Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Movie Review on Speak

I chose to review the movie Speak which was released in 2004. The movie was directed by Jessica Sharzer and is based on the novel written by Laurie Halse Anderson in 1999. The independent film stares Kristen Stewart, Steve Zahn, and Michael Angarano. It is a story about a high school freshman dealing with the traumatic experience of being raped. Within her school she is known as a snitch because she called 911 at a house party after she was raped. It was the end of eighth grade and she was sexually assaulted by an older high school boy though when the police arrived the rape was not reported. Many of the students who were still at the party got in trouble for underage drinking she began her ninth year being shunned by most of the school. The main characters name is Melinda or Mel for short. Throughout the movie she deals with her suffering by withdrawing and refusing to speak. She is alone and ignored by all of the people around her except a new student and an art teacher who together help her reclaim herself and her voice.

The boy in the movie who attacked her at the house party intimidates her at school to keep her silenced. He even begins dating Melinda’s ex-best friend and uses the relationship to taunt his victim. The close friends Melinda had before the party moved on to different groups and ignored her obvious pain. Her parents also notice the obvious different in their daughter but are too busy and self consumed to put any real effort in trying to help. The movie and book do a great job of creating the depiction of depression, loneliness, silence, intimidation, and ignorance that so many young girls face in high school. When girls are experiencing troubles they are often pushed to the side and made to feel lesser because our society dictates that females are suppose to be put together and orderly. One of Melinda’s teachers Mr. Neck is definitely a culprit of this as he tries to bully the young student. Her parents don’t seem to really care about what she is going through or don’t realize that her problems are extremely serious. In addition, the school therapist seems to be reciting something out of a textbook and no one seems to be honest in the situation and reaching out to Melinda. That is no one except for the schools new art teacher and a new boy that is Melinda’s lab partner. Her lab partner Dave befriends Melinda and tries to help her in dealing with her teachers and classmates. The art teacher Mr. Freeman sees that his young student is dealing with something significant and opens his room and time to her. They work together on her artistic techniques and he advises her to work out her internal demons through art or some other form of self expression. This relationship enables Melinda to begin to push back begin to deal with her pain, confusion, numbness, and silence. She fears that her friends, family, and school will not believe her if she tells. She fears for her friend who is in a relationship with the boy that assaulted her, she worries about him doing it again. She wonders why he chose her and not someone else hence blaming herself and fearing that there is something about her that is less than others. Melinda internally and externally through her art deals with this pain and fear and by the end of the movie Melinda finally is able to open up about her victimization and trust the people in her life. Watching this movie makes me so angry and makes me realize that there are countless girls who are bearing the burden of victimization alone. The stigmatization and self blaming of rape begins at a very young age and often remains with women throughout their entire lives. For this reason Speak is a hugely important novel and movie and I hope that we all work to break the silence of rape and empower victims of all age, gender, sex, sexual orientation, class, and so on.

Lauie Halse Anderson has written many stories dealing with the tribulations of high school and unveiling the truth of what girls are having to deal with and handle by themselves. This is a truly great story and is inspiring and heart breaking all at once. If anyone is interested Anderson has a new book out entitled Wintergirls which is about young anorexic girls. I heard a story with her on NPR’s show Here and Now which was extremely interesting and is on their pod cast at To Be Thin&segment=5&pubdate=2010-06-30.

10 Things I Hate About You

Andrea Roberts. WST 3020. Film Review

I am doing a movie review on the film 10 Things I Hate About You (Touchstone, 1999), directed by Gill Unger and written by Karen Mc Cullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith, based loosely on William Shakespeare’s famous tale, The Taming of the Shrew. In this film, Julia Styles plays Katerina Stratford “Kat,” the protagonist, referred to in the movie as a “heinous bitch.” Here we can see Shakespeare’s shrew appropriated, and updated as a feisty young feminist who defies the stereotypes reinforced by her peers. We have two female voices (the writers of the film) complemented by the “male gaze” (Lipkin 2009) of the director. It makes for a charming story that is both funny and heart wrenching. The story follows Kat who eventually falls in love with tough guy, Patrick (played by Heath Ledger), her formidable, and unexpected love match—who initially pursues her with ulterior motives, but than realizes that she is not who, he, or everyone else, thinks she is. The story examines the pitfalls of teenage love and life in the nineties, for which I will expand on, and flesh out with my own feminist reading of the story and trace important “girlhood” developments throughout this review.

Early on in the film Kat can be seen curled up in her living room reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and heard criticizing the school curriculum for it being sexist in its selected readings, as can be witnessed in her retort to a female classmate in her English class who found Hemingway romantic, “Romantic? Hemingway?! He was an abusive alcoholic misogynist who squandered half his life hanging around Picasso trying to nail his leftovers” (Kat, quoted from 10 Things I Hate About You, 1999). Kat frequently brings to the fore the power differentials between the sexes within a patriarchal society, especially within the dynamic of her English classroom, usually in response to Joey, the prime example of everything she can’t stand about the stereotypical teenaged male. He who refers to Kat as “a bitter self-righteous hag who has no friends” (Ibid), for which she replies, “I guess in this society being male and an asshole makes you worthy of our time. What about Sylvia Plath or Charlotte Bronte or Simone de Beauvoir?” (Ibid).

Her passion for second wave feminists is out of place, relative to her peers’ interests, and is thus a rejection of their values and social norms, what is interesting, though is that this film was made in 1999, coming off the heals of the Riot Grrls movement, in the midst of third wave feminism. Kat’s character allowed many girls a character for whom they could locate themselves in or identify with, and thought this was clearly not a visible aspect among the film’s characters, in reality, this “girl” was being realized on the ground during that time, furthermore, this film and Kat’s very character, could be viewed as evidence of this.

With a more critical lens, we can see Kat’s third wave perspective come into focus as she evolves, and vacillates between respective waves. Though she is well versed, and respectful of her first and second wave feminist fore mothers, she embraces the contradictions and personal empowerment fostered by the Riot Grrrl movement of the third wave (Lipkin, 2009). As the story unfolds, more context is revealed to shed light on precisely why Kat is so ill tempered, and the subsequent tension between, not only her and the arrogant Joey, but also with her sister, Bianca (who is two years her junior and the quintessence of femininity)—the type of girl that Kat openly rejects being anything like.

Quite clever to note, on behalf of the writers of the film, is the part of Kat’s English teacher, Mr. Morgan. He is a sharp tongued black man who’s role often serves to reinforce Kat as she puts Joey in his rightful place, and to some degree, legitimates her feminist point of view, but he is, at the same time, very quick to remind her of her own unrecognized privilege, he states: “I know how difficult it must be for you to overcome all those years of upper middle class suburban oppression, It must be tough”(10 Things I Hate About You,1999). After all, Kat is white, and the able-bodied, heterosexual daughter of a well to do obstetrician and lives in a gorgeous home overlooking Puget Sound, replete with pool and hot tub.

Walter Stratford, Kat and Bianca’s father, likes to keep his girls on short leash, and has gained notoriety for being a difficult pain in the ass who doesn’t allow his daughters to date. Kat doesn’t mind this much in regard to dating and boys, as she rejects many of the things that are cause for his worry, but they do lock horns in other ways—as her biting independence leaves him feeling like a “spectator” to her life. They fight over her going away to college at Sara Lawrence, a liberal arts college that is 3000 miles away on the East coast (where noted writer, Alice Walker attended). Clearly, though, he worries more about Bianca’s impressionability, in regard to peers and boys, than Kat’s, and according to him, he has good reason for this, he states, “Kissing isn't what keeps me up to my elbow in placenta all day long!” (Ibid). He does have a point. As a single father, I can see that he struggles at times, and seems overly protective, but at the end of the day, he adores his children and wants for their happiness.

