Thursday, April 01, 2010

Top 3 Cuckolds of Cinema

Since jamming to Courtney Love a couple of weeks ago at SXSW, I've been on a 90s binge. The moshing and crowd-surfing I witnessed that night have pushed me to nostalgia's edge. Now, as I watch Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet" I feel that this film, along with my impending birthday out of my 20s, will surely connive to do me in.

Before that comes to pass, I need to confess that I was over the moon when Paul Rudd appeared on the screen. Not only did I forget that he was in this movie but I forgot about this "Clueless"-era, endearing version of Rudd that completely lacks any irony. Amazing.

Which brings me to the matter at hand. The top three cuckolds of cinema:

3. Colin Firth---Notable because he's actually been a cuckold twice: "The English Patient" and "Shakespeare in Love." It's poignant to think that Mr. Darcy, the man who single-handedly revived "Pride and Prejudice" and whose sex appeal spawned an industry of Prejudice fandom ("Bridget Jones' Diary"; "Lost in Austen", etc.), could ever be a cuckold. But he was. Twice. Which cuckold was the most pathetic? It's a tough call since we're comparing a dramatic film to a comedic one. But since at the heart of cuckoldry is another man, let's compare the competition (who are actually brothers)--Joseph and Ralph Fiennes. Obviously, there's no question. Though Joseph Fiennes has some sort of boy on the subway appeal, Ralph smolders. Even as a Nazi. Even as J.Lo's love interest. There is no diminishing his potency, therefore I grant the cuckold award to Firth in "The English Patient." Sorry it ended so badly for you in the desert.

2. Daniel Day-Lewis---Full disclosure, DDL is my favorite actor. He is a true character chameleon and married to "Abigail Weld" from "Wind," one of my favorite films of all time. And if you can handle it, DDL smolders even more than Ralph Fiennes. That's because DDL smolders even as a cripple.Yet he is on this list. Because even DDL has been cuckolded, as Helena Bonham-Carter's fiance in "A Room with a View." DDL is in this film for maybe 7 minutes, but he's a scene stealer even when we're supposed to be swooning over Julian Sands. What makes his performance more amazing is when you compare it to his work in "The Age of Innocence" released only two years before "ARV." Newland Archer was just the type of man you'd leave Cecil Vyse for. But in the end you're still with DDL.

1. Paul Rudd---As Dave Paris in "Romeo and Juliet" he was nice to the point of being obnoxious and perfect to the point of being dull. At the party he claps like a rabid monkey at the balloons and confetti, without a hint of irony. He deserves to be the cuckold in a way that neither Firth nor DDL ever inspired. And perhaps what makes this performance most poignant is that he abandoned Mr. Perfection for the string of dude flicks from the mid-00s. Gone was Mr. Immaculate Grooming. Hello Mr. Gross-Out, Stoner, Loser. Despite being the cuckold, Firth and DDL never flew off the handle to the other end of the spectrum like Rudd did. We've all seen his bare ass for crying out loud. And because of that, his portrayal of the cuckold to Leonardo Dicaprio's Romeo is the top-top-top.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Trials of Semi-Adulthood

I "left" home over ten years ago. Let's define "left" loosely as the majority of my earthly belongings would from that point on be held in suitcases, trunks, and boxes flying from various points in the world, with Florida as their final destination.

This all changed about eighteen months ago when I really left home. This time not only did everything come with me but I left behind the bittersweet implication that I would not live there again. This was most likely harder for me to accept than my parents given my raging and seemingly incurable Peter Pan syndrome. I could blame this fear of growing up on my father, whose own mortality was tragically stung to the core when his father passed away before his twentieth birthday, but I'll try to be an adult about it and blame it on myself. Not surprisingly I have chosen a career path, or rather have paid for a career path, where I can push adulthood and true responsibility further back. Being a professional graduate student is a drawn-out exercise in immortality and vanity. We revel in the limits our mind can reach at the end of a semester as we print out an obscure twenty-page paper that only a few people will ever read but that we know will live on forever.

