There are things in life that can only be explained by country songs, and even better, with country music based movies. That’s true, but when I saw “That thing called Love” I was too young to understand that it really was about love. And not only that, but about the struggle of loving yourself first and being able to be proud of what you are, and then to be loved by others. It’s about blaming it on your heart, but most of all, about coming for yourself.
A group of young amateur singers want to make their way in the country music industry, and by doing that, they find out what they’re made of. So when Samantha Mathis stands up and sings ” And I thank God, for making it come true ,makes me think maybe God’s a woman too”, I finally understand what it was all about. And I hope that one day I’ll stand up in front of everyone and will say that I came for myself.
As a non-believer, and a feminist, the idea of God being a woman makes a strange sense inside me, as I know what the wish is about but I haven’t seen it come true yet.
When I saw “Electronic City”, a play by Falk Richter, I never thought that I would end up like Joy, trapped next to a cash machine, dealing with a furious crowd called customers. I never thought that while folding and unfolding clothes, I’d be thinking about her and how I should be thinking about George Clooney as well. Yes, George Clooney….
“Electronic City” has been defined as a “fairy-tale for media times”. And isn’t my life about that anyway? When I saw “Electronic City”, I was still in my arty bubble in which criticizing is dinner and analyzing comes as a dessert, but where you have never BEEN Joy. Now that I am her, I find it a paradox that I’m not going to the theater anymore.
While Joy thinks about Tom and George Clooney, and her life is being recorded as in a reality show where the media is everything, a mix between documentary and telenovela, I think about how many plastic bags we are using. And when I see the amount of plastic that goes to the non-recyclable trash, I rather think about George Clooney.
We all live in an electronic city; a city where everything tastes, feels and looks the same, and where a breakdown in the system can create a breakdown to the person who shows her face to the consuming mass. In a world where love has been digitalized and where children meet their grandparents through a web-cam, we have become a Truman show ourselves. I understood that while making a video with my 2 year-old niece. “Who am I?”, I asked her, and she said my name. “Well, give me a kiss”, I told her, but instead of kissing my cheek, she kissed the screen. For her, I am more an image than a real person, even when in that moment we were in the same place.
If that’s so, I should put a picture of George Clooney as a screen saver.
I never had any political conscience whatsoever.Which was strange, after having vibrated with every chapter of Oriana Fallaci’s “Interview with History” at the age of 12. But when I was 18, and allowed to vote, I never had my mind clear enough to make the cross on the piece of paper. Nor to define myself politically.
The figures that impressed me so much in my childhood are dead, and their motives seem blurry in today’s chaos. So, after years of dissapointment, a just remembered the feeling of admiration and expectations I had felt going through those historiacl characters, when I saw the first episode of Star Trek’s “Voyager”. Not only they start with a question about discrimination, that has a dark and twisted answer: the ferengis are what they are. More politically correct than this is the captain, a strong woman who reminded me of Golda Meir on that classic interview with the Italian journalist. She speaks like a mother, and yet she is a captain. She misses her husband, but her ship comes first. And she has postponed maternity, giving the place of a baby to her dog. Unlike Picard, Captain Janeway has a life besides the ship; a life that comes in present, and not like a french memory. But like Picard, she’s first a captain, and then a woman.
But what impressed me more is not her determination to get the members of the crew back, but how, based on her power, she feels guilt, and you can understand that responsibility and guilt come together like horse and carriage. And then we find that the Caretaker isn’t but another guilty entity, who has under “his” charge a population of immature civilians who aren’t able to think by themselves. The Caretaker has been in History so many times, and I think again of Oriana Fallaci’s interviews. About the Imperialist countries that left nothing but war and unreal patterns and then have showed some doubtful pity on them. About the civil wars, the boarders, the nuclear accidents.
A Caretaker v/s a Captain. The Caretaker is the overprotective parent who never allowed anything and now deals with a disaster. With a junkie, with a girl interrupted. With a generation of damaged people who have become infants when it comes to political life. And the captain is the loving mother. The leader who’ll do anything to get her crew back safe to the ship, and will put herself second and third. What I still haven’t seen in real life , and reason why I haven’t made the decision of drawing that line on the paper.
During the last two weeks, I’ve seen two movies with Paz Vega. One, “Sex and Lucía”, is about a waitress who falls in love with a writer after reading his first book, and convinces him to stay with her and learn how to love her. The other, Pedro Almodovar’s masterpiece, “Talk to Her”, in which she plays Amparo, the main character of the silent movie inside the movie that wakes up the sexual instincts of a virgin man who has dedicated his life to take care of the woman he loves.
In the silent movie, “Amante Menguante”, Amparo is a scientist who makes her boyfriend shrink until he’s so small that he’s able to get inside her and stay forever there, as a metaphor of the whole movie: it’s the ultimate attempt of getting inside the woman’s brain, and live there in order to communicate. In order to stop feeling lonely. In the case of Lucía, the story is a bit different. There, the lack of words make her relationship break, and her boyfriend become a stranger in front of her eyes. And only words will save them. The words that are written through a story that can be read until the middle, and from there change the way and start again. Even when they’re not written for her, but in a virtual reality in which he has found his dark past. So it’s his past, and his virtual and anonymous existence, that will make her undertstand him and what happened to them.
Communication is not only about words, even when most of the times is a good start. It’s about getting in the brain of the other even when it seems to be asleep, even when we don’t have faith of being heard. Because as shown in the silent movie, it ends up being a matter of being squashed or getting inside. And even when being squashed by Paz Vega doesn’t sound that bad, nothing is as good as making her smile for real.
