and looking messy? You tell me.

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