Month: February 2015

Birdman and Feminism

Birdman

I would normally post this kind of thoughts on my movie blog but I feel I can be a little bit more personal here so I’m going for it.  As you all know Birdman won the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday and most know I wanted Boyhood to win. Watching the story of a boy growing up to a man and his family and life was one of the most powerful experiences in movies I’ve ever had.

But that’s not actually what makes me sad about the Birdman win or at least it’s not all of it (it’s just a stupid award ceremony anyway).  What really bothers me is seemingly everyone, not just the Hollywood left, has a huge blindspot about the movie and its demeaning and clichéd depiction of women and I don’t understand how in 2015 such a thing can be tolerated and even awarded.

I went over in my review of Birdman why I felt the movie was misogynistic and demeaning but I will review the female characters briefly here:

1. Andrea Risenborough as Riggan’s girlfriend who pretends to be pregnant in order to manipulate him in their relationship

2. Naomi Watts plays Lesley a woman who has dreamed of making it on Broadway.  Instead of a great experience she is nearly raped on stage by the Edward Norton character and the movie forgets about this far too quickly.

3. Emma Stone plays Riggan’s daughter who is out of rehab and lectures him about he is worthless and doesn’t matter because he won’t embrace twitter.  You think she would be glad to see her Dad mount a play on Broadway, no small task but no.

4. Amy Ryan is Riggan’s ex and she has some strong moments but she is still clearly in love with him making her frustrating too.

5. The worst character of all is Tabitha a female theater critic for the New York Times who tells Riggans she has already decided her review and she is going to destroy him.  I find that very hard to believe anyone would really do that but if they did they sure wouldn’t tell the star of the show about it.  I thought her character was completely ridiculous.

6. There is also a lesbian kiss which is completely nonessential to the plot  The 2 aren’t in a relationship.  It doesn’t go anywhere and from all I could see it is there only to titillate and excite men.

How can I be the only person in the world who see’s this as a problem? I’ve dug and haven’t found a single critic who has brought this up?  Some say ‘but it’s a satire of Hollywood’, which I would say “I guess I don’t find rape, gender stereotypes and shrill obnoxious women funny”. I don’t buy the satire argument anyway.  What is satirical about the kiss? I saw no double meaning behind it or reason for it existing.

all about eve

A great satire on the entertainment industry like All About Eve had dialogue that sparkled and a variety of female and male characters, some manipulative, wounded, sweet, the whole spectrum.  It’s a heck of a lot more biting, funny, dramatic and lasting.  Actually All About Eve and Birdman are very similar.  Both are about aging stars who are confronting younger versions of themselves, trying to stay relevant and maintain a personal life but Eve is so much more interesting, funny and tragic.

Of course Hollywood is going to reward a film that tells them how hard it is to be a star.  We’ve seen that a million times, so I get why the establishment likes Birdman and it does look very nice as a movie.  But why the rest of America is embracing it I have no idea. It really has made me sad.

The scariest part is this type of misogyny keeps popping up from time to time.  Like last year’s ABC offering Mixology which also featured rape, abuse and murder jokes and an extended gag about how women who throw up at bars are needy and ready for the taking. Also evidently a man owning a box of Kleenex tissues is ultra feminine.  Who knew?  At least with Mixology we had the good sense to get it off the air.

But what’s wrong with our society when that kind of thing even exists?  I’m serious.  It really bothers me and to see it rewarded and universally unquestioned upsets me.  It’s interesting when everyone was all up in arms about 50 Shades of Grey it is Birdman that got under my skin.  At least 50 is honest about what it is and doesn’t drape itself in the robe of an arthouse film.

Anyway I just wanted to get it out there.  That’s how I feel.

Ok. I’ve said my peace and moving on to films that may actually be remembered.  Birdman like other forgettable best picture winners I’m positive will not.

I have a feeling this will invite trolls since it is so well liked so I am disabling comments on this.  If you want to discuss it with me try me on twitter or other social media.

