Monthly Archives: December 2017

It’s Not About The Clothes-It’s About Power And Perception

One of the myths of rape is that the victim was asking for it. She was probably wearing an outfit that was revealing and maybe she was also a little drunk.

Unfortunately, this disgusting myth has become ingrained in our overall culture. It’s an excuse that allows the rapists to get away with their crimes and blame the victims.

A woman could be wearing almost anything and be raped. She could be wearing anything from a nuns habit or a burka to the tiniest of bikinis and that wouldn’t mean damn thing to the rapist.

In short, it’s not about what she is wearing or not wearing-its about perception and power. The perception is that women are second class citizens and there to be a sex object for a man whenever he feels in the mood for sex. The power comes from the perception and his view that he is better than his victim.

Earlier in the year, as the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, designer Donna Karan defended Weinstein and blamed the victims. Respected actress Angela Lansbury made a similar statement the end of November. Both women have since rescinded their statements.

Make no mistake, there have been amazing strides in both the feminist movement and recognizing the true nature of rape and sexual assault. But for every step taken toward true equality, there are men and women (which gets my goat like few things can) who blame the victims instead of blaming the perpetrators and making it clear rape/sexual assault are wrong and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

 

 

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Filed under Feminism, National News

Thoughts On Lorde Cancelling Her Tel Aviv Concert

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”-Vladminir Lenin

Recently, Lorde decided to cancel her summer 2018 concert in Tel Aviv, bowing to the pressure from anti-Israel activists.

Her decision bothers me for two reasons: the first is that music is music is music. Music brings us together. It bleeds through the political and social boundaries of class, race, religion, etc. Second is that she fell victim to the haters whose only goal is to see Israel wiped off the map and her citizens either murdered or forced into exile.

Pallywood has won once again. Pallywood for those unaware is the purposeful creation of fake news to create a myth that Israel is the big bad in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Palestine is the innocent victim.

 

What’s worse than the lies being spread is the fact that millions around the world believe the lies. A rather sad example of this is the recent UN resolution in which most of the member countries voted against the US moving their embassy from its current location in Tel Aviv to a new location in Jerusalem.

I suggest Lorde and every other musician who is thinking about cancelling their upcoming concerts in Israel re-think their decisions and do their homework. Her decision shows (at least from my point of view), that hate and prejudice still rule and that human dignity and mutual respect/understanding are still being forced from the spotlight.

 

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Filed under International News, Music, World News

Pitch Perfect 3 Movie Review

It used to be that adults in middle age experienced a mid-life crisis. The new crisis experienced by the younger generation is called the Quarter-life crisis.

This is the basic premise for Pitch Perfect 3. It’s been three years since the audience has seen the Barden Bellas. Adulting has not come easy for them, to say the least. The Bella’s unofficial leader, Beca (Anna Kendrick) is working for a record label, but it seems that the career she imagined in college does not fit her reality. At a Bella’s reunion, Audrey (Anna Camp) informs the girls that she can get them onto a USO tour. When the girls arrive at their first stop, they discover that the tour is actually a competition. The winner of the competition will be the opening act for DJ Khaled. Not only are the Bellas going against acts who use instruments, there is also a little issue with Fat Amy’s (Rebel Wilson) previously unknown father, played by John Lithgow.

Can the Barden Bellas win the competition or are they stuck  in the past?

 

Directed by Trish Sie, in terms of the narrative, it is the weakest of the films in the franchise. However, there is an undercurrent of girl power and diversity that helps to make up for the parts of the narrative that needs work. The overall message of the film, which I truly appreciate is that family, whether by blood or emotional connection is forever and it is ok to move on with our lives, if we have the courage to.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Feminism, Movie Review, Movies, Music

Pride and Prejudice Play Review

Pride and Prejudice is the book that Jane Austen is most famous for. It is the story of the rocky courtship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Published in 1813, it remains a beloved classic more than two centuries after its initial publishing.

