How to fix something broken

Random thoughts

Month: January, 2016

My good/bad eye

tumblr_lfyrnbojfk1qgp9r8o1_500

Christine Baranski plays a lawyer and a staunch democrat who falls in love with -and eventually marries- a gun lover and equally staunch Tea Party sympathizer played by Gary Cole in The Good Wife.

 

I’m pretty intuitive when it comes to judging characters. The problem is precisely that: I judge. It’s not just making someone out, but also evaluating them. And I project on others. I also take them for granted. I tend to form a bond too fast and easily with people I’ve just met or I hardly know because I think I know them as soon as I catch a glimpse of a few traits that remind me of myself.

The irony in all of this is that I’m attracted to people who are the actual opposite of what I am (as a straight woman, I include men in here), or what I think I am: I love passionate, fearless and charismatic individuals.
The problem is I feel terribly intimidated by these types because I assume they might find me boring, and because I usually can’t make them out or control them. That should feel exciting, but it sometimes scares me.

Eternal limbo

tumblr_lwa0cuDMSm1qgp9r8o1_500

Anna Camp as Caitlin D’Arcy in the CBS TV show The Good Wife

Recently I was binge-watching the first three seasons of the CBS TV show The Good Wife, when I suddenly came accross a scene that somewhat reminded me of something I’m experiencing at this very moment.

Caitlin (played by the talented, beautiful and underrated Anna Camp), a young lawyer, a freshwoman who’s just began to work for an important firm, is about to be hired having proven her skills and fullfilled the expectations of their bosses and beyond. To her boss and mentor’s surprise, she turns the offer down. She’s pregnant, and she wants to get married, dedicate herself to raising her children, being a housewife and taking care of her husband. Her mentor tries to tell her out of what she -a woman who’s devoted 15 years of her life to bringing up two kids, and who’s just recently regained her economic and personal autonomy by resuming her work as a lawyer, and act as the provider in the family while her husband was in jail- considers to be a suicidal decision.

The young woman’s reply goes “Maybe it’s different for my generation, but I don’t have to prove anything. Or, if I have to, I don’t want to.” *

I assume this scene is intended to bring about the controversy of the increasing number of women in the industrialized world, that with the global crisis are quitting the labor market and returning to ‘house duties’. Perhaps it is meant as an alert about chosing the ‘easy path’ (and I stress the quotation marks) and become dependent -after all, the fact that she can make a choice is precisely because women who came before her had to work hard to obtain for themselves and their successors the same rights men had in public life. After all, the show is about women who are highly-capable, hard-working, and independent, much as the targeted audience.

But either way, I don’t care. That’s not my point. I don’t mean to address the feminist angle of the show. To me it means something completely different, such as breaking everyone’s expectations and following your heart, even if that means making a mistake. It’s just like saying ‘Alright. I wanted to know if I could do it. Now that I know that I do, I don’t need to go on competing any longer.’

Me, I’m in the middle of the worst crisis I’ve ever undergone in my entire life. If I could die and be born again, under diferent circumstances, being a completely different being, in a different place and so on, I would. Maybe that’s why I can relate to Caitlin’s point.

I’ve been trying to prove myself all my life-because I thought that people loved me for being good at almost everything I accomplished -or so I thought, because no one ever contradicted me on that or told me ‘Ok, you suck at this, but it’s okay, nobody’s perfect and we love you just the same.’… (Ok, I don’t believe that’s Caitlin’s case: she’s a young beautiful woman, who precisely because of that might have never been taken seriously as a lawyer if, in an act of nepotism, her uncle hadn’t pressured the firm to hire her, even if later on she proves to be more than merely a capable professional.)

This reminds me of Lisa Simpson voluntarily entering a military school, but when realising the challenge is tougher than she’d expected, admitting she was ready for a challenge… she could actually do.

Fucking control freak… No one ever prepared me for failure. I’m sick of it. I seclude myself in intellectualism, the only place where my damn ego is safe… even if it’s wrong.

And of course I’m obsessed with perfection… In latin, perfect means ‘finished’. Therefore, the only way to reach perfection would be Death.

I’m tired of praying everynight for everything to have miraculously changed in the morning without any true commitment whatsoever on my part.

A very wise person I once knew told me that I was born because I chose to. Because at a certain point, I pushed my way out of my mother’s womb. This might be true, but I definitely didn’t chose to be born in this time, place, family, body…

And I certainly didn’t chose to be born and grow this unhappy, this unsatisfied… And I’ve never chosen to be stuck in this limbo for ages.

The Fall

GK42

Cover illustration from ‘Batman Gotham Knights’ #42 issue by Brian Bolland (2003)

I feel like Bruce Wayne, only without an Alfred who stands by me, dusts my mind cobwebs and scares away the bats and other night creatures that haunt me. But above all, who doesn’t give up on me even when I do.

Hey y’all

Logo-welcome_to_bon-temps2

The welcoming sign at the entrance of Bon Temps, an imaginary town in Louisiana where the action of the True Blood TV series takes place.

I am not an American, but I’ve always been fascinated by the USA. I’ve been kinda breastfed on its popular culture: movies, rock, ads, items, and of course, the English language. Otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog in this language.

I know very little of its young history and I’d love to know more, but I’ve learned stuff through films and literature, not just about the actual events but also about how North Americans perceive themselves (and the rest of the world, obviously).

I’m specifically fascinated by the history of the South. It’s a story of violence, slavery and racial oppression. However, this intense story that took place in barely two centuries, has also resulted in one of the -culturally speaking- richest communities of the nation, in terms of ethno-linguistic and gastronomic diversity, etc.

