Art Education

Okay, I post a lot of things encouraging STEM education, but I’d like to see it as STEAM and include Art ed. I’d love to see more respect given to the arts and creating. Art is so often used in therapy it should be more respected as something taught and learned, but also mastered. It’s one form of creating and expression that helps people deal with shit. 

Like damitfeelsgoodtobeafangirl said her death metal magical girls were created at a time she was depressed and she’s in a better place now. I  created a group of characters when I was depressed in high school and I continue to create with them because I enjoy working with them.

the visual and performing arts are so important in such a passive way they shouldn’t be ignored. Like, people write them off as being easy, but find them incredibly hard to actually do and people who persevere and keep making stuff have worked through periods of self doubt, other people doubting them and just keep going and like that should be lauded. For a lot of people, art is a second job for a long time until it can become a primary source of income. 

Creative thinking benefits everyone. The whole thing I was taught my entire child hood in the International Baccalaureate programs was to be a creative thinker and to ‘think outside the box’. How to we expect out business leaders to have creative solutions to their problems if they don’t have some decent creative training. And so what, it can’t be graded on an easy rubric like math or science, students are exercising their brains and learning different ways to consider the world around them. 

As a person who started college as a science major and graduated with an art degree I see how both of these are so similar. Scientists and artists study th world. They both show the world how it works, but also offer up ways is could work differently. And I think it’s highly telling that Scientific Art is a thing still. Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson, featured artist’s renderings of things. We have cameras and can so exactly how things work, but people chose to show an animated version of events and instead of having ‘reanctments’ they were animated-enactments of scientists discoveries. Like, science loves art, art loves science. And long ago, in the western world, some of our greatest scientific minds and artists minds were one in the same. 

Art is important, art has value and it should be far more respected on every level than it is now. 

My Issue With Saying People Have 'Too Much Time On Their Hands'

I just saw someone describe a creative endeavor as the work of someone with “too much time on their hands” - fuck you HuffPo! Being creative is not a waste of time, talent or effort. Being creative is something to respect because creativity is hard. Making stuff is hard.

I’ve had many, many non creative friends and people express shock and joy over simple doodles that in my mind are mediocre, but they’re not described as being done by someone “with too much time on their hands”. It’s bullshit how often a long term project or art piece gets knocked down like that.

The person creating probably didn’t have any “extra” time and carved time out from sleeping or being social to make something amazing.

Don’t degrade creative work. Respect the time and effort and the actual WORK of the person who made it because you can’t make it and that’s okay. You have something you’re great at, something you’re passionate about and you make the time for it.

Creativity is not a diversion. Final pieces, drawings, songs, performances, everything are the end goal and a chance to show off all of the hard work someone put into something. Respect it.

Thinking About Isms and Ignorance

I read this tweet and the following comments by the person who posted it and it reminded me of a thing I read some time ago about how trans women and people raised as boys eventually learn and see the institutionalized sexism that happens to women all the time. 

I kind of get it though, not noticing or not thinking about something as critically as you could until you experience it, and for a second I lamented there's no way this could be done for race. I can't think of a "this could happen to me" type of 'ah ha' moment that can happen to make racism better understood. I see instances of racism, modern and historic and I'm not surprised. 

I'm not surprised at proud white people posed beside a dead, lynched black person. Not in 18-whatever, not in 1957. It's like seeing groups of white people with shit eating grins in black face, I'm not surprised, just saddened each and every time that people aren't better. Seeing a color, instagram photo of dumbass white people in black, yellow, red face and other colored-face makes me angry but also sad that there's no way these people can ever really feel compassion for the people they're mocking and insulting. 

The closest is if we make it about them and that's not the same. 

I mean, I've heard people get so snitty and so pissed because someone's wearing a band shirt and they're "not a real fan" or about the concept of "fake geek girls" and "fake gamer girls". Titles of being a geek, a gamer, a fan of something are things you willingly put on and add to what you already were. And people get so defensive of the perceived "wrong person" giving themself attributes of something they like. But these selfsame people can't understand that when you dress up like something that a person can't change about themself and you're being insulting about it that it actually is harmful. 

