Saturday, July 19, 2008

Okay the Last Little Post About Movies Today, I Swear

Seriously? I wasn't excited for Step Brothers until I saw this clip (apparently a deleted scene.)

"Am I in the black forest of Germany?"

No, you're just watching a really funny movie.


Shine on Your Shoes

Last night my RA from freshman year took me to the restaurant where he serves as Bar Manager, South Gate, for a fully comped meal. It was the first time I've been out to dinner in a really long time and ate something that cost more than $5. First I was all, WTF this restaurant is owned by the Sheikh of Dubai and therefore what I'm eating is funded by oil money. And I got kind of grumpy. But then Tony Bennett came in and ate dinner at Table 1 and I spent the rest of the night fantasizing about how genuinely excited my Grandma would get when I called her to tell her, and how she might start naming times she saw him live and then talking about her life growing up in Pelham Bay Park, and suddenly I got uncharacteristically excited to call her. I haven't yet, though, because I'm scared she'll start talking about my NYM article and chastising me for using the word "fuck" a few times. :/



You'll notice I've added Tomato Nation to the blogroll. It's been one of my favorite blogs since high school--I've written into the Vine before, though you'll have to figure out which letter for yourself--and Ms. Bunting continues to captivate me with her writing to this day. Go check it out, though honestly, it's not like she needs any more publicity. But still. Read it. This post becomes my life several times a year.

(If you ever read Television Without Pity, she's one of the people who started it.)


Makeup Inspired by Courtney Love

So I saw it last night. It was very, very, very good. In fact, the only problem I had was that we saw a 12:30 showing, so by the time the final action sequences rolled around, it was like almost three and I was (enthralled, yes, but also) exhausted. I definitely want to see it again, when I'm fully awake and can appreciate its awesomeness as a whole.

That said, yes, Heath Ledger did a tremendous job as the Joker. He's a heartless psychopath, but he's also charismatic, funny, and yes, even likable. No, I'm not just saying that because omg it was Heath's last role. No, I don't think he's going to win an Oscar for it. A lot of people--including Michael fucking Caine, which is like, you're in this movie so it sounds weird that you're recommending this--are betting, or at least hoping, that Ledger gets an Oscar. But this is Batman. As good as the movie was, do you really think the Academy is going to recognize any film that sells merchandise at Toys R Us for acting? Of course not.

Well, he could at least get a nomination out of respect for his life and work, right? It's sweet in theory, but I don't think that'll happen, unless autumn doesn't bring as many Oscar-baiting films as expected. He should--and probably will--get his own video tribute, at the least.

Ledger's performance was great, no doubt, but I think talk about giving him an Oscar misses the point. The fact is that he brilliantly transformed himself into this other character. Whether or not he gets a posthumous award is irrelevant--appreciating his character, and the film as a whole, is both important and pretty damn entertaining; his marvelous portrayal as the Joker is the truest testament to a career that ended too quickly and a talented actor whose work will live on.


House of Cards

Josh and I are finally going to see Radiohead in August. I personally have been trying to procure tickets for their shows ever since I got into them a handful of years ago, but they always seem to sell out the second they go on sale (quite literally). That said, we're going to see them on the lawn in Camden, NJ and hopefully it won't be like this experience where it was essentially 15 year olds puking on each other. Below is the freshly released video for "House of Cards." It is quintessential Thom Yorke with crazy 3D computer graphics and floating heads made out of laser lights. And like, hey man, if you're going to the show in Camden, we should all totally meet up beforehand and TaIlGaTe!!!1

Feminism and Celesbians

My roommate Ashley sent me this link, which she stumbled upon the other night. I've been combing my way through the readings, and they're all really great. For anyone interested in feminism and trying to gain a broader perspective of its basic premises, I highly recommend at least skimming these articles.

I've also been thinking a lot about the concept of celebrities and the media's role in "outing" them, a la Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan. The media seems to have no trouble harping on other intensely personal issues, such as drug addiction or breakups or the death of a family member. So why is sexuality still considered so taboo? I understand why the media discusses all of these topics, but it doesn't necessarily make it right. I, for one, have basically stopped reading Perez and other celebrity gossip sites, because with all the recent privacy shit I've been going through, it has begun to give me a creepy feeling, like slowing down to witness the aftermath of a bad car crash. The LA Times wrote a fascinating article that touched on the issue of sexuality and the media, but it's something to consider further.


