Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Virginity...for Men

Recently I have been coming across different things associated with female virginity until marriage. In this trailer for the documentary The Purity Myth, based on the book of the same name by Jessica Valenti, the subject of female purity is the focus, seeming to put it in a negative light. My first impression of this trailer wasn't necessarily a good one because to me it seemed that it was downplaying waiting for marriage, which is something I promote in one of my other posts. However, I then noticed that Valenti's point is more so arguing with the notion that a woman's worth is labelled on whether or not she is "pure" and that purity pushes women into submission, which are concepts I do not agree with, so in this way I began to look at the trailer more favorably. I like how she brings up the idea of the purity balls when daughters pledge their virginities to their fathers (which is cringeworthy, because women shouldn't have to pledge their virginities to the first man in their lives and make their purity "official" through a ceremony) and how people look down upon feminism and think of it as this evil concept in the world (which angers me, especially when women talk against it). People have the wrong idea when it comes to feminism, Planned Parenthood, etc., so I'm glad this documentary brings it out.

I then came across a book in CVS called 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter, written by Vicki Courtney. Here is the website pertaining to the book. At first this book had a bad impression on me as well because I felt all she was doing was promoting abstinence as the only answer, which to a lot of people it is not. She argues how the media masks female promiscuity as female empowerment when in reality that is not the case. However, I began to appreciate the book as I kept reading because she is entitled to write about how she feels on the subject just as much as I, and it is refreshing to see a mother write books about these subjects, helping women realize that it is okay to wait, encouraging them that it is the right path, rather than brainwashing them to do so, and also include truthful information about abortion, not lies. It is very comfortingly written and explores options in a non-condescending manner.

This got me thinking: "Why don't we have this conversation with young men?" Perhaps Courtney will touch upon this idea in her new book 5 Conversations You Must Have With Your Son, but it just seems like women are often the focus for purity and virginity until marriage and men are often disregarded. In fact, it seems that men are more encouraged to lose their virginities than keep them, whereas for women it is the exact opposite. There are comedy movies dedicated to this sort of idea, such as Superbad and American Pie. The old double standard: A boy has sex, he is a MAN. A girl has sex, she is a SLUT.

I actually like the idea of women saving themselves for marriage, even though there are times I write favorably towards the free love concept. I find that saving oneself for that special someone to whom you eventually make a commitment is very admirable and safe. My thing is, however, if a man isn't going to wait for his woman, why should a woman wait for her man? I think that might be my main argument against saving sex for marriage, other than the fact that this is a concept we are normally taught, not necessarily a realization we come upon later in life after we sexually mature. In other words, it should be mentioned as the best option with the best outcomes, but it shouldn't be something mentioned as the only option, keeping people in the dark of what other alternatives they have. I know I wrote before about how sex is a normal human thing just like eating and sleeping is, but I guess what I did not include is how sex is more connected to emotion and attachment between people as opposed to the other two, which is why we should be more careful. It should be an honor to be each other's first, and last. There are times that I have been told that a man who is a virgin over the age of twenty-five is probably not the kind of guy women should get involved with, for there must be something wrong with him. It's just that male virginity is looked upon as such a bad thing that men feel so inadequate if they don't place their penis inside some kind of female orifice. It seems like everything in the world convinces men that they should act on their primal instincts right away or else they will immediately be emasculated.

This is why I am here. I felt the need to write this piece because I guess I should be the one to help men realize that their virginities are not in vain. Men have a right to be virgins just as much as women do. The thing is, virginity should be a choice, not because a man finds it difficult to lose it and that a woman is taught to save it. People should save their virginities for their significant others if they so chose because they feel it is the best thing to do. It's doesn't even have to be because it's what God wants, though I do believe it is what He prefers. It should be because it's what feels right and what a couple wants to share with each other in the moment of passion.

So, virgin men, these are the words I want to say to you: It's okay. Really. It's okay. Just because you have never had sex before doesn't mean you aren't a man. Even if you don't like the idea of being a virgin until marriage and your current virginity isn't by choice, just because you haven't had sex yet it doesn't mean you are a freak of nature. There is nothing wrong with you. There are people out there, women included, that appreciate male virgins entirely. You know why? Virginity these days is unique. Virgins are different and interesting. Also, you know virgins are most likely sexually healthy with no children. In fact, your virginity is actually nobody's business. If you are proud of your virginity, by all means feel free to proclaim it. But to me, virginity and sex life should be revealed between two adults who are going strong in their relationship and figuring out their next step as a couple. I believe that everyone has his or her match with whom he or she will gel well. So don't worry. Chances are your day will come when you will have sex with someone and that person just might be worth waiting for in the long run.

In other words, don't be afraid to be like this guy. This young man is 24-year-old quarterback for the Denver Broncos Tim Tebow, who is pretty much portrayed as a godsent to the world. (No pun intended but this is actually pretty accurate. His devotion to his Christian religion is his trademark.) I saw his photo on the cover of one of my father's magazines awhile ago and ever since then he's all I've been hearing about. A lot good, some bad. For instance, people have been mocking him for his faith. "Tebowing," the act in which Tebow gets down on one knee and prays during a game, is now very well known and is now an act along the lines of "planking." I'm not sure if the whole "tebowing" thing is supposed to be mocking Tebow's praying tendencies or not, but regardless I admire Tebow for sticking to his beliefs, taking everything calmly, and just being a decent human being. He seems to have a lot of fans who constantly admire him. He does nothing wrong whatsoever. He makes it impossible to dislike him because you never hear anything bad about him and I hope we never do. He almost seems too good to be true, almost too perfect.

Then I found out something else that made me admire him even more and decide to include him in this post. Apparently, he is remaining a virgin until marriage. Oddly enough, he reveals this at a press conference.

Now, I'm not sure if there is any truth to this, but if you think about it, what man would say he is a virgin waiting for marriage if he isn't? 

Isn't this amazing? It's very rare that you meet a male virgin let alone meet a man who admits to it so proudly so I commend Tebow entirely. He is actually one of my current heroes. Tebow gives me hope that there are indeed men out there that are saving themselves for that special woman and are not ashamed of it. 

You can find the Facebook pages of both Jessica Valenti and Vicki Courtney on my Facebook page.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone! :D

Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad! Boun Natale! Happy Hanukah! Happy Kwanzaa! Happy Las Posadas! Happy Holidays Everyone! Enjoy Every Moment! :D

I was thinking about writing a post about some of my Christmas specials like I did with my Thanksgiving post. However, though I have a lot in mind, I thought against it because a) There are so many and writing about them would be time consuming, b) Though it crossed my mind after Thanksgiving as well, I thought of this kind of last minute and didn't necessarily have the muse to write about them all because I have been focusing on school and other blog posts so I want to do it when I have more time to focus on it, and c) I wanted to give my computer a break today. Perhaps I will do it next year leading up to Christmas Day.

