Saturday, February 22, 2014

"The Bachelor" and the Problem with No Name


Leave it to me to simultaneously become enthralled with the current season of The Bachelor and The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. My mother-in-law is to thank for my new addiction to The Bachelor. I have seen a few episodes here and there throughout the years, but never got invested in a full season. The idea of a bunch of women clawing their way to one man that is chosen for them and they barely know seemed a little too medieval for my taste. I made myself let go so I could indulge in some mother-in-law bonding time until Betty Friedan made the feminist in me furious for Sharleen Joynt, the opera singer.


 As anyone who’s anyone knows, Sharleen decides to leave after a season of deliberation, despite Juan Pablo’s interest. All the girls on the show have been confounded by their connection and when I read blogs covering this season everyone seems to think she is the weirdo that should have left after the first night if she wasn’t instantly obsessed with Juan Pablo.

I liked her immediately. You can tell she is a very intelligent and serious person from having worked at a very formal singing tradition most of her life. She has also lived and traveled around the world, but still geeked out when she went to a cocktail party in Middleton while in New Zealand. She also processed the experience as I imagine I would, making me relate to a contestant for once. She rocks.

While I thought she might be a little intense for him, I also saw why they were attracted to one another. She and Juan Pablo were able to share in the experience of leaving home, not just for another state, but an entirely different country and culture. I think she signed up for it because she was single, was interested in a new adventure, thought that Juan Pablo was cute and maybe she’d make a love connection. If nothing else, she walks away with a bizarre, one-of-a-kind experience and perhaps a new audience for her music. But going through all of that, spending time with so many women that are so drastically different from who she is and what she values, and watching them have these same strong connections with Juan Pablo, of course it made her pause.

I’ll admit that even I was starting to get tired of her hemming and hawing, though. I can see why the other girls would be frustrated as well. They are all there for the ring and children and a fairy tale ending. But just as I started to slip into a vapid rabbit hole with the audience and contestants, I also finished the first chapter of The Feminine Mystique. As I am reading about women trapped in the role of wife/mother/homemaker, everything that bothers me about The Bachelor and the Sharleen begrudgers comes to light.

The women that refuse to see the show for what it is or to question if Juan Pablo is the right fit for them are the crazy ones. Yes, you sign up for a show, but does that mean you shut off your brain? Does that mean you don’t examine this man and what it would realistically make your future look like?  Just like everyone else, all of her fears are coming out. While some women show that their fear is not being the prettiest or the best liked or the center of attention, her fears are based in questions of what she wants and if she can have it all. On top of that, she feels guilty for bothering to question. She says it herself, “I wish I were dumber.” I understand completely. She shouldn’t feel bad. At the heart of her questioning is a very real concern. If you are going to get a proposal, move to another country, limit your career considerably by settling down (at least from what everyone keeps saying), and become a stepmother, I would hope you are seriously thinking about it. We all know it’s a hoax for the most part, that the people that meet on the show generally do not work out, but Sharleen has every reason to feel apprehensive.

Part of me worried whether I was making the right choice falling in love and getting engaged at twenty and married at twenty-two. Some of it was about my husband and whether I thought he would respect and encourage me to have my own life and experiences. Too many men want to control the woman that they are with and want her to focus on them and their family and stop worrying about all that other stuff, even in this day and age. I didn't want to grow and change and find that he didn't want me to. More than that, I worried about fulfilling the promises I made to myself. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of marriage and kids being my only aspirations. I have always wanted to travel, learn, meet new, different people and have interesting conversations, read books that change me at my core, and find my personal way to be part of the world. I eventually got over my jitters. My husband proved how much he cares about me living a fulfilling life of my own and I never stopped being a part of the world and learning. I’d be lying if I said that it’s been easy to maintain the balance between self and marriage. It’s a very real struggle to honor oneself while being with someone no matter how attractive or wealthy or perfect.

Back to Sharleen: Here is a woman, with a career she has focused on and has kept her traveling and performing for many years and she is starting to feel a connection with a man that is tied to Miami for his job and family. It seems like everyone on the show assumes that whomever Juan Pablo picks is obligated to drop everything and move to him. Is that a rule? Is there no room for discussion? No room for compromise? That was the question I hoped Sharleen would ask. Yes, she says she is up for change. But is she? Should she have to be? The very thing that makes her stand out among the other girls, her worldliness and maturity, seems the thing making everyone assume she is unsuitable for Juan Pablo. 