Sleep and Spoilers

A reminder of what is and isn’t a spoiler. Urgh…

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

This is kind of a random post with 2 topics that don’t really go together. But this is my blog and I can do that if I want… 😉

Any reader to my blog knows I have struggled for years with insomnia.  Pretty much my whole life but it’s been particularly bad the last 3 years at times leaving me with little to no sleep for days at a time.  This can be very stressful and mentally debilitating.

Since 2012 I’ve tried everything from sleep labs to to medicine to psychoanalysis to solve the problem with nothing really providing any complete solutions.  This has led to my latest solution- stop caring so much!  I’ve decided recently to just go to sleep when I need to sleep and enjoy the time I am awake.

Naturally I still have to work in the morning but I’ve also stopped planning anything if I…

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What Are You Reading?

Hey guys. Sorry it has been a few days since I posted. My sleep, or lack there of, has been ruling my life. Saturday night I got 2 hours of sleep and it has been extremely stressful. I couldn’t go to church passed sacrament meeting on Sunday because I got a migraine and couldn’t take it any more.

I’ve been trying to read a little more or at least listen to audiobooks as part of my strategy to get tired.  What have you been reading?  I would love to hear some recommendations.

Please share in the comments section.  Sometimes it can be so tough to find new books worth reading and a book is different than a movie.  It’s more of an investment in time and characters which makes it harder to find good ones but more rewarding when you do. It’s been a while since I found a new book that really excited me.  Hard to think of one since Edenbrooke in 2012.  Sigh…

I honestly miss finding that book which takes you away from your problems and makes you feel special for knowing these characters and plot. It’s the best thing ever.

So please send me your recommendations and I will get reading again!

The Rachies- 2014 Animation Awards

Who needs the Oscars when you have the Rachies? My awards for animation 2014

Rachel's Reviews

The Oscars are coming up this weekend and I have seen every animated film that came out in 2014.  I’ve seen all the big, medium and tiny films I could get my hands on.  20 in total.  Needless to say I love animation.  It is my favorite medium of film because it literally is art on the page and for the most part it is family friendly and well rounded (comedies, dramas, comic book movies, the whole 9 yards).

So, I’m going to give some of my own awards for animation this year.  Here goes…

Overall Best Animated Film- Song of the Sea

song of the sea4Best Mainstream Animated Film- Lego Movie

the_lego_movie_2014-wideBest Use of Music and Animation- Tale of Princess Kaguya

princess-kaguyaBest sequel- How to Train Your Dragon 2

how to train your dragon castFavorite Character- Baymax Big Hero 6

baymaxBest Villain- Archibald Snatcher The Boxtrolls

Boxtrolls-Ben-KingsleyBest Adult Animated Film- Rocks in My Pockets

rocks in pockets4Worst Movie- 3…

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My Oscar Predictions

Hey guys here are my Oscar predictions if that helps you in your office pools and ballots. I know what I like so I don’t really care about the Oscars but it is nice when things I like are rewarded. Still, have fun with it and share with me your ballots and choices.

Rachel's Reviews

Boyhood-poster-quadI thought I might help you out and share with you my Oscar ballot.   We will see how I do come Oscar night but if Boyhood doesn’t walk away with a lot I will be very disappointed (well as disappointed as you can be with a stupid awards show…).

Here goes!

best picture

American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash 

I still think Boyhood will win.  Birdman is too independent in feel for older academy voters and Boyhood has universal themes and was so groundbreaking I think it will win. I think it will be like when the academy went with King Speech over Social Network (a decision I actually agree with as I think SN is majorly overrated).   I could see The Theory of Everything coming in as dark horse as the academy loves those ‘real life’ portrayals. …

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My Top 10 Favorite People

bestofbest

Just kidding…

I wanted to start this post off with a crazy title because I want to talk about our societies seemingly insatiable need to quantify and rank everything.  Why do we do that? Why can’t we just enjoy something for what it is instead of wondering if it is better than something else?

If you don’t think it is a problem check out watchmojo.com.  They have lists for everything and when I say everything I mean everything.  Like here is their list of the Top 10 Ruthless Dictators (this is wrong on so many levels).

They also have a Top 10 Infamous Mass Shootings and a Top 10 Worst Humans of All Time. Why? Why does such a thing need to exist and what does it say about human nature that it does? I think we feel an innate need to make order out of chaos and somehow ranking everything makes us make sense of what we don’t understand.  But I think just because it is a natural impulse does not necessarily mean it is good.

