Saturday, June 23, 2012

Elephant in the Room: Suit against the Bachelor TV Show

I've read several commentaries about the suit brought against the Bachelor TV show for discriminating against African American contestants. Some try to argue why should there have to be people of color as contestants when you have individual niche networks like BET? What if the Bachelor has a preference for white people only? The real elephant in the room and what no one will be brave enough to acknowledge is that it is the advertisers pulling the strings. The problem with having an African American bachelor is some would think this means they would need to cast African American women as suitors. An advertiser may assume that since the show is all black no white people will tune in. Likewise, if they were to open the casting and have a diverse range of races represented it would mean we would have an interracial couple. That's another thing that worries advertisers, because there is a segment of the population that can't handle interracial couples and may tune out. The issue plain and simple is that advertisers are afraid of losing money due to two things: all black Bachelor/Bachelorette show or an interracial couple on show. Both things they fear will results in lost of viewership, which in turn would lead to a lose of revenue. How accurate are these beliefs? Why must we continue to believe these things are true?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Go Get a Job, and why that isn't as simple as it sounds

About a month ago I had the opportunity to crew on a documentary shoot about the Occupy movement in Los Angeles. It happened to be on the two month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. An impromptu protest was launched at 7am that day, and protesters were arrested. Another protest was schedule for noon. As I was waiting I saw cops on bikes go back and forth along the street. Several helicopters were in the sky. Next thing I hear is cop sirens and six cars flew by and turned on Spring. The filmmaker and I made our way to Broadway where the protest was under way. As we were getting the equipment together I hear sirens again. In come six cop cars, but out pops the riot police. They flick out there batons and load themselves onto these trucks prepared for transport. I got the chance to walk with the protesters and witness this exchange.

Young Asian man yells "Go Get a Job". A protester responds with there are no jobs. They go on and on with this topic and I felt like interrupting. If I had this is what I would have responded. Remember when you graduated right out of college how fast were you able to find a job? How many rejections did you get because you had no job experience? How many of you did some crummy jobs before landing your first real job? How long did you have to wait before you had health care benefits, 401K, vacation and sick time?

Most of the people that say "Go Get a Job" forget how difficult it was for them in the first place. The one thing colleges should be teaching graduates before handing them a diploma is how to write a professional resume and how to act in an interview. I remember when I first got out of college how I just waited and waited to get a job. When I went to school at community college I was able to get work at the student center, mainly because I had an inside connection who alerted me to the job. While I was at a four year university I applied to several positions and was lucky to get a temporary gig at the student bookstore. Upon graduating with my degree I was lost plain and simple. Didn't know if I wanted a Master's, and wasn't sure what to do next. My very first job right out of college was delivering the local newspaper. This meant I had to wake up at 2am every morning including holidays to deliver the paper. The pay was crummy, and you get deducted for every complaint you receive. You're lucky if you don't exceed the minimum a month.

This is the situation the current crop of graduates face, except there is tough competition for the most menial of jobs. Heard that a job posting for shelving books at the local library had over 200 applicants. If there is only one position available how likely is it for a first time employment seeker to get this job? It is always easier when you are on the other side to say that things like getting a job is so easy or why aren't they trying harder. What we forget is how hard it was for us the first time. I dare anybody who thinks it is so easy to get a job in this current climate to quit and see how fast they can find a position. I bet you it won't be that easy!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Time to give Sucker Punch the Knock Out

I watched Sucker Punch for 99 cents and I'm glad that's all I spent. While I think Zack Snyder is a step up from Michael Bay; he too shares the same flaws. He's good with visuals, but has issues with story beats and is clueless when it comes to weaving a cohesive story. The story is about a girl named Baby Doll, who accidentally kills her sister while defending herself from her evil stepfather's attacks. She is sent to an insane asylum, where in 5 days a doctor will come and give her a lobotomy. She develops a plan to escape after going into her dream world, where a Raydenesque character tells her she needs to retrieve four items and the fifth one will be revealed at the appropriate time. She teams up with other patients, Amber, Blondie, Rocket and Sweet Pea to bust out of there. Don't these sound like names of the Pussycat Dolls?

This movie was a point of contention for some critics over whether it was exploitative of women or empowering. I stand on the side that this movie is neither. While the women have to dance for the pleasure of men or to pacify them--we never see this hypnotic dance Baby Doll does. We're supposed to believe these women are empowered because they kick ass in the fantasy world; however, in the real world they are more like cowardly kittens. If I'm suppose to believe that their fantasy world emboldens them, why don't I see it when they are brought back to reality? Also, the Rayden-like character played by Scott Glenn gives them instructions in each of their fantasy missions. He makes a point of telling them that the enemies they are facing aren't real. This seems to allow our heroines to keep their hands relatively clean, because they never have to shed real blood.

