Archives for category: Off Topic

I originally wrote this for Everything is Problematic, but since we are publishing a similar piece instead I thought I would share my version here. 

By the time this article is published, millions of people will have seen The Hunger Games movie, an event which is uniquely different from experiencing the narrative of the novel. If you are unfamiliar with the premise, the story is set in a not so distant future in Panem, a country constructed from the ruins of North America, where every year citizens must watch a televised Battle Royale style sporting event, wherein 24 ‘tributes’ between the ages of 12-18 must fight to the death until one winner remains. In the books there is a certain amount of distance that exists between the reader and the people of Panem— despite similarities we might see, we still have the privilege of separating ourselves from a world where the children are made to kill each other for sport, and audiences that revel in it. No such distance exists in the film. Just as the fictional denizens of Panem watch the child slaughter that is the Hunger Games, so to do audiences of the film. This lack of distance is fascinating and horrifying.

Perhaps it is because I read the books before seeing the film, or maybe because the bulk of my education centers around the critical consumption of media, but I was very cognizant of the commentary on violence and ‘reality’ media that exists at the core of The Hunger Games. I thought the film’s portrayal of the Games violence was spot on, jarring but also matter-of-fact. There is no room for pacifists in Panem, and no place for remorse in the Games.

I was also aware of the reactions coming from the audience as I viewed the film, subtly gauging how people were responding. When one character, in a fit of anger, snapped the neck of his then ally, the entire theatre gasped. Yes, I thought, this is impactful. They’re startled and horrified. 

I was startled and horrified when that same audience clapped and cheered as a particularly antagonistic tribute fell dead on the ground. Hoots of approval as the body of a teenage girl slumped open eyed and lifeless. They’re cheering… That’s when I realized they were missing the basic premise of the film. A discussion of this occurrence with a friend revealed that he had a similar experience. As I gawked he said, “I mean, it’s like getting a kind of revenge, so I understand why people cheered. I don’t agree with it, but I understand.” It’s true that the character lacked likability, that she even expressed a kind of gleefulness in the murder of her counterparts, but ultimately wasn’t she just doing what was expected of her? A basic understanding of narrative structure tells us that a hero requires a villain, and any knowledge of reality television tells us that it is much easier to be the villain than the hero. In fact, there’s a certain reward in media villainy, because there is nothing the public loves to hate more than a feisty and unrelenting antagonist. I can only suspect that the people of Panem feel similarly. It would seem then that this moment of viewer rejoicing was, at the very least, misplaced. What does an antagonistic pawn matter when compared with the masterminds (literally) orchestrating the game?

Another friend suggested that my criticism of the audience was too harsh, that while they might be missing “a point” they weren’t missing “the point.” Also, that I view things in terms of “moral rightness” rather than “humanness.” Whatever moral high ground I may appear to occupy, I’ve yet to encounter a convincing argument that The Hunger Games doesn’t hold similar ground. Murder is horrific, the murder of children even more so, and murder for sport is disgusting. Or, should be.

There are some that feel that the horror and satire of the Games, and the message that comes with those, were lost in translation from book to film. While there were certain problems with the adaptation and ways the narrative could have been strengthened, I don’t believe the problem truly lies with the filmmakers. After all, shouldn’t the sight of a fourteen year old girl hoarsely screaming for a friend to save her strike a chord with us, no matter the circumstance? Are we so far removed, so generally desensitized, that murder means nothing to us? Or worse, so enraptured in the violence that murder is a reason to cheer? Even if the cheers weren’t about the actual act of murder and were more concerned with the take down of a ‘villain,’ the end result is the same—rewarding the action, murder, with a positive and encouraging response.

What really got to me, and what was so hard to articulate, was the fact that in a movie about a time and place where people cry and cheer for the murder of children as pageantry, we’re literally doing the same— with seemingly no recognition. What is actually more horrifying than the murder of children is the sport of it, the not seeing anything wrong with it. What we should really be paying attention to is the people watching the Games—which now, as film viewers, we are a part of. By cheering for death it means we’re like them, the people of Panem, and if we’re like them then we can’t see what they’re doing wrong, and if we can’t see what they’re doing wrong…how can we be any different?