Why would we never rank the people we love? Why do most people refuse to admit they have a favorite kid? Well because we love them all in different ways.  The things I love about my Dad are so different than my Mom that ranking one above another is completely impossible.

The more I’ve thought about it I think that is the case with almost all rankings (or hate them all equally depending on the list!). I always want to have about 10 ties because I like things the same or I appreciate different things in different ways.

I first thought about this when I was ranking the Disney Canon for my Disney blog. I’m happy with my list.  It is fairly accurate of my feelings but I am also a little frustrated with it.  A lot of people were upset with me having The Lion King at 13 and I was upset too because I love that movie. Same with Aladdin which got pushed down to 19!

My rationale was Lion King humor is a little annoying and a few of the songs are a little corny but it’s great.  I love it.  It has a fantastic villain, amazing artistry and a story that pulls at my heartstrings.  Aladdin was 20 simply because I think the 18 other films are more artistically special but I love Aladdin so it’s very frustrating.

In a way it is kind of silly to compare the movies.  I mean there isn’t much in common between Fantasia and Aladdin aside from being animated movies and yet there I was comparing them.  Why? Because I felt I had to make a list after watching all 54 films. I felt my readers wanted it and I felt a need to do it myself as a conclusion of the project.

I’ve also seen this list making tendencies in my Survivor forum that I’m a part of.  People are constantly wanting to rank Survivor winners, contestants, and seasons. The great thing about Survivor is no two winners are the same (except for Sandra who won twice!).  Meaning each one has used a different strategy and won in a different way, so ranking them becomes kind of futile.

I guarantee you if I were to make a ranking of winners there would be people who would be upset with me for putting so and so too high, and so and so too low.  People would debate it for hours and not the pleasant kind of debate (at least IMO).  The kind of debate that is exhausting.

Just like I was left frustrated at Aladdin at 19 I am sure I would be frustrated with a winner I love not being high enough on my own list!

I prefer lists that are in no particular order and just a bunch of things I like but even those can be frustrating because I invariably forget to include something. Like the other day I made a list of my favorite Disney sidekicks and going into it was going to put Sgt Tibbs from 101 Dalmatians and I completely forgot about him!

What do you think about this tendency of our society to quantify, list and rank everything?  Do you like it or are you sick of it like I am? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments section.  Thanks!

Blaming Fat Women For Our Lack of Clothing Options

I really thought this was a good post on plus size fashion and the availability of higher end clothes/the attitudes of the fashion community.

Tutus And Tiny Hats

rack of floofy betsey johnson dresses Give me the pretties, pleeeeease.

While I’m on a roll of ranting about things that piss me off, here’s another one: the recent trend of blaming the lack of plus size clothing options on the supposed buying habits of plus size customers. This piece in TIME, and this one on Fashionista are two examples, and they make me so viscerally angry that it’s hard to respond articulately–but I’ll try.

“[R]eal change for plus-size fashion will come when customers make more conscious purchasing decisions,” claims the TIME piece. Hahahahaha, no. Real change will come when companies realize that fat women are people and start making clothes in our size. It’s kind of ridiculous to insist that fat women’s shopping choices must be the issue, when our whole problem is that we don’t have enough options to choose from in the first place.

In the Fashionista article, a blogger named…

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Busy Valentines Day

ValentineHappy Valentines Day!  I hope you all had a happy time either with people you love or thinking about the many blessings God has given you.  We are all richly blessed and if nothing else I love every person reading these words (it’s really true!).

I had an interesting experience today.  Valentines can be a little bit hard for us single folk who are without a valentine in their life.  Yes, yes, I know lots of couples don’t celebrate Valentines including my own parents.  However, at least you know if you were going to celebrate it you have someone to do it with.  As far as my life companion I haven’t found him yet.  He’s still hiding (come out! come out! Where ever you are!).

Mothers Day is actually the hardest holiday for me because I feel like I am not fulfilling my spiritual calling and purpose for being a woman not having a family.  It is all laid on so thick on Mothers Day that typically I do not go to church.  The Mothers deserve having their day but it is just too painful for me.

