Where Are The Women?

August 18, 2015 § 1 Comment

The other day I went to go see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and was struck by the 20 minutes of trailers that played before it. Not because they were so long, though it has gotten pretty ridiculous, but because of how testosterone-fueled many of them were.

The two that stuck out most were In the Heart of the Sea and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi — they’re movies with men, men and more men. In the former, Chris Hemsworth’s wife gets one line, and the rest of the story portrays how the crew of men get stranded at sea by a giant whale.

And there isn’t a single woman in the two-and-a-half minute trailer for 13 Hours. It’s a war movie, so…no surprise there.

Both these films are based on true stories, so arguably there isn’t much the filmmakers could do to include more women. But it’s dull (to me) to see men’s stories told over and over again with barely even the presence of women. (And it did make me wonder what the world would be like if women were in charge instead of men; I’m not saying there wouldn’t be any wars, but I’ve no doubt they would be less destructive.)

The recent study about lack of diversity in movies — “women made up only 30.2 percent of all speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films released in the United States” — rang true in Mission Impossible 5 as well. Other than Rebecca Ferguson, there were only two other women (with or without lines) in the whole film…and they both die shortly after we meet them.

There’s also a scene toward the beginning of the movie where Jeremy Renner and Alec Baldwin are sitting in front of a panel of judges, trying to justify why IMF should or shouldn’t be disbanded. The row of at least eight judges were all old, white men. Only a couple of them even talk! How difficult would it be to just throw a woman on there? Or a person of color?

But no. Men are the default. Every eastern European thug, every security staff member at the secret Moroccan plant, all men.

I would feel so disheartened if I were an actress. Where are the roles in big movies? There isn’t even the excuse that you’re not pretty or white or young enough; you’re a woman, and there’s only room for one or fewer of you.

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A Miyazaki-Ghibli Sampler

October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’ve taken it upon myself to watch all of Hayao Miyazaki‘s feature films [and by extension, all Studio Ghibli films]. The first one I ever watched was Spirited Away (2001), in high school [or was it middle school], which introduced me to the magical world of Miyazaki’s animation. Some people began with My Neighbor Totoro, but I was a latecomer.

I had watched anime before, but it had never felt so…deep. [Arguably I had only watched questionable anime series that I don’t even remember anymore.] Next was Princess Mononoke (1997), which I barely remember but for the wolf and the forest and the lake. Then, when Howl’s Moving Castle was released in 2004, I watched that one online too. Miyazaki didn’t create another feature film until I was in college, so in 2008, I was delighted to watch Ponyo. It didn’t seem as well-received among my friends, who deemed it weird and childish, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. After that, I waited until this summer to watch The Secret World of Arrietty (2010), which was beautiful to watch even though the storyline didn’t really go anywhere.

Now, I’m going through the archives, digging for films that were released before I was even born. I’m normally apathetic about watching old movies [there’s barely enough time to watch all the new ones!], but I love animated films, and these are undoubtedly some of the world’s best. Besides, all the movies currently in theaters are mind-numbingly unappealing, so the choice was pretty easy. It doesn’t hurt that Miyazaki’s bio mentions a few times that he explores feminist themes by casting female characters as leads in his films. Could he be any more perfect and wonderful? Apart from that, some of Miyazaki’s expressed viewpoints remind me of Shel Silverstein, who also produced pieces for children in a deliberately non-condescending and non-patronizing way.

First on my list was Laputa: Castle In The Sky (1986). It came up in a Gchat conversation with VY, and I was all “what is this laputa, sounds like a spanish curse word” [those were my exact words], so I looked it up and decided to watch it. It’s weird to watch old-school animation that isn’t all slick like modern anime, but the hand-drawn style is one of Miyazaki’s many distinct charms, from the way food looks so freaking plump and delicious to the way a character’s facial expression and hair rises when he or she is alarmed.

FEED ME!!!!!!!

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Do You See What I See?

March 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is what I saw.

This is what I saw.

Knowing what’s right makes the wrong even more heartbreaking.

After dinner today I went for a walk around the neighborhood to clear my head. Even though spring break has just begun, I’ve already had more than enough chaos. I suppose even though my brother is growing taller and my parents are growing older, nothing at home really changes. A smooth facade is easily shattered by the obstinacy of an adolescent boy and the impatience of two incapable parents. I feel like I have enough experience to become an actual family counselor.

And let’s not forget the BU, as much as I would like to. It was awkward seeing [and avoiding] him yesterday. This afternoon, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist was playing on TV — I had zero interest in this when it came out, but J watched it sometime this semester and loved it, and he was keen on us watching it together. So I watched it today, partly in honor of him, and partly to see what the big deal was about.

As I suspected, the film was just another frivolous teen romance. I mean, it wasn’t disgustingly cheesy, but it wasn’t much more than two teenagers trying to find “love” [or something]. And the supporting characters were completely one-dimensional and uninteresting.

Anyway, I walked from my house to the elementary school playground and watched the sunset while listening to sad songs on my iPod [which is on the verge of dying…not good]. My favorite: Piano Man by Brandy. How true these words:

Play me a song about heartache / I promise I could sing every word

But God met me as I slouched in the swing, the wind blowing my hair into disheveled tangles. And through my tears, I gave it up to Him. I’m not going to let the questions plague me anymore — does he still love me? If not, why not? Could we still end up together? [How could he be so heartless?]

It doesn’t matter anymore. What we shared is gone, and my future is not with him. I can have peace about it now. As for family problems, well, that will take much longer to clean up. But I know God is there.