Bianca resents her overbearing and controlling father, as her different subjective experience of what it means to be a girl, and what her goals are many times unrealized as she is subjected to double reinforcements—as Kat always “backs up” their dad, and thwarts her efforts to “enjoy her adolescence” (Ibid). Her traditional perception of boys, dating and social norms is largely presupposed by the surrounding characters in the film, and by us, subsequently as she can never fully develop this. Bianca’s character is never allowed to fully explore her own feelings through direct experiences of her own making. What’s more, she is continually made to feel like he stereotypical girl she looks like. In fact, the way her character is treated in the film, serves to show in quite an exemplary manner, exactly how we foster this stereotype and enable women—and it truly hampers development. And though it is not done purposely, it should remind us of why we should not judge a book by its cover.

Bianca could easily be the subject of No Doubts, I’m Just A Girl, in many ways—crippled by an overzealous desire to protect. Unlike Kat, who is trusted for her ability and independence, Bianca, by proxy, stands in sharp relief—seemingly not able to think for herself. Upon realizing this, in seeing her sister’s despair—by way of observing her quiet resolve one day—and almost as if Kat feels guilty for her part in this, she makes an effort to approach Bianca. Kat lets down her guard—sharing that she had a “fling” with Joey, “after [their] mom left” for a month in the 9th grade, but that he dumped her and broke her heart. She goes on to explain that “not all experiences are worth having” and that to spare her sisters feelings, she remained in lockstep with her dad, in his keeping her sheltered from the guys at school. Bianca is very angry, and quick to point out that she isn’t Kat “and wouldn’t make the same stupid mistakes” (Ibid), but that she should be given the same opportunities—even if they result in hurtful experiences—further pointing to the contradiction inherent in Kat’s statement (she wouldn’t know if some experiences aren’t worth having, because she is never allowed to have the experience).

This tension between Kat and Bianca is good, as it also reminds us that feminism can come in many forms—and that Bianca’s form should not be excluded. It is here that we can see that Bianca is not a “vapid” empty-headed ditz without a brain who can’t be left to her own devices, in fact, it is Bianca who keeps her head screwed on—even at her first party—where, ironically, it is Kat (the gatekeeper) who gets completely wasted and winds up dancing on the table top to a crowd of cheering guys, while Bianca actually rejects advances from the usual suspect [Joey], and claims that she is tired and wants to go home, where, nice-guy, Cameron furnishes her ride. Interestingly here, too, we can see Cameron turn his respective stereotype inside out, as well.

When newcomer to Padua High, Cameron “Cam”—all around “good-guy”—always under the radar, falls deeply in love with Bianca, he employs the aid of Michael—his day one tour guide—and subsequent “b.f.f.” Michael helps him learn the ropes of Padua (note, the school’s name is the same name as the town in Taming of the Shrew), and to do whatever it takes to win Bianca’s heart. He learns through [disapproving] Michael that Bianca is not allowed to date because of her overly strict father, and tries to convince Cam that he is in pursuit of the impossible—as snotty, spoiled, shallow Bianca is way out of his league—but at the same time, offers him an in, as he shares with Cam that she does need a French tutor. The story becomes a farce when Cam can’t get a date with Bianca via his own efforts, realizing that her “shrew” sister Kat is the major impingement, since Bianca can’t do anything unless Kat is doing it. Michael and Cameron scheme together and come up with a plan to get Kat a date, so that Cam can land a date with Bianca. The ensuing sub-plot becomes a competition between Bianca’s respective suitors.

For Kat, Cam thinks that the equally petulant Patrick Verona would be a good pairing, so he sets out to convince Patrick of this. Patrick, not all too willing to give his assistance, scares Cam off so, Michael suggests they get Joey involved. Suggesting that he could be the “patsy to take the fall” as he is also attempting to date Bianca and makes a wager for fun that he will “nail her by prom” —reluctantly Cam agrees, because only Joey can afford to pay Patrick to take Kat out. Money does talk to Patrick, via Joey’s wallet, and he does finally agree to take her out. Kat, however, proves to be unimpressed by Patrick. She remains completely irascible with no interest in dating him, and repeatedly turns Patrick down. He does finally succeed, at taking her to “Bogie’s party,” but she could really care less, and even forgets that he is supposed to take her, but goes instead out of pity for her sister. So, when Patrick comes to pick her up, she is annoyed, and continually dismissive of him throughout the rest of the night, where she grows more, and more, reckless, while watching Joey close in on her sister.

Many feminists would take issue with the fact that Patrick (and the other characters, too) is acting like a typical masculine slime ball, motivated by money, and not having any concern for Kat, or Bianca and using them for their own ends. And though I can’t argue with this, to some degree, I will say that Patrick’s character (and Cameron’s too) proves to be a little more complicated than this. He, himself, proves to be somewhat of a rejection of the stereotypical male we initially have him pegged to be. He is not like Cameron in that he is not afraid of his own power, he is self assured, but not like Joey, in that he is not arrogant or self absorbed—in fact, the opposite can be evidenced when we see Patrick very tenderly caring for Kat when she gets drunk at “Bogie’s party” (their “first date”).

Instead of taking advantage of her while in her drunken state, Patrick actually rejects her advances, showing respect for her, by not wanting her to do anything she might later regret. This is definitely not typical, and though he was paid to take her out, he was not paid for anything beyond that—(babysitting her, keeping her safe, sound and cared for—in fact, she drove), these acts of integrity were his own doing—even though she was not vey nice to him, mind you. Unfortunately, she does react in angry way—as she feels dejected by him, and so pushes him away again. Of course the tries to get back into her good graces, but has to go the “outer limits” to get their—and he does. He serenades her in the school stadium while she is at soccer practice (such cute scene), but it is ironic that she took that stance, and that he had to suck up to her, for being a gentleman (reinforces that Kat has some un-dealt with issues).

Kat, unaware of the money Patrick receives to date her, transitions. Her caustic nature quiets down, but this is not a conformist resolve—as she maintains her sense of self, and her independent identity remains in tact, even as she gets closer to Patrick. But what we do see is her heart [even feminists are allowed one of those] and her ability to trust again and to respond to someone else caring for her, something that her experience with Joey [and probably to another degree her mother leaving] had robbed her of for a long time. Until Patrick came along, Kat was very much the embodiment of the negative stereotype of the feminist [feminazi], perma-angry, man-hater—we can love her strong sense of self and her independence and unwillingness to conform to the sheep like mentality of other girls, that is great, but don’t necessarily have to love her bitterness.

Anger is good, healthy even, but remaining acrid for life and putting up a wall is counter-productive. It seemed as though Kat hadn’t dealt with her anger over Joey, and over her mother leaving—perhaps Bianca was an easy target—as Kat used be popular and feminine like Bianca, and look where that got her—broken hearted. As we have learned, “girls anger is disallowed and […] often [results in] excruciating pressures girls experience as these feelings are suppressed with few acceptable outlets…” (Elline Lipkin 2009, 92). In my opinion, Kat’s trust issues and rejection of everything she felt was responsible for her broken heart was likened to this. Her character’s displaced anger manifested into her taking “control” over her sister’s life, something easier done than dealing with her own feelings. This is my armchair psychology, anyway. For some feminists they may see this as “a taming of the shrew” and Kats willingness to let Patrick in, a resignation, but in my opinion this was not the case.

Meanwhile, Bianca tries to convince her father to let her go to the prom, but he refuses because Kat isn’t going. When Kat finally reveals that she previously dated Joey and that he had used her for sex, she also conveys how her feelings of isolation from her peers ultimately stemmed from the incident. This is important because this is something that does happen in real life of girls, more often than not, but instead of girls reclaiming themselves, as she did—they let this happen over and over again—this works directly back to the recapitulated notion that girls are needy, and only here for boys to use. Ultimately, Patrick and Joey wind up taking Bianca and Kat to the prom, respectively.