Even Juan Pablo sees and understands her struggle but never tries to convince her that he would make it work for the both of them. To be fair, maybe they have that conversation and we don’t see it, but that’s a problem. We need to see that talk. It’s important and realistic and even if this is all for fun, let’s acknowledge the reality of women and their dreams today. Let’s not brush her off and assume she lacks what it takes to be a real woman that someone as special as Juan Pablo deserves. She's pretty damn special too. I understand this is a show about him and for him, but why are we trying to convince this woman or the young women and girls watching that this New Woman, as Friedan named the independent career women of the twenties through forties, is someone to fear, to repel against? Haven’t we covered this all ready? What was all that work for if she gives it up to be stranded in Miami with a guy she barely knows? The hardest part about finding someone is figuring out how to make it all work, but if you are equally committed to each other's happiness and success, you can figure it out. Unfortunately there are plenty of people who still don't think of this as an option, let alone what they aspire to have. 

In Friedan’s book, excerpts from interviews with women of various education levels and locations explain how they all feel trapped, they all feel useless, and they all wonder if this is all life has to offer. They feel like they are in the wrong because they should be overjoyed to have so many devices and luxuries and children and a husband at their disposal. When I started the book, I thought it would help me see how far we have come and why, but when I watch The Bachelor and the way that the other contestants, the audience, and even the host view Sharleen’s hot and cold feelings for Juan Pablo, I know the fight isn’t over. I never thought it was over, living in the middle of a rape culture, but I guess I hoped we were making some strides when it came to our views on straight marriage (let alone GAY marriage) and the expectations we place on women.


 While careers are at the forefront of women today, we are still trapped in the details of our future wedding day(s), a point made obvious by the women signing up in droves for The Bachelor and watching each season with bated breath. Many women have their wedding day planned out but no relationship. When they get into a relationship you feel them rushing it into marriage so they can have their wedding, buy that house, have those kids. Shouldn’t the goal in life be living a life that fulfills you in every aspect, a goal that may happen with or without a man? I believe this can happen even when you are married, that you can be the well rounded person you want to be, but why does marriage seem to still hold a key for so many women?

I can tell you from personal experience that marriage itself does not bring you happiness. If anything, it brings more unhappiness. You enter into a marriage accepting that you will take on the joy of your partner, but you also take on all of their hardships as well. You nod your head, thinking you understand what this means, but remember, when you aren’t having hardships and the other person is, you can’t just brush them off and go have fun. That’s when they need you most. My husband and I have been through hell and back our entire relationship, taking care of his grandparents through dementia and cancer, as well as his mother who suffered a stroke three and a half years ago. I was in college when we met and dealt with these questions and troubles while I was figuring out who I wanted to be. But it’s our connection, the fun that he brings to my life even when we are going through hard times that keeps me there. The present and the future shine so brightly with both of us fighting for each other and ourselves to not settle, to go for what and who we want to be. We complement and encourage our shared and separate happiness. Our wedding was one day, our marriage is our everyday.

Yes, times have changed. Yes, women have careers. But in the case of this particular bachelorette, she is losing a lot if she decides to go on with Juan Pablo under the assumed conditions of The Bachelor. It’s only a television show, but when young women and girls watch another woman get shitty comments and looks because she is weighing whether or not a man is the right fit for her and the life she has chosen up to this point, I can’t help but turn my brain back on and go, “WHAT THE FUCK?” All I can think about are all the women who were and still are shamed to sit lifeless at the kitchen counter, waiting for their family to dictate their days and wondering, “Is this it? What do I really want?”

Passing something off as “just TV” is a slippery slope. When we accept a public image, even if it ventures from what we know is reality, it eventually becomes our truth. It’s what happened after men returned from World War II. The New Women of the 1940s, who had taken over most of the writing and editing of women’s magazines and advertising, suddenly found themselves sent home. The men were back. They weren’t here for the rebirth of women and the ones that were assumed it was temporary, a phase. As Friedan said, the men back from war were full of nostalgia for the old way of domestic life. Suddenly these writers, poets, baseball players, psychologists, nurses, were being sent home to pop out kids and starch their husband’s suit. Thanks for holding down the fort, but go back where you know you really thrive, where you can achieve real happiness. Because you’re a woman, it’s your destiny.

Maybe you enjoy the drama; to sit around and judge these women for having to be whomever this season’s bachelor wants them to be. Maybe it’s all in good fun. Maybe I need to get out more and not make such a big deal over a small plot point on a silly reality show. Maybe it’s easier to find the ideal shade for your wedding day mani-pedi and rip apart women, like Sharleen, who are just trying to figure who and what they want to be and how/if a suitor fits in. Maybe it’s easier to accept traditional ideas and stereotypes and make them our own, to stick to the path of least resistance. Or maybe we should give ourselves more credit than that.  

