Tuesday, April 21, 2009

C.S.A.: Confederate States of America

This was a film that was hard to grasp considering the contrast between comedy and the utter disbelief of the topic of slavery. Oftentimes it seems that our country has a difficult time talking about slavery and its impact it has created throughout our country. Although slavery seems very far off from my generation, it really hasn't been that long since African Americans were free. This film dealt with the concept of what the world would be like if the South had won the civil war. Although it was consumed with a great deal of humor, it is a very scary concept to think about. What would the war be like if there were slaves? It's extremely hard to consider since much of my generation is much more accepting of different beliefs and have a contrasting belief to the people during that era. The interesting thing about the film, is that although is it not factual, there are a great deal of events and products that were prevalent during that time. That is what made this film so believable and all the more scary to picture. Prior to this class I never heard of this film, but I think it is an important contribution to the notion of slavery. I find our country to frequently dismiss the idea of slavery, and we need more pieces to contribute to our understanding of this extensive and intrusive era in history.

Performances of Pain: Women and Triathlons," Erin Striff

This lecture was very interesting to see. I never looked at the performance of pain, and more specifically, how woman are portrayed through this. Erin's lecture pointed out how woman who were photographed were oftentimes smiling and very welcoming, while males seemed to take pictures which defined the male qualities of aggression and athleticism. This is a very intriguing contrast from one another, despite the similar obstacles they must endure to complete such a task. The Iron Man, more specifically, is an event that is intensely gruesome. Through the video of Julie Moss competing in the 1982 Ironman, I was amazed at the sense of determination she endured in order to complete such an overwhelming phenomena. The Ironman ultimately tests the limits of the body, and it is clear that this competition shows the immense stamina needed in order to even complete it. Mrs. Striff also pointed out how there is no Ironwoman, but the competition remains Ironman despite the attendance of females in the competition. Oftentimes anything athletic is considered a male domain, and I wonder if this is due to the history of gender roles. In the past, the males were the hunters for the family, while the woman stayed at home doing domestic work. Is this innate history part of the everlasting impact that we still associate with male and female roles, and more specifically in triathons? I think this would be an interesting idea to explore more intently in order to grasp the fuller depth of this identity.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Everything is Illuminated

I am not quite sure what to think after watching Everything is Illuminated. The backdrop of the plot is rather solemn and depicts the horrible killing and impact war has had on Jewish people, yet there was a vast amount of humor within the movie. Although I found myself laughing at many of the funny parts, I felt almost guilty for doing so considering the underlying message the movie showed. Further in the film, the more serious it became as they discovered Trachinbrod and the unexpected suicide of the old man. It still baffles me why he killed himself since he seemed at peace with his past after visiting Trachinbrod. Although the viewer will never fully understand why the old man decided to end his life, the movie was pretty interesting in an unusual way. The beginning started rather slowly and I was hesitant whether I would enjoy it. As the humor began, however, I found myself interested in the outcome of the film. Maybe the humor was used as a way to break up the seriousness of the topic? I can relate in the sense that I use humor as a way of overcoming obstacles and trying to see the light in things. The title suits the movie well as well as the overall theme that the past illuminates everything. We cannot move forward into the future without fully understanding our past and where we came from. We cannot appreciate the future without glancing back at where we came from, and how far we have come.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"I Think It's a Pain Cry"

After Professor Snyder's talk, I was very interested in the different portrayals of pain within art. It was amazing to see the reaction from one of the women who attended the lecture since she was genuinely convinced that this type of art was completely useless and uneccessary. I think this pain is so interesting because of the very fact that it is controversial. Although many believe that shooting oneself in public, or cutting oneself is not a form of "art," I slightly disagree. I do believe there needs to be a line drawn eventually for what constitutes as art, but I think this type of performance is very powerful. Some of these acts are very personal and so it intrigues me to be given a glimpse into that person's life; into their pain. Although we have read about various stories of pain, we all like to believe it is an individual experience, yet this art helps make an individual experience a public display. I think it is necessary in understanding our world and those in it. Overall I found Snyder's lecture a very interesting one. He opened up my eyes to various forms of art I would never have seen otherwise.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Falling Man

September 11th was a monumental event in American history, and it has impacted the lives of many Americans. Interestingly, however, I have never seen the picture of the falling man as controversial, but this discussion has broadened my scope of the effect this event and the art and literature produced has had on people. To myself, art and literature are necessary in order to capture important events and are useful in determining why and how it happened. It is making history, before we completely understand it is history. I understand the notion that it is not glamorous or beautiful for someone to choose to take their life, but at the same token, this person was not given many options when faced with this situation. Many people found the symbolism of the falling man as a disrespect for that man's family and believed he deserved his anonimity. Although I can understand this plea, I think art can be very powerful in representing an event, as grusome as it may be. This picture is captures the essence of that horrible day, and I think it is important for others to comprehend that.

