Sunday, May 31, 2009

Never alone. To the DJ, we are one.

It only takes two to tango. But with electronic music, you get to dance with the whole wide world.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On 'Brokeback Mountain'

I wrote this critical essay on the film adaptation of Annie Proulx's "Brokeback Mountain" for my Textual Analysis class in May 2009. Luckily, I passed the module and thought of sharing my work.

In the 2005 film adaptation of Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain”, director Ang Lee stays faithful to the short story: he admirably manages to portray the growing bond – which will develop into a powerful, yet ‘controversial’ love relationship – between the two male protagonists Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist. The two cowboys fall deeply in love, but will live their story secretly. However, in comparison with Proulx’s text “Brokeback Mountain”, the particularity about the film is the greater emphasis on these men’s masculinity. Not only do Jack and Ennis impersonate the ‘typical’ cowboy, who is defined as “a hardworking but somewhat undisciplined who is so fiercely independent” person; yet although their homosexuality, both Ennis and Jack undoubtedly remain very masculine in the course of the film.

The adjective ‘masculine’, written as such in Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, is defined by “possessing qualities or characteristics considered typical of or appropriate to a man." In addition, “Masculinity in the Modern West” mentions that the word ‘manly’ is commonly associated with terms such as  “brave”, “strong”, “forceful” “valiant” “resolute” and “unyielding."

On the other hand, in regards to the term homosexuality, it is slightly more difficult to define the ‘stereotypical’ traits of gay behavior. It still remains a speculation but “in the case of homosexuality, the inherited traits that are more common among male homosexuals might include greater than average tendency to anxiety, shyness, sensitivity, intelligence and abilities." Furthermore, male homosexuality is commonly linked to having a more ‘effeminate’ behavior.   
In  Brokeback Mountain though, interestingly enough, both terms – homosexuality and masculinity – do not seem to be contradictory. Both can be regarded as two incompatible concepts, in a sense that homosexuality does not necessarily equal to 'unmanliness'. Indeed, the two protagonists lead a same-sex relationship, yet they are not portrayed as becoming more ‘effeminate’ in the process. In fact, they manage to keep their ‘virile’ traits very explicitly. It is relevant to note that the director of the film, Ang Lee, manages to both epitomize Ennis and Jack's manly factors and at the same time, illustrate the fondness they have for one another. In addition, in order to reinforce this robust, masculine image, the director strengthens their relationships with the other characters in the additional scenes, which are not found in the text. He empowers Ennis and Jack’s roles as leading and responsible family men. “In the screen play, Jack and Ennis are carefully redrawn as competent and caring father-figures, reassuring audience of their “all but normal” masculinity." Brokeback Mountain displays this important aspect: director Ang Lee produces this more ‘masculine’ effect to underline the fact that Ennis and Jack’s desire for one another do not oppose their virility. In other words, Brokeback Mountain wants to prove that sexual orientation does not define one's so-called level of manliness. Therefore, the relation between sexuality and ‘being a manly man’ is not an arbitrary one.

First of all, we will start with a thorough examination of Ennis del Mar’s aggressiveness. In the film, there are various occasions where he will get into fights. This factor can undoubtedly be regarded as a common sign of masculinity. Ennis’ encounter in a fistfight occurs when he gets annoyed by two drunken men who make ridiculous comments during festivities in Riverton. Ennis points out their misbehavior to them: “Wanna keep it down? I got two little girls, here.” After attacking both of them, he adds: “You wanna lose half your fucking teeth?” This is a clear analogy of Ennis’ manliness. He wished to comfort and assure the security of his family. Furthermore, he is not tolerant to reckless behavior in the presence of women and children. He is brave in front of the ‘enemy’. Being protective of one's family is an important demonstration of masculinity.

