Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Stef's "So Good You Can't Put It Down" Book Reviews: Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge

LOL! Finally!

2016 was my first year participating in a Goodreads Challenge. Determined, I originally planned on reading 12 books this year, one for each month. However, seeing that I probably wouldn't accomplish this amount, I shortened it to eight books this year. Baby steps.

I did manage to read some whole books, but at the end of the year I was still behind. However, I also dabbled and started some other books, so to me, as long as a still read something, it still counts regardless if I completed them or not. I'll probably consider them my 2017 books too when I actually finish some of them. :P

For a lot of the books I read, I use My Bibliofile: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers to record my thoughts along the process. My father gave me this for Christmas one year and it is one of the best gifts I have ever received! Some books I do not include in this because I want to save pages in it and want to dedicate my entries to books I know I am into and want to finish. I think I might use some of the notes I took in this so I can remember what I thought of these books better. :P

So here are the books I read in 2016! :D

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ryan Gosling Deserves More than an Academy Award for What He Did on Oscar Night 2017

This was originally going to be a "Chatting with Stef" video, but I think I can articulate my thoughts on the matter better here.

So the 2017 Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, took place last night. Awards were given, political stances were taken, jokes were made (mostly at Donald Trump's expense), and everyone is talking about the mistake at the end.

However, there is something that nobody seems to be talking about nearly as much, but should. Although, it has gotten a lot of attention of Twitter and other comment sections.

The news is covering Gosling's facial expression to La La Land's loss and his sister Mandi, who he generously brought to join him, but this needs to be acknowledged so much more, which is why I am writing this blog post.

First of all, I can't stand jokes at award shows. It's like, shut up and just give out the awards. They're usually never that humorous and are all just ways to get people chattering. Then again, perhaps it depends on the jokes, but I digress.

One of the "jokes" was bringing a bunch of unsuspecting Hollywood tourists into the theater and parading them in front of the nominees. The tourists were understandably starstruck, taking photos and videos of their favorite actors and actresses before them as host Jimmy Kimmel guided them down the line and introduced them.

However, what struck me more was Ryan Gosling's reaction to all of this, which for me spoke volumes.

Ryan Gosling, who was up for La La Land and sat in the front row, was the ONLY celebrity to STAND UP and STAY STANDING to greet the lineup. Not only that, he seemed to have quick, lighthearted conversations with each member. I was actually appalled to see that the others didn't really follow suit. And not to change the subject, I heard that he also made a nice speech about his girlfriend Eva Mendes back at the Golden Globes.

The man is a Grade A class act and deserves to be commended.

At first I didn't notice this, but people have pointed out that he gave the first guy his box of candy (throughout the night they dropped candy from the ceiling) and may have even handed him his autograph. But all of this is beside the point. Gosling did what the rest of the celebrities would not.

Sure there were some guys who briefly stood up and took photos and Denzel Washington got up for that one couple, but that was more because the woman said that he was her favorite actor and Kimmel somewhat obligated him. I got the impression that Washington couldn't be bothered and neither could the rest of them. I'll even go as far as saying that they kinda looked borderline repulsed by the everyday people and couldn't wait for them to leave.

Then again, this was just my impression.

I could be over thinking this and overpraising the guy, but it holds true that Ryan Gosling was the only star to treat the tourists with respect as fellow human beings plainly by standing up to get on their level and connecting with them as opposed to gawking and giggling at the "hilarity" of it all. But then again, you can't really blame them for responding strangely like that. It can always be cool for fans to meet famous people and for famous people to meet fans, but this was just such an odd and cringeworthy way of doing it. Now, if the tourists were let into an after party and could freely mingle as equals, that might be another story.

It was as if both the tourists and the actors alike were on display. Okay, well maybe the actors were caught off guard and found the whole extravagancy just as awkward as I did, so they were put on the spot and too stunned and maybe even too shy and low key to respond right. Maybe they deal with fans on a daily basis and needed a break from it. Maybe they aren't supposed to interact with people on the fly to protect themselves. Some of them were friendly enough when hugging and shaking hands with their fans, which was the extent of their communications.

