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Category Archives: Debate

Early this week I took part in a discourse on the subject of film remakes.  My view is below– you can find the rest here.

The act of remaking a film, whether it’s Bonnie and Clyde or Ghost Rider, implies that the original film can be improved upon in some way. While this may be true of a film like Ghost Rider (although actually, I doubt it, because you likely can’t make a silk purse out of a poorly executed Nicholas Cage vehicle), I can’t comprehend the mindset of any filmmaker or producer who watches Miracle on 34th Street and thinks, “Huh, I could do a better job.” What I can comprehend (and deplore) is the mindset of the producer who watches Miracle on 34th Street and thinks, “Do this in color, replace Natalie Wood with that kid from Mrs. Doubtfire and release it on Thanksgiving, and there’ll be a miracle in my bank account.” Thus it is not only the hubris of remaking a classic which bothers me, but also the inherent greed behind it.

I also don’t buy the excuse that many a lazy filmmaker has used to explain why they decided to remake a particular classic—that they’re making a modern, ‘updated’ version of the film, for the current generation. Who gets to decide that a certain classic film needs to be updated? It’s a cinematic masterpiece, not a damn Wikipedia page. And what exactly makes this generation different from any other generation that enjoyed the original animated version of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? Was Dr. Seuss’s sweet, simple story made more enjoyable by the addition of Jim Carrey, mugging away in frightening greenface? I think not. Is there some reason that this generation won’t appreciate Gene Wilder’s creepy, eccentric Willy Wonka? Give this generation some credit. They may have been raised watching Lizzie McGuire, but that doesn’t mean they’ll mistake Hilary Duff for a real actress.

While I most vocally take issue with remakes of classic films, I also would never condone a film remake of a bad movie like Xanadu—the original was such an epic, transcendently bad film, that a remake would undoubtedly fall short. Still, I wished Xanadu well in its transformation from screen to stage, partly because I was curious to see whether a terrible movie might make a decent musical. In fact, I have nothing against turning a film into a musical, since it involves a conversion into a completely different artistic genre, which requires a lot of hard work and a meaningful vision. It also means that someone watched the movie and said, ‘This would work well as a musical,’ and not, ‘This would work well as another movie, made by me.’

The remake frenzy has hit an all-time low with the currently-in-production remake of the cult documentary film, Grey Gardens. We now have Drew Barrymore, of Charlie’s Angels fame, cast to play Little Edie Beale, the star of Grey Gardens, who was played in the original film by, well, Little Edie Beale. Ladies and gentlemen, what kind of a cosmic joke is it to remake a documentary, and cast actors to play actual people who originally played themselves? In any event, I’m not laughing.

Grey Gardens sacrilege aside, my main issue with film remakes is the idea that even a well-loved classic film, which has earned critical acclaim, gained devoted fans and shaped countless lives through viewings over the years, is still not safe from tampering. This does not appear to happen in the world of fiction. Any fool can read As I Lay Dying and think, ‘I bet a sassy talking pig would really liven this story up’, but their vision will never be realized. For whatever reason, unlike classic films