Which leads me to think why couldn't this film have been a fantasy film. A movie with women warriors who battle dragons and zombie samurai. It seemed as if this movie was trying to ride the success of Christopher Nolan's Inception with its dream world plot. However, Zack Snyder's technique to use slow mo at certain parts of the action sequences throughout the movie bogs the film down. In fact, the movie itself seemed like one long music video. The artists and songs selected work well within the action scenes as an emotional background. The problem with using the music this way is you take away an opportunity for your actors to provide the emotional beats. What I took away from this movie is that it would have been better if it were a video game. I would have enjoyed playing anyone of these heroines on a PS3 instead of watching a 110 minute long music video.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cautiously optimistic: Sam and Addison

(If you haven't seen the Private Practice season finale proceed with caution. Spoilers ahead)
Have to admit that I was very close to being over Private Practice, but they had to go and suck me right back in. It all started with the Sam and Addison break up. I can understand if they broke up and it was for a believable reason. Trying to force someone to have a child by a certain time frame seemed rather unreasonable, and I felt like she needed more time to deal with her mother's death. She then proceeded to get involved with a new character played by Benjamin Bratt. You almost thought she was going to run away with him, and then boom there she was at the end in bed with Sam. Her resolution to their problem? She was going to have a baby on her own, but she was also going to stay in a relationship with Sam.

I believe that this is a brave decision on the part of the showrunner and writers to go this route. It would have been so easy to use Sam's reluctance to have children as a reason to break them up. I was fearing we would get the typical doomed interracial relationship. I still want to see them last and I like this twist in their relationship, but like I said I'm cautiously optimistic.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

La Douleur Exquise: The Exquisite Pain

If you are a fan of Sex and the City you might remember this episode called La Douleur Exquise translated as The Exquisite Pain. This is one of my favorite episodes of the series because it equated that relationships can turn masochistic and not in the typical sense. In the beginning of the series it seemed like no matter what Big did to Carrie she would keep coming back to him. It is in this episode that she realizes she is in a masochistic relationship with him, and that she keeps hurting herself over and over. It reminds me of my own bittersweet relationship with my own Mr. Big. I think part of the reason you keep going back is you assume that your love is so powerful that the other person will change because of it. When they don’t a sense of disappointment sweeps over you and you try harder. However, there is a time and place when the realization takes over that the pain is not worth it. It’s like taking a razor blade to your arm and you keep cutting and cutting.

I like to use examples of other people I know, because I think you can relate and understand your own situation better when you look at it through a different prism. I have this one friend who has been dating this guy for over seven years. It has been on and off, but they would get back together. The last breakup he decided to leave her for another woman he met online. When it didn’t work out he came crawling back to her. She took him back, and she hasn’t been happy since. Part of the reason she took him back was because he bombarded her with roses and promises that he was willing to do anything to make the relationship work. That hasn’t happen and she is left with this nagging feeling that he will leave her again. She checks his emails and cell phone to see who he is talking to. If she can’t get a hold of him she assumes the worst. Most of you are probably thinking why doesn’t she give up on this guy already?

Maybe we watch too many romantic movies or Sex and the City episodes, because in those situations the guy changes. The reality seems far different. Men like Mr. Big don't change in real life. If they do, they don't keep you waiting for ten years. If they think you are the woman they want to settle down with they will change right away. Not talking dramatic overnight changes, but small things here and there. On a deeper level, I think most people stay in these painful relationships for several reasons. One being that they don't think they deserve better, and the other is it is easier to stay in a bad relationship they go back out into the dating world. Dating is extremely hard. It seems like you date twenty people just to find one good prospect. You then put all your time and energy and that one prospect doesn't work out. Then you start the cycle all over with another ride on the merry go round of dating.

This goes back to my New Year's resolution to get off the merry go round. I've been seeing a pattern in my own dating style. Staying too long, hoping the guy will change. I'm ready to accept the fact that it won't and move on. I realize it is hard to be alone, but I'd rather deal with that then the pain of a relationship that is not working.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What New Year’s Resolutions? Start today!

Every time a New Year rolls around we all seem to want to make some kind of New Year’s resolutions. How about this one? Why wait till New Year’s when you can start today? I’ve resolved that we shouldn’t have to wait to get started. We all know what we want to accomplish. For instance for myself, I’ve resolved that I will lay the foundation for big changes that will improve and enhance my life. I will not be waiting till New Year’s. I’m starting today and so can you!

