dealing with microaggression

When I was a kid, I love, love, love comic books. Being feminine and gay, I worshipped Wonder Woman and Catwoman and Poison Ivy and Shadow Cat and Supergirl and BlackCat and Sorceress and the likes. As I grew older, the feminist in me learned that comic books are sexist. Now, I can’t even watch Justice League without being appalled. Also, I’m going to shout out a big fuck you to Jim Balent for destroying Catwoman by overly sexualizing her. May a homosexual bite your cock off.

The same thing goes for Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame. I used to like it, but then I realized that the Rromani people in the movie are depicted as thieves and con artists. I can’t say that all Rromanis are saintly, but surely not all of them are bad.

Nowadays, there are people, like the owner of this Tumblr, who take time singling out people who use the term “gypsy” on Tumblr to reblog their “gypsy”-tagged post and set the record straight (that “gypsy” is actually a derogatory term, much like “fag” and “retard” and “nigger” and that “gypsies” don’t wear long skirts or live freely in moving houses, that “gypsies” are actually still largely thought of as thieves and therefore persecuted). I don’t know how I feel about this Tumblr blog. I mean, I’m pretty sure the owner is doing a service to Rromani people, yet I feel like her approach is sometimes very subjective. For example, the Tumblr blog started out as a site that called out what is and isn’t belly dance (hence the name), and the owner apparently thinks this is belly dance. So in my eyes, the blog has lost credibility.

Yet, like a freak accident or a horror movie, I still check it from time to time, if only just to see how stupid people can get. One thing led to another, and I found this Tumblr. Hoo, boy. Talk about microaggression.

First of all, using Tumblr to do long blog posts bug the glitter out of me. I mean, really. Tumblr is meant as a microblogging platform, to reblog quotes, reblog pictures. This blogging and reblogging and adding stuff on the reblogging and how the entries become truncated or look like a long chain of Re: Re: RE: re: RE: Re e-mails, they’re just not easy on my eyes (and brain).

I don’t really care when you call people out to show them they’re using derogatory terms, hopefully out of ignorance, and not because their purpose is to troll. It’s a good thing. Even if you think you’re God’s (or whoever deity’s) gift to enlighten people. Until you’re tired and think that no one listens. Good for you. Heck, if it were up to me, I’d punch the daylight out of people who use the term “fag” or “retard”.

I don’t even care when you show that everyone is against you. Because, hey, no good deed goes unpunished, right?

But I take offence when you start bullying people. Correct me if I’m wrong here, and I’m chalking the (probable) mistake to my dislike for Tumblr’s reblog/reply lay-out, but here’s the gist (the original blog post was deleted):

A Tumblr blogger wrote that (the eras) 40’s and 50’s were so cute and then another blogger replied, “Not for black people”. And well, you can read what MyJourneyMyThoughts’ reply is (it’s the one in white).

I wanted to scream. There’s a great line from Devil Wears Prada (the movie) when Andrea is freaking out and Emily says, “You know, I rarely say this to people who… aren’t me, but you have got to calm down. Bloody hell.”

Bloody hell indeed. Okay I need to calm down.

Okay, I’m calm (and very turned on). Thank you, Stanley Tucci.

Now, there’s microaggression and then there’s totally missing the point (which is a logical fallacy).

I wear Indian jewelry. I wear Pakistani jewelry. I’m from Indonesia and I wear Indonesian jewelry and the famous Indonesian Batik. I love the Egyptian assuit. All of these countries are famous for the persecution of homosexuals, extreme and fanatic muslims, and the raping of women. I’m gay and a feminist. Do I go around trolling every goddamn Indian/Pakistani/Indonesian/Egyptian jewelry/fabric website and remind them about the atrocity the people of said countries have done to women and gays? Nope.

Do I go trolling around comic book forums bashing Stan Lee and calling him sexist for creating Stripperella?

Do I feel compelled to do those things? Sometimes. But I sure as hell wouldn’t because I’d be missing the point and doing (puny) cyberbullying.

