Tag Archives: Sherlock

Men are Victimized! and How to make your Blog title Provocative

I recently watched a couple of good awful movies, which is my way of saying they are good movies but make you want to nuke the world in order to contain and purge all sadness and the possibility of sadness from said world. Not that its relevant, but this genre of movies don’t strictly come into the other genre which is good awful fine-I believe-there-is-some-good-in-the-world-I-guess-I-don’t-need-to-google-search-“how-to-build-a-nuke-in-your-backyard”-just-yet.

Examples of the latter type of movies – Schindler’s List (or Life is Beautiful. You get the pattern – basically anything involving an exorbitant number of dead bodies piled together like so much candy), Mary and Max, Up (to a certain extent). If anybody is interested, there is a certain amount of sociology, philosophy and psychology based film theory critically looking at the need for a different type of aestheticization of the world post Holocaust. Look it up if you want – Kracauer, maybe Bazin, Susan Sontag to a certain extent I think. These recommendations are pure generalizations. Don’t go quoting me on this.

Getting back on point, I saw good awful movies – Soldier’s Girl and Stuart: A Life Backwards. Soldier’s Girl is a movie about a U.S. Army soldier who falls in love with a stripper while he is training, and the ramifications of their love affair. This is a picture of the (extremely hot) girl –

Her name is Calpernia.
Her name is Calpernia.

This is a picture of the actor who plays the girl

A.K.A Thranduil from The Hobbit and Ned the Pie maker from Pushing Daisies. BAM!

So yeah, she’s a transgender woman and the movie basically looks at how ineffective the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy was with regards protecting the privacy or safety of the soldiers in the U.S. Army. Maybe it is my born-out-of-cruel-experience slight misandry speaking, or my general dislike of army ethics and social conditioning, but by the end I really wanted to shoot almost every single man (by which I mean self identified man) in that movie (with some exceptions). Either for being phenomenally huge dicks sculpted out of rotten elephant shit, or for staying silent and watching (for the most part) other men be elephant shit based oversized dicks.

Next, there was Stuart: A Life Backwards which has two main attractions for the superficial viewer (a tag I hope to never outlive). This guy

You have my permission to fuck me till I die.

And this guy

Oh, Benedict.

However, the movie starts and even though you have read up so you know its going to be full of awfulness, it proceeds to get awfuller and awfuller, till you want nothing more than access to some Uranium and Plutonium and bunch of disenchanted nuclear scientists to do the calculations so we can summarily put an end to misery.

How very Ayn Rand of me.

I never thought I would ever in my life ever say or write a sentence even similar to that.

Stuart is about an alcoholic heroin-addicted homeless man named Stuart whose story is told backwards – from adulthood to childhood. And as much as we would all like to think that means you get to see something marginally nice towards the end, we all know children and humans too well. Not only does he get younger, the shitty things in his life and the psychological scars they leave get steadily worse as he gets younger. And because he is a child, we feel way worse for the way worse things happening around him.

Both of these movies are based on real life people and events, by the way.

The point is, after having watched these two movies not back-to-back but over the course of 48 hours, I felt really bad for men. Way less than how bad I felt for practically all women including me, but quite bad. Because while I wanted to kill all men, one of the most potent parts of watching men ill-treat other men is that – and I know this is going to sound awful before and possibly even after I explain fully – I can view it more objectively than when men ill-treat women in movies. By which I mean that as soon as something bad happens to a woman in a movie, especially at the hands of a man, I feel a blinding anger and sadness that feels like its coming out of my pores. Sometimes I have goosebumps with this blinding rage and anguish that makes the world a little… scratched. It feels as though someone is scratching at the walls of my world with no intention of quitting till everything I love crumbles under the incessant and determined picking of dirty, unwashed, unclipped fingernails. Which basically means I have no feeling whatsoever left over, no thought of the man in question except that he must die. And painfully.

So, not very objective. This feeling doesn’t come to me when I watch men ill-treat other men. Which may not be a good thing but I don’t think my mind handle that much sensitivity, so it is what it is.

So when I finished watching Stuart and then a day later finished watching Soldier’s Girl, I was left thinking about a conversation I had with a bunch of guyfriends about feminism. Somewhere in the middle of that hours long on and off conversation on sexual politics, comedy and normalizing, I mentioned that I often think feminism concentrates too much on women – teach girls how to be confident, teach them to defend themselves, to know when to go to the police, to want to have careers, to be what they want….

That’s great and I’m certainly not saying we should be teaching men how to defend themselves. I’m saying a big part of the world is, unfortunately or fortunately, male. And if we are willing to concede that some women may be socialized into acting in ways that are detrimental to womenkind and mankind alike in the long run, why can we not talk about the fact that there are men, many men who are socialized into a mind-set which we may find alienating, misogynistic, gender-insensitive, and unacceptable. I’m not saying we should all sit and have a chat with rapists and domestic abusers. However, shouldn’t it be part of the conversation – that change in the treatment and position of women is not a cause for women alone?

Take this scarring TED talk for instance –

Shouldn’t we as feminists be actively engaging with the fact that a lot of sexism, hetero-normative gendered behavior, as well as perceptions of stronger and weaker sex and gender are taught at a very early age to tiny boys who are given no mechanism to challenge this with? It’s not just about how they treat women, but about how they treat each other.

I’m all for teaching kids to be badasses, to fight and fight and struggle to get what they want, but teaching that is not exclusive to teaching young boys to not be kid-sized turds of human beings. I’m fairly sure its possible to be a go-getter and be a not-asshole at the same time. For fuck’s sake, Emily Bronte talked about this in fucking 1848 in The Tenant at Wildfell Hall, in which Helen Graham asks why she should not protect her boy from learning and internalizing the vagrancies and general male dickishness of the world, when she would definitely do so if she had had a daughter.

I think a serious change in perspective and goals need to happen, at least for every-day feminists or people-who-think-women-are-human-people-with-just-as-much-natural-right-to-agency-and-decision-making-capabilities-as-men if you don’t like using the word “feminist” to describe yourself. Let’s start by having proper sex education for boys. Perhaps campaigns to educate otherwise idiotic parents (I reserve the right to be judgmental about parents who decide to bring new people into the world without intending to take care of them in any and all ways) about what “naughty” “nathkhat” “spirited” “that word that Uncle Vernon used to describe Dudley” “chootiya” boys grow up to become – even bigger chootiyas who will no doubt fall behind in a fast changing world if not end up being eve-teasers and rapists.

