13 June 2016

Smilin' Through Because of Norma and Fredric

Smilin' Through (1932) is a great little gem of a movie, but that might be because the relationship between Fredric March and Norma Shearer outshines everything else; their chemistry is so very warm and at ease. I always loved them together in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) and this one only amplifies how well they respond to one another. Not only do they both excel as actors on their own but together - as a screen couple - they just click! Like William and Myrna! Or Spence and Kate!
In my opinion, it’s rare to find a movie from the 1930s that has such believable romantic interaction as this one has. All those cute little gestures (as illuminated by the above GIFs). In general, both actors balanced the comic and dramatic timing with equal ease and managed to stay away from many of the - in my opinion - exaggerated acting theatrics that were typical for the 1930s' Hollywood.  
Besides, given that it’s a Pre-Code, they don’t have to skirt around certain 'racy' subjects nor make a big deal out of them either in the film. At one point Norma's character makes it more than clear that she wants him in every way (and unapologetically so), that is, physically not just spiritually through the union of marriage (the latter will become awefully idealized after the Pre-Code era) and Fred's character reacts appropriately (see seventh GIF in bottom-left corner) by looking skywards in frustration from being torn between his sense of moral honour and equal desire for her. (Take's too long to explain the context so go watch it instead.)
It’s a freedom that makes them seem more human, believable and relatable, and somehow relaxes them as well as the (modern) viewer.
Their relationship in the movie seems almost genuine - Fredric and Norma look like they truly enjoy each other’s company - so it’s hard to believe Norma didn’t like making this movie (something about her role). But honestly, how can she complain when she gets to smooch Freddie all the time..?!
I particularly enjoyed Fredric’s rather modern acting in this one. Actually, I always do because he never seizes to surprise me in the sublest of ways. Is there anything that man can’t do?? I always found him to have the dry-witted, boyish charm and at the same time masculine groundedness reminiscent of that of Spencer Tracy. March and Tracy were rather similar in many ways in fact; they were the always reliable, sympathetic and yet extremely versatile and multifacetted actor type. I think it's no coincidence that they were friends in real-life, both famously played the title character in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931 and 1941, respectively, which were much debated and compared) and played together in Inherit the Wind (1960). They could blend in and stand out at the same time. They had that down-to-earth and instinctive ease in their scenes and smooth, beguiling interaction with their co-players as well as the slightly rugged and characteristic handsomeness of the every-day man. Both so subtle, so good at acting that it didn't seem they were acting at all.
Too bad Fredric is so underrated nowadays. I easily regard him as one of the finest actors who has ever lived! And I think Norma would have continued to dominate the Oscars had she not cut her promising career off so early.
Oh well.
The film comes highly recommended (by me) simply because of the treat of watching the sweet interaction between Norma and Fredric. (And you get a couple of gracious scenes with Leslie Howard as well).

26 December 2015

Dramione: The Problematic Ship?

It's the guilty pleasure we all somewhat recognize to have had in our lives: Despite everything, we can't help feeling the whole 'opposites attract'-vibe at times. Even more so, perhaps when we tend to ship two, polar characters not paired - romantically or otherwise - within the canonization(s); i.e. the original material. To make matters 'worse' and thus all the more better tension-wise: These two are practically enemies and at each other's throats most of the time! Of course, we've seen this relationship trope played out before, in real-life as well as in fiction; from old mythology to Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's on-off romance (who both, ironically, played the respective roles of Petruchio and Katherina in the 1967 film version).

Well, what I'm all about this time is the interesting, but nonetheless problematic - or shall we say complex - non-canon shipping of Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter universe.

And a highly controversial one at that. After all, we're talking about two main characters, 'the good girl' and 'the bad boy', from one of the biggest, most beloved and influential canons in modern history! Many grew up with these books and feel a close - almost protective - kinship to them; such as battling with bullies, school, hormones, etc. in well-known as well as fantastical settings. Of course, because the books and films hit a curve made for extravagent and passionate fandoms - hardly seen before - around the world, and with such dedicated numbers, there will always be a hoard of protesting voices, whatever one proclaims about the canon. An universal human condition, I guess, but perhaps now more than ever thanks to the Internet and the growth of various fandoms. However, in stead of quickly dismissing and villifying the feelings certain people have regarding controversial fandoms and 'ships', such as the case of Dramione, one should rather discuss these matters critically. Maddy Myers (via The Mary Sue) makes some very good and critical points on the whole 'woobification' of villainous characters as well as the condemning of such fandoms.