Like another poster said, I doubt that the original Tumblr post was meant to describe the time when black people were still being persecuted and murdered in the US. I mean, the 1920s was such a good era for fashion, but the Nazi was also going around killing people. 

There’s also a post on said Tumblr of Kurt Cobain’s photo with a kitten on his thigh. The caption says: “Kurt Cobain + cats = perfection”. I love cats and probably end up living (or dying) in a house full of cats, but I’m restraining myself from commenting on that post that Kurt Cobain was a heroin addict and committed suicide (so he’s not exactly your definition of “perfection”, although when cats are involved…).

As a belly dancer, specifically a Tribal belly dancer, I know I’m doing what some call cultural appropriation. This term “cultural appropriator” is somewhat derogatory to people. Well, at least to me. I equate it with ignorance, with not knowing any better, and not wanting to learn. In the belly dance world, there is another word that’s also derogatory and yet still being thrown around. That word is “gypsy”. There are many dance troupes out there, whom I sincerely respect, that use the word as part of their troupe name.

Let me be honest. I never cared about the word “gypsy”. I never associated it with free spirit, not even with belly dance. Sure, there’s the “Gypsy Skirt“, and I help perpetuate the stereotype that the Rromanis (that’s the official, non-derogatory term for people widely described as gypsies) women wear that kind of skirt. You know, the flowy, circlular, multi-layered, 10 to 25 yard skirts.

Since we’re defending the Rromanis, people should know that Rroma culture is homophobic. Although, again, probably there are some Rromanis who are more tolerant, but still. Oh, and the Tumblr blogger is a self-professed queer woman.

My point is, if you scrutinize and find a fault in every single little thing (thus being microaggressive), then you won’t find beauty, and your life will just be horrible.

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genderfuck: go ahead, call him a whore

My last post about Genderfuck received so many hits (measly by Huffington Post’s standard, but encouragingly many by mine). It took me a while to find out who shared the link and why I kept getting visitors from Facebook. I wanted to know what the comments were because I was kind of bummed to notice that one commenter (as correct as she was) got hung up on my unclear sense of sarcasm. Anyway, I did some research and found out that my entry got plugged on TransAdvocate’s Facebook page. Yay!

However, I discovered two things about myself. The first one is something really new and shocking, the second one… eh, I’ve always been suspicious of it.

First, as delusional as I am, apparently I’m not ready to be a celebrity. I’m not ready to be in the spotlight, because I want to make sure everyone’s happy with what I do/write/say. I was so intent on finding out who shared my entry on Facebook and the moment I found it, I regretted reading the comments. Sure, I got many Likes, but still. Now I think I know how Miley Cyrus some celebrities feel when they just want to say, “Fuck it, I don’t need to make anyone happy.” Problem is, I’m not there yet. I’m not that powerful yet. But then again, nobody can make everyone happy, not Jesus, definitely not Muhammad, not even Gandhi (ask some of the Brits), heck, not even Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter.

Second, I can be really unclear when I’m trying to communicate. Public speaking is not my forte (I managed to fake my way through three and a half years of being a PR executive), but I’ve spent two years and going on three learning to write (and edit and revise). This is a blog, yes, but I still would like it to reflect my writing skills. (I guess it sort of does, meaning I’m a crappy writer.)

What I mean is, based on the comments on TransAdvocate’s Facebook page, I realized that some people misinterpreted I was being unclear about my intention of calling men whores, skanks, bitches, sluts. One person says it’s misogynistic.

Well, guess what? It’s misogynistic only if you think it is.

If you call a girl jerk or douchebag, will it have the same feel as bitch or skank or slut? Hell, no. Why? Because “jerk” and “douchebag” are supposedly bad words to describe men. So you “elevate” women to “men” status (by calling them a word for men) and then drop them a notch because the man-word is a bad man-word. 

When you call a man bitch or slut, you “downgrade” that man to “woman” status (by calling him a word associated with women) and then drop him even further down a notch because the woman-word is a bad woman-word.

The question is, why does a word have to be aimed at women only? Or at men only?

