Pretty Princesses Drop F-Bombs For Feminism

Oct 29, 2014

Hmm. Hmm. Hrrumph.

At first glance, I wasn't sure what to make of this video sponsored by socially aware clothing retailer FCKH8 that features little girls dressed up as princesses who are continuously spouting out the word "fuck" to spread awareness over sexism. The video begins harmlessly with the girls saying the word "pretty" and acting all precious, till one of the girls interrupts the pretty party and screams, "What the fuck!" while declaring how she's not 'a pretty and helpless princess'. With furrowed brows and arms akimbo, the girls then ask the question: what is more offensive, little girls saying the word "fuck?" or gender equality?

Trick question.

Mostly people are going with the former as far as the video's comments suggest (enter the comment lair if you dare), because we can't be having little girls in frilly dresses and sparkly crowns smarting off as if they are auditioning to be a Goodfella. Yet, ha ha ha, FCKH8 have bamboozled you right into the web of truth as this is exactly the type of rise they were hoping to get, that obviously people will rush to bemoan that a little girl saying "fuck" is highly and morally mucho more offensive than sexual assault. Gotcha good, didn't they?

Okay, sure, FCKH8 walk a thin line with this. Using children to push for what is considered an adult situation always makes people queasy, because it courts depravity, it corrupts the 'delicacy' of childhood. True, some of what is presented here is for shock. I was especially uneasy at the line where the girls were discussing the stat over how many women will be raped, and one little girl questions, "which one of us will be next?" Quite appalling, yes, but so is the statistic itself. That is why we need to cut the 'wrecking innocence' bullshit for a second, because 'F-Bombs For Feminism' is saying some valid things through the mouths of their little sass pot babes.

Look: Rosemary's Baby (1968)

Oct 27, 2014

Tannis, anyone?

The devil is in the details.

For me, it's the tiny, blink-and-you-might-miss-them details that are sprinkled throughout Rosemary's Baby that make it the classic film that it is. For the horror genre, Rosemary's Baby raised the bar on how horror films, especially psychological horror films, were to be executed for the following decade as it made sure to take the details presented (and those that were cleverly hidden) and have them take on bigger, unnerving forms and meanings by film's end --- everything is truly not what it appears to be at first glance.

When it was released, Rosemary's Baby diverted boldly away from the usual horror film set-up. Gone were the dark and stormy nights and Gothic castle settings of 1960s Hammer horror films. The setting of terror was now a posh apartment house in the middle of the hustle and bustle of 1960s New York City, its horrors confined in its claustrophobic quarters and illuminated in broad daylight. Gone are the snarling creatures that rise out of coffins and stumble around in fog saturated forests. The creatures are now humans in guises of busy-body octogenarians and a suave and seemingly devoted husband.

The horror is still just as unsettling as any old-fashioned chiller --- a young woman (Mia Farrow) becomes a pawn in a Satanic plot and is unknowingly raped and impregnated by the Devil himself --- but it's modernized by its eerie and slow burning build-up, its stark normalcy, and the pinpricks of foreshadowing that all seem mismatched and obtuse, even insane, but then come creepily together by film's end.

Not a minute or a movement is wasted in Roman Polanski's 1968 masterpiece, and to my knowledge, it follows Ira Levin's novel of the same name right down to every last detail. I know NBC had the dumb idea to make a TV mini-series remake recently, and from watching clips it left me with a chalky under taste (heh). I don't even know why they tried, I mean, you just can't recreate chilling intricacy like the 1968 version did. Plus everyone in the original film gives great performances, especially Farrow, who's innocence is just ruptured so chillingly, and Ruth Gordon, who is just so amazing as the comical and creepy Minnie Castevet. You just can't replicate or even top those performances.

You can't even replicate the look of this film. It's brightly lit for the most part, which thrusts the sinister events out in the naked open, and everything is so oddly colorful and has that great '60s Mod style that it's feels strange, dreamy, and trance-like throughout, like everything that's happening can't possibly be --- but it is. Even when that odd 'drugged dream' sequence creeps in, you never leave it after the fact, and really the movie began like a hazy nightmare right from the beginning, and you're just constantly feeling dread mount as the film progresses thanks to these stark seemingly natural, everyday images being distorted.

I never watch this movie the same way as I did before. I'm always finding something new that I missed, some little quote spoken that takes on new meaning or those fine-tuned little details that spring up to change my perspective or question others (though I still don't buy into the "Rosemary was hallucinating the whole thing" theory, total BS). I know every twist and turn, and of course, the doomed outcome, but it still feels fresh, and never am I not trying to warn Rosemary to get away from those meddling neighbors and that shifty-eyed husband of hers. I'm also never not chilled over the fact that a woman's pregnancy, something that is supposed to be intimate and innocent is turned into something so perverse. Oh, and that devil rape/procreating scene? --- absolutely terrifying.

Let's keep on looking...

Things To Learn During National Novel Writing Month

Oct 22, 2014

Gypsy Rose Lee writing her book, The G-String Murders (1941)
I'm the grand dame of drafts. Of starting, stopping, and somewhat finishing. You should see all the unpublished posts I have in the post drafts of this blog. You should see all the drafts that are stuffed on my computer documents and jump drives. To the gills. One of these days those drafts will be finalized, but for now they are the start of something, which is, to me, the most exciting part of the writing gamut.