Lately, I’ve come across this idea of why we don’t get what we want and why we continue to suffer. I had a friend who was going to lose her job because her company was relocating to Arizona. They gave her the option of moving to Arizona and work over there. She at first decided that she was going to do it, and had started making plans. A month to go before the move and she starts having panic attacks. Fear had taken a firm grip on her mind, and she became convinced that she could not handle the move.

Fear is a very powerful notion. Fear can convince us that we are not capable of doing what our heart wants us to do. Fear is a paralyzer and probably much worse than a sting by a jellyfish. We have to ask ourselves, if I want to have the life that I desire can I allow fear to get in the way? It’s a like being a hamster on an exercising wheel. You keep going around and around non-stop. How can you move forward if you are going in circles? You have to decide to step off the wheel.

I’m reminded of an episode of Quantum’s Leap. I vaguely remember the story, but the ending had to do with this girl making a decision to follow her heart and pursue a career in music. She asks Sam (Scott Bakula) at the end, but what if she fails? He tells her you won't know if you've failed if you don't try. If you don’t try, then you will look back and always think what if?

The key thing is if there is something you want starting making a plan. Outline what the need to do to get there and make it happen. Who knows if it will work out or not? Isn’t it better to try and know then not to try and think what if? In the words of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, “Don’t dream it, just be it”!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shoddy Writing III: Brothers and Sisters

Oh boy, how does one of your favorite shows become a show you hate? It’s called shoddy writing and for part III in my series I’m focusing on Brothers and Sisters. What is wrong with this show? Shall I count the ways? Let’s start with the very first episode of the new season. The season started with advancing the story a year forward. This was to allow the youngest son Justin to go off to war and come back. He came back to Robert, Kitty’s husband in a coma, Scotty and Kevin owning a restaurant with Saul, Sarah unemployed but dating a hot guy, and Holly suffering with memory loss. Ojai Foods and politics were the core through line of Brothers and Sisters. It was what made the show unique as well gave it more depth than a typical family drama. With the new writing regime these things have been decimated. Characters are fighting over ridiculous things and the stories have been the most uninspired piece of shoddy writing I have ever seen.

First off, my biggest problem is the Holly storyline. I loved seeing Nora and Holly in scenes together. How often on a show do you get the other woman and the wife being forced to run a business together? I guess giving her memory loss was a way to give her some relevancy on the show, but it led to one of the most dumbfounded, shaking your head in confusion moments I have ever had. If your mom was suffering from memory loss would you take a job on the other end of the coast from her? On Brothers & Sisters that’s exactly what Holly’s daughter Rebecca did! The quick resolution to Rebecca and Justin’s marriage just didn’t feel right especially with the time leap forward. We’re supposed to believe that a year went by and this couple never talked about their relationship or considered divorce? I believe a fatal mistake was made a season ago when they undid Rebecca’s paternity. One of the reasons why they did this was so Rebecca and Justin could engage in a romantic relationship. The problem with putting these two in a relationship was the lack of complications and obstacles. What kind of challenges could you throw at them if their families got along? This is a show about family after all, and most of the central conflict is within or revolving around the family.

Another problem I have with is a declawed Kitty Walker. At the end of last season she was running for assembly, and now she just sits around her house. Don’t you think a woman of her caliber would want to be kicking butt and taking names? Why would she just drop out of politics? There have been several women politicians who have lost their husbands and ended up running in their place. Why would she not continue on as a way to honor her husband and his legacy? I think it would be interesting to have a woman who is widowed with a baby trying to balance her career and personal life.

I also have the same issue with Sarah. I do not buy her sitting at home sewing costumes for her son’s school play. She’s her best when she is wheeling and dealing. Why was Sarah not involved in business operations for Saul and Scotty’s new restaurant? Heck, why didn’t they start a new kind of family business and include everyone in the family? I also, don’t feel the chemistry between her and Giles Marini. His acting is pretty flat, and he is way too perfect. He doesn’t seem to have any flaws and that could eventually lead to one thing—a character that will bore us to death. I wish they would bring Steven Weber back, because he had a lot of heat with Rachel Griffiths. I would have enjoyed a story between them where they would be in competing businesses.

This begs the big question can this show be saved from falling off into the abyss? At this point, I think a mercy kill would be in order. The writing is lazy, the characters have become a shell of themselves, and I’ve basically removed the show from my DVR. I think the only way to resuscitate this show is to bring back Jon Robin Baitz. Have him refocus the show around politics again and give the characters their backbones and imperfections back.