This post is not so much a specific defense nor a disapproval of the Dramione ship, but should rather be understood as a critical defense of the importance of discussing and examing such controversial matters as certain fandoms.

This particular ship is also highly controversial because of the biggest elephant in the room: The racism and prejudice against Hermione's blood status as a Muggle-born witch. Pure-blood Draco is, to put it mildly, a cruel, cowardly, little brat. Raised into believing in Blood Purity, he is verbally abusive towards Hermione basically all the time we witness them interact. There's nothing likable about him in the canon. One only finds pity for him. One could venture to say, it's problematic to say the least to form a relationship between a racist and his victim; no matter the level of love. It will always be formed on something wrong and likely self-destructive. To love and change is one thing, but to unlearn racism on both sides is another. Not to mention, Draco almost killed Katie Bell and Ron Weasley, as well as Albus Dumbledore.
However, there are as many arguments for this ship as there are arguments against it.

It's also an entire question of allowing 'the bad boy', in this case Draco, to be allowed the chance of love from 'the good side', in this case, 'the good girl'... in this case Hermione. Sure, it's a redemption story in its trope, at its core, in its morale arc, etc., but also a chance of giving the POV to Draco. 'Bad boys/girls' are always interesting in some aspect or another, simply because they are not good. Well, not always. Not entirely. They're shady; anti-heroes.

And concerning the argument why Hermione should even be paired with someone like Draco..? Well, after Rowling recently stated - to much controversy - that she regretted having Hermione end up with Ron rather than Harry, one cannot help following those trails of thought and suggest other options than those two (rather awkward ones) ... or none at all, for that matter. Because is it really that important who she ends up with? In the end, Hermione gets one helluva brilliant career in the Ministry of Magic (she'd also make a terrific Minster of Magic!) and makes the world a better place and that's really all that matters, isn't it?


I must confess, I'm partly biased - or rather ambivalent - about this matter.
First of all, I find Draco a very interesting character to explore since much about him was left unresolved and in the open at the end, I feel. Not so much redemption-wise or in regards of an anti-hero (or in Draco's case anti-villain) potential, but just because he was given far too little space to really unfold, in my opinion, and it would be pretty interesting to see how he would fare if he had run into Hermione, 'his polar opposite', of all people, more often and in more complex situations. Thus potential for a ship and expansive fan universe.
Secondly, I have a soft spot for the Tom Felton-Draco.. or simply Tom Felton (who hasn't?) - which I blame too many behind the scenes marathons - where Tom's just all smiles and seems like an absolute sweetheart (which JK herself has confirmed as well as Jason Isaacs and everybody else, I think). Not to mention, he was basically born for that role. Creds to a kid that can exude that much spite just by sheer force of pronounciation! And definitely should have won the Most Smug-Faced of the Year Award. Although Draco's depiction in the first parts of the series could hardly be called three-dimensional, he's given a bit more depth in the sixth part and onwards - and Felton played it magnificently. Seriously, he should have won a BAFTA for the bathroom scene alone! I think it's the first time you feel something else than mere hate towards him.

And that leads us to the problem of separating the actor from the character - which is difficult, to say the least, in every fandom, but with the Harry Potter series in particular. Even if you read the books first, you still see the actors' goddamn faces every time you think of one of the characters..! Though that certainly doesn't have to be a bad thing, it does make matters more complex in regards of romantizising a fictional character one really shouldn't romantizise. Then again, it's possible to be drawn to fictional 'baddies' who have not yet been visualized in a pretty face. Hmm.

