Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ageless Love

Harold and Maude gets five stars from me. This movie encompasses death, love, age, synicism, suicide, fun, and appreceation for life all into one wonderful bundle. The words I just used to describe the nuances of this movie would never fit together otherwise. They just don't make movies like this anymore. Anything from the feel of old technology to produce film to the characters is so outdated yet timeless. I simply do not feel that this type of movie could be recreated successfuly. There is a genuine aura surrounding it.

I never thought I would laugh at death, yet I did numerous times throughout the movie. It is so synister and quirky - smart even. The greatest scene in the entire movie has to be when Harold pulls the Ferris Bueller face and we see his smirk which quickly turns back into a blank face when he turns towards his mother. Right there the viewer has to know that there is no outsmarting him.

All of the elements in this movie are so carefully thoughout out and so fitting for the situations. I loved the hurse that Harold drove, the train car Maude lived in, the fake arm which saluted the painting, the falling veterans...etc. With a movie like this, detail is very important, it is half the humor in the situations which Harold finds himself in.

Harold in himself portrays hope in such a hopeless world; survival in the desire for death. He is so composed and serious about his interests - funerals and mock suicides. It's almost ironic that he is so young and so dead. Maude, on the other hand, is this vivacious and vigorous figure. Again it is ironic that she is so old, yet so alive. Together this characters combine to make a whole. Maude helps Harold embrace life, and death in some ways. Together they thrive because they have a different eye for the world around them. Ususally the viewer would be disgusted at such an old woman and such a young man in a relationship, however the insparation of the film helps us ignore their age and they simply turn into timeless figures.

Maude utters the wonderful words: "how the world loves a cage". In a way Harold loves his own cage. He is so involved with his mock suicides and trying to get a reaction out of his mom that he is not living. "I am not living, but I have died a few times", he says to Maude. Yet Maude is completely free of this cage. "The earth is her body, her head is the stars". She speaks of people as her species, notices the differences in daisies, and envisions herself as a flower.

While the characters are comical in many ways, this movie does show subtle political and historical undertones. Maude has a number tattooed on her arm, indicating that she was a Jewish Concentration Camp Prisoner. The impact of this is much greater than just the flash of her numer on her arm, which is left without mention. (Another clever and subtle technique, I thought) While she is this fun, free, and loving spirit she has endured great pain in the past. This shows us that the best of us percerviers and conquers our obstacles. She is the ray of hope in this movie both for viewers and Harold.

"If you want to sing out, sing out; If you want to be free be free; There's a million things that you can be; You know that there are. If you want to live high, live high;...There's a million ways to go; You know that there are". Maude helped Harold choose the better path. Through all the pain of losing true love and preying on death we, the viewers, are instilled with hope.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Vagina - as a regular word

Over this past weekend I had the incredible opportunity and honor of being a part of the 2009 Cast of the Vagina Monologues. Although the three performances did not allow for a sold out show the turn out was pretty great. The feedback was positive and many people said it was worth their money. For those of you who did not go - you missed out!

I performed the monologue called: "Because He Liked to Look At It". Ironically the character of the monologue is very much like me. The woman who originally said those words did not appreceate herself. She didn't even associate her vagina as a part of herself. When I was younger I didn' t have all that much appreceation for it either. Like my character, I found it incredibly ugly. Unfortunately just like in the monologue, it took a man to make me realize that I am beautiful and I should not be ashamed of my body. Through him I was abled to grow and appreceate my vagina for the beautiful body part that it truly is. I stopped hiding. Where there were once dark rooms, are now illuminated spaces. Sober with the lights on, as some would like to put it.

Each and every monologue which was performed over the last weekend is unique and beautiful. Each one brings a different undertone and hue to the word vagina. Each is empowering in its own way. It is important to remember that these monologues were written after Eve Ensler spoke to many different women. Each woman had a different experiance with their sexuality and the word vagina. Like those women, the cast was composed of many different students here. I thought it was amazing to come together for this one performance and devote ourselves to such a great cause. All else aside, the power of twenty women is pretty great. I have to admit our breaking chant before the doors opened was "I have a vagina!" and it felt pretty good to say that. For many of the women which the monologues are about may even have been saying that for the first time.

It was an amazing experiance. I love the cause which all of our proceeds is going to - the women of the Congo and also the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crises Services. I also love the meaning of the Vagina Monologues - it's not just about raising money. It's raising the love and appreceation of vaginas amongst our audience and ourselves and also shedding light on some devastating facts about abuse. All together, the Vagina Monologues are trying to make "vagina" an appreceated and accepted word, not the way it has been thought of throughout history as an inappropriate word, while balls and dick are common occurances in speech.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

the unfruitful search

If Dr. Ealy's lecture and Celestina's text have taught us anything, it is that love ends in tragedy for it is in some part a figment of our imagination which keeps us hungry and unsatisfied. If we are partly born with this inate need to search for our completeness, it is almost ironic that there is no real answer. We are born to torture ourselves on the path to attempting salvation. However, the sad news for us is that there is no such thing. We cannot be fullfilled - ever. No matter how many hearts or bodies we conquer and how many things we pocess, Celestina teaches us that we are in love with the idea of them and not the physical things we come to collect along the way.