While the books shows a possible future with people that we’re similar to, that we could become, the film allows us to see what we already are— and its no far cry from the people of Panem.

To quote the film, “we cheer for our favorites and cry when they die. It’s sick.”

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My body is not feeling well. I do not approve of this. All I want to do is lay in bed, except I don’t have anything to do (this is a lie, I have plenty to do, just nothing that I want to do) and I can’t sleep. I figured now was the time for an update.

My reading was last night. Despite all the worrying (and doubting of my ability to write) it went really well. I definitely want to do it again. I ended up reading a short story I wrote last fall (which has now gone through 8ish revisions– the most any of my work has ever received) called ‘Cross my Heart’ about a girl with a congenital heart defect. I may post it later– I’m pretty proud of it. Natasha helped me (the night before) decide to read that.
There will probably be another reading in April, which I’m hoping I’ll be able to get in on. If not, I’ll definitely go to it, because it was really nice to hear other people’s writing. There were some really wonderful poets there, which inspired me to write a poem about Alex. It’s part collection of inside jokes, part story of our friendship. Hopefully I can make something of it.

I am always starting projects. I meant to write an entire blog post about it, but I’ve realized that if I don’t write a post within the first two-ish days of conceiving it, I never will (or will not be satisfied with the product when I try to). I spent a lot of time berating myself about starting more projects then I can finish– about not having more follow through, more polished work, more to show for all the idea I get invested in. I’ve decided instead to celebrate always having projects, new ideas. There will probably be a time later in my life when I can only have one project at a time, when I will need to finish (basically) everything I start, but now is not that time. For now I am going to follow my ideas where they take me, and rejoice in the fact that not having inspiration is never my problem.
Details about this latest project are fourth coming.

In a week I will be at home. This means having a kitchen! I always aspire to post awesome recipe posts with the food that I make (which involves taking copious photos with my iphone), but so far that hasn’t happened. Perhaps you’ll have some of those to look forward to. At the very least I will keep you updated on my adventures in Vegas.

Everyone should be watching Fringe. Especially if you were a fan of Lost. If you weren’t a fan of Lost, it doesn’t matter. The show literally has something for everybody– procedural elements, character development, science, science-fiction, character driven story, mythology, good looking actors, talented actors, humor, heartbreak. WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT? Definitely Top 5 Material.
Anyone who knows me knows how coveted those Top 5 spots are!

I now have a second favorite poem (my first favorite being Helen of Troy Does Counter Top Dances by Margaret Atwood): Aristotle by Billy Collins. You should read/listen to it.

I plan to read a lot over Spring Break, so expect some posts about reading material. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with a hot shower followed by the Footloose remake and some gluten free cookies.

Relax, okay? Seriously, all that stuff you’re worrying about is not worth your time. YOU ARE DIVINE! Take a deep breath, let out a sigh of contentment, and move on. You will not regret it. In fact, you will never regret not worrying. No one says to themselves “Gee, I really wish I would have spend more time worry about blahblahblah. That really would have been productive!”

Accept the feeling and move on. That’s the part I always forget. If you ignore something, it doesn’t go away. In my experience, attempts to ignore just generally makes things even more present. So accept it, feel it, even if (especially if) it’s scary or sad or hard or uncomfortable. Cause really, isn’t that all you can do?

While you’re at it, have a glass of water. Changes are you’re dehydrated and you don’t even know it– that water will be super refreshing. And maybe make yourself some tea. A nice chai, maybe some lemongrass green tea? A good rooibos… mmm. If you’re a health food weirdo like me have some kombucha- probiotics, man! DO SOMETHING NICE FOR YOUR BODY! And while you’re being nice, say something nice about yourself. Also, compliment a stranger. And tell someone you love and appreciate them.

Those are manageable directives, right? Start with today. We’ll worry about tomorrow later.

Even more baked typefaces.

This combines my love of baking and my love of fonts!

I’m sick and tired of people acting like it’s no big deal that Chris Brown will be performing at the Grammys.

I’m frustrated that the mainstream media is covering this story like it’s any comeback story, like an exiled prince’s return to a former glory, like this is another political timeline — as though some rich and powerful old white men in the music business have not just issued an enormous ‘f**k you’ to every woman who has been, is or will be on the receiving end of domestic violence.