Perhaps have school talks to boys about seriously being kinder to each other – nothing wrong with crying, nothing wrong with “being a girl”, nothing wrong with wanting an emotional connection, nothing wrong with not having sex, nothing wrong with having consensual sex, and nothing wrong with being friends with or liking girls. Tell them it’s a sin to like boys though, because they have cooties. Or when you have guyfriends or male acquaintances who don’t seem to get what you’re saying about some gender problem, to engage and not immediately label them a misogynist and give up. Of course after you engage with them, if they seem like a misogynist, feel free to cut off their balls. They should certainly not be having or raising children.

You get the gist – we really need to civilize the not-noble savages that men are currently. Maybe a few feministy decades down the line, they can be the Pocahontas to our John Smith, except their Pocahontas wouldn’t have anything to teach our John Smith. Scratch that analogy actually. Can’t make misogynist joke now. Can’t be racist now. Too soon. Another time, perhaps.

Ok bye.

– Billy

P.S. – This was drafted and saved before 12. The only reason its delayed is because of internet connection and image loading problems. So no embarrassing fact revelation business. Feck off now. Intentional spelling.

Advertisements

How to fangirl defend Sherlock season 3

As anyone who cares to have a conversation with me for longer than about 15 minutes knows, I am a tumblr person. Which means that when it comes to things I like, namely films, television and books, I get chatter and news very quickly. It also means that comprehensibly distilled versions of critiques and reviews of said television, films and books find me sooner or later. Recently, I read a few posts on tumblr that has brought this on, other than raging fandom feelings.

One was about how the constant fear about someone who cares about something, anything at all, is that they will start becoming a looped record about it. Every time you talk about it, you are aware of a certain section of people internally groaning – “We KNOW. You’ve talked about this before. In a different context perhaps, and with different conclusions, but why does every discussion have to be about this?”

And speaking as someone who has thought these very things on multiple occasions, and lately been subject to these very thoughts, I have to pint out it’s between a hard place and another phallic, sexual hard thing. Nobody wants people to tire of the things they talk about and consider important. However, perhaps more so with some subjects than another, you can’t rest till you talk about it because the only way to embed a manner of reasoning or thinking into the world around you is if you bring it up as much as you can. And so goes feminism and anything feminism related to film and television.

The problem with talking about feminism is how ingrained the opposite is. Because nobody has ever really ignored the presence of women in human society. In history and sociology and the rest of the liberal arts, perhaps only recently has the contribution and importance of women been studied, but in everyday life, women are always around. They are not ignored in the culture of any society, largely because is “culture” is mostly made by a phallus shaped society interested in where the penis shaped compass of their penis-minds are pointed. Which means that as soon as someone says “but the women…” the immediate response from most people is, “Yes, the women are here. We see them.” The question of how you internalize the personhood of women is often ignored because as soon as you acknowledge their presence, mostly at a phallic level, you stop wondering what other contribution they can have to your life or to your story.

Which brings me, quite fortuitously (not really. I planned this) to the subject of Sherlock. Season three has come and gone, and the results are in – “Amazing as usual, but it is not Sherlock anymore. Sherlock isn’t about how pretty Benedict Cumberbatch’s eyes are, or how much Watson loves his wife. It should be about Sherlock solving crime.” (Apologies to the person to whom this quote can be directly ascribed to. This is not a tirade against you. I have heard too many arguments of the same nature and you were the most articulate)

There is no doubt that this season has been subtly or not so subtly… enhanced for the womenfolk. The opening sequence itself, where all of our vaginas trembled with the knowledge that here, here was the perfect kiss with just the right hand placement and just the right kind of adrenaline rush and the right kind of background lighting, is proof of this. However my question is, is the value of the series itself diminished somehow because it also caters to the red blooded female? I have rarely heard of the value of something like Game of Thrones or Rome or even Spartacus being diminished because it caters to the visual fantasies and priorities of its male viewers. If I have, it comes from a largely female source where the argument is not against such catering, but in its blatant disregard for the female viewer. Take this hilariously significant plea to HBO for instance.

 

In comedy this is an often talked about issue – is women’s comedy different from men’s comedy? This is especially something that is chanted by male comedians for whom a large part of their routine consists of “Men are like…. But women are like….” But for people like Louis C.K. or Patton Oswalt, two older male comedians who have actually engaged with feminist (or rather, just anti-obscene-justifying-rape-joke-ist) critique, there is no such thing as “funny for men” and “funny for women”. Funny is funny. And for Oswalt and Louis, funny is funny because it is not coming at the expense of trivializing actual, real, and horrendous problems, but engages with them in order to cull out hypocrisy and irony and outlandishness of thought that allows for such problems.

This engagement at a less than visceral level is what has always made Sherlock as a show important. A direct adaptation, even one based in the 21st century, of what I remember of the original material would not result in the show as it exists. And it’s a good thing they didn’t go about making that direct adaptation, largely because the world has seen enough interpretations of the “genius solves crime by using his genius and then follows killer into dark alley where they fight and then genius emerges victorious” trope. Any show that wants to break ground while having Sherlock Holmes as its protagonist needs more. You need more than chase sequences and smug omniscience. You need human connection, and very importantly in the digital age, a connection with the consumers.

I don’t know about anyone else, but to me and a lot of people around me, the pivotal point of any Sherlock episode has not been the chase, or the catching of the criminal. It has been about how Sherlock uses his mind to arrive at the solution, to escape, to catch. And more than that, it is about the examination we do of Sherlock’s mind to understand where he stands, and where we stand by comparison. Even Moriarty, who by the way did not have as much a presence in the original works as does the Andrew Scott Moriarty in Sherlock, as much as he is the epitome of the “consigliore of crime” presents such a palpably delicious threat because of how much he wants to sparr with Sherlock. Sherlock the show has always been more interesting because we get to see the socially dysfunctional Sherlock manipulate and work with the real world and with real people and all their “tedious” fights, emotions and conventions.

With Doctor Who, especially in its 10th Doctor heyday, the most adventurous part of the show is never special effects, explosions and chasing aliens, but the manner in which the Doctor with all his resources and intelligence facilitates compromise and diplomacy, more often than not, by creating a team and working positively with other people.