I think it is completely unrealistic and immpractical to sensor certain pieces of art and literature. Something is bound to offend someone, and that can't be the reason to limit what is produced. As we well know, it is important to learn from our past in order to choose wisely for our future. I think many people are more offended about how 9/11 is portrayed because many of us witnessed the event either firsthand in NY or on the television as is happened. In doing so, many people have a particular image or portrayal of how 9/11 has made them feel.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Harold and Maude

I actually really like this movie. Although it was very odd, it was a funny movie to watch even though it possessed a serious tone in the back-drop. Under normal circumstances I would have found it very unlikely that a 17 year old could fall in love with an 80 year old, but the characters possessed a unique quality that made this movie believable. It was interesting, especially, to see how opposite they were, especially on their outlook of life. Maude, a holocaust survivor, was very full of life and very active every day. Harold, on the other hand, consistantly pretended to be dead by doing various "killing" acts. Although many of the parts were funny, if we step back for a moment it is actually rather sad. He had no ambition to do anything with his life where Maude almost had her life taken away from her. It's as if Harold never felt completely loved by someone, and craved attention. It makes me wonder if Harold's actions are a direct result of his upbringing in a wealthy family. Sometimes people associate wealthy families (especially the children of one) as people who generally don't appreciate all they have. Although I don't think Harold is materialistic whatsoever, he definitely doesn't seem to appreciate his life and all that he should be thankful for. It also shows, however, that money doesn't buy happiness.

It was pretty sad at the end when Maude still decided to follow through with her death for her 80th birthday. Although her love for Harold seemed very genuine, it is confusing why she still decided to die. But if I look further into this, it makes sense that she wanted to die while her life was still full of love and joy. She lived a complete life filled with ups and downs and she seemed content with her choices she had made along the way. She could have also had Harold in mind, in the sense that he has the rest of his life ahead of him. I think she taught him a valuable lesson of taking each moment as if its your last and he can hopefully carry that with him for the rest of his life.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Pain of Human Subjectivity: Desire and Mourning in Celestina

In Dr. Ealy's presentation, he spoke of the element of desire within a famous play entitled Celestina. It was interesting to hear of the dynamic that desire played within this work, but also the broader understanding of desire as a whole. He discussed how desire is a human trait which cannot be fulfilled. As humans we create a desire for something and it is merely an image of this want that motivates us, yet it can never be fulfilled because it is simply the image of this desire that we seek. It's a very interesting concept because I have never thought of desire in this way. Predominantly I have seen desire as a successful influence for motivating people and as a society we often associate being motivated as a positive thing. Many people work hard towards their goals, but are not satisfied. Why is this? Do we think this desire is going to fill that void, or will it create the outcome that we assume will follow? According to Dr. Ealy it will not. A desire for something is merely a facade or false belief in that thing. When we want something we usually have a set disposition that we think we will get once we acquire that thing, but oftentimes it is not the case.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rape is Funny

I found this topic pretty interesting, especially since it's a topic that few people talk about. I have certainly heard my share of prison rape jokes, and I find even myself understanding the concept of "well they got themselves in there in the first place." Looking at it from another angle, however, I see that although a prison person has gotten themselves in that situation, there are different levels of crime. But regardless of the crime, rape shouldn't be the unintended reprocussion of that crime. But then again, if people are getting raped within prison, not saying its acceptable, that also shows the types of people who are in there (and thank god they aren't on the streets!). But a good point was brought up, if we can't control rape in an isolated atmosphere with officers holding guns, then what type of hope can we have that we can prevent it in the outside world where boundaries can easily be broken? It's a scary thought.

Although I think that rape should not be joked about, I can see where it stems from. In this day and age there are a lot of things that are more widely accepted as well as talked about. Fifty years ago we weren't even allowed to see a man and a woman sharing the same bed on t.v. and now we have shows and movies with various sex scenes and controversial acts. This makes me wonder if all this stimuli has created our society to become somewhat numb to these larger issues, especially of rape. Although most of us (or I at least hope) know that rape is a very harmful thing, we constantly hear or see movies about it and so maybe we have come to the point where the shock value diminishes. I know earlier this year we spoke about war and war photos and questioned how much numbness is created by viewing such things frequently through the news, video games, movies, etc.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Requiem for a Dream

After watching this movie, I wasn't as appalled as I thought I was going to be. Although watching the lives of four addicts take an ugly turn for the worst, I felt somewhat numb to it. It was, mind you, my first time watching the movie. For some odd reason I find these types of movies more interesting than disturbing, as it is a life so unfamiliar to me. It's interesting to examine how similar emotions in different people are played out in very different ways. I myself, have felt lonely before, yet I have never been drawn to drugs as an escape from reality. I am sure I divulge into other mediums, but I find it rather fascinating and confusing why different people take different routes and what exposures must they have for such events to occur. I liked how the movie didn't just look at drug addiction in the form of heroin and cocaine but also the addiction to diet pills. It's a very compelling contrast to see both forms used throughout the movie to show how being addicted to anything can have a deadly effect on one's emotional and physical health. The movie reminded me very much of Nic Sheff in the book Tweak where he tells us that he had done anything and everything in order to get his fix. He stole from his friends and family, and he even sold his body for money. Similar things take place in this movie, where the television is stolen from Sarah's home so Harry could get some mother. This is again reinforced when Marion goes to the party at the end of the movie and is seen doing disturbing sexual things in order to get drugs. It still amazes me how much drugs have an effect on someones reasoning and logic as their priorities shift from the normal to the very unpleasant realities of addiction.