Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Here's another extract from the essay, this bit's about 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'.

The 2008 romantic comedy ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ has also used sympathy with a pathetic protagonist to drive its narrative, however interestingly in this case the protagonist is male. In a reversal of the normal active male/ passive female construction of Hollywood Laura Mulvey responds to in ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Film’, the story's hero Peter is dumped by his actress girlfriend Sarah Marshall, who’s career ambitions and success outstrip his, emasculating him. However while Sayuri of ‘Memoirs of Geisha’ is only permitted to find happiness in being the chosen mistress of a married man, the character of Peter replaces Sarah Marshall by choosing another, more likeable woman; re-asserting his dominant masculinity. He consequently becomes more successful than Sarah, whose career declines, whilst Peter is rewarded for realising his artistic potential and talent with the encouragement of a new more complimentary and subservient female, thus returning the status quo.

Whilst the male gaze is less apparent on the surface: the sex scenes of 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' are more comical than voyeuristic, and the elaborate costumes and make-up of the women in 'Memoirs of a Geisha' are arguably stylised to appeal to more to western women than hot-blooded men, the gaze still shapes their narratives. These examples of Hollywood cinema respond to feminist concerns, but in a defensive, not positive way. Sarah Marshall’s career ambition is seen as hard-hearted and is ridiculed whilst Peter's transformation from victim status to his Ideal Ego is celebrated. Sayuri's passivity and subservience in 1940s Japan's oppressive patriarchy is romanticised. Both of these are modern films yet perhaps surprisingly they both re-enforce passive female characters with positive affirmations and, in the case of 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' present a case of a man oppressed by feminism in its most common example: the career woman.

Memoirs of a Geisha

HELLO, last year I helped Sam write an essay on the male gaze, I had some opinionz on the film 'memoirs of a geisha' so he put them in, here's an extract from the essay:

‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ is a contemporary film set in a pre-feminist era and culture. The viewer is meant to identify with the female protagonist Sayuri when she is sold to a Geisha house to be a slave, however while this custom is seemingly treated as archaic and cruel, when Sayuri becomes a geisha all associated customs are treated with reverence and glamorised in a typical Hollywood style. This film, which is marketed at women (Marketing for the film included a promotional advert for Maxx-factor mascara, which heavily featured clips from the film borrowing from and enhancing its glamour) attempts to find a compromise for a post-feminist western audience, exoticising prostitution to the point of de-familiarisation. Prostitution is referred to as a western aberration. When Sayuri's training begins, the matriarchal figure Mameha says ‘[we] are not prostitutes’, and towards the end of the film when a fellow geisha, Pumpkin is ‘americanised’ by US troops and becomes a ‘common’ prostitute with none of the traditional paraphernalia of the Geisha and she subsequently betrays Sayuri, juxtaposing the nostalgic and exotic ideal of sanitised Japanese ‘geisha’ with the conventional western untrustworthy ‘hooker’.
The male characters in the film are presented as harmless, despite the sexual-repression inherent in their society. It is these four men who control the film's narrative, as Sayuri's actions are all centred around them as they compete to be her domo (to take her virginity and to have exclusive control over her sexuality). They can be broken into 2 pairs. The older men, Dr. Crab and the Baron, compete in a bidding war for Sayuri's virginity, whilst the two younger men (though the youngest, The Chairman is still twenty years her senior) are honour bound not to bid on her, but as they are stronger and younger the audience is intended to want Sayuri to be with one of them (despite the fact they already have wives). The Baron can been seen to represent the Male Gaze as he acts on the desire implicit in the gaze, attempting to forcibly undress Sayuri taking away some of her innocence, for which he is punished as the old man Dr.Crab is allowed to win the bidding war.
If anaylsed with the psychoanalytical methods of Mulvey’s essay, The Baron is undressing of Sayuri to demystify her and deny the threat of castration that she presents through her lack of a penis. In comparison to the violence of the Baron Dr.Crab’s use of his privilege over Sayuri to force her into sex is appears to be excused in the morality of the film. In the tiny prelude to the sexual act that we are permitted to witness between Sayuri and Dr. Crab he is pathetic; the detached camera angle re-enforces his impotence and the narrative quickly moves past the act. Within the morality of Hollywood cinema, if one of the younger men had been the one to take her virginity it would not be so easy to forgive them, as they are presented as strong charismatic figures to be admired by the audience, the Ideal Egos to which Sayuri is drawn.
Ultimately it is the Chairman who Sayuri is meant to be with, in a classical romantic sense, as she declares her affection towards him throughout the film and eventually the narrative brings them together. At the moment of resolution it is revealed that Sayuri 's actions, not just through the seen narrative but in the exposition, have been controlled by the Chairman who is revealed to have always know her identity, and made sure that she would become a geisha and protected her in the style of a guardian or god-like figure.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Dr. Who series 5 episode 2

so, the future citizens of the UK find out that an animal is being tortured for their supposed benefit and this is SO appalling that they all press the 'forget' button (which erases their memory) because they can't cope with the truth?

