Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Who Are All These Strange Ghosts Rooted To the Silly Little Adventure of Earth With Me?

Free Willy was a lie. Or rather, Free Willy was a partial and misleading truth. We shouldn’t let the whale back into the wild because it’s our friend and a sensitive, gentle creature. We should let the damn whale back into the wild (whether it was born in captivity and has the resources to survive or not) because if we don’t, they’re going to attack us by our ponytails, drag us to the bottom of their tank, and hold us there until we drown. Whales are not friends; they’re hostile prisoners of war.

Yes, I am talking about the Shamu franchise at Sea World. I get periodically worked up about this, it’s like how I sporadically and with no exterior stimulus go into rages about how Louisa May Alcott fails as a writer by selling us the Laurie-Jo relationship only to renege and trying to convince us that the Laurie-Amy marriage isn’t one of the more creepertastic developments in all literary history. But I digress. Back to how we’ve had the wool pulled over our eyes concerning the proper course of whale-human relations.

From a criminal justice perspective, the consequence for throwing the human being who feeds you back and forth until she loses consciousness and drowns should not be a spectacular light-and-water show and the adoration of thousands of children. That is, unless you put forward that forcing the whale to perform inane tricks in a tiny habitat is a fitting punishment, but then it would inevitably be pointed out to the judge that the risks to innocent civilians is only increased by this cruel and unusual imprisonment. So, we either gotta let Shamu out of his plea bargain or set him to cracking rocks, because this is just ridiculous.

I blame the marketing blitz that the whales, with the help of their well-paid cohorts, have implemented—I’m looking at you, MJ. Did your conscience burn with a pain akin to your erratic, struggling heart as the end neared? Did you contemplate how you had lent your compelling vocals to this campaign of misinformation? (Aww, too soon? Don’t look at me like that.)

We need to return to a Melville-heavy perspective, make Ahab a tragic hero who is doing his part for mankind to eliminate massive water-born killers. This blatant propaganda full of calm violins  accompanying those majestic underwater film shots that the human-hating National Geographic fascists keep shoving down our throats is confusing our children, distorting the justice system and our God-given sense of preservation. I’d enlist the Disney juggernaut in this media counteroffensive, but they showed their true colors with the Fantasia 2000 segment where they cannibalized Respighi’s Pines of Rome. Flying whales? What new devilry is this?!

It should be stated here that penguins and dolphins are still adorable and still deserve our friendship. Also Professor Bhaer is a perfectly nice man, yet is found infinitely wanting.

Ok, children, here is the maiden voyage of our hopefully semi-annual Magnificent Woman tribute. Today’s recipient is a Surrealist photographer and writer; she would have won me over solely for being an influence for my favorite photographer that ever breathed (Cindy Sherman), but she tips the scales into uncharted awesomeness by doing two of my favorite things: creating a space for women in the misogynist Surrealist movement, and fighting Nazis:

Claude Cahun, as she was known, intentionally selected a sexually ambiguous name to replace her birth name of Lucy Schwob. Cahun's life was marked by a sense of role reversal; her works pointedly challenged the public's notions of sexuality, gender, beauty, and logic. Surrealism is rooted in Freudian psychology, a branch of thought that displays women as incomplete versions of men, driven largely by their jealousy of what men are and an unconquerable sense of incompetence based on their essential womanhood. Cahun’s presence provided a counter to this predominantly male Surrealist art, with their primary images of women as isolated symbols of eroticism, and strove to epitomize the chameleonic and multiple possibilities of the female identity. In tandem to her photography, Claude worked on a series of monologues called "Heroines," which was based upon female fairy tale characters that intertwined traditional stories with witty comparisons to the contemporary image of women.

In 1937 Claude and her partner Marcel settled in Jersey. Following the outbreak of World War II and the German invasion, they became active resistance fighters and propagandists. The two produced anti-German fliers, many of them snippets from English-to-German translations of BBC reports on the Nazi's crimes, which were pasted together to create rhythmic poems and harsh criticism. The couple then dressed up and attended many German military events in Jersey, strategically placing them in soldier's pockets, on their chairs, etc. Also, fliers were inconspicuously crumpled up and thrown into cars and windows. In 1944 they were arrested and sentenced to death, but luckily the war was ended before the sentences were ever carried out. However, Cahun's health never recovered from her treatment in jail, and she died in 1954.
She was totally nuts. Look at those crazy eyes staring at you out from the mirror. I absolutely love it.

To complement this tribute, and to satisfy the requests of some of those who attended my symposium lecture a couple of weeks ago, I’m including excerpts from the Riot Grrrl Manifesto that was published by the Bikini Kills:

BECAUSE we must take over the means of production in order to create our own moanings.

BECAUSE we don't wanna assimilate to someone else's (boy) standards of what is or isn't.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to falter under claims that we are reactionary "reverse sexists" AND NOT THE TRUEPUNKROCKSOULCRUSADERS THAT WE KNOW we really are.

BECAUSE we know that life is much more than physical survival and are patently aware that the punk rock "you can do anything" idea is crucial to the coming angry grrrl rock revolution which seeks to save the psychic and cultural lives of girls and women everywhere, according to their own terms, not ours.