Joey, furious that Bianca has gone to the prom with Cameron, confronts Patrick about their financial "arrangements" in front of Kat at the prom. Completely humiliated, Kat blows up and leaves the scene. Joey subsequently confronts Cameron about manipulating the 'deal' for himself, with Bianca, but when he punches Cameron, he gets a surprise triple blow from Bianca in return, who isn’t such a feminine princess after all. She runs over and punches Joey twice, and then knees him in the nuts… one punch for Cameron, one punch for Kat, and the kneeing, well she does that for her self!

At school, a few days later, Kat reads a poem which she wrote for English class, titled "10 Things I Hate About You" and while reading the poem, she exposes her true feelings (in front of the entire class) for Patrick. In tears, she shows her vulnerability, yet her strength, neither is indicative of her tough character. She seems to finally be coping with her anger directly, and not letting it fester inside of her. Patrick, obviously moved by Kat’s heart-felt disclosure, secretly plants a guitar he bought for her in her car, so that she can be empowered to start her own band—recognizing her strong will and desire to be a “chick that [CAN] play her instrument” (Ibid). He did this with the money Joey paid him, and in his own vulnerable moment, he reveals to Kat that he actually messed up the entire deal with Joey because he actually fell in love with her.

Kat forgives Patrick and they do make up, so the story has a somewhat formulaic ‘happy ending’ but again, this isn’t a reflection of her acquiescence, so much as it is a rising up to meet someone half way—Kat become her fuller self, not in the way of being “completed” by a man, but being more complete in allowing herself to love, forgive, and be a strong, intelligent and sexy, girl. This is really a story about relationships and how we, as people, are truly more flexible than we give ourselves credit for—especially girls. And as for the "taming" of the shrew in 10 Things I Hate about You, I would say that involves, not an enforced submission to male authority, but a rounding off of the sharp edges that makes the stereotyped version of the second-wave unappealing to many girls. This story shows many examples of what it means to be ‘girl’ and how adaptable she is.


Lipkin, Elline. Girls studies. Berkeley, Ca: Seal Pr, 2009. Print

10 things I hate about you. Dir. Gil Junger. By Karen Mc Cullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith. Perf. Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles. Touchstone, 1999. DVD

Carly's Voice

I was stunned recently, having discovered Carly Fleischmann. This is not merely a story of female empowerment but human empowerment. It is incredible how technology can enable communication which would have been otherwise impossible. It's also very important not to judge a person based on how they appear. Being that Carly is a teenage girl I felt that you all would appreciate learning more about her.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Princess and the Frog

I chose to review The Princess and the Frog. I chose this particular movie because when it first came out and there was all this hoopla going around about how African American girls finally got a “black princess”, I didn’t want that fact to take away from me truly enjoying what they had done with the fairytale and pick out every misrepresentation of the African American girl from the images placed on the scene. I have to admit sometimes I just want to be entertained. I want to just look at something that has been put together theatrically and just enjoy it without clouding my perception on what the media and the public really think about African American girls. So much noise was being made about how great this picture was for the African American viewer and how we could now be depicted as princesses and live happily ever after as so many white princesses did for years. Or could we?
When the tape rolled I was ready. I had already heard a few things about the movie from my cousin, who by the way always has this invisible fist in the air waiting to shout “power to the people” at whatever moment renders the need and just to get the point across – that we [African Americans] are still the second class citizens that we once were so blatantly not too long ago. My cousin has good intentions though. Awareness is vital to resolve. After she viewed it, she made sure to let me know that I should watch it and tell her what I think and what I think it’s saying. I knew after that comment that she had seen things that were somewhat disturbing and no matter how much I tried to just watch the movie, I couldn’t. It’s like I could see everything already because the story opened with a disturbing notion.
Two children, apparently friends, sitting in front of what looks like a nanny, because from what history I know of, in the 1920’s, roles in family structure included all that was mentioned above; a white family with children, money, and black nanny to clean, cook, and raise children, including her own in the glamorous and fortunate home of her employer. Fortunately, the two children are friends and that means that they are safe from the world of prejudices and misconceptions, because regardless of what is going around them, they still manage to move past it. At this point I try to catch myself before I fail to look at the big picture and what this “big picture” gives to African American little girls, but it was hard even in the opening scene, because this is where I learn that what is to be our first African American princess, is not a princess at all!
Could I assume it would not be possible for Disney to just hand over a black princess, as all princesses have come before, heirs to exotic, yet simplistic Kingdoms, filled with joy and happiness before an external evil of life comes in, in attempt to corrode their very being and contentment as a life lesson in love and romance, power and strength by precluding that she, the African American Princess start as the “friend” of a more true “princess?” While the Caucasian friend in the movie is not a true princess herself, she was depicted in this light more than the true star of the flick, Tiana. Tiana starts off with all her hope and dreams diminished by the cruel realities of life, at such an early age! Every other princess had the childhood most children should have, where it is okay to wish and dream and believe that one day they would in fact come true. Tiana couldn’t even bring herself to make a wish until she filled with desperation to find an exit from her misery of failure.
Tiana struggled! She was a young girl looking to make her own dreams come true. That was great, though! But why are African Americans always in the struggle? Why couldn’t for once we be the ones who had nothing to worry about but living and enjoying? Am I to struggle before I become the princess that I know I am within? Would my children have to put in extra work before they are recognized as the true contribution they will be society when I decide to birth them? Can African Americans do anything without struggle?!?
The whole movie seemed to be treading the thin line of the path of least resistance. It became very obvious throughout the movie that there was a conscious attempt to keep off of the toes of African Americans, but Tiana was a constant reminder of what people really think of African American women; as bitchy, angry, struggling, and bitter to the end. African American women don’t have time to dream! It is only when we get what we want that we become capable of being the loving creatures that are found in the “white princesses.” Could this movie have done anything for the young African American girls watching? That’s hard to say. In the end, Tiana does become a “princess”…of a swamp and with the swamp animals. How delightful! All that, after her wonderful adventure through the bayou, being dragged in the mud and being the door mat of a wealthy prince that just could not fully adjust to his new life as a frog.
The common element that I find between the lines of our Girl’s Studies readings is this: as girls, it is vital that we stay true to who we are as individuals. It is in finding that individuality and pride that comes along with being pleased with who you are and what you will become that will ward off the negativity that we find in the media. I can’t say that the movie was all bad for African American girls, I’m just saying it’s not what most of us was looking for. All of us are practically “Tiana’s” dealing with what is handed to us and making due. Tiana is what we hoped to avoid seeing on the big screen for everybody to watch because that is something we all know already and not the true picture of who we are culturally. Yes, we are strong! Yes, we work hard for what we want! Yes, we get angry at the fact that we are the farthest from the standards of society! But if every “Disney” Princess were permanently displaced from her position of privilege it would be easier for them to see how delicacy is afforded to what society sees as standard. Who would have figured?
Media is a double edged sword. It is what educates us and what stray us the farthest from the truth, sometimes at the same time. Without it we couldn’t spread the word of what is good, and with it the spread of misconceptions is inevitable. The use of media has enormous impact on people today and it is a force to be reckoned with if we plan to educate our young girls on the dangers of “premade” conceptions and avenues of femininity and identity. We have to strengthen the image that young girls have of themselves and their purpose so that they may be able to recognize what is to their benefit and well being and what is to be left out and hung. Young girls are told to be so many things, and reminded to not to be anything all at the same time. And while in our readings this perception related to femininity and what girls are made to think, I feel that the Frog Princess affirmed each contradiction made in society. We can have aspirations and want to be independent but that will never come without struggle

Musker, R. C. (Director). (2009). The Princess and the Frog [Motion Picture].