I think I was also thinking about this because of that shitty Time article from this weekend when a college freshman went on and on about how he won't apologize for white privilege. He said some truly ignorant things but mostly addressed the hardships his grandparents had to overcome but never really addressed the aspects of his life that he had easy. His grandparents escaped Nazi-fied Europe and made it in America, made a business and started a family. His father worked too many hours and was barely around to see him as he grew up and he's not white privileged to be able to go to Princeton. I look at that and think about the loans his family was able to take out easier and with lower interest than what naturalized black Americans would have had access to. I look at the fact that he had both parents in the home and never made any mention of how much or little he saw his mother. Not that single parentness is a POC issue, but there'd be a different situation if there weren't a parent in the home when the other was at work. I also wonder how often he was a shitty kid in school and was never punished and what he himself accomplished with his own two hands and his brain to get into Princeton. I wonder if he was ever told "you speak good English" by people in his community, as if he shouldn't be able to. How often people ask and assume he's from a specific location because of his race and how he presents himself. He has lived a privileged life and it's disrespectful to just ignore it, it's disrespectful for the hell his grandparents lived through if he doesn't acknowledge that when they got to America they were playing the Game of Life with different handicaps than they had been playing with in Europe.

Crossdressers, trans people and I think even fe/male impersonators fall into a different category, they're not ridiculing and they can change who they are to a certain degree. You can't change your genetics or what ever biologic sex based medical diseases you may get. I don't know what it's like but I'm sure we need more trans positive doctors to help with pre-change health conditions that someone is still susceptible to. 

It's just maddening how difficult it is to educate someone who has never had to think about how complex the life of an Other is. Sex based discrimination can be seen and learned when someone changes who they are outwardly and society acts in kind. Race can't be learned as simply. Even going to a different country won't be the same because of old colonialism and Western domination. 

Child Abuse in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Author Note: This is a repost of an essay I had on my movie blogger. I liked it enough that I wanted it over here too. 

So this blog is movie analysis and review. Shut up.

I've said time and time again that Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, written and directed by Shane Black and starring Robert Downey Jr, Val Kilmer and Michelle Monaghan is my favorite movie. My best friend's nickname is a weird reference to the movie and I watch it a few times a year, especially when I'm working on things for class. I've listened to the commentary multiple times, I still yell at the screen and I laugh at the movie. Every time. I know the jokes, the beats a lot. I don't have the audacity to say 'everything' but a lot of things. I mean, I watched that movie every day for a week when I first got it. I wrote a paper on the function of guns and sexual prowess so I mean, I've seen this movie a fair few times.

The other day I was thinking about the fact that a catalyst of the the main action of the movie is child abuse.

It's somewhat glossed over, Shane Black mentions that in the commentary that he wishes in the edit that that beat had stood a bit longer before the movie jumped into it's next joke. It's a black comedy there's terrible and amusing wrapped together in a fucked up fashion for the audience's entertainment.

Harmony Faith Lane left her childhood home as a young adult knowing that her father was molesting her younger sister. There is a short insert showing the father taking the daughter from her bed while the other just lays there pretending she doesn't know this is going on. So, Harmony leaves as a response to running away from something she knew she should have stepped in to stop or affect in some way so that can be seen as psychological abuse. The mother was ill, I believe, and possibly didn't know any of the sexual abuse was going on and didn't stop it. Instigating the action of the movie, Harmony's sister has shown up and taken Harmony's ID and credit card in search of Harlan Dexter the man she thought washer real father because Harmony lied as a child and said that her sister's real father was an actor from Hollywood, hence her seeking Harlan Dexter.

Harlan has recently murdered his daughter and has hired a girl to pretend she's his daughter, the problem is he has some sexual relationship with her that Harmony's sister sees. As Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) says, the shiny new father is just as fucked up as her original father, which leads Harmony's sister to kill herself.  which jumpstarts the investigation.

This brings me to a functional response to child abuse, the children are fucked up. Harmony first running away and not doing anything to take care of her sister is a drastic response to the knowledge that her sister is being molested. The sister running away a few years later and trying to find a new father because her first one is a realistic response. The fact that she kills her self is also believable in that she doesn't want to live ina world where fathers hurt and abuse their children.