As much as this seems like a perfect union, my syndrome and a profession that celebrates it, there is something missing. I am at the Diane Keaton-point in my film where I am juggling a baby and my career. And I feel myself leaning towards moving to Vermont, so to speak. There is no question in my mind that the most important thing for me is my family. Which is why living the way I do is so difficult. Peter Pan did not have a family. And nor do the grad students you see on any college campus. It's as if we all just appeared one day, autonomous and ready to lend our minds to the greater good of research. But I have a family. And they are living their lives without me. And even though there are occasional guest appearances, that isn't enough for me. I thought this feeling would go away but it hasn't. I've been told this feeling never goes away.

Am I coward if I duck out? Is it time to finally face the question I've been dodging since the spring of 2003 when I was supposed to get a job? Has seven years been enough time to put off true adulthood?

Am I ready to leave my Neverland?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Obstacles to my Francophilia

Though my rants are usually dedicated to issues facing Latinos and Latin Americans, a recent event has provoked me to bare my American teeth.

How can the French support Roman Polanski?

In response to his recent arrest in Switzerland, the French are horrified about the U.S.'s intentions to have Polanski extradited so he may face charges of drugging and raping a minor. A crime mind you that he admitted to committing over three decades ago but fled to Europe to avoid trial.

Polanski's wife is calling on film directors to support Polanski. Yes, let's appeal to the dubious moral fiber of the entertainment industry.

This event, coupled with Zidane's head butt at the 2006 World Cup final, really creases my love for the French. Perhaps the Puritanical brainwashing I've received during my youth in the American public school system has inoculated me against ever really "getting" the French. But they seduce me with their scenic films and mind-altering food.

However, I can never really embrace the French. That part of my heart, the space carved out exclusively for Western European culture, is reserved for the English.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What's up Emanuella?

Man, what country our we living in?

The trial of two teenagers who participated in a beating that led to a man's death is over. The kids in question will most likely serve only a handful of months for their barbaric, racist actions. And the deceased, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, died a brutal death.

CNN's reporting of this incident is shocking. The headline, "2 teens get jail time in Mexican's beating death", is, to put it mildly, strangely worded. At first I thought it was a spring break trip to Cancun gone wrong. But no, this happened in Pennsylvania. There is something off with the title that implies that these kids getting jail time is news-worthy. Should they not be getting jail time because the victim was Mexican? Why does the victim's nationality matter while the perpetrators' does not? Is it because Mexican, for many Americans, is a race rather than a nationality? Why did Emanuella Grinberg lead with the teens? Why are they the subjects of the headline rather than the victim? In our youth-obsessed culture could it be that there is nothing more tragic than attractive young middle-class white boys going to jail?

Unfortunately, the article becomes more cringe-worthy once you get past the headline. How can these two teens receive as little as six months in jail? I am not sure how involved Grinberg was in the layout of this article but it is pretty reprehensible to have such a smug photo of Brandon Piekarsky and Derrick Donchak next to the paragraphs that detail their sentence lengths, the terribly unnecessary anecdote of them having played high school football, and their unfortunate acquittal of felony counts.

Judge William Baldwin seems like a good guy and I would hate to have been in his position, knowing that I am sending two deplorable so-called men back into society. I wonder what kind of "potential" these children will realize as adults. I hope I do not see them trolling Calle Ocho in Miami next March.

Grinberg's major error with this piece was of course her gross oversight of the victim, Luis Ramirez. I understand that in the journalistic sphere it is necessary to have variety in one's writing. You cannot constantly repeat, Piekarsky or Ramirez. But why is it that Piekarsky is referred to as a "teen" and "football player" and never as a "perpetrator" while Ramirez is referred to as "undocumented" and "illegal" rather than "the deceased victim?" Why does Ramirez's photograph come after the pseudo-Abercrombie & Fitch ad? Is it too graphic to see what a man, whose "brain tissue oozed out of his skull during surgery", looks like unconscious?

