Hysterical bigotry = journalism?

April 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Today, I was made aware of the existence of this bewildering opinion piece in The Washington Times. Bewildering, because it seems like an utterly emotional knee-jerk response to a situation that requires thought, attention, and at the very least, some form of kindness. But increasingly, kindness is a concept that I’m hard-pressed to find anywhere (least of all in the comments section of an article; do yourself a favour and read the comments to this piece only if you feel like nothing… and I mean NOTHING… can get you down).

The quick gist of this piece is:  it opposes the legislation of the US’ Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which is apparently due for vote this week in Congress. The editorial says that “ENDA purports to ‘prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.’” You would think that any right-minded citizen would want that, right? Nope. Because, as The Washington Times goes on to say:

On some matters, it is good to be discriminating. It is right to discriminate between honesty and dishonesty, between politeness and impoliteness, between right and wrong. And it assuredly is right to be discriminating in choosing who teaches our children. ENDA would make it impossible for a non-church-based charter school, for instance, to remove from the classroom a “she-male” who insists on exposing her pupils to her unnatural transformation.

Earlier on at the start of the piece, they wrote: “First-graders should not be forced into the classrooms of teachers undergoing sex changes.”

Two things that reinforce each other: that sexual orientation and gender is identity is “natural” only if it’s male/female, and as such, young children should only be exposed to what is “natural.”

“Natural” is a very suspicious term. What’s ‘natural’ within any particular society, within a particular timeframe, is reinforced by the ideology that’s at work at that point in time. Gender identity is a complex intertwining of social conditioning and political representation. As Monique Wittig has said, “The category of sex is the political category that founds society as heterosexual.” Hermaphrodite humans may be unnatural to people in The Washington Times, but they exist. Are they unnatural human beings? Nature seems to have thought they were pretty natural.  And in other taxonomic groups of animals, it’s a ‘normal’ state. The argument remains that there is no such thing as ‘natural.’ Once something ‘unnatural’ exists, it simply is. It’s simply a matter of how people choose to respond to it. I’m not saying I’ve never been guilty of using the term “natural.” However, it’s a deeply problematic and ambiguous term that needs to be dissected, analysed, and thought over.

And responding in the way The Washington Times has is simplistic and myopic. There are strong religious undertones to these claims. It makes me wonder if the writers realise that for many people, ‘the Church’ as an institution is the one that appears to be severely ‘unnatural’. And abnormal.

But I digress.

As for first-graders being forced into the classrooms of these teachers undergoing sexual changes – they’re not being forced into anything. They’re first-graders who are there to be taught. And they may have teachers who are experimenting with their gender and sexual orientation. I say, Hallelujah. Children learn what is ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ from their elders, and society at large. We blindly, or wilfully, pass on discrimination from generation to generation. First-graders, I believe, will be able to accept gender for what it is – complex and tenuous – if they see it in action, and are made to accept people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender. Isn’t this an opportunity to teach children anti-discrimination in the classroom?

I don’t think the children will have a problem accepting a “she-male”, as The Washington Times’ writers state. I don’t know much about developmental psychology, but I know that children tend to see things as they are. They may question it, but they have a greater sense of acceptance and tolerance precisely because it has not been stained and coloured by societal perceptions.

I mean, if there is a freaking pink elephant in front of me, then it exists. It’s my responsibility to carefully consider my response to it. If children can be made to understand and accept differences because differences exist, regardless of whether one thinks it is natural or unnatural, and be taught to exercise compassion and empathy as well, then yes, Washington Times… I think the kids will be alright.

The biggest “threat” to young children’s mental and emotional development, at this point in time, from the way I see it, is The Washington Times.

The piece concludes with this lovely paragraph:

Similar problems abound in this bill, which treats a conscious decision to choose a new or different sexual identity as if it were an inherent, unavoidable condition. But it’s not. It’s actually a psychological disorder, officially listed as such by the current American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Our children and our co-workers should not be forced by law to be held hostage to such disorders, nor should employers be forced to have psychologically troubled persons as the public face of their businesses.