BECAUSE we are interested in creating non-heirarchical ways of being AND making music, friends, and scenes based on communication + understanding, instead of competition + good/bad categorizations.

BECAUSE we are angry at a society that tells us Girl = Dumb, Girl = Bad, Girl = Weak.

BECAUSE we are unwilling to let our real and valid anger be diffused and/or turned against us via the internalization of sexism as witnessed in girl/girl jealousism and self defeating girltype behaviors.

BECAUSE I believe with my wholeheartmindbody that girls constitute a revolutionary soul force that can, and will change the world for real.

Don’t some of those sentences make you want to smack your lips with pleasure and satisfaction?

I hope I never end up being a Cameron Diaz. Pretty much all she can contribute to the film industry is the occasional movie where she Doesn’t Suck. I would hate to have my high points be defined as just Not Sucking.

And speaking of films and the relative level of suckage, let’s get something clear once and for all: I don’t care what film and television reviews say. And I certainly don’t consider viewership to be relevant to whether I’m going to be entertained. But most importantly, I’m never going to consult a review before seeing a film that has already sparked my interest, and when people forcibly parrot to me what they’ve heard of a movie—either before I’ve seen it or as a counter to my impressions when they still haven’t seen it—I become massively irritated. Twitchy, seized up muscles, creepy calm face and dead disingenuous eyes irritated.

Ye have been warned. Yonder there be treacherous waters.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Desperate Attempt to De-Legitimize Myself

Ned is a fabulous whistler. Ned is the jolly very deaf old man who occupies the corner opposite from me in our basement, plodding along at his mysterious accounting responsibilities which after almost two years I still haven’t quite been able to identify. He also takes long and very contented-looking naps in the break room. I get jealous every time I go in there to get yet another Diet Coke. But above all, Ned whistles. He whistles in a fashion I would not have considered possible for someone so very deaf. His whistle trills, thrills, and sings. He also does that, by the way. Sings. Full-throated old-man sings. It’s great. More than a little bizarre, but great. All of this adds a little much-needed color to the homogenous crowd that is the accounting and payment services departments.

That is, it did. Until yesterday.

Beginning March 7th in the year of our Lord two thousand and eleven, Ned has persistently, consistently and quite accurately whistled “On My Own” from the seminal classic Les Miserables. Which is just dandy, except that once upon a time I was an overly delusional/emotional eleven year old who latched onto that song with a fervor and devotion unparalleled by anything except parasitic organisms. I really couldn’t tell you why I seemed so determined in fifth and sixth grade to identify with songs and sentimentalities that were so obviously out of my depth. But I was passionate about how much those types of songs “spoke” to me.

Me, the chunky eleven year old with glasses biting into her chubby cheeks and a sneaking suspicion that Santa maybe could still exist. Who was so far removed from the adult themes of those songs that a year later I bought a condom from a woman’s bathroom dispensary and still had no idea what it was. And I didn’t even have good taste. Sure, I though that “On My Own” spoke to me (because no one gets the pain and torture of lonely, beaten down women in the throes of unrequited love like prepubescent girls, right? Right?), but I also almost wore out Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” album and I tuned into Delilah’s radio show every night on KOZY.

Yeah. You read that right. I’m pretty sure I’ve never owned up to that until this very moment. Ohh, the hours I spent listening on the most maladjusted, dysfunctional, selfish people pour their hearts out to the always sugary, always banal Delilah! I blame her for my hypoglycemic condition as much as I do the unfortunate seventh grade diet of Slim Fast and Diet Coke. But it’s been enough time, and I’ve so very assiduously made up for it in the decade since, it feels right to come clean about my thoroughly lame use of time.

This confession also explains why even to this day I shy away from overly demonstrative emotional displays. Because in my experience, eleven year olds who are fascinated by things they don’t understand are the only ones who behave that way. Which is incredibly unfair to many of my much more emotionally developed and comfortable friends, but it certainly is a clue to my reserved manner in matters of sentimentality.

Pretty much this entire line of thought is Ned’s fault, because he won’t stop whistling that beautiful but damned song, and I can’t stop cycling through my conflicting memories of appreciation and disdain.

This should also explain why I take such perverse delight in blasting “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” by Aerosmith. It’s one of the emotion-junkie songs I didn’t really listen to until recently, and glorying in the ridiculously overwrought vocals is sorta therapy, some positive connections with something similar but not identical to that magnificently mortifying part of my childhood.

It hurts my soul when Pandora lets music group profiles be written by people who really don't like the band. I’ve come to terms with people having different music tastes than me, and I don’t mind healthy criticism, but I do protest the time and place for such snarkiness. When you’re listening to your station on Pandora and click the group’s tab to learn more about them, it feels a little mean spirited and guerrilla warfare-esque to have every line full of little jabs at their authenticity or message. Take your aggression out on youtube comments like a normal person, for crying out loud.

As is typical, this blog post is happening because I’m fairly openly terrified that I won’t have my stuff together for my symposium presentation on Friday. I could easily just do a twenty minute rant about the disenfranchised, voiceless modern woman, but I don’t think that would win many points with my professor. Or my mother. Or any of my male friends that might show up.

Ghaa, growing up and doing what you’ve dreamt of doing for years is just the worst.