I am obviously partial. I spent a significant part of my life as an illegal immigrant. Even as a child I lived in fear, often never admitting that I had not been born in this country. I was not present at the night of the brawl and I do not know who was the true instigator. However I do know this. However "fair" the fight was Piekarsky and Donchak walked away alive. And now they have gotten a slap on the wrists. As most illegal immigrants know, the law is not on their side. And even in death, justice on this side of the border eludes them.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

my soapbox

Summer has been on for about three weeks now and suddenly all my back-burner tasks are surfacing. Namely an impending wedding. I was conducting a google search for a potential venue in Chile when I randomly found a Mormon missionary's blog. Apparently this kid is in central Chile trying to convert my relatives.

In addition to the severe spelling and grammatical errors, this blog really annoys me. Obviously I am no Chicago Manual of Style master given my penchant for using lower-case letters with wild abandon. However this kid cannot even spell Chilean. To be fair he is not teaching English to his acquaintances and, ten years after my high school graduation, I am still toting around a backpack. I admit that I am a nerd. However, I find these mistakes unforgivable since for starters has spell check. And secondly, these errors form the foundation of a superficial cultural critique of my birth country. I am not aware of what historical, social, and/or cultural preparation missionaries are exposed to but it seems to me that this blogger did not bring much knowledge, let alone cultural sensitivity, to Chile.

He complains that Chileans are unreceptive to his teachings. Let us go back five hundred years and trace the history of mission work and colonization in Latin America. I am sure we would not begrudge a bit of wariness on the part of Latin Americans when it comes to outsiders. Especially white men. God help you if you come in sporting a red beard as you sit on a horse.

The blogger goes on to summarize the reason why Chile is an undeveloped country: Chileans are lazy. Which is, as he readily admits, in stark contrast to his active, idealist ambition to go into the world, meet people, and share his religion. I am sure anyone who spent most of their time in rural Chile, overwhelmed by the poverty and lack of education of the people they met, would try to find the origins of this miserable situation. However, this does not define the entire nation. Chile has a strong middle class and an elite that would rival the wealthy of any Western, first-world country. Even during this worldwide recession, Chile's economy continues to grow and serve as a model for the rest of Latin America. (Thank you, Chicago Boys). The laziness this blogger perceives is a complex front that, despite translation, cannot be grasped so easily. Especially if your ambition blinds you to understanding the true secular social forces at play.

I was tempted to write this response on the Mormon blogger's blog, but felt that as sparring partners we were not a fair fit. We have experienced Chile in such distinct ways and have such diverging agendas, that our communication would be like trying to discuss race in America on the Tyra show. A hot mess that in the end achieved nothing. Moreover, the passive aggressive narcissist in me enjoys the idea of having the last (and only) word on this matter.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm back...

Hello world,

I couldn't bear to reach the three year mark of blog abandonment so I decided to revive my external (though silent) monologue. I think today I hit the wall of reality, familiar to my graduate school peers. The recession has sunk in. The long, unsettling road of a graduate career has revealed its questionable engineering. I get it, this sucks. Not graduate school itself, but all the theatrics we daily perform to stay in the game. I'm also turning 28 in one month. Am I still in the range of a quarter-life crisis?

But maybe before I talk about now I should do a quick review of the past 3ish years:

1. The World Cup was a multi-linguistic, multi-sensory, multi-jersey circus. Three weeks of beer, sausages, soccer, contemporary art, Birkenstocks and dudes. My dudes. The Earworks German was very helpful and I'm still conspiring to get back to Germany.

2. RH and I had a blow-out despedida on a friend's roof. Then we travelled for almost 4 weeks, starting at Santiago and moving in a counter-clockwise direction to the tip of the continent, through Patagonia, Buenos Aires and then due west. Mostly by bus. No more ham and cheese sandwiches with salsa golf. Salsa what?