By calling a man bitch or skank or whore or slut or calling a woman jerk or douchebag, you aren’t practicing misogyny or misandry, you’re trying to gender-neutralize the word.

And yes, by all means, if you want to go around saying/typing “That’s so gay” to all great, funny, witty videos/photos/articles, go ahead. But “retarded” is where I draw the line. See, with “gay”, it’s the same case as a man-word or a woman-word. The negative connotation of the word “gay” is that it’s something disgusting or stupid and that can easily be countermeasured (Anderson Cooper is definitely not stupid, Zachary Quinto is definitely not disgusting, Ellen Degeneres is perhaps one of the smartest, wittiest people on Earth, so are the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race such as Pandora Boxx and Alaska Thunderfuck, and these people can fight back).

However, with “retarded”, the so-called “retards” can’t fight back. They can’t reclaim the word. It’s an unfair fight for them. I know I’m treading shark-infested water here, but it is what it is. Black people call each other “nigger”. I tell my friends, “You’re such a fag,” and use it as a term of endearment. Yet when a non-black person uses the N-word to call a black person, it becomes offensive.

My point is, don’t use “nigger” unless you’re a black man talking to another black man who’s your friend (or someone of another race that’s been accepted into the crowd, you know, like Eminem, or Jake Sully); don’t use “gay” unless you’re gay or a fag hag and talking to a gay man who’s also your friend; and don’t use “retarded” unless you’re intellectually disabled and talking to another intellectually disabled person.

Eminem being slutty. And you think Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears are “bad influence for younger generation”? Uh, their songs don’t bash gay people.

I’m going to end this entry with this really awesome line from Ian McEwan’s Cement Garden.

This line is used by an entertainer I used to like in a song whose video shows awesome Genderfucking.

genderfuck: why feminine gay men are awesome and why slut-shaming should stop

Oh haaaayyy.

Can you believe this? Two posts, two long posts, in one day. One day! Must be the New Year spirit. Let’s see how long this lasts. I posted thirty two entries in August 2013 (I think they are mostly haikus). August only has thirty one days, so that must mean I wrote two entries on one day.

Anyway, I’m here to talk about why feminine gay men are awesome (hence the title: the girlie show: why feminine gay men are awesome; I’ll get to the next point, which is slut shaming, right after this one, in fact, the two points are going to organically merge. You’ll find out later).

There are some douchebags out there who flat out refuse to meet gays that are “fat (or) Asian (or) feminine.” Well, I might as well be three of them now that I’m eating like crazy and can no longer wear size 4 girl clothes (I’m a six now. WHICH IS THE NEW FOURTEEN).

To be honest, those douchebags are sometimes really hot. I mean, my type hot. But then again, I’ve a very diverse taste in men. So, I whine like a little bitch, saying, “Whyyy? I’ll suck your cock good. I’m a good cock sucker. Reference available upon request.” And then move on to the next victim.

When I was sixteen, my gay friend (who was around my age at that time) said, “You know why you don’t have a boyfriend? Because you’re such a girl. I bet that if you act more masculine, you’ll have a boyfriend in no time.” We stopped being friends after that.

Then fourteen fucking years later (Oh fuck, I just sorta gave away my age), a guy sent me a message on Adam4Adam. Here’s a little disclaimer: I did write “Why is it so hard to find a nice top? Is it because normally tops are mostly doucheys and or intellectually challenged?”

To which he replied:

“Of course it’s hard for you to find a top. You’re girlish. You’re a dude. Stop acting like a girl.”

Before I could reply, he’d blocked my profile. Coward.

This may not be apparent in more developed countries like the US or Europe (excluding Turkey), but in Indonesia, feminine guys are easy to spot. We can’t hide. I mean, sure, there are some really oblivious relatives who asked me when I’d get married (to which I’d usually reply, “I don’t think it’s legal yet.” It’s a hit or miss joke). In Indonesia, “straight-acting” gay guys can lead a life of lies. Heck, even a guy who makes me look like Stallone (Sylvester, not Jackie) compared to him, can get married to a poor girl somewhere in the village and settle. Perhaps not happily, but without fear of getting discovered.