One of my dreams is, actually, visiting New Orleans someday, even if Katrina swept away many of the evidences of this rich history.

This fascination hooked me on the recently ended TV show True Blood. I don’t intend in this post to review the quality of the series itself (it’s a worthy entertainment -at least for the first three seasons-, caotically structured, boring and unbeliebably absurd as it goes on, crammed with stereotypes, but also with a few endearing characters, and a plot with a wasted potential).

But obviously there’s a lot to be learned through the series, not so much about the South itself, but about the way most Americans see the South, and how this reveals that, in spite of a pretense of a solid unity, the old grudges between the North and the South from before the Civil War, have not been overcome at all.

It’s funny how the dichotomy North-South is repeated in many countries -I’m not even talking about regions- all over the globe, especially in the western civilisation, and usually due to historical processes that involve local wars (Spain, Germany, Italy).

The imaginary is always the same: North equals progress, wealth, industry, racionality, morality; and the South equals racism, poverty, feudalism, chieftainship, illiteracy, endogamy, violence, alcoholism (see the notion of ‘culture of poverty‘ coined by American anthropologist Oscar Lewis in the 1950s)…

Northern Spain, for instance, has always looked at the South with contempt, as an underdeveloped spot in which its inhabitants are lazy, male chauvinists, alcoholics, almost illiterate…

Spain underwent a civil war 80 years ago, in which the warring factions were called “Las dos Españas” (The two Spains). The end of war resulted in the imposition of a dictatorship that lasted 40 years, which, even though many carry on denying it, keeps on bearing consequences in the deepest levels of its cultural background.

Also, think about the way Southern Italy (Naples, Calabria, Sicily) is depicted in movies or books.

Does it ring a bell? The pattern is reproduced ad infinitum.

In  True Blood (a story originally told by Charlaine Harris in her saga The Southern Vampire Mysteries), the imaginary repeats itself. Action takes place in a fictional town in Louisiana, Bon Temps (the name of the town is already an example of the linguistic diversity of the territory), half way between the main cities in this Southern state, and it tells how a community of vampires segregated from the rest of society up to that point, intend to mainstream thanks to the fact that a Japanese company has started to commercialize a drink based on the synthesizing of human blood, ‘True Blood’ -the series is named after it-, which allows these vampires to feed without the need to attack human beings. It all intends, of course, to work as a metaphor of the intolerance that has historically distinguished that spot in the American nation, and of the violence episodes that the denial of the ethnic and cultural diversity has caused, also introducing and alluding the topic of homosexuality.

However, and perhaps unintentionally, True Blood fails precisely in the same aspects of which it complains. And in the process of criticising religious fanaticism, superstiton, the clinging to a series of traditions that are exclusive with racial, cultural and sexual diversity, reveals the rooted classism of the American society as a whole.

For starters, the choice of the main actors tells us a lot: Anna Paquin who plays Sookie, a young, slightly naive woman who’s never left her hometown and works as a waitress at the local diner Merlotte’s, is a Canadian actress raised in New Zealand; Stephen Moyer, who plays Bill, a 170 year old vampire who fought as a soldier with the South in the war, is English; Ryan Kwanten, who plays Sookie’s brother Jason, a dim-witted, oversexed but ultimately lovable yokel, is Australian. Summing up: to a greater or lesser extent, all of them have to fake their accents to make their characters believable.

The actors in a supporting role, even if in many cases are originally from Texas (Carrie Preston as Arlene, Todd Lowe as Terry, Jim Parrack as Hoyt), –Texas and Louisiana share borders, so I assume their accents must share similarities-, also exaggerate the way they speak; this, together with other traits of their personality make their characters cartoonish.

Even a reporter asked one of the main actors Sam Trammell, a NOLA native, if he believed that the Southern accent was overdone in the series. Let’s just say he got away with a tactful answer.

I can see that the purpose of the series is to mock, as I said, the remains of the hicky America, but in my opinion, it all just boils down to a bunch of old historical grudges that still go on nowadays. The yankees, the winners, project on the South a deep classist imaginary of underdevelopment. The Northerners tell themselves ‘We’re not like them’. ‘We’re better.’. ‘We’re neither racists, nor male chauvinists, nor homophobes.’ By the way: the fact that sex and nudity are one of the backbones of the show (‘It’s not porn. It’s HBO.‘), doesn’t make it less conservative. A false but very common assumption in many American shows.

I won’t be the one who denies the, as I said at the beginning, story of violence that has ravaged the Southern states since before the USA bought Louisiana to the French in 1803. Just a reminder: the recent controversy about the refusal of many institutions to withdraw the Confederate flag from the public space. But if you travel to any megalopolis in Northern, Eastern or Mid-Western states, you’ll find that racial and class segregation are a reality in urban spaces and in schools (Detroit, New York), etc., a reality The Union shouldn’t overlook so casually.

Between the American Isolationism and the Monroe doctrine, Americans keep forcing everyone to fit in their standards, even if that means mocking ‘their own kind’.

No wonder Southeners cling so much to their ‘tradition’ even if in some cases is wrong. How can Americans respect the rich and diverse ethnicity and in their territory if they can’t respect their own cultural background? Racism, male chauvinism, homophobia, are issues that have to be dealt with urgently. But why is listening to country music, talking with a distinctive accent, or living in the country itself necessarily a sign of backwardness or something to make fun of, most especially in the Southern states?

If those aren’t signs of classism, God be my witness.

Runaway

Sometimes I can’t help letting myself fall and expect others to pick up the pieces. I can’t help but running away from myself. I just can’t.

Doing time (again)