OK so they must all be, like, vegans in the future because meat eaters do that every day and they don't need no mind-erasey-device!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

today's blog, ok?

Today I cycled from Rickmansworth to Cowley. Was tiring, really beautiful and unusual scenery on the canal though and I will take pictures next time.
Can't remember when Colour Me Wednesday are gonna be in Big Cheese but maybe I will casually saunter into WHSmiths tomorrow and have a little browse to see if we're in there. Cos I'm excited.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

On Hating on 'Celebrity Culture'

So easy, isn't it, to hate on celebrity culture? But what exactly are you hating? The celebrities? ALL celebrities? People who like celebrities? People who like which celebrities? What about people who just have loads of facebook friends? What about people who are famous cos they were murdered? What about people who are famous cos they invented a miracle cure for a disease or something?
What about people who are famous for hating on celebrity culture?
eh? EH? EHHH?
I don't think I know what celebrity culture is... can you please enlighten me?

Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist, she is... let's say... a critic of 'celebrity culture' ('aren't ALL guardian journalists hating on celebrity culture' you ask? Maybe.) and in series 2 of one of my favourite tv programs Newswipe she was given a small feature where she talked about various celebrities who endorse various charities or causes and how it's bad... bad... naughty and shameless self-promotion and it's just so...tacky ... oh, unless you're Joanna Lumley of course.

Celebrities exist, they are famous because they are actors, or singers or entertainers of some kind mostly...and they usually have lots of money, and lots of time to spend that money. But what do you bloody want Marina? They're bringing publicity to the cause, it's better than just doing... whatever all the other celebrities do! I don't care if they are doing it just to promote themselves, I don't care! It's a hell of a lot better than doing fuck-all!

Most of this sniffiness about celebrities is just a nouveau version of snobbery towards the nouveau riche, it always comes from an upper class person. It's so EASY to do, it's such a knee-jerk reaction.
I looked Marina Hyde up on wikipedia and her Dad was a 'sir' and she went to Oxford so... Yeah, Marina, of course you hate celebrities, they have so much unearned wealth and status, not like you! And they're so low-brow. And working class people actually like them, the idiots!

I, for some stupid reason, wrote a comment on the youtube of the program in question. this is it:

SiLeNtPuNk1 I sort of WANTED to like Marina Hyde but I don't think she really has anything interesting to say, on this occassion, just seems like knee jerk snobbery towards celebrities and the consumers of 'celebrity culture'. At least they ARE political, at least they are doing something, bringing publicity to causes. plenty of celebrities seem happily empty headed, where are their opinions? I know if I found fame, I'd be going on about my opinions, causes I care about, injustices in the world all the time

And then, for some stupid reason, I checked my Gmail at some point and saw that some Troll-ish person had commented back.

WeNeedSomeGolfShoes Right, and how is bringing publicity to these causes in any way supposed help them? Other then give the celebrity in question a quick popularity boost?

And if you seriously find fame and start galavanting your opinion as if it would make a meassure of a difference, I garentee you I will be the first one to laugh in your face.

Yeah cos bringing publicity to charities doesn't help them at all! charities just want a quiet life, in fact a lot of them are SECRET charities who don't want any money or attention of any kind!

He also obviously misses the fact that Charlie Brooker is a celebrity and to a lesser degree so is Marina Hyde, and if they were some nobody on the street he most likely wouldn't have heard them 'galavanting' their opinions at all and wouldn't have so much obvious respect for them. I guess he would have less respect for them if they happened to have been actors first. In these people's minds, if you become and actor or a singer or a model, should your mouth be glued shut for the rest of time? Are they no longer allowed to participate or comment politically?

btw, fyi, if you didn't know, I LOVE Charlie Brooker, but he has actually mentioned that sexists misinterpret his affected misanthropic style as misogyny in sexist comments on the Guardian website. I try to avoid comments on Brooker stuff cos I hate seeing idiots who seem to think Charlie Brooker is one of them. Shudder...

Unexamined Privilege Episode

Sorry to mislead you but I don't think this particular blog post is gonna be about an Unexamined Privilege Episode, but I do LOOOVE that term, I came across it in Jennifer Kesler's blogsite 'What Privilege' which features articles about Unexamined Privilege Episodes and unearned privilege and taking privilege for granted and I'm finding it hard to explain but here's a link.

