Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cinema Should Make You Forget You're Sitting In A Theater

The title of this blog is a quote from Roman Polanski. The inspiration for this blog comes from another blog someone posted on my favorite livejournal community Oh No They Didn't...the blog can be found here if anyone is curious. For those who don't want to read it basically the author talks about her dislike for John Hughes movies and why she doesn't think they defined the 80s generation, but then she cites a movie that expresses the culture of a very small group of ppl. And while I don't necessarily agree with the author's point, it made me think.

The first time I experienced one of the quintessential John Hughes films I couldn't have been much older than maybe 14. I honestly don't remember because its been so long that I feel like these movies are just a normal part of my life. And in a way they are. Most of them came out before I was even born (Ferris Bueller came out after but I wasn't even two months old.) But when I stumbled upon them in my adolescence I immediately just attached to them. The first one I saw was of course The Breakfast Club. It was on television so it was heavily edited but despite that I absolutely loved it. Now I had no idea that this movie was some sort of critical darling. I had no idea who any of the actors were (except for maybe Molly Ringwald but that's because my mom recognized her from the first season of The Facts of Life). No one sat me down and said "now you must watch this movie; it defined a generation." I just said "ooh tennagers, looks fun." I can understand why I attached to it though; it was such a powerful piece. It reminded me of things I myself was going through.

When I first saw The Breakfast Club I probably related more to Anthony Michael Hall or Ally Sheedy's character. Though now my friends will say I'm more like Molly Ringwald. PS: I was never as popular as Claire...ever. As a pre-teen I was goofy and weird and silly. I only fit in with the "popular" girls because we shared extra cirricular activities like plays and dance. I relished every minute of it while we were together and found myself asking the same question Brian poses near the end of the detention...would we still be friends outside of that isolated moment. My personal experience was half and half depending on the situation but I definitely think Claire's response in the movie was incredibly honest and real. The popular kids don't usually fraternize with kids who aren't like them. I don't think she was being a bitch, that's just the reality of being a teenager. When you're a teen especially, you stick to people who are like you. Its the safety in numbers thing.

I went to a performing arts high school so I can hardly say I had a typical high school experience. But I can definitely relate to the characters in the movie. Because even within our differences, we still had similar dynamics. I had friends outside of my major sure but where did 98% of my friends come from? The drama department. It wouldn't be seen as a major crime against life if you were friends with someone outside of your social group but you was weird.

I feel like the themes and emotions of the characters in John Hughes movies are what keep them popular. In every character, you see someone you know, no matter what kind of group you hang out in. You know someone like John Bender, Ferris Bueller sits next to you in math class, Duckie is your best friend too and seriously what girl hasn't felt like Samantha Baker at some point in her life? I think the underlying themes of these movies are what drew audiences and critics in. They loved them because of what they represented, not who. So what if you're a goth punk anarchist who is all "damn the establishment!" ? You're still a human who feels human emotions. That's where the real story comes from. I mean I'm black. Do any characters in John Hughes films look like me? No. Do they represent my socioeconomic status? No. But do they experience and feel things that I do? Yes.

I don't think John Hughes was setting out to capture the voice of a generation. And I don't think the elements of it that captured a generation have anything to do with the plots and who the movie depicts. What represents the generation is the look of movies, the pop culture. The bands, the clothes, the lingo. I think what it captures is the soul of a specific age group. Teenagers are different than any other age group. Your hormones are shifting and things are changing and really you're just a passenger on the crazy ride. There is no way you can say that the emotions and feelings experienced by the characters in John Hughes' teen movies didn't speak to you. You felt most of them at some point yourself, admit it. You lusted after the boy who didn't know you existed, you were the kid everybody picked on. These are natural occurances. And I think John Hughed hit the jackpot because before his movies, teens didn't have anything like that to latch on to.

I know that now I will be showing my nieces and nephews these movies and one day when I have kids I'll show them as well. And I know what I'll tell them, "these movies didn't define a generation; these movies captured a time of your life when everything seems out of whack. watch these, learn from them and see yourself in them."

"Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain...and an athlete...and a basket case...a princess...and a criminal... Does that answer your question?... Sincerely yours, the Breakfast Club."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sexy Is As Sexy Does

I watched the Teen Choice Awards tonight. Though my teen years are most definitely (and happily) behind me, I like to watch the show and see the people I like on it (like the cast of Twilight). So yeah, I saw Miley Cyrus's performance. And my opinion is...what's the big deal?

As a kid of the 90s, I remember the first time I saw Britney Spears flouncing around in a little schoolgirl outfit and pigtails. Please, that is like two steps away from a pole. Maybe even worse. She was sending mixed signals. At least with Miley's performance it was what it was. She danced against the pole for like a minute and then kept going. It's not like she jumped on top of it and flipped upside down in a spread eagle. And don't try to say she might as well have done that. That is a crock of bull and anyone with a semi functioning brain can see that. Do you know how many people go to aerobics class where you work on the pole? It's a serious workout. What, was it because Miley had on shorty shorts and boots? She didn't take any of her clothes off though! And honestly, that's no worse than a nude colored bra and pants covered in rhinestones.

I think this really comes down to something that has irked me for years. Parents are always quick to blame the artist for being a bad role model because of various reasons. The way the dress, what they say, how they act. The last time I checked, it wasn't Miley Cyrus's job to maintain anyone's moral integrity but her own. So people shouldn't be giving her a hard time because of what she wears or how she acts on stage. Sure she's 16 (almost 17) but she's still a hell of a lot more admirable than a lot of regular girls her age. Let us not forget that at 16 Jamie Lynn Spears was knocked up. That's really not uncommon at that age! That's what parents should be talking to their daughters about, keeping their goddamn legs closed. No 16 year old girl needs to be having sex and if they are, put them on birth control. At least Miley's not walking around with a big old pregnant belly going "Hey y'all, watch my show!" So what that she wore some shorty shorts and danced against a pole for a few seconds? It's really not the end of the world. It's a part of a show.

My philosphy is that if you're so concerned about what Miley's doing and worried that your young daughter is going to get the wrong impression, sit down and talk to her! Explain that what Miley was doing was just a part of a show, that she's a performer and that's her job. Tell her that just because Miley did it on television does not mean that it's okay to dress like that and act that way when you're out in public. Don't look to celebrities to teach your kids what's right and what's wrong. YOU'RE the parent; that is YOUR responsibility! It really bothers me that parents don't want to step up to the plate and deal with it. It is Miley Cyrus's job to be an entertainer, nothing else.

And sure you can say that it was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Yes, there were pictures circling the interwebs of Miley flashing her panties...they're just underwear! She was otherwise covered, unlike Vanessa Hudgens or some other Disney stars who were showing all their business! Honestly someone could get a good view of your panties if you accidentally open your legs too wide wearing a skirt. The point is, she was wearing panties. You didn't see any boobies or any other lady parts.

If it really comes down to the way she was dressed while dancing...HELLO! have you walked into a store for juniors any time recently? I went on a quest to find a simple pair of denim shorts, nothing too fancy or anything to wear when it was warm and I didn't want to wear a dress. I went to about three or four stores before I found a pair that didn't show off my business!! I'm 23 years old and if I shouldn't be showing off my goods, what makes it okay for a 16 girl? And those are the only people I see wearing these shorts! Psh, they should be called denim underwear! So its okay for your kid to be traipsing the streets looking like she forgot to put on pants but it's not okay for Miley Cyrus to dance against a pole? Where is the logic in this?! Maybe I missed something. But I don't get it. Again, she's not walking around pregnant saying "Hey everyone! Look up to me! I'm knocked up because I danced on a pole at the Teen Choice Awards!"

Seriously, give me a break. Performers PERFORM. Parents PARENT. Honestly, Miley's performance was no worse than some of the conversations I hear from girls her age (and younger) on the bus. So either, we clean it all up or we can't complain. And remember, only parents can teach their children moral integrity. And we ain't Miley's momma.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I'm Not A Feminist But...

Why are people so threatened by a strong woman? We've had rights to speak our mind in this country for awhile now and it feels like every time it happens, the world falls apart. I feel like its especially worse in the entertainment industry which makes me seriously nervous because I want to be in that industry. But it seems like whenever a female artist has something to say that someone doesn't like, she gets all sorts of backlash.