My point is, feminine gays are the ones who get bullied more often. Every beating we get, every spit, every nasty word makes us stronger. This is why I’m getting so angry every time someone equates the word “sissy” to “coward”.

I know perhaps Nicole Kidman’s Stepford Wives got Razzie nominations or something (it’s rated 27% on RottenTomatoes.com), but I love that movie. At one point, the men try to change Richard, sweet, sweet, bitchy, loud, effeminate, Richard to a manlier man. This change is supported by Richard’s partner, Jerry. Apparently, no one wants gay men to be stereotypically bitchy, loud, and effeminate. 

Well guess what, that’s because the bitchy, loud, and effeminate gay men are the ones who stand out. We’re the visible ones. While the “straight-looking” ones can hide, the feminine ones most of the times can’t.

While we’re on the subject of stereotyping, I guess now the gay stereotype is butch, straight-acting, and gym buff without the slightest lisp. I don’t think anyone is complaining, because that’s how men are supposed to behave.

Well, I ain’t gonna behave like that. I ain’t gonna hide.

I know why many men can’t stand us. I know many men can’t stand my high-pitched, trebly voice, my girlish demeanor, my bitchiness. This is why I’m doing all of those. This is why I’m walking around with my eyeliner and my limp wrists and my tight ass jeans and my knee-high girl boots and old-woman jewelry, shaking my hips to Vogue and Suddenly I See and lipsynching to Natural Woman at the bus stop.

So for 2014, if you haven’t already, try to do something that’s stereotypically not for your gender (I’m not saying sex, which is more of a biological term while gender is a state of mind). Call a guy a skank instead of a douchebag. Other terms you can use for guys include whore, bitch, slut. See how he likes it. Ladies, take a hint from Mean Girls and stop the slut shaming.

I know this is a stretch, and perhaps you guys can make out the connection between effeminate gay men and drag queens, but this is worth knowing. The Stonewall Riot, the very riot that helped propelled the campaign that made USA this gay friendly (although still two steps behind Canada and the Netherlands) involved drag queens. Also read this, this, and this. If you’re looking for a more “balanced” diet, you may want to read this

(Guys, seriously, I thought I didn’t have to tell you that I was being sarcastic about this whole balanced thing. Seriously, I’m not claiming I was there during the riot, but I’m sure drag queens were involved. Everyone knows how fierce drag queens are. I mean, really. A girly gay man like me not being supportive of drag queens? And really, I linked FOUR articles that support drag queens’ presence at Stonewall Riot and ONLY ONE that doesn’t. Doesn’t that mean anything? So before anyone gets all worked up, once again, the “balanced diet” thing is sarcasm).

And finally. Here. Here’s to 2014. Again.

Yeah, I totally made this one. Ferrealz.

Yeah, I totally made this one. Ferrealz.

ADDENDUM: My hit counter has gone bonkers over this post. I think it’s all over Facebook (well, “all over” is an overstatement), and yet only TWO comments (one of which is my reply)? I can’t see your “Like” (if you “Like” it) or your comment on your friend’s Facebook link, so by all means, please type your comment here. You can use your Facebook account to log in to WordPress and give comments on this blog post. I promise I won’t stalk you.

layla means night and the elephant in the room

I’m going to start this piece by telling you two stories. The first one is the famed Arabian Nights and the second one is about a group of blind men and an elephant.

Perhaps I don’t need to tell you about the first story. It’s called One Thousand and One Nights and this collection of framed stories has been delighting a wide range of audiences, from children to adults to adults looking for themed porn.

The second story deals with perception. So there’s this group of blind men. They don’t know what an elephant looks like. A zoo keeper is nice enough to place the blind men in a room with a very docile elephant. One blind man touches its ear and says, “Ooh, an elephant is vertical and flat and thin!”; another rubs its leg and says, “No! An elephant is thick and sturdy, although also vertical!”; yet another feels its trunk and says, “You’re both wrong! An elephant is squishy and a bit hairy and moves about a lot, and very, very long.”; another glides his hand over the elephant’s skin and says, “I don’t think so. An elephant is big and rough.”; another plays with its tusk and says, “I’m not sure what you guys are on about. An elephant feels pointy, and perhaps dangerous. I’m not going anywhere near it.”; and finally, the last one, the lucky fellow who gets to be close to the animal’s butt says, “Are you high? An elephant is very, very skinny, almost non existent, and it’s very slinky,” because he’s touching its tail.