November is National Novel Writing Month and it is all about the first draft. It's the start of some molecule of a story that could end up being the greatest thing ever put down on paper (or not, but flow with me..). They really should call it National First Draft Month because that's what it truly is, but I think the military might get peeved about that title.

So what exactly is National Novel Writing Month?

National Novel Writing Month (or NaNo for short) is where for 30 days people attempt to write 50,000 words on a novel, a short story, a book of poetry, a screenplay, etc., and go batshit crazy during the process.

'Big Driver' Explores The Monsters We Know All Too Well

Oct 20, 2014

In horror stories we're used to viewing the sharp, blood dripping fangs of a vampire or seeing a restless specter wreak havoc on unsuspecting non-believers, forcing them to believe that things do go bump in the night. That there are ghouls, goblins, and demons, and that their existence is without understanding --- just happenstance. Those monsters are easy to decode, easier to run in the opposite direction from. Yet, human beings translate different.

We toss around the word "normal" or "ordinary" whenever we describe people, especially in the aftermath of horrific acts because it just seems outlandish for anyone to be step outside of those things. Serial killers were "normal" acquaintances to their friends, lovers, and family. Their victims were just "ordinary" harmless people minding their own business till tragedy struck. Or so we're told. Lines are often blurred.

Humans, all of us so "ordinary" and "normal" may offer kindness and a smile, but we're just as easily capable of turning around and snarling, showing our fangs, and sending people running. Lifetime's Big Driver explores the horrors of humanized monsters, as we follow one woman's confrontation with not just the horror of her defilers, but her coming face-to-face with the monster that has been awoken within her.

Malala Brings The Peace

Oct 11, 2014

When I grow up, I want to be Malala Yousafzai. Seventeen years old, a champion for women's education rights, with courage and intelligence by the tons, and now the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.


Her speech after the cut.

8 Fictional Femme Characters That Shaped Me As A Writer

Oct 10, 2014

We are all influenced by something, somebody. As a writer, an artist who 'paints' images with words, I don't always turn to the writers whose work practices I desire for sparks of inspiration. Most of the time, the films and television shows I view, the music I obsessively collect and absorb, and the characters that leap out of the dogged-eared novels on my bookshelf influence how my writing flows on the page.

A lot of these mediums began as scribbled down ideas on paper, so my practice of it is nothing obscure, but sometimes I feel that a lot of the fictional characters in these films, television shows, and books spark my creativity more than real-life people. I guess because sometimes real flesh and blood folk can be disappointing because they evolve with age and experience, or they masquerade their true selves in order to conform to the ebb and flow of society. They are disappointing because they are duh! human. Flawed and fluctuating fuck-ups. Fictional characters, especially the well-drawn ones, are ones that are fixated in their vibe. They are never-changing --- they are as is --- and you can return to them again and again, and they are exactly as you remembered them last. I don't know about you, but there is some comfort in knowing that.

Growing up I saw a lot of images of what a "woman writer" was supposed to be. A lot of what I saw was either a thirty, flirty, and thriving dame who stuck pencils in her teeth and hairbun, or a salt- tongued navigator who could rock a mean blazer and swap wits and snarks with the boys. All of them were saddled with a 'you're gonna make it after all' quest to conquer the newsroom and the 'big city' --- which was 9 times out of 10 was always New York City. Still a lot of of the fictional journalistic and writing femmes I admired were not Carrie Bradshaws, Mary Tyler Moores, Murphy Browns, or any character Kate Hudson has played in a film. They fit my scope. They were unconventional. They were stumbling through life in heels and high-tops. They were somewhat misbegotten, yet I didn't forget them as they inspired me and continue to inspire me to put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, urging me to let it all pour out.

It's Not That Simple To Dismiss Labels, Raven-Symoné

Oct 7, 2014

Actress and comedienne Raven-Symoné caused some eyebrows to raise after she began to discuss labels and what she does and doesn't want to be called during her Where Are They Now interview with Oprah Winfrey this past Sunday. The discussion was prompted after Oprah asked Raven-Symoné about a 2013 Twitter status where she sorta, kinda came out of the closet in response to California's legalization of same-sex marriage. Raven-Symoné confirmed that she is in a relationship with a woman, but that she dislikes being called "gay", as she is a woman who happens to "love humans". Raven-Symoné went on to talk about labels, going as so far as to say she also didn't want to be called an "African-American", which caused a record scratch across social media:
"I’m an American. I’m not an African-American; I’m an American… I mean, I don’t know where my roots go to. I don’t know how far back they go…I don’t know what country in Africa I’m from, but I do know that my roots are in Louisiana. I’m an American. And that’s a colorless person."
 Oprah asked her to clarify what she meant, and Raven-Symoné continued:
"I have darker skin. I have a nice, interesting grade of hair. I connect with Caucasian. I connect with Asia. I connect with Black. I connect with Indian. I connect with each culture." 

Raven-Symoné may feel she's absolved from labels, but she needs to know that it's not always so simplistic.