Take for example, Katherine Heigl. I mean, I'm not a huge fan but I admire her for being so open with her feelings. But most people (in the industry and just regular people) consider her public enemy number one. Why? Because she wasn't afraid to say that she found "Knocked Up" to be misogynistic? Um, hello it kind of was. And completely unrealistic. I'm sorry but someone as hot as Katherine Heigl would not sleep with Seth Rogen no matter how many beers she had. But as soon as she spoke out everyone came down on her because it was the movie that launched her film career into orbit. So fucking what? And I know people will say well if she felt that way why did she make it? Um, forget not that this is a business. And maybe it read one day and then came to be something completely different once it was done. It's not like she could have pulled out halfway during filming because she didn't like the image of women the movie portrayed. Then she'd have to deal with backlash from that.

And now two years later Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen have something to say about her comments. It's like "really?" Did it offend them that much that they had to make a comment all this time later? Hey, maybe the woman had a point. Did you ever think about that guys? Give me a break okay? If you don't like what she had to say, tough. You have no problem spending the money the movie made you right? And how much of that was because she was in the movie? I mean, it's just a thought.

And let's not forget when she gracefully pulled her name out of the hat for an Emmy nomination the year after she won. She very simply stated that she didn't feel like the material that had been written for her gave her a performance worthy of being nominated for an Emmy. I watch Grey's Anatomy and I can say that she really had a horrible season and if she had been nominated for an Emmy I would have been pissed. I understand that characters have arcs and such but Izzie made me want to punch her in the face she came on screen. The writers and creator of the show should not have been mad that she told the truth; they should have been mad that they put that garbage on my tv screen week after week. Of course, they gave her a kickass season this year (as well as a terminal disease) but her being honest made them sit an reevaluate things.

Another example is Kelly Clarkson. She is the first and most successful American Idol winner and yet she can't get any respect from Clive Davis and her record label RCA. Really, because of the way they treat her, if I saw Clive Davis in the street I'd spit in his eye. I'm not even joking. When Kelly's album "My December" was released in 2007, she told interviewers that her label had offered her $10 million to take about 6 songs off her album because they didn't think there were enough radio friendly songs. When refused, they pulled all promotion away from the album. There weren't really many singles released...I think there was only the first single "Never Again." If there were any additional singles, they weren't on the radio and there were no videos made. The tour that was to take place right after the album's release was cancelled. I was supposed to go to that tour and I was so angry. Their excuse? Low ticket sales. Other artists have had tours with low ticket sales and the shows still happened so that was a bullshit excuse.

With her new album "All I Ever Wanted" Kelly did what was excpected of her. There are more poppy radio friendly tracks and it sold well. I also think that people need to expand their musical horizons. Just because "My December" was a little darker than what we had previously heard from Kelly a lot of people say the album sucks. It's a great album and if people just opened their ears they would see that. The newest single from "All I Ever Wanted", "Already Gone" is a great track, don't get me wrong but it wouldn't have been what I would have picked from the ballads. Kelly also stated this recently. Her label wanted her to release the song which was co-written with Ryan Tedder. He's a great songwriter no question but people started comparing it to Beyonce's "Halo" which was also penned by Tedder. Kelly said that this was a reason for not wanting to release the song as a single but her label did it anyway. And as soon as the words left her mouth, bam goodbye support from RCA.

It really bugs me that men have the power over the decisions. Here is a strong, opiniated female just merely stating what is her opinion and possibly fact and then losing all kinds of support from the men in power. Forget losing support, she is downright punished for speaking her mind. How is that fair? Isn't this country based on the freedom to have your own opinions? These two women are being treated horribly just because they shared their opinions on projects they were involved in, be it truth or not.

Why are people (men and women) so afraid of a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind? Why shouldn't we feel like we can shake things up a little bit every once in awhile? And not even shake things up. But we shouldn't be afraid to tell the truth because of how it could come back to bite us in the ass later. I consider myself to be a strong, independent woman and I am not afraid to speak my mind most of the time. What kind of message is that putting out there for young girls. That if you speak your mind, you will be publicly shamed and have thousands of people turn against you? You're not going to see me standing up and burning my bra anytime soon but this is something that has really bothered me lately. I mean, how do I know that after writing this someone isn't going to try and tell me that I'm not allowed to write this blog anymore?