An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘The Sky Crawlers’

Dismissing Something Off-hand as Sexist is Wrong

There is a rather disturbing trend in the media that we consume where a group of people will look at something and quickly dismiss it at something that is sexist.  Both genders do this, and unfortunately, it is becoming a huge problem.  Michael Crichton did a number, or rather, had a great thought about this towards the end of his book, Disclosure.  It is becoming far too easy for people to just dismiss something off-hand because they believe that is sexist.  Unfortunately, people do this without regard for why things may or may not be this way.

A friend of mine posted an article on her Facebook page that talked about this with a book.  This is a book that I had never read, but the concepts in it were very good.  It discussed the idea of examining the fantasy genre.  It brought up some points that I believe are pretty good.  I truly believe that dismissing a work off-hand, for any reason, is wrong.  When I first decided to go and see the sequel to Tron, which was absolutely terrible, I was told by a feminist friend of mine that it was apparently viewed as sexist by some members of her community.  The knowledge of this had my opinion jaded.  I looked for how it could be demeaning to women, and honestly, I couldn’t find it.  In fact, the main female character, played by Olivia Wilde, was pretty badass, to put it bluntly.  The movie may have been terrible, but her character was still interesting.

It has come up in a lot of other works that I am a fan of.  I love certain elements of Japanese animation.  There have been works that are completely incredible.  My favorite film, in fact, is of Japanese animation.  It was called The Sky Crawlers.  It was a work by Mamoru Oshii, one of the best filmmakers who is alive today.  But I have heard from a lot of women who are big on the feminist position that anime is totally sexist.  They cite repeatedly how women in these shows are often adorned quite out of the range of possibilities, and they seem to be sexualized.  I sometimes agree with that, by the way, but other times, I find it not to be in bad taste.  Let me give you an example.

A favorite anime of mine, Cowboy Bebop, has the female lead named Faye Valentine.  She is made to be a sexual appeal to the show, a very femme fatale character, but she is also a very dynamic character.  Over the course of the series, you see her gradually evolve into one of the show’s most important characters.  She may be done for looks, but I don’t think that that is something that one can blame on a genre.

Unfortunately, sex has sold in this country for a very long time.  It sells everywhere.  I hear a lot of feminists say that women are exploited.  Well ladies, by the same logic that you say women are exploited, you would have to say that men are exploited too.  I have heard people say that women who star in porn are being objectified, and give an unrealistic view of what woman are supposed to be, or rather, an very shallow view.  Do you truly believe that it is different for men?  Men are given this image that very few men are able to measure up to, if you know what I mean.  And those who claim that women are exploited because of good looks, it also goes the other way.

Really, the idea of sexualizing in society is not a one-way street.  Certain areas of both genders want to look at it that way, but nothing in life is as simple as cut and dry.  The fact is that sexism in a culture that is portrayed often says something about the world that it was made in.  The article linked above made a great comparison about how Jane Austen made these worlds have a great meaning in books like Pride and Prejudice, and how it was done very well in Mad Men.  People who watch this don’t aspire to have this kind of world.  Or at least, very few of them do.

And really, when you think about it, for anything that is meant to portray Medieval times, what exactly should women be like?  If you want to be realistic, then back in the day, they were just brood-mares for the state, or for their families.  They were meant to cook, clean, have sex with their husbands, and then produce lots of offspring.  Fiction allows a person to make whatever kind of world and character that they want.  And honestly, if all women in every single piece were some marvelous leaders who are not stupid in any way, would that seem realistic to you?  When the fact is that most people are not exceptional, so why should all characters of a gender be that way?  Not only is it unrealistic, it’s also boring.  Overcoming weakness and character growth are essential to any work of fiction.

The fact is that it goes both ways that people dismiss something as sexist.  With women, it is much more predominate, but with both genders, I view it as equally wrong.  There are works where sexism is horribly used, like the Twilight series, but with good works of fiction, sexism in a culture is used to give a good perspective into that culture.  That is my little rant.

Peace out,

Eli

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Eli’s Review: Too Big to Fail

There are certain films that are designed for an express purpose.  They want to convey a certain thought process, feeling, or reaction from the audience.  There are films like the abominations against rational thought, also known as the Twilight series, which were made for the sole purpose of making teen girls are warm for…one of the stalker guys’ forms, it could go either way.  Then there are films like The Social Network, where it wanted you to think about personal betrayal and the journey from being a nobody to having the world.  There are also films like The Sky Crawlers, which shows the rather cold world eternal warfare, and gets you to think about how pointless war is and how it inevitably doesn’t help anybody.

