Posts Tagged ‘discrimination’

Crime (short)

Posted: January 17, 2014 in -
Tags: , , , , , , ,

www.indiewire.com

 

 

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The slow burn of eternity weighs down this effort, which is more of a drama than a thriller.  The film fared poorly at the box office despite being well shot and well acted.  The media world has been inundated with the vampire menace, and these variety don’t have exceptionally magical powers.  They are the working class undead, struggling through afterlife.

Another point that may have sunk the film is that it is a woman’s story, a story of a prostitute and her illegitimate daughter, up against the patriarchy of the old world.  Lead actress Gemma Atherton called it a “post modern feminist” story.  The prostitute/vampire must adapt to sexism in life as well as in the afterlife. One would think the female movie going audience would support such a story, but it didn’t materialize.

Perhaps prostitution is still so taboo that it repulses the female viewer, although Julia Roberts didn’t suffer much for Pretty Woman.  Go figure.

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Saoirse Ronan, of Hannah fame, is the main character here, the daughter of 18th century prostitute Clara.  The two are very different from one another, with Eleanor (Ronan) raised in a religious orphanage away from her mother’s life for her first 16 years.

Now the female empowerment may have been undermined by the crucial role of a particular male character in the plot. I doubt that this was important to the film’s financial distress.  It doesn’t have grand special effect laden, over the top, computer generated nonsense for the trailer.  It doesn’t try to outdo Avatar with big “wow” visuals to draw in the largely numbed audience.  As a small production, with small people and small lives, it’s more of a specialty film, despite its Young-Adult style main storyline.  This combination of an oversaturated vampire market, a numb over-marketed public and a more realistic universe killed the film.  Perhaps the hard edged sexual tinge kept away the young audiences as well, as they would need to sneak in to even see it.

But the movie may be vindicated with rentals.  Who knows?

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Dr. J.’s Commentary: Hairspray: We’ve Come so Far; We Have So Far to Go

by Steven Jonas

Hairspray is a movie that can be taken on a number of levels, your choice. It’s a funny, sassy, heartwarming old-style Hollywood movie musical about teenage life in Baltimore, circa 1962. It’s about actors like Christopher Walken, John Travolta, Queen Latifah, and Michelle Pfeiffer playing against type (and doing it marvelously well). It’s about a classic Hollywood “discovery,” the previously unknown high school senior, an aspiring actress from Great Neck, NY, Nikki Blonsky, delivering a drop-dead performance as the lead, Tracy Turnblad. It’s about terrific singing and dancing all designed to make you feel oh-so-good while you’re watching it.

At the next level, the social issue of obesity is prevalent, how it affects the lives of so many Americans in so many different ways. John Travolta in a fat suit playing Tracy’s mom shows how socially crippling it can be. Tracy, also obese, shows how one can overcome the prejudice our society has against overweight people, even as it encourages overweight (much more now through the role of the food industry than back then, but back then too). Tracy says “I’m happy with myself. I can do tons of stuff, and if you don’t like me because I’m fat, that’s your issue, not mine.”

The next level is classically political. The movie shows very starkly just how the nation was beginning for the first time to deal with race-relations and the coming desegregation, in a former Border State city, Baltimore. A highly popular afternoon teenage TV show that features high-powered singing and dancing by and for teens is totally and consciously segregated. It’s an all-white show, with one “Negro Day” a month. In Tracy’s high school, when she is sent to detention for some minor infraction in the classroom, virtually everyone else there is African-American. It is in that setting that Tracy, who can already dance, is introduced to the coming wave of African-American popular dancing that is about to burst into the mainstream for the first time.

Tracy, who looks entirely different from all the other white kids on the show, somehow manages to win a dance contest and get a slot on it for herself. But by then, she has already been taken by the black dancing and is beginning to spend time with and work her way into the culture. She eventually proclaims that the show should be integrated and, with Queen Latifah who plays the entertainer-leader of the black kids, she is in the leadership of a street march and demonstration that eventually leads to just that eventuality. For a Hollywood movie, this one has an unusual amount of bare-bones, yes, that-is-what-it-was-like, politics in it. The progressive forces are the good guys. The police and the station management are the bad guys (and boy does Michelle Pfeiffer do a marvelous job of playing a bad guy). And the movie ends with the triumph of integration over prejudice, at least circa 1962.

The next level on which one can view the movie and its lessons is not nearly so happy. This is one that is encapsulated in a line from the movie’s climactic musical number: “We’ve come so far; we have so far to go.” Indeed we do, in terms of race relations in our country. The issue is not on the movie’s agenda in any way. But the line does make the politically conscious person think, right to the present. Are things better than in 1962? Of course they are, in many areas of discrimination. Are things worse? Oh yes they are, in the political arena. During the 1960s, it seemed that political racism was on the way out, that George Wallace would be its last howl of un-reason. And then came Nixon and the Southern Strategy that has defined the modern Republican Party.

Race prejudice and its political usage is what defines the Southern Strategy, and defined the Nixonian Republicans into the Reagan Era. Starting with Reagan’s capitulation to the Christian Right, the modern Bush-Cheney-Rove Republican has taken prejudice to a much broader level and made it into their party’s political foundation. Race is there, of course, in the judicial nominations that led to the recent Roberts Court decision that said racism is for communities to decide, through their democratically elected representatives. And racism is there in the conscious campaign started by Ashcroft to use the “Justice” Department to suppress black voting, under the cover of “dealing with election fraud as mandated by the Civil Rights Act (sic, and sick).” But these folks have taken the political use of prejudice to a whole new level.