The second moment in the film where Ennis Del Mar gets into a fight is after storming out of the Thanksgiving dinner he spent in the company of his daughters and his ex-wife Alma’s new husband and child. He is furious as Alma finally confronts him about his love affair with Jack Twist. Consequently, Ennis deals with his anger by getting into a fight with a ‘stranger’ who almost runs him over on his way to the bar. Although, compared to the previously mentioned episode, this next fistfight is purely unnecessary since this stranger did not personally attack him. Ennis has the profound urge to prove his manhood by getting into these fights. As he alludes in the film as well as in Annie Proulx’s short story, “I’m not no queer." It seems to Ennis that the term 'queer' automatically implies 'effeminate' or weak; but in the film, it is evident that there is absolutely no contradiction between gayness and virility.

The reason why Ang Lee accentuates Ennis del Mar’s aggressive side is to show the audience, as much as the protagonist desires to prove to himself, that manliness is overpowering and is not in conflict with his sexuality. Although, as stated above, one would associate homosexuality to having a rather sensitive, anxious and especially 'effeminate' personality, Ennis is never afraid to punch -- and even punch back. In effect, his sincere sentiments towards Jack do not weaken his masculinity.

Furthermore, in comparison to the Annie Proulx’s short story, there is an additional character in the film adaptation which  will further accentuate Ennis del Mar’s omnipresent masculinity. In contrast to the other protagonist of the film, Jack Twist who, for instance, goes to Mexico to have sexual encounters with other men, the only same-sex relationship Ennis has occurs with Jack. After his divorce with Alma, he eventually gets involved with another woman, namely the local bar waitress Cassie. Director Ang Lee wishes to praise Ennis del Mar's manhood and does not seem to have added this character in the attempt to camouflage Ennis’ homosexuality. In the film, he genuinely enjoys the company of this woman. For instance, in their first encounter, he dances with Cassie and massages her feet. He'll introduce Cassie to his daughter Alma Junior and will even announces to Jack that he's “been puttin’ the blocks to a good-lookin’ gal, in Riverton” as well. Once again, Ang Lee emphasizes Ennis' manly behavior by adding this specific sequence with Cassie, which affirms his “'all but manly' masculinity." 

The concept 'masculinity' does not contradict homosexuality. We can take as another argument the strong bond between Ennis and his daughters. He pays particular attention to them, especially to his eldest Alma Junior. After the announcement of his divorce with Alma, Ennis is now only capable of seeing his daughters very seldom. Jack is so happy to hear from the divorce because he believes that their difficult situation – seeing each other every few months – will drastically change. He rushes to Riverton to find Ennis. “I got your card that your divorce came through. So, here I am”, says Jack. Ennis stands in front of a choice, which is to either run away with his Jack or he'd rather spend precious moments with his daughters. In the end of this scene, he chooses his family over Jack Twist. This is an interesting observation since through the entire film, Ennis explains the important and irreplaceable place his family holds in his life. He takes on his duties as a responsible father and he stretches out to Jack that his family is the reason why they cannot be together. In Proulx’s text, Ennis mentions: “What I’m saying, Jack, I’ve built a life up in them years. Love my little girls." In the film adaptation, it is shortened to “I’ve got my life in Riverton”. Even after his divorce with Alma, he continues to complete his tasks as a loving parent. “You ever hear of child support?”, he asks Jack. Ennis del Mar puts his family first instead of his own interests. He is a caring and dedicated parent. He never fails or withdraws his care and love from his children. Despite the fact that he is homosexual, manifesting this clearly reliable, manly trait and proclaiming this responsible father figure is an illustration of Ennis’ unquestionable masculinity. Once again, there is a clear separation between sexuality and manly – and fatherly – traits.

In addition, at the end of the film, Alma Junior drives to Ennis’ trailer park and tells her father about her engagement to Kurt. As a loving father, he wants to be certain about his daughter’s future with the young man as Ennis asks: “Now this Kurt fella, he loves you?” Alma Junior indicates the importance of her father’s presence at her wedding as she cringes when Ennis says he might not attend because of his work. It is obvious to the audience to notice that Ennis and Alma Junior are very close. Consequently, Ennis' father figure projects a distinct sign of a manly trait. Director Ang Lee portrays this strong father-daughter relationship in order to emphasize Ennis’ manhood in Brokeback Mountain. Therefore, his sexual orientation is not an opposition to this dedicated father figure.