Friday, March 29, 2013

Apocalypse Later


Shit. You're mad, aren't you? I don't blame you. I totally proved that all dreams are, in fact, lies. I didn't finish the AFI Top 100 before the end of 2012, so of course, neither did any of you. Well, you better not have. So that's it. Everyone go home. Party's over. I threw up in the punch bowl and someone's slow dancing with a coat rack. Or does that mean the REAL party is just getting started? Confused? I don't blame you. But you really need to learn to focus, you know that, don't you? Anyways, let's get it all sorted.
I'd be honored to throw up in this.
At the beginning of 2012, I decided I was going to write for one hour each day. I had this blog, became a Yelp Elite member, and carried a list of at least 10-15 ideas that could be written, some even filmed, and eventually sent off to various festivals and competitions. Alas, 2012 was a year of wayward commitment (to put it kindly). Distractions came and went, but they remained just that - distractions. I've been a big baby filled with excuses that are charged by self-pity, insecurity, fear, and laziness. Who am I kidding? I'm still that big baby, but I'm working at it. Time to suck it up and be happy because everything will be OK and that's all there is to it. Well, not all, but you get it.

Now what? Along with last year's projects, I will also be contributing to Girl Town, another blog started by a couple friends, that you should totally check out. Joining this blog forced me to get my shit together and create a writing schedule since I will be on a schedule for them. They aren't strict, but I have to have rules or I'll just drink tea from my bunny mug without pants while I watch Murder, She Wrote. I also figured out that various & sundry is going to be where I get personal and geeky. Obviously my AFI Top 100 journey fits in perfectly here.

Maybe this proclamation is not very important to you. In fact, you might be comatose by now. I can dig that. BUT it was important for me to get it on here so I can come to this blog almost every Sunday (hey, old habits like procrastination and laziness die hard) and know what type of content I'm going for. Stressing over that question has caused me to procrastinate far too much so THIS ENDS NOW. I wish I had a Gandalf staff and a windy New Zealand mountain top to shout that from. Although, a walking stick and a big fan would give it just as much drama.
Effective proclamation sans Gandalf staff or dramatic winds.
Anyways, join me Sunday where I will discuss my experience watching Apocalypse Now for the first time since I was eight. Yes, you read that correctly. Eight years old. Oh yeah, baby, I got some yarns to spin for ya. At some point, we'll get back on the AFI train, but we'll get to it when we get to it. We have schedules, but this is neither Nazi Germany, nor present day, non-Nazi Germany train station scheduling, so chill out.



flowers & sunshine & proclamations,
bunny


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Soup's On!: Duck Soup

Before we get rolling onto the next installment of my AFI journey, let's start things off with some honesty: 1) This is NOT being posted one week after the last Butch Cassidy post 2) At this rate I am never going to make my resolution by the end of the year aka all dreams are lies. So I'm going to be way better about this if that is cool with you. Bon apetit!

Duck Soup (1933)

Director: Leo McCarey
Writers: Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, Arthur Sheekman, Nat Perrin
Main Actors: The Four Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico & Zeppo)
Synopsis: Rufus T. Firefly is named president of bankrupt Freedonia and declares war on neighboring Sylvania to win the love (and money) of Mrs. Teasdale.
AFI #60

Kneejerk Reaction: I giggled and guffawed the whole way through. I realized I probably saw this movie as a kid since my parents were huge Marx Brothers fans, only this time I was able to catch the satire. Although I'm certain my dad explained it all to two-year old me at the time which explains a lot about who I am. Anyways, the movie was clever, it was fun and nobody rattles off a fast, deadpan one-liner like Groucho.


High Points: The movie switches between Groucho & Zeppo, the president and his straight man secretary, and Chico & Harpo, the spies. It's a perfect balance between the steady stream of jokes and slapstick, with the running gags getting funnier every time. Whenever Chico and Harpo meet a new character, like the ambassador or the merchant, I die. When Groucho is looking in the "mirror"? Holy crap. This is comedy gold, people! Gold! 


Why I Think It's On the Top 100: The Marx Brothers had a huge impact on comedy and this film in particular is so smart in its criticism of government and people that it is not your run-of-the-mill comedy filled with cheap laughs. Well, there are cheap laughs, but they move from joke to joke so seamlessly that the movie is a masterpiece even without the social commentary.