Call me a fool, but I think you’ll be hard-pressed to find a non “psychologically-troubled” person anywhere in this world. I may be loosely paraphrasing Freud here, but I think he once said that each person is essentially quite screwed. Right, he never said that, but I’m sure that’s what he meant. In Civilisation and Its Discontents, he wrote: “Even the sense of self is subject to disturbances, and the limits of the self are not constant.”

If you believe this, and it seems impossible not to when the actual effects of disturbed selves can be seen everywhere, then it seems to me that we need to be kinder towards each other. Because each one of us is “unnatural” in someone else’s eyes. If you need to succumb to hyperbolic emotion, then save it for those who set out to physically and emotionally hurt others – the serial killers, the rapists, the priests molesting boys, the racist bully beating up a ‘different-coloured’ person.  And, Washington Times, “to be held hostage to such disorders”? Isn’t that a tad hysterical? The classroom isn’t a locked prison. Go enrol your kid in a new one if you can’t stand the mere existence of a she-male. Continue to perpetuate prejudice shrouded as “sound religious belief” or a “sense of normalcy” among all your wholly-natural, normal spawn.

There are so many different ways in which human beings hurt and destroy each other on a daily basis. Get up on your soapbox and fight against war, poverty, class discrimination, racism, sexism, ageism, neoliberal capitalism. But to get all high-and-mighty from what seems to be a rabidly Christian standpoint over males wanting to be females, or females wanting to be males, and all things in-between? That’s just bigotry couched in “clever wording.”

Book-buying. For the gals.

April 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

If there is one aspect of life which greets women with the proverbial rolled-out red carpet, it’s capitalism. (Wait, isn’t capitalism the only aspect of life? Right.) Consider this article that appeared in yesterday’s (Sunday edition) of The Star. MPH Bookstores Malaysia is introducing a women’s only concept store at The Curve shopping mall in Petaling Jaya. It is, as the title of the article says, “for the gals.”

Why are gals so important? “Women shoppers are more affluent these days and have a greater say in purchase decisions. They are also more inclined to spend on themselves, both single women and those with family,”

Right. While men, always the default sex, are hanging out in regular bookstores, buying books for themselves – women are buying books for themselves, their kids, their grandmothers, their dogs, and their grandmothers’ dogs. Hence – a special store where women can feel at home and spend, spend, spend! I squeal in excitement.

Some brilliant ideas on what makes a bookstore more womanly (or gal-like, rather):

  • A cafe called “EspresSOUP, a little corner where you can get a cup of coffee to go with soup, salad and sandwiches” because god forbid that a woman wants to eat an actual meal.
  • “There will be everything from women-centric business and management books and autobiographies on prominent female leaders to chick-lit and cookbooks.” Because men don’t cook, don’t need help on management, and could not care less about prominent female leaders?
  • “Something else women customers will appreciate is the members’ card called Gals Reads – “Reads” stands for Respected, Empowered, Admired, Desired and Smart – that allows holders to accumulate discount points and get exclusive invitations to events and be used in MPH stores nationwide. The card’s RM20 membership will be donated entirely to the Women’s Aid Organisation.” Okay, giving monetary proceeds to WAO is good. But the READS acronym is just juvenile at best. Which is what it’s all about, isn’t it, constantly displaying womanhood as this little girls’ club in which we can sit around on red chaise longues and giggle and be respected, empowered, admired, desired, and smart. And plan our weddings.
  • Participating store partners include: “The Wedding Boutique for gown rental, Jurlique for facial treatments, My Diamond for jewellery, Urban Retreat for spa treatments and Espressoup for dining treats.” Yup, they’ve got womanhood covered in a nutshell. A nice, clear-complexioned face, a marriage, nice jewels, and spa treatments to relax those frown-lines away. Also, some soup in case you get hungry (but not too hungry!).

