Reviews

Day to Day Writing #51

Why Fanfiction? An Analysis

So today, I’d like to address one of danisnotonfire’s videos about shipping / fancfiction. In this video, he wonders how fandom has evolved into people yearning for the people they are idolizing to get together, referred to as their “One true pairing” aka OTP, and what they could get out of writing stories about the couple they are cheering for.

I’m going to preface this rant by saying I’m not innocent of this, which perhaps, gives me a fresh perspective on the topic. When I was an awkward teen, I used to be a fan of Yuyu Hakusho, and shipped two male characters despite the canon not having any indication that these two are romantically linked. I also became quite a popular fanfiction writer in the Harry Potterverse, primarily shipping Ginny Weasley with Draco Malfoy.

David Foster Wallace, in his essay, E unibus pluram: television and U.S. fiction,argues that the reason why people spend an average of 6 hours in front of the TV is that they are slowly forming imaginary relationships with the characters they see on TV – that watching TV provides us with stimulation without requiring much effort from us, that these relationships become parasitic precisely because they don’t require much effort which gives us the illusion that we are in an active relationship with the characters we see on TV simply because we are watching them live their lives. This deceptive relationships usually happen to people who are isolated, lonely and are otherwise not experiencing satisfaction from the relationships they currently have, thus jumping to the opportunity to participate in an imaginary one, that offers the minimal possibility of heartbreak and disappointment.

It is not surprising then that, as an audience, being involved in a one-sided relationship with the public figures we see on TV, suddenly get the illusion that we have the authority to decide with whom the figures are in love with, perhaps stemming from our need to experience a relationship through them. It’s part of our virtual reality culture – this instinct for voyeurism – because it is more distant, and thus safer – because it requires the least amount of effort from us, and doesn’t require us to be vulnerable and active, as a real relationship might sap from us.

The fact that most fan shipping are slash fiction, or stories that involve two heterosexual figures participating in homosexual activities, I think stems from our culture’s inability to see friendship, especially deep, intimate and personal friendships as platonic – I think our teen culture is so highly sexual, having been exposed to such a hypersexualized society, that teens (who compose a huge percentage of the fandom community) have a more difficult time differentiating platonic relationships from sexual ones. Thus,  anything that is obviously illuminating love is automatically assumed to have sexual connotations.

And those are my two cents about the fandom community – from a verified fangirl, because I am a nerd. Enjoy your day!

Standard
Reviews

This is 40 Movie Review: 40 Thumbs Down

Image from wikipedia

Rating: 2/10
Featured image from www.thecoast.ca

This is what I expected going into This is 40with an essential side note that states I’ve never seen the trailers nor reviews, only the poster, and armed with the knowledge that it’s a Judd Apatow film, therefore it must be good (backed by the fact that I loved Knocked-Up when it came out):

A moving film that uses the suburban, middle-life crisis as a backdrop, and utilizes carefully developed characters that are relatable and capable of delivering punchlines that only subtly hints at the empty, hopelessness of a typical modern family. Think Revolutionary Road except funny.

So, suffice to say, I had high expectations, which is probably why I was completely blindsided by the hypocrisy and sense of entitlement these characters went through. This is 40 is basically a movie about spoiled, 40 year olds, whose lives have become living advertisements for Apple products. While I understand  I can’t expect a movie trying to make a social commentary about  modern life without the appearance of an Ipad, or an Iphone, one of the lines that pushed me over the edge was when Pete, played by Paul Rudd, tells the mother of his daughter’s friend, that he will shove her Ipad, Iphone and whatnot into her “Icunt”.

That’s so funny, isn’t it. Ugh.

Everything these characters go through is a joke. It’s hard to take their main conflict of bankruptcy seriously when they go on vacation to a five-star resort, throw a catered party in their massive house and leave scenes by driving away on  two, separate cars. Here’s a hint, Pete: why not sell one of your cars? Why was it such a struggle to sell your mansion to move into a slightly smaller, yet still probably huge by middle-class standards home?

One of my main complaint about this movie is its insistence on blowing trivial problems out of proportion. Debbie, Pete’s wife, played by the gorgeous Leslie Mann, keeps complaining about Pete eating cupcakes and unhealthy food — and yet they decided to go with the handsome and fit Paul Rudd to emanate this character.