Recently, a stage version of the book premiered at the Cherry Lane Theater in New York City. Written by actor/playwright/Janeite Kate Hamill (who also stars as Elizabeth Bennet), the play is the story of the middle class Bennet sisters who are in need of husbands. With no brother to directly secure the family estate for the next generation and very small dowries to call their own, they have only one choice and that is to marry well. Eldest sister Jane (Amelia Pedlow, who also plays Miss De Bourgh) catches the eye of the newest bachelor in town, Mr. Bingley (John Tufts, who also plays Mary Bennet).  Elizabeth is unhappily introduced to Fitzwilliam Darcy (Jason O’Connell), Bingley’s best friend. They don’t exactly get along.

This play is nothing short of brilliant. Using a small stage, actors playing multiple characters and Austen’s text (for the most part), the play is well worth a few hours of your time. I will warn that Ms. Hamill did make some changes that do not exactly adhere to the cannon, but the changes were well worth it.

I absolutely recommend it.

Pride and Prejudice is playing at The Cherry Lane Theater at 38 Commerce Street in New York City until January 6th, 2018. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices. 

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Filed under Books, Broadway Play Review, Jane Austen, New York City, Pride and Prejudice

Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials Book Review

The stereotype of the millennial generation is that we are spoiled, emotionally soft, never far away from our devices and that we expect the world to bow at our feet.

That is a lie, according to Malcolm Harris. His new book, Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials, explores the truth of the millennial generation in an eye-opening way that I don’t think has been explored previously. Mr. Harris (born 1988) breaks the stereotypes of an entire generation. He points that we work our butts off, we have been taught that working for free is both acceptable and normal and our financial and employment situations are far from secure.

What Mr. Harris wrote struck a cord with me. It struck a cord because he is not afraid to tell the truth about this generation. While our parents and teachers may have been well meaning, they didn’t make things easier for us. The chapters that hit home for me were the ones about work and college. In the past, the path Americans took was pretty straight forward: after graduating high school, attend college (and by extension graduate on time), work at a well paying job for thirty or forty years before retiring around the age of sixty. That path is a thing of the past. Massive student debt, a lack of steady good paying jobs with benefits jobs and the ability to attend college and graduate within four years is the reality for many twenty and thirty somethings these days.

This book is a must read not only because it opens our collective eyes not only the wrongs that have been unknowingly done on the millennial generation, but it also shows today’s parents and teachers what has to be done to prevent the next generation from living with the same mistakes.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Reading Jane Austen Book Review

Jane Austen and her novels continues to be read and discussed for good reason.

Jenny Davidson’s new non fiction book, Reading Jane Austen, basically explains not only why her novels are timeless, but why we are still reading them 200 years later. While talking about the formal structure of the novels and how Austen created new techniques to develop her narrative and her characters, Ms. Davidson also talks about themes such as the rules of society and how women were seen treated.

This book is well written and enjoyable to read. I will however warn that it meanders towards academic writing at several points and new Janeites may not understand the writing as well as Janeites who are well versed in Jane’s novels.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Flashback Friday-Christmas Edition-Will You Merry Me? (2008)

You know it’s Christmas when Hallmark movies start to pop up on the television schedule.

In 2008, Hallmark semi-diverted from their standard Christmas movie to tell the story of Jewish girl engaged to a Christian boy in Will You Merry Me?.

Rebecca Fine (Vikki Krinsky) comes from a Jewish family living in Los Angeles. Henry Kringle (Tommy Lioutas) comes from a Christian family living in Madison, Wisconsin. While Rebecca and Henry are happily in love and eager to start a life together, their families are not quite as eager to see the young couple walk down the aisle. Of course, Hanukkah and Christmas collide, adding to the misunderstandings and miscommunication. Will Rebecca and Henry say I do or will their families pull them apart?