What clouds our judgement when it comes to liking 'bad boys'? It is something that we shouldn't do, so, on the one hand, it is perhaps our moral sense; something sinful and forbidden we are either/ simultaneously repelled from and/or pulled towards. On the other hand, it can be mere attraction of looks and charm. Or the simple altruistic need to 'fix something broken'; redeem a 'bad character' whom we believe has a heart of gold beneath the cold exterior (the naive version) or whom we simply believe in (the human, basic version). You could ask yourself if you tend to fall for the 'bad guys' in general; in real-life as well as in fiction? If there's a theme, this is probably a problematic ship. You're hardly the only one, though. I tend towards it as well (again with the ambivalence). It's an acknowledged, occurring theme regarding any anti-heroic matter called the White Knight syndrome or Florence Nightingale syndrome/effect.

And in Draco's case: Maybe it just was what Rowling intended it to be: An example of one of those 'bad boys' who was bad for a reason; a coward and nothing more, who learned his lesson the good old-fashioned way:
Rowling explains that although "girls are very apt to romanticise" the "dark glamour of the anti-hero", she writes that she has had to tell fans, "rather severely, that Draco was not concealing a heart of gold under all that sneering and prejudice and that no, he and Harry were not destined to end up best friends."*
It amuses me. It honestly amuses me. People have been waxing lyrical [in letters] about Draco Malfoy, and I think that's the only time when it stopped amusing me and started almost worrying me. I'm trying to clearly distinguish between Tom Felton, who is a good looking young boy, and Draco, who, whatever he looks like, is not a nice man. It’s a romantic, but unhealthy, and unfortunately all too common delusion of — delusion, there you go — of girls, and you [nods to Melissa] will know this, that they are going to change someone. And that persists through many women's lives, till their death bed, and it is uncomfortable and unhealthy and it actually worried me a little bit, to see young girls swearing undying devotion to this really imperfect character, because there must be an element in there, that "I'd be the one who [changes him]." I mean, I understand the psychology of it, but it is pretty unhealthy. So, a couple of times I have written back, possibly quite sharply, saying [Laughter], "You want to rethink your priorities here."*
However, I've experienced Hermione-like situations myself (though not racist) and seen how boys growing up with a harsh upbringing and being cruel, little bastards in the end come out on the other side because someone close guided them in the right direction. If real-life throws you such examples, why not Draco? It may not have been too late to change in his case. Doesn't everyone deserve a second chance, one could ask?

And if he was a coward through and through, why didn't he tell on Harry, Hermione and Ron when they were caught in the Malfoy Mansion? Someone like Peter Pettigrew certainly would - and that would be a Gryffindor doing it to his closest of friends even! Draco despised the Golden Trio and didn't even owe his life to them at that point. He was maybe just scared, sure, but wouldn't the coward's way just be to give into the higher power and let it be over with so that he could save himself? Yet, Draco didn't do what would have been easiest. It's an interesting aspect of Draco's character, at least.
Tom Felton himself gave an interesting view on his character:
I’m really sorry for him. All of what he believed in is gone. It’s just like somebody pulled the rug away under his feet, he totally lost his balance. But at least you’re able to see what he had to go through in his childhood and so one is inevitably touched. Draco was bullied and one understands better why he let out so much of his frustration in Hogwarts. Even if he tries to get away from the bad influence of his parents, he can’t escape the surroundings in which he grew up. 
I'm not so stupid to think that these boys have totally changed, or that there aren't boys who don't come out on the other side; who have no one to guide them. Of course, there are. It's never that easy or black-and-white. Maybe it's just my naive mind, but I can't help believing in - perhaps not a golden heart but a golden chance in Draco's case. With or without Hermione.

The question also remains: Isn't Draco also just a kid? A frightened, little kid? Is he really to blame for his harsh upbringing and inherited prejudices when he has known little else? When the only attitude he has learned to meet people with is one of arrogance and disgust, inevitably pushing everything good away? Isn't he really only trying to imitate his father and make him proud as well as fearing him and Voldemort? The fine line between cowardice and fear is drawn where one choose to act, but in the end, doesn't Draco just act in order to save himself and his family, one could ask? Don't his parents as well? In a cowardly, yes, but also very human way. With nothing but fear and hate, one has little left to support oneself to; little left to make the choices for you, let alone a will to do it yourself. And when you're afraid all the time, you deal with everything by cowering and/or putting up a hard attitude to guard yourself. Love is blinding but so is fear, and when those two come together - especially in times of war - you'll never know what you're going to get.