Term "celesbians" coined by the illustrious LolSam.

Friday, July 18, 2008

About That Elephant in the Room

Ever since this article came out, I've been thinking a lot about the internet and immediacy and honesty and hurting people and motives and all kinds of shit that I wish I could not think about, but have to, because after all I did put myself in this situation. That said, I want to clarify a few things.

First, I want to discuss why I chose New York Magazine as my platform. A few people have brought up that it feels wrong for me to post it there instead of on J&J, like I'm trying to foist myself onto the same world I'm condemning. I promise you, that's not the case, and if that is what happens, it was never, ever my intention. I will do everything possible to avoid that world: not the media world as a whole, but the specific elitist circle that I so decried in my article.

Anyway, last Sunday after the party, I wrote this vague emo post. At that point, I was really grappling with whether or not I should actually write about my experience. It felt, to me, like something that needed to be addressed: people were whispering about it and alluding to it, but no one wanted to say anything. I'm not insisting that I was the right person to have done this, but I believed that if I was feeling this way, it was important for me to talk about it. Because that's what we do here on J&J, we talk about stuff, and this was the kind of stuff that kept me up at night. It also felt hypocritical to champion honesty and then conceal something so important to me just because other people might not like what I had to say. If this was four months ago, when J&J was read almost solely by our close friends, I would have posted my reaction in a heartbeat. Ultimately, it felt wrong to censor myself and how I was feeling because I was afraid of people's reactions.

The more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to write something, so I also typed up a four page description of my encounter and showed it to some of my friends, who all basically came to the same conclusion: YOU NEED TO POST THIS. That's when I began working on editing my original version to post on J&J.

On Tuesday afternoon, one of the editors from The Daily Intel e-mailed me about my aforementioned vague post and asked if I wanted to write something about it for them. Since I had already decided to post it on J&J, and I knew that The Daily Intel had a much broader readership, I decided to post it with them instead. Furthermore, let's be real here: I read New York Magazine multiple times a day and it has been a writing inspiration for me in the past. How could I, in good conscience, turn down an opportunity to write an article I wanted to write anyway for one of my favorite publications? Of course I jumped at the opportunity. I want to be a writer after all.

But really, it was nothing sinister: I did not shop around stories or e-mail news sources asking them if they wanted a write-up of the party. It was something highly personal for me. That said, if I could have gotten my story across without naming names I completely would have. As I’ve stressed before in earlier posts, I really don’t like hurting people: anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that my main goal in life is just to be honest. If my story about the literati, and my disillusionment, could have been released without implicating people, I would have done that in a second. Unfortunately, my disillusionment was rooted in their names, and so I could not tell the truth without naming them.

The trouble with honesty is that someone is usually hurt by it. I hurt those that I talked about in my article, and those who had unnecessarily vitriolic reactions to my article hurt me. No matter how many positive e-mails or comments I read on the subject, it’s the negative ones that reverberate most in my head. But I can’t condemn or get angry at people for reacting negatively, as long as they were reacting honestly. The internet lends itself to unstoppable immediacy. In less than 24 hours I have gone from Girl With a Blog to Girl on the Front Page of New York Magazine Talking Shit About Important People. It was a remarkable evolution that occurred in a very short amount of time. I haven’t even had time to parse how I feel about things yet, because I’m just very overwhelmed at this point. I mean, I was expecting a shitstorm, but GODDAMN. I’m just a 20 year old student trying to find my way: I fully admit that I’m naive and confused and have a lot to learn. But part of learning is figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and sometimes you just have to take huge risks in order to figure that out.

This is not something I wrote to gain recognition. It was the truth, my truth, based on my personal experiences. It just so happened that other people were interested in that truth, and as an aspiring writer, how could I turn them down? Had I known that it was going to blow up the way it did, perhaps I would have entertained reservations about the things I wrote. But overall, I take full responsibility for everything I said in that article: it was an emotional and highly visceral reaction to an experience I had, and the point of it was not to bash other people, but instead to explain how I had been disillusioned and why I felt it was necessary to take a break from New York. (Which, might I add, I had already decided to do, but had been fretting over - this experience seemed to validate my decision) I fully acknowledge that this is only one side of the story: I wrote about what I saw and perceived without any context, which is what makes this such a personal account for me. Talk to anyone else at the party and their story may be completely different, but I guess that's the blessing (and curse) of blogging and personal writing.

