Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Grass Is Not Always Greener

 “First rule about fight club: you do not talk about fight club.” I find it ironic that in a class where talking about the films is essential, we watch a movie that has that particular rule. I think that part of the reason behind that rule, was to keep the club exclusive—keep it secret. By doing so, its members would become exclusive and set apart from the rest of society while still remaining part of the mainstream. After being allowed into this exclusive club, the men acquired a certain swagger. They were proud of their “battle” wounds and wore them like badges even though people on the outside would have no idea or even care where their wounds originated. 


I think there are a lot of films that revolve around this basic theme: a character seeking

 some level/type of coolness or status, only to find that it was not what they thought. One example can be seen in the movie, Mean Girls. This movie is about a girl who, in trying to join the popular group, proceeded to lose herself and what she stood for. She accomplished her ultimate goal of “coolness” onlyto find that it was not quite what she expected.  I think that this is a reoccurring theme in movies where a character is striving to achieve coolness—kind of a “the grass is always greener on the other side” sort of thing—but once they get there, they realize that it is not what it was played up to be.

     Another example of this can be seen in recent release, 17 Again with Zac Efron. (Yeah, I can’t believe I paid eight dollars to see this either). The once well-know , high school basketball star is grown up, and wishes he had done things differently and pursued a college career instead of a family. Mysteriously, he is granted this wish and is transformed back into his former, high school 

self. However, all too soon he realizes that it is not like he thought it would be. He misses his wife and children and wishes that it would all go back to the way it was originally. Even though his life did not seem ideal, he realized that if he were to undo it, he would have lost that which meant the most to him, his family.

                Overall, through out this semester, we have learned so much about cool. Ultimately, cool is not something that can be pinned down and defined. There are so many definitions that are individualized and personal.  Striving to attain cool will not necessarily make you cool or happy. I think that the closest we can come to a true definition of cool, is to say that it cannot always be a cookie-cutter opinion. It is transient and its fluidity will continue to change in constancy. 



Thursday, April 30, 2009

Medical Humor

     So this was the second time I had seen Fight Club. The first time was last year, my freshman year at UCA. I have to admit, after viewing it for the first time I did not plan on ever wasting time on it again. However, after watching it in class last night and having foreknowledge of the outcome, I was able to appreciate some of the finer details and humor. I was particularly able to enjoy a few of the quirky attempts at humor thanks to my two semester anatomy class that I have just now completed. Just ask Anna, because I passed her a note that shared some of this enlightening information.  At one point in the film, when our main character (who is nameless) is giving Marla a breast exam, she asks him if, in return, he would like her to examine his prostate. Well, again, thanks to anatomy, I immediately grasped the humor behind this. You see, the prostate is a gland that sits just below the urinary bladder and surrounds the urethral tube. There is absolutely no way to examine this particular part of the male anatomy (just in case you don’t know, the prostate gland is not present in females) without something called a Digital Rectal Exam. This is precisely what it sounds like—digital means finger and rectal…well you get the picture. Sorry guys, but I just had to share that. It was funny.

      On a little more serious note, I really was able to appreciate more of Fight Club on the second go-around. I realized that the protagonist never has a name. What is even more interesting, is that his second personality does have a name, Tyler Durden. Another thing that I noticed, is that Tyler Durden was always trying to convince the main character that he depends too much on possessions to define himself. After a “mysterious” apartment fire, our main character loses all his stuff and moves in with Durden. The “two” of them start what becomes known as Fight Club. It appears to me that the protagonist simply progresses from defining himself with material possessions to defining himself with you he wanted to fight. Is that really any better? It still seems like he is still basing his worth on others. First on his outwards appearance, how many material possessions he can accumulate, and what other people see; then on whom he wanted to fight. Either way, he ended up depending on someone else to define himself. It was all just a little contradictive and ironic to me. It also made me wonder, can we ever get away from basing some part of ourselves on other people?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


The only other Quentin Tarantino film besides Reservoir Dogs that I have seen is Kill Bill. Let me just say that so far, old Q.T. has not impressed me.  Explicit gore is not something I have ever enjoyed, or ever will. The viewer could definitely see a connection between these two Tarantino films: blood, blood and more blood. (Did I mention that both of these were fairly gory movies?) These two have a very obvious connection, but I believe they also have a few similarities that are not as stand out.

For instance, both films were influenced by Japanese action films. Kill Bill’s Japanese influence is a little more obvious since Uma Thurman uses a “ninja sword” as her weapon of destruction. While Reservoir Dogs has a smaller amount of the Japanese influence, it is still present in the scene where there are three different guns pointed at three different people—a killing triangle. Also, both films are presented in typical Tarantino, non-chronological style. Both films present main characters, whose purpose and history are not given until later on in the film. Both movies backtrack to define the character.