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Itty Bitty Titty Commitee

Completely edgy and riveting this film “The Itty Bitty Titty Committee” Directed by Jaime Babbit is a complete eye opener on the face of feminism that should be displayed out more. Taking place in Los Angeles, California “Ana” who is played by Melonie Diaz comes across the CIA whose meaning is Clits in Action after witnessing Sadie who’s played by Nicole Vicious tag across the front of a Plastic Surgeons office building where she works and inviting her along to go to one of their meetings. Ana who decides to go, and demonstrates how confused she is by their ideas and can truly show how confused women are in reality of how the media affects their daily lives without even being noticed of it. This small group of radical feminists who consists of other 3 members :Meat who’s the one behind all the artwork they display, Aggie who’s a transgender male and allowed in under the exception of having a clit, and finally Shula Smith who I think is the most radical of all 5 girls but speaks with certainty truth and facts.
This group of feminist’s main objective is to teach and empower women to voice their opinions and open their eyes to how the media has them portrayed. Although they are particularly much too radical for my taste they definitely made amazing statements of how undervalued and unappreciated women are in society. There’s one scene in the movie where they make a replica of Angelica Davis with a sign below her saying “Angela David never got the props she deserves THANK YOU ANGELA! Women like you changed the world- C (I) A and place her in a public park as a monument to honor what she did for women and place a sign below a memorial for Frank Putnam Flint saying “THIS MAN WAS A SLAVE OWNER AND RAPIST”. They do several attempts to expose themselves through the media and community to push forth their ideologies of the CIA and realize the only one visiting their website is they themselves. At this point in the movie they decide that they need their actions to speak louder and show their true ultra radical side. They start coming together with the man help of Ana who gives them a blueprint of their plan to make themselves be known nationwide.
Ana in this film represents to me the majority of girls, completely confused and unaware of her social and media surroundings and the negative impacts. Her own co-worker suggests to her to get a “boob job” and how much it will make her feel better after Ana is feeling down due to her breakup with her girlfriend. Like many of us we always seem to have that little devil speaking into our minds and giving us terrible advice on how or what makes us feel better. Not many girls are fortunate enough to have come across a Sadie in our lives and enlighten us to a better understanding of how the society we live in has been built to oppress us and make us into sexualized objects and not be seen for our own individuality and the intellectual capacity we have and are capable of.
The CIA exposure nationwide was the most riveting part of the whole film. The statement they made was completely bold. They constructed a large penis and placed it over the National Monument in Washington DC and on the day of their 125th anniversary with live viewing through a talk show and the large penis explodes and. I know many will think that what does that statement mean anyway? Well by this they are trying to break down one the symbolic patriarchal imagery of men being the rulers. Although this movie had its ultra radical moments its message was not too farfetched with everything that I’ve been learning through my Woman’s Studies class and Girl’s Studies. To open up our eyes and view the imagery that the media and society has over women and girls and how through learning and social and political empowerment girls in this generation can fight and continue the struggle that will need to come to an end one day. This movie was completely riveting and anytime or day I will recommend for a young lady to watch and of course under adult supervision since it does contain certain explicit sexual scenes. I hope to show this movie to my youngest sister so she won’t continue to let MTV dictate her wardrobe and self esteem about herself. I was left in complete awe and hope that some of you will give yourselves the privilege to watch this movie.

The Baby-Sitters Club

Like most girls my age growing up, I read "The Baby Sitters Club" book series. My grandparents bought me the books from garage sales. I even had the trivia board game. The series and this movie follows seven girls from all different backgrounds. You had Mallory (the bookworm), Mary Anne (the quiet girl), Dawn (the environmentalist), Stacey (the New Yorker girl who loved to shop), Claudia (the creative artist), Kristy (the tomboy), and Jessi (the dancer). These seven girls operate their own baby-sitting business in their small town of Stoneybrook.

This series doesn't do a great job of playing up stereotypes. Dawn wears flowers in her hair and long, flowy skirts. She is also always seen munching on some all-natural healthy food. Stacey is the pretty girl from New York who loves to shop. Mallory is the bookworm with glasses and the need to dress like the stereotypical "nerd". Kristy is the tomboy who plays sports and wouldn't be caught dead in a dress. Claudia is the artsy Asian girl with an ecclectic fashion sense.

What the movie fails on with stereotypes makes up for in addressing issues that young teen girls face. Stacey struggles with hiding her diabetes from the boy she likes because she feels that he will see her as weak. She is also dealing with wanting to date this boy, who is 17 while she is only 13. I didn't like, however, how this movie addressed that issue. The movie saw it as being ok for a 17 year-old boy to date a 13 year-old girl. At the end of the movie Stacey becomes all excited to see this boy the next summer when she is 14. What the movie fails to address, however, is that the boy will be 18 and be considered an adult. A girl seeing this movie will soon be looking for her 18 year-old love of her life without realizing or even caring about the maturity gap in such a relationship.

While Stacey is dealing with her diabetes and an awkward summer romance Kristy deals with her estranged father returning to her life. Throughout the film you watch Kristy trying to live up to the expectations that her father had of her. She gladly put on a dress for him when she would have normally never worn a dress. She also snuck around her friends in order to spend time with her father. He made her promise that nobody know he was in town, except for Kristy's best friend, Mary Anne. This movie shows that girls not only try to fit in with their friends, but with their family too.

The character Mary Anne also had some faults to her. Mary Anne is portrayed as the "quiet girl". She is also the only girl in the Baby-Sitters Club to have a boyfriend. In a society that treasures girls who are quiet and keep to themselves, giving Mary Anne a boyfriend is almost like rewarding her for being so quiet. Throughout this movie though the mean girl in the story is trying to steal Mary Anne's boyfriend from her. Whenever the mean girl advances Mary Anne either calmly tells her to stop or Mary Anne has one of her friends put the mean girl in her place. During all of this Logan, Mary Anne's boyfriend, is noticing the mean girl. This image depicts the idea that boys like it when girls are quiet but they also like girls who have a bad streak to them.

Like most teen and pre-teen movies geared towards girls, there is the typical threesome of popular girls trying to ruin the fun plans that the girls of the Baby-Sitters Club have for their summer day-camp for kids. These girls consist of "Cokie", the main popular girl, and her two brainless henchwomen. The two girls that attach themselves to Cokie are girls that allow Cokie to make all of the decisions for them. Their popularity relys on what Cokie is wearing or how she is acting at that very moment. This cookie-cutter representation of what it means to be popular is very volatile for girls self-esteem. It teaches girls that in order to be popular you have to be mean and throw out every representation of who you are as an individual. By the end of the film Cokie's sidekicks realize how cool The Baby-Sitters Club is and decides to not help Cokie with her destructive habits.

After seeing this movie again after not seeing it since I was a young girl I've come to appreciate it for what it is. I believe that this movie was one of the better positive movies for girls for when it was made (1995). This movie and the book series it's based off of gave its audience seven different girls that they could relate to in some way. My personal favorite of The Baby-Sitters Club is Claudia. She's as much of an individual that I always wanted to be a strive to be.

She's Too Young

When I finished watching this movie, and began to write my review, I stared at a blank screen for about an hour. All I could say after watching this movie was “wow.” This Lifetime movie, Shes Too Young, explains it all in the title. It’s the story of a 14-year-old girl named Hannah. Hannah is in high school and comes from a great family. She has a father and mother who love her so much and take pride in her for always telling the truth. She plays the cello and has always excelled in school, getting straight A’s and being the perfect child. But that all changed. She began hanging out with two of the school’s most popular girls.

