Tag: tv

Modern Media and the Paradox of Choice

Have you ever heard of the concept of ‘the paradox of choice’?  This is the idea that choice is not always a freeing experience but quite the reverse. That an abundance of choices can lead to unhappiness, anxiety, depression and loneliness.

It seems kind of counter-intuitive. Shouldn’t choice be a liberating thing? But it makes sense when you think about it. For example, if I have one restaurant to eat at then I will be happy with said restaurant. When I have 15 restaurants then what was once pleasurable for me at the lone restaurant may be gross in comparison. Plus, now I have the anxiety and frustration of picking out a restaurant when before I went and made it work.

I was thinking about this particularly in terms of media. Never in history of time has there been so many options for entertainment. It is quite overwhelming.

I couldn’t find the exact number but I believe around 700 films are currently released each year. That is triple what we had in the 80s and 90s.

Just think about animated films alone:

By my counts we had 35 animated films both indie and main studio released in 2016. In contrast, 1984 had 0 animated releases. Can you imagine that? A whole year without an animated film? Now we get 2 or 3 a month.

Because of the scarcity of options we would see a very flawed movie like Oliver and Company and have a good time with it. It felt more special because it kind of was. I think you could say the same thing for a movie like Space Jam. It’s not a very good movie but it was an animated comedy and we didn’t get many of those.

Compare the experience of Oliver and Company with the recent release of Smurfs: the Lost Village. I liked the film but it did not do well at the box office. Critics were pretty harsh on it and audiences weren’t drawn to it. Imagine if that was the only animated film of the year? People would have went to it and enjoyed it.

But on the other hand, a plethora of options can be a great thing. To use 2016 as an example we got so much great animation. I had 9 animated films in my top 25 of the year and they all deserved their spot. In one year I was treated to Zootopia, Moana, Your Name, The Red Turtle, Kubo and the Two Strings and more.

On the other hand, I can’t help but compare my experience as a little girl watching Little Mermaid and obsessing about it for 3 years hard core. Kids don’t do that as much now because the next movie has come in the next month and they’ve moved on. It seems like movies like Zootopia and Moana aren’t as special as they would have been in the 90s. Not because they aren’t great films, because they are, but because we simply have so many other options.

It is even worse with TV where the options are endless. Literally every day I hear about a new show I have to see. At least with movies I can pump it out in 2 hours where a TV show requires so much investment. A side of me misses the day when there were 10 channels and you found something to entertain you on that channel.  Now we have the networks, premium channels, streaming and even online providers and youtubers.

I end up having to narrow my focus and watch animation and period pieces as top priority. Then I have innocuous comedies and food shows as my unwind. But I would love to watch Dr Who, Avatar, Legend of Kora, Steven Universe, and a million other shows. I’ve been wanting to watch the original Star Trek for forever but I’ve only seen a few episodes (which were brilliant). Even for someone like me with a flexible schedule there just isn’t enough hours in the day!

Dr Barry Schwartz says about the paradox of choice:

“Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.”

He then talks about how having a choice can make our eventual decision less satisfying:

“Schwartz finds that when people are faced with having to choose one option out of many desirable choices, they will begin to consider hypothetical trade-offs. Their options are evaluated in terms of missed opportunities instead of the opportunity’s potential….afterwards, it affects the level of satisfaction we experience from our decision.”

I feel like this is true with so many aspects of modern life. Even many deciding their major can be super overwhelming when back in my grandma’s day you just picked bachelor of arts or science and went on your merry way. Maybe there is something to that?

What do you think? Do we almost have too many choices these days and do you find it overwhelming? How do you decide what shows to watch and movies to see? Have you felt this paradox of choice with media or other part of your life? I would love to discuss it!

Winners 2/6/2017

This week’s winners post is a day late but I’ve been sick so you will have to give me a little bit of a leeway.  In this new series I am going to be posting about things I think are winners!  There is enough negativity out there, so let’s talk about what is positive whether it be movies, TV, books, food, friends, whatever!

meg-finding-wildHappy Birthday Megan!- My sister Megan has a birthday today and she has accomplished so much in the last year with the publication of her first book Finding Wild. She’s a great mother, friend, and sister.

Nothing is better when I’m sick than a Jamba Juice. They taste so good and feel so good on my sore throat. Thanks to my Mom for getting me one last week. Sometimes I think I could live off of Jamba Juice! My favorite flavor is Caribbean Passion.