One of the commenters on NY Mag pointed out that it’s a very nostalgic piece that asks writers and bloggers to look back and think about the first time they realized that certain parts of the media world aren’t so great. I think that’s true, but one of the reasons I felt it was important that I write this was because I know that so many people feel the way I do, but are too afraid to say it. I wanted to open up the discussion so that those who are nervous about getting involved in this world could know that they didn’t have to feel that way, that some of it sucks, sure: and here’s my experience on that. But not everyone is this way. I’m not! Many of the people who have e-mailed me are not. Honestly, I just did not want others to have to feel as shitty as I did on Saturday night. Instead, I wanted to cut it open so that we can examine it, critique it, yes-- and then move on. I don’t want to build my career around trashing people. Loyal readers of J&J know that I am not that kind of person in the slightest. I have my opinions, and I insist on being honest, but I do not want to be malicious or cutthroat or cruel.

It was really difficult for me to put myself out there like I did, but since I do want to be a writer, I guess above all it opened doors and kind of showed me what the media world is about. Now I have a lot to think about: is this something I’d like to truly participate in? Can I even handle the criticism? What kind of writer, besides an honest one, do I want to be, and how do I reconcile both?

I may have decided to decry a certain sect of literary elites, but I’m still confused about who I am, what I want to write about, and what kind of audience I want to garner. But, I suppose, I’m only 20. I have some time to figure that stuff out. We all do.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blogger, I Love You, But Actually You're Unnecessarily Difficult to Use

So, like, wow.

I know, right?

Anyway, we're been discussing this for a while but, given the recent attention we (read: Jess) have been given recently, we figured it's about move!

Not right now, but in the near future, expect to see us with our very own domain name. We'll be using a WordPress template, yes, but I've recently discovered that WordPress is a much better blogging platform than this one, just because it gives you a lot more options in terms of layout and stat tracking and stuff like that--and you don't have to know miles of code in order to access them.

So...stay tuned for that. We will let you know for sure when the time comes. BUT EVERYONE SHOULD START THEIR COUNTDOWNS NOW, OBVS.


Let the Shitstorm Begin

There will be no Catcalling Experiment today because I was super late to work and had to take the 6 train instead of walk and get hit on by mad hottiez. So, the feature will resume tomorrow.

Oh, um, in other news - I wrote something for NY Mag's Daily Intel. (!!!) It's my first piece that will have a relatively wide audience. My hands are actually shaking while I type this. Wise words from Jessica Pressler: You might catch a lot of shit for this, but, whatever- it's just the internet... I would seriously recommend avoiding the internet all day, though.

Heh... cool. But whatevs, I stand by what I said. It was my personal (and obviously, highly emotional) reaction to something I witnessed. But, I suppose, let the shitstorm begin.


Also: This.

Wall-E: If Al Gore Did a Remake of Transformers

Last night Josh and I went with a friend of ours to finally see the highly acclaimed (and highly didactic) environmentalist's wet dream film Wall-E. Every single one of my friends who saw it proclaimed it the BEST FILM OF 2008. So, suffice to say I went with high expectations.

Alright, I was stoned, and we also got there eight minutes into it, which is strange because it was supposed to start at 9:50 and we got there at 9:58pm assuming there'd be previews and... there weren't. I don't know if the East Village Cinema was trying to support the whole anti-capitalism, anti-marketing message of the film, or if Pixar decided they'd pay movie houses to not run previews, but it was definitely weird for the film to not have them. I'm probably among the few people who like previews, even if they are bad and end up tricking me into seeing The Love Guru. (BTW, Mike Myers, I'm still waiting for my $12 refund)

Anyway, yes, it was good, of course it was good. Robots falling in love while convincing humanity (well, just Americans - since it seemed like though the "whole world" was up in the space station, the population in 700 years will only consist of white Americans...) to return to Earth and restore it to its natural glory is an effective plotline. And, alright, I teared up. But my problem is do we really think this movie will teach people to change their behavior? I don't consider myself an "environmentalist" but I have a relatively small carbon footprint: I don't drive and I rarely even take public transportation, I recycle everything possible, I turn all the lights in my apartment off until I can barely see and have to switch them on, and I don't leave my air conditioner running while I'm not home. These are simple things that people can do to contribute to the environmentalist effort. But do we think that Wall-E is going to pursuade people to take on these (relatively simple) tasks? I'm not convinced it will. It's difficult to avoid the lesson in the film - you're basically beaten over the head with it - but I honestly think most people will walk away from the theatre and be like, "Wow, life's going to suck in 700 years-- anyway do you wanna take a cab home?"