It seems as though humans are then none other than delusional. We have a fixation on an insatiable desire and we go in circles trying to find the same answer - completeness. Yet, we are in love with an image, a simple figment of the imagination. We are in love with the subjective reality of percieving a certain object a certain way and then seeking the means to pocessing that object. But alas, that object does not exist the same way in reality as it exists in the mind so we can never have our cake and eat it too. What is the reason for living then?

Celestina is just another love story. The classic longing, and sickness. The classical elements such as forbidden pocessions, gardens, and death. It all seems so tragic. Like the classic Romeo and Juliet, Celestina ends in death. All that is left behind are the forlorn families of those who gave their life to the pangs of the sickness which, through their eyes, inflicted their unsuspecting hearts.

Dr. Ealy brought up an interesting point when he talked about the gender divide in love sickness. How could that be when we are all humans who suffer the same fate? Indeed throughout history women and men have been drastically separated. The woman embodies desire, lust. She brings with her intentions the devil. She brings forth life, yet she brings forth mankind's doom. It seems correct to percieve a woman who desires as a great threat. Dr. Ealy mentions that female desire can destroy patriarchal alliances and class structures. This reinforces the notion that women stand for destruction, as irrational, desire-driven, beings.

Throughout Celestina we see the way women have been employed by the patriarchy. Women played beneficial parts in society while acting as matriarchs, perhaps all the while without knowing. Celestina promotes the tradition of virginity by sewing young women up to "re-virginize" them. All of the prostitutes play a part in granting men authority and rationalism. In a way all of their efforts simply re-inforce their subordination.

This play provides the answer in life and our inescapable and terrible fate as early as 1499. Yet, generations upon generations have not listened. There is an ever-strong belief in true love and fullfillment. Plenty of people still believe in a thing such as soul mates which complete their missing parts. Yet, much of Celestina and Dr. Ealy's words prove to be true. We, as a sociey, are in love with being in love. We are constantly searching and hoping. Hoping to find what? Fools, we are all fools. We hope to find a different form of obsessive compulsive disorder. We search for the invigorating mix of endorphins and adrenalin that special someone can provide. I suppose this is the inner drug addict in us, searching for their next high - their next obsession. Do we really enjoy how crazy love makes us? In the lows of it, suicide is not uncommon. So many places have warned us and told us of this erotic melancholy which Dr. Ealy mentioned. Our obssesion with an image is in turn a never ending pursuit of unattainable things.

Like drug addicts are a slave to their addictions and their never ending hunt for that deeper, higher high, we are slaves to our desire on our never ending journey to completion and fullfillment.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rape is Funny

First off I just want to say great job Dr. Highberg! We had quite the turn out. With a title like "Rape is Funny" it isn't surprising that the lecture drew such a crowd. The reality is, there are references of rape and rape jokes all around us. We have grown so accustomed to this that we do not even notice the horrible conotation of "making someone your bitch". More importantly, many people do not take the time to think about the corrupt circumstances this phrase has come from. Prison. No jokes there.

Half of the viewers in the room last night were probably thinking that, the people sent to prison deserve everything they get. The others probably sided with Dr. Highberg when he brought up the example of Fish, where a teenage boy was sent to prison for a robbery with a toy gun. While in prison he was raped over 1,000 times. There is no way that is the correct punishment for such a crime, when taking into account not only the physcial, but also psychological damage involved.

I do not side with the fact that people deserve to be raped. However, if we think about it that is the only prevelent threat in prison. Otherwise, if you are someone who roams the streets, has no money for food, and committs crimes day and day out to support themsevles...well then prison may not sound so bad. It's a roof over their head and food in their stomachs. The only real punishment and potential threat is the fact that in prison, either you own inmates or you are owned.

An interesting topic also came up - what about rapists, sex offenders, murderers? It seemed as though the audience agreed that it would be good for them to get a taste of their own medicine. This would mean that we concent to those people getting raped, but not those who committed lighter crimes. Here we almost have a proposal for a rape prison with the sign "WE RAPE" in the window. If you have murdered, raped, or sexually assaulted anyone you belong with us. However, this is where we enter the shades of gray...there is no way some people could go to a prison where people rape, and some could go to a prison where there is no rape permitted. Prison is prison.

Stemming from prison rape, is the idea that rape is the sexual way we show our domination. This is how we exert our power over someone else in the deepest possible way. In some instances like college campuses, guys think that raping a female may put her back in her place.