This year has been one of my favorite Christmas seasons. I did a lot to celebrate this season and I'm happy about that because I feel like all I have done this year has revived the exciting spirit of Christmas that I had experienced when I was a kid. These include:

Riding the carousal and walking around seeing the Christmas cheer at the Paramus Park Mall
My friend Janis's Christmas Concert
White Christmas at Paper Mill Playhouse 
St. Thomas the Apostle 17th Annual Christmas Concert featuring the Garden State Concert Band
Christmas Dinners at Charlie Brown's Steakhouse
The Holiday Lights Spectacular at the Turtleback Zoo
Baking Struffolis
Helping my family decorate the house for Christmas
Going to Church (especially when the church is dim and quiet playing choral angelic Christmas music)
Helping my mom prepare for and cook the traditional Italian seafood Christmas Eve dinner (and eating it! It was delicious!)
Exchanging presents Christmas Day
Watching Christmas specials
Wearing Christmas attire
Wishing people Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, etc.
Listening to Christmas music and eating Christmas food
Taking pictures of everything (lol)

All in all, it was one of my best Christmas celebrations ever. I found myself very cheerful and am happy I got to celebrate it with wonderful people by doing a nice list of experiences to remember it! It was also very relaxing.

Here's some footage of the production of White Christmas I saw at the Paper Mill. It's funny because a week later I had to take a final for my class "Introduction to the Theatrical Medium" and I wrote about this! I also like how it was advertised around Montclair's campus. It was a very heartwarming, Christmasy show!

During intermission, this happened. I took my own video of it, but this is one I found on YouTube.

I finally got my photo with Santa! I had been wanting to do this to relive my childhood and seeing him at the Paramus Park Mall a few weeks ago had inspired me. I got it out of my system by doing this. He was an awesome Santa Clause as well. He was really joyful and even asked me what I wanted for Christmas! This photo was taken at the Turtleback Zoo by my Aunt Ea.

I also wanted to extend my wishes to you, my faithful readers! Merry Christmas! I hope you and your families have a blessed holiday! <3

Happy Birthday to Jesus Christ, our Savior! :D

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Yet Another Version of The Nutcracker...

I just found out tonight that "So You Think You Can Dance" judge Adam Shankman will be directing a gothic version of The Nutcracker that will be released in 2013. See? This is exactly what I was talking about when I wrote my other piece about this very idea!

I'm sure that all of these different versions are interesting and it's nice to see different perspectives and versions of the same story. It shows creativity, enriching The Nutcracker so that it never dies out and is always a new experience. A part of me wants to see this movie when it comes out and I am interested in seeing what is done with it. But still, I have my opinions and reservations on the matter. I just find this ironic considering I just posted a full essay about the subject so I just had to post it here. It's also ironic that a man involved with one of my favorite TV shows is directing it. Click here to learn more about Shankman's film.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Good Twist and Variation...or a Rip-off of a Classic Ballet? A Look at Changes in The Nutcracker

So I guess my question is, does change to an original classic piece ruin it, or enhance it?

Now that it is December and we are in the Christmas season, now is a good time to write about this. Last month I discovered a trailer for a 2010 3D film version of the classic Christmas ballet, The Nutcracker. Check it out:

Here's the thing. I grew up with The Nutcracker. My family and I would try to go see it every year. It is one of my fondest childhood holiday memories and actually might be the first theatrical show I had ever seen in my life, so this show is a big deal because it triggered my interest in theater. I remember the dancing, the costumes, the scenery, etc. I am attached to it.

Before I go on, allow me to provide you with the basic premise of The Nutcracker with this simple video. You'll probably need this information to understand what I am talking about. Something I forgot to include in this clip is that the "Land of Sweets" is also referred to as the "Land of the Sugar Plums." This is actually the title I grew up with. No two versions of the actual ballet are the same, but they all seem to follow a basic structure.

This 2010 movie isn't the only version of The Nutcracker that exists. There are plenty of other versions as well. Even Barbie had her own version in 2001, which doesn't really follow the set up of the original ballet in any way. What I am wondering is, do these many different versions enhance The Nutcracker and continue and perhaps strengthen the tradition it brings to the holiday season by making changes and adding different flairs to it, or do these flairs make The Nutcracker out to be a watered down joke and not as much of a classic as it once was? Should it just be left alone in its original state, should it be altered for creative purposes, or does it make any difference?

I guess you can argue that there are plenty of remakes of anything. Movies have been remade, songs have been remade, so this shouldn't be an issue. However, that doesn't mean that these remakes are necessarily good. My argument is that this is a ballet with classical music composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky we are talking about. A lot of times it seems like dance isn't as showcased or appreciated as it should be in today's world. Today, in popular culture, dance is people in the background bouncing around in little clothing. There's not much of a focus on the art behind it. A reason why I like "So You Think You Can Dance" is because that show tries to rekindle passion in regards to dance. I think that might be why I don't take too kindly to other versions of The Nutcracker. There are too many different storylines and not enough focus on dance! It's odd that I would be saying this because in a majority of my other blog posts I discuss on how to improve storylines. In this one, however, I recognize how in The Nutcracker, dance is more of the focus rather than the actual story.

This has gotten me to thinking about why the Mouse King, the ballet's villain, is so evil. So many of these different versions always try to come up with explanations as to why he tries to take the Prince's (whom he turns into a nutcracker) kingdom away from him. In fact, it seems to be a reason why these versions are even created. They find something missing from the ballet and decide to use their own imaginations to fill that void. I can relate to this because it sounds like something I would do with my own writing and I appreciate creativity. But does it really matter? When I was a kid watching it, it never really occurred to me why the Mouse King was the bad guy, and the lack of reasons didn't alter my enjoyment of the ballet in any way. The battle sequence between the toys and the mice was actually my favorite part that I looked forward to it each time I saw it. I still love that part to this day. I think here and there I may have wondered what his motives are, but I never really sat down and truly thought about it. 

What annoys me about the 2010 movie is how the Mouse King doesn't even look like a mouse! He looks more like a Dr. Seuss character in a live action film. Growing up I remember the Mouse King having multiple heads and looking like a rodent, considering he is a MOUSE King. Also, he actually scared the crap out of me at times. Recently, the Mouse Kings don't look as frightening. At one point in the trailer the Mouse King randomly hisses...or growls...or whatever you want to call that. Is this supposed to add some scariness to his character? Well, it doesn't succeed. The growl seems to be just another ploy added to a trailer to add some exciting shock value. Randomly hissing out of nowhere does not add the same level of intensity the original Mouse Kings have.

Another thing that bugs me a bit about the numerous versions of The Nutcracker is the constant debate of the main little girl's first name. I grew up thinking that her name is "Clara," but then I find versions of her named "Marie," and finally, in this 3D film, apparently her name is "Mary." Just choose a name! Why does this kid have so many first names? Perhaps it has to do with cultural versions of it, and I don't hate the name "Marie" for her, but I just find it odd how a main character doesn't have an official first name. I also found out that the uncle who gives the little girl the Nutcracker is called Uncle Albert in the 3D version. Uncle Albert? The original guy's name is Uncle Drosselmeyer! What they're pretty much doing is Americanizing German characters. Yes, this is supposed to be a German story in a German setting. There's no need for that. American audiences can still enjoy a flick even though the characters' names are a little bit cultural. Oh! And the Mouse King is actually called the "Rat King." Wow, they are seriously going out of their way to make this guy bad, aren't they? Um, did the word "rat" just sound more evil to the writers? Hey, at least the Barbie version got a majority the names right! However, they do make her Uncle Drosselmeyer her Aunt Drosselmeyer...