Sherlock, Doctor Who and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer of yore are few of the shows that escape from sticking to the previously adhered to, rather male centric trope of “single savior saves the world” even while there is a titular character. All of them survive because of the team they form around each other, and the team they form around the people who watch the show itself.

This is where fandom has become an unprecedentedly important factor. Sherlock is made by fandom. Even Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are fans of the original work, and are technically writing modern AU fanfiction to use the parlance of the fanfic universe. My question is, does the fact that so many female viewers are enamored by Sherlock’s physicality negate their equally strong enthusiasm for his process? Does the fact that the writers are keeping this female viewership in mind mean that there is nothing for everyone else to enjoy? In fact, isn’t it a good thing that the perspective and imaginations of female viewers are now part of the canon of a show rather than something left to be filled up by female viewers in fanfiction sites?

More importantly one has to consider why female viewers love Sherlock. Despite what a large number of men, including Steven Moffat at times, think it is has as much to do with his personality as his looks, and it is not at a purely romantic level. For many women, Sherlock is not a challenge – someone who appears asexual but who we hope we would be able to change. He is asexual, and for a lot of people including women there is comfort in his asexuality. Sherlock being asexual and as logical as he is means that his lack of manners and general rudeness have nothing to do with the way he thinks about you because you’re a woman. He treats women abhorrently, but he treats men equally abhorrently. He is the man who will not try to leap ahead of you to open the door for you. He will probably let the door smack you on your face. There is safety in him – the guarantee of being treated rottenly on the basis of something that has nothing to do with where he believes your place in life is simply because you are a woman. God knows he seems to have met enough world class criminal women to have no stereotypical understanding of women. In the stand up comedy delivered by Sherlock, if there is any mention at all of the separation of genders or relationships, it will probably go something like “Can you believe you tiny brains have no idea that your significant other is using drugs by the fact that he or she has started polishing their boots?! What a bunch of fucking idiots.”

It may not be the crime procedural that we have been made used to by the rather male dominated western entertainment industry, with the importance it gives to weddings, relationships and so on, but it would be rather punishing to claim that such things should not be part of a show like Sherlock. Further, saying that would imply that men and viewers at large are not interested in such things as marriage or kissing or emotional and psychological basis for human behavior and personalities. You only need to look at who writers of happy fairy tales and romantic comedies have largely been – men.

This is not to say that Steven Moffat couldn’t do with a world of improvement in his portrayals of women – which is more often than not one-dimensional or otherwise problematic, or even of portrayals of relationships. However, Mary Morstan is certainly a step up, not just in the depth of her character and history, but in the relationships she sustains with people – from using them for her own ends (Geniene?) to loving fiercely to inspiring respect and love not just for her ability to love fiercely, but for being a clever and ruthless assassin. In fact, I believe for those interested in such things, it would be thrilling – comparing Sherlock and Mary Morstan; two sociopaths with the ability to love fiercely and unequivocally when it comes to the people they care about.

To imply that Sherlock has always been about solving crimes would be very blind – it has always been about people, especially about Sherlock himself. We are all at some level masturbating intellectually to the thought of this one man’s unprecedented personality and how it interacts with other personalities. And to behave as though the manner in which he and Watson form relationships and friendships is not interesting to you would mean you’re just not interested in stories. The kind of male centered action based television where entertainment is based on one liners and very flimsy grasp of personalities, especially women’s personalities should be on its way out, even if it isn’t actually.

This is not to say that women don’t like action movies with bombs and guns. They would be more interesting if they centered around people more – people being more than just those with dangling genitals. This is of course a problem with Sherlock, and the female viewers deal with it through the mode available to it – fan-fiction and fan art. The amount of material you see on the female characters in Sherlock interacting, their origin stories, their interactions, their survival, their dreams, the realizations or shattering of their hopes, is exponential. Is it really a bad thing if Moffat and Gatiss start paying attention to the many types of viewers who are consuming their show, and allowing for merit in their interests.

This season for instance, we see Molly Hooper having a more assertive personality and overall more presence in the show itself. The fact that this has been inspired by the kind of interest she has generated, even from the corner she was relegated to in the previous seasons is an improvement for more representational and demographically and psychologically realistic television. So is a multi dimensional approach to character.

In conclusion, Benedict Cumberbatch is undeniably a very new and utterly fabulous type of hot, and yes, the show has started banking on that a little more than when it initially came out. It is also a fact that the show has started looking more at other characters as well as the emotional bonds that Sherlock is made of. We can all certainly argue about what kind of Sherlock Holmes we are used to and what we would prefer his personality to be. But assuming that the kind of personality he does have in the show and what dimensions of said personality the show chooses to display somehow makes the show less than its previous seasons is an entirely subjective argument. Even if the intention is to give a certain section of viewers what they want (namely, more Benedict Cumberbatch), that alone should ideally not be the basis of saying that the show has become something else, and certainly not something less than what it was before.

 

–        Billy

 

P.S. – I was going to write more, but something’s gotta give. It is first week back in college and I’m already more busy than I have ever been. So screw writing about fandom and India and all that shit. I’ll do that some other time.

Also, I believe I’m supposed to reveal an embarrassing secret – I once masturbated while there was another person present in the room. That person was not aware of my activities for a number of reasons which I will not be divulging. Ok. Bye.

 

Children’s movies and Boys and Girls and Curly haired men who know how to kiss

Well, hello. This is going to be another one of those posts. You know the ones – where I talk about movies and then I talk a little about penises. And today, I’ll be talking about Disney movies. And if you’re like me and you take Dan Brown’s literature as gospel, the two subjects go exceedingly well together. Kind of like Hot Dog and mayonnaise.

Anyway, getting to the point, I finished reading The Beautiful and Damned recently. For those of you who are uncouth, uneducated, unworthy plebeians, that’s a book written by Scott F. Fitzgerald, who also wrote The Great Gatsby and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Although surely, none of you uneducated and so on people would deign to read my illustrious, erudite, culturally high-minded blog where I talk about penises, right? Go away now. Shoo. Chop Chop.

Like he says. Shoo, morons.
Like the tall guy says. Shoo, morons.

 

Anyway, it got me thinking about Disney. Mostly because I recently watched Tangled for the nth time and then watched Frozen. Which got me thinking about Brave. We all know where this is going now, don’t we? Hairstyles. Nope.