We will now focus on the character of Jack Twist. The main difference between Jack and Ennis is his honesty about their same-sex relationship and he even suggests living their love to the ‘open’. During the course of the film, as well as in Annie Proulx'sBrokeback Mountain”, it is not an option for Ennis. In the film, after seeing each other again since their summer on Brokeback Mountain, he declares: “What if you and me had a little ranch somewhere? Little cow-and-calf operation? I’d be a sweet life.” Yet even if Jack shows a much softer side in comparison to his lover, he does not necessarily manifest any signs of ‘unmanliness’. In fact, like the other male protagonist Ennis del Mar, there are a lot of incidences in the film that describe Jack’s predominant masculine behavior.

We will take as a first example his relationship with his father-in-law, who despises him very much. He explains this relationship to Ennis in the film: “Hell, Lureen’s old man would give me a down payment to get lose. More of less already said it.” Jack will let his father-in-law’s remarks get to him but on Thanksgiving, he decides to be a man and stand up to his father-in-law as he screams: “Now, you sit down, you old son of a bitch! This is my house, this is my child, and you are my guest.” This is a scene the director Ang Lee added, which cannot be found in Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain.” In effect, Ang Lee portrays a more 'masculine' Jack in a sense that he doesn’t like to be stepped on neither will he let this happen. His virility is put into test, and he will advocate his manhood by “manfully challenging his father-in-law." Once again, despite his maybe gentler side compared to Ennis, Jack doesn’t prove to be less worthy of a manly man. Once again, Ang Lee stretches out the distinction between sexual orientation and masculinity.

In addition, Jack Twist, like Ennis del Mar, is extremely committed to his son. “The film’s Jack is a devoted and playful father, not merely conventional but ideal in his care for his young son." In Brokeback Mountain, Jack is concerned about his son Bobby.

Jack: Speaking of Bobby, did you call the school back yet about getting him a tutor?
Lureen: I thought you were gonna call.
Jack: I’ve complained way too much, his teacher don’t like me. Now it’s your turn.

Showing interest in his son’s education is a proof of an authoritative and responsible parent. The expression “way too much” underlines this commitment. Therefore, we can consider this particular characteristic as being representative of a very masculine trait. Once more, homosexuality does not collide with one’s ability to be head of the family i.e. to be “the man of the family”. Jack, like Ennis, is a competent father as he cares for his family and wants the best for his son's education.

In conclusion, in the light of these different arguments, we can sense director Ang Lee's profound desire on making masculinity a predominant factor in the course of the entire film. We can question what is the relation between homosexuality and masculinity i.e. remaining a manly man. The director of the film brings the evidence to the screen that homosexuality does not instantly imply 'effeminate.' Are Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar suddenly no longer virile because of their same-sex relationship? This film breaks down prejudicial thoughts and stereotypes: being homosexual does not automatically equal 'effeminate' or 'unmanly'. In fact, in regards to Brokeback Mountain, the audience is even more convinced of their manhood. We are then assured that the relation between sexual orientation and manhood is not definitive. We shall even regard them as two separate terms because masculinity is not 'measured' by homosexuality nor heterosexuality. This finally suggests “that whether one desires a man or a woman is inconsequential, but it is to wonder whether desire's direction alone should define a person." 

Friday, May 29, 2009

The /tough/ competition

Never ever underestimate your adversary.
You are sure it's just a piece of cake, but do not forget:
 You need to deal with the whole damn cake first.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The rise and the fall

There are moments in life where you'll get to stand in front of those life-defining intersections, and the only way to go is to either take the left turn or choose the other direction instead. No one in this world is that lucky: God knows you would love it if it were that easy, but it's a bitter reality that you usually cannot have both solutions. This process might be extremely laborious since an abundance of questions, even regrets or wishful thinking accompany your ultimate choice. And although you sense that you will maybe leave something 'important' behind the second that you leave out that route and alternatively go the other way -- nonetheless, you know that deep down inside, you tried to see fit of what is best for you.