Domestic bliss: a gal's best friend

I am tired of mass-consumerism dressed as gender-friendly ‘consideration’. Also, which woman isn’t tired of the reductivist ‘woman-friendly’ label that comprises, in essence, fashion, frou-frou, weddings, jewels, and spa treatments? And the need to somehow sequester women away in a private haven of reading, where they can simultaneously browse “chick-lit” (how did it become legitimate to refer to women as baby fowl in general discourse?) and read “autobiographies on prominent female leaders.” Why can’t those books be sold in regular bookshops, to all customers, as regular books that might appeal to any reader – male or female?

It’s a bookstore, for crying out loud. It sells books. Men and women can read them together – and damn well purchase them together.

Third-world ‘Telekom’ service

April 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Here’s a tribute to Telekom Malaysia being the most inefficient telecommunications company in the history of telecommunications companies – especially for one with a fixed monopoly over fixed line services in Malaysia.

My home phone line became faulty sometime over the weekend. Ocassionally, we would get a dial tone, and then in other moments there would be an engaged tone and we couldn’t make outbound calls or receive calls. My mom and I thought it was just a weird phase due to the recent thunderstorms, but it became more of a permanent thing by Monday. Finally, on Monday evening, I called TM’s Customer Service at 100 to register a complaint. Their first question was whether or not I had Streamyx running on the same line. I said yes, and I told the person on the phone that my Streamyx  connection was still working fine; only the fixed line was having problems

On Monday, they told it me that my problem would be solved within 1 working day.

On Tuesday, they told me it would not be 1 working day, but 24 hours.

On Wednesday, I called them back and they told me that it would not be 24 hours, but 24 WORKING hours. That means, as they explained to me, since their technicians work only 8 hours a day, it might take 3 days.  (8×3= 24 – you need to know math to work at TM.)

On Thursday (April 22) – today – I called again. They told me that the technicians had logged in a report to fix/resolve our problem by April 22. (I said, “By April 22 this year?” but they didn’t get the joke.) It’s now 3:30 PM on April 22, and my problem is still not resolved. Presumably, as the technicians (who seem to command more power and clout in TM than the King does in all of Malaysia) will have to stop working at 5 PM  following their very strict 8-hour-a-day rule, I have 1.5 hours left to hope for the best that TM will solve my problem.

As I was told by the TM Customer Service, because I have Streamyx on my phone line, they need “extra time” to fix this matter. I consider this utterly shameful. Previously, whenever I had problems with my phone line, the technician would be sent to resolve it within a day. Now, I’m being given the runaround by TM’s Customer Service who don’t give me proper answers when asked about the expected timeline within which my problem would be resolved. So, because I give TM more money by subscribing to both their phone and internet service, I am made to wait LONGER for service. The more money I give them, the shoddier the treatment I’m meant to receive.

This is the kind of logic, on the whole, that Malaysia seems to run on these days.

They say that I can’t go to any TM Touch counters to report this – that I must call 100 each time, from my mobile phone, and waste more money by going through the whole rigmarole of “Key in 2 for English, key in your area code and number followed by the hash key” again and THEN wait some more for someone to pick up the call and answer the same questions and verify the same information, yadda yadda, that I had already given repeatedly during my previous 6 calls.

The best part is, they have a twitter page with a bio that says, “Connections make anything possible.” I have another one for them: “Complacency makes service impossible.” Or, “Greed makes for contemptible service.”

I have nothing against their Customer Service staff manning the phone lines, although they have, by nature of their unfortunate job, borne the brunt of my ire. My anger goes directly to the corporate management in TM, those fat cats in their suits and ties and whatnot – the ones who munch on nasi lemak for breakfast and steak for lunch and most likely fart in their sleep without doing an ounce of any productive work all day – who continue to provide Malaysians with deplorable service and treatment, and don’t seem to worry about having to improve themselves.