If you haven’t caught The Crown on Netflix you really are missing out on one of the best shows ever made. Much heralded as the most expensive show ever produced for Netflix it lives up to the hype. The acting is tremendous and it is real human drama. My friend Tom and I have been talking about it and will finish our podcasts discussing the finale tonight!

patriotsIt’s hard to have winners this week and not talk about the Patriot’s unlikely come from behind win at the Super Bowl. I do not follow football at all but even I was impressed with what they did. It is the season for underdogs in football and politics I guess!

intermountain-draperI went to the new Intermountain Health Care Draper Clinic yesterday and was very impressed. Everything was clean and organized and I did not have to wait long to see the doctor. They got me my prescriptions and it was all very simple and easy. I will definitely be returning there.

ready_player_one_coverI finished reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and LOVED it! What an inventive, charming, funny, wonderful novel. It hits nostalgia galore without leaning on that nostalgia and is sci-fi without being boring. It felt positive which is a real rarity for these types of novels. It does have some cussing but not enough to bother me. I rarely walk away feeling so positive about a novel as I did for Ready Player One. Now I just can’t wait for the Spielberg movie to come!

So there you go! The losers for this week are the witch hut against Betsy Devos, my flu, and the violent Berkeley protesters.

What about you? What are your winners for this last week? Share in the comments section below.

You Are What You Media Tag

Hey friends!  Today I posted a fun tag over on my channel.  I was tagged by my friend Matthew Aronhalt who is doing a top 300 movies list over on his channel.

The tag asks you to list 3 things that influenced you or made you who you are. I tried to pick stuff that influenced me when I was a little.

Books

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird
  2. Little Women
  3. Anne of Green Gables

Music

  1. Les Miserables
  2. The Beach Boys
  3. REM

TV

  1. The Simpsons
  2. Fairy Tale Theater
  3. Boy Meets World

Movies

  1. Little Mermaid
  2. Home Alone
  3. Clueless

Social Media

  1. Roger Ebert
  2. Rob Cesternino
  3. Car Talk

If any of you would like to do the tag please do! It’s really interesting to think about the media that influenced you.

Here’s Matthew’s tag video

The Nostalgia Accusation

I don’t know if all of you are aware but nostalgia has become a dirty word for some in discussing media.  Recently I reviewed Fuller House on my youtube channel and the response was positive to my video; however, on a forum I noticed phrases like ‘only idiots drinking the nostalgia koolaid would like this’.  This type of accusation really annoys me.

So let’s talk about nostalgia.  The dictionary defines nostalgia as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations”.  So in other words it’s looking at something from our past and remembering it in a positive, happy way.  I get nostalgia for lots of things.  For example, whenever I drive past my old house in American Fork that I lived in with Camille and Megan I feel very nostalgic.  Whenever I go to BYU I remember all the good times I had there and it causes me to feel good- nostalgia.

Now granted these feelings are by nature stilted.  We remember either the bad or the good in the most vivid colors, and we may magnify those emotions with the passing of time.  So something that was sad becomes devastating.  Something that was happy becomes perfection.  We all do it.  It’s part of being human.

I guess where I get annoyed is the exaggeration brought on by nostalgia is only part of that memory.  I loved going to BYU, and just because I remember it with probably too much nostalgia doesn’t mean it wasn’t a genuinely wonderful time in my life.  I feel like people who say ‘you only like it because of nostalgia’ are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Nostalgia is part of the experience but there are really things I liked about it.

Nostalgia being part of an experience is not a reason to devalue said experience. If I love a movie because it reminds me of my Grandpa that doesn’t mean my other reasons for liking it are somehow less valuable because of a personal connection. Am I supposed to separate myself from all my life experience when viewing art and give some kind of robot review?

Recently I saw a critic on youtube eviscerate Star Wars Force Awakens and of course she accused all of us who liked it of being ‘blinded by nostalgia’.  I’m sorry but that is just not true.  Was nostalgia a part?  Probably but it also had a villain who was a true apprentice, it had a female hero who is discovering who she is, it had BB8 who was adorable, it had awesome light saber fights, it had a storm trooper rebelling.  All of that was great!  And yet I feel like this critic would discount everything I just said and accuse me of only being nostalgic.  That irritates me.

Now make no mistake there are definitely things I like for nostalgia purposes that I know are crap.  And you know what I own to that.  I know The Cutting Edge is not a great movie.  I get that, but I watched it with my friends in high school and it brings back good memories.  What’s wrong with that? I don’t expect you to have the same attachment to it and fully admit it isn’t a great movie.  And it’s not like I would give it an A+ just because I love it for nostalgia.  I would probably give it a C+ because that’s what it deserves, even though I love it.