Dawn and Becca become bad influences on Hannah. They introduce her to Nick, their schools “stud,” the boy that everyone wants to be with. One thing leads to another and Hannah loses her virginity to Nick, at the age of 14. But when Hannah refuses to have a three-some with Nick and two others, she soon learns that he’s not the great guy she thought he was. As if that wasn’t enough for Hannah, she soon finds out her friend Dawn has syphilis, whom also has had sexual encounters with Nick in the past.

Dawn’s contradiction of Syphilis spreads school-wide. Students are asked to get tested and the parents are notified. Hannah soon finds on she too has this contagious disease. As if that was wasn’t enough to make her proud parents not so proud anymore, the story line gets worse. But I will end my movie overview here. You will just have to watch to find out the rest.
Along with have a shocking storyline, this movie made me aware and see up close what girls like Hannah go through each and every day in this world. Hannah went from being the straight A student to a girl who just wanted to “experiment” with her sexuality. Hannah does what a lot of teens girls would do. They take their chance to become “popular” and engage in sexual activities, without being informed about the dangers of sexual intercourse. Being a young women myself, and student just like Hannah was before she got into trouble, I remember back in high-school when I had sexual education. I used to think to myself, “that can’t happen to me.” But that’s what all girls think, girls that are the straight A students, girls like Hannah, girls like me.
During this movie, a lot of themes came to my attention. The first theme was the need of self-change. The article “Girls, Schooling, and the Discourse of Self-Change” came to my attention when I was watching this movie. It goes back to that “first-time” at prom that you always hear about in movies. Hannah was a virgin and all of her friends were not. She wanted to experience that “first-time” and when Nick came along and told her everything she wanted to in order to get in her pants, she believed it, and went along with it. As women, we feel the need to be loved and be told that we are beautiful. As a young girl who never experienced love or been on a date, this was the first time that her identity as a young women came into play. It was the first time a boy told her she was beautiful, she was perfect and that he liked her a lot.

Another theme was came along with this movie I feel goes back to last week’s discussion on girls and popular culture. If it wasn’t for the media, young girls like Hannah, Becca and Dawn wouldn’t know everything they knew in this movie. But as young girls more and more each day are being exposed to the media by various outlets such as movies and magazines, they are learning about love, sex and as a women what their “role” is in these relationships. As parents, sometimes it is hard to stop these things from happening, such as in the case of Hannah. Her parents were great parents and grew her up to be the bright, smart, young girl that she was. But they weren’t there when the boy talked her into having sex or drinking alcohol, but she saw her friends doing it, she saw it in movies, and she felt that this was her role as a female.

Being young women myself, I look back at my education and remember my sex education classes. But what I remember of these classes are being shown pictures of STD’s and the extreme. And by being exposed to the extreme of these situations is when you think, “this can’t happen to me.” I think the movie She’s Too Young is a great movie to show young girls experiencing this time in their life. It puts things into perspective and it really put this feeling in my mind, although I have already experienced high school, and my first love. But by showing this movie to young girls like Hannah, it could show them that this can happen to anyone.

Danielle Kaye

Thirteen by Lindsey Hawkins

For my film review I watched the movie Thirteen. I choose it because I have never seen the movie before and I thought it would be interesting to watch and see what really goes on in some thirteen year old girls' lives. I was absolutely shocked after seeing the movie and I had know idea that girls this young were getting into some of the things they did.

The main character in the movie Tracy was a regular thirteen year old in middle school just trying to fit in. She would watch the "popular hot girl" around school and decided she wanted to be friends with her. She started hanging out with the girl and everything went down hill after that. Tracy started stealing, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, and sexual acts. Her relationship with her mom became a disaster as she wouldn't listen to anything her mother said and talked very disrespectfully to her. It's really crazy how girls will act when they want to be with the popular kids. In this case it ruined Tracy and eventually she ended up getting back stabbed by her so called friend. Tracy was also a cutter and when things were getting crazy and she was upset she would take herself into the bathroom and start cutting her arm.

I was so completely in awe of everything that went on in this movie. About 75% of everything these girls did, I never knew existed or where to find it when I was thirteen. It really scares me that girls this young are getting in to these types of things and situations. I think a big factor in some of the behaviors were lack of parental supervision. Tracy's mom, most of the time, let her hang out with this girl and go places without asking too many important questions. Her mother also attended meetings which I never figured out what was for. Maybe AA meetings or for some kind of drug recovery program, either or it's not really a good atmosphere to raise a kid in. The mother also had a boyfriend that would come and stay at the house, he was a crack addict who had been back and forth between their house and the half way house.

The girl that Tracy became friends with wasn't raised by her parents. Her guardian was her cousin who was a model/bar tender/whatever job she had that week. She was never home which left the two girls to get into anything and everything they could. I think this is a great movie for parents to watch and to see that this can really happen to your thirteen year old daughter. There are lots of ways to prevent it and I think this movie will show you the do's and don'ts. All in all it was a great movie, but scary at how real it was.

-Lindsey Hawkins

Movie Review: "Mean Girls" By Robin Apelado

Many movies have tried to capture the “catty” ways of high school females, but few have captured it in its essence the way that the film “Mean Girls” does. This movie is based on the non-fiction book, “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” buy Rosalind Wiseman. It was screen written by Tina Fey as a comedy that portrays a home schooled girl, Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) going to public high school for the first time in her life. On her first day her eyes are opened to the difficulties of fitting in and dealing with the in and out crowds that permeate high school life. The movie theme revolves around, who belongs to the different cliques, the bullying that goes on between the cliques and between their own members, and how one becomes associated with certain cliques, especially those that are considered popular.

Cliques are a part of all high schools in America and pose a great problem for those on the wrong side of their favor. Rosalind Wiseman recognizes the injustice that happens in the secondary school level between girls and the detrimental effects that being on the outside of a clique can have. In her book, “Queen Bees and Wannabes,” she focuses on how a few select girls can establish themselves as a trend setter and “high school royalty” and how this behavior affects their school peers. “Queen Bees and Wannabes” and “Mean Girls” are about bullying, gossip, slander, backstabbing, and jealousy, and both open dialog to help girls and parents to understand the complicated social maze that these girl groups exist in. Wiseman directly challenges the reader to open their eyes and take an active role in intervention with girl bullying rather than pass it off as a normal high school experience. Another author, 15 year old Kali Moriarty who is featured in the book, “Red,” by Amy Goldwasser, addresses the issue of bullying, how it effects her personally, and asks the question of what steps can be taken to address it.

“Red,” is a collection of short essays about teenage girl’s experiences ranging from family to boys to gender identity. Kali Moriarty is one of the girls who wrote on the issues of cliques and bullying in her short essay, “Appeal from an Angry Not So Emo.” Moriarty is on the out crowd, in the same way as one of the main characters, Janis Ian (Lizzy Caplin) is in the movie, “Mean Girls.” Moriarty writes about how she and her non- in crowd friends are viewed by the popular jock and cheerleader cliques of her high school, “we’re just “the emos” or some other mean name like “the mutants.” Janis from the movie dealt with similar bullying by the in crowd
‘Queen bee,” Regina (Rachel McAdams). There is a clear defined segregation among high school teens that is based on dress, gender identity, race, and looks. It is pervasive everywhere and Wiseman speaks out against this behavior and rises a call to action. She discusses the impact “Queen Bees” have on those who are targeted and gives guidance on how to deal with the issue and urges intervention by adults.

