The Worst Movie Ever? or Misogyny is Hilarious!

My dear friends, this post is not ballet related, but I need an outlet, so excuse me whilst I rant.

 

This Saturday, Rob and I went on a trip to the Bournemouth seaside. That’s where we met 6 years ago during university, where we first lived together, where he proposed. We were having a lovely time when the weather turned and we could not stand the cold anymore. We decided to go to the cinema, and watch American Reunion. We watched American Pie in our teens and liked the first movie, so were hoping for a funny, nostalgic afternoon.
Oh.My.GOD.
We just sat there, slack-jawed and in awe. Not only was the movie ridiculously unfunny, but it was also ridiculously offensive.  The plot goes like this: it is their 13 year High School Reunion, so the original American Pie cast members all go back to their home town to celebrate. Hilariousness does not ensue. I would be angry enough at having spent money to watch an awful movie, but I was fuming at all the offensive and outright messed-up CR*P on the screen.
In one scene, there were scores of half-naked teenage girls having a party, when they are joined by the main characters, who are in their 30s. Well, we know they are not really teenagers, but we are told that they are ‘high school chicks’, celebrating an 18th birthday. We are supposed to find all of it funny, not at all creepy.
At possibly the most troubling sequence (and that is saying something) Kara, the birthday girl, is too drunk to drive and Jim (her 31 year old neighbour) offers to drive her home. Kara is drunk and randy, so she strips down to her thong with and tries to get intimate with Jim. He almost crashes the car and she passes out. Being a total idiot, Jim calls all his buddies to come help him get the unconscious girl back in her house. He has the courtesy to cover her with a beach towel. Stifler, possibly the biggest twat of all cinema history, gets really excited at the sight of the UNCONSCIOUS, half-naked 18 year old and tries to get the towel off, but he is stopped by his friends.

 

But fear not! As Jim tries to carry the UNCONSCIOUS girl into her house, the towel gets stuck on a bush and is ripped off, exposing her naked breasts to the audience. Hilarious. She eventually wakes up and parades around naked for a while more, but finally passes out in her bedroom, quickly followed by Stifler, who sees this as an opportunity for more UNCONSCIOUS boobies.

 

This is not ok!

 

After the movie, we actually enumerated all the separate instances of potential sexual offences, and our number reached the dozens. Rob is great at these things and he once spotted a rape in Sixteen Candles.

 

This is a highlight of sexual offences found in American Reunion:
–       Stifler walks around his office slapping almost every woman’s bottom until he reaches his office.

 

–       At the lake, some teenage boys steal bikini tops, leaving girls with no choice buy expose themselves (if not a sexual offence, than at least theft).

 

–       Stifler doing his vagina-shark bit at the lake. (swimming underwater and biting unsuspecting girls in their lady parts)

 

–       Attempt to strip an unconscious girl. (the previously described sequence).

Did any of the girls in this movie try to get Stifler arrested? Nope. Did they attempt to slap Stifler? Nope? Did they at the very least complain? Nope. They react with a little yelp, a roll of the eyes, and a frowny face. Almost every woman in this movie was a non-threatening, infantilized sex-object This was all framed as COMEDY! And does anyone bother telling Stifler that he is a sex offender who might need help? No, he is celebrated as a beloved character.
I know people will dismiss this criticism saying American Reunion is a guys movie, and just a bit of fun. Well, Rob is a guy and he hated this movie. When the credits started, he turned to me and said: ‘This is the most misogynistic movie I have ever seen.’

 

He was right and we both despaired at the audience of teenage boys and girls hooting with laughter at the hideousness of screen. We felt like yelling:
No! It is not funny!! This movie is not funny!!
Misogyny is not funny!
Vulnerable, UNCONSCIOUS 18 year olds are not funny!!
Sexual offences are not funny!!!
Am I the only that is deeply offended by this movie? I really hope not…

 

The woman in my head

Hi everyone. I haven’t written in ages. I’m sorry I didn’t reply to your lovely comments in my last post. I was so tangled up with crazy deadlines and the wedding… But they’ve meant so much to me!

You can see that the blog has changed a little. That’s because I have changed.

