Woe (times are changing)

March 10, 2009

I’m in a deep, dark, emo funk. It’s bad. It’s a blend of recession blues, personal dissatisfaction and general disgust for humanity.

The recession may see me joining the ranks of the boomerang generation I fought so hard to avoid (oh who am I kidding? I sat pretty and was glad of my lucky escape) and moving back to my parents house. This would only be tolerable if I could keep my job and work online.

I am personally dissatisfied with my person. The blues have been killing the delicate orchid of my motivation and every act is becoming a chore. If left to my own devices, with no watchers or responsibilities, I am certain I would be living in a pile of fetid blankets, reading book after book, eating from a can and refusing to shower so I didn’t have to go outside.

This is actually a pretty good mentality for me to start my novel redrafting. A little drop of self-loathing is good for my creative process; stops me getting too distracted.

General disgust for humanity is not something I like to feel but it’s almost always there. There always seems to be something: like the latest reports on the insanely high level of domestic violence, or overhearing people talk about the criteria they simply must have for their second car. Or their beach holiday (hmm, Mauritius or Dubai?).  And that thing about the Brazilian girl (age 9) who really shouldn’t have had an abortion (of twins) because now God won’t love her.

Anyway…

I went to see Watchmen at the weekend. My favourite part was the opening montage, soundtracked by “the Times, They are a-Changing” where they all started so young and happy and full of pride, optimism and self-belief and gradually got torn apart. Despite having read the comic and knowing all their fates I still had a tear in my eye when I saw Silhouette and her girlfriend murdered. That montage was a high-calorie viewing experience in itself.

Sometimes I look at people and think they’re hurting. It’s not true though; they’re just waiting for someone to talk to.

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Losing the will to give a shit

August 22, 2008

It’s friday afternoon, after a busy week of doing the same repetitive irritating task three times and I am so relieved that this will be a three day weekend. I will be upset if my feelings of dis-ease develop into an illness because I’m not in the mood.

I am disappointed that a test I was supposed to take today has not materialised – a test that would lead me to gain extra training and special projects. Given that this was first mentioned 6-8 weeks ago and never again between then and yesterday I am not concerned about having missed the boat, just that it’s taking its sweet-ass time getting here. It’s probably for the best as my ill-humour and glowering headache will only hinder me.

Thinking about fantasy style characters (anything a bit non-human from popular culture) it occurs that the bigger the freak they are the more normal their personality is. The reverse isn’t usually true (hence boring people) but the enemies of these characters tend to be the ‘painfully normal on the outside just plain odd on the inside’ types. Do they become enemies because they both want to be a bit more like each other? Battling for years and achieving arch-nemesis status because they are both so angry at each other for wanting what the other has?

Interesting… it seems I am starting to understand basic concepts of narrative *headdesk*


The Bridget Jones post

July 31, 2008

So, having a rant about Jane Austen adaptations the other day garnered some interest from www.austenblog.com. I’d like to explain my thoughts around this but I have a feeling they will get terribly out of control and meander all over the place (my train of thought at the best of times being a wobbly shopping trolley full of impulse buys and reduced counter items). My plan is to number the sections and pretend it’s a form of organisation.

1) Jane Austen. My feelings on Austen’s novels are similar to the ones I have for Harry Potter: so many people love them already that I needn’t make too much of an effort to. Unlike Harry Potter I have read most of Austen’s books, my favourite being Persuasion, but I’m not about to have a fangasm by reading it over and over when there are many, many other books also worthy of my attention. Most of my Austen books are actually on loan to my mother at the moment in the hope of improving her taste…

2) Bridget Jones: the novel. This was not in itself a bad book though at the time it came out I was having a heavy aversion to “chick lit” (I think I’ll have to make a separate post about chick lit sometime) so I resented having to study it in school when I naively felt I should be studying “real literature”. It turns out on closer inspection that virtually every plot device in BJD was lifted from Pride and Prejudice and if I knew where that essay was I’d type it out and post it.

I found Bridget to be a stagnant character. She was always frustrated and never achieved anything. One thing she was aiming for was weight loss but even when she reached her goal weight it so happened that a few people said she looked ill that day so she gave it up and put the weight back on. I can appreciate her appeal as a character who didn’t really know what she wanted and just sort of muddled through, and that despite her screw-ups she didn’t do too badly in the balance (perhaps reflected by her tiny scratchcard profit over the year). She is essentially a mediocre person, but that’s ok because we all are. In that light I completely understand the book’s success.