Let’s put it out there. It’s a Hallmark Christmas movie. It’s predictable from the word go. But, it’s nice to see that the creative team attempt to add a little diversity to the usual narrative.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

Flashback Friday-Uprising (2001)

In the darkness of The Holocaust, there are few lights that still stand out against that darkness. One of the brightest is the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

The 2001 television movie, Uprising, is the story of the fight by the ghetto’s inhabitants against their oppressors. Starring David Schwimmer, Hank Azaria and Leelee Sobieski, the narrative tells the story of how Jews, crammed into the old slum of Warsaw, fought back against the Nazis for a month in 1943. 

 

I think that this movie is important to watch. It’s important because not only does it dispel the myth that Europe’s Jews were mere lambs to the Nazi slaughter, it also is the story of how a small band of people can fight against tyranny, prejudice and murder.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under History, Television, TV Review

Darkest Hour Movie Review

Winston Churchill was one of the greatest politicians and orators of the 20th century. He will go down in history as one of the men who saved Europe, democracy and Western civilization from the Nazis.

The new movie, Darkest Hour, starts off as World War II is beginning to engulf Europe. Neville Chamberlain (Ronald Pickup) is being forced to resign as Prime Minister due to his inability to lead the country during wartime become obvious. His chosen successor is Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman), whose reputation up to this point is not flawless. Churchill’s wife, Clemmie (Kristin Scott Thomas) convinces her husband to take the position. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Layton (Lily James) is hired as Churchill’s personal secretary. He is not the easiest man to work for.

Churchill has a choice to make. There is the possibility of making a deal with Germany and stopping the war in its tracks. Or, they could fight, knowing full well that lives will be lost in the process.

This movie is pure Oscar bait. Oldman’s performance is  truly exceptional. He is so good that I thought that at times, I was watching a documentary about Winston Churchill rather than watching a film with a fictional narrative and actor Gary Oldman playing Winston Churchill. I also appreciated that instead of putting Churchill on a pedestal, he is shown as a flawed human being who is suddenly thrust into a job that requires a decision that will forever change not just the fate of Europe, but the whole world.

I absolutely recommend it.

Darkest Hour is in theaters. 

 

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Filed under History, Movie Review, Movies

Once Upon A Time Character Review: Captain Hook

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Once Upon A Time. I am only writing up to the end of season 6. Read at your own risk if you have still not seen the previous seasons.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Once Upon A Time to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the classic story of Peter Pan, Captain Hook is the antithesis of the youthful hero. Hook, a pirate by trade, would like nothing more than to finally defeat Peter Pan once and for all. An older man who wears a long dark wig, Hook is the stand in for being a certain age.

Once Upon A Time decided to change-up the character. Instead of the old man wearing the wig, Captain Hook, aka Killian Jones (Colin O’Donoghue) is a rock and roll version of the character. Wearing leather and still sporting the  traditional metal hook, Hook’s initial enemy is not Peter Pan, but Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle).  Hook’s other half at the time is Milah (Rachel Shelley), Rumple’s estranged wife.

Though Hook starts off as a villain, he becomes a hero and the significant other of Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison). Emma is initially skeptical of Hook, his charm and smooth talk are not exactly turns ons in the beginning. But underneath that charm and smooth talk is a man who has conviction, heart and fights for who and what is important to him.

To sum it up: Taking a classic character and rewriting them while keeping the known characteristics is like walking a fine line. On one hand, the writer is tasked with the very difficult job of not simply copying what has been done before. But on the other hand, find a way to combine the new version of the character with the characteristics and narrative that the audience has come to know and love or hate is an equally difficult task.

When it comes to OUAT’s version of Captain Hook, the writers found a way to balance what was known about Captain Hook with a new narrative and new character arc. A  good writer knows which characteristics, narrative elements and character arc fits their version of their character while declining to use other elements that don’t fit in with their story. It’s a challenge that many a writer has faced, but if it is done properly, the writer is able to blend the old with the new and create a character that both fits in with the older image while creating a brand new image of the character.

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Filed under Character Review, Once Upon A Time, Television