Anyway, The Beautiful and Damned is a story about two young people who fall in love and get married, and how their privilege damns them to a life of knowing their lack and their unhappiness. Because if they weren’t privileged, spoilt, without any responsibilities or vocation and so full of expectations about what life would be for them, they may not perhaps have been subject to the peculiar kind of unhappiness they got – the kind where the seemingly reasonable expectations of young people remain unsatisfied, and because those expectations meant so much, their hearts were made irreparably broken – by each other and by themselves.

One of the early reviews of the book I read talked about how the character of Gloria Gilbert is an “original”. The beautiful and callous Gloria is driven only by one thing – to enjoy herself. And she is the kind of character that knows that her life will be presented to her on a platter as long as she is beautiful. Her moments of solitude, her likes and dislikes, her ability to enchant with the most inane of subjects simply because of her manner, her open disdain for the people she wishes to despise, is all made hers because of the charm her beauty provides. As you may imagine, she is not a particularly likeable character, but not more so than Anthony Patch, her husband. He is a whole other collection of insecurities and neuroses that try to constantly hide behind the skirts of Gloria’s beauty and popularity.

About five years ago, I would have hated reading this book. Not only are the characters so useless, they have very few redeeming qualities and Fitzgerald doesn’t really try to be particularly kind to them (probably because he was quite sure everything would end badly – quite like it did for him and his Gloria-esque wife Zelda). Who ever thought jobless, self aware socialites during prohibition married to supposedly egoistic writers would end up in a mental institution. Such is life.

Now, as much as its difficult to read at times, its worth knowing all the pitfalls your previously magical marriage will succumb to if you don’t have some temerity, some *incomprehensible French phrase meaning confidence*, some Courage of your convictions. And some general lack of selfishness. Another reason to read/ enjoy – well, it’s Fitzgerald. I have a snoot not very well hidden in my not very deep depths.

ME: Sex joke.

me:

 

Though I admit there is a certain awfulness about characters like Gloria. Or for that matter (to bring this closer home for those who don’t give two micropenises about some obscure character from some book) characters like Betty Draper from Mad Men. They seem colorless and one dimensional and utterly childish when we see them. They seem to have finished with the business of life and striving once they get married. And seeing that image is not something a normal woman enjoys – because for most of us, it is our worst nightmare to become relegated to a corner of life after we find people we want to spend all of it with.

But at the same time, I hate it when en masse people hate on poor Betty Draper. Because she, like Gloria, is not simply a figment of someone’s imagination but a representation of what life meant to a lot of women at some point of time. And as much as we can find faults in them, it is equally important to remember how much they are a product of their times. Gender is a construct certainly, but so is every aspect of life inspired by and derived from gender. Betty Draper existed with her childishness and her marital woes, and she existed because someone taught her from a fairly early age about the way things are supposed to be. And then she learned from friends about the kind of husband one should have, and the kind of life that would be ideal, and the kind of children one should raise. And her friends probably knew because of her and their parents, and then, from Disney movies. Where the all suffering, cursed, single girl is taken away from her woeful life by the ever so democratic (democratic in that they’re poor, not in that they are less than the normal standard of beauty) love of their rich, princely, handsome future husbands.

I personally did not grow up on Disney movies. Not because my parents were incredibly aware feminists, but because we never had a lot of TV experience, but I had read all the original fairy tales as a child. My father was against Barbies though this had a lot more to do with his communist anti-American ideas rather than feminist ones. By the time my sister and I had demanded Barbies (like all our friends had) for long enough to actually get one each, we were a little below ten and eight I think. I spent a couple of solid childhood years making my Barbie (Barbies in the plural once my sister dropped hers) fall in love with and then become girlfriends with imaginary Ken. They would go to college or have jobs and houses (that were largely imagined), but the plot of their lives generally involved men (Ken). And that’s not all. Imaginary Ken was a dick (albeit without an actual dick) who practically harassed Barbie in the name of romance before she fell for his rakish charms. I’m not entirely sure where I picked up that rhetoric from except for subversively problematic and sexual Bollywood romances. For a long time, I like many pre-pubescent and pubescent girls assumed that guys being dicks was a manifestation of affection, attraction and unconditional respect for us as human beings. Now of course I know that most guys are dicks to some girls because they have small penises which they feel will be compensated if they are huge cocks to us. Tis a scientifically verifiable truth.

Like this random asshole spreading his legs around like he’s evolution’s endgame. Pffft.

 

So if I hadn’t been taught from the very beginning that I should and could earn and live for myself, perhaps I would have been happy being blissfully ignorant as my handsome husband with the stolen identity cheated on me with an inordinate number of women. Or I may have spent my life being woefully sad as I waited for my husband to get his inheritance (Gloria).

When I went to law school/ college, I was introduced to some other Disney movies – Mulan and The Frog Princess. And I did not need the inspiration at the time but it was good to know Disney made movies where the girls had more to do than get cursed and passively wait around till some handsome chappie comes along and molests them as they sleep. This got even better when I saw Penelope which is a little known film with Cristina Ricci playing the titular character who is cursed by a witch to be born with a pig snout (and little piggy ears) till one of her own accepts her. So her parents keep her away from the rest of the world and try and make her the most “accomplished” young lady, so that eventually some blue blooded rich man would eventually agree to marry her for a phenomenal dowry. Towards the end of the movie, she is about to be married to said rich dude (who is disgusted by her but has to marry her because of some publicity reasons that are too complicated to explain here) when she runs away from the altar. Her mother follows her, begging her to go back so that she can become a “whole new you”. To which Penelope replies that she doesn’t want to be a whole new version and that likes herself the way she is, breaking the curse.

This was before Tangled or Frozen, and was such a beautiful surprise. And somewhere in the movie, Penelope runs away from home and spends a few weeks discovering herself and making friends on the sly. The first thing we see her do when she leaves her parents’ house after breaking the curse is get the job she wanted – as a school teacher teaching biology, largely horticulture and plant biology. Later she makes up with the guy she likes, but while that is certainly the most romantic bit of the movie, it is not the most important part, as elucidated by its conclusion. It’s about finding your strength and own way, overcoming insecurities and fears, finding ways to be happy in spite of or because of them.