An audience member viewing “Layla Means Night”, a dance/theatrical/installation arts performance presented by Rosanna Gamson may feel like one of those blind men.

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As we checked in for the show, we received a slip of paper with different colors. Then we were served wine and mimosa and food and some dancers even offered to wash our hands. Here the story began immediately. We were introduced to three characters: The insecure, misogynistic bitch king (yeah, I use “bitch” for men. You should try it. It feels emancipating), the executioner (who painfully, ever so slowly raised her cleaver and brought it down on one poor satsuma after another every minute), and the wives (played by a charming cast of the teenage dancers ODC Dance Jam) taking turns visiting the king and doing a dance routine to no music. No, no belly dancing involved. This was strictly modern dance meets hints of Sufi and Persian dances.

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A blonde Scheherzade fleeted about in an almost tattered white and light pink gown, greeting guests, while the narrator, Niloufar Talebi (who also helped with the text and translations for this show) was a vision in black and crazy-ass feathered headdress that she unfortunately took off as the night unfolds (I simply couldn’t stop staring at her face. Four words: gorgeous facial bone structure).

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Then it got real. Remember the colored paper? Yeah, I didn’t get one.

The audience was divided into three groups based on the color of paper they received. I decided to join the Red group. I began to suspect that this was an all girls group (a relief from six years of all-male Catholic high school, which I couldn’t complain about), as we were given a fan to, “Cover our faces with when we encounter members of different groups.” And so began the concealment and the play of perspective.

In a way, the concept was sort of ingenious. The three groups were divided on gender (I guess I wasn’t given a paper either because I had a press invitation (ah, perks!) or because the greeters at the door simply couldn’t tell if I was a boy or a girl (genderblending FTW!). Anyhoo, I was glad that I made the decision to join the girl group. After all, red is my favorite color. IMG_2846

The problem with this was that each group would get a different show, and a carefully selected one at that. Not only did each group view the show in a different order (although all groups were in the same room in the first sequence where they introduced the story and in the last sequence where we were told the moral of the story by Scheherazade) but also had different stories told to them.My all-girl red group had the opportunity to see the guy group blindfolded with orange cloth as the dancers in black (teen ODC Dance Jam, the still living wives) were telling them stories. As a member of the girl group, I could see the other dancers (in red (souls of the dead wives))  perform near the men, almost touching the men, but of course the men could only hear stories told by the living wives. They were oblivious to what was happening around them. And as a member of the girl group, all I could hear was the whispers. Whispers. Whispers. Of the stories. And this scared the glitter out of me.

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The whispers stayed throughout the show but were somehow passed on to the dead wives (red dancers), as the King blabbered to the guy group about negative space. He was obviously getting the guys to take on his side to justify the beheading of women. 

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I am not going to give you a play by play, but in the style of Edmund White’s States of Desire, here are some memorable details:

  1. Whispers. Seriously. As someone who constantly eavesdrops, it’s frustrating to have pieces of information so close within your reach yet far enough so that one cannot decipher the whole information. And what’s worse, the performers recited the different information at the same time, making it even harder to hear.
  2. Colors. Obviously red, black, and white play significant part. But orange? Well, according to Gamson, orange (cloths, even the satsumas and strung almost-dried dandelions that gave the rooms and stages a distinct scent) symbolized life. The new, still living wives wore black and the orange ribbon tied around their neck, signified that they were still alive. Gamson added that the making of orange juice in the morning signified a new day. I used to drink orange juice every morning for two weeks, until I realized every time I routinely drank orange juice (or strawberry smoothie or vitamin C), I would start getting crazy painful mouth sores.
  3. Obviously the play is about hiding information. The girl group got to the banquet room very much later while the men went to the banquet room earlier (and therefore wined and dined and got to spend some minutes sitting and sharing stories and their feelings) as the new wives were being executed in front of them (the girl group was only wined and dined and got to spend some minutes sitting and sharing stories and our feelings with Niloufar Talebi and then write our stories on a tiny scrap of orange paper that hung from the ceiling).
  4. In the banquet, Niloufar, while sitting on an orange chair, told us a real story of her father asking her when she was just fourteen years old, “Would you rather be dim and happy or knowing and suffer?” to which she never gave us her reply. Something to think about. Also: I wondered if she told the same story every night.
  5. The shadow play with the story of the giantess. It’s amazing how distance and light can generate the illusion of size.
  6. The Persian musicians (Houman Pourmehdi, Pirayeh Pourafar, and vocalist Alireza Shahmohammadi), whose songs I could listen to all day.
  7. The strung butterflies and cleavers in the red voyeur room.
  8. They taught us to zaghareet, which is a high-pitched ululation sound that Middle-Eastern women make to cheer on something or someone. At one point, we were to zaghareet after each new wife was beheaded. Genius.
  9. I didn’t even mind going up and down and up and down the stairs, although seeing the Exit signs and the posters and photographs on the walls of the staircase (and signs that said “Please turn off lights or fan” or “Absolutely no street shoes in the studio”) kind of took away the illusion of being in a different world.

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In the end, though, as fascinating as the concept of the show is, I don’t understand the merit of withholding information, especially since you’re trying to do a play about gender and sexism and feminism. Yes, each member of each gender will have different interpretation of the show, but with themes as dividing as gender and sexism and feminism, why not give everyone the whole same show?

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We grew up being a boy or a girl (or both) and having sets of rules and morals and etiquette and manners shoved down our throat: what to wear, how to talk, how to behave; and our perception about members of the opposite gender is helped shaped by our society anyway, so why not just trust the audience to see everything, go home, and interpret the play according to her/his knowledge and social upbringing? 

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In an article published by InDance, Niloufar Talebi wrote, “What I grapple with working on this project is the fact that any mention of a performance inspired by the Nights conjured images of djinns and fairies and magic lamps and harem pants. And of course of the mighty “Scheherazade” reduced in Western Orientalist depictions to an enticing half-naked woman confined to entertaining a domineering man who can do as he pleases and have as man women as he wants. Which is far from the truth. She is much more than that, you will see.”

You know, this idea of “enticing half-naked woman” is starting to get on my nerves. I mean, I am a belly dancer (although I’m a dude), and Talebi’s statement sounds very reductive. There are belly dancers, just like jazz, modern, ballet dancers, just like poets and writers, who struggle every day to take the art of belly dancing to a respectable level. I mean, “half-naked”? It’s not like the costumes of the performers of “Layla Means Night” were less revealing than belly dancers.

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Another thing: this show is billed as an “immersive dance theater work”, and I have to tell you, despite the climbing up and down and signs (which are all just logistics), it was quite immersive. The scent of the satsumas and the flowers, the banquet (a much deserved break for some of us, which also justified the ticket price), the sheer curtains, the theatrics. One couldn’t help but ask: did these theatrics actually help elevate the experience or merely become props on which those involved in the production relied (heavily or otherwise)? Because to be honest, there were moments when the dancers, who had quite uniformed body type, were not in sync when I supposed they were supposed to be synced, but I got so distracted by the dark lighting and the curtains.

Apart from the music, the only thing that’s remotely Persian (dance-wise, excluding the musicians and Talebi’s poems) is the performance in the Red Voyeur Box, which was eerie and fabulous.

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I sat down with ODC Theater Director Christy Bolingbroke who was kind enough to spare her minutes as Rosanna Gamson excused herself to prepare for the second show (“Layla Means Night” ran twice an evening, 7 PM and 9 PM) and I told her about my happy mixed-up with the girl group (I was so not going to join a group with that much testosterone). Then I asked her if someone had $150 to spend, would he or she be able to join each group and get the experience as a whole? The answer is no. I mean, you could ask to join the group of your gender or a mixed group, but not the group of a different gender.