We should be furious.

Why aren’t we?

A Long, Long Time Ago, or Three Years Ago, But Who’s Counting?

For those of you who are currently listening to ‘Look at Me Now’ and wondering what the big deal is, a quick recap: The night before the Grammys in 2009, Chris Brown got angry at his girlfriend, Rihanna, and he took it out on her face. She went to the hospital and then to the LAPD, where this photo was taken and promptly leaked to TMZ. (The LAPD issued a stern statement on the leak, threatening penalties “up to and including termination”. TMZ reportedly paid $62,500 for the photo.)

Both Rihanna and Brown had been scheduled to perform at the Grammys the following evening. Neither did.

Instead, Chris Brown turned himself into the LAPD at 7 pm, was booked on suspicion of criminal threats and was released on $50,000 bail.

Then the Internet exploded.

I was a full-time entertainment writer at the time, so I had a front-row seat to the action. This is what I expected: I expected a string of celebrities to comment on how horrific this situation was, how sad and angry they were for Rihanna, how domestic violence is unacceptable in any context, how as a nation we need to condemn this and condemn it loudly.

Instead, Hollywood went silent and, when they did speak, they teetered on the brink of defending Chris Brown.

Carrie Underwood: “I don’t think anybody actually knows what happened. I have no advice.”

Lindsay Lohan: “I have no comment on that. That’s not my relationship. I think they’re both great people.”

Nia Long: “I know both of them well. They’re young, and all we can do is pray for them at this point.”

Mary J. Blige: “They’re both young and beautiful people, and that’s it.”

Jay-Z, one of Rihanna’s mentors, spoke up: “You have to have compassion for others. Just imagine it being your sister or mom and then think about how we should talk about that. I just think we should all support her.”

In a sane world, Jay-Z’s statement would sound insane. Why would he have to remind his fans to support Rihanna after what happened is that she got hit in the face?

Jay-Z issued that statement because the Internet was, in early February 2009, engaged in a very serious conversation about whether or not all of this was Rihanna’s fault. In fact, large segments of the Internet had devoted themselves to making Rihanna the scapegoat for any woman who ever had the gall to do something worth getting hit, and then the cloying self-esteem to go to the cops about it. Bloggers and their commentators flocked to Chris Brown’s defense in droves. It was a full-blown tearing-down of female self-worth, an assault on any progress women have made in this country in the past 200 years, and the mainstream media ignored it.

It horrified me. It still does.

via HelloGiggles – I’m Not Okay with Chris Brown Performing at the Grammys and I’m Not Sure Why You Are.

 

I didn’t write this, but I wish I had. Check out the full article on Hellogiggles.

I meant to include this as an off-topic side note in that last post, but I didn’t so now a new post!

Je M’appelle Chelsee

Identity Crisis. If I spoke French, this is where I would (in French) say: “Poor little French Girl eats a Burrito”

As any one who knows me knows, I really like television. I will watch it any way I can. Sometimes this means… getting a little creative with the venues through which I watch things. For a while I maintained that it is a network’s job to provide me with a means by which to watch their content, and if they’re not going to then they’re stupid because I’m going to watch it anyway and they should be catering to me because I am their source of profit. While on a certain level that is in fact true, it is also very problematic. It is especially problematic considering that I am someone who intends to, in the very near future, earn a living creating television.

When I can, I like best to watch television shows as they air on television. At school that’s a bit more difficult because I don’t have my own tv, but I still do my best to make it happen for the shows I really like. But for shows I’ve just started watching– ones that aren’t on the air any more, or that are several seasons in, watching when they air isn’t really an option (I will not watch a show that I haven’t seen from the beginning). Netflix has been incredibly helpful in that department, as has Hulu in some cases. But not everything streams through these venues, and most networks don’t keep earlier episodes on their own websites.