From what I hear, the 3D film didn't do too well. This does not come as a surprise, people.

But another thing I often wonder is if Clara (I'm calling her Clara. I refuse to call her anything else.) and the Nutcracker Prince fall in love. Obviously they probably aren't going to touch on this in the 3D film because they have children playing the characters, but it is suggested in the ballet itself sometimes, because it did cross my mind as a kid. But it is made obvious in the Barbie version.

I'm noticing that part of the magic of The Nutcracker is making a majority of the story up for interpretation. As long as the audience knows the gist of the story and what is going on, the minor details aren't much of a bother. However, the Barbie version doesn't leave anything up for interpretation. I actually enjoy the Barbie version and own my own VHS copy of it (It's also on YouTube if you want to check it out.), but it's just not traditional! I mean, one of my biggest problems with the Barbie version is that the dances are all mushed together at the end when the Mouse King is defeated, a feat that also takes place at the very end. Dances and music that should be during the Christmas party scene or any other scene in the actual ballet take place sporadically throughout the movie out of context. Scenes like these prove that it does not follow the original structure of The Nutcracker at all. The rest of the film is dedicated to the storyline of them traveling the mystical land, developing the love story, and other additional ideas that aren't in the original ballet. It may be a good creative story, but it is not necessarily The Nutcracker.

E. T. A. Hoffmann wrote the novel, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, on which the ballet is based. Only Hoffmann knows the real deal. So I guess there could've been arguments back then about remaking a book into a ballet as well. I don't mind if movies remake ballets, as long as they do it right. 

Okay, so I just ranted a lot and gave plenty of points, so let me try to answer my original question: Do changes to The Nutcracker ruin it or make it better? It definitely depends on the individual. I don't see how any altered version can surpass the original ballet, but that's not to say that it is a horrible movie in itself. It also depend on your age. If a child watches a newer more enhanced version of The Nutcracker, with no previous knowledge of the original ballet, he or she may think it is the most epic piece of work ever. Maybe this whole time I am comparing film versions to the stage ballets. We all know that film and stage are two entirely different mediums so that isn't entirely fair. More can be done with fun so filmmakers take advantage of the technology to use their imaginations.

The changes I noticed have a lot to do with audience and popular culture. In the 2010 version, it seems that they incorporate modern forms of technology, such as what is used in the story itself and the fact that this is the first 3D version of The Nutcracker from what I see. I'm also thinking that because these film versions seem to be gearing towards children, they include storyline and slapstick to keep them interested. However, as a person who was a fan of the ballet as a child without anything additional, everything about it kept me entertained except for one scene, and that is the final dance, the Pas de Deux, between the Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. It is beautifully danced and the music is just as beautiful, but boy is it boring. To me, it is the longest routine in the whole ballet. Well, at least it feels that way. The other dances can drag on a bit as well, so maybe the time that was once dedicated to the routines is now dedicated to storylines to once again keep children interested.

I think what is best is taking it as a piece standing on its own, rather than comparing it to the original ballet. Though that can be hard to do considering the similarities they have, it should be fine to watch and considered Christmas enjoyment just like the original piece.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Heartwarming Animal Stories: Pup Helps Family Cope with Loss of Soldier

Oh my God! This story is beautiful!

I was watching 20/20 last Friday night, and this story and its continuation showed up. The story is that a soldier in his twenties stationed in Iraq, Justin, was killed in an explosion. However, he had sent his girlfriend back home photos of him holding a puppy from the night before. The puppies lived in a latrine close to where the soldiers were. After Justin's family discovered these photos and saw how cheerful he looked in them, they were determined to get the puppy. They succeeded, appropriately named her Hero, and she now lives with them in New Hampshire to this very day!

The story in its entirety is very depressing, but this puppy puts a positive swing on things. She is how Justin's loved ones are coping with his loss. Hero brings the canine term "man's best friend" to a whole new level.

The 20/20 segment concluded with this image of the dog. The family believes that this is some connection with Justin's spirit. Some people believe that it is merely a coincidence, such as something having to do with the camera's lens, with no spiritual connection, and that it isn't something to take seriously in regards to anything beyond this world.

I say, even it is coincidental, what is wrong with it having spiritual connection for people? The light shining on Hero in this photo has so much significance for the family. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! Let's Celebrate with Some of my Favorite Thanksgiving TV Specials!

This is the cover of this week's parish bulletin hanging on our refrigerator. I made the border around it in 4th grade for art class. What it is is a cardboard border attached to a plastic bag and in this plastic bag you display artwork, etc. If I remember correctly, the border is made from pieces I cut out from a magazine pasted on the cardboard with a brush on glue. You brush the glue underneath it and a top of it. I think the whole set up looks very Thanksgiving. :)

Thanksgiving is such a great holiday, isn't it? I think it is one of the few times of the year I am actually relaxed. There are plenty of traditions that I still live by, such as the days off from school and work, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Purina National Dog Show following it, and then the main attraction: dinner with family with the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and veggies. And, of course, the reason for the season, being thankful for what you have.

Recently, people have been peeved by how Thanksgiving seems to be totally skipped over and often disregarded as a holiday, and I've noticed it as well. This article in The Monclarion states it pretty well. It is almost considered the "Pre-Christmas Eve" rather than its own holiday. Everywhere you go there are more Christmas decorations than Thanksgiving ones right after Halloween ends. I have always associated Thanksgiving with Christmas in a sense because it is the leeway into the Christmas season, but it never seems to stand on its own or have its own spotlight.

Well, one obvious reason for this is commercialism. Thanksgiving doesn't sell as much as other holidays, so therefore it's going be somewhat ignored. Also, if you notice, there aren't many Thanksgiving TV specials. Well, not as much as other holidays anyway. However, I do recall a select few, and those are the "Peanuts" and "Winnie the Pooh." Both of these series have a tendency to cover everything.

I have taken it upon myself to share these traditional favorites with you for your Thanksgiving enjoyment!

This clip of "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" actually includes one scene that is excluded from the made for TV version, and this is the scene when Snoopy and Woodstock set the table for their own Thanksgiving dinner after Charlie and his friends leave for Thanksgiving dinner at his grandmother's house. After we see the kids in the car, it would go to commercial and return to the end credits with Snoopy and Woodstock. My father would always tell me about the excluded scene and even showed it to me once on YouTube, so I am thankful I found this version to include on this post!

Unfortunately I can't seem to find "A Winnie the Pooh Thanksgiving" in its entirety, but at least I found this trailer for the "Seasons of Giving" VHS it is on. It's heartwarming in itself. <3

Oh, and here's a trailer for Disney Pixar's The Incredibles. I don't know if they still do this, but back in high school I noticed that every Thanksgiving night this movie would play on television, so I consider it a Thanksgiving TV special memory and thought I'd acknoweldge it as well.

And who can forget about this holiday favorite? Like The Incredibles, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy's version of March of the Wooden Soldiers pretty much has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, but yet it is played on television every Thanksgiving Day. The only thing with this one is that its time conflicts with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, so I have to keep changing channels back and forth. However, this is also a holiday favorite of my father's and he has shared the tradition with me, especially the final battle scene between the boogie men and the wooden soldiers. For the color version, click here. I am thankful that I found both versions in their entirety. ;)

So there you have it, a collection of some of my favorite Thanksgiving television specials and traditions for your enjoyment this Thanksgiving Day. 