However, it is less straightforward when it comes to the affairs of the heart. There are no straight roads and you might misunderstand -- even just miss -- the signs at intersections. In addition, which direction to take at some junctions is much more complicated than only distinguishing between the left side or the right one: all know that when you fall deeply in love, the heart promptly sees things in another perspective, and that is never in plain black or white, but rather in numerous shades of grey. But when unhappy circumstances occur, and you got a signboard in front of you spelling out point blank that "it's over, get over it and move over", you apprehend that the only approach now is to do your best in dealing with the 'over, over, over' situation and move on.

Your mind and heart are not on the same level as they absolutely do not interact with each other. Indeed, despite the fact that the 'rational' you feels the urge to let go of this certain individual; the 'emotional' you, even if you are tired of fighting the heartache constantly, still leaves a special place for hope in your heart, of course in the desire to turn things around. You hold on, and you keep on holding on. Why have this attitude when you can clearly grasp that remaining in this state may become purely self-destructive? The power of 'holding on' is immeasurable actually, since you can never truly understand -- even less find ways to explain -- what factors measure 'holding on'. Is it the love you've always dreamed of experiencing, and therefore you utterly cannot give up on it? Is the hope to one day having your love reciprocated (again) indestructible; and that is why you are calmly waiting for your lucky numbers to hit the love-jackpot (again)? Or is loving him/her really good enough of a reason to keep on, keep on, keep on holding on?

Consequently, a more hurtful, yet obligatory question comes to mind (and heart): how long are you willing to wait, stay and persevere, and fight for someone... who is not even fighting back for you?

There are moments in life where you know, with certainty, that you are waiting in vain. No 'reading between the lines', no 'mix messages': it is over. Nevertheless, you are still waiting for him/her to change his/her mind, aren't you? Unfortunately, some of us will hold on to a one-sided love relationship for such a long period of time, and in the worst of cases, even perhaps a lifetime. How sad, evidently, and it is not wished upon anyone on the face of the earth; but this 'forever hoping' condition is brutally true at times. But, simultaneously, you cannot turn your back on the "other" life-changing junctions out there. Naturally, you will face one sign that will spell out point blank "dearest, you want and deserve to be happy." Another kind of hope suddenly creeps in: at this intersection, you will now be asked to either go left i.e. continue to hold on to this delusive, unrequited "love"; or you take the right direction and try more assiduously to stop holding on, really let go.

There is no secret potion to get to this accomplishment, and without any doubt, it is not like you haven't tried. But, though violence is never the answer, a good slap in the face will definitely work wonders. Doors will open as you, for instance, get out of your shell 'more', put yourself out there 'more': take a journey in discovering new -- even rediscover old yet forgotten -- things, within and around you. Self-reflexivity is the climax of breaking up with someone, so use it in your advantage: maybe you'll find a hidden talent, get smitten with a then unknown location and meet new friends; and not in a way you're used to! Doesn't that sound pretty amazing? It is obvious that it is not your personal decision to love an unresponsive person or be irreconcilable, but it is your choice to look forward, move forward. Know that it is possible, you only require time. The thing is, no one but you can decide when it is finally time to let go. Accordingly, no one but you will really realize that you have finally moved on. Never lose this hope, one which you can hold on to indefinitely: you deserve to be happy, even if that means it won't include the one you once loved.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fancy a cheesecake?

(If you gave your all, spent endless hours
Learning everything you needed to learn,
Reading everything you needed to read,
Summarizing everything you needed to summarize,
Memorizing everything you needed to memorize.
Then it is not failure. It only means: get tougher, try harder.)

You have only miserably failed 
when you haven't tried at all.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Much more than words

In times of crisis, 
More than providing you with good tools,
More than giving you a great piece of advice, 
More than sharing those words of wisdom with you...