I guess I just feel like the nostalgia accusation is a cheap way to discount what someone says.  I’ve had people claim I was nostalgic about Star Wars, Little Mermaid, Wizard of Oz, The Muppets, the list goes on.   These are all things I genuinely love and can give you reasons. I guess there is a little bit of nostalgia but that’s way down the list of why I enjoy those properties, and yet it is used as a reason to throw away my opinion?  That frustrates me!

I’ve even had people accuse me of nostalgia for things I didn’t like as a child.  I was not interested in fantasy or superheroes at all growing up.  And yet when I enjoy Avengers: Age of Ultron or other films people claim it is nostalgia.  It’s not.  I just liked it!

And I am not immune from the nostalgia accusation.  Just the other day I was talking to someone about the Care Bears movies and they were saying how people they knew LOVED them.  My response was ‘it must just be nostalgia because they aren’t that great’.  And then I stopped myself and realized I was doing the very thing that drives me crazy.  Maybe they have perfectly good reasons liking Care Bears? Or maybe it is nostalgia and what’s wrong with that?

I guess I just feel like nearly every time I’m accused of nostalgia it’s actually not the case.  I like what I like and I try to give as good an explanation as I can.  If nostalgia is part of that experience I will own to it, even celebrate it.  Nostalgia is a powerful thing and if we like something because it reminds us of our life that is great.  I just don’t like being accused of it when it isn’t true.  It makes me seem less objective than others who are ‘untainted by nostalgia’.

What do you guys think?  Can you relate to what I am saying?  What’s your view on nostalgia?  What’s something you enjoy but you know it is mostly for nostalgia sake?

Best and Worst of 2015 of Everything

So we have almost reached the end of 2015 and what a crazy year it has been.  And is it just me or has this year felt incredibly long?  It feels like a million years ago I was recovering from my busted knee!

As I do every year I thought it would be fun to share with you my best and worst of the year in a bunch of categories.  I would love if you shared yours in the comment section.  Some of them I won’t have a worst because it doesn’t really qualify.

Best Book I Read

I loved The Martian but best book I read  was Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. 

Here is a hilarious novel about a girl who is overcoming a mental breakdown and has severe anxiety.  But it is also extremely funny with her family being much better written than any sitcom I’ve seen in a long time.  Particularly the battles between the Mother and Audrey’s brother Frank had me in stitches.  Kinsella has been a favorite author of mine for years but this was her first YA novel and she knocked it out of the park.  It was touching, sweet, handled the mental illness so well and yet was also made me laugh.  No easy task to balance but she did.

finding audreyWorst Book I Read

Me Before You is a book that really ticked me off.  It attempts to manipulate the viewer to agree with the selfish choices the character makes.  Even if I agreed with said choices I wouldn’t appreciate the way the author doesn’t give other viable emotional options and expects you to celebrate as empowering the taking of a life.  This is no Million Dollar Baby I will tell you that.  Plus, the dialogue is awful, the characters poorly developed and the situation not as deep and contemplative as it thinks it is.  I said in my review on goodreads ‘like a Nicholas Sparks book but not as competently written…’.  It’s very true.  It is definitely one of the worst books I’ve ever read.

me before youBest Movie

I already shared my best and worst videos, with you but I figured I needed to share it here.

My favorite movie of the year was Pixars Inside Out.  It blew me away to follow the journey of Joy and Riley as they try to accept all this change into their lives.  It’s moving, clever, funny, beautifully animated and just about perfect.

inside out5The worst movie I saw all year is called the Ridiculous 6, which is available on Netflix.  It is not only a stupid comedy but incredibly gross and offensive.  Plus it is 2 hours long!!  Kill me now.  You’ve been warned.

ridiculous 6-3Best New Restaurant

My favorite new place to eat is the Even Stevens sandwich shop that opened up in Draper.  I have had most of their menu and it is all delicious.  Plus, they donate ingredients for a sandwich to the hungry with each sandwich ordered.  My favorite is the Turkey Day but you can’t go wrong.  I’ve liked everything I have tried.  Great service there as well.

even stevens2

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Worst New Restaurant

It’s not new to the world but I’ve been to the new Dunkin Donuts 3 times and not been impressed.  The donuts are cold, dry and lacking in flavor.  I like my donuts light and fluffy in texture so I guess it is a personal preference thing but I don’t get the fuss.