I am thankful for where I am at in my life right now. I am thankful for my family, friends, and everything I have. I am thankful for my experiences, talents, and interests so far and look forward to what more life has in store for me.

What are you thankful for? I hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving! :D

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Real Influential Women Role Models (Real and Fictitious) SPECIAL EDITION: My Neighbor, Betty

Yes, I know it's not Women's History Month yet, but this post couldn't wait.

Today I attended a birthday party for my 100-year-old neighbor, Betty. I mean, she reached three digits! It's very rare that something like this happens, so she deserves a spotlight blog post.

This woman is one of my heroes, not only because she has lasted this long, but because she has lasted this long and remained healthy and strong doing it. She is known on the block as the woman who shovels the snow. This is New Jersey, so we get a lot of it.

My family and Betty at Betty's birthday party

When I was younger, I used to visit her and her now deceased husband Harold, whom she married when she was only nineteen, on their front steps while they were sitting outside. As I grew older, I didn't do it as much, and I feel kind of bad about that. Also, it's difficult to have a conversation with her because she is hard of hearing and struggles to speak. 

However, I want to learn from her. She has been around for 100 years! She has seen a century worth of history! She has seen the liberation of women and it's many stages. Imagine the stories she could tell me about her life journey. On the walls in her house there are black and white pictures of her around my age. That is just so amazing to think about. She was once in my position so many years ago and has lived through so much that I have yet to experience. I feel so young, so new, next to her, and I can't imagine being 100. It seems like such a stretch to me.

Betty has always been my inspiration and role model on how to live a long and prosperous life. I wish her all the best, to keep going strong, and a very happy birthday! :D

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

I just wanted to use what's left of the day (exactly one half hour) to celebrate on my favorite blog.


It was a very happy, enjoyable, carefree, and relaxing day. It was actually one of my best birthdays ever. Thank you to my family and friends for making it such a great one! :)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My First Montclarion Theater Review of Junior Year!

This photo was sent through MSU e-mail advertising the show

Friday night, October 21, I saw the Peak Performance A Chorus Line at Montclair State University. When I first saw it announced on the school website this past summer, I found it interesting that it would be playing in the Memorial Auditorium. I had just finished saying how Memorial Auditorium wasn't exactly used for school productions anymore, but I guess I was wrong. I really liked the use of Memorial Auditorium for this production because it is not often done anymore and I enjoyed the comfortable home community feeling it brings. It just seems like a very nice theater in which to perform and it was equally as nice to sit back and watch. In other words, it's not like Kasser, which is this huge, Broadway like theater. Memorial Auditorium belongs to the students and is their realm. I guess it seems the most school oriented than the other theaters on campus. I keep thinking that a good word to describe it is "quaint." A Chorus Line was actually the first musical I saw there since Wimzie's House Live (see page for that background story) and the first Peak Performance production I saw there as a student. It was nice to see a show performed there again besides organization performances and the Vagina Monologues.

Unfortunately, this article was published later than expected, but please enjoy my review about A Chorus Line! I really like how not much editing was done with it and the editor-in-chief told me that it is very well written, which made me very proud. I guess that shows that I am improving. A Chorus Line is actually one of my favorite MSU productions so far. I went by myself, sat towards the front on the side with not a lot of people around me, and relaxed. I was actually thinking about seeing it a second time, but was unable to. There was no intermission, so it was a nonstop two hours of pure theatrical enjoyment with laugh out loud moments, simple storylines, memorable songs, and everything in between! All in all, it is a very cute musical and I liked watching it.

My article made the print edition as well! I didn't expect this considering the show is no longer playing and was so happy when I saw it today!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Women Enjoy Sex. Get Over It.

I am very annoyed by something a Facebook friend of mine posted and I want to express my feelings about it. In order to avoid an Internet argument, I'll express them here. This is the beauty of having a blog. I will also respect his privacy by not disclosing any names.

So he posts this link about a woman answering a Family Feud question: "What is something you would put in your mouth but not swallow?" The woman, a pastor's wife, answers "Sperm," much to the disgust of the host, Steve Harvey. I actually think this is a pretty mature answer compared to slang she could have used. "Sperm" is the actual term, after all. She expected it to be on the board, but alas it wasn't, leading the very unfunny Steve Harvey into a celebration with horrible dancing skills, making a fool out of her, and everyone else into fits of laughter. To see the clip, click here.

This offends me because, um, yeah, there is such a thing as oral sex and couples do it. And, I appreciate the fact that she is married and answering this question with honesty and pride. Of course, Harvey and the rest of the people in the studio have to make it an embarrassing thing to discuss and giggle like a bunch of children. It can't possibly be an answer on the board. Because people don't have sex. It's not apart of everyday life, right? Come on.

You know, people probably wanted to give that answer but were just too ashamed to do so. I mean, the question pretty much asks for it. I admire the pastor's wife for having such guts! She is comfortable with her sex life and is a woman who isn't afraid to talk about it.

But then I saw a friend of my friend's comment on the link, and this is what REALLY set me off. First he sides with Harvey and laughs about how he makes fun of the woman's accent, especially the way she says "You know it's up there," but then he proceeds to call the woman a "white trash slut." What makes things even worse is that my friend liked his comment.

Oh. My. God. I HATE the word "slut." I actually wanted to write a blog post about my feelings about the word and I guess now is the perfect time to do so. Some people dislike the word, some people are okay with it. I think more and more people should dislike it because it is a negative association to female sexuality and has been one for years. If a woman likes sex, it makes her a "slut." Because, you know, it's unnatural for a woman to like sex. Well, guess what? A good majority of women do like sex and it's actually perceived as a good thing! Surprise! Bet you didn't know that, did you?

It's just an all around bad word. I guess people are okay with using it because they want to change the meaning of the word and make a more positive spin on it, but to me "slut" will never be a compliment, so people should probably stop using it. The "white trash" part annoys me too. Perhaps he is referring to her as "white trash" because of her southern accent, which can be considered offensive in itself, but basically what he is trying to say is that white women who are proud of their sexualities are a joke. They are scum. It's not a surprise that my friend is male and his friend is also male. Insulting females and their sexualities is just such a fun activity for misogynistic men, isn't it? But that's okay though. When they want sex they know exactly who to crawl to.

I probably made more out of this than I should, and the guys probably aren't misogynists, but this kind of stuff infuriates me. It is a small piece of a bigger puzzle that needs some solving.

*Please note that this rant isn't an attack on all men. I know there are decent men out there who respect female sexuality and I thank them.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Exciting News For the Movie World (Especially Those Who Like Greek Mythology and Shakespeare, Like Me!)

I am a Scorpio and during the upcoming Scorpio horoscope timeline two awesome movies are coming to theaters near you! I am very excited because both films involve two different topics that have interested me since childhood and represent who I am. I am also proud that both movies are premiering during my birthday sign! :)

First up is Anonymous, which is opening October 28. When my mom and I saw Glee 3D in theaters, I saw the poster outside of the theater and I immediately became excited about it and knew I wanted to see it. Anonymous discusses the possibility that William Shakespeare did not write his world renown plays and sonnets, but is rather just taking the credit for it. I am a big fan of Shakespeare's work, and look up to him as a writer, so naturally I would be interested in seeing this film. I have also always heard rumors that perhaps Shakespeare was a fraud, so maybe this movie can help me find out if there's any truth to that. Plus, I am taking English Drama this semester, which involves medieval drama leading up to Shakespeare's time and it's a good chance that at lot of the material we are covering was Shakespeare's inspiration. Taking the class has given me another incentive to see this film.

