Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bedroom Dance Party

I met up with Jade and Mandy tonight and drank delicious spritzers and ate far far too much sensational spicy Chinese food. Only when I got home did I realise I'd forgotten to take my penicillin tablet half an hour before I ate, and would have to wait 2 whole hours more before I could take it and go to bed.

So I began playing through some of my favourite hip hop tracks and bopping and strutting around my bedroom. It has been ages since I've had energy to expend superfluously on such wholesome foolishness! Anyway after about 45 mins, just as I decided to mix it up a little and delve into the Doobie Brothers (you heard me), my housemate Mandrew yelled the fantastic news that he had just made golden syrup dumplings and there was a bowl full for me. Despite being more than full, I sat down and voraciously tucked into my dumplings. Only after I had completed finger-scraping the bowl did I realised I would have to wait another two hours! I have set my alarm.

However, there is still time for a little Stevie. One of the upsides of this penicillin (the first being that I have the energy to do everyday things, like dance around my room, and write about it afterwards) is that it is tending not only to my sore throat, but seems to be tackling my chronic croakiness - that Mel has always attributed to my mythical nodjools - so that I can sing-along with gusto. What joy!

Oh oh Run To Paradise just came on!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

So Much To Tell You

Having gone 5 days now without the power of speech, or the power to do much at all due to the Lurgy Which Was Even More Dreaded Than The Last Lurgy which struck me down on Saturday, I have an awful lot to get off my chest: How crapped off I am about all the friend's birthdays I missed; How worried I am about how behind I'll be at work, and that my new workmates might just think I've got a head cold and am taking the piss, because they're not aware that taking a day off work is something I basically never do, let alone a taking a whole week; How spending a whole week at home Doing Nothing is a goddam effing waste of a week; the horrors of the Royal Melbourne Emergency Room on Grand Final night; How even though red jelly and fresh mango is a delicious slippery breakfast, I secretly wish I could just chomp down some vegemite toast; The importance of cuddles in times of crisis; How, even as the penicillin needle pierced my rump in excruciating pain several days in a row, I hoped that the nurse would reflect that I had a good bum; How Nature really kicks you in the nuts by making you look like a side-show-freak when you're sick, so that on the day that you can sit up in bed and think about getting up, you look at yourself in the mirror and promptly go and live in a hessian sack.

Still, I think instead I'm going to write about what I was planning to write about before I got sick. I'm going to write about Hollywood Paternalism in the movie Taken.

Obviously, Taken is a pretty one-dimensional vehicle for making Liam Neeson look like a tough guy. Which notion it clinches when he takes 6 bullets in the back and yet is unscathed, just like the Terminator. The basic premise of the movie is this:
Young American Virgin goes off to Paris for a holiday to stay with friend's family. On arrival learns that friend has lied and they have an apartment all to themselves. Naive girls share cab with first cute guy who asks, who also happens to be a Bad Guy. Within 20 minutes Bad Men have broken into the apartment and abducted both girls for their own dastardly ends (ie prostitution ring). Liam, luckily, just happens to be an ex-CIA 'preventer' (read: assassin) who goes to Paris to brutally hunt down the Bad Men and bring back his virginal daughter.

The film has lots of graphic violence, as well as lots of disturbing images of young girls forced into heroine use and prostitution in pretty dire circumstances. Now to me, the idea of showing these images of all these morbid young innocents would be to provide justification for Neesons's unstoppable violence. But the only thing that disturbed me more than those images (which truly disturbed me, more on this later...) was that the film was resolved when the daughter was rescued, with not a tear shed for the friend who'd been brutally raped and OD'd (it is charmingly implied that Neeson's daughter lived because of her valuable virginity making her a pricier commodity [what is this, the Middle East?!], whilst her dirty tramp friend probably had it coming), or all the countless young girls Neeson was quite comfortable about leaving behind to lives of torture.

The whole film turned on the wrong justification. It wasn't a film about a girl getting trafficked. It was a film about an assassin getting revenge. The girl's sexual slavery wasn't portrayed as abhorent because she was a human being deserving rights and agency, she was simply Neeson's property, stolen by some other men to be their property, then taken back. This was captured best in the scene where Neeson confronts the Bad Man running the slave racket, and the Bad Man tries to reason with him, saying "Hey, it's just business. It's not personal." And Neeson replies "It's personal to me" before shooting him as many times as his gun will allow. At this point I wanted to scream "It's personal for your daughter you stupid ape! And every one of those girls getting repeatedly raped. THAT'S who it's personal for! Can we PLEASE at least MENTION that it's personal for them too?" But no, it was only a problem because it was Neesons's problem. Once his daughter was safe, there was no need to feel 'personal' about the ongoing trafficking of women. As it was this film could have been about a car, or a jewel, or a top-secret new military weapon, or anything at all that would provide a Bad Man vs Liam Neeson set-up.

I give those titties Four Thumbs Down, Hollywood.

The other thing that this movie made me reflect on was how very personally outraged and upset I felt about the images of these trafficked women, and how this was due to a direct sense of identification with them. Not that I've been trafficked, obv., but because they were women and I am a woman. Or more pointedly, because the reason for their exploitation was simply that they were women. And I am a woman. My reaction to these scenes was so powerful I felt as sickened and outraged as I imagine I would were someone to actually try to do this to me. Which is probably a good thing. But it did make me reflect on group identity. And while I can see all the benefits and strengths of group identification, I was felt that I was also motivated by something profoundly selfish, ie 'This could happen to me!'

I was thinking about it in relation to the cyclist who was killed on Swanston St a few weeks ago, and how all those cyclist rallied. I think that the rally was a really good thing and if anything gets those ridiculous buses off Swanston street I, as a daily cyclist, will be forever grateful. But what I did find a bit weird were some of the notions coming through on that day that cyclists were grieving more than other people, they were more upset by this girl's death. Not because they knew her, because most of them didn't. Many other people also died in Melbourne that day. Cyclists and non-cyclists both didn't really skip a beat over them either. But I think this reaction occurred to this one particular death because it could have happened to them. And because cyclists in Melbourne are generally of a mind-set to get themselves noticed, which in itself is no bad thing. I don't mean to suggest that their outrage was somehow ignoble. Nor my outrage at the trafficking of women. But I do sometimes think it would be good to untangle our altruistic motivations from our more self-perserving ones, and if they align, maybe that's just a bonus.

I am now aware that my brain is dribbling in many tangential directions, and am going to eat some more jelly and go back to bed.