Then there was Tangled where both Rapunzel and the hot-as-motherfucking-bananas Flynn Rider save each other time and time again. Not one of them is more responsible for the other. Pixar’s Brave is a story primarily about a mother and daughter who have different opinions of what life and duty should mean. Her mother tells her it is her duty to get married to one of the haggardly princes from neighboring clans, and Merida doesn’t want to get married. The story is about how she ends up getting her lesbian way without having all the super awesome men fight between themselves over her.

And recently I watched Frozen, admittedly because I initially thought that was the movie with the cute animated guy who looks like a white haired pixie (Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, which is what I’ll be watching next). But I was not disappointed despite the palpable lack of said cute animated boy. Frozen is about two sisters who have to deal with the fact that one of them, Elsa, is a raging Ice Queen who accidentally turns her kingdom (yes, they’re royalty) into an freezing hell-ice-scape. Her sister Anna, having missed her older sibling because of the latter’s isolation while trying to control this admittedly problematic power follows her to try and convince her to come back and make things hot again.

Done and ...
Done and …
Done. Dayyym gurrll.
…Done. Dayyym gurrll.

 

Anna was the one who made her sister lose control of her powers by arguing with her when Elsa refused to give Anna permission to marry a guy she knew for less than a day.

What is amazing about this movie is not just that it is primarily about the two sisters and how they end up helping each other, but the men in it. The man Anna wants to marry turns out, after spending more than half the movie seeming rather perfect, to be only marrying Anna to gain power of the throne. Anna stops him from murdering her sister towards the end. Another significant character is that of the Duke of Weselton who tries to use the unfortunate forever-damned-to-winter state of the kingdom to change trade agreements to his country’s benefits. Both of these men are stopped by the sisters working together. On the other hand, Kristoff and Olaf, both of whom help and support and fight alongside the women to get things done receive just rewards not just in terms of “getting the girl” but in having their own independent aspirations fulfilled.

As Colin Stokes points out in this awesome video, children’s movies need to address concerns and quests for both boys and girls, with proper, characteristic role models for both boys and girls. He speaks to the fact that movies with primary male characters tend to go about their quests by themselves, or in each other’s company, but with very little involvement with girls. And in the same way, very rarely do Disney movies provide respectful, supportive male characters who succeed because of their ability to work with each other and with strong, independent women characters. In Tangled, Penelope, Brave and Frozen, not only do the women work (often with each other) to make their own lives and/ or their kingdoms a better place, but the men who join their “team” as Stokes puts it, end up having a better deal as well.

I don’t really need inspiration from Disney movies anymore, but representation is incredibly important. And I’m glad that at least for a certain socio economic section of the population, not only are Disney movies more accessible, but that they are likely to inspire Barbie to take college seriously, get a Ph.D., have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and then work to improve herself or the world and do any number of things to make herself and other people happy.

Barbie shouldn’t have to live a complacent, sedentary life. That seven foot tall, blonde, double-breasted Amazon she male deserves more in life than just dong-less Ken.

Regards,

– Billy

P.S. – On a side note I have avoided mentioning the show I have been obsessing over recently out of respect for the topic at hand. Can you guess what it is? Can you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is kissing. I can do the hair thing. I have to get to work on perfecting the rest.
This is kissing. I can do the hair thing. I have to get to work on perfecting the rest.
He did it again!! With the neck and the scarf!!

 

Ok. Yeah. Sherlock. Yup.

– Billy

Pop Culture and Man World

I’m a tumblr person. For those who don’t know what that means, I could surpass this week’s quota for quoting (hehe. Clever.) Louis Armstrong and say “If you have to ask, you’ll never know.” Instead, I will try and explain, because that is just how I roll. Yo.

Tumblr primarily consists of nerdy obsession. Let me clarify – by nerdy obsession I mean a singular and unimpeached devotion towards certain subjects, people, things, shows, books, whatever floats your bong. So this includes sites devoted to pictures of people engaged in passionate coitus (though with tumblr these pictures have a tendency to be more graphic, HD, well lit, well shot and unprecedentedly enjoyable) to gifs of one-liners from the Ian McKellan show Vicious to gifs of people having sex to links and diagrams about science and feminism. You can like anything, you can explain your dislike for anything in an articulate manner, and practically anything goes. The only rule is that your face should automatically crumple up and your genitalia should tense up every time Benedict Cumberbatch appears on your dash, no matter what your gender or sexual orientation. And Benedict Cumberbatch will appear on your dash every two to three posts. I’m pretty sure there’s a clause against Benedict Cumberbatch bashing in the tumblr terms of agreement.

And tumblr has sort of helped me diagnose a certain… thing I have. I haven’t considered myself an introvert since I came out as a fully functional person in 10th grade. I’m not shy or rude or dismissive of people I meet. I suspect that despite my very deep and hidden discomfort in social groups I’m not familiar with, I often either leave no impression or leave a good one. However, as people get to know me more, it becomes pretty clear that I’m not entirely… nice.

I can socialize with people well enough, for a few hours. After that, I feel the need to scratch my face, wash it, chew my tongue incessantly and finally make up an excuse to leave. According to tumblr, this is a symptom of being an introvert. This, when combined with my … lack of feelings can be a bit troublesome, not really for other people, but for me.

For instance, I am often confounded and intensely uncomfortable when people seem to behave in irrational and weirdly emotional ways. Especially if they behave like that over people they just met. I don’t understand how people in my new college are able to have secrets and fights and intense discussions. How can they possibly fight over stupid things with people they just met a few month ago? The only people I fight with, or have painful discussions with, or sexually charged intense conversations with, are those I have known for at least a year. So I am confounded. Which is alright – that brings me to about Abed level of confusion.

However, when this confoundedness interacts with the previously mentioned need to be rid of human company after a few solid hours of getting-to-know-you camaraderie, it inevitable results in Evil Abed, and Sherlock.

Evil Abed in Action

Sherlock Holmes was and still remains a huge part of who I have come to accept myself as. I had read every single piece of Sherlock Homes literature before I was 14. To put it in real cheesy terms, it opened up a world to me. See, I had by that time learnt to disregard feelings unless they were productive or at the least not unproductive. If feelings got in the way of anything else in my life, including my peace of mind, I didn’t pay attention to them. This is a not oft spoken of fact about human affection – if you don’t water it, it eventually withers and dies, especially if the feelings are regarding someone who’s not a big part of your life. If they are a big part of your life, the feelings can hang around in the background, maybe even manifest itself at times, but eventually die out as well. Human feelings are beautiful but fickle. They are the opposite of cacti.