Dramione inhabit the somewhat 'romantic' notion that boys mostly pick on girls because they like them and do not know how to go about it otherwise ('you always hurt the one you love'-idiom), though it's far from healthy to use bullying as a way to show emotion. However, Draco was hardly in a position to be allowed or able to openly admire Hermione (if that was the case); then the easiest way is to tease, at least to show something else than mere indifference. The love/hate scale is once again blurred and impossible for us to make out exactly in this case. Only our own personal feelings and convictions can make that call; thus making hardly objective conclusions. A psychologist would probably say differently.

And the big questions (with no definite answers): Aren't we to always see the good in other people and give them a second chance? Especially the young ones, since they still have the chance to change? And when is it too late to change?
Everything depends on context, I guess. Again, you cannot conclude generalized answers that account for all and sundry to such big questions. Whether you read Draco as a unchangable, unredeemable little shit and invested a lot of emotions (often your own projections) in Hermione and see no possible outcome between them, then that may resonate with many others' opinions - but mind, not everyone sees it exactly the same way. Some are all aboard the Draco or Dramione train, while others are more ambivalent or just curious. All feelings are valid, just remember to discuss and view all of them with constructive criticism. And since they are fictive characters, why not seek to explore their character arcs a bit more? It seems like the perfect opportunity! Yeah, you could just gush out terrible and unrealistic romance stories about them, but you could also take the hard road and make it entirely difficult for them.. but not unrealistic.

And, in regards of Dramione, maybe we're also undermining both Hermione and Draco a bit? They are smart kids/teens thrown into war on opposite sides. Either way, it's interesting to see them both deal with this matter and surpass it.
One argument is that despite their polar positions and personalities, Draco is highly intelligent and able to match Hermione more than the more prosaic Ron Weasley. And while I agree that Draco and Hermione would be compatible intellectually, I'm not so sure that also would be the case regarding their values. Of course, if Draco did change, he would inevitably have to take his set of values up to revision and compromise according to Hermione, more so than her. The generic theme in this ship often being that of Draco being the broken one and Hermione the unbroken one who leads him to the path of Light, with no small amount of electric bickering and (eventually) fierce protectiveness inbetween, often added a dash of Ron bashing (probably in order to make someone like Draco seem a better choice for Hermione).
Also, if one - as a 'shipper' - has a weakness for the snarky/sarcastic wit and cocky attitude in a guy, Draco is an obvious candidate (again more so than the more slow-witted Ron), despite his arrogance and malice clearly dominate this particular trait.

The Mudblood and Death Eater markings on their respective arms have made people draw further parallels between the characters as well. They both share different aspects of pain and shame coined to these 'opposite' markings that have been forced upon them against their will (more or less in Draco's case, given his situation). Besides Harry, none of their peers have had these disturbing markings so painfully forced upon them or carried them around, etched forever into their skin. And to each the other's symbol is equally disturbing as representative symbols of their 'given' enemy; their polar oppositions in about everything in life, despite the irony that if you stripped them of blood status, racism and all the rest of it, they'd probably be more than compatible. It's certainly an interesting yin-yang dichotomy, visually, symbolically and emotionally, to explore in a more expansive universe.

Another argument is that the Death Eater/Muggle relationship actually happened before, in the canon, between Severus Snape and Lily Evans. Initially friends, it's unclear, however, where Lily exactly stood regarding Severus, romantically or otherwise, and though he definitely ruined any chance by calling her 'Mudblood' in that fatal incident, they might actually have had a chance. And he was even in a somewhat reverse situation than Draco!