Nothing in this world comes close to a mother's soothing, reassuring voice. It's irreplaceable, and it is enough to put everything back into place. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The cure and the cause

Since the beginning of the spring season, my whole world has been evolving around the most intriguing person who has ever crossed my path. I will simply name him Beatle guy and it is not because I do not want to reveal his identity, but it is honestly how I call him. The reason why I gave him this particular nickname is because he genuinely looks like the fifth member of the Beatles, as if John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison lost him along the way: he has the exact same hairstyle and has got a unique sense of fashion. Frankly, in my own personal opinion, it seems that Beatle guy was born in the wrong decade and belongs to a previous generation. Do not get me wrong, I do not mean to be offensive -- neither to him nor to men who have those haircuts and love skinny jeans way too much -- but I cannot deny the fact that Beatle guy projects this odd, interesting, "from the 1960's" aura; therefore making it hard for me to categorize -- to  even admit -- this monumental sensation I get when I see him, talk about him, talk to him, dream about him. Obsession?

These feelings came knocking at my door in the most astonishing way. Actually, I noticed Beatle guy a while back already, in the beginning of the autumn semester -- because, for all the reasons stated above, he does stand out in the crowd. I want to underline the fact that the only reason I did notice him in an auditorium of more than three hundred people is not because I thought he was cute or handsome. But once again, it was due to his unique style. It made me laugh. Consequently, I made fun of him. Call me mean and judgemental if you must, and I confess it was the case: I was mean and judgemental. But that's how I first laid eyes on him. 

This semester though, we happen to have a class together. And a few months ago, the unbelievable, most unpredictable thing happened. He held his oral presentation and... well, indeed, how weird would you feel if lightning struck only by hearing someone's voice? This man, who is actually not my type at all, someone I wrongly made fun of; suddenly became the object of my desires, associated with terms like charming, cool and attractive. There is something about Beatle guy's voice that really blew my mind away and I then saw him in a new light. That tone is a mix of manliness, sweetness and it is totally sexy: the sexiest voice I've ever heard. It is sheer perfection: so overwhelming, it gives me the shivers. Ironically, the nickname I gave him months before made sense after all. Now I am sure that Paul McCartney and company lost him along the way (probably while they were touring haha!). He brought up in me some kind of domino-effect rush of adrenaline. And I couldn't help but wonder: "What in the world is happening? I am starting to 'like'  Beatle guy." But I decided not to fight it, accept the unexpected. Instead, I left my feelings to pleasure. First it was my eyes sparkling, then my fingers getting numb and finally, I could sense my heart racing, mad crazy. 

Beatle guy and I managed to know each other better in the mean time but only in rather peripheral, superficial way. We exchange our 'hello's' and talk a tiny little bit, yet there's nothing more I can add to that statement. To some extent, I am assured that this situation is for the better: friendship might be on the menu and we'll maybe get there one day. But for no apparent reason, I want to keep him at a certain distance. The odd thing is that I am dying to know him better, but something is holding me back from doing so. Maybe because I cannot believe I fancy someone who I normally would not fancy. Maybe because I know that we are from two very different places and there is no bridge that can connect us. Or perhaps it is also because I like, and want him to remain an 'unattainable' fantasy, never to be realized. And I assume that whatever I feel for him is only but a crush. A crush in your twenties? Please, it sounds more like an obsession, mate! I've heard it all before, I do not know anything as long as I haven't found out if this could be anything else. But for once, obsession -- just looking from a distance -- now fits just right. I do not want to spoil it: an obsession is no longer an obsession when we fulfill our longings. After all, obsession is something that we don't look for, it finds us.

We say things happen when you least expect them. At times, we only get to really see people when we are ready to see them. Was it the case: should I finally hear his voice to have a closer look at who is behind the haircut and the 1960's persona? Was I meant to hear so I could contemplate on what obsession is really all about? Mission accomplished: I am contemplating on obsession, obsessing about Beatle guy and I am loving it. What I am sure of, in retrospect, is that we do not get to come across that many people who are capable of making us melt. Really melt. It was not at first sight, but magic occurred at 'first sound'. What about that for a change? It'a moment. It's a look. It's a touch. It's a smell. It's a sound. Obsession is a sensation, probably fleeting but definitely massive. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Define, identify

I am very, very far from being perfect... Actually, I am not even close to normal.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A more divisible nation?