When I read Sherlock at thirteen, you can imagine my… exhilaration at knowing that there were others like me. That there are people who are stable and functional and able to have lives and friends and love without going bonkers about every crush, every emotion and every single thing that has no value in practical terms. I’m not saying I have never been a teenage girl, or never over-reacted to anything, even past eighteen. I have. But only when it seemed lie there was a logical reason for doing so.

The first time I perceived proper friendship for unemotional people was with Sherlock and Watson. I remember the Adventure of the Three Garridebs for this. Watson got shot in it and the Sherlock Holmes did this.

‘You’re not hurt, Watson? For god’s sake tell me you’re not hurt!’

It was worth a wound— it was with many wounds— to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation… His face set like flint as he glared at our prisoner, who was sitting up with a dazed face.

‘By the Lord it is well for you. If you had killed Watson, you would not have got out of this room alive.’

While a lot of people love this sort of stuff on television because it’s amusing and interesting to see a character behave out of character (which is understandable – it is amusing), I find it beautiful because I always think of it as very much in character. I like knowing that there are others like me, who don’t like telling people about our feelings till it matters. That it’s possible to be intimate with someone at times without losing our whole personality. I would hate to be addressed as “sensitive” or “hyper-emotional” or “a changed, more open person” just because I nearly cried once in the metro when an old friend returned my long and rambling letter with his own long and rambling letter. Ok fine, that was today. But the point is, I didn’t suddenly become less myself just because I felt something and admitted it. I refuse to be less badass just because I may in the future, fall completely head over heels in love with someone.

And I love geekdom and tumblr for this – that I can get excited about minute details in stories and movies and it would be accepted and appreciated. However, I have also noticed that geekdom doesn’t seem to be very comfortable with girls, even if we have the same neuroses and social problems and confusions as your favorite characters. And this is where we segues uncomfortably into Deep Space Fandom Feminism (you’ll get the joke or you won’t, shitheads) area.

I have started to get the feeling that guys spend way too much time with each other. I remember a term we used for groups of people who seemed to become their worst selves the more time they spent with each other – toxic groups.

I have nothing against men having sleepovers and talking about sports and touching each others muscles, drinking their ales, plundering tropic isles or whatever they do when they’re alone with each other. I do however have a problem with men who get so used to hanging out with just men that they forget that the world of women is not a separate one. That sometimes, women exist inside the little cocoon world you created for yourself, and not in another dimension which you can travel to via portal every time you need a mother’s hug or a vagina to do things with.

One of my friends had a theory once that men who live together with other men at a young age tend to be misogynistic at some level. And that especially in boy’s hostels, the rhetoric about women, including individual women they are acquainted with, is often restricted to a sexual sphere with very few exceptions. This means that there is automatically a struggle between what you think of as the rest of your life, and your life when it comes to girlfriends, friends who are girls, etc.

Consequently, as per rhetoric, Spock being friends (or more) with Kirk (who by the way is as emotionally expressive and demanding and utterly disregarding of regulations and logic as any stereotypical woman) is beautiful and amazing and a testament to human-vulcan attachment; while Spock being in love with Uhura, a woman (who on the other hand is actually very emotionally reticent, and is openly demonstrative on very few occasions, and only when it’s something that matters), is termed as improbable, unbelievable and entirely out of character. How is it that male friendship is somehow seen as the norm that is beautiful, while a healthy relationship involving a woman is somehow less believable for the current generation of nerds? And don’t even get me started on the slash fiction between the two. I have nothing against a widespread acceptance of homosexuality, but not to the exclusion of women.

One of the reasons I seriously loved A Scandal in Belgravia in Sherlock was for this reason. Yes, I really think they could have developed Adler’s character a lot more. And yes, that whole Sherlocked bit seemed way too cheesy (not because she was a woman, but because she was a person), but at no point is there a diminishing of the dynamics between her and Sherlock just because she is a woman. What I find particularly interesting and beautiful is that while Sherlock remains the eternal asexual in many ways (though there are of course doubts about that), his regard for her, as well as his willingness to go out of his way to help her is in no way diminished because she’s a woman and a possible love interest. He does the same things for her as he would do for John. Arguably, not enough time is given to her personality in order for the dynamic between the two to grow on us the way Sherlock and John’s has, but unfortunately the show is about Sherlock and Watson. Every other character cannot really be given as much time as those two (same goes for Mycroft and Lestrade).

But here’s the problem, for every Sherlock and Sheldon and Spock making their tentative steps into the social world, which for them is not divided into that of men and women; there are a bunch of friends and TV shows and video games and everyday language and rhetoric that excludes women from the presence of men categorically and purposely. In fact, I would go so far as to say that if and when Sherlock and Spock and any number of geeky, smart, iconic characters seem to have an intense romantic connection or even a primary friendship with a female character, it is seen as betrayal, not by the characters, but by the writers – how could the writers “sell out” and have our awesome male character who is happy without any annoying nagging girlfriend suddenly feel attached to a girl? I would in fact further argue that this is largely based on a misplaced, and rather ignorant sense of victimization about the way the world and women treats them.

I’m tempted to say it’s probably also got something to do with anger – Spock or Sherlock or Sheldon or The Doctor was supposed to be my single bro friends. How did he get a girl? Well, honey, he got a girl because he wasn’t a dick to her and he acted like she was a person and not just something to come back to at the end of a day.

There is nothing I hate more than when people (I say people because both men and women do this) try to equate every slight problem that a guy has to go through to the systemic and ingrained prejudice, harassment and violence that women go through. It is inevitably a way to nip any mildly feminist thought at the bud. “Yes, I may be following you around and harassing you online and at work, but you don’t have to be such a bitch to me and friendzone me. You’re probably doing it cause you’re superficial and don’t think I’m handsome and you don’t understand true love.”

This was actually addressed in a movie which I have no particular feelings for – The Social Network.