dunkin donutsBest TV Show

It’s in its 2nd season but I started getting into Star Wars Rebels this year and have loved it.  I know it is designed for kids but the stories are good!  The characters are interesting and it’s fun to see a whole new non-Skywalker side of the Star Wars world.

rebels2Worst TV Show

I know people like it but I thought Blackish was awful.  I felt it took racial stereotypes and wallowed in them instead of doing anything interesting or funny.  Like why is it funny to have a Dad bother his son about playing field hockey? Thats not a black sport evidently but basketball is.  Come on?  The lead character father is so unlikable that I couldn’t get past it.

blackishBest Music

The best music of 2015 is definitely Adelle’s new album 25.  I’ve listened to it incessantly for the last month and find it haunting and beautiful.

adele2

My favorite song on the album is called When We Were Young:

I don’t have a worst song because I pretty much just listen to my downloads so it is all songs I like.

Best New Broadway Show-

I haven’t seen it but have loved listening to Hamilton just like everyone else.

I think that’s everything! What are your favorite books, movies, TV, music, food etc?  Share in the comment sections.  Thanks!

I Miss Casual

Guys I miss casual.  What do I mean by casual? Well, its not that I don’t have friends but its the type of friends you can have in 20s but almost never have in 30s.

Casual is having nothing to do on a Friday night, texting friends and all going to a movie.  That kind of thing never happens.

Casual is getting together to watch American Idol or Survivor every Wednesday night at your house.  That kind of thing never happens any more.

Casual is if I’m bored having someone to call and hang out with because they are also most likely bored. That kind of thing never happens.

Casual is stopping over to chat with friends, usually to bring them a flyer or something from church.  That kind of thing never happens. (all email now).

What we have in your 30s instead of casual is a calendar.  Everything is planned out and scheduled weeks in advance.  That is fine but there is something more relaxing about both the regularity and spontaneity of casual.  It was just so easy and now friendshipping is a lot of work.

Now even to meet a friend for lunch is a challenge.  Her schedule, my schedule are both busy and it’s tough.  Plus, about 80% of my friends don’t live in state any more and 99% have kids which is fine but usually requires more planning.

I know with book club I had to take a break because it was turning into this thing that I hated.  I felt like the book nag when it was supposed to be fun. It was such a chore trying to get people to come that I finally threw up my hands in frustration.

But I can be to blame too.  Just Saturday I missed the Hand Made Co-op (although I did message my friend as early as I could) . I had a terrible night with about 3 hours of sleep and I knew a drive up to Salt Lake wasn’t going to happen.  This was especially true because I would be going to Bountiful later that afternoon for the Open Water clinic.  I figured I had to pick one and with the GSL Open Water Swim coming up soon I knew I needed to be at the clinic.

So I can flake out on people too.  We all do.  It’s just tough to get people together.

That said, I suppose it is silly to pine for the past.  This is my life now and it isn’t casual.

Sigh…

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!

The Wicked Stepmother

Missy

As you all know I’m a big Survivor fan and part of the reason I love the show is while it is fabricated and packaged as entertainment, it is also an interesting window into human nature.  We see the way people behave when eating 100 calories a day, pushed to extremes and how they interact when forced to make choices that service themselves and the group.  That is fascinating to me.  The power structures, social customs, group theory and patterns that develop are interesting and the fact that every winner has been different is a testament to the show.  There is no one way to guarantee a win because what is effective in a game amongst one group may not be in another.

For me season 29 was a disappointment.  This is partly because I loved the previous season 28 so much.  We had so many dynamic personalities in Cagayan that made it fascinating (and hilarious) to watch.  This season San Juan Del Sur I never bonded with anyone (or hated anyone).

But it had its appeal and curiosity factor as every season does.  And one of the interesting threads was a mother daughter pair named Missy and Baylor.  Missy was announced on the show in her introduction that she had been married and divorced 3 times.  I’m not sure why this was such a big deal?  Surely there have been Survivor men who have been married that many times and it was never brought up?

sv2901mt

From the beginning it seemed like the show was disdainful of Missy for her marriages even though I didn’t really see her doing much worthy of that disdain.  Certainly in the world of Survivor villains she was very thin gruel (and if they had the footage we would have seen it!).  She did protect her daughter (who I also didn’t ever see proof that she was that bad) but I didn’t think much more than any other person protected their loved one in the game.