Next up is Immortals, which opens November 11. Immortals is about the clash between the Greek gods, the Titans, and humanity. Ever since I was a kid I've had an interest in Greek mythology and because of this I took a mythology course in my freshman year first semester of college to fulfill a general education requirement, a class that I enjoyed and found somewhat simple since I had already knew some of the material due to my readings as a child. Ever since I heard about this film awhile ago, I had been looking forward to it. Plus, Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, is played by Kellan Lutz! Squee! His site is actually how I first found out about it.

The only thing that concerns me about this film is that it was made by the same producers as 300, telling me that perhaps it has a possibility to be gory, which is not something I necessarily like in films. Regardless, I still want to see it!

I am thinking that I will do some follow up posts about these two films in my "Reflections about..." series or cover them for another publication.

*Film posters are from IMDb.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Discussing Theatrical Nudity with Professor and Director Susan Kerner

Hiya, folks!

This semester I am taking a course called "Introduction to the Theatrical Medium" with Professor Susan Kerner. Susan has directed performances at Montclair State University such as Arcadia and The Grapes of Wrath and is currently directing Stage Door, which will be premiering at the Alexander Kasser Theater this upcoming November.

If you remember from my "Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments" installment of The Grapes of Wrath, I discuss the play's usage of nudity and the extra artistic element it brings to the stage. I had been wanting to discuss this topic with the actors, which I still might do, but thought of the idea this past week to discuss it with the director herself, beings though she is my professor this semester.

Click here to view our interview. Enjoy! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Problems I Have with FOX's "Glee": Storylines (mainly Quinn's)

In my "Glee" "Representations" post, you may have noticed that I left out one thing: dumb blondes. Well, this is because I don't necessarily have a problem with it. You would've thought that as a blonde myself I would be offended but this isn't so. Brittany Pierce, the token dumb blonde of the series, is a joy to watch and her one liners are instant crowd pleasers. In the episode "A Very Glee Christmas," she reveals that she still believes in Santa Claus. Instead of being just dumb Brittany in this episode, her innocence is actually really cute and admirable. Also, blonde Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester always comes up with creative ways to try to bring down the glee club, and Terri, Will's diabolical blonde ex-wife, fools him for an entire season that she is pregnant, both of whom plans backfire. Basically, the blondes of "Glee" are enjoyable to watch.

Then finally we have Quinn Fabray, the main blonde of the series. Sure back in Season One Kurt pokes fun at her lack of intelligence in one of his inner monologues (the classic square root of four equals rainbows joke anyone?), but she doesn't necessarily deserve the "dumb blonde" label. Quinn knows what people's weaknesses are and uses these to her advantage, especially when it comes to men. She knows what it takes to turn Finn on and to make Sam pursue her. She comes up with strategies to serve her own agendas, such as "befriending" Rachel to get closer to Finn, making Finn believe that her child is his because she believes he would make a better father, working her way back onto the Cheerios squad and regaining her captain position, coming up with stories to mask her cheating, and getting people to vote for her for prom queen. She is one of those frightening intelligent characters because she is hard to read and you never know what she is thinking. Outwardly she is calm but inwardly she is devious.

However, this all being said, she also showcases plenty of failures as well. I am dedicating this piece to the storylines so far, with a spotlight on Quinn Fabray.

Dianna Agron plays Quinn Fabray
Quinn's General Storyline
We all know that once Quinn Fabray gets pregnant with Puck's child, her whole world falls apart and when Finn leaves her when he finds out the paternity, her life plummets even more because the love triangle between she, Finn, and Rachel gets a lot more serious. Rachel now had a chance with Finn and Quinn was no longer the perfect head celibate Queen Bee of the Cheerios cheerleading squad. However, since then she has pledged abstinence, got a new boyfriend, and actually willingly left the Cheerios for the New Directions without being kicked off, which is what originally happens when Sue finds out that she's pregnant in Season One. She eventually regains Finn but then loses him again to Rachel once again. Season Two ends with Quinn getting a haircut in New York and feeling better about herself. Because, you know, a haircut always changes a person's personality. :P But according to this article, she is going to return to her old ways. Wonderful. Can we please give this girl a decent interesting storyline? Recently she just seems pathetic.

Here are some suggestions of alternate storylines for Quinn Fabray:

In the Season One finale, Quinn gives birth to Beth, and thereafter we don't hear about the kid again after Shelby, Rachel's birth mother, adopts her. Hello! Quinn's life pretty much spirals out of control because of this major plot point that pretty much dominates Season One along with Kurt's coming out storyline, so much that we pretty much can't get away from it, and now the show acts like it didn't even happen? There seems to be a consensus among fans that Quinn and Puck should reunite with their illegitimate child, and it seems like the show will deliver according to this article.

Now I have some personal requests. One storyline involving Quinn that really infuriates me is the one when her father kicks her out of his home when he finds out his precious little girl is pregnant and the mother does nothing to stand up for her. This is the first time we really feel sorry for Quinn, beings though she is not a very likable character at first because she is the stereotypical mean cheerleader. I'm sorry but what kind of parents are these people? You do not do this to your pregnant sixteen-year-old daughter because it turns out she's not as perfect as you thought she was. In the Season One finale, Quinn's mom returns and reveals to Quinn that she has left her father because he cheated on her and wants her to move back home. Why she leaves the father for that reason instead of for him kicking their pregnant daughter out is what many people would probably like to know. I also find it funny how she doesn't check up on Quinn until now. I really didn't want Quinn to accept her proposal, but I'm grateful that she is there for Quinn when she goes into labor. What I think would be interesting is a reunion between father and daughter. I'd like to see if Quinn would accept him back into her life or not and how the confrontation would go down.

During her pregnancy, Quinn befriends Mercedes, who lets her stay with her family and is also there in the delivery room for the birth of Beth, heeding to Quinn's request. Their friendship is really heartwarming because it's the popular girl and outcast coming together and being there for each other. Quinn must feel very close with Mercedes in order to want her in the delivery room with her and it is actually my favorite part of the episode. Quinn is also there for Mercedes in Season One episode "Home" when she has a brief eating disorder. However, they seem to have drifted a bit since Beth's birth, so it would be nice to see them share more screen time as friends together again.

Now this last one may be a bit odd, which I thought of just recently. I kind of want to see Quinn form a relationship with Artie. He's pretty much the one guy in glee club who hasn't dated her yet and he knows her past so it's not like he's in for any surprises. He broke up with Brittany, so if he goes with Quinn, Brittany goes with Santana, and Finn goes with Rachel, everybody would be happy. Plus, when he chooses her name out of a hat to sing to in the Season One episode "Ballad," they both seem pretty satisfied with the outcome, which is what made me come up with this idea. There seems to be no bad blood between the two. As my final point, he's way more intelligent compared to her exes, which is something that she needs in a man.