Looking at the very common trope in media to have a character become a badass warrior after being abused, raped or in any other way sexually attacked as a young girl, it'd generally female characters, I don't want to say it's refreshing that she kills herself in response to having lived a fucked up life, but it can be seen as a more believable response than lashing out in the controlled ways that other fictional women do. The movies doesn't shy away from the fact that sexual abuse leads to people being fucked up which is a strength to it. It is a bit quiet about it and tastefully doesn't go into details about what happens but seeing how these characters react shows how people can respond to being abused. Seeing how the other characters respond as the information is revealed is also great, it's a quiet fury that things are not all right in the world as a character's chance at happiness with a new father figure are dashed on the rocks of assumed abuse before anything more than a fantasy can be considered. 

The clever writing and the jokes are what made this movie my favorite. How the characters react in unique ways makes it that much stronger as a movie and a fictional version of the real world. The abuse is key tot he movie but seeing how it works on different levels makes it that much stronger as a film in my eyes.

 

Black Actors and the Academy Awards

Incomplete, but i don't feel the passion i generally need to really finish this and I'm not in the place I need to be for it to have the energy it deserves. i lost that while writing and I hoped it would return, it never did. I feel I made some good arguments and mentioned some valid points on American culture and society with entertainment media, I just never wrapped up either that i thought the problem was or how to fix it. A real writer wouldn't post this. Thank the god I don't believe in ii'm not a real writer and I can post whatever the fuck I want on my website. 

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I unashamedly and unapologetically love  much of what JF Sargent writes, I tend to agree with his opinions and I enjoy how he discusses race and gender issues in media and pop culture. I appreciate that someone is talking about this and it's not just the social justice posters on tumblr, it's not written from rage and hate, these articles are written from a point of view of 'this is what's going on and we as a society need to acknowledge and change this'. That said, I was right there when I read a recent Film School Rejects  article on the Academy Awards having issues with slavery and awarding black actors for their performances in these types of period pieces. 

I think there is a deeper underlying issue to address in conjunction to his statements on how rare black actors are awarded for their performances as slaves, I think we need to look at the types of roles that black actors are nominated and awarded for to begin with. I'll be honest, I'm using wikipedia for this information, I haven't seen many of these movies but I do believe that there have been respectable actors and performances that have been overlooked because of unacknowledged racism in the judging of these films and their performances. I have been critical of the parts that black actors have in movies, they're often terrible stereotypes that do nothing to improve the public opinion and status of black people in this country. 

Sidney Poitier, one of the greatest black actors from film history who worked in a hateful system and did the best he could to present a respectable black man in every part. He has been criticized for being 'castrated' and never really having a sexuality in his films. He happened to be black and that was the basis for many of the problems in his movies where he still delivered fantastic performances. He played educated men in many films, delivered fantastic performances and ended up winning one award fro his performance in Lilies of the Field in 1963 as an unpaid worker for some nuns and it's religious. His only other Oscar was an honorary life time achievement award. 

The next black man to with an Oscar was Denzel Washington for Training Day in 2001 in  a part that I sometimes consider questionable given his character was a crazy drug addict.  

There have been 4 black actors to win the Academy for best male actor, and Denzel is up again, I never saw Flight so I can't compare his nomination to Foxx's for Django, but this is another character of ill rebuke. Most of the best actor nominations have been for negative portrayals of black people, I feel this says a lot of the parts presented to black actors in American movies that they're so often nominated for being successful negative characters.

Looking at black women for best actress in a leading role Halle Barry is the only one to win, for Monster's Ball, a dark dramatic performance. The other performances that black women have been nominated for vary in the respectability of the characters but still seems to run dark and with negative depictions of black characters. 

There are 4 wins as best supporting actor. 5 for best supporting actress, one win for short documentary, 2 for original score, 5 for original song, 4 for sound mixing split between two men, one for best original screen play then a few special awards. 

The low number of wins and in conjunction low number of nominations stem from different causes and unconscious racism cannot be the only cause of this. Looking at how black culture considers the arts and types of arts that are acceptable for their children and what they encourage is someone that needs to be taken into consideration. But looking at the nominations, 16 for best male lead and 15 for best female lead since 1959 when the first black actors were first nominated in pitiful. How often were black performances looked over because they were by black actors? How often was the race of the character important to the narrative? It feels wrong to nominated and award black actors so often for performances where the crux of the narrative is on them being a black person. 

I'm not arguing or discounting what Sargent presents and his argument in how uncomfortable the Academy is with slavery but I'm also looking at the types of roles that black actors so often are presented with and how they reflect on so larger a part of American culture. The same considerations and criticism can be discussed with the television portrayal of black characters.