So, if you are really, really curious, and you have that much money, this is my advice: dress in drag.

***

Rosanna Gamson / World Wide presents Layla Means Night at 7 PM and 9 PM, October 30 to November 3 at ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $35 – 50. Click here for more information.

Photos by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta. For more photos, go to the Flickr Album.

opium

I was busy ranting mumbling talking doing a monologue about religion to one of my friends when I discovered that:

All religions that were created to give hope and beautiful empty promises to those who are poor (therefore powerless and helpless and downtrodden) are most likely to be successful. Why? Because the majority of people are poor (therefore powerless and helpless and downtrodden) and need some sort of hope that everything’s going to be okay and that the minority (oppressors (rich people)) will get what they deserve in the afterlife.

Then these people rise against the kings and rulers and powerful figures because God wants them (Jews vs. Egyptians, Jews vs. the Canaanites, Jews vs. pretty much everyone, early Christians against Romans, early Christians against Jews, Muhammadean Islam vs. Jews, Muhammadean Islam vs. Arab Pagans) and overthrow the thrones.

And then, these people elect someone (a war general, a prophet, a representation of God), who, backed by God (“God hath spoken through me,” or something like that) strategically destroys other religions by vandalizing idols, appropriating temples, killing and or proselytizing “unbelievers” or generally making their lives miserable (like early Islam and the tax for being non-Islam or non-convert or non-Arab), thus asserting power and restarting the whole cycle of the powerful and the oppressed, without knowing it.

What can I say. Crazy people don’t know they’re crazy.

So I thought I had this crazy (whee!) brilliant epiphany, then my friend said, “Exactly! That’s what Marx said!”

And then I thought, “Fuck! Bitch stole my idea!”

Mmmhmm, daddy. Or gramps?

Mmmhmm, daddy. Or gramps?

Tangential thought #1: It came to me that I learned about Marxism and his idea that religion is the opiate of the masses when I was senior high. My memory about it is somewhat vague, possibly due to the fact that my sociology teacher that time was a really, really hot daddy-type whose chest hair used to peek out of his shirt and whose bulges were all in the right places (I vividly remember those dark indigo pants. Sigh). Every time he talked about the goddamn revolution, I just wanted him to do all sorts of nasty stuff to me.

Tangential thought #2: Damn, I couldn’t remember his full name nor find his picture on Facebook!

Not-so-Tangential thought: Obviously this theory doesn’t work with gays and transgendered, because we’re the minority. Which makes me question this: The ratio of female to male in this world isn’t really that steep (100 women to 101 men) , so why the huge discrimination against women everywhere?

Somewhat-related thought: This. Gotta love the new pope.

the conjuring: why did the dog have to die and other questions

SPOILER AHEAD! There you’ve been warned.

So my friend dragged me talked me into watching The Conjuring. As we were on the elevator going up to the theater, I asked him if he’d read any spoilers, but he said no. I hadn’t read any spoilers nor reviews, so I was unprepared for anything. I’d seen the trailer (twice, actually) and thought it was going to be an okay movie.

Note about trailers: they lie. All the time. I thought Prometheus was going to be awesome. Then I thought Pacific Rim was going to be awesome. I thought Up was a happy family movie. Lies. All of them. Especially Up.

Also, please excuse me, I have the habit of writing and finding images to support my post, so I may experience brain scatter and my dad is playing his harmonica (it’s almost 10 PM here), but hey, at least he’s not a parent possessed by the spirit of a witch who’s trying to kill the children (or is he? I mean, at least he’s not playing his violin. Now that’s murder). Please excuse my foreshadowing.

The real Annabelle doll. Click here to read her story.

The story of the Warrens (the husband and wife who seek supernatural activities and attempt to stop disturbances) is actually a real one, although the Annabelle doll presented in the movie is too Chucky-ish and not as cute slash creepy as the real one. However, it is not about Annabelle (or is it?). Please excuse my foreshadowing. Again.