Finn/Rachel/Quinn Love Triangle
Let me start off by saying that I really dislike Finn. I mean, he's a very supportive boyfriend to Rachel and a good friend to Artie, two examples of his good deeds, and there are other times when I actually do like him, but he just keeps giving me reasons not to. He's a moron and wimp when it comes to his girlfriends, and anything for that matter (though he does redeem himself in the Season Two finale when he stands up to Jesse St. James), which is a complete turnoff, and he does other random things that irritate me, but his most irritating is stringing along both Quinn and Rachel. When he breaks up with one, he goes to the other. I get it. He's confused and has feelings for two girls. That's normal. But he's just so annoying about it. What angers me the most is how he's always so quick to forgive Quinn even though she's never really honest with him and yet he can never forgive Rachel, even though Rachel constantly comes clean to him about everything, including QUINN's pregnancy in Season One. In the Season Two "Rumours" episode, Finn even says to Rachel that he doesn't know why he went back with Quinn. And guess what? He sits there with a dumbfounded look on his face.

I hate how much of a hypocrite he is. He gets so bent out of shape when these girls lie to him, but yet he lies to Rachel about being a virgin, even though he had already slept with Santana, and thinks he is not at fault at all. This is something a girlfriend should know about for her own sexual safety! To me, Rachel has every right to be upset and Finn acts like she shouldn't.

I am just so sick of seeing this same storyline and same characters being used since Day One. Both of these girls can do a lot better than Finn, though I do prefer him with Rachel because they love each other and are cute together, Finn always being so admirable of Rachel's enthusiasm, and I prefer Quinn with Sam (I'll get to that in a minute). These three and Kurt totally dominate the series so it would be nice to see other characters have some developing storylines. Apparently that's what is happening with Season Three, so I am looking forward to it.

Sam and Quinn Break Up
Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Quinn (Dianna Agron)
I am an ultimate Sam and Quinn shipper, and I blame Quinn for this one. She really messes up big time here. After the whole fiasco in Season One being impregnated by her boyfriend Finn's best friend Puck, "Trouty Mouth" himself Sam Evans enters Season Two as her blonde knight in shining armor. He never judges her on her past and is always there for her. Plus, he pursues and courts her, which I really like. He even tells her he loves her and proposes to her, which I find to be kind of corny considering they are high school kids who just recently met, but he promises his faithfulness with the promise ring, which is pretty honorable. They are just an overall very adorable couple with plenty of fangirl worthy moments.

Here is, in my opinion, their best moment together. This is from the episode "Special Education."

When Finn breaks up with Rachel, he sets his sights on Quinn after she kisses him for convincing her to rejoin New Directions in the "Thriller" episode. This is Quinn's first wrong move of the season. All of a sudden Finn's feelings for her start flooding back, but he also considers Sam a threat because he is slowly but surely replacing him as leader for both the football team and glee club, so we can derive from all this that he wants to hurt him for these reasons just as much as he was hurt by his two girlfriends. Long story short Quinn cheats on Sam with Finn, lies to Sam about it, but then Sam leaves her for Santana anyway when he finds out the truth. I think I am more heartbroken about this breakup than the infamous Finn and Rachel breakup because Quinn is actually a pretty miserable character and she finally finds happiness with Sam, so I wish the writers would have left her alone for a while and let her be in harmony. Another reason is that I think deep down inside we all feel that Finn and Rachel will always find their way back to each other. They're like the "Ross and Rachel" of the series.

It's understandable that Quinn could still have feelings for Finn, beings though he is her first love, but she totally goes about it the wrong way. She should have told Sam about this. Anything is better than going behind his back. She is just a confused teenager. Basically Quinn ruins a perfectly good thing and since Chord Overstreet, the actor who plays Sam, is not returning for Season Three, which I am very heartbroken about by the way, we have absolutely no hope of them reuniting.

Perhaps he will surprise us all and still show up? I doubt it. But hey, we can dream.

Lucy Caboosey
Hey, did you know that Quinn's real first name is "Lucy" and that "Quinn" is her middle name? I didn't, and it should have stayed that way. We know her as "Quinn" and now "Lucy" totally ruins that dynamic.

When Quinn and Lauren Zizes battle for the coveted prom queen title in the "Born This Way" episode, Lauren digs up some dirt on our favorite blonde princess and discovers that she was not always a foxy prima donna but rather a chubby dorky preteen, dubbed as "Lucy Caboosey." Since then, Quinn has changed her whole identity and been running from her past.

I don't really know what to think about this storyline, so I'll let my friend Kelly, a fellow Gleek who is highly disgusted by this twist, have the floor:

"Lucy Caboosey, a name that sends a shiver down my spine just thinking about it. One of the things I've always liked about Glee is the fact that even as ridiculous as some of the scenarios can be there's usually a likable sense of realism grounding them. However, the introduction of Quinn's 'backstory' as a chubby prepubescent girl with glasses and a big schnozz is a revelation that I can only term as 'unforgivable.' Good Lord where do I even begin with how bad this is? I admit during the first season of 'Glee' Quinn wasn't exactly my favorite character. To be honest, I flat out hated her guts. Although as much as I disliked her and despised her manipulative ways, once the season grew on, she did as well. Once this slight shift in character happened she started becoming much more interesting instead of the one note cheerleader hypocrite persona she started out as and it was a very nice and believable development.
In fact, once season 2 came about Quinn was actually the character I was most anxious to see since I was eager to see how the past experience as being an outcast for the first time in her life would play out. 
Little did I know how sorely disappointed I was when Quinn's development basically took two steps forward and about twenty steps back. The one thing that really gets under my skin about the Lucy Caboosey back story is that it's completely unnecessary, not to mention way too over the top. Even within the reality of the Glee-verse, and that's saying a lot. Lucy Caboosey is the writers' poor attempt to restore sympathy for Quinn after the complete nosedive (no pun intended) her character took during the second season. Quinn's past had really already been established. She was the girl who had always been the beautiful popular girl and never really knew what it was like to be the outcast until her hypocritical ways came back to bite her. By giving her a past experience of rejection it completely undercuts the character that had been built up the past season and a half. Never before had they ever hinted that Quinn had experienced 'nerddom' before, so this revelation is totally unprecedented. Kind of like going to get water and after taking a sip you realize it's actually sour milk. Lucy Caboosey really only serves the purpose of the episode, not the complete story arc of the season. It was just a haphazard attempt to connect Quinn, Rachel, and Lauren. I'll be very surprised and disgusted if/when the Lucy Caboosey arc makes an appearance on the show again, because it is something I and the show alike could easily live without. In the simplest of forms, it's just lazy writing." -Kelly T.

I agree with this argument, but yet I kind of understand this back story only because it explains why Quinn is so obsessed with her reputation and maintaining it.

Naya Rivera plays Santana Lopez
Santana's Sexuality and Love for Brittany Revealed
A storyline that doesn't involve Quinn??? Holy moley!

Well, "Brittana" does have something to do with Quinn. At the beginning the trio serves as henchmen for Sue, but Santana and Brittany partake in activities that give them a special bond.