Maybe this is what we get for living in a third-world country where we have one leading and very corrupt telecommunications company with a monopoly on the fixed-line network. Clearly it is in the interests of the government that TM’s monopoly continues unabated; and as such, its management can allow itself to become complacent and offer the most deplorable service to its customers (who are, it must be said, its customers by the appalling lack of choice). It really doesn’t matter if I complain or not, because who gives a shit? If I want  fixed landline, I need Telekom Malaysia.

But most importantly, I live in Malaysia, right? What do I expect? I should just shut up and put up with it.

Original, elegant, lovely, poetic, and… bla bla zzzz…

April 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

I first heard of Yoko Ogawa via the PR machine for her novel The Housekeeper and the Professor, one of those books that received breathless rave reviews in all the big name literary publications. The breathlessness made me a little wary. But I was curious – the premise seemed fairly interesting. But that’s not the first Yoko Ogawa book I bought. The book I bought was The Diving Pool. I bought it because it was on sale.

The Diving Pool is a collection of 3 long short stories, or rather, 3 novellas as the publication information states, but they’re rather insubstantial as novellas, so I’ll stick with long short stories. I had high expectations for the book despite myself, following the breathless praise for the other novel, and the breathless praise for this collection of stories too, as printed on the back and front cover. So much breathlessness made me breathless in anticipation.

Overwhelmingly, all 3 stories employ the kind of narrative style that makes me rather breathless with annoyance. It’s the carefully-contained, constrained writing that’s supposed to be ‘pitch perfect’ and without a ‘word out of place,’ as reviewers have said, but that kind of writing should always feel natural. It should feel like that’s how the writer writes. Not the style in which she writes in order to be appear literary. Which is exactly how it feels like with Ogawa. I don’t know if this ‘quiet’ kind of writing is better in Japanese, and if the effect gets lost in translation. I don’t know, for instance, if  the translator aimed for a more precise, measured, quiet style than the original was. The Literary World always wets itself in its pants over exactly this type of precise, measured, ‘not a word out of place’ writing, whether in Japanese or in English.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I was led to believe this book was going to be STUPENDOUS, but if you want to know why I’m really bitter – it’s because I still believe in book reviews. And so I’m bitter because I believed them and they lied.

Ogawa is a gifted writer in some aspects – the cool casualness of her prose belies the “unexpected menace” in her stories (those words in quotes are from the New York Times; I can’t help it, anything that I want to say about this book has already been said – just in a different context). And the unexpected menace works, it really does. I started this book before going to bed at night and didn’t want to continue because there is that suggestion of an underlying creepiness that’s going to trickle out from under my bed and stain my dreams an ugly dark shade of anxiety. And who wants that? I want restful sleep.

But all that menace doesn’t really make up for stories that are otherwise rather… boring. Or maybe boring is too strong a word. Bland is better. It’s just that… the stories lack flavour. There is no… energy. Maybe that’s the point; that these stories are meant to feature listless, direction-less, depressed girls with unexpected reserves of cruelty, pessimism, and manic paranoia. And then – bam! Creepiness magnified. But somehow, during the reading, it just doesn’t work. Also, there is a complete lack of humour in any of these stories. I understand listless, depressed, bored, scared, and fucked-up people – hell, reminds me of me, hardy har har – but dear lord, can’t they at least crack a joke or two? Or chuckle, perhaps?

The first two stories irritated the hell out of me even though I wanted to know what happened in the end. I’m not sure what this means. A failure of style? It’s not necessarily a failure of the imagination. Or maybe it’s just the failure of the reader (Ha!). ‘The Diving Pool’ featured an unlikeable character with whom one can also sort of sympathise (to some degree, at least) which is no mean feat, certainly. But moments were ruined with bits of contrived writing, like when Aya, the protagonist, talks to her roommate (Aya’s family runs an orphanage; her parents are head of the local New Agey church/religious group). Her roommate, Reiko, was talking about her life before coming to the orphanage, and said that she felt as though the hooks that have kept her and her parents together have come undone.  Aya, without responding to Reiko, thinks about “what sort of sound was made when hooks holding together a family come apart. Perhaps a dull splat, like the sound of a ripe fruit splitting open.  Or maybe it was more like an explosion, when you mix the wrong chemicals.”