3) Bridget Jones: the movie. The movie character was quite different to the book character. To make her more universally lovable they turned her into a bumbling fool. She was no longer mediocre, she was spectacular in her failure. I can’t remember a single thing that goes right for her other than having sex. If she had had one success, just one little triumph to cling to, if she’d even just been adequately good at her job, I would be able to forgive most of the rest of the movie. Sadly she didn’t, so I can’t, but that just means I don’t like the movie not that the movie itself was bad.

We all screw up, I get it. I’ve worn odd shoes to work, I thrown up in embarrassing places, dated awful men and forgotten to pay my rent. But I don’t accept that as my identity like movie Jones seems to. I’ve also got two degrees, do fairly well at work and make a mean vegetable curry. Really this leads me to my final Jones section:

4) Bridget Jones: the yardstick. This is the Bridget Jones incarnation that makes me shudder. The book was fine, the movie was blah, but the legacy genuinely distresses me. Bridget Jones has become the standard by which women are measured. The yardstick doesn’t do the character justice, not even the movie version, as it has reduced her to an even simpler form: a typical woman.

I resent that Bridget Jones has been chosen as the representative of womankind. I do not fail at everything I attempt; I do not fall over all the time; I do not go out looking like a tit without realising (mostly); I do not hear a clock in my head; I do not care about my size; I do not think that having a man is the be all and end all; I definitely don’t think it’s appropriate to start thinking about marriage 2 months after you start dating. And Bridget didn’t necessarily even do all of these things, they’ve just been added to the yardstick.

You can be a bumbling fool sometimes, but I don’t want people assuming that if they see me do it once that is all I am. The attributes above are not bad in context: Femme falls over all the time and I’m pretty certain she hears a clock in her head but she is a well-rounded capable person. In the same vein I act really childishly with my partner but it doesn’t mean I have the intellectual capacity of a five year old. If people/media were making Bridget Jones comparisons in relation to her character it wouldn’t be so bad, but it looks to me like an easy way of saying “You’re such a big dumbfuck, but we like you that way so keep doing it”.

The Bridget Jones Label is frequently abused to box women into a restricted catagory. I don’t know how easy it would be to shake that label. It especially bothered me when people (including the teacher leading my class when studying this) labelled themselves as Bridget Joneses, because love her or hate her is there anyone out there who respects her?


Go go Supercorpse!

July 29, 2008

Ok, so it may sound like bad taste to refer to a dead person as Supercorpse but I mean it with the greatest affection. I refer to Heath Ledger. We gave him this name a few days after his passing, when a mixture news tributes and corpse-painted Joker publicity shots all jumbled into one in our fuzzy heads. The next night there was an earthquake which shuddered HF Femme’s bed across the floor and we surmised that it must be the Supercorpse returned and looking for company. The menfolk were confused – they did not understand the love me and Femme felt for Heath and thought we were being disrespectful. They are often confused by us.

I mention delightful Supercorpse because I saw The Dark Knight yesterday and he did somewhat steal the show. It’s easy to do with such a dramatic character but given the story is supposed to be the rise and fall of Harvey Dent I didn’t really notice him much in comparison. I loved the darkness of it all, focused in the Joker’s calculated violence. I have a habit of laughing when something particularly horrific is going to happen and I had a lot of laughs last night – not because it was funny, just deliciously good and pushed to new limits. I am surprised they went to the effort of keeping this film to a 12a rating. I suppose it proves that you don’t need to gore people to demonstrate evil (take that Eli Roth). The Joker’s manic whims and their destructive effects on the way people acted were far more evil than a blowtorch to the face.

I’m going to stop there as I’m a bit meandery from having 4 hours sleep. It has been unbelievably muggy (the cinema was a brief reprieve) and I got up at 1:30 to eat some refreshing chilled melon.


PS:

July 25, 2008

In case you thought the whole ‘Bridget Jones as a yardstick’ thing was kind of over:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1038427/Meet-Midget-Jones-Georgias-hailed-Hollywood-Keira-Knightley.html

Yeah I know they are stuck back in their imaginary golden age but they are widely read and perpetuate the BJ standard.


Oh Jane

July 25, 2008

After musing with Femme about the curse of Bridget Jonesism and reading the following article about another Austen rehash I thought it might be good to spend some time thinking aloud.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/film-and-tv/features/senseless-sensibility-just-another-jane-austen-adaptation-875661.html

Jane Austen = beloved author of just 6 books (some more popular than others).