These two have already established some lesbian tendencies and we know that they love each other just shown by how close they are, so this isn't really much of a shocker. Santana reveals that she wants to be in a relationship with Brittany but is completely terrified about what people would think and states that her struggle is the reason why she is so mean, which can explain why she meddles in every other relationship in the glee club. But now that she has done this she is often depressing and not as funny or sarcastic as she used to be. She is known as the "bitch" of the series and is actually one of the show's original villains, and we know that the villains of this show are actually pretty comically sarcastic (Sue Sylvester), so her bitchiness is actually something we really like about her since that's how we know her.

Now this storyline kind of ruins that view of her because now her personality has changed so drastically and she is not the same Santana the series opened up with. Granted, now that she has revealed her sexuality she has become nicer and a better friend, but her bitchiness is somewhat lacking, so I'm thinking that this particular storyline is a mistake. A Santana without a constant dig, while enjoying it, is just plain weird.

Both Quinn and Santana have such high potential to be interesting characters, so I think that's why I care so much. Towards the beginning of Season Two, when Sam makes his advances, Quinn initially rejects him to focus on herself and take things slow, and I was proud of her. Also, much like Rachel, she now stands her ground with how far to take things during makeout sessions with her boyfriend. It shows that she has learned from her mistakes in Season One and is now cautious of her actions, showing that she is growing as a character and maturing as a woman, which is relatable to other teenage girls. But then, the writers have her backtrack and literally make the same mistakes she made in Season One. In the Season Two finale she throws a hissy fit in front of Santana and Brittany in their New York hotel room about how she doesn't care about Nationals and that they are the popular girls so why shouldn't they get what they want, which is actually weird logic if you think about it. She then says, "I just want somebody to love me." As emotional as she is in this scene, it's so hard to feel sorry for her because she does have people love her but she blows it each time. However, on a lighter note, what makes this scene likable is the well acted conversation between the three characters and how it shows a heartwarming friendship between Quinn and "Brittana," which is often on the rocks throughout the series.

Here's to hoping that Quinn actually makes some good decisions in Season Three and changes for the better, not necessarily the way Santana has changed, for I want her to remain the same character, but rather to make her a more likable character...

Quinn Fabray in the Season Three promo video

...Ummmm.....wuh oh. What is this? This isn't exactly what I meant. Geez and here I thought Santana changed a lot but it seems that Quinn has done a whole 180! Sure she looks cool but this is not the Quinn Fabray character we all know! I said change a little bit not change every little thing about her! Oh, well. Let's just see what happens with this. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Problems I Have with FOX's "Glee": Representations

So I love the FOX primetime series "Glee." It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it makes me irritated, it makes me feel every emotion imaginable. However, there are certain aspects of this show that rub me wrong, so here I am expressing these feelings. I am going to separate my grievances into categories.

One thing that "Glee" seems to do is represent every cultural background, which is a great thing. For example, it does well in portraying Kurt's struggle being the only openly gay kid at school and Blaine's memories of being harrassed for his sexuality as well as the struggles of the resident closet homosexuals Karofsky and Santana.

However, in some instances, "Glee" isn't quite there yet when it comes to representing certain demographics (I seem to love using this word), so here are some of my observations.

Finn (Cory Monteith) and Sam (Chord Overstreet)
White Guys are Stupid
That they are, and when it comes to dating Quinn Fabray, this seems to be a requirement. I can't really state every single dumb white guy moment on the show, but if you were to watch it, you'd see what I mean. Finn is gullible and dumb, Sam is gullible and inexperienced, and Puck is well, Puck. The funny thing is though, there are times when Puck is actually smarter than the other two. He is able to figure out that Quinn's baby is his, often recognizes Finn's love for Rachel, and finds ways to serve his own agendas, all while being suave in his speaking.

Puck (Mark Salling) and Finn (Cory Monteith)
 All three of these guys make these idiotic remarks and do stupid actions from time to time and even the other characters seem to comment on this. What I hate the most is when somebody tells them something, especially if it's bad news, and they just sit there with this dumbfounded look on their faces not knowing what to do. It's like, react already!

It doesn't help that they're jocks as well. You can't be a dumb white guy on TV without being a football player in high school first.

However, there are white guys in the show who do exhibit some intelligence, and they are Kurt, Blaine, and Artie. Oh, look. They aren't jocks. What a surprise. Well, Artie is, but that's not the point. He isn't one originally. Kurt and Blaine are both extremely cunning. They're also both gay. Artie shows signs of clever thinking as well. He wears glasses and, let's be honest, sports a nerdy style. Both gay men and nerdy men are stereotypically smart, so of course the characters that represent these demographics must display this quality. Hey, I think it's a compliment.

So wasn't there something else that Finn, Puck, and Sam have in common? Oh, yeah. That's right. They're ATTRACTIVE! Nothing against the other guys, for they're handsome as well, but Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, and Chord Overstreet seem to bring a lot of eye candy and muscle to the show, thus causing some fangirling results among their fans.

Basically what "Glee" does here is provide us with a formula that has molded dumb white guy TV and movie characters since the beginning of media history. They have to be white, clueless, hot, straight, play some sort of sport, preferably football, obsess over their looks and reputation, have plenty of shirtless scenes (yowza!), and date the head cheerleader, in this case, Quinn Fabray. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Poor representation of black and latino men
Think about it. There's that one black guy named Matt back in Season One, but he only has like two lines in the whole season. Then there is Karofsky's friend, Azimio, who accompanies him in torturing Kurt about his homosexuality and is the one guy on the football team who continues to be difficult to the New Directions. I didn't even know his name until the last day of August. And, there are absolutely no latino men. Thankfully I read that a new black male character, Shane, is coming in as Mercedes's boyfriend, so we might see this resolved sooner than later.

Why didn't the show start off with them as freshmen?
Something really heartbreaking that the show is throwing at us for Season Three is that some beloved characters will be graduating. But what I've always wondered is why we didn't watch them grow all four years. In one of the very first episodes, Rachel states that she is a sophomore. I keep thinking that this was done to already have their reputations intact before the "Pilot," whereas if the show began with them in freshman year they would have to spend the whole season developing their reputations, wasting a lot of time and not taking the show where it needed to be. Regardless, it still feels incomplete to me. I feel deprived of an extra year with the original characters together.

Football Captain and Cheerleading Captain as sophomores?
When the series first opens up, Finn is the quarterback captain of the football team and Quinn is the cheerleading captain of the Cheerios, making them the ultimate power couple. Um, don't these honors normally go to seniors? Where are the upperclassmen in this school? In fact, now that I think about it, we never see the main characters deal with any upperclassmen ever, except for maybe Jesse St. James, who is a senior when they are sophomores. I don't understand how two teenagers are able to be so popular and in charge of their respective groups in only their second year of high school. Even juniors would make more sense, but sophomores? They're still starting out. And, when Sue kicks Quinn off the squad for being pregnant, she replaces her position with Santana, who is also a sophomore! In Season Three they are going to be seniors, so I guess none of this really matters now.

Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele)
Women are the Cause of Breakups
Well, let's just say that I would love to see a girl break up with her boyfriend because of something the guy does. Or just have a girl break up with her boyfriend in general.