Geek-Out Scale: I'd say you could be at about a 5 on the Geek-Out Scale (1 = From Justin to Kelly is your favorite movie and 10 = you watched Intolerance everyday for a week and then gave a Power Point to your nearest and dearest. For fun.) If you love comedy this is a great place to see where a lot of your contemporary favorites got inspired but you will also be in for a treat if you love The Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy or Abbott and Costello. If you haven't seen any of them, then there really is no hope for you, is there? 


When Will I See You Again?: I have been putting this movie on every time I sit down to write this post and just had to pause it because I kept getting distracted and wanting to watch it instead of write. So..... soon? Also, I just realized I fit my description of a 10 on the Geek-Out Scale (although Duck Soup is MUCH easier to swallow than Intolerance, am I right?! "No one else cares about Intolerance," you say? "Sit down, geek," you say? But wait, you WILL care about Intolerance if you keep reading my AFI posts muhahaha!!)



All right, lassies and lads. Hope you enjoyed this snack about Duck Soup. Let me know if you watch it and what you think, what you want me to watch next, etc. Please feel free to keep track of my progress on the Top 100 here. And make sure to throw virtual tomatoes if I make you wait too long for the next one. I am going to be in Mexico next week so expect the next post the second week of October!




soupy sales & flowers & sunshine,

bunny 


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rootin' Tootin': Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

One of my New Year's resolutions I have botched time and time again is viewing every movie on the AFI Top 100. Just in case you're as big of a nerd as I am about this kind of stuff, let me clarify it is the original list, not the laughs or thrills, etc. Oh yeah, those exist, too. But I digress.

This year I have finally been making some real, dedicated headway on the AFI resolution and I figure someone out there might be interested to know my thoughts on the classics as I view them for the first time. I am a film fanatic, but I can simultaneously view a movie analytically and for the sheer joy of it. I can see what qualifies it as a classic while honestly admitting if it's one I will watch more than once. I'll even make sure to tell you just how geeked out you'll need to be to enjoy it. Along the way, feel free to give me questions to consider or suggest which movie I should watch next. But without further ado...


Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
Director: George Roy Hill
Writer: William Goldman
Main Actors: Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross
Synopsis: Two Western bank and train robbers head for Bolivia when the law gets too close.
AFI #73

Kneejerk Reaction: From beginning to end, I was entertained. I had seen the ending a million times in school and I still never tire of it. The script is impeccable; I dream of writing as well as William Goldman with his mix of understated wit and heartbreaking honesty about the human condition. Hill is a master when it comes to directing and this is one of his crown jewels. Beautiful scenery and shots.

High Points: This is a tough one, but I love the opening, with the silent short film about the infamous Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, when Butch and Etta play around on the bicycle, when Butch and Sundance are chased through the desert, Butch, Sundance & Etta's old timey photos of their adventures, the montage of them robbing in Bolivia and, of course, the end. Can we all agree I am terrible at picking high points? I basically loved the whole movie. Sheesh.

Why I Think It's On the Top 100: Hill and Goldman take a classic genre and add some humor and life while making social commentary that goes beyond 1969: aging, feeling disconnected from a changing world and unable to keep up anymore/not wanting to, the evolution of technology, film, storytelling and history, the complicated nature of human relationships, the microscopic line between "good" and "bad" and probably many more I haven't thought of yet. If you have seen this movie, is there anything you think I am missing?

Geek-Out Scale: I would say you need to be at about a 6 (10 being you could watch silent films for a day and be entertained). It isn't as long as some classics and as I said, the music, cast, writing and scenery are lovely. If you are a little wary, trust me and be open to it because I promise it is not the dry and boring classic that you might be imagining. It was made in 1969 which was an incredibly exciting time for filmmaking. The Production Code had just been lifted in 1968, so subject matters like sex and violence were no longer implied. Filmmakers could openly discuss and show these things and got really experimental with it. This one is not super gory or sexy, but they are not hiding anything like old school Westerns did. So if you are on the fence about classics, the 60s and 70s are a good place to start!

When Will I See You Again?: I'm ready to see this one again so I can fully absorb what I saw the first time. In fact, I might just buy this movie.


There you go. That's all I really needed to get off my brain. Hopefully that wasn't too painful. I promise I am not writing up my thoughts to be a pretentious asshole. If anything, these posts are more for me than anyone else. I love everything about movies and this is just a way for me to expel all the emotions and excitement I experience after I see a really good movie (even a so-so movie!). And who knows, maybe I can inspire some doubters out there to take a look at not only the classics, but every movie they watch. So please! Let me know what you think, if you've seen it, where I am wrong, where I am amazing and perfect. I love discussing and want this to be a place for that.