Yesterday I had a conversation about chic flicks, with two chics. In different ways, we were all up for chic flicks. Even when we were enthusiastic about different issues of the the chic flicks, and for a while, even me I had denied the category of chic flick on some so-called-classics, we agreed that well, chic flicks are. And we are for them.
I do have another background though, the world of telenovelas. Growing up watching Doña Beija, won’t give you a rational idea of love and a sober taste in movies. Even when you may love the Cabinet of Dr Caligari, you’re still thinking that the zombie is hot. So that’s why when they tell you about “Foreign Films”, you don’t think about the slow Chinese movies where nothing happens…(except for their souls getting wiser). You think about Buñuel’s “Belle de Jour”, and Catherine Deneuve playing housewife and prostitute and living her darkest fantasies.
Having chic flicks as role models can be really harmful for someone’s romantic life, as you might expect some asshole to change and become prince charming, like Ben in “How To Loose a Guy in 10 days”. And of course, we dream about singing “You’re so Vain” to at least someone we’ve met in our life. If Carly Simon did it, why can’t we? Well, even if we do, in real life, people never change. I know because I don’t change myself. I sometimes behave and sometimes don’t, but that’s not the same. But having telenovelas as a role model can be even worse. Of course, the majority of them show”poor-girl-falls-for-rich-guy-they-are-together-after-drama”, but some of them, like Doña Beija, just show how terrible life can be and how society can destroy someones life. Dona Beija, after being kidnapped and forced to become a courtesan, returns to her hometown just to find rejection and envy. What’s her reaction? “If the world has made a courtesan of me, I’ll make the world a whorehouse”. That’s the same thing that we read in Jacqueline Sussan’s “The Valley of the Dolls”, where three girls are corrupted and destroyed by fame, ambition, and bad love. Bad sex can turn you into a bitter, frustrated person, but bad love can kill you, and that is what we learn there. The perfect housewife can become a junkie, and not a feminist idol like it’s shown in the movie, probably in a hollywood attempt of trying to give an, if not happy, encouraging ending to the story.
Chic flicks can either blind you or show you the light. When you see Meg Ryan meeting Tom Hanks in Seattle, just say no. When you see Meg Ryan anywhere, just say no. But if you see Anna Karenina dying because of guilt, open your eyes. When you see Doña Beija being isolated in her own town, beware. When you see Catherine dying of bad love, run away, because Heathcliff may still be around.
When I met Severus, I didn’t think of any definition, or tag that I could use for her. Only that she was smart, pretty and sweet. And after 3 years, I still think that. Even when I’ve never seen her. Because she has an internet charisma that goes beyond the average. She has social skills-internet social skills- that make her look, in front of my eyes, like a celebrity.
She made the first step by posting in my blog. “Trailer of Life Aquatic”. As I love Wes Anderson, I replied. And when I saw the movie, it was her with whom I wanted to make a comment about it. The movie, actually, sucked. It was a big disappointment. But I still wanted to hear her opinion. Even when I knew little and nothing about her.
When people have internet charisma, you find yourself wanting to know more about them and wanting them to know what you’re up to. I look at her pictures-she’s actually a very good photographer- but when I started looking at them I had already given her the credit of being an authority. Some people are natural born leaders, and in virtual life, that happens too. If a natural born leader knows how to manage a group according to their common interests, in virtual life, a person with internet charisma will know how to read you with the little information that you give. You can get hundreds of posts, but only the ones that come from the charismatic people will stay. Why? Because they could read what you wanted to say. The same time that I got her trailer, I received a lot of comments of other people that had no interest for me whatsoever. That came from people who didn’t know how to interpret the signs that I was showing.
Being able to do this is a skill, just like speaking well in front of audiences is another one. I’m not good speaking on the phone, and maybe Severus isn’t either. I never spoke with her on the phone, so I have no idea. having this charisma in this technological society is far away from the creepiness that used to be attached by it. People are no longer considered to be stalkers, or repressed real-life beings. They manage to show to the world what they want to say and also to create a net that will support them. They use the tools they have to communicate in their just made language, taking this charisma from their personal lives to the business they’re into.
And I love Severus. And I know when her birthday is. And I can feel her energy through her status updates, even she writes in Swedish sometimes. That’s how charismatic she can be…
While reading the last “Vanity Fair”, I learned that the making of “The Graduate” wasn’t as easy as its success, but an odyssey of faith and spirit instead. The book had been a failure, the director was still unknown, and the topic, a scandal. It had been described as the bad version of “The Catcher in the Rye”, because of the similarities between the main characters: two young boys who come from a privileged part of society, but have decided to be outsiders.
When Mike Nichols had to decide on the cast of the movie, he picked the unknown Dustin Hoffman, for his ethnic look. It had to be someone who could understand how is to be in both sides. How is to be the son of a wealthy family, and still be a reject. Hoffman, a Jewish young man who had isolated himself from Hollywood and had gone to the Jewish New York instead, was to become he symbol of the mainstream outsiders. The ones who are inside the privileged part of society, but are still aliens. So in this suburban life, in a world where the word future (or plastics, in this case) is the key, he goes on defying universal taboos such as sleeping with a mother and marrying the daughter.
We’re all graduates at some point of our life. We’re all Benjamin Braddok, in the blue pool, floating on our future without knowing what we’ll do after having finished this traditional ritual of graduating. We’re all Mrs Robinson, every time we fear that it’s too late for us, that our life has been taken from as and we’re doomed. And finally, we’re all Elaine Robinson too. When we, having being whatever we’ve been in life, are able to run away in a yellow bus dressed up as a bride, with the one who woke us up, just because we finally had the guts to. Whatever or whoever we did or were. Even if we were the prettiest girl in the neighbourhood.