Another film that has somewhat of a Tarantino influence in it, is one that I saw for the first time this weekend, Seven Pounds. Seven Pounds actually starts with part of the conclusion of the entire film. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to give it away.) My friend and I spent half the movie confused, simply because we didn’t have the needed background on the characters to be able to decipher all of the dynamics between characters. As the movie progressed, more and more history and background was given on the main character, Tim Thomas (played by Will Smith), and we were slowly given understanding.

These non-chronological films are frustrating, but they do keep the viewer guessing and interested in the film. Personally, the frustration of not being able to figure out all the details was one of the only things that kept me interested in Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill. Also, in a world riddled with all different sorts of films ranging from artsy to chick flick type films, these films’ style of time arrangement allows them to stand out from the majority. It gives them the needed edge in booming film industry and allows them to be different. 



Thursday, April 23, 2009


-          Bangs

-          Sports

-          TOMS shoes

-          The lake

-          Intelligence—but not too smart

-          Vintage

-          Acoustic

-          Youthfulness

-          Facebook

-          Brand name clothing

-          Friends

-          Coffee houses

-          Outdoors

-          Scrapbooking

-          Photography

-          Realism

-          Truthfulness

-          Family

-          Humor

-          Animals

-          Confidence

-          Passion

-          Inspiration

-          Faith

-          The stars

-          C.S. Lewis

-          Jane Eyre


Not So Cool:

-          PDA

-          The indoors

-          Plain

-          Lies

-          Crocs

-          Fake anything (from people to brand names)

-          Ambiguity

-          Neuroticism

-          Failed attempts at humor

-          Gaming

-          Conformity

-          Board games

-          Studying

-          Sudoku

-          Good grades

-          Wearing animals

-          Clean cut

-          Deceit

-          Uncertainty

-          Unmotivated

-          Honky tonk

-          Twilight

In retrospect, I find that I actually contradict myself in a way. You would think that all the cool things would represent something that I am, and all the not-so-cool things would describe something that I am not. However, that is not the case. I find that I am a very well dispersed between the two. How odd is it that I would put myself (in some instances) as un-cool? For instance, I put the Twilight series under the un-cool heading, but I myself have read the books more than once. I realize that although it may be popular, the books just are not cool. The first thing you say when someone asks you what they are about, you say, “Vampires, but its not like it sounds!” Anything that requires a disclaimer like that cannot be considered cool.

Just like some of the not-so-cool things describe me, some of the cool things do not describe me. Yes, I am outdoorsy, passionate, and sometimes semi-vintage in style; but brand-name clothing is not always something within my price range. I think its wonderful to get a Gap gift certificate to go shopping, but I think I would fall over dead if someone gave me money to go shopping somewhere like Dolci and Gabana. And its not that I just cannot afford those cloths (I can’t, but that’s not the point), I don’t think that’s how money should be spent. There are a lot of people who don’t have a change of clothes, and yet we (myself included) usually don’t shy away at buying hundreds of dollars worth of clothing a year (and that’s a conservative estimate). So why is something like charity not in my list of cool? I obviously see it was something worthwhile. Maybe definitions of cool are not based on what an individual thinks, but on what those around him and in his culture think. 


Headline: Jonas Brothers Have Joined the Reservoir Dogs?

     What was cool about Reservoir Dogs? Throughout the entire movie people were dying senselessly (well, unless you want to say diamonds are worth lives), the language was distracting, and the seventies music was out of place. However, if talking to a present day teenager, I believe they would have thought some of the main characters were cool. I say this, simply because of their choice of shades. This is something I not only noticed early on in the movie, but got a nice little chuckle over it too. These rough, tough, gangster men were wearing what are now commonly labeled as “JoBros Sunglasses.” Take a gander at the photos below if you don’t believe me.

        However, even with this comical beginning, this movie was far from funny—odd perhaps, but definitely not humorous. One thing that I found odd was the pairing of happy-go-lucky music from the seventies with the men who are at least trying to put up a front of bravado. It seemed like the choice in music was counteracting the image the characters were trying to present. Perhaps that is part of the irony though. We did talk about how not one of the characters seemed to ever accomplish cool, and at some point each character made at least one highly un-cool move or blunder. So in a way, even though it seemed a tad goofy, maybe the music fit the film better than I originally thought. The one scene in which I believe the music had the most effect, was when Mr. Blonde was torturing the cop. The contrast between his actions and the music only intensify the horrific scene. The bubbly music and Mr. Blonde’s carefree dancing only serve to make his actions seem all the more grotesque and psychotic. “Stuck in the Middle With You” will never have the same meaning for me. 