Anyway, let me tell you about my weekend. On Saturday we had yoga class with my mum, Akbar came and so did Dan. Pami from work came as well but she was really late, probably due to the 222 bus service from Hounslow (emphasis on the SLOW. RIGHT? YEAH!).
On Sunday night we went to Dan's. We brought chips and tortilla wraps and courgettes and houmous ('we' is CMW, BTW) and eventually the oven made it hot and we ate it. We watched 'The Boat That Rocked' Which is a terrible film. I mean disappointing but I don't say disappointing because almost all films disappoint me, even the ones I think will be shit turn out to be shitter.
That sounds like I'm really critical. I am... but I don't actually have high standards for films, not really. Even if I know it is going to be shit, I always think I will be entertained. This is because I forget that the film industry is still quite a sexist industry and hardly any films pass the 'Bechdel test'.
In order for a film to pass the Bechdel test, at least two NAMED women in the film must have a conversation... with each other.... about something other than... a man. (MORE ON THIS)
Sounds pretty basic right? Apparently not.
I am pretty sure The Boat That Rocked featured its female characters heavily in its promotional material (which tricked me into thinking it would just be... normal and nice) but this film does not by any stretch of the imagination pass the Bechdel test. There's even a LESBIAN in it and she only says one word to a female in the whole film and it's 'lovely'.
I don't conciously try to apply the Bechdel test to films as I am watching them*see analogy below, it's just painfully obvious when a film is a cockfest and this, my friends, is a cockfestival. It's also obvious when almost all the female characters in a film are 'doormats or prostitutes'. or I guess 'Victims or Bitches' would be more accurate, it's the Bond girl dualism. I'd love to see that quiz in MIZZ magazine, 'Hey girls, which female movie character are you? Victim or Bitch?' (Mizz is one of the more aspirational pre-teen-magazines, obv.)
I guess if you're a (white) guy and you don't see anything wrong with these films because, hey, they paint people like you in such a great light etc. etc..... we might call that an... Unexamined Privilege Episode. YEAH! I worked it in, I'm a weaver, I weave.

I'm actually really wired on coffee right now. I can only write/think in really short sentences before my attention span shorts out.

* Imagine... all your friends are playing a game, but you aren't allowed to play. You're only allowed to watch. This might be entertaining, if it's a fun game to watch. On the other hand, it might be one of those games that's only fun to play, and not fun to watch (because it's a badly made game with a weak script... I mean... weak... rules...). This means that you won't be entertained, and you won't be having fun, you may just feel left out. this is what it is like for a woman to watch films which don't pass the Bechdel Test.

Friday, 16 April 2010

this song rocks

So what am I not supposed to have an opinion
Should I be quiet just because I'm a woman
Call me a bitch cos I speak what's on my mind
Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled

When a female fires back
Suddenly the target don't know how to act
So he does what any little boy will do
Making up a few false rumors or two

That for sure is not a man to me
Slanderin' names for popularity
It's sad you only get your fame through controversy
But now it's time for me to come and give you more to say

This is for my girls all around the world
Who've come across a man who don't respect your worth
Thinking all women should be seen, not heard
So what do we do girls?
Shout louder!
Letting them know we're gonna stand our ground
Lift your hands high and wave them proud
Take a deep breath and say it loud
Never can, never will, can't hold us down

Nobody can hold us down
Nobody can hold us down
Nobody can hold us down
Never can, never will

So what am I not supposed to say what I'm saying
Are you offended by the message I'm bringing
Call me whatever cos your words don't mean a thing
Guess you ain't even a man enough to handle what I sing

If you look back in history
It's a common double standard of society
The guy gets all the glory the more he can score
While the girl can do the same and yet you call her a whore

I don't understand why it's okay
The guy can get away with it & the girl gets named
All my ladies come together and make a change
Start a new beginning for us everybody sing

This is for my girls all around the world
Who've come across a man who don't respect your worth
Thinking all women should be seen, not heard
What do we do girls?
Shout louder!
Letting them know we're gonna stand our ground
Lift your hands high and wave 'em proud
Take a deep breath and say it loud
Never can, never will, can't hold us down

Check it - Here's something I just can't understand
If the guy have three girls then he's the man
He can either give us some head, sex her off
If the girl do the same, then she's a whore
But the table's about to turn
I'll bet my fame on it
Cats take my ideas and put their name on it
It's aiight though, you can't hold me down
I got to keep on movin'
To all my girls with a man who be tryin to mack
Do it right back to him and let that be that
You need to let him know that his game is whack
And Lil' Kim and Christina Aguilera got your back

But you're just a little boy
Think you're so cute, so coy
You must talk so big
To make up for small lil' things
So you're just a little boy
All you'll do is annoy
You must talk so big
To make up for small lil' things

This is for my girls...
This is for my girls all around the world
Who've come across a man who don't respect your worth
Thinking all women should be seen, not heard
So what do we do girls?
Shout louder!
Letting them know we're gonna stand our ground
Lift your hands high and wave 'em proud
Take a deep breath and say it loud
Never can, never will, can't hold us down

This is for my girls all around the world
Who've come across a man who don't respect your worth
Thinking all women should be seen, not heard
So what do we do girls?
Shout louder!
Letting them know we're gonna stand our ground
Lift your hands high and wave 'em proud
Take a deep breath and say it loud
Never can, never will, can't hold us down
Spread the word, can't hold us down