Just consider: the political exploitation of prejudice against homosexuals simply because of who they are, not anything they have done; the political exploitation of prejudice against those of us (in this case, the majority of the population) who believe life begins at the time of viability, and the drive to criminalize our belief; the political exploitation of prejudice against Hispanics through the whole so-called “illegal immigration crisis”; the political exploitation of a prejudice these people are building from the ground up: Islamophobia; the political exploitation of prejudice against anyone who is labeled a “liberal,” because as Ann Coulter/Sean Hannity/Rush Limbaugh/Bill O’Reilly say out in the open and the party’s leadership says in code words, “liberals” are traitors, and, it so happens, the penalty in this country for treason is death.

Yes, the modern Republican Party has reached new depths. If the Democrats don’t begin to take it on directly on this issue of the political use of prejudice, and soon, it will very likely, very quickly get to be too late. Yes indeed, “We’ve come so far; we have so far to go.”

Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY), a weekly contributing author for The Political Junkies, and contributing editor for The Moving Planet Blog.

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After some ideological sniping the other day, concerning Miley Cyrus, here is something to actually take note of: Nicole Kidman fighting to help impoverished women around the world.  Notice the complete absence of ideology, and the simple practical nature of the struggle to improve the lives of women and push for equal treatment…

 

I am proud to represent UN Women on this wonderful occasion. Thank you Variety and Lifetime for acknowledging the work done by this important organization. Simply put, UN Women works so that half of humanity–women–can finally enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men.

I became involved because I was raised by a feminist mother who planted the seed early in me to speak out against the fact that women are so often treated differently than men. She was very clear with me: she said stand tall, do not settle for less than what is fair. Discriminating against more than 50 per cent of the population just because they are female is terribly unfair.

But it is also not very smart.

We know that when women have money, they invest more in their children, and therefore in our future. But in many countries, women cannot own land and have no access to credit. And almost everywhere they earn less than men for the same work. We also know that where women have a say in politics, they put more emphasis on social issues, on education and the environment. But only one in five Parliamentarians worldwide is female. And by the way: companies –and this includes the film and television industry, of course– with more women in management positions turn a significantly higher profit. Only 21 women, however, lead Fortune 500 companies.

UN Women is a smart organization, and I have seen with my own eyes what they can do: they go and work directly with women in countries around the world. They support women to get elected into office and help them to have viable options to earn a living for themselves and their children. Right now, in conflict zones like Syria, where women and children are particularly affected, UN Women is rendering much-needed assistance to respond to women’s humanitarian needs. UN Women supports women in Syria and elsewhere to make their voices heard.

I have also seen UN Women address what to me is the greatest injustice and outrage of all: violence against women. No matter how long I devote my time to this, I will never be able to comprehend and I will never accept that one in three women and girls will be raped, beaten or otherwise abused in their lifetime. UN Women supports local organizations, right at the grassroots, to provide shelter and support for survivors of violence. It works to change laws so that there can be no impunity for violence and it works with youth to prevent violence from happening in the first place.

I am asking you today: join me in advocating for women’s rights, wherever you are, whatever you do. Support UN Women to fulfill its mission and vision of a world in which women can live free from discrimination and violence.

Thank you!

 

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The infinitely watchable Juno Temple takes on what she does best: a messed up, too hot to handle obsessed teenager.  A Brit brat playing Yanks, Juno was seen recently in Killer Joe and Little Birds among quite a few others.

There is surprisingly little sex in this buddy road trip movie.  The reputation is enough, establishing Danielle (Juno) as a pariah on the edge of society. Danielle’s mom, a similarly gorgeous Milla Jovovich, whom I didn’t even recognize in her 80s blow-dried hairdo, has hooked up with Mormon head case William H. Macy.  The surrogate father figure is intent on converting Danielle over to his fairytales.  Danielle’s mom is spineless, and she allows the “tough love”(sic) routine.  Danielle’s bedroom is invaded, with her mind next on the platter.

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The third element, Clarke, is also sentenced to the “retard class” at the tyrannical Texas high school, his crime being homosexuality.  The two misfits are stuck together on a class project, with hilarious repercussions that play throughout the rest of the film.  The story takes on discrimination levied at homosexuals and promiscuous girls, the double standards and the oppressive social climate, all of which seeks to dominate and force conformity.

It also does it with hilarious situations and an emotional payoff.  Dirty Girl elevates beyond high school by the end and earns its place on the esteemed Under the Radar list.

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Okay, Indiewire calls it a “hilarious, sincere and boldly feminist comedy.”

And the trailer looks promising.

I don’t always trust Indiewire anymore, having been burned too many times.  But this reviewer, Beth Hanna, doesn’t ring any bells.  Yeah I’ll probably go see it.

Indiewire’s praises for Holy Motors and Spring Breakers, for example, were misleading.  Both films were poorly done, and Holy Motors seems to have contempt for the brains of its viewers.  It’s fundamentally against making any sort of sense.   Is that supposed to be a good thing now?

Anyway, here’s the trailer for In a World.

 

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Geena Davis has a foundation that studies media bias and roles for females in Hollywood. Very informative talk.