The best argument for this ship, however, would be the fact that Dramione may help make amends between the two Hogwarts Houses, Gryffindor and Slytherin, and their notoriously bad relations. For future generations as well. Not immediately, of course, but in time and perhaps more effectively than one could presume Hogwarts fared right after the war in the canon. If one look beyond how Hermione, The Muggle-born Gryffindor Princess, may redeem Draco, The Pure-blood Slytherin Prince, for his wrong doings, they could both be examples for each House of how to overcome stigmatization, petty hatred and superficial differences between the Houses (mostly inherited through previous generations) as well as overcome racism and the ideals of Plood Purity and elitism. 

That is, of course, a lot of responsibility to put on one couple; a couple who may or may not stay together for the rest of their lives, but at least it will show how they are willing to try, though it may not be easy. But that's exactly it: Why should it be easy? Life isn't easy, and just because fiction can be there to satisfy and entertain it shouldn't always be easy either. Can't it reflect real-life and bring to light some of the things we wouldn't otherwise want to see or examine? If anything, a little confrontation will do you good, I always say. I've read a couple of good fanfics out there which realistically and patiently try to deal with such a complex, hypothetical relationship between the two of them during and/or after the Hogwarts years. It's not such an outrageous thought, if you're willing to push your feelings aside somewhat and give it a chance for exploration.
I'll rest my case with a great (if slightly melodramatic) Dramione-GIF set:


Do you disagree and find my arguments invalid or are you ambivalent as well regarding 'ships' like this? Please leave a comment if so :)

23 November 2015

Classic Stars Dealing with Spaghetti

We all know the craving of pasta, right? Where it comes to the state where we don't really give a rat's ass of how it is served or how messy it may look when we eat..? Well, when it comes to the art of making and eating the iconic Italian dish, trust me, the classic stars felt the instant craving, too, and didn't give a damn otherwise! Here's the proof! Bon appetit! :D


Jack Lemmon, The Apartment, 1960

Marcello Mastroianni

Sophia Loren
Sean Connery, Rome, 1963.

Still Sean trying..

Audrey Hepburn


Audrey Hepburn

Ingrid Bergman

Buster Keaton, The Cook, 1918

Alberto Sordi, Un Americano a Roma, 1954

Kirk Douglas and Sophia Loren, 1954

Jerry Lewis

Dean Martin

Frank Sinatra

Alfred Hitchcock

Jane Fonda

Louis Armstrong

Lous trying again

Lucille Ball, I Love Lucy (4x16), 1955.

Montgomery Clift and Marilyn Monroe

Jayne Mansfield

Charlie Chaplin, City Lights, 1931
Charlie in The Goldrush, 1925.
Well, almost...

BONUS:







22 November 2015

Realistic and Alternative Messages that Fairy Tales Really Tell You

When I get bored this is the result... Call me a pessimist.

Cinderella: Just because the shoe fits doesn't mean the man does.
Snow White: Don't accept food from strangers. Especially creepy-looking ones. Not even free food.
Rapunzel: Don't pull your hair out if someone orders you about and no one comes to your rescue. Pull yourself together and rescue yourself.
Rumpelstiltskin: Don't go around promising your firstborn child away. NEVER a good idea.
The Frog Prince: Don't go around kissing random animals. You'll most likely get a disease rather than a prince.
Sleeping Beauty: Don't touch pointy things.
Beauty and the Beast: Don't expect to always be able to change the beast in the man.
The Little Mermaid: Don't expect to get what you wish for in the end.
The Swan Princess: Fine feathers don't always make fine birds.
The Snow Queen: Don't freeze people out or yourself in.
Puss in Boots: These boots are made for walking. Own it.
The Ugly Duckling: Don't let others' opinions dominate your life.
Hansel and Gretel: Don't expect eating a house made out of sugar won't give you an awful stomach ache (and one crappy house owner).
One Thousand and One Nights: Don't expect to get away with anything just because you have the gift of the gab.
The Princess and the Pea: Sensitivity is good ... in small doses.
Little Red Riding Hood: Don't talk to strangers in the middle of the  woods. Especially not those with an animal magnetism.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Don't break and enter, poke around people's stuff, sleep in their beds or eat their food. Just don't.
The Nightingale: When you cage in the free, expect a change of tune.
The Emperor's New Clothes: You'll hear the truth from children and drunks.
Thumbelina: Small people can kick butt and get the prince, too (duh).
The Swineherd: Don't be mean girls.
Pinocchio: If you read this, you're likely not made out of wood, so your nose probably won't grow when you lie. If it does, seek a doctor.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Don't expect people to give a s*** when you need help after having pulled their legs for the umpteenth time. Not even if shit just got real.
Humpty Dumpty: Don't be too self-assertive. On the other hand, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
Jack and the Beanstalk: Don't steal from (giant) people and think you can get away with it every time.