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Making Holden Caulfield Proud

Which do you think is more important: being honest or not pissing people off?

I go back and forth. If someone asked me if a dress looked good on them and I thought it looked horrendous, I would probably tell them that we should keep searching to find something that might look even better. If someone asked me if I thought they were ugly, I would vehemently say NO, even if they were f-u-g-z. In this regard, politeness neatly lends itself to white lies; we tell them so we don't hurt each other, but white lies are different than keeping something important secret. Whereas we tell white lies to make people feel good, we keep secrets to make ourselves feel good, which is inherently selfish, and ultimately not productive for anyone.

I had a strange experience this weekend, and I think I'm going to write about it. I think it would be hypocritical for me to talk about honesty and then keep this to myself. A lot of what I observed should be stated, explored, picked apart. If I want to keep this blog for myself and not pander to those more powerful, then I think it's important I say these things. It's going to piss some people off, which I hate doing, but I believe that ultimately putting everything out in the open could end up being the right move. I just have to remember that as long as I'm doing what I think is right, and speakin' mah truth, then things will turn out for the best.

/end inspirational rant


The Great Catcalling Experiment: Day Two

Woo! I don't know if it's the impending heatwave or the fact that I'm wearing a belted t-shirt as a dress, but every construction worker and his brother-in-law wanted to bang this hot mami this morning. Or, so they verbalized. Here is today's chart:
An anonymous commenter brought up the excellent point that just because the men positively embrace my response to their jeers, it does not mean they want to date me. Instead, it probably means they just want to fuck me. So now we will operate under the premise that when they ask for my phone number they are simply trying to get in my pants. Six of the eight men who hit on me this morning asked for my number. Now, three of them were in a group, so we could potentially count them as one since only one of them jotted my phone number down (though all three catcalled), but for ego purposes we will inflate the number and count all three.

Another commenter, Woods, suggested that I ask them questions so that I can gather statistics on how often they actually get a date from catcalling, why they do it, etc. I don't think I'm the proper person to conduct this experiment, because the statistics would be botched as the men would most likely inflate their success rate in order to impress me. If any fellow catcallers and readers of Jess and Josh want to take on this task and report back, we would be very grateful. Otherwise, I guess we'll all have to keep on wondering... why men do the things they do zomg lolz.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Great Catcalling Experiment: Day One

It's Day One of The Great Catcalling Experiment, in which I respond as if I'm turned on by the men who catcall me and gage their reaction. Today I got hit on by seven random guys on my way to work. Below are the results, in graph form:I believe we will have to collect more data in order to truly determine what these numbers mean. I will be conducting this experiment all week. This initial graph shows that the majority of men actually did want to pursue something with me beyond catcalling, which was... unexpected, especially considering it's strange that they would use such a relatively offensive method of catching my attention if they actually wanted to go on a date with me. Or maybe they were caught off guard since I'm sure they never get a positive response from the women they verbally harass. Upon approaching them, they appeared rather flustered but still semi-confident. I gave them each fake phone numbers. Sorry, boys.


Monday, July 14, 2008

How Jess Got Her Groove Back: Potentially and Yet to Be Seen

Click to enlarge:

On the Offensive

So there's a scandal going on about the latest New Yorker cover. Basically, the cartoonist who penned the cover image was satirizing the dubious claims of Barack Obama's origins, beliefs, and politics; while some have praised both the artist and magazine's courage in running the image, others have argued that this sort of stereotyping, regardless of context, is offensive and detrimental to the national conversation on the 2008 election.

It's a sticky situation, to be sure. On the one hand, First Amendment, freedom of speech, you know the drill. On the other hand, you know, a burning American flag and a portrait of Osama bin Laden hanging in the Oval Office are certainly charged symbols that, cartoon or not, portray neither Obama nor the country in a positive light.

Here's the thing--neither side is wrong.

No, I don't think the artist should have to apologize for his cartoon. He has publicly explained himself and made it clear that he is not mocking the candidate but rather the smear campaign that's been going on against him. There's a lot that can be said validly criticizing Barack Obama nowadays, but implying that his Muslim beliefs will somehow cloud his judgment if he is elected is not one of them. David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, understands this, and wanted to spark a conversation about the roles of both the media and widely-circulated rumors in altering people's perceptions of a public figure, framing that conversation with a discussion on the current state of the election.