Austen novels = out of copyright = moneyspinner for production companies.

Shitloads of other amazing books = out of copyright… hmm

Austen may not own the market as such but her work never seems to go out of fashion. Much like Shakespeare there will always be those who find it stuffy and dull but it will always be loved well enough to make a profit. Profit is a key word, obviously, as nothing is ever produced for the good of the people.

Making a safe profit restricts media output. At this point I get sidetracked – feel free to skip the next paragraph.

*Funnily enough indie films are gaining popularity because they don’t tick the safe boxes and we’ve even started getting mainstream imitation indie films like Elizabethtown which I watched last night and found charming enough though slipped into stalker territory at the end (why Hollywood confuses stalking with affection I’m still not sure, but this film made an effort to have some heart and the mother’s character was fantastic). *

What I find irritating is that contemporaries of the great and beloved and the great and unknown never really get a look in, while stupid adaptations and rehashes of the great and beloved (I’m looking at you, Helen Fielding) are spaffed out in abundance because they know the audience will recognise the familiar story and accept it. They are unlikely to hate it. It’s sad that that is the bar they are aiming for really: to get as many people as possible to not hate it. Not to create a core of fans, not to challenge people in a ‘I’m not sure how I feel about this, you watch it with me and we’ll talk about it’ way (what with brain-use positively discouraged and all). If anything they want to reinforce the beliefs they think we have already so that we more readily relate to the characters. This is where I come to Bridget Jones.

The book ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ was not dreadful. I hated it because I had write my A-Level coursework essay comparing it to Pride and Prejudice and I had been intending never to read it. It turns out Fielding ripped off a lot more from Austen than is first apparent, from which I conclude Fielding isn’t very good at writing plots/full length novels. But the book is mediocre, chick lit fodder and it’s huge success is unprecedented – I believe the Austen connection carried it a long way.

I may have resented having to read the book but being an avid reader and admiring how much of Pride and Prejudice she managed to cram in there it’s not actually the book I have a problem with. Bridget Jones as a character has become a benchmark, a representative of women in our culture, and she is a feeb. A total and utter feeb who can do little to nothing by herself and frequently fails spectacularly. She is obsessed by how she could possibly get men but doesn’t consider that these are just two of many men on this Earth and might in fact both be shit. Or just incompatible with her feeble self. She complains feebly about her feeble self but does nothing positive. I have anti-sympathy for her plight.

If I have anti-sympathy for Bridgie you can imagine how I feel about those who compare themselves, others, or the general female population with her. Her example has made it more acceptable to be a feeb. To sit around and whine about your life failing, to be obsessively insecure to the point where you ignore all your friends and to most definitely ignore your friends if there is the possibility of making a highly unsuitable man develop and interest in your feeble self. Bridget Jones gives you the permission to be lazy, to give up caring about things that might make you happy and resign yourself to the feeling that you knew all along that you were rubbish and no one loves you.

How can this character be based on Lizzie Bennett? Bright, sparkly, proud, sharp as a tack Lizzie; the young woman who loves her friends, despairs of her parents, and won’t accept the condescension of Mr Darcy – refusing him until he shows a little respect rather than humiliating herself as his feet. I expect I am just repeating what half the internet have said already but all my grated feelings came up again and I had to get them out.


The delicious scent of roadkill

June 25, 2008

As I do not drive I’m not talking about actual roadkill. I am glad of this, as corpses make me sad.

I am of course referring to Housemate Epsilon’s culinery exploits which smelled suspiciously like roadkill. Usually a bad smell is a sign that you should not eat something, but I guess you never can be sure where canned meat comes from. I may not have the best diet but I would put money on me living longer than him. Also: spicy bean burgers for the nom – I don’t understand why some people willfully ingest gross things that give them heartburn and constipation. Bizarre self-destructive behaviour.

I was also upset last night when after watching pointless violent britflick Outlaw conversation drifted from comedy violence to sharing mugging stories, of which some people seem to be proud. I do not like to think about the time I was attacked. I do not like to consider what my reaction would be if I was attacked again – probably the same uncontrollable screaming. I do not like to be reminded that more than half the people I pass in the street could overpower me if they wanted to.

I am glad that I have a lovely man who gave me hugs after this conversation, and stroked my hair and made me laugh.