Photography: Dina Goldstein

15 November 2015

When the Bond Villain Just Doesn't Scare Us Anymore

Christoph Waltz as the Bond villain, Blofeld, in Spectre, 2015

Something struck me the other day: The true villain in our lives is no longer the archetypical, post-war Bond villain (no bad words towards Christoph Waltz or Sam Mendes and his crew, presently). What strikes the fear in all of our hearts, what pose an actual threat in today's society is not the eloquent, cold-hearted psychopath and power-hungry megalomaniac with the usual threats of world domination, gadget-filled, secret caves or creative satelite devices that can wipe out entire cities from space. This guy seems somehow too stereotypical, archaic and parodic at best (sorry, but even 2012's ingenius Javier Bardem seemed too cartoonish) when we compare him to the villains of reality. Friday night's multiple, global events that once again left us all in shock prove this. 
Of course, James Bond villains perhaps never were a representation of what scares us in real life (they always were comic-book-like), but at least the '60s and all the way up to the '80s gave us a good picture of Cold War panic mixed with atomic bomb threats, Russia vs. USA quarrels and a whole lot of authority issues with the big, powerful guys for every penny. Even during the '90s we got all the new technology and mass media panic! When we entered the '00s and a new shift in the Bond casting, Casino Royale (2006) was like a nice vintage wine rebottled, Quantum of Solace (2008) is not worth the talk (partly, because it's utterly forgettable), and Skyfall (2012) was in every way epic and a hard one to follow - which Spectre (2015) proved.

No, villains on screen nowadays are more evidence of great, maniacal, engrossing performances by the actors themselves where the characters they play, however believable, original and authentic in their eerie evilness, nonetheless and inevitable so tend towards the exaggerated and fantastical alter-egos of our heroes, such as Heath Ledger's The Joker (The Dark Knight, 2008), Christoph Waltz's Hans Landa (Inglourious Basterds, 2009) and Andrew Scott's Jim Moriarty (Sherlock, 2010-present). 





Don't get me wrong, I love these guys to bits, but when it comes to realistic villainy they don't seem to measure up to the atrocious, real-life villains, no matter how 'innovative, surprising and madcap' their ideas and actions are. Maybe they are not supposed to. Maybe we need the villains on screen to be entertaining, theatrical and fantastical - and be given all the best one-liners - because then we can separate them from all the true evils of reality who are too real, come too close and are less noticable in appearance and entrance, and where we have no Batman, no Lt. Aldo Raine and no Sherlock Holmes to beat them, respectively. 

Real-life 'villains', as proven within the last 10 years, move around undetected, strike hard and fast; multiple times at once at random places, are young, brain-washed, faceless and more than willing to die for a cause. They have no special anarchistic motivations, no individual archenemy to seek out or a single group of people they want to destroy. They have a single cause, a single, highly specific goal (that excludes basically the entire world as it is) and an effective, military operative strategy. If the villains behaved like this on screen, our dear heroes - even the best of them - would certainly have work to up over their superpower heads and I'm not even sure they would be all that successful in saving the world in the end. Fiction can only do so much.