Stay tuned - the next breakdown will be posted soon! Wondering what movies I have seen so far? Click here and check my progress!





flowers & sunshine & those Saturday Night at the Movies feelings,
bunny




Sunday, July 29, 2012

AFI TOP 100 - bunny checklist

I have challenged myself to watch all of the movies on the AFI Top 100. You have successfully reached the post where I will keep track of my progress. If you think I should update this frequently, turn to page 130. If you think I should drunkenly swim in my pool and anger my cop neighbor, turn to page 10. Update frequently? Then click on the link at the end of each screening post so you can come back and help me decide what to watch next. Also, please don't judge me - I know there are movies on here that the most basic movie lover has watched a million times and I have yet to see. Keep in mind, some I saw so long ago that I don't remember them or I have only seen parts, etc. Yes. Lay off. This is SUPPOSED to be fun. Don't ruin it for the rest of us. Jerk.

Color Guide:
WATCHED
NOT WATCHED


AFI Top 100
1CITIZEN KANE1941
2THE GODFATHER1972
3CASABLANCA1942
4RAGING BULL1980
5SINGIN' IN THE RAIN1952
6GONE WITH THE WIND1939
7LAWRENCE OF ARABIA1962
8SCHINDLER'S LIST1993
9VERTIGO1958
10THE WIZARD OF OZ1939
11CITY LIGHTS1931
12THE SEARCHERS1956
13STAR WARS1977
14PSYCHO1960
152001: A SPACE ODYSSEY1968
16SUNSET BLVD.1950
17THE GRADUATE1967
18THE GENERAL1927
19ON THE WATERFRONT1954
20IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE1946
21CHINATOWN1974
22SOME LIKE IT HOT1959
23THE GRAPES OF WRATH1940
24E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL1982
25TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD1962
26MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON1939
27HIGH NOON1952
28ALL ABOUT EVE1950
29DOUBLE INDEMNITY1944
30APOCALYPSE NOW1979
31THE MALTESE FALCON1941
32THE GODFATHER PART II1974
33ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST1975
34SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS1937
35ANNIE HALL1977
36THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI1957
37THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES1946
38THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE1948
39DR. STRANGELOVE1964
40THE SOUND OF MUSIC1965
41KING KONG1933
42BONNIE AND CLYDE1967
43MIDNIGHT COWBOY1969
44THE PHILADELPHIA STORY1940
45SHANE1953
46IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT1934
47A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE1951
48REAR WINDOW1954
49INTOLERANCE1916
50THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING2001
51WEST SIDE STORY1961
52TAXI DRIVER1976
53THE DEER HUNTER1978
54M*A*S*H1970
55NORTH BY NORTHWEST1959
56JAWS1975
57ROCKY1976
58THE GOLD RUSH1925
59NASHVILLE1975
60DUCK SOUP1933
61SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS1941
62AMERICAN GRAFFITI1973
63CABARET1972
64NETWORK1976
65THE AFRICAN QUEEN1951
66RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK1981
67WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?1966
68UNFORGIVEN1992
69TOOTSIE1982
70A CLOCKWORK ORANGE1971
71SAVING PRIVATE RYAN1998
72THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION1994
73BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID1969
74THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS1991
75IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT1967
76FORREST GUMP1994
77ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN1976
78MODERN TIMES1936
79THE WILD BUNCH1969
80THE APARTMENT1960
81SPARTACUS1960
82SUNRISE1927
83TITANIC1997
84EASY RIDER1969
85A NIGHT AT THE OPERA1935
86PLATOON1986
8712 ANGRY MEN1957
88BRINGING UP BABY1938
89THE SIXTH SENSE1999
90SWING TIME1936
91SOPHIE'S CHOICE1982
92GOODFELLAS1990
93THE FRENCH CONNECTION1971
94PULP FICTION1994
95THE LAST PICTURE SHOW1971
96DO THE RIGHT THING1989
97BLADE RUNNER1982
98YANKEE DOODLE DANDY1942
99TOY STORY1995
100BEN-HUR1959

There are more lists broken down into genres and best of each genre, but I have only challenged myself to see all the ones listed on the AFI Top 100: 10th Anniversary list. Once I am done with the list, maybe I'll go back and watch the ones I had already watched before I challenged myself to see the rest, but let's cross that bridge (On the River Kwai?!) when we come to it. Enjoy!



flowers & sunshine, 
bunny