I also want to give all of the women the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps their feet were killing them because of their heels or they were restricted from movement in their outfits. As a woman who has worn such attire in the past, I can totally understand this.

This still doesn't excuse the fact that this looked more like an opportunity to mock the "lesser" common folk and their excitement than anything by tricking them to show up, which isn't necessarily the celebrities' fault. They clearly didn't plan for this to occur.

People are mostly commenting about how funny and/or awesome it was and how lucky these people were, but I did manage to find a few tweets and comments from the opposing side, and I agree with them. Here are two of them:

The others basically echo a similar theme.

I repeat that maybe I am overanalyzing this. Some say that it was nice of the Academy and Jimmy Kimmel to allow this and was a harmless surprise and Kimmel style prank. It was, after all, a once in a lifetime opportunity for the tourists to meet their favorite stars and certainly a night they will never forget. Maybe it was the best night of their lives! Many people will probably disagree with my opinions about this because the tourists themselves looked happy to be there and, like, they were at the Oscars and ran into so many stars at once! Some people wish that they were in their shoes and that this would happen to them.

Why, then, should I complain on their behalf? I don't speak for anybody else.

Perhaps they were also in on the joke? This definitely needs to be considered because they were going to be on the Oscars and maybe certain permissions needed to be verified, such as for being filmed. Some people might feel ashamed wearing street clothes to such a formal event in front of cameras and a bunch of celebrities who are all decked out for the Oscars, which again intensifies the idea of the rich and famous humiliating the common folk. They also most likely had to be fully surveyed for safety reasons before they stepped foot into that theater.

Plus, if they were serious Hollywood fans, how would they not know that the Oscars were being filmed at that location at that time? Isn't the Red Carpet outside also an obvious clue? Well, they did take them through the side door and not every Hollywood tourist has to be that knowledgeable about every single thing happening in the industry...

Maybe it's because I am a private person, but as I was watching this, sensing the uneasiness through the screen and wondering how I would respond to the situation, I thought to myself that I probably would have been annoyed by the spotlight and may not be alone. Furthermore, my desire to meet so many celebrities isn't that great.

The Hollywood elite need to remember that they were once just as ordinary as us and if it weren't for the people walking in, they wouldn't be sitting in those nice comfy chairs awaiting their award acceptances and distributions. People like us spend our well earned money, which is probably about 1/100,000,000 of what these celebrities make, on tickets to see these films because we appreciate this art and appreciate these performers producing that art. I hope to never change my perceptions about this and remain humble.

Ryan Gosling understands this, for instead of remaining in his chair like everyone else, he stood among the commoners. The least the rest could have done was rise from their seats along with him to recognize the people who have helped and continue to help them get into their current positions of success and stature. Not that they aren't grateful, but it would have been nice to see them take this extra step to show that gratitude and camaraderie between us and them. Then again, that could have dragged the uncomfortable segment out longer and they were already pressing on time.

Something tells me that if this happened at the Tony Awards, more of the performers would socialize with the entering fans. Theater people seem more inclusive and accepting.

Interestingly enough, I was never really that huge a fan of Ryan Gosling. Let me be clear that I never disliked him, but I also wasn't one of the many girls my age who gushed over his portrayal of Noah Calhoun in Nicholas Sparks's The Notebook (2004), which is how I first discovered him. If I had to choose a Ryan, I always chose Ryan Reynolds, another fellow decent human being in my opinion.

I truly enjoyed Gosling's performance in La La Land when Abby and I saw it back in late December (and shockingly didn't make a review vlog of it). Gosling was up Best Actor in a Leading Role, but lost to Casey Affleck for Manchester by the Sea.

He may not have received an award, but he certainly has received a new fan in me from his one simple act of kindness. Many claim it is because of his Canadian upbringing. Regardless of what it is, he certainly earned my respect last night.

Thank you, Ryan Gosling.

If you want to see what I am talking about throughout this piece, here is the video of it:

(But maybe the celebrities were in on it [too]. If so, their reactions were simply them acting! Hmm... If that's true, then they really are a pretty talented bunch and perhaps more talented than I thought because they managed to convince me enough to write a whole blog post criticizing them!)