The issue of intervention of bulling is brought up by Moriarty, “The ultimate worst part about the whole harassment thing, though- in the halls, on the Internet- is that the school does close to nothing about it.” She goes on to say, “My sociology teacher told us that there was a philosopher who said something like this: ‘The only thing necessary of the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’.” In the movie it is the lead character, Cady, who is the individual that steps up and does something to fix the mess that is the movie’s plot line completely changing the schools social make up so that there are no more “Queen Bee” cliques. In the real life high school there are no heroes or “good men” that can accomplish such a feat.

Elline Lipkin is another author that discusses the issue of “mean girls” in her book, “Girl’s Studies. Lipkin discusses the assumptions regarding the part cliques and high school girl bullying play in a teenage girl’s life. One is that the ritual of cliques and being picked on is simply part of American society and has no lasting effects after the girls move on in their lives. These types of assumptions, Lipkin quotes Rachel Simmons saying, “stunts the development of antibullying strategies.” If the adults rationalize and make such excuses to avoid directly having to address the issue, then how will the situations that Moriarty discusses be addressed? The answer lies in programs that directly address teens, teachers, and parents. That is where authors such as Elline Lipkin, Rosalind Wiseman, and Tina Fey come in.

Through their efforts though books, seminars, web sites, movies and workshops they take the issue of “mean girls” and bring it to the open where it cannot be rationalized or simplified. They present solutions to stopping girl bullying, call girls to rise up be responsible for their behavior, and to recognize that bullying does hurt the individuals that are targeted. The ending is strong and solution orientated and for those who what the extra features on the DVD the motivation behind the film is discussed in-depth. The film “Mean Girls” is a comedy and presents the issue of girl bullying and cliques in a humorous way, but it opens up the door for discussion.

Robin Apelado

Book Review: Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye" (Heather Graves)

“In a land that loves its blond, blue-eyed children, who weeps for the dreams of a black girl?” – Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye weaves tales in many different ways: in its 164 pages, it contains a trauma narrative, a work of historical fiction, a tale of racism and families working to survive during the Great Depression – but at the root of all of these stories is one constant: a girl who wishes to be anything but who she is. Throughout the novel, Toni Morrison aims to deconstruct racial prejudice by opening up a narrative largely about whiteness, and how whiteness is seen to represent beauty. Another theme throughout the book is love and sex, and how those two are seen to be interchangeable in the eyes of some.

Pecola Breedlove is the protagonist of the story. She is an eleven-year old girl who is constantly being reminded of her ugliness. Pecola believes that if only she had blue eyes, she could be beautiful and be seen in the same light as the little white girls with blue eyes. Everyone loves those girls, but nobody loves Pecola. The MacTeer family briefly takes Pecola in, and their two daughters, Freida and Claudia, aim to befriend Pecola. Though they resent her in some ways, they ultimately recognize her struggles as a young black girl in a world where whiteness is placed on a pedestal. Claudia narrates much of the story, both as a young girl and as an adult, so the reader only sees Pecola through her eyes. One of the most telling scenes in the novel happens early on, when Pecola begins to menstruate and the girls have to explain to her what it means. They tell her that now she can have a baby, if only she can find someone to love her. This confuses Pecola, because she has no idea what it means to be loved, so she searches high and low for answers. She begins to question older women she knows about their relationships, both past and present, in an attempt to understand what love is, and what exactly does it mean to get someone to love you? Many of these women equate love and sex to be the same, which continues to feed Pecola’s confusion.

So, where does Pecola learn all of this? How does an eleven year old girl come to hate herself with so much fervor, to wish to change who she is? Self-hatred is not ingrained in children, but it is learned. If a girl is told repeatedly that she is ugly and worthless, and if she sees that the white girls get treated better and more fairly solely because of the color of their skin, then she comes to believe that her life would be better if only she disappeared. Pecola begs God to make her disappear, and hallucinates her body slowly drifting away. This is the one scene in the novel where she seems truly happy, and it’s only because she is imagining that she no longer exists. At one point, Pecola visits a man who calls himself a “Reader, Adviser, and Interpreter of Dreams.” She asks him to make her eyes blue, and Sir Whitcomb himself even remarks to himself of her ugliness: “Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty” (138). He converses with God to make her dream come true, and to wash her pain away.

But Pecola’s pain can’t be erased that easily. Pecola’s father, who is a drunkard and has his own deep-rooted problems, rapes her and impregnates her. Going back to Claudia and Freida telling her that having a baby is the same as having someone love you, Pecola may not understand that what was done to her was a crime and was not love. Her pregnancy is the talk of the town, and Claudia and Freida overhear women talking about it. These women speculate about who the father is, and if it was consensual or not. There’s a bit of victim blaming, with some of the women saying “she carry some of the blame” and “how come she didn’t fight him?” (149). It’s mystifying to see adult women blame a child for carrying her rapist’s baby, but speaks volumes about how we still live in a culture that doesn’t trust children, that blames the victim, and that assumes fighting off a rapist is an easy task.

The novel ends with a conversation between Pecola and Freida, after Pecola finally gets her blue eyes. It’s unclear whether Pecola is having another hallucination, but even still, the more pertinent part of the conversation is how she answers Claudia’s questions about her father’s assaults. Pecola never acknowledges that they were wrong, but also never says she wanted it. It’s a fairly nonchalant conversation, and maybe it’s because Pecola’s obsession with her blue eyes is helping to erase the pain she feels inside. In the end, we see that Pecola’s wish is granted, but it doesn’t bring her happiness. Claudia says that “a little black girl yearns for the blue eyes of a little white girl, and the horror at the heart of her yearning is exceeded only by the evil of fulfillment” (162). Pecola loses her baby, which may have been a blessing or a curse, depending on which way you look at it. She “stepped over into madness, a madness which protected her from us simply because it bored us in the end” and thus Pecola loses the only people who were capable of loving her.

The problem with The Bluest Eye is that everything is being told from nearly every perspective except Pecola’s. This could be because she lacks agency, thus reading her story from the perspective of Claudia offers a more objective view. But still, how can the reader understand how Pecola, and consequently girls, feel if we don’t allow them to use their voice?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Girls Studies' Book Review: "White Oleander" by Janet Fitch

Janet Fitch’s work “White Oleader” depicts the young life of a pre-teen girl up until the age of 20, and recounts some horrific experiences that she endured on her way to reaching physical and mental maturity, as well as the ultimate outcome that those experiences influenced. The aim of this novel is to introduce the idea the horrible experiences may a girlhood make, and though they can have great weight on the outcome of that girlhood, the result does not need to be catastrophic but will always have the potential to reach greatness and contentment. The resiliency and elasticity of a young human heart that somehow continues to beat from one horrendous uproar to the next is portrayed throughout the entirety of Fitch’s novel. This work has been presented in a time where it is now potentially crucial to have a Girls Studies school of thought in order to better prepare young women for their transition into womanhood, where there is the question at the height of controversy whether to allow girls’ minds and bodies to develop unmentioned and yet still under the public eye of scrutiny or to educate all that could possibly be related to their development as young girls, and not simply young sexless, genderless human beings.

Fitch begins by introducing Astrid and her relationship with her mother, Ingrid, in the very beginning of the novel, and their relationship is nothing short of stilted and nearly indifferent on the part of her mother. “I liked it when my mother tried to teach me things, when she paid attention. So often when I was with her, she was unreachable.” (Fitch 8) As her Ingrid becomes more and more involved with a man named Barry, Astrid becomes increasingly afraid that her mother will abandon her for a new life and leave her all alone. Eventually, Barry and Ingrid’s relationship goes sour, as Barry is unable to tame his womanizing ways, and so Ingrid sprinkles Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) and oleander sap in his home in order to poison and kill him. After being sentenced to life in prison for Barry’s death, Ingrid must go to prison and forfeit custody of Astrid, who is then pilfered off on foster home after foster home, and experiencing so many negative measures in her physical and mental progression of rising out of girlhood and becoming a woman.