Really? Here’s this poor kid talking about the loss of her family and Aya’s making poetic observations about the sound of those metaphoric hooks? If Reiko knew what Aya was thinking, I’ll bet Reiko’ll tell her to sod off. That’s nothing necessarily wrong with thinking about the sound of the hooks. Perhaps that mental diversion was meant to suggest Aya’s unique… oddness. However, the likening of the sound to ripe fruit splitting open, or chemicals mixed in the wrong proportions, just seems so very, very calculated. You can hear the writer thinking about what to write; the efforts of thinking of how to be writerly and literary is laid bare in the prose. You’re yanked out of the story and made aware of the presence of the writer, being writerly. And that’s a recurring problem with all of Ogawa’s stories.

It’s either that, or the translator had one hell of a time translating the stories, and it’s his laboured efforts that we’re witnessing as readers. (Stephen Snyder, here’s looking at you.)

The second story, ‘Pregnancy Diary,’ was again, somewhat strange. Again, I was annoyed while also being mildly interested. The protagonist chronicles her sister’s pregnancy through a carefully-kept diary of her sister’s moods, and as the morning sickness and cravings start to take their toll, through her eating habits. There’s nothing really weird about the sister’s behaviour. What’s weird is her sister’s, the protagonist’s, obsession with her pregnancy. The jacket copy tells us that this story is a “sinister tale of greed and repulsion.” Sure, the sister’s greedy – but pregnant woman can be, for certain foods. Repulsion – I suppose the protagonist is, to some respect, repulsed by her pregnant sister’s weird eating habits (again, nothing abnormal about that). I suppose the pregnant sister is repulsed at the beginning, too. Morning sickness will do that to you. But at the end of it, you’re left feeling, what’s the damn point? Even pointless stories that are good are not supposed to do that to you. If told well, it just is. Because life itself has moments of pointlessness. But if you’re left wondering “what’s the point?” of a story you just read, you’d better believe that it’s a serious effing flaw. And not due to a “pitch-perfect” literary style.

Things start to coalesce pretty well in the final story, which is the one I enjoyed the most. ‘Dormitory’ is plain creepy in that jeng-jeng-jeng Hitchcock way, the momentum slowly building up, until you get to the end and nothing the hell is resolved and you’re left with your nerves jangling and your mind completely on edge. Now, that I totally enjoyed. There are crippled caretakers who are self-sufficient to the point of oddity (no one should be that independent), empty buildings, and strange flowers. Nothing changed much with the writing style, but there’s more action, less ponderous musing. But even when there’s musing, it’s musing with a purpose – all the elements of the story come together quite wonderfully. If this is what Ogawa is like when she’s good, then yes, bring it on – I am especially interested in reading the latest Hotel Iris, which appears to be a full-length exposition of weird creepiness.

But please, spare me the ‘no-word-out-of-place quiet elegance and poetry’ or whatever of the first two stories. I say, bring on the words, bring on the mess of your literary style, as long as you take me somewhere. If, as the blurb on the front from the Guardian says, you’re one of “Japan’s greatest living writers,” then please for the love of god make me live through something in your pages.

Stuff I’ve been reading

April 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

I just finished R.L. LaFevers’ Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris last night. Plucky, loveable female protagonist with lots of gumption and smarts; Egyptian lore and magic with highly detailed descriptions on how to ‘ward off’ curses; walking mummies; annoying, pretty, pinching governesses; absent yet loving parents – all the ingredients of a very fun  and engaging children’s book. This one is a lot thicker than the first book, Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, but it’s no more ponderous. 400 pages, practically – but as opposed to say, some of the Harry Potter books, I’m not skimming through chunks of prose to get to the good parts. It’s all good!