And what, did you just want another picture of Obama looking valiant? We understand that he's the candidate of Change and Hope and a bunch of other vague adjectives that just about every politician ever has used to describe his candidacy. We understand that he's young and optimistic and a fresh face on Capitol Hill. We understand that he can connect with youth while appealing to the country at large. But there are other forces at work in his campaign, and not all of those forces are in his favor. The fact remains that he also has an image as a shady Middle Eastern man with questionable religious influences and worrisome past politics. Whether or not you agree with such claims is your own decision, but they exist and to deny them is to deny a large factor in this election.

At the same time, yes, the New Yorker cover is offensive. If you are a Muslim--especially if you are a Muslim of Middle Eastern descent living in America--you should be offended by an image of Barack Obama dressed like a terrorist. One Gawker commenter made a perfectly valid point (American Dreamer, at 10:30 am.) "As an Iranian American this reminds me of the constant stream of caricatures of middle easterners in american cartoons...with excessively hirsute features or elongated noses. Am I supposed to see the joke there?" the commenter wrote. And that's true--it must suck to have to deal with people's--primarily white people's--stereotypes and prejudices on perhaps a daily basis, and then have to see this magazine cover staring you in the face. And on some level, I understand. I can laugh at Jewish caricatures (Google image search "Jew" and this is the first result), but I'm also hurt by them, because, like, it's my religion, and even if you're just trying to make a point, you know, we went through a Holocaust and all that stuff, and it sucks that such stereotypes linger today. So no, I don't enjoy seeing such images, and I'm sure a Muslim person would not enjoy looking at this magazine cover.

But what's offensive is not the cartoon itself but rather the stereotypes it portrays. What those offended do not seem to understand--or, at least, are not willing to acknowledge--is that the context of the cartoon defines its message. If someone scribbled a picture of Obama wearing terrorist garb on a city sidewalk, without any other explanation, that would be hateful. But a cartoon on the cover of a magazine that's discussing such stereotypes, why they exist, where they came from, and what they're doing to American politics--that's not hateful, that's just good journalism. It's the same reason black people can say the n-word but white people can't. When a white guy says it, you know, he doesn't get it. He doesn't understand what that word means to people who, in earlier times, may not have been allowed to eat at the same restaurant as him, or go to the same school. He doesn't understand that that word is what his ancestors may have shouted to a black person's ancestors while making them work the fields or blasting them with a fire hose. But when a black guy says it, well, it's different. It may seem like a double standard, but that's because a double standard exists. A black person saying that word is saying it with the implied context of historical understanding, of having faced prejudice and racial profiling, and having (hopefully) overcome it. It's the context in which the word is spoken that makes all the difference, just like it's the context of this cartoon that guides its meaning.

So yes, the New Yorker cover cartoon is offensive. As it should be. It should be offensive to everyone that a politician maybe being Muslim is somehow a negative and something to hide. It should be offensive to everyone that a country founded by men dissatisfied with monarchy and lack of personal freedoms is increasingly headed towards a watch-what-you-say, hyper-political-correctness. And it is offensive that Barack Obama can't necessarily fully focus on his political platform because he has to combat a petty, frighteningly xenophobic questioning of his patriotism.

But you know what's not patriotic? Criticizing everything you don't like, or not allowing someone to speak because they're bringing up a reality you'd rather not hear about. So, those are offended by this cartoon: be offended. It's your right. But don't you dare try to silence those who are talking about the very situations that have caused you to be offended in the first place. That sort of behavior is offensive to anyone who knows better.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Revolution Will Be Tumblrized

Last night everything I thought I believed in was kindasorta ripped out from under me. And I can't write about it, because it will be read, and I'm not up to exposing the vicious underbelly of the New York Media World.

It is, unfortunately, not enough to be honest in this city. I will not give blowjobs for bylines. I will not laugh at peoples' unfunny jokes because I want them to be impressed by me. I will not become someone else so that I can be absorbed into this elite, nefarious world where people trade intellect like currency. Ironically, it's all bankrupt.

I am getting out of New York for awhile, from August-January. Perhaps the person who gave us this advice should heed it, too: Get out. New York is not a place for serious people.

And it's a terrible place for an honest writer.