It’s about a house that’s haunted by an evil presence. The evil presence turns out to be a witch named Bathsheba, who committed infanticide (her own, to be exact. Seven days old, to be more precise), then committed suicide after telling how much she loved Satan and cursing those who live in the land and the house.

The new family moves into the house, ignorant of the house’s (and the land’s) morbid and murderous past, and of course things get interesting. That’s when the Warrens come in.

NAAWW! I DON'T WANNA SEE THE MOVIE AGAAAIN!!

NAAWW! I DON’T WANNA SEE THE MOVIE AGAAAIN!!

Some screams ensue, then disturbances that involve the inhabitants of the house being thrown around, some sightings (although it’s unclear whether we’re seeing the spirits through Lorraine Warren’s point of view in the movie or not), then the mother gets possessed and goes off to kill her two daughters.

No one dies in the end, so it’s uh… probably the happiest horror movie I’ve seen in years. Well no, Sadie the dog dies, and some birds. And I like dogs better than I like most humans, so the movie is actually really sad. (Addendum: lots of you are asking if/where/how Sadie dies. Well, I think it’s in the same spot where birds fly and hit a window (on the side of the house, perhaps under the window of the parents’ room, where the white sheet is blown by the wind). I couldn’t see anything, but I think Sadie ran around and got strangled by her chain.)

Even Jeremy Renner couldn't save Hansel and Gretel.

Even Jeremy Renner couldn’t save Hansel and Gretel.

Lili Taylor is of course flawless in this movie (then again, it’s a character she plays well), as are other actors, but I just… I lost it when the movie tried to relate it to the witches. I mean, come on. Bathsheba (the witch / evil presence) is said to be related to Mary Easty, who is never found guilty of witchcraft. When this was revealed, the feminist inside me screamed bloody (character) murder. The Conjuring, which is a pretty good (and jumpy (but not scary)) movie stoops as low as MTV’s Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Now that I’ve got it out of my system, let’s point out some issues I found in the movie.

  1. The Annabelle doll, along with Bathsheba, haunted Judy (daughter of the Warrens’) in the Warrens’ house. Hmm, not exactly sure why Bathsheba had to take Annabelle with her. Addendum: I watched The Conjuring again for the second time and I think Bathsheba used Judy (and the Annabelle doll) to scare the Warrens. I mean, The Annabelle doll was possessed and could move around, and so if it could kill Judy, then perhaps the Warrens would not be able to come to help Carolyn and Roger and family. Therefore, with no Warrens’ interference, Bathsheba (inside Carolyn) could freely kill the children, thus destroying the family. Does this make sense?
  2. Bathsheba just disappeared? Was it Carolyn’s sheer will power (well, along with the exorcism and her husband’s words and Lorraine’s help) that got rid of Bathsheba?
  3. It was Ed Warren’s first time doing exorcism and nothing went wrong. In my creative writing class, we call it missed opportunity (although perhaps that’s what happened, because the story is based on some truth).
I'd conjure that!

Mmmhmm… I could sure use some exxxorcism.

Maybe like all real horror stories, it’s hard to guess the spirit’s motivation. However, I still stand by my opinion: it’s really unfair to throw the witches once again under a burning bus.

The Conjuring has its moments, though, like when Bathsheba (trivia: she’s played by a man) jumps off the top of the wardrobe, then the white sheet blown by the wind, but I have to say, Stephen King’s Rose Red was way scarier than The Conjuring. Or, one of my favorites: The Others. Now that’s hair-raising. The Conjuring doesn’t have a sense of dread that I think is essential in the horror genre. It is classic in a sense that nothing presented is new (there’s a haunted house, vengeful spirit, and exorcism, then there’s the talk of the number three as mocking the Trinity of Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit). I think Exorcism of Emily Rose is by far the best exorcism movie out there. Which makes me wonder, what exactly is The Conjuring about and if the family really cared about Sadie the dog after all. I mean, they moved on pretty quickly.

Well, speaking of witches, please excuse me while I go watch Practical Magic.