For all the superhero assembles, heroic or antiheroic, we neck after and are mass producing for cinemas these years, we are as stigmatized as ever off screen. Nothing and no one escapes being targeted (as we saw in Paris), and the villains become the civilians as even the most unlikely travel to Syria to join ISIS. Right now, American universities(!) battle with male rape offenders who get off scot-free, racial attacks that look scaringly like a KKK-revival, while the staff genuinely fear the crusading students' call for trigger warnings in their studies and their emotional, motivated reasoning that threatens to become bordeline self-censorship. Don't even get me started on Ferguson or how alive and well institutionalized racism fares in the States..! Meanwhile horrific, inhuman 'people' like Donald Trump run for presidency (how is that even possible??) on the promise of building an actual wall around USA to keep immigrants out, despite being a nation made of immigrants... WHAT EVEN..!!?

So disappointing for everything we have all fought to better and overcome since WWII, the Cold War, segregation etc..

Meanwhile, Europe struggles with the far-reaching consequences of the economic crisis, rightwing extremist movements forming everywhere even among civilized and intellectuals, political and ideological self-isolation and anti-unity across borders (basically dissolving the entire idea behind the European Union) as the stream of desperate, Syrian immigrants try to seek refuge elsewhere than their destroyed home. Oh yeah, and then Putin is having total 'paranoid conqueror'-attacks on the other side that equals those of Stalin or any great, mad Bond villain, really. Ah, remember the time, right before the crisis hit us, when 'all' we (Westerners) had to worry about were Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, whether or not there were mass detruction weapons in Iraq and getting our troops out of there, while trying to deal with the weirdo dictators such a Saddam Hussein, Gaddafi and Kim Jong-il (all made for great Bond villains, actually). Back then we sorta knew who were the bad guys and who were the antiheroes (I know, very black-and-white sarcasm, but you get the picture, right?).

Now, however, everyone seem potential for any cause as long as one find the right motivated reasoning for themselves or others. That is scary, because it could be anything! Even the smallest of things that we take for granted can become a new cause for relentless crusading, which in itself isn't a bad thing - hell, how long haven't we been told that our generation (born in the late '80s-late '90s) never had anything to believe in or fight for like previous generations..!

But such reasoned crusading can come out of proportions, too; become distorted reasoning, so to speak. Now, even the most civilized, intellectual youngsters come into play in these measurements and make it all the more harder to separate the sheep from the goats for authorities. Modern warfare has reached a whole different level that even the most interesting superhero movies have trouble catching up with. Once, young, idealistic people went into a fight or cause because one was blinded by the romantics of war; of standing up for a new way of life, their rights and against injustice, like we saw during the American Civil War, World War I, the Spanish Civil War etc.. However many came home highly scarred and disillusioned. Now, it seems young, Western people go into a cause willing to do whatever it takes for this cause and their belief (or motivated reasoning to the extreme?), and come home more brain-washed and hardened in their reasoning than disillusioned.

One could claim this is because the solution of a democratic model which many fought for as the best option during previous wars has become highly pragmatic and left many unsatisfied with its unfulfilled promises (though this is a given in any social model, we just never expected it to be the democratic one, I guess). Society's reasoning for democracy inevitably has caused an opposite reasoning against it. The romantic notions once held - where one said that young people went into war with their hearts first rather than their heads - have now become blurred into a mess of heart and head - with everything infested - and less easy to condemn being the one thing or the other, to give reason why they act as they do, or even stand above it all. There seems nothing left to talk reason into. Because reason is double-edged. It is the reason and heart once so strongly and prideful held by democracy (and in its essence still is, yet unfortunately drowned in the necessary evils of pragmatism and capitalism) against a new version of reason and heart that extremists believe is more true, real and strong-felt. In the end, 'they' can always retaliate to anything 'we' say by saying they aren't less reasoned than those living in democracies, which however is hypocritical at best because that just shows none of us has a very successful solution to a very common, human, universal cry for a better world. Yet, the polarization everyone now seems to tend towards in order to guard ourselves - or fearfully think that is somehow the solution to the problems - is only making everything worse. And I fear it is going to get worse - before it hopefully gets better.. in some distant future.