One of the first posts I wrote was called When I look in the mirror and it was inspired by Portia de Rossi’s memoir, Unbearable Lightness. That book stayed with me and made me start to question many things about the world around me. What stayed with me the most was the fact that as a child, I watched Ally McBeal and used to dream, wish, pray, hope that I looked like Portia. As a child, and later as a teenager (and as recently as 5 minutes ago) I had issues with how I looked. I thought I was ugly, I thought I was weird, and no one would love me or want me. If only I was taller, had a symmetrical face (my facial features developed independently of each other. I have pictures to prove it), had curves, had different hair, eyes, in a nutshell, if I was a different person, maybe I would be beautiful.

Portia’s book details this exact thought process. And it really shook me to the core that this woman who I thought was absolutely stunning, thought she was absolutely hideous. This fact, that we women are always unhappy with how we look and suffer from deep image disorder, has stayed with me. I started paying more attention to the world around me and tried my best to change my own image disorder.

I grew tired of feeling inadequate. I started to educate myself on women’s issues. On an impulse, I bought Natasha Walter’s Living Dolls. I read it in one day. Then I went back to the first page, and read it again. I went back online and bought Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs. I’ve now also read it twice.

This is what I’ve learned:

I am beautiful.

I am me.

I am a feminist.

Everything I thought about feminism and a woman’s position in society, was wrong. Everything. I used to think feminism meant angry, dowdy, shouty women, complaining about femininity and romance. I was wrong. I was a child. I was a fool.

We live in a world, where everywhere you look, women are naked. Not just naked, but sexualised and objectified. There is nothing wrong with the female naked body.  I don’t believe these women that pose for playboy, Page 3 and Nuts and Zoo magazines are sluts. That is NOT my issue. But I do not think their nakedness is inspiring.  My problem is that the women in Playboy, Nuts, Page 3 etc are falling for and promoting a stereotype of female sexuality that is both WRONG and damaging.

Please, look around.

Women are naked (or half-naked) everywhere. So far, so good. There is nothing wrong with nakedness. The female body and female sexuality should be celebrated. .But, the naked images surrounding us are not about female sexuality. These images of the female body are not about celebrating beauty. They are not empowering. If they were empowering, these photos would be hung up on walls, not kept hidden under mattresses or in the toilet.  These images are primarily to incite lust in men. In them, the women all pose in the same suggestive poses. They all have big breasts, big hair, tanned skin, and a come hither look. They all seem to promote one particular aspect of womanhood.

 As Ariel Levy argues, we seem to have developed a taste for slutty stereotypes. And this stereotype is all over the place. It is so widespread that

women are socialized to objectify themselves in order to be desirable.”

Ariel Levy

And this is not empowerment or liberation. It is objectification. It is degrading. It is demeaning. And it is damaging.

And I fell for it.

When I was a teenager, I hated how I looked. I was always weird looking, not popular, I didn’t have any breasts until  after my 18th birthday. I wore glasses. I was unhappy. Ever since I was a small child I cried when I looked in the mirror (yes, I have always been dramatic).

Oh, how I wish I had read these books growing up. I tried SO hard as a teenager. I was convinced I would only get attention for my looks. I wore extremely sexy clothes, I tried flirting, I danced provocatively. But I didn’t do this because I enjoyed it. I did it because I wanted to feel wanted, I wanted attention. And since I could not get attention by being me, I tried my best to be someone else. I tried to be the stereotype.

I was so unhappy. I want to go back in time, hug my teenage self and tell her it will all be ok. She will be loved. She is beautiful. She is smart, and better than that. I would ask her about all the books she read, but didn’t talk about in school. I would tell her to listen to the music she loves, not the one everyone else is talking about. I would ask her about aliens, and science fiction. I would tell her she would be married to a wonderful man, who her best friend and loves her even when she doesn’t love herself. I would take her shopping, and we would buy some fantastic clothes. We would go dancing together, for fun! I would bring her these books and tell her not to fall for it. I would hug her. And we’d cry together.

Hindsight is a powerful thing, but it is amazing how pervasive this feeling of inadequacy still is. Not just with me, but with many women I know. I have two beautiful younger sisters who should never, ever have to feel this way. We are not happy with who we are.

For me, this is when feminism really struck a chord.The negative thoughts I had and still have about myself and the way I look are individuals acts of violence. At the very root of those thoughts, is the belief that there is something wrong with me, with the way I am, with the way I look. Is the belief that I’m not good enough.