On my walk back, Another Heart Calls by the All American Rejects came on. Although not in the full context of the lyrics, these lines stood one to me:

Everything that matters breaks in two / Say it’s true / I’ll never ask for anyone but you

I looked up into the sky’s radiant clouds and prayed those words to God. I hope to never forget what He has brought me through.

The Greatest Practical Joke, They Said

March 12, 2009 § 4 Comments

On a whim, I went to go see Watchmen last Friday with some friends. I figured that I could use a good action movie even though I had no idea what Watchmen was about; I had never heard of the comic before the movie.

The film was better than I expected, especially seeing as how I had no expectations at all. It was a relatively complex movie, full of ideas of romance, violence, politics and ethics. The opening montage was rather confusing, but the rest of the movie unfolded in an understandable manner.

One question I had dealt with the origin of this group of costumed vigilantes. Dr. Manhattan’s superpowered history was duly revealed, but I wasn’t clear on whether the others actually had some kind of superior physical powers or if they were simply really good at fighting. And Rorschach’s mask – how does it move? The last question is kind of irrelevent in a world where being trapped in a science experiment can turn one into a shiny blue demi-god, but still, I wondered.

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Bake Me A Pie

March 1, 2009 § 1 Comment

The more I watch Pushing Daisies, the more I fall in love with Lee Pace.

lee-pace

[Hmmm, he has thick eyebrows. Like J. Coincidence.]

He has very sensitive eyes, and is absolutely adorable as the Piemaker. There are rumors that he prefers men over women but I won’t believe anything unless he says it himself.

When I saw the trailer for The Fall somewhere online last year, I was completely drawn in. I am very much attracted to aesthetically appealing movies such as Memoirs of a Geisha and Hero, and The Fall did not disappoint. It was visually stunning, and the soundtrack, coupled with minimal dialogue, added to the beauty of the film. Another bonus is the gratuitous amount of bare, muscular male bodies. Delicious.

On the topic of Lee Pace, one way of knowing whether I’m completely over the relationship is seeing when I’ll be able to watch Pushing Daisies again.

I started watching the show a few weeks after it began, after I had spent the afternoon with JY, who was absolutely raving about it. I had seen the commercials for the show on ABC, but I didn’t even know what the phrase “pushing daisies” meant and was not interested in adding another show to my lineup. JY is a very persuasive woman, however, so after going home, I went online and watched the first episode. And then proceeded to watch the next three episodes consecutively because it was that good.

I told J about it and pressured him to watch, which he did eventually. He liked it, but not as much as I did.

Usually, I despise cheesy romances. Pushing Daisies, however, holds a certain charm in its unique characters and clever dialogue that doesn’t grow old. The forbidden romance between Ned and Chuck was also faintly familiar to me. I’ve been too busy to watch any episodes for this entire semester, and though I’ve wasted much idle time recently, my appetite for Pushing Daisies has waned. I simply don’t think I’ll be able to stomach the cute romantic nature of the show for a long while.

The fact that this season is the last of Pushing Daisies is nothing short of tragic. Why must everything I love be taken from me?! Hopefully a movie is in the works. In the meantime, I plan to watch all of Lee Pace’s movies to fill the void Pushing Daisies has left. I love his acting.

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Beyonce’s New Flick

February 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

Beyonce has a new movie coming out! And it looks good, contrary to most of her previous films. I liked Dreamgirls, but didn’t particularly care for Beyonce’s character. Ali Larter and Jerry O’Connell are also in the movie. I just had the revelation that Roomie #2’s boyfriend looks a lot like Jerry O’Connell…

Anyway, take a look at the trailer:

Put On Your Yellowface

January 23, 2009 § 1 Comment

Ever since Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Films decided to produce a feature film version of the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender, there has been controversy over the announcement that the cast would be all-white. According to Entertainment Weekly, even Jesse freaking McCartney was considered to play one of the characters. It doesn’t get any whiter than that, folks.

If you look through this series of images, it becomes clear that Avatar is entirely comprised of Asian characters [except, maybe, the weird girl with blue eyes], with a setting inspired by Asian and Inuit cultures. I used to watch this show with my brother when it was in its first season, and it was very enjoyable [except for that stupid crush between Sokka & the princess], containing action, comedy, and beautiful artwork.

This is basically the same thing that happened with the movies 21 and Dragonball Evolution. It’s as if there are no English-speaking Asian people that film producers can pull from what I’m sure is a teeming pool of actors just dying to get selected. What is probably closer to the truth is that those people simply don’t care how offensive it is to Asians and Asian-Americans that this movie will not be led by any Asian actors or actresses when it so obviously calls for them.

Cartoonist Derek Kirk Kim wrote a poignant piece on this controversy that I urge you to read. He draws an effective analogy to illustrate his point:

Imagine if someone had made a “fantasy” movie in which the entire world was built around African culture. Everyone is wearing ancient African clothes, African hats, eating traditional African food, writing in an African language, living in African homes, all encompassed in an African landscape…

…but everyone is white.

Americans would simply not stand for that! People would complain, and things would probably change. But filmmakers assume that they can just bulldoze over the dignity of Asian-Americans once again without retribution. Well, we – and by we, I mean Asians and non-Asians alike – need to get angry. This instance simply represents how mute Asian-Americans have been as a group. If we don’t use our voices, what else do we have? So at the very least, don’t go see the movie. Please.

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PS. Tom & Jerry are getting a movie? YES!!!! It’s going to be live-action/CG? WTF NO!!!

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