There are moments in life where you need to put your pride down and weep, even just for a little while. This is one of these moments: I wrote this argumentative essay for my "Cultural Studies" class in April 2009 and we needed to claim whether there is more that divides Americans or more that unites them. We should discuss the results in the light of regional differences. Although it was not the grade I expected, and it pinched quite hard, I still thought it was important to add it to my collection because I remain very proud of it. What I've learned is that critical feedback will always push you to become a better writer.

In a vast country such as the United States of America, with a population of more than three hundred millions spread within an area of over nine million square kilometers, it is hardly possible to place the American people in just one single category. It is also improbable to conclude that there is one particular characteristic that is common to all Americans. In fact, it is the opposite: we can even consider the country as being a smorgasbord, since there are countless factors that differ immensely from one part of the United States to the other extreme. Pluralism goes hand in hand with the essence of this nation and its citizens: there is no typical American but diverse (stereo)types of Americans. In effect, we shall take the following arguments to illustrate why there are more factors that divide the American people, rather than unite them. There exist various approaches in order to analyze these differences. In this essay, we will focus on sorting these features by examining the four main regions: the West, the Midwest, the North East and the South.

When the people in the East coast are ready to go to sleep, for the others living in California, it may only be time for supper. And whilst some prepare for the harsh winter in the state of Vermont, the inhabitants of Florida need never to worry about buying a winter jacket. Yet it is not only the different time zones or geographical aspects that affect the division amongst the American people. An important factor would be the historical background of this country. To the present day, history has shaped a number of characteristics of the citizens’ identity. Accordingly, it has also influenced their way of living. 

The first settlers in the South were English Protestants; but in contrast to the other English Protestants who established in the North East in the early seventeenth century, they were not as driven: “they were less independent and revolutionary by nature." There was a clear distinction in temperament. Nowadays, we can compare their behavior with their attitudes in the past, Americans in the South are still well known for living in a slightly slower pace and prefer it laid back. 

At the very beginning, the North East was the region that had a great impact on the entire United States. In addition, this side of the nation represented the “Cradle of American Industry."  Consequently, it is no surprise that the North East then became the “home” region to the booming economy of the country. Furthermore, the most prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale are in this part of the USA, In the middle of the nineteenth century, gold awaken in people the desire to become wealthy and travel further into the West coast. Today, the West, in particular Hollywood, is still one of – or the biggest – industry in the USA where people aspire to live and fulfill their dreams; and get rich and famous. Finally, by studying the historical context in the various areas, we can ascertain that history has molded the regions and their citizens. By these means we imagine a more “separate” nation: the state where one comes from forges his/her behavior as well as his interests.

Secondly, we will analyze another relevant aspect that also causes a division amongst Americans: the different states in the US are incontestably separable by their political preferences. On one hand, we have the blue states, whose citizens will predominantly vote for the Democratic Party. California, Iowa and the state of New York are a few of these representative blue states. On the other hand, states such as Texas, Wyoming and Indiana, whose citizens are more inclined to cast in their votes for a Republican candidate, are called the red states. Despite the fact that in the 2008 elections, as well as in the 2004 presidential elections, the colors red and blue smudged into creating purple states i.e. there is an equal number of voters for the Democrat and Republican Party; the typical red state citizen is still very different from a classic blue state one. For instance, Republicans, with a good fifty-one percent of voters in red states, attend mass at church at least one a week compared to only thirty-four in the blue states. Additionally, Republicans are more prompt to support gun ownership and Democrats are more likely to agree with gay marriages. Undoubtedly, both Republicans and Democrats can be proud citizens of their nation, but these features such as their political opinion and upbringing proclaim a division amongst regions and the American people.