By experimenting with sexual encounters, drugs, affairs, and people, Astrid grows up in a world that will not teach her what it means to develop positively, and will not take her hand and care for her when she falls. She is cast off from some families, abandoned by others, and abused by still more. She rarely finds companionship, and it is generally ripped away from her if ever she finds it by suicide, accidental or natural death, or tiring of her company. When Ingrid and Ingrid’s lawyer wish to contest the charges of killing Barry, Astrid learns that her testimony is a surefire way to free her mother from prison. She offers her mother the choice of leaving her alone or asking her to lie, after telling her of the abandonment she suffered and only recently remembers when she was left with a woman named Annie for over a year. The damage that this caused upon her mind and her heart are scars that she believes cannot be healed and she tells Ingrid so. “Who was I, really? I was the sole occupant of my mother’s totalitarian state, my own personal history rewritten to fit the story she was telling that day. There were so many missing pieces.” (Fitch 406) Ingrid lets her walk away from the trial without guilt and this decision sets Astrid free. Years later, after her mother has been released from prison, Astrid must choose whether to remain with her new life or to return to the new one that she has built for herself. She decides not to return and this creates strong feelings of hope for any reader that experiences the text. “I pressed my hand to the frosted pane, let the heat from my body melt the ice, leaving a perfect outline against the darkness.” (Fitch 446) This quiet illustration of Astrid’s hand making a mark upon a window pane stands for the greater life choice that she has just made; to make her own mark upon her own life without returning to anything negative that had existed in the past. Astrid’s strength in moving forward with or without overcoming grief or moving on is deeply moving.

The approach is unyielding, uncompromising, and unwaveringly truthful when expressing the emotions and acts that continue to swirl Astrid’s life up into a whirlwind of confusion, doubt, and feelings of being without the basic necessities of human nature such as love and hope. The story is bold in nature, told from the perspective of a young girl which is not only considered unconventional but also unrelated when there are older voices that can be viewed as more credible sources upon the same subject. Fitch blatantly argues by utilizing Astrid and her story as a mouthpiece, and counters by illustrating that there is no one more equipped to tell a young girl’s life story than the young girl that is living it. By forcing society to consider that girls need a school of study revolving around them and their complex development, Fitch accelerates the progress the world can make when it comes to girl power and a better understanding of what it will take them today and tomorrow and the day after that to become successful women.

Friday, June 25, 2010


The other day I noticed that had a special section titled “Gay in America,” and featured a variety of topics related to that subject. One article, “Race, ethnicity can be challenge to gay acceptance,” discussed the issue of how white homosexuality is more accepted in America than non-white homosexuality. Thinking about it, I think the author, Jamie Gumbrecht, is on to something. Think about TV couples or individuals who are homosexual. Most of them are white. That leads me into another article that was on the same news sight about four weeks ago. This article was titled, “White actors snagging minority roles causes furor.” this article discussed how most lead characters are, can you guess? Caucasian. I had not really thought about the truth of this until reading both articles. From what I have learned through my college courses, America is about 50/50 when it comes to Caucasians and minorities (Asian, Hispanic, African American, Native American, ect.) I do not know what to say about this disparity. I mean, how many more generations is it going to take for the dominating individuals that are the upper crust making movies and controlling the consumer market be replaced by a more diverse group?

Robin Apelado

Monday, June 21, 2010

Comment On Wall-E

I really enjoyed watching sections on the movie Wall-E. On YouTube, and reading from the clippings of the two websites posted in the blog. This is a kid’s movie that will capture the hearts of children regardless of sex or culture. This lonely space creature machine seemed to have been on a quest for happiness and finding Eve made his life complete. The movie portrays him as this lonely robot in need of love and guidance. He finds Eve and immediately begins to display human-like characteristics; such as falling in love.
Without the readings I would have just taken it for granted that Wall- E and Eve were a boy and a girl, but now I have to stop and think, “What if they are the same sex? Their state of heterosexual is assumed by society. This has been a big problem in our today’s society; assumption. People are too quick to label others, or serotype individuals into categories of their choice. The movie is not depicting any particular sex. It shows one robot falling in love or showing special interest in another one of his kind. However the critics and viewers have come to the conclusion that the smaller and more smother robot-Eve is a girl while Wall-E who looks more rough and tough is a boy.
Our society has become so judgmental that people are not willing to view things and people from different angles. This is because we have allowed our minds to become closed and instead have developed a one track mind. Most behaviors that adults display are learned by children of young minds, who will believe what their mentors say or do. I believe it’s a fair statement to say that; individuals should have the right to decide who they want to be and what roll they want to play, once it’s not interfering with anyone else life. And that people should be given a chance such as; “Get to know me before you judge me.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kate Bornstein's take on Wall E

I shared this interesting essay about the different possible interpretations about the film Wall E on the discussion boards in class, but I felt I ought to also link to it here so more people can read it. It's an eye opener to how we humans tend to see nonhuman objects as 'male or female' and may change your views. It spoke to me because I often have an unconventional interpretation of characters or situations that seem 'normal' on the surface.

Here is another review which raises different questions about gender roles in Wall E.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides

By: Christine M. Sepulveda

The tale set in 1970s suburbia of the five Lisbon girls Lux, Mary, Therese, Bonnie, and Cecilia is narrated by the boys in their community that were completely infatuated by them. These boys for the most part are reacting to the situations that surround the lives of these sad and tormented young girls. The title of the movies says it all. However, these girls were not necessarily all virgins when they ended their short lives in the exact sense, but more like virgins that they were not able to experience all that life had to offer. These girls were for the most part confined to their home and their strict parents. These girls were never really able to express themselves freely in their home. Their story is not one of rainbows and unicorns, but of the reality of what so many young girls have and are still going through in our society. The one theme in this film in my opinion that illustrates, develops, questions or challenges the representation of girls is that of Fate vs. Free will.

The fate of these girls was their death, but all they truly longed for was a chance at free will, a chance for freedom. The boys in the film pointed out the reality of the imprisonment of these girls, and all girls for that matter. They recognized how difficult it was to be a girl. “This has much to do with the fact that “”virgin”” is almost always synonymous with “”woman.””Virgin sacrifices, popping cherries, white dresses, supposed vaginal tightness, you name it. Outside of the occasional reference to the male virgin in the form of a goofy movie about horny teenage boys, virginity is pretty much all about women. Even the dictionary definitions of “”virgin”” cite an “”unmarried girl or woman”” or a religious woman, esp. a saint.”” No such definition exists for men or boys” (Valenti 21). There was and still is so much pressure for young girls to be of a certain way. Girls are expected to be sweet, quiet, and “lady like”. Girls are for the most part not encouraged to self expression when it comes to sexuality, knowledge, and even with every day experiences. This lack of self expression is seen in this film rather frequently. Specifically, their strict mother inflicts the most damage without even knowing it. At times through the film you may even feel sorry for this unaware mother. However, it is critical to understand that this woman did love her daughters, but just did a horrible job of allowing their growth of true self expression. As the movie progresses and their fate came even closer their eyes begin to express feelings of torment, blankness, and true misery. These girls had the potential to do great and amazing things with their lives, but their fate would not allow them.