Let's go over the rundown of "Glee" relationships. Finn breaks up with Quinn for cheating on him with Puck and then hooks up with Rachel. Finn still has feelings for Quinn, so her breaks it off with Rachel only to get back with her again in the Season One finale. Quinn hooks up with Sam and for awhile everything is good. Rachel cheats on Finn with Puck when she finds out that he slept with Santana before they got together and he leaves her. Quinn cheats on Sam with Finn and then Sam leaves her. Finn and Quinn once again become a couple. Finally, Finn leaves Quinn because he is so overcome with love for Rachel. Also, Artie confronts Brittany about cheating on him with Santana. Now let's bring in some of the adults as well. Carl leaves his wife, guidance counselor Emma, for still being in love with Will. Glee club moderator Will leaves his wife and high school sweetheart Terri for faking a pregnancy.

Do you see my point? This show makes women out to be terrible girlfriends and wives! It seems like everything is always their fault! The blame is not evenly distributed well, as if guys never do anything wrong in relationships. What I would like to see is a guy screwing up big time like some of these girls have and the girl leaving.

But, however, I guess you can say that the girls have their share in dumping their boyfriends as well. For example, Brittany leaves Artie when Artie calls her "stupid," but I don't necessarily count that because the entire time she cheats on him with Santana without really knowing it. However, it is Brittany's decision to break up, not Artie's. Also, Rachel dumps Jesse after he betrays her, but that is kind of on him leaving her for Vocal Adrenaline and I don't take that relationship seriously anyway. There may be more, but I think my point still stands.

"Glee" makes it a point to emulate real life while also throwing in some cartoonish humor here and there. I think a lot of people appreciate the arts and music, so I don't understand why "Glee" seems to think that so many people knock it and make New Directions the constant victim of ridicule. So they sing and occasionally dance. Big deal! Do people not know what singing and dancing is? Do people not know that there are lot of people who do so, plenty for a living? Is that what "Glee" is assuming about life nowadays? Even in the "A Very Glee Christmas" episode, when the New Directions are caroling in another school, the kids heckle them and the TEACHER throws her shoe at them! I mean, seriously?!? People hate them that much? I know that it is meant as a typical "Glee" joke, but it's just plain S-T-U-P-I-D.

The McKinley High School hockey team,
that exists for only one episode, prepares some slushie damage
The members of New Directions are always complaining about how everybody hates them because they are in this club, when in reality, nobody in the school seems to care. The only people who give them grief are the jocks. How stereotypically fitting. Actually, not even the jocks because the other members of the football team don't seem to care either. It's only Karofsky and Azimio who insult them. The other guys just go with the flow. And then there's that one scene of the hockey players, who we never see until the "Thriller" episode and then never see again thereafter, preparing to "slushie" both the male glee club members and the football team for taking part in glee club as an attempt to unite the two groups who are constantly at war with each other. Does it ever end?

I get how the gist of the show is that the New Directions members are the underdogs of the school who are trying to make names for themselves, and I know that these underdogs being "slushied" is a running gag and theme of the show, but I really don't find what they face realistic. This idea was cool and unique at the beginning, but now it is getting old, immature, and downright annoying me. It's just not funny anymore. They need to find a more intelligent and realistic conflict for the New Directions to face besides getting, ahem, "slushied" and insulted because I find it hard to believe that everybody they interact with hates the arts. The glee club has been running for two school years now so it's about time people left them alone and just accept the fact that they exist. I know bullying occurs in high school, but the fact that they are constantly attacked for this reason seems kind of ridiculous. When did it become common knowledge that the arts often come secondary to athletics and is less cool and likable? Also, since when does having any artistic talent at all make you feminine, which is another accusation of the jocks? And, are we supposed to assume that jocks are always the bullies in every setting? How do the writers of "Glee" see this in real life? Because I don't necessarily. Basically all of this seems so cliche so I think evolution of material is in order. Glee clubs exist in real life and sometimes I think that the positive reception of these clubs, though I will admit they are at times, are not portrayed well in this TV show.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments: Albert Herring

Albert Herring-May 2011-Alexander Kasser Theater

Okay so here we are at the final show of the Spring 2011 semester, and it just so happens to be an opera. The story is set in England at the beginning of the 20th century and surrounds a group of people who are suggested to be Catholic because of their search for a female virgin to be this year's "Queen of the May" for their May Day festival. To me, this seems to be connected to what us Roman Catholics celebrate as a May Crowning, which is a ceremony when we honor the Virgin Mary by crowning a statue of her. This takes place in May, which is the month of Mary, and ironically enough the opera played at Kasser on May 2 and 3.

If you want a visual of what I am talking about, click here. This is a video of this year's May Crowning at my parish, Holy Family. I took it special for this post.

This is a slideshow I found of the performance on May 2. I saw the May 3 performance, which was different cast, but the video still gives you a good idea of what the opera looked like.

Now that you know some brief religious background I have noticed in Albert Herring, here are it's Awkward Sexual Moments.

"The Female Sex is Soiled": After the council discusses every female in town who is in the running to be "Queen of the May," only to discover that every single one has already been deflowered, they lose hope in the female race. Therefore, they begin to sing "The female sex is soiled" repetitively in a very droll manner. Both my mother and I were in the audience and this part offended us, but in two very different and interesting ways.

Because all of these girls aren't virgins, their final resort is the only male virgin in town, Albert Herring. My mother finds this concept offensive because she feels that the female sex is portrayed in a very degrading manner here. "Not one girl was a virgin out of all of them so they had to a retreat to a guy? That's a disgrace to women." It suggests that the female sex as a whole isn't very virtuous, or, I guess, sexually honorable, which doesn't say much about women back during the time Albert Herring takes place.

However, though I do agree with my mother's point, I see the degrading of the female sex in this scene in a different way. The opera makes the women's sexualities out to be a tragedy. They make it seem so dark and depressing that women have sex instead of celebrating the expression of female sexuality. This part is so satirically dramatic, as if it's completely horrible that women have their own sex lives and that it is shameful, that I found myself actually laughing as I watched it, questioning why it is such a big deal.

"Bounce me High, Bounce me Low": There are these three adolescent kids in the opera who play this game in which they stand in a circle and bounce a ball to each other and chant these very words: "Bounce me high, bounce me low, bounce me up to Jericho. Bounce me slow, bounce me quick, bounce me to Arithmetic." Then they rhythmically clap their hands and rotate their circle. 

I know it's not intended to be, but this chant sounds kind of sexual. It's kind of funny to think about. Read it again and you'll see what I mean.

Okay...announcement time. 

This might be my very last "Peak Performances and their Awkward Sexual Moments" post. Notice how I say "might." If I am inspired enough I will write them again. I don't really want to stop something with which I have been consistent. 

The thing is, they're not interesting me as much as they used to. When I wrote the originals, I was on winter break and wrote them to be productive and was excited to write them. Even though I enjoyed writing them this summer as well, they felt kind of forced this time. I was working on articles this summer and plus I came up with other post ideas so I couldn't really place my full focus on them. I felt obligated to complete them because I promised them, so I kind of made them an unnecessary task that I brought on myself.

Like I said, I might continue it, but I just want to warn you to be prepared that this may be the last one. I just want to move on to other things. Thank you so much for reading them and I am so glad that I wrote them for you!

However, on a happier note, I am looking forward to the 2011/2012 season of Peak Performances at MSU! :)