The last mention, brings us to a whole new place. Raping a woman to put her back in her place truly disgusts me, primarily for the reason that if women seek any improvement in status they will be brought down. If a woman dresses in a manner that displays her body, perhaps because she is proud or wants to test her boundaries, than she is shot back down because anything that happens in that circumstance is going to look like it was her fault. If she was so irrisistable then a man could not help but to rape her - what a proposterous idea! Yet this is a widely accepted notion, that still circulates today.

I will admit, there were some jokes Dr. Highberg mentioned which made me chuckle - I couldn't help it. This definetly rules out the moralist category from our reading, however since I do not hold these attitudes and I believe that these are just jokes, like most of us, I do fit into the amoralist category. What we don't realize is just how much damage "just a joke" can bring. We have been conditioned with rape as a common occurance with unproportional importance. We can poke fun because most people don't take it seriously enough. It is definetly a matter that deserves more attention. Not enough rape victims come forward. We should all take a step back and re-consider the correct move after we hear yet another rape joke. I think it's time we stop laughing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

California Dreamin' Leaves Us Blue

Requim for a Dream was quite a movie - I mean wow. The images on the giant screen before me took me for an unexpected ride and left me perplexed and upset at the hard reality of durgs and our world today. The strong sense of loneliness toward the end of the movie was practically seeping out, and I was left like a bystanding, wounded tree. Thank God for the five minute break at the end. By the cast list, I was shaking, trying to hold back tears, but the giant bulge was creeping up. I put my shoes on and stormed into the bathroom, trying to conceal just how upset I was. Truth be told, I just couldn't hold back my tears. Requim for a dream is one sad story. No good comes happy hope. I can see why this was # 13 Premiere Magazine's Most Dangerous List - Americans are left both shocked and disturbed by the series of events which unfold in this movie. We are not used to sad endings; we do not like sad endings.

From Beautiful Boy we learned that addiction to drugs is a disease which we did not cause and cannot cure; it's all within the individual. Although I pitty Marian, Harry, and Tyrone's situation they had a fractional idea of what they were getting into. They voluntarily took the first dose. My heart goes out to Sarah, who had no idea what she was doing to herself, and she had no idea where those four colorful pills were going to lead her. She is the epitome of lonliness in its most raw form. It makes me cringe to try and put myself in her shoes - although we all must have that fear sub-consciously. The fear that we will grow old, and end up alone. Alone to wallow in our lonliness and self pitty, and no longer be needed by anyone after an entire lifetime of adjusting to taking care of others.

All four of the main characters have their own requiem for a dream. Their own dream. Sarah's to be on TV and be important, known, and needed; as well as having her son awknowlege her and show his love for her. Marian wanted a life with Harry, with a space where she could design clothers. Tyrone wanted to live a better life and fullfill his mom's words. Harry wanted to build a life for himself, better than the one he came from. All four of these characters are haunted by their dream and in the end if remains simply a dream.

What are we willing to pay for our dreams? Through the characters' quests we find that they are willing to sacrifice all that they have in hopes for unrealistic images in their head.

It did not surprise me that Harry was saying "It'll be like that again man" to Tyrone when they were hitting one of their drug and financial lows. It seems as if addicts are always saying how it will get better. I have to wonder where they get all of that hope? Is it the chemical substances that fill thier veins and lift them? I suppose it wouldn't be hard to dream and hope if you spent half of your waking time in the clouds.

Once again it becomes evident that drug use diminishes all boundaries which were once established, through every characters' drug use. They are dellusional and will do anything for another hit. The plot quickly turns into a never ending chase for drugs. Without realizing it, each of the character's drug use begins to separate them. Separating a family bond, friendship, and a love.

The images which make up the ending of this horrific story will be permanently pressed into a file in the back of my mind. This movie alone is reason enough for me to never touch drugs. I feel that the fact that each of the four characters, separated in the end, turns to their right and curls up in the fetal position screams their regret and sorrow for letting themselves get to where they are. Where do they go from here? We may never know. However we are left with the image of Sarah, looking glamorous in her red dress, all done up, on stage of her favorite show along with Harry telling him she loves him, and him saying the same to his mother.

If we think about this realistically, Sarah ruined herself over a foolish deception. She received a phone call, which in turn changed her life. Everything began to be directed towards this one cause. This just shows that she had nothing else left, she needed this opportunity as something to look forward to, even if it were never real.

Lastly, another scene which struck me is when Harry is walking towards the ocean on the dock at the end. Unlike the beginning of the movie, Marian was not there this time. He was alone and when he walked up to the railing and looked at the water he began to walk back, after which he fell off the edge of the dock into a dark street. His last words were "Marian". They say that if you fall into black space in your dreams it symbolizes death. In a way each of these characters fell into their own, unintentionally, self-created, black hole and suffered a kind of death by separation from everything they ever dreamed of and loved.