Sunday, February 17, 2008

I'm the only person who hates Juno

I'm on my annual kick to see as many Oscar films as possible. Right now, best picture has to be There Will Be Blood, followed closely by No Country for Old Men. Two exceptional films. However, I've been left wondering how the hell a film like Juno made it into nominations for best film.

I felt very hard done by the press for this film. I was told it would be funny and edgy, but it fell far short of both hurdles. In reality, the film was pointless. I've got a few issues with the film. First, the central protagonist -- a teenager who is pregnant. That happens to thousands of girls every year, so why is this story being championed in such a way? If this film was about a black girl who lived in inner-city Chicago or the backwaters of Louisiana, would anyone give a shit? Despite all of Juno's "edginess", she's mainstream enough to appeal to our whitewashed culture.

Second, the moral. Actually, there was no moral. This film worked desperately hard appeal to all audiences that it had no aim. What was being said, really? Let's say it was trying to show that adoption was a viable option rather than teenage motherhood or abortion. This film, however, unintentionally and ironically makes adoption and abortion two sides of the same coin. At one point, she says, "If I could just have the thing and give it to you now, I totally would". She wants a closed adoption (no contact with the child). She wants rid of the baby and not have to think about it again. The only difference between her adoption and abortion is when she is able to be rid of it.

Third, the plot. To me, having the baby seems like a blip on her calendar, as after she delivers, she has a little cry and then gets on with her life. Actually, her pregnancy shouldn't even be seen as blip, as it doesn't seem to affect her. Did her grades fall because of it? Did she lose friends cos she coudn't hang out anymore? Wait, she does gain weight... Juno encounters very few hurdles in her pregnancy -- completely unrealistic of any type of pregnancy I've ever noticed, let alone teenage pregnancy. And the obstacles she does actually encounter are so ridiculous that they are devoid of meaning. Does love her baby daddy? Are her baby's adopted parents going to stay together? This character is going through a life-changing event and these are the things that tax her?

I find it appalling that such a meagre film could be considered one of the best of the year; the strength of the other films, however, should put this little thing out of serious contention. But the people who vote on Oscars seem to have liking for PC films with "messages". Shee-it, if Crash can win best film over one of the greatest love stories ever told, Brokeback Mountain, then anything is possible for Juno.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Maybe I'm a hippy

I think Boy thinks I'm losing my mind...

I don't know if it was my years of living in Okinawa (Japan, that is), but I have a thing for small spaces. I love small, quirky spaces -- spaces that force you to use your imagination in order to live there. Thing is, I hate the thought of it initially, but then I grow to love the space. Right now, we are the (proud?) owners of a flat that measures around 55-60 square meters (approximately 600 square feet). This place is half the size of the last place we lived in the US and trust me, when I first moved in, I felt it. But I have grown accustomed to it and now I am loathed to leave.

Boy and I are being adults now and "moving up the property ladder". We have the money to do so and we'll need to remortgage anyway in the summer, so the time is right. But I really don't want to go. It's kinda like my friend Roomie said, "I don't feel like I've accomplished what I set out to do. I don't know that I set out to do, but..." Boy and I keep getting in these arguments because I get my mind set on something and it's hard to get me to see the merits of anything else. But I don't want to see the merits of a house that's too big for me. I know that I am easily swayed by the moods of others (it's mostly a curse) so I know that if we eventually move to a place that's 1800 square feet, then I'd eventually grow to feel that is an appropriate amount of space for two people and two dogs.

However, ethically, it's not. What is our modern obsession with having a lot of shit? My amah's like that -- she's got oversized furniture in the house, a lot of trinkets and stuff around. There are reasons why she likes to live like that, but there is no need to live like that. I'm not saying, though, that we all should live off the land or what we can get like this guy, but there should be a balance and an awareness of when we are letting our possessions and our fear of others rule our lives.

I just joined website where you can leave your books for others to find, read and pass on to others. I also joined a site where you can share your skills, tools and even space with others. Next month, I'm off to Ireland for a conference and I'm staying with some people that I met online. All these things scare the shit of me. I've not been taught to be this way, only been given messages by our society to hoard and distrustful of others because they will exploit your holdings. I'm putting myself out there -- some ways more vulnerable than others -- because I just don't want to live our conventional life in such a straightforward way anymore. I don't want to be scared and I want to let go.

  • Book Crossing - leave (or release, as they call it) your books for others to read and pass on, keeping track of the book on this website:
  • The Freeconomy Community - "is about sharing the skills you've learnt throughout your life and learning those you haven't. It's about helping others and providing an opportunity for others to help you. Freeconomy allows people to make the transition from a money based communityless society to more of a community based moneyless society, and to share the land they don't need or can't use to facilitate a local food community":
  • CouchSurfing - "a worldwide network for making connections between travelers and the local communities they visit"; you can provide travellers with a place to stay or they can offer you a place to stay (we usually just call that family):
  • Hospitality Club - similar to CouchSurfing:
  • Sunday, February 10, 2008

    Regional Britannia

    I read this very interesting article in the Guardian a couple of days ago and thought of you. The reason being is that it highlights a home truth about living here in the UK: it's very regionally based. I would say even more so than living in the US. Accents are hugely different from region to region and so, apparently, is musical taste. Even after more than 4 years of living here, there are some genres mentioned I have never heard of, such as euro disco. But that might be because I live in Scotland and apparently we only tend to favour country and western (not). I guess that's the problem about reading an English newspaper -- they positively regard their regions but ignore regions in the lump of country above them. Edinburgh is much more cosmopolitan and I hear very little country and western over here, though that might be more commonplace up north. Anyway, the link to that article is here.

    Speaking of cosmopolitan, my volleyball team is quite so. There's me, the loud American, then three Scottish lassies (one from the east, one from the west and one from up north -- big differences people), two who are English, a German and a German-speaking Austrian, a Spaniard, two French people, and a Crotian-Slovokian Italian. The non-English speakers speak English so readily that I forget sometimes that it is their second language and I forget that sometimes my chat can go over their heads. But it is interesting how the chat between the English speakers varies.

    I'm in the car with one of the English women and one of the Scottish women from my team. Macca, the Scottish one, talking about someone, says, "What age is she?" I wondered aloud about how odd this phraseology was or if I was losing my mind, and Turtle, the English one, confirmed that it was a very Scottish thing to say. Turtle and I would say, "How old is she?" whereas Macca would say, "What age is she?"

    Turtle also pointed out that in Edinburgh we are more likely to hear 'Where do you stay?' than 'Where do you live?' I'm getting more and more into this life that I can't distinguish anymore what I would say and what they (i.e., the Scottish) would say. Also, southern American roots (of which are mine) is seeped in Scottish and Irish tradition (which explains the American country and western connection with Scotland: Scottish and Irish folk music has influenced country music and is, nowadays, being influenced it). So I don't know if I am saying something that's just Georgia country or Scottish. Like if I were trying to meet someone, I would ask, "Whereabouts are you?" Now is that Scottish or American-country?