Social Network 1

Social Network 2

Social Network 3

Social Network 4

Social Network 5

You know what sucks? I have seen so many tumblr posts where they just post the one gif with his face crumpling at the words “because you’re a nerd”, as though the people who are posting don’t want to even consider what the scene was actually saying – you don’t get to act like an arrogant prick, whether you’re a jock or a nerd or a porn star, and get to keep the girl. You can’t blame someone for leaving you when you’ve been a dick, and when you don’t treat the other person with kindness and consideration.

And so, even with all the signs (Ted, Scrubs, Star Trek, The Big Bang Theory, New Girl, Sherlock, any number of other shows and movies) pointing in the right direction – hey, if you can just get up the guts to consider women as an equal part of not just society, but the world you inhabit, whether that’s geek world, pop culture world, corporate world or Disney world, you could have a more productive and romantically and sexually fulfilling life, and you’ll probably be less frustrated – geeky guys will complain about all the girls (read “whores” and “sluts”) in pop culture who distract from the awesomeness of male bonding.

Because the world of women, as mentioned previously is ventured into only for the sake of motherly comfort, emotional diarrhea that one would never admit to one’s male friends, and sex. There seems to be very little room for arguments about the relationship without accusations of “too sensitive” or “hyper-emotional” or “overly attached”, and there is no room for talking about anything that is the sacrosanct area of “man talk” – sports, pop culture (this is where the fake geek girl meme really gets to me), and quite awfully, politics and social situations.

It sucks because the geek guys were the ones I sort of rested my faith in mankind on…. since most other guys were very obviously dicks to begin with.

There are exceptions though – some guys in college, Wil Wheaton, the vlogbrothers, Charlie McDonnell probably….

Oh well.

Oh and embarrassing secret cause I took too long to finish writing this – I sort of really teared up in the metro yesterday because I reconnected with a friend over facebook. I found out in the metro because I have a 21st century phone now, which has email services. But yeah, I was all teary and shit. This is the downside to 21st century communication I guess.

– Billy

P.S. – I wanted to give you guys this, in honor of my finding it on the interwebs

It's Leonard Nimoy!! As a handsome human person who smiles and dances with his mouth near a woman's ear!! Gah!!
It’s Leonard Nimoy!! As a handsome human person who smiles and dances with his mouth near a woman’s ear!! Gah!!

Socially Functional Sociopaths and Shonda Rhimes and Shit

I’ve been watching Shonda Rhimes recently. I don’t mean I’ve been watching her through binoculars while she bathes or anything. I’ve merely been watching Shonda Rhimes’ show Scandal. I have no idea if it is critically or publicly acclaimed. I like it enough – it’s fun and makes you question things and something about Kerry Washington’s lips makes me want to have sex with her, or possibly watch her have sex with someone. Thankfully the internet supplies me with the uncensored version of the show which does have an adequate amount of sexing Kerry Washington. My god, I’m a freak.

Be that as it may, one of the weirdest things about Shonda Rhimes’ shows is the people in them who are in love. They’re all scared and stupid and full of beautiful crap, as is the case with most people, but somehow they all get to a point fairly early where they tell the person they’re in love with. I don’t understand either of these things – the being in love or the telling. But we’ll leave the former as being symptomatic of any number of amateur psychology reasons that you fuckers will be glad to come up with. What’s interesting to me is the telling/ confessing of love. That is a very curious thing to me.

See contrary to popular opinion, I do have feelings. They’re perhaps not as strong as what is considered normal and I have been known to not pay attention to them, but they do exist. I have never been in the business of telling them to people at a moment’s notice. I’m don’t just go about willy nilly revealing my love for being the little spoon while being the big spoon for a pillow to people I sleep with, or my need to have my friends think of me as smart if not competent. No, I like any other normal person keeps these horrifying hoomun (that’s how you spell the slang for homo sapien, right hoomun scum?) tendencies to myself till I inevitably tell people via the internet.

But then there are Shonda Rhimes characters who have their own insecurities and what not for a good while, but inevitably, about three episodes into first realizing it, they end up shouting or whispering or blurting or in some cases eye fucking out the truth to the concerned person. And they all seem so fucking happy about it. As if being in love is the most wonderful thing they ever felt.

Eye Sex 1

Unless being in love is something like having your first major crush at age 12, with the whole heart pounding, stomach butterflies, constant smiling situation (Oh person from adolescence whose name is Adi, having a crush on you as freakishly as I did may have ruined me for other men), I don’t see how that’s possible. Whenever I’ve come close to having feelings since crossing the age of 13, I usually felt disgusted with myself. On rare occasions I’d feel neither good nor bad about it.

The point being, I don’t go any of the above routes in expressing my loving hoomun feelings. Perhaps there is a name for people like me, and as much as I would like it to be high functioning sociopaths or mad (wo)man in a box or selfish bastard [perhaps I should pay respects thusly to Sherlock or Doctor Who or Community every week till they come back into my life?] I can’t take credit for those terms, and I really like taking credit. So how about, let’s see… socially functional sociopath? Get it? Cause I’m sort of emotionless but appear and am nice, friendly and marginally competent at parties and other hoomun gatherings? Competent enough to land a place in college based on an interview/ viva thing recently.

Sneaky Happy Cox

So here, after a suitably word consuming and meandering introduction (It’s what people expect. I’m a panderer. It’s my nature.) I’m going to list without numbering, the number of ways in which people like me show affection. I’m not alluding to sexual affection exclusively, especially because that is usually expressed by having sex or by some seriously disturbing sexual fantasies. Apart from hopefully tickling the funny bone you have near your elbow, this will allow me to waste a bit of time looking for/ stealing appropriate gifs from tumblr. This is one of my sexless porn equivalents. Others include those pictures of vast libraries you find on the internet, some TV shows and those pictures of the interiors of wood cabins and other cozy woody places. Not a euphemism.

If I like you when I first meet you, I will very likely talk to you for a while and just past the stage where we’re all,” we should find out each other’s names and digits and facebook hashtag or something”, I will leave because I don’t want to ruin it. If we meet again, we may exchange above given details. Then if you start messaging me too much, or poking me or inviting me to Farmville or whatever it is you people keep asking me to do just because my name starts with an ‘A’, I will hate you in heart in heart (dil hi dil mein for those who don’t know NALSAR inside jokes) but not enough to spit on your dead skull. Just enough so I keep pretending I have to go give my dog a bath every time you try to chat.