Naturally, young people are always more untried and inexperienced in life and the consequences of one's actions than previous generations which makes us all the more vulnerable to new ways of thinking to throw ourselves into (with/without heart and/or mind) - which can be equally constructive as well as deconstructive. We've built our history and learning on this way of nature and come a long way since the beginning. There's probably no way to change this fact, however, we still have a lot to learn and really need to learn from history since it seems to be more or less repeating itself. I continued to be shocked by how short people's historic memory is sometimes, in a time where we are more educated that ever..! Clearly, we are still lacking in certain important aspects and we need to become more self-aware in that regard; that nobody is perfect and self-isolation is the last solution to any problem, no matter how much it benefits the country's own people. Society - the world - democracy - is far from perfect and perhaps it never will be, because the day we will become perfect (though I doubt it will happen) there would no more need for us to develop or evolve. Crisis is, oddly enough, good, because from crisis rather stagnation we learn and evolve, but we should treat it with care and respect and not blind ourselves to it. Too often people shoot first (figuratively and literally) and ask later. More global, diverse education, freedom of speech, tolerance and collaboration across borders are so goddamn essential for all of us in order to overcome this!
I know, I'm such an effin' idealist it hurts, but I can be as cynical-realistic as I can be idealistic and naive. It's not really the point. I just cannot give up hope or abandon humanity. I don't believe any of us can, in the end.

When I think of this last bit, I'm always reminded of the pivotal scene in Cabaret (Bob Fosse, 1972) which partakes in 1930s' Berlin where a young boy starts singing beautifully and enthusiastically at a cozy, sunny little place filled with people until its atmosphere quickly changes when we realize it's the rising of Nazism as the camera pans down the boy's swastika-marked arm and more and more people stand up to join him, almost aggressively so. All except some from the older generation who clearly experienced this before and the consequences of it, having lived through World War I. It is a frighteningly illuminating scene of how the atrocities committed by the Nazis came to be. A scene hard to forget; a scene one shouldn't forget.



A/N: Way-hay, digressions for all your money here, folks! Anyways, I think you know me well enough to know this is just the way I roll ;) Be free to disagree and comment. Either way, I hope I've given some food for thought (that's what I live for, after all).


27 October 2015

Yes, bloody right, women have anger!

A conversation I sadly feel I've too often heard hiding inbetween the lines of every feminist debate where men were involved:

Women: *speaking passionately about the importance of feminism*
Men: Whoa there, take it easy! Geez, why are all feminists so angry?? 
Women: Surprise, women have anger.
Men: Is it really necessary all the time?
Women: Oh, so it's different when men are angry? THEN it's justifiable?! Haven't men used their anger time and time again in order to be heard? And look at what you have achieved with that anger: Centuries of war and dictatorships, pain and suffering around the world because YOU felt belittled, stepped on, overlooked? But oh no, such anger is completely legit..!
Men: ... that isn't the same ...
Women: No? Imagine the world if it had been ruled by women: Do you think it would have looked even half as horrifying as it do now? Do you think women would have had the same incessant need to mark their territories, use violence to erradicate enemies and conquer other worlds, enslave entire races and sexes and sell them off as candy?!
Men: uhm... well, Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great weren't exactly bloodless in matters of ruling and warfare...
Women: And who do you think they learned that from? They fought like men always had; violently, because women in power needed - and still need - to prove themselves to the men through the only way men have known as the dominant way of ruling. 'The male way' has always been the default way of showing power. However, let's say, had God or the Gods or whoever favored the female sex to begin with, women could have proven - just as strongly and likely much more cool-headed and wisely - how to shape the world without having to be compared to men (just like men never had to compare themselves to women. Well, except from this day and age where we see it more and more).
Men: Right.
Women: ... And you wonder why it makes us angry when men are STILL surprised to find that women have anger too?! We're not saying men are the enemies, only 'the male way' has always been the ONLY way, and those who haven't been able fit this very limited category have always been more or less left out in even the most basic of human rights and equality. That is wrong and men, in general, need to realize this. We've come a long, slow way and still have a long way to go, sadly.


http://hepburnandhepburn.tumblr.com/post/121015766639/sorry-no-more-no-less-charlize-theron-at-the

09 October 2015

Nope, I definitely haven't got a type ...








... *clears throat* no, not at all ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)


(the whole 'bad boy redemption'-thing that I have is getting a bit out hand, I think)
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