Furthermore, Debbie’s solution to everything is to hop on the “fit and healthy” trend, by eliminating all sources of gluten and sugar in her home, and confiscating her children’s gadgets — all honourable actions but that’s superseded when she decides to yell at a 13-year-old kid and threatens to “fuck him up” because he wrote bad things on her daughter’s facebook page. I stopped watching after Pete goes on to yell at the 13-year-old’s mother, calls her an Icunt (you can tell I love that joke), and then proceeds to act innocently in front of the principal, while the mother accuses  Debbie and Pete of being a “fake, bank commercial couple”, effectively reducing the couple down to essentials — artificial, unbelievable and self-entitled characters.

Which leads me to the total atrociousness of how female characters are portrayed in this film. We get Debbie: an insecure, neurotic 40-year-old woman who lies about her age, despite being played by Leslie Mann, who looks like she’s in her late 20’s anyway. Debbie also works out constantly because apparently, Pete doesn’t find her attractive anymore.

Let’s look at Leslie Mann in this movie and consider for a moment why it’s believable that her character is that insecure:

Photo by Suzanne Hanover from Gazette.net

Couldn’t come up with a reason? Yeah, me neither.

Next on our list of butchered women characters — Debbie’s boutique employees: Desi (played by Megan Fox) and Jodi (played by Charlyne Yi). While Debbie is on the hunt to find out where $10,000 of her boutique’s money went, Debbie finds out that Desi is a high-class escort and Jodi is addicted to oxycontin.

So we’ve got: neurotic suburban wife (Debbie), escort (Desi), junkie (Jodi) and over-the-top angry white lady (the icunt character I keep referencing). Put in a dash of women only listen to Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj and know nothing about The Pixies or Graham Parker jokes, Middle-Eastern doctors are witch-doctors (Pete does a horrible imitation of the doctor’s accent which, quite frankly, falls flat and uninspired) and a monologue 15 minutes into the movie about a woman who gave birth and can now fit various things into her cookah and you’ve got an overdone rom-com whose jokes leave you flaccid and cringing.

It was so bad I didn’t even finish it — so I never did find out if they got out of bankruptcy or if Debbie ever got her shit together and realize that she doesn’t have it that bad.

Although that scene with Debbie and Pete eating that weed cookie was quite funny — I could have watched 40 more minutes of that.

Standard
Reviews

Mysterious Skin

“A gorgeous, heartbreaking and utterly convincing work of art” — the New York Times

This movie was at times, too painful and disturbing to watch. But that’s what Araki seems to be going for, with this harsh but realistic portrayal of the long-term consequences of child abuse. The film tells the story of the two main characters, Neil (played excellently by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Brian (Brady Corbet) who share nothing but an unfortunate, traumatizing experience with their baseball coach when they were 8 years old, and how they dealt with this memory ten years later.

The juxtaposition between the two’s coping mechanisms really accentuates the emotional toll that occurs with child molestation. Neil’s journey as a teenage prostitute is full of angst and vulnerability at the same time. He clings on the childish feeling that he was “special” and that his coach was his “one true love” in order to avoid the reality of his situation. He then takes on prostitution, more of a challenge than for necessity, in order to manifest “power” and “authority” over his johns. This power play quickly changes when he goes to New York city, where he meets an unfortunate turn with an NYC cop at Brighton Beach (don’t say I didn’t warn you, this scene made me cringe. I actually had to pause the film and go out for a walk to get my stomach to stop churning — and this is from the girl who watched Human Centipede 2 and saw the director’s immediate comedic reply to his critics through excessive gore). Kudos to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s acting–you have effectively scarred me for life.

Meanwhile, Brian’s defense mechanism relies on hardcore denial and alternate realities. He develops amnesia and convinces himself that aliens had abducted him during the five hours of his life that he seems to be missing. His journey is more fantastical and lends elements of a thriller/suspense charm to the whole film–which is essentially at the core of every abused child–finding the right answer to a question they are too young to form, and eventually have to deal with in their adult lives.

The last scene, as featured in the image above, is a saving grace for me, I have to admit. It is painful but it gives the melancholic sense (through the silence they contrast with the singing carolers) that healing can now begin for them both. I suggest watching this film cautiously, it is not for the faint of heart, but for those who seek to open their minds.

Standard