She may have been a real jerk but this was not proven in the footage I saw, even the extended footage outside of the show.  There was really only one spat Missy had with Reed where he called Baylor a brat and there was a brief exchange. But again in the world of Survivor it was nothing. I could probably think of about 100 players who have been more obnoxious and villainous in their seasons.

The reason I bring all this up is in the finale Reed, a Broadway actor, got up in his jury speech and obliterated Missy as not only a bad mother but ‘a wicked stepmother’.  Here’s the speech:

So he defines the wicked stepmother as ‘the eccentric woman who comes in and makes demands on everyone for the things to which she feels so entitled”.  Again, that may have been Missy but it was not shown in the edit of the show and I believe if it entitled behavior was there it would have been shown.

Missy was the one who made the rice and they had to barter to get more (a Survivor first) but Reed was a beneficiary of more rice so you think he would be grateful for that?  So she didn’t like her daughter being called a brat on national tv?  That makes her a wicked stepmother.  Again, in the world of Survivor villains she was so not wicked.  For instance, Kass from Cagayan was way more critical, entitled, condescending and judgmental.

It really bothered me to see a woman criticized for playing the exact same game that many men have played, especially after she refused to give up after an ankle injury.  You think the show would have treated her as a hero (they don’t have control over jury speeches but still the tone the last 3 episodes was very Missy critical and yet I never was convinced she was doing anything that bad).

The reason why I mention all of this (because I know most of you don’t watch the show) is because I think it is emblematic of our societies strange view of maternal instinct, motherhood, femininity and womanhood.

survivor-caramoan-dawn-meehanThis is not the first time a Survivor Mom has been raked over the coals.  The worst time was Dawn Mehan in Survivor Carmoan who was forced to take out her dental implants and apologize to a fellow contestant (something men who have backstabbed people have never been asked to do).  People were very tough on Dawn because they felt she had betrayed them.  She was the Mother on the island and then had used that relationship to manipulate her own spot in the game.

Again if a Father figure had done the same thing like a Bob Crowley or Tom Westman it would be seen as great game play but not for a mother. We just expect mothers and ‘mother figures’ to behave in a particular way, which is decidedly unfair as all women are not the same and not all maternal instinct manifests itself in the same way.

Dawn was also very emotional which did not help her game but I kind of get that too.I would probably also be very emotional if I was hungry, tired and away from loved ones. I think her emotional state only made people hate her more.  Missy showed that even if Dawn had not been a cry baby she would still have been looked at as a bad mother for simply playing the game as the ‘mother figure’. Dawn received incredible backlash after the season including death threats and the most vile of insults forcing her to take down her social media all together. Other people have played the game poorly and not received such backlash but other people were not a mother of 6 children. It’s just a different playing field.

survivor-caramoan-dawn-meehan-promises-a-tear-free-season-this-time-around1

Over at Entertainment Weekly Melissa Maerz has a great article called ‘Survivor’: Why that ‘wicked stepmother’ speech enraged me’. 

She says:

” I have no beef with mothers defining themselves as mothers. I’m a mother, too, and proud of it. It’s the question of who is branding women that way, and why, that makes me uneasy”

And then she says

“the term is “rife with contradictions”: “On TV and in movies and in modern fiction, mothers are frequently portrayed as protective yet focused on the trivial, wise yet neurotic, sexy yet sexless, monumentally important but deeply silly,” she writes. Worse yet, we villainize mothers for failing to live up to the standards set by the latter-day Donna Reeds we see on screen, even though those contradictions make those standards impossible.

Mothers can be anything, we’re told, as long as they’re both that thing and its opposite, and as long they’re not any one thing too much

Going back to the broader sociological discussion (again why I like Survivor) do we put Mothers and motherhood on too high a pedestal?  Do we expect women to be perfect and to never be self-serving or make mistakes? I kind of think we might. Most of us would have a much harder time forgiving an insult from a mother than a father.  Why? I guess because our fathers typically don’t raise us and teach us what is right and wrong (even in extreme patriarchal societies Mothers do most of the teaching and caring of children).

sv2901mb

Perhaps because Mothers are our consolation and sanctuary from the world they are put on the pedestal, almost more a saintly role intervening in our behalf against the evils that surround us than a real person?  I guess in some ways that is a good thing but it seems part of growing up is seeing your parents as flawed creatures who did their best but made mistakes too.  I think that’s why Reed’s speech felt so off-putting and immature to some of us. She was doing the best she could under tough circumstances but clearly she was not the motherly figure he expected her to be.