So what am I supposed to do when I want to watch Fringe and it’s not streaming anywhere!? Well, I could buy the DVD’s. Or, since I’m willing to watch on my computer, I could buy individual episodes or entire season passes through itunes or amazon. Season DVD’s are kind of expensive when they first come out, but when they’ve been out for a while you can usually get them between $12-25. Despite how reasonable this is, it makes my bank account cry. Also, while I like having DVD’s for shows that I know I like (Veronica Mars, Lost, one day Buffy e.t.c) because I can re-watch stuff and lend them out to people, I’m hesitant about paying for something I’m not sure I’ll like– that’s legitimate, right? As for downloading episodes to my computer- I once bought an episode of Grey’s Anatomy and thought about how terrible an idea it was for days because I didn’t really like the episode and never wanted to watch it again and I couldn’t figure out a way to watch it on my television so at least my family could watch it too. This is not really a good enough reason not to buy other shows, but still…

What’s a television-loving-someday-writer-currently-college-student to do? This is one of those theoretical questions where I already know the answer.

I’m trying to be less morally ambiguous.

I’m definitely buying season two of Fringe…

I meant to make this while at was at home, but never got around to it. If you want to lend me your oven, I’ll make one for you.

thefauxmartha

My mom is the first to say she doesn’t like to bake. I’m still not sure where my love obsession came from. Somehow my sister picked up the habit too—proof. But despite my mom’s distaste for baking, she makes a mean cobbler. In the summers it’s filled with the ripest of peaches. And through the winters it’s filled with the blackest of blackberries. Always topped with ice cream of course. This tastes like home to me.

Home. Where I returned from just days ago. Already missing the people I have known for a lifetime. I still wonder why I ever moved away. And then I’m reminded of the greedy Texas* heat that steals winter’s thunder. The heat that also leaves me grumpy for weeks on end. I’m a winter girl at heart. I still melt with every snowfall. I love it’s quiet demeanor. And the beautiful way it paints…

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Since I haven’t posted much lately and I don’t have the motivation to write up my cooking-recipe-food post at the moment, I thought I would give you an update on my USC application in the form of my personal statement. I have to give it a once over for grammar, but otherwise this is the final product. 

 

Like most children, though perhaps with a greater fervor, I wove stories from and about everything. From the epic struggle between Barbie’s and Beanie Babies, to a crayon masterpiece about talking cars — the first story I ever wrote— storytelling was a part of my life. As I grew, I developed a relationship with stories crafted by other people. I became that oft-depicted, but rarely sighted, child reading from the dim glow of a book-light until the sun rose.

My love for stories, and the act of sharing them, led me to experimentation in multiple mediums. I found my first love in works of prose, a relationship which would spill over into dalliances with poetry. I realized a deep appreciation for the performance of stories existed in me, and six years in a theatre ensemble allowed me to be both author, participant, and viewer—  often simultaneously. Each medium brought something new into my life, and I loved all of them, but I did not truly find my passion until I began writing screenplays. Though I set out to write works that my friends and I might produce over the summer, my final product was often well beyond our production capacity. For a long time I believe writing and directing to be the ideal path for me, but then began my love affair with television…

While I had always been the first to point out errors in a films continuity, or to offer up a critique of an actor’s performance, television inspired new areas of investigation. Perhaps it was the episodic nature, or my familiarity with characters and settings, but something in television sparked my anthropological and sociological interests in a way other mediums had not. I was no longer just asking what is this story saying? I was asking what does this story say about our culture? What does it say about the author and the audience? I began to ask three questions again and again— why do we tell the stories we tell? How do we tell those stories? And, what do those stories say about us? Even a medium as vast as television could not contain these new questions— every piece of work I had created or engaged with needed to be inspected with new eyes.

In many ways those questions became the center of my academic pursuits. They led me to a course in Australian and New Zealand Cinema under the instruction of film and cultural studies scholar, Eva Rueschmann. They also led me to courses in history and philosophy, journalism and creative writing— all in the interest of gaining perspective and new avenues of inquiry. Now my questions have led me to Critical Studies, and the School of Cinematic arts. As a Critical Studies major, I will have more resources than ever before to ask, answer, and complicate my questions. I will be surrounded by students who share my interests, but also have questions and insights of their own. Perhaps best of all, I will be working with faculty who are experts in their field, having devoted their life to the same kinds of inquiries that fill so much of my own life. Critical Studies will be key in helping me prepare for future critical and scholarly work, in sharing my questions and theories with the world. More over, it will create an excellent foundation from which to launch my career in writing and producing for television, so that I might come full circle by shaping and sharing stories of my own.

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,300 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 22 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.