Sometimes, people like me tell people that we love them just to appease them when they seem to be distant or needy. This does not mean that I don’t love them. In fact, it means that I do love them, but not at that very moment when I’m telling them about it. At that moment, I’m exasperated and I want to assure this person that they matter, even though as previously mentioned, they matter in that moment as a person who is not letting me be awesome. And I hate it when even if I DFTBA, someone cockblocks my A (Google it assholes). So technically, I guess in that moment when us Socially Functional Sociopaths (or SFS’ if you’re cool) tell you after you doubt us that we love you, we don’t even like you. We’ll love you later, when you’re not being a little bitch, bitch.

As soon as I have a little alcohol inside me and its hit me in the slightest, if you’re a friend I compliment you about anything in a voice that does not sound strained, it means I have a great deal of affection for  you. Now be careful, I don’t mean regular compliments like “your dress is pretty” or “when I look into your eyes, I see the universe and all of time” or “you’re grammar is fantastic”. I mean compliments that seem all life-empowering and shit. Here’s a recent one I pulled out for my friend Voldemort (it’s a code name for a woman) – “I can’t ever imagine you taking shit from anyone, like, ever. You’ve always seemed too smart and strong and powerful to me to ever take anyone’s shit. Ever.” Yeah. So people who are not friends with me because you’re dicks without taste, that is the kind of life affirming crap you’re missing out on. I’m sure Voldemort wouldn’t mind that I’m using me heartfelt compliment as an advertising tool to acquire other friend investors. Also, if us SFS’ are drunk and we tell you we love you and then list off a set of your failings, it means we love you, but we’re being honest and telling you that sometimes you suck. You may return the back handed compliment any time and we’ll be happy to receive it, so suck it up.

When we yearn for you in a romantic fashion, we have a myriad of ways to deal with it. My personal method is to go to my room after a bad day of being angry with myself, then I will literally bang my forehead against a wall muttering, “Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.” That doesn’t work in a practical sense, but I do end up thinking its silly which leads to me not paying enough attention to it. In my experience, unless its some kind of life changing romantic feelings, most of said feelings will go away if you don’t devote enough time to them. I know a fellow SFS who becomes mean to her crush by nitpicking on every tiny flaw they can find in the person. Another SFS buddy does the fuck-every-other-available-person thing. These are not the only ways one goes about shows/ deals with romantic feelings as an SFS, but it’s something. And most importantly, we don’t fail eventually and then go about telling said person in a supremely heartfelt and articulate manner about our endless love for them, like these fuckers from Ms. Rhimes’ playbook.

Fuck these guys, am I right? Seriously, I'd fuck both of them.
Fuck these guys, am I right? Seriously, I’d fuck both of them.
Yeah. They say shit like this. I'd fuck both of them too. Her more than him.
Yeah. They say shit like this. I’d fuck both of them too. Her more than him.
Yeah no shit. Normal went out the window along with my breath when you started eye-lovemaking each other in the Oval Office. JK LOL ILY. I hate you.
Yeah no shit. Normal went out the window along with my breath when you started eye-lovemaking each other in the Oval Office. JK LOL ILY. I hate you.

No. These characters clearly exist to make people like me believe that nothing in real life will ever compare to the feelings we can have in our imaginations. The only time two actual people have looked at each other like this are Marina Abramovic and Ulay.

Skip to 1:10 if you’re impatient. Read up on them if you’re not. Basically they used to be partners and lovers. They hadn’t seen each other in ages.

And they weren’t even together at the time. They were reminiscing. Without words. Just…. I have to go cry.

Alright, another manner in which us SFS friends tell each other about feelings is by saying “you know you’re special” very angrily. Because we both know we shouldn’t be special. Special people should exist for other people. People who regularly tell each other things like “you’re my person” and “you’re my best friend” and “I’ll do anything for you”. The closest I ever came to express how much I care was when I got shitfaced drunk on my last night in college and I shamefacedly whispered to a friend with whom I was just making up to “please don’t take _____ away from me”, ______ being the friend whom I was deathly afraid would one day have to pick between me and my feuding friend. I know it’s complicated without names, but just … think about it for half a second and you’ll figure it out. If you could figure out Bilbo’s speech, you can do this much. Anyway, I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life.

If you’re my parents, I personally show affection by being my worst self around you. Nobody else gets to see that whiny, snot-nosed, crying, under-confident, angry, door-slamming, passive aggressive, weak nightmare. I show all of these tendencies to my friends, but never all together. By extension, my sister and my dog get to see this as well.

Now its important to remember that no matter how similar our symptoms, much like AIDS, SFS is acquired in a myriad of different ways. Some are psychologically and/or physically scarring, others are merely regular sad experiences that an already fragile mind chooses to filter by becoming an automaton as far as possible (this last one is me if yall idiots didn’t already guess). This means that the manner in which we interact with our very first social group – our family – is going to be vastly different from the manner in which we interact with friends, and never in the same way. Some SFS’ are extremely friendly with their parents. Some have a love-hate relationship. Some have an angry or even non-existent relationship. Shit’s complicated.

So next time you encounter someone who seems to grow aloof as you get closer, do not despair, they may be suffering from SFS, which as I have clearly demonstrated is not a made up disease that tries to excuse first world fear or insecurities about people liking us. Nope. What you want to do with victims of SFS is grow really close to them and never mention said closeness till you’re both hammered. And try not to have casual sex with them. They will be very suspicious of you afterwards.

That’s all, folks.

I am very happy this week. The in-between-ness is over! I have some basic stuff figured out. I know where I’ll be for the next two years, and in the meantime I know who I should be talking to and what I should be doing in those two years that will help me with doing more things I want to do. Let’s not bore you with these details, mah frands. I will tell you I’m going to be studying Film Studies with a heavy emphasis on creative writing of all types. At Ambedkar University. Ha! I will be seeing Shivaji Panekar on a regular basis. And though I only recently found out about him, I was excited enough at the prospect that I had to calm myself down in case I started gushing incoherently during the interview. I’m excited and apprehensive and nothing in my life is as blah blah, you don’t need to know about the ecstasy of my inner soul right now. You don’t care. You don’t know me. You don’t know my life. Okay?

Okay.

Also these are books I got from Daryaganj. I shall read them. You read them and weep. Or see them and weep, I guess. Whatever.

IMG_0562

Ok. Ta.

Billy