Finally, we can distinguish a more divisible USA in terms of people’s cultural heritage. Not only are the American people from so many different ethnicities and practice diverse religious beliefs, but it is also the region’s cultural background that primarily separates a Southerner from a New Yorker; or a citizen from Hawaii from one who comes from the heartland of America. This cultural difference consists of their taste in food, their music preference, and the detectable dialects and accents in the English language. An example is this linguistic particularity: “soft drinks” vary its name depending on the region. Every region introduces a different American, who is familiar with either soda, coke or pop. Finally, we can see how the heterogeneous cultural aspects in the country, even the smallest details like the term used for soft drinks, contributed to a more divisible USA.

In conclusion, after analyzing the dissimilarities between regions and American citizens on various levels – in a historical, political and a cultural context –, we can see that there is more that divides Americans and less features than unites them. Perhaps it is a flaw and these aspects will create a bigger gap between regions and will continue dividing the nation in the future, but these characteristics  – which vary and are still very unique to each region – can also be regarded as an asset; and the strength of the country. Indeed, although we acknowledge this definite division between regions, origins shape their identity, habits, opinions and beliefs. Due to more divisible features, regional identity might be as important – or even more essential than American national identity. On this last note, as mentioned in the conversation between David Hackett Fisher and William Ferris who discuss the power of regionalism, according to Fischer, “A region […] is a cultural thing. It is people who share a sense of themselves, who form a bond with one another and also with the place”.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My muse, my music

With her, I do not need to lie. I do not need to pretend.
I never need to be shy. She makes me feel super fly.
She understands me more than I understand her. 
She becomes my drink when I get too thirsty.
She is my lighter when I reach for a smoke.
She looks for me when I am out of sight.
She calls on me and holds me so tight.
She loves me, but I love her more.
My best friend, brutally honest.
I dance to you, I live for you.
You are my muse. 
This is my music.
I am, forevermore, your ultimate electro girl.

-Milka liebt Erdbeer

Friday, May 8, 2009

Evolution - A Dove Film

This is an article I wrote for my writing class in November 2007.

With a soothing melody in the background, the new DOVE advertisement begins with an ordinary yet pretty and full-figured woman entering the room. As she sits in front of the mirror, the filming is then set in a fast-forward pace. The camera stays focused on her face and the pampering begins: the make-up is beautifully put and her straight hair is curled. In a brief matter of time, she goes from natural to plain glamorous. When you believe the commercial is over as the photo shoot finally takes place, her photographs are edited with a certain computer program. Wanting a more slender face and a so-called perfect symmetry as well, some of her features are “improved”: her lips are made fuller, her eyes are widened, her neck is stretched and her cheeks are attenuated. Finally the viewer can witness how the perfect picture of this perfect face is put on a billboard.  She is fabulous, but unrecognizable from the person at the beginning. Evolution – A Dove Film ends saying “No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted. Take part in the real beauty workshops for girls.”

We live in a society today where appearance and its whereabouts have become such a great part in our lives. Indeed, the emphasis we have on the subject is undeniable as we promptly realize that we are surrounded by models all the time. We get to watch them on television, we look at their pictures in magazines or on the internet, and their billboards are in every corner of the city. These women, naturally beautiful or with a few retouches, can truly make one blush. It is common for women to feel a little perplexed or even frustrated when it comes to describing their feelings about their face and/or body. I would like to be skinnier, one would admit. Many people are surely not satisfied with their figure, especially as they keep on comparing themselves to these “gorgeous creatures”.

For instance, one of the main concerns today is still the issue on eating disorders and severe weight loss, not only affecting models but the average woman as well. This particular matter once again hit the headlines when Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died caused by anorexia last year. And the fight is far from being over. It is a reality that thousands of women worldwide are still combating with their weight issues. As demonstrated in the DOVE film, simple pampering seems not enough to be alluring and a slimmer version of “you” would do the trick instead. Therefore, women are pressured to have a better or more similar body to the models in the advertisement.