Valentines Day I have a tradition of designing my own valentine and this year was no exception.  This helps me have fun with the holiday and focus on my many blessings.

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But an interesting thing happened today. I haven’t been feeling well and been sleeping even worse lately. This has made it hard to get everything done including keeping up both blogs and my youtube channel. I ended up going 10 days without a video. Yikes! I had filmed 2 but the sound didn’t work so they had to be discarded. Then today I decided to make up for lost time and filmed 6 different videos and because of audio and other problems I had to film them each 3 times!!! I ended up working on videos for 11 hours!

Here’s how they all turned out.

This is a really fun one with my Top 10 Romantic Comedies (just in time for Valentines Day!).

This one gave me my first youtube crying moment! It’s a very special movie Song of the Sea. Read my review on the blog as well. http://wp.me/p4VRGy-13p

And then some unboxings

They aren’t perfect videos but I’m proud of them especially the movie posts.  I’ve certainly come a long way in the last year and will continue to improve.

But the interesting thing about making the videos is it took all day.  All of the sudden it was 10 pm and I finished my videos and sat back exhausted and happy.  It is probably the happiest I have been on Valentines Day in a long time.  It made me realize while we are often overbusy in this world there are moments where that comes in handy!  Where the best thing you can do is put your head down and get lost in creating something.  Forget about your problems, fears, anxieties and loneliness and just work hard on something you love.

In that sense making silly videos that probably not many people will see is quite powerful.  It made me happy and if I’m lucky it might make a few other people happy who get to see them.  I got a tweet from Song of the Sea director and creator Tomm Moore today thanking me for my review.  That made me feel like a million bucks!

tweetThat’s the Valentine I needed. It reminds me of President Hinckley’s Dad saying “forget yourself and go to work”.  Isn’t it the truth!

I hope you all had a great day too.  Sure love ya!

Sleep Problems

Sleep to sleep - what happens with the brain inside

So if you ‘ve noticed I’ve been a little lethargic lately it’s because I have been.  I just haven’t been feeling great- fever, fatigue, cold chills.  But no other symptoms like sore throat or stuffy nose.  Just feeling really really tired all the time.  I’ve got things to do but would pretty much always rather be sleeping.

The problem it creates is getting back to the gym because I’m so tired.  I slept this entire weekend away and took Monday off work because I felt lousy and slept all day those days.  I feel a little better today but am still very tired.

It’s frustrating because sleep is supposed to be this simple thing.  This basic human function but not for me. There always seems to be a lot of drama attached to it.  And to make matters worse when I am able to get to sleep despite being tired all day I often have a hard time getting to sleep.  It’s just a huge mess.

Can any of you relate? I have to be careful who I mention my sleep issues too because I have found my Mom friends can be a little unsympathetic.  Me a single girl tired!  “Just wait till you have a baby” they say with their eyes.  I get it but I really am tired.  I promise! 😉

I just wish I could figure this thing out and sleep regularly like a normal person but I’ve tried everything from therapy to drugs to meditation.  Sleep is my enemy and constant frustration.

All I know is I am soooooooo thankful to have a job I can do at weird hours that works with whatever weirdness my sleep is putting me through.  There are no words for how grateful I am for that.

So, excuse the sleeping vent.  It’s just frustrating.

 

What Collar Am I? Survivor 30

Survivor-Season-30-logo-500x310So you guys know I am a big Survivor nut.  It’s such an entertaining show and a fascinating look at human nature and the way we interact with one another.  What alienates people from one another, gives power, forms bonds, and why they make certain choices never gets old and they are now on season 30!  I have seen most of the early seasons and later seasons and playing catch up on the middle (still got Fiji, Palau, Guatemala, Cook Islands and Pearl Islands and a few others to watch).

What’s amazing is given the similar rules of the game each winner has been different and used a different strategy. It makes it a fascinating show to watch. You just don’t know who is going to win.

My favorite season recently was season 28 Survivor Cagayan because of the fantastic casting and one of the most engaging winners the show has ever had- Tony Vlachos.  He was building spy shacks, voting off his friends, running around the island and all the while remaining incredibly likable.  It was so great to watch.