3. Started 2007 back in south Florida. Felt weirded out by everything for a few months. Picked up where I left off when I graduated in August 2004: where am I going? Thought about the last time I was really happy with my work; remembered the Norton internship; and locked in my goal: graduate school in art history. Spent the next eighteen months preparing for grad school by taking lots of art history courses, German courses and working at the FAU University Galleries, one of the best gigs I've ever had. Applied to lots of schools, got stressed out, realized that at this stage of the game graduate school is not the means but the end. Hello, my name is Doris, and I am professional student. Had this epiphany at UT and felt it was a sign. Started practicing my "hook 'em Longhorns" finger salute. But I'm still all about the U.

4. Of course I still had a life. Besides academics, I went to two weddings, hung out with family and friends and fell in love again with Florida. Not the hardest thing to do, she's kind of slutty. RH moved to Miami and started culinary school. Score! No more cooking for me. Got engaged a few days before we left paradise. But someone is holding our spot.

5. Fall semester starts at UT. The heat, classes and throngs of students was a heady experience at first. Fear what an actual fire drill would look like with everyone in the streets at once. Got a bike and feel like I'm crossing the finish line in "Breaking Away" everytime I make it to the campus. OD on Tex-Mex on a weekly basis. Try to connect with the Austin swing, but mostly feel like Steve Martin in "My Blue Heaven." Actually, my first few months in Texas can be expressed in several obscure 80s movies.

6. Winter break is 6 weeks long. The U of C would give us 10 days off if we were good kids. Went to San Antonio and visited the Alamo. Had some more Tex-Mex. Started Spring semester with a heavier load but I'm happy to carry it. The specter of post-MA life haunts me everywhere. It's hard to keep things loose. Maybe I should take it all in 2 hours at a time. When will the stimulus stimualte? Where's my bailout?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Corporate Rebellion

This past weekend on a BBC World interview titled “50 Cent: Money Machine” the eloquent 50 Cent was able to summarize his career in one sentence: “On an artist level, the musician is a marketing tool.” Great. I’m not sure if this makes him a genius or an idiot. I could care less about making that distinction, he’s obviously been in many a record company meeting about how to reach out to the 18-34 year-old male demographic. It’s reflected in his use of the word “artist.” I can’t deny anyone the use of the third person. Doris likes to do it every now and then, too. However, where, when, why, and how (most importantly) can 50 Cent get away with calling himself an “artist”? I most definitely will not accept that. Perhaps my definition of artist is too narrow. For me in the music world, an “artist” is someone who doesn’t need a music video to be successful. True, I lean towards independent music regardless of genre. But I can and do appreciate a well-done pop song. Thanks Hillary Duff.

I see 50 cent as a corporate rebel, a term Courtney Love used to describe Eminem, coincidentally 50 Cent’s maker. Eminem has managed to fool many people into believing he is a rebel. He’s on glossy magazine covers, topless, buff, and stone-faced whilst showing off his two middle fingers. He takes easy shots at homosexuals to reinforce his masculinity. But he’s not really rebelling. He’s not questioning the corporate label supporting him. Or taking shots at real issues like insecurity among rappers that’s manifested in homophobia. He’s rebelling in a way that makes him cool and sexy for the youth. Exactly the type of cookie-cutter rebellion that makes music corporations wealthy. So it’s no surprise that 50 Cent was cast in the same mold: starring in 3-minute music videos, which are really 50 second commercials for his merchandise as he stated himself. He’s dumbing down his audience by speaking grammatically incorrect English. He objectifies women and men. He promotes a shallow and expensive club lifestyle that lacks accountability and true social change. He has shackled the minds of my generation by making them slaves to his lame consumerism. When I hear people like 50 Cent and his vulture-ilk of marketers so eager to understand my purchasing practices and get my money, I shrink away and spend nothing. It’s a game of control and it’s unfortunate that given an international forum, 50 Cent appears as nothing more than a “money machine”, a puppet, a boring corporate rebel.

So what can appease these sour grapes? Why, some compassionate grapes, of course.