Thursday, February 28, 2013

Leggo my Argo

I know the Oscars were on Sunday and it's now Thursday. (Insert pithy insult here relating to my tardiness.) Anyhoo, something has been nagging at me ever since we actually watched most of the telecast because there wasn't anything better on TV.

Being Canadian, this whole Argo phenomenon has really gotten under my skin. Why? Because the involvement of Canadians who basically saved and masterminded the escape of six Americans is played down while an American CIA agent who swoops in over the course of a few days to carry out said escape gets center stage.

Of course. An American couldn't possibly make a film where Canadians come out as the heroes of the day. No, it's always USA to the rescue. The US won that war. Blah, blah, blah. What's funny is that the very beginning of Argo, in an attempt to give us some historical context, explains that the US basically created the dire situation in which its citizens could be taken hostage by helping to depose a democratically elected Iranian leader and replacing him with an autocratic one years earlier.

WTF US of A? Why do you meddle in other people's backyards when you have no business being there? You did the same thing to Chile with Pinochet. Chileans also commemorate a bloody September 11, a coup d'état, backed by the US, which overthrew an elected socialist government and replaced it with a ruthless tyrant. But no one really talks about that.

It's fascinating how Americans will glorify the people who have to go in and clean up the mess they made in the first place. Why doesn't anyone make a film about years of highly questionable American foreign policy, usually based on corporate interests, not humanitarian ones.

I must give kudos to filmmaker Oliver Stone who has put together the series Untold History of the United States detailing "true" American history, starting with the Second World War. America loves to claim it won that war once it joined the Allies, but in reality, as this documentary series tells us, it was the Russians who were instrumental in ensuring the downfall of Hitler's Third Reich by pushing back Nazi troops trying to invade Russia.

The US is like an incredibly annoying, insecure braggart, needing to fudge the facts and inflate the truth to feed its sense of self-importance. I don't deny the US has had many great accomplishments. But it's ok for the rest of us to have some too. Give credit where credit is due, Ben.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Let your freak flag fly!

So there we were the other night, watching a new episode of Girls, which mainly featured Lena Dunham, naked, having sex with a very attractive man. Now, Lena is not what is commonly referred to as "skinny". She's shapely, voluptuous. She's got some meat on her bones.

The first reaction of those with whom I was watching this (they shall remain nameless) was: "That would never happen" and "she shouldn't be naked so much" and "what she's wearing is terribly unflattering" (when she had clothes on). Now, I dearly love those with whom I watched this but I found myself immediately feeling defensive of Lena. It's true, I totally poo-pooed the first few episodes of this season of Girls but those were arguments based on artistic quality, not personal attacks.

I guess this train of thought also coincides with the fact that I'm currently reading Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth. What I felt for Lena watching that episode was nothing short of sheer admiration for this woman who is completely fearless, taking every stereotype and shoving it back in our faces. You don't need to be skinny to be sexual. What is attractive to the male species differs from one individual man to another.

As Naomi Wolf states (and I'm paraphrasing here because I'm lazy) "beauty" is generic, bland, frozen, and the very idea of "beauty" is completely manufactured by corporations who want us to feel deeply insecure in our bodies so we'll be good little consumers and buy their useless crap. And it works.

From a disturbingly young age, women are taught to see themselves and other women through the lens of judgement, constantly comparing themselves to other women and seeing them as an adversary instead of an ally. "She's pretty, she must have a great life." "She's fat, she must be a loser."

Why wouldn't an attractive man want to make love to Lena Dunham? Men don't want "perfect", which is nothing more than a commercial construct. They want women who love to f*ck as much as they do, and that requires a certain level of self-confidence and comfort in one's own body. I've often heard that what men find most attractive in women is confidence. It's not great hair, or big boobs, a perfect ass, or flat stomach. Confidence. The ability to laugh at oneself, and fart in public. Ok, I added that last bit but I suspect it's true.

Why do we stand in such harsh judgement of each other and ourselves? Why do we think skinny women are better? And who defines what "skinny" is? According to Wolf, if most women tried to achieve a model's weight, which is, according to those savvy marketers, the "ideal" for women, they would have to be in a constant state of semi-starvation.

What Lena represents is a woman unafraid to be herself. She lets her freak flag fly and doesn't give a rat's ass what anyone else thinks. If only there were more of us with such courage.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

1 cent delusions of menstrual grandeur

The Canadian government stopped making the penny. So, if I hold on to the ones I have, will they increase in value? I'm thinking early retirement. I've got at least, oh, 10-20 cents in my wallet. So, let's say they double in value every hour into infinity from now on. I can't do math 'cause it hurts my head and I suck at it but I think that will make me rich. Gives a whole new meaning to saving your pennies for a rainy day.

Menstrual cramps are very distracting.

Just checked my bank account. I shouldn't have done that. Credit would be a good thing if they taught us how to use it properly. Then again, if we used it properly, the banks wouldn't make any money. I'm thinking I should be getting more perks, though, because they make a lot of money off me. I don't know, a free trip, unlimited Starbucks lattés... it might make me be even more irresponsible about using credit thus making me a better customer thus garnering me more free stuff. I'm on to something here...

You know, when you meet someone who could be an important professional contact, and then, in your mind, you think you've had an impact on them, that you've been charming, witty and unforgettable? Then you cross paths with them again a few months later and they barely remember who you are? This is when I start to worry that I suffer from constant delusions of grandeur and that everyone is as self-obsessed as I am and it's a wonder anything gets done at all because we're so wrapped up in our own version of what the world should be like that when it falls short, well, it's humbling. Humility sucks.

How long do I have until self-pity just seems gauche?

The fourth episode of Girls held some promise. I could glean shreds of its former grandeur. Bravo, Lena. You may have found your footing again after a shaky start. Even the boyfriend watched it.

I'm planning a trip to Iceland in 2014. There are perks to digging Björk. I probably would have never heard of Iceland if it weren't for her, and if her native country is anywhere as cool as she is, it'll blow my mind. I loved her Oscar swan dress despite its universal revilement. I bet everyone remembers it, whether they liked it or not. But can you remember what anyone else was wearing at the Oscars in 2001? Björk wins.


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