Good films actually require a person to think.  It is never enough, at least for this critic, to simply sit down and just start blankly at a screen and look at the pretty colors.  That was how Avatar got so many people to love it.  A story so cliche that it was beyond parody, and a vaguely racist character paradigm where the white man becomes better and being native than the natives.  But a truly great film is able to rise above that, to challenge a person’s way of thinking, and to even get them to think a little deeper about something that they hadn’t even had the courage to think about before.  It is a rare few films that truly go the distance in that category.

The film Too Big to Fail was an absolute masterpiece when it comes to getting the audience to think.  The fact that it is based on a true story make the point that it makes about society and the banking industry, and the politics of economics in this country that much more powerful and almost disturbing in parts.

A little background, this is a brand new film.  It was being shown at a meeting of the UAA College Democrats, of which I am a member.  It was shown at the home of John and Heather Aronno.  Two of the most politically active people that you will ever meet, if anybody in Anchorage has the chance.  Tonight was pretty fun, before and after the film.  But enough of the personal stuff, back to one of the most intriguing films that I have ever seen, and that is saying something.  Truthfully, it is the fact that this is based on a true story that is so powerful and so profoundly disturbing.  Truly, most Americans have no idea how close this country’s economy came to a complete meltdown.

I won’t lie, I am going to be laying out the plot of the film, but honestly, it is the delivery and the portrayal of the people who got this nation so close to disaster and then saved it that gives this film the genuine power that it has.  This film tells the story of the 2008 meltdown.  A rather interesting trick that this film uses is it combines the use of clips from actual news broadcasts with the story being played out.  The clips are used to drive home what part of the film they were talking about.  In a way, it was showing how the events that were unfolding were being shown to the people.  It almost seemed to be a mechanism to show how ignorant people in this country were of what was happening.

And the fact is that we truly were ignorant.  We have no idea how close we came to having our economy collapse.  There was a speech by Paul Giamatti’s character, Ben Bernanke, who was Chairman of the Federal Reserve, which was so powerful.  Pity I have been kind of exhausted all day, because I wish that I could remember it with clarity.  He spoke about how he had spent his entire academic time studying the Great Depression, and the writing was as clear as day to him that the country was in imminent trouble.  It couldn’t have been any better.

The fact is that every single person who was cast in this picture was brillianet.  William Hurt played Henry Paulson, the Secretary of the Treasury.  He was working with all of his might to stave off the potential disaster that was facing the country.  The efforts he was taking, and the level of committment were destroying him, on a physical as well as emotional level.  One can only imagine how stressful such a position would be in.  Plus, there was no clear solution, and everybody had their own agendas that they were playing at, which made his job even harder.  I could go through every role and how they are all perfect, but the fact is that that would take all night.  But there isn’t a single person who is miscast in this film.  It was made for HBO, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is absolutely awe-inspiring.

But the thing that truly sticks with you in this film is the fact that this kind of disaster could happen again.  The housing bubble, the very thing which caused the economic meltdown to happen in the first place (when it burst in late 2007) is back.  While it will take a lot of time to grow, the fact is that it is growing again.  Not only that, but China’s own bubble is on the verge of bursting, and that could spell a lot of trouble for this country, since we live in a global economy.  Plus, we still have the concept of Too Big to Fail in this country, which makes this even worse.  There were a series of textual epilogues that said that 10 banks now possess 77% of this entire country’s wealth.  Too Big to Fail is the understatement of the year.  We absolutely cannot afford to have these places fail on us now.  If that were to happen, I guess Bernanke and I are on the same page.  But, there seems to be no way to stop it now.

This film was powerful, and in a very profound way for me.  The fact is that it is so easy for people to just not pay attention to what is going on.  It is so easy for people to just go with the flow, but we need to pay more attention.  We need to keep tabs on what is going on, or we may start hearing about how things are getting very bad, very quickly.

Until next time, a quote,

“I don’t get it, why are we debating this? If they go down, you all will.”  -Ben Bernanke, Too Big to Fail

Peace out,

Maverick

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