It was interesting in exit interviews yesterday Baylor said she felt her Mom was bullied. She said normally she was the one going to her Mom for comfort from the meanness of the world but this time it was her Mother receiving it and her doing the comforting.  In that respect perhaps it was a healthy experience for her. Again helping her see her Mom as a real person and not just her role as a mother.

I guess I get annoyed when anyone tries to put me in a mold and I feel that is what happened here.  Missy did not fit the mold of what Reed and others see as a ‘mother’ so that made her wicked despite showing little to no actual villainous behavior.

If I have children or participate in child rearing activities I do not want to be pressured to behave in some socially acceptable way.  I want to be me and the best mother I can be for me. Luckily I do not have people voting on my mothering like Missy did but it makes me sad we are so closeminded in 2014 in what behaviors are befitting a woman and womanhood.

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Wasn’t the whole point of feminism to allow women to be themselves, to be whatever they wanted to be? Why does that not include a wide spectrum of mothering styles and personalities? Why must we have one way and if you are different you are wicked and wrong? I guess that’s what bothered me the most about Reed’s speech it said to me ‘there is only one way for a mother to behave and you did not act as you should’.

Melissa Maerz ends her article with a challenge to Survivor and to all of us to throw off the Motherly stereotypes and see people for who they are not an idealized vision of who the perfect mother should be:

“Maybe it’s not Survivor‘s fault that Reed has such a twisted view of motherhood. Even so, it’s time for the show to stop devoting so much airtime—including a big chunk of the reunion—to rehashing unfair stereotypes. And it’s time for Survivor‘s host, Jeff Probst, to stop defending them…

Just because she has a daughter doesn’t mean that Missy has to be a great role model in the game—though, in my mind, she is one.”

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I couldn’t agree more. In a boring season she was a fighter and certainly deserved better than to be attacked and lambasted as a villain for her best efforts to win a game.  It just shows how much more work we have to do to break down gender stereotypes and accept people as people not classifications. It will never go away completely but we can do better.  We must do better.

(At least it is good to see many in the cast come to Missy’s defense.  Reed was trying to perform to the TV audience and was probably purposefully dramatic and over-the-top but it certainly didn’t win him any points in my book but I am not a reality tv producer looking for drama…)

Amazing Race Around the World

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So I’ve had a lot of down time lately…literally.  Fortunately my knee is healing right on schedule and I feel confident it will continue to do so.  Still only so much a girl can do when confined to 2 rooms for most of the day.

Of course I have been doing my Disney challenge which if you haven’t followed the blog it has turned out great!  I’m in the slog of the package films from the 40s but I bet you don’t know much about them so it will be fun for you (probably more fun to read my reviews than for me to watch them…)

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Another thing I’ve enjoyed is finally watching the Amazing Race Canada and Amazing Race Australia vs New Zealand.  They are completely awesome!  So much better than the last 4 or five seasons of Amazing Race US.  Especially the last season where the challenges were too backyard carnival, no travel drama, too few cities and thoroughly whiny winners. (If I had to hear ‘we are so old’ or ‘Wa wa, they U-turned us’ I think I would have screamed).

Honestly the premiere of Amazing Race Canada was better than the finale of Amazing Race US.  I hope TAR US you are taking notes!  The host is great for Amazing Race Canada and they have an eclectic group.  On both the Ausie and the Canada cast I don’t feel the casting was as gimmicky as the US casting has gotten.

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Now there is always the bickering couple, blonde girls, child/father, alpha-males, reality tv couple, newlyweds.  It’s become so predictable but in these international versions they have blondes but they are smart and actually good at the game.  In Canada they are hockey players and they have oddly been very good at every challenge except playing hockey…They are more than the color of their hair.

I particularly like the cast for the Australia vs New Zealand because the country loyalty adds a layer of strategy which is interesting.  Suddenly a team you might U-turn because they are strong you don’t because they are for your country.  We will see how long that lasts but so far been great.

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For both casts they do some challenges at home but it doesn’t matter a bit.  You are still getting to know a culture and doing fun challenges.  I guess for me it is foreign where they are showing but I still think they are good challenges that have been very physical but fun.

Anyway, there are lots of ways to watch both shows.  Look on youtube or watch on the shows websites.

These international versions are reminding me why I liked the show to begin with.  It’s pretty amazing!