Also been dipping in and out of Blaft’s awesome Where Are You Going You Monkeys?: Folktales from Tamil Nadu. The stories are just what you would expect from folk tales – irreverent, funny, and fizzy. The good folks at Blaft have included a great introduction by the collector/archivist Ki. Rajanarayan that places these tales in a much-welcome context. Kudos to the translator, the awesome Pritham K. Chakravarthy, who’s also done other books for Blaft. Her translation maintains the flavour of the time and place (or what one imagines is the flavour of the time and place!) while using fresh, pulsing language that fairly moves around the page with confident energy. These are no staid, slow, and plodding folk tales for the bored and the aimless. These are tales of women blooming out of ripe mangoes, gods unable to control their wayward subjects, and brinjals that taste too damn good. A lot of the stories focus on the concept of justice; or the ‘eye for an eye’ type lesson that everyone needs to learn. Lots of it also focus on animals who possess a greater sense of integrity than their human counterparts, as in the case of ascetic who becomes fully man-like in his inclinations only after his sexual desires have been fanned by the flames of another woman, and thus is able to be cruel to the snakes whom he promised to protect. Or there are gods fumbling about for some measure of control, marrying their godly daughters off to stone pillars but still being unable to dictate how the story ends. It’s fine stuff, and I enjoy reading a tale or two before I sleep.

Being a good writer

April 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

I heard about the death of a children’s books author named William Mayne today. It was also the first time I heard of him. I read an obituary on him over at the Kaleidoglide blog here, and wondered why the hell I didn’t know who it was or even have an inkling that these books even existed – books that appear, from its descriptions, to be just the kind of books with which I’ll instantly fall in love.

I suppose the fact that he wrote for kids, and was found guilty of sexually abusing young girls, rendered him virtually obsolete from the annals of children’s literary history. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately; whether knowing about an author’s supposed ‘evil’ doings should necessarily affect how the reader perceives the author’s work. I would say no, but I’ve been known for harbouring strange prejudices myself. For instance, after hearing about the way V.S. Naipaul treated the people (and especially the women) in his life, I’ve not been able to pick up any of his books. And I think it’s incredibly sad, because I’ve not read a single one of his works except for Mimic Men (which I found rather unsettling and brilliant). It seems wrong that I can’t seem to get past my own emotional and hypocritical moral hypothesising to pick up A House for Mr. Biswas, which is one of those books that apparently all English-reading people must read.

I read this article a few days ago, and it seemed pertinent in light of the William Mayne issue. Also, the article explains in detail the reactions that have been elicited by Naipaul’s behaviour as a person in his private life, as opposed to the reactions to his work as a much-lauded, Nobel Prize-winning public writer. This one paragraph caught my attention in particular:

“A great majority of us have done discreditable, even cruel things in our lives, even after we have ceased to be children.  And the great majority of that majority find it in our hearts to forgive ourselves, and to think more about how we have been injured than the injuries we have made.  But it seems to matter more when a writer or artist behaves badly.  Why should it?  If my dentist loves one of his daughters more than any of his other children, or a Boeing engineer is having an affair with her best friend’s husband, it is cruel.  But their cruelties don’t impair the quality of my bridgework or disturb my tendency to sleep peacefully through take-offs and landings.  Why does the bad character of a writer or artist matters so much more?  And how does ‘mattering’ work?”

It’s a valid question, and one to which I have no reasonable answer. But I suspect, and here I may speak for myself, that a writer’s work (or any ‘creative’ work of the arts – films, songs, paintings, etc.) is considered to have come from the deepest reaches of one’s self. What the hell does that mean, you ask? Well, the wellspring of writing – imagination, creation, thought –is deeply related to the self and the type of person you are. Indeed, that’s what makes us revere artists for producing something that seems wholly original, or creative, or particularly thoughtful, astute, and relevant. Rightly or wrongly, writers who write good books are thought to be putting a tiny bit of themselves out there as well. It’s not the same as being a dentist. One can be very passionate about making other people’s teeth clean, but the ability to do a great scaling job does not necessarily have to come about from the deepest recesses of your dreams, thoughts, fears, and hopes. Dental work is not an extension of the dentist; yet, writing is an extension of the writer.