And this belief comes from the world around us, who STILL believes there is only one way to be a woman. A world that STILL thinks there is only one way to be sexual. A world where women have to have plastic surgery and starve themselves to feel beautiful. This is a world where woman with sex lives are seen as sluts and women who are virgins are prudes. This is a world where women STILL cannot win. A world where women STILL do not receive equal pay. A world where women are STILL not properly represented in government. A world where women are STILL victims of horrible violence and STILL made to feel guilty about that violence. Don’t believe me?

Please visit Project Unbreakable.

Please search for the #ididnotreport on twitter.

Please read this article.

Please, please watch this video:

“the first step is to educate ourselves. to become aware”

Jean Kilbourne

I am not in any way suggesting that my self-esteem issues are violence of the same magnitude as physical and sexual abuse. I am saying that the root of the problem is the same belief that there is something wrong with women.

Please don’t tell me I’m overreacting. Please don’t tell me there truly is equality. Please don’t tell me we are fully liberated. I will believe that we have equality, power and liberation when this is not represented by Playboy.

I’ve had it. I’ve just had it.

The woman in my head is desperate to come out. A woman who is beautiful, strong, smart and who tries her hardest to be happy with who she is. This woman is the ballerina in my head, who dances to her own music and who stands up to stereotypes, inequality and violence. She will not be objectified. The ballerina in my head is a feminist.

And I think I am finally ready to be her. To be me.

The stars under my control - Dan-ah Kim

The stars under my control - Dan-ah Kim

The Great Con

I don’t know if anybody has seen the BBC videos about the Royal Ballet. If not, please follow the link below. These videos really bug me, especially this one:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13734258

Ok, where to start? First of all, since when ballet is about seeing the expression on the dancers’ faces? For me it is about dancing, and portraying emotion through dance. Where I sit, high atop the amphitheatre, it is often difficult to see the detail on the dancers’ faces, and that does not subtract from the experience for me.

Second, and most irritating for me, is the claim that people have been enticed to see R & J at the O2 because of the prices: “£11 a head”. Well, you can also get tickets at Covent Garden for that price. All Royal Ballet triple bills have great seats in the amphitheatre for £13 and even better ones for £18. And you are much closer to the action than at the O2.

And this journalist even goes further saying that “they better not get used to these ticket prices, as tickets at the opera house cost as average of £100”. That is just bad journalism and a disgusting misuse of statistic. Having sat through countless statistics exams, this bothers me on so many levels.

This video report is actually encouraging the view that ballet is elitist and incredibly expensive. Technically yes, perhaps averaging out the price of tickets at ROH, from the incredibly expensive boxes to the £7 standing tickets does equal £100. But saying that an average ticket costs £100 implies that you would be hard pressed to find a decent ticket costing less that £100. Which is so not true.

Here is a selection of my Royal Ballet tickets covering the last 12 months or so:

As you can see, they are not even close to costing £100.

(actually, the image is not so great, so you can probably not see. The tickets are, from left to right, from the top: Scenes de Ballet/Voluntaries/The Rite of Spring: £18; La Fille mal Gardee: £28; Cinderella: £20; Ballo della regina/Live Fire Exercise: £10.20; Chroma/Tryst/Symphony in C:£11; La Valse/Invitus Invitam/ Winter dreams/ Theme and Variations: £18)

In fact, the most I have ever paid for a ticket is £51, for Alina Cojocaru’s Giselle. Actually, I did not even pay for them, as they were a graduation present from my parents (thank you).

Great seats. Actually, the best seats I have ever had at ROH. An amazing night. Still not £100.

And this is the great con, this idea that ballet is expensive. It is not that expensive. I mean, it can be very expensive, but it does not have to be.

Are you ready for a shocking revelation? It is more expensive to watch a football game than to go to the ballet. And I have proof:

The lovely husband and I are huge Tottenham Hotspurs fans. These seats are the second cheapest at White Hart Lane. And yet, they are still more expensive than all those 6 tickets picture above.

I do not mean to rant. But this really upsets me. It is a great con that has to be stopped. Ballet does not cost a fortune. Please do some research people, and do not be fooled by urban legend and bad journalism. The Royal Opera House is a wonderful place, that is open to everybody.

I hope you give it a try one day.