     In the end, there are three people (out of how ever many ended up dying) that I feel sympathy for: Mr. White, Mr. Orange, and Marvin Nash (the cop). I feel sorry for Mr. White

 because towards the end of the movie, he stuck his head out to save Mr. Orange (who was really an undercover cop), ended up shooting his boss, and then getting shot himself all to defend Mr. Orange. Afterwards, he drags himself over to where Mr. Orange is lying, and pulls Mr. Orange’s head into his lap to comfort him, only to have Mr. Orange confess to him that he really is, after all, a cop. I feel sorry for Marvin Nash because of obvious reasons. No one deserves to go through the torture that he did. Mr. Orange is pitiful, but garners the least of my sympathy. I cannot help but think that while it is sad that he had to die (and from the shot of a pedestrian no less), but he also knew the risks when he agreed to the job. He knew that being killed was a risk he was running. 




Monday, April 20, 2009

Passion, if Not Agreed With, Should At Least Be Given Respect


   Condemnation for expressing your true self—for expressing your inner being—is not limited exclusively to the drag queens we saw last week in Paris Is Burning. Some things are condemned by certain generations, religious groups, or cultures. I think there will always be groups at odds (and sometimes it turns into a downright war) because of differences in lifestyles and beliefs. Opinions are inevitable, and the desire to spread these opinions is inherent in human nature. History is chock full of different groups desiring to change or eliminate other groups based on differences. Is the elimination of people groups based on differences right? Certainly not. Is the desire to share the way you feel and what you believe in wrong? No, but sometimes it is treated as so.

     Okay, so I am pretty sure that everyone has experienced the agony of answering your front door, only to find some type of religious group trying to stick their foot in the door. You know what I am talking about—those obnoxious-won’t go away-won’t take no for an answer-and how dare you say you are another religion-type people that show up at the most inopportune times. (My apologies if you are one of these) But it’s true. You with me still? Well here is where I am going to say something you might not like. Those people should, in a sense, earn your respect. They are out there because they have something a lot of us are lacking: a strong enough belief in something, somewhere that they make the effort to get out there and spread the knowledge. It may not be a credible belief, but they are passionate about it. Similar to the drag queens we saw in last week’s film, they are not typically given respect for that passion and desire. These groups would probably rather be caught dead than in the other’s position, but when it comes down do it, they probably have more in common than they think.

     Another group that I don’t think garners the respect they deserve is the rap community. Granted, some of the stuff they put out is “rap crap,” but some of it has genuine artistry. I don’t always agree with the language included in their lyrics, but sometimes when I hear one of their

 songs, I have to stop and appreciate it. I feel sorry for the true rap artists and the rep that has been assigned to them due to the others in their profession. Rap artist legend, Eminem, became popular in the late nineties and is soon to put out a new album. To me, this is an example of a certain generation not being able to appreciate passionate artistry. People in my parent’s generation are unable to see the sheer talent that men such as Eminem possess and use to express themselves. Eminem’s music is highly personal, well written, and well thought out. There is an entire generation that connects to at least a few of his songs if not all. Yet, he is not depreciated by all but that certain generation. He is one of many who is not given the credit he deserves. 


Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Enviable Oasis

     I have a dilemma: what do I say/how do I respond to last night’s film, Paris is Burning? In class, it was mentioned that the transgender community is becoming more of a norm. Well where I grew up, the transvestite community is just as much of a norm as a community constructed of orange people would be. In other words, that lifestyle is definitely not a norm, not yet anyway. I do think it is slowly but surely being brought to the surface, especially with documentaries like this being shown.

      One thing that really caught my attention in this film was the fact that these people had a place to go—a place where they could express themselves and be true and be real. At the balls, they were allowed to be what they could not and earn titles and respect while doing so. They couldn’t do this out in the real world, but at the balls they were given freedom and released from the world’s constraints. I think this is something that anyone would envy. No matter what our sexual, religious, or political orientations are, at some point, we have all felt constricted in some way. Maybe it’s a constant thing or maybe its not, but to some degree, we can all relate to the desire to free yourself from other people’s opinions and judgments. Granted, we may not have been ostracized from society the way this community has been, but to some level, everyone can relate.

      Ultimately, I was envious of that fact that they had a place of true freedom—a place that they could all their own and be who they truly were. How many of us are ever truly able to let go, and be our real selves? We live in a world where to be different is to be weird, and to be weird equals unaccepted. I know we have talked about how it is cool to be different, but I think that has constraints. If you are different, you cannot be too different, or you become odd and unacceptable. So where do we draw the line between being cool different or being weird? These men and women were not accepted by society, so they did the best with what they had, and created a place of respite from the judgment that they faced out in the world—a place where to them, they were real.  I do not have that place, and there are very few people in my life that I feel that comfortable with. These men and women had found an ultimate treasure, whether they realized it or not, and I was truly envious of them.