Season 30 is coming up and this time they are dividing the contestants into 3 tribes of 6 just like in Cagayan (I believe this is the 4th 3 tribe seasons).  Cagayan was also a 3 tribes and it was separated into Beauty, Braun and Brains, which at first I had an issue with because I felt they were objectifying everyone, putting a label on.  However, it ended up being kind of a wash because there were people on all the tribes who fit all the descriptions so it didn’t end up meaning much.

What’s got me thinking is season 30 has taken a similar approach of labeling the 3 tribes but instead of appearance they are going with careers- white collar, blue collar, and no collar.

Kind of an interesting concept for the show don’t you think?  What tribe would you be put on?  Their definition of collars according to Jeff Probst is a little wonky with white collar “making the rules”, blue collar “following the rules”, and no collar “breaking the rules”.  I don’t know anyone else who would describe it that way but it’s Jeff Probst and he can do whatever he wants when it comes to Survivor (especially after season 29 which was a royal snoozefest…).

So given that further definition what tribe would you be on?  I would definitely be on white collar because I have a computer job and I am part of a religion with a lot of rules (although I don’t really make them?).  That said, I also have little pieces of no collar in me.  I work from home, don’t have a boss and the idea of working in a cubicle ever again makes me want to jump off a cliff.

all collars
Survivor 30 cast

I feel like most people these days are a mixture of all the collars.  What do you think?  Now with computers, social media and the internet doesn’t everyone have to be pretty savvy?  The days of a large blue collar class of unskilled factory workers and farmers just doesn’t exist much anymore.  Even if you are in the service sectors like working as a hairdresser you need a website and facebook page to promote your business or you will get slaughtered.  Farmers have to be able to use complicated machinery, same with what factory workers are left in America.  It is by no means simple, mindless work of yesteryear.

Do you think this has any effect on our culture as a whole the fact we are collarless?  I could see some ways it is a good thing and other ways it might force people into a type of work that is outside their nature.  In previous societies there may have been more choices for such people?   Does that lead to a whole bunch of depressed blue collar and no collar types who are wedged into white collar?  I know the worst time of my life was when I was stuck in cubicle hell every day, never seeing the outside, entering data all day- and I was probably considered one of the lucky one’s with a decent job.

On the other hand perhaps with careers becoming similar there is less class division amongst the 99%.  After all, is it really a big deal these days to marry someone who has a different career path than you like it might have been the past? (At this point anyone would be glad for me to just get married!)..   I don’t think so as long as you can support a family and have similar values.  Perhaps we are becoming a little less judgmental based on jobs because they aren’t that different (or at least have more in common than they used too?).

I don’t know.  I certainly don’t feel any smarter or better than those with technical skills because I have an MBA.  It’s just a different set of skills but still using a lot of the same stuff I use everyday. In fact, they are probably better than me at more things than I am better than them (if that makes sense…).

Or perhaps the whole idea of self-identifying with your career isn’t as important as it used to be?  Maybe our jobs are more of a fluid thing and we will all have periods wearing many collars?  I have been hard core white collar in several jobs including as a missionary.  Now I’m white with a little dusting of no collar.  If I get married and stay home with my kids I guess that is blue collar?  I don’t know what collar are stay at home Moms? I’ve worked in food service so that was my blue collar and I was a teaching assistant in college and I’m not sure what collar teachers are?

Now that I have a job I love I do self-identify with it more than my old job but for about a decade people would ask me to introduce myself and my career was one of the last things I would mention.  Honestly I think I would say survivor fan before accounting clerk.  It just wasn’t how I saw myself.  I might have mentioned work from home.  I still would be inclined to say ‘I’m collar I would rather be swimming”

Are you that way?  Is your job a means to an end or something that is a big part of who you are?  Would you see yourself as part of a larger working group, wearing a collar if you will?

Anyway, what do you think?  Do you ever watch Survivor and do you think this sounds like a good twist?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

As the new season is starting check out Rob Has a Podcast for great post show debate and commentary by former Survivor Rob Cesternino.  I love it!