I have no idea if this is the right response. Also, I’ve no idea if this is the rational response. People respond to art emotionally as well as rationally; but you can’t really be comforted to sleep by a Boeing engineer’s impeccable handiwork. You can, of course, take a book to bed with you and be transported out of your own sorry life into one that is absolutely magical, or watch a film and live inside the skin of a person of the likes you’ll never meet in your actual life.

Possibly, this is why some people have difficulties getting over an author’s ‘personality’ if it turns out that he or she is morally reprehensible by society’s standards. It’s a shame, of course. And it’s also largely random, as I’ve found out. I do still want to read Mayne’s works, even if he made some vile mistakes in his personal life.

I do agree with the writer of the above-quoted article when he says this:

“This self-knowledge does not excuse Dickens – or Naipaul – for how they seem to have treated others.   But if we can’t be good – and it seems that we can’t – then it’s not a bad thing to try to make something out of what is missing in us, or at least to see how others do it.  And if we readers are complicitous – well, that’s not a bad thing either.  So I intend to read Naipaul’s “Mimic Men” next, as an exercise in shedding my own more superfluous illusions.”

There is that. If we’re all fucked up – and some of us to a greater degree than others (again, deemed by society’s standards) – then if we try to make sense of ourselves and our inadequacies and failures through our art, even if it’s not apparent in the work itself, that should be enough for the rest of us. Regrettably, though, it doesn’t always mean that it is.

I think Aishwarya resolves the issue the best way possible when she writes in that Mayne obituary I linked to above that you can’t separate the issues; one must acknowledge that a writer molested young girls, and one must also acknowledge that he wrote outstanding works of literature that mattered, and continue to matter. It’s probably the only way I’ve resolved the Michael Jackson issue. Yes, I loved his music and his performances – and while he was never proven guilty, you still can’t run away from the fact that something strange was going on. I’ve come to terms with the fact that he might have done some horrible things to young boys – but I was 5 when I first heard ‘Thriller’ and thought it was the best thing ever, and I still do think it’s one of the best things, ever. One aspect of his life does not, and should not, erase the other – even if they are, as it were, at odds with each other.

Medusa, always the best-looking one

April 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

I went to watch Clash of the Titans earlier. I know, I have no right to complain when I bring sorrow and pain upon myself, voluntarily. I know, no one held a gun to my head and forced me to take out money from my wallet and pay for the movie tickets.

I’ll admit right off the bat to not having watched the original 1981 film, which I’m thinking must have been 10,000 times better. It has to be, please, dear lord. I knew this movie was going to be fucked before I even watched it, but I thought – you know, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, cool Greek myths – how bad can it be?

The answer: very bad, if you actually start thinking about it. But it’s HILARIOUS if you choose to laugh at it, especially Ralph Fiennes as Hades – greatest comedic performance of all time; only he was being serious. He was totally rocking the awesome aging-rocker-former-Hell’s Angel hairdo.

Can you take this Hell Dude seriously?

I’m still not sure why Sam Worthington has a job as an actor *at all*, but whatever.

I also don’t know why Io had to be there at all, except to sort of stand around, completely flawless – skin matte and glowy even after fighting those big crab-like monster things – and then, then, then! Before they enter to see Medusa, her lips are all red and glossy – again! Fantastic. I mean, I know this is hardly NEW where movies are concerned, pretty, dainty female ‘heroines’ just stand around and be dainty, Subashini get a grip, but seriously… Gemma Arterton’s performance was so insipid I didn’t know where to turn to vomit.

And then I nearly choked on my popcorn during the movie and thought I was going to die. My only thought was, “Please, for the love of ZEUS, don’t make my last memory be one of Sam Worthington’s thighs peeking out of his Greek costume man-skirt.” Fortunately, I’m still alive, and will live another day to watch a crappy movie and blog about it.

Where Am I?

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