As stated previously the girls were not really allowed to express themselves especially concerning their sexuality. “Living in a changing body can mean many things for a girl the chance to experience herself as a sexual and desirable in positive ways, and in ways that might seem bewildering as such figures out her relationship to her own sexuality” (Lipkin 67). Lux was the most sexual out of all the girls. She is also known as the prettiest girl in school. Consequently, she even won the ultimate teen honor of homecoming queen. Lux expresses herself sexually through the film, but more specifically does so to try and fill a void in her life. She was expressing herself in a more often than not negative way to fill the void that was her lack of freedom. “ Cultures that prize virginity and “”purity”” discourage women from having sexual partners before the sanctioned partnership of marriage; thinking through virginity’s historical significance for women helps us to understand how far a culture has moved toward egalitarian gender relationships and to also recognize what vestige of patriarchal rules are still present”(Lipkin 66). All that these girls ever wanted was freedom to the outside world. They all had a love for music. Music in a sense was their outlet to the outside world. These girls would share their feelings and dreams through music to each other and to the boys that were obsessed with them. Their lack of free will drove these girls to do the unthinkable. Their lack of free will placed these girls in a position of just wanting out. They did not really care where they would go to, heaven, hell, or anywhere all they wanted was a chance to be free. Lux would cry out to her mother stating “I can’t breathe in here”. Her mother would tell her that she was safe in their two story fenced in home. The sequence of events that took place in the lives and deaths of the Lisbon girls only led them to the fate that changed their community specifically the infatuated boys forever. Life did go on in their community and these boys, but it would really never be the same.

Overall, this dark, interesting, raw, and tormenting film portrayed the lives and deaths of five girls that just wanted free will. All these girls ever wanted were the chance to make their own decisions and/or their own mistakes. However, the only way fate would make this chance possible for them was by taking their own short lives.

Director:Sofia Coppola
Writers:Jeffrey Eugenides (novel)
Sofia Coppola (written by)

Film Review: Tideland

Jeliza Rose is all alone in a barren Texas landscape, far from the house where she's been staying with her father. She trots through tall grass, talking and singing to herself, her companions the heads of dolls she wears on her fingers. She finds an overturned, burned out school bus and eagerly climbs inside to talk to the fireflies floating inside of its charred husk, and when a train roars by mere feet from the bus, she screams in joy as the she is rocked by the wind and fury of the passing locomotive.

Terry Gilliam's Tideland opens this way, presenting to us a preteen girl who is simultaneously typica
l and wildly unusual. Since she was born, Jeliza Rose has been falling down a rabbit hole, and as she falls, she does not try to climb back to the normal world. Like Alice Liddell, she wonders what the next curious sights she will encounter will be, and falls and falls and falls.

Alice in Wonderland was the starting point for Jeliza Rose's story, but the film, based on Mitch Cullin's novel of the same name, does not cling to the structure of Lewis Carroll's Alice series. We are presented with a young girl divorced from reality(as well as a Mad Hatter of sorts), and the film goes in a new direction from there. A budding female with a penchant for drama, Jeliza Rose deals with the horrors of her world through playacting. Living in a crumbling apartment with her neglectful parents(Jeliza herself is described as having been a "lip smacking little junkie baby.. irritable and hyperactive", which only hints at her mental peculiarities), she seems to be hardly affected when, one night, her mother dies of a drug overdose. Her father, a heroin addicted musician, flees with her to the country house where he lived as a child. It is now abandoned and falling apart, and soon after they arrive, he overdoses as well. Jeliza is not utterly alone, as she still has the heads of her dolls to keep her company. These heads represent different aspects of her personality. Sateen Lips and Baby Doll voice doubts and insecurities Jeliza feels, while Mustique(who resembles Jeliza's mother, though the doll head is more sensible) and Glitter Gal are headstrong and fearless.

She also meets Dell, a madwoman who wears a heavy black coat and tall hat with a veil to protect herself from bee stings, and Dickens, her epileptic, lobotomized little brother. As bizarre as Jeliza Rose's life has become, she is a typical child in many ways. She wants a family, and surrounds herself with characters, whether they are imaginary friends or real people she has become attached to. Though Dell is coarse and violent and Dickens is a mentally unstable adult, Jeliza wants to have a best friend and a boyfriend, and so in her mind they are just that. She has been so influenced by films and romantic stories that she finds a way to twist all of the situations she finds herself in to fit the formulae of fairy tales and soap operas. Even the death of her mother is an ideal subject to reenact in front of a mirror, dressed up in a wig and makeup.

Many have criticized the story of Tideland for being too bleak and morbid to be palatable, but the qrotesqueness of Jeliza's surroundings is essential. Jeliza Rose survives more horrors in a few short days than many little girls will face in a lifetime, and she does not merely endure, she is triumphant. As the director, Terry Gilliam said- "Children are resilient, when you drop them, they bounce." Tideland is a story dominated by the theme of resilience, survival against all odds. Gilliam has made many films about dreamers, but though Jeliza Rose inhabits a dreamlike world, there are not many sequences in Tideland that are explicitly dreams. We see things, generally, as they are actually occurring. It is Jeliza's take on her environment which is truly important. Tideland addresses, albeit in a skewed, unusual way, many of the principles which are core to Girls' Studies, which include, as Lipkin states, “important realities of girls' lives- How resilient girls can be, how much they often take on, how important female friendship is, how they learn to grow an emotional center within themselves as they meet challenges, and the place they hold within their families.” Jeliza's home is on the barren prairie with the fireflies; and though eventually, like Alice, she returns to the 'normal world', she still holds a place within this family of strange creatures.

Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire

The movie Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire, follows a sixteen-year-old girl named Precious, who is apparently pregnant with her second child and is kicked out of school because of it. Over the course of the movie, Precious finds an alternative school, where she finally learns to read and write, but more importantly, meets a teacher who gives her the encouragement and love never offered to her by her parents. The movie gave a raw, uncensored view of life within an abusive family, while still leaving the viewer with a glimmer of hope for girls like Precious.

What struck me most about this movie was how almost all of the characters we meet are women and girls. Even though the abuse of a man, who never actually shows up in the film, started the chain of events, women are the one who continue them and bring them to a place of renewal and second chances. Precious is able to bond with her class of girls at Each One Teach One, who in turn support her when she is in the hospital giving birth to her son. Her welfare officer is a woman, who seems to be so removed from the experiences through which Precious is going, but possesses a kindness that shows us that she truly wishes to help her. Most important is Ms. Rain, Precious’s teacher, who sees that Precious is more than an illiterate drop-out and that she has true potential to succeed. She is also the first person to get Precious to truly open up about the abuse she has suffered at the hands of both her mother and father. This focus on women and girls helping each other to reach a goal, rather than being pulled out of trouble by some malevolent male figure, really gave girls the power and highlighted their strength.

Another thing the film did remarkably well was presenting real characters. Gabourey Sidibe may not fit into our society’s conventional image of beauty, but we see so much beauty in Precious when she is finally able to see beauty in herself. Monique and Mariah Carey, who are both gorgeous actresses, were dressed down and made up in such a way that they just looked like people you would meet on the street. This was so much easier to relate to than a bunch of white, rail-thin, impeccably made-up actresses cast as the outcasts and drop-outs. In “Queer Girls and Popular Culture”, Driver discusses how difficult it is as a queer girl, especially one of color, to find people in films who look like them. In watching Precious, I realized how few people in films look like anybody. Precious showed me a group of girls who were beautiful because they were rich, likable characters, not because they lived up an impossible Hollywood standard. These are the sort of girls I want my future daughters to see in movies on a regular basis.

All in all, Precious was an intense movie experience for me. Coming from a family that has had to deal with, thankfully, only a few of the circumstances in this film, it hit me hard. However, the raw emotion portrayed in this film would likely touch anybody who watches it. This film confirmed my desire to be a teacher, in hopes of touching just one life the way the way that Ms. Rain is able to touch Precious’s. I would recommend this film for anyone who is prepared to gain some perspective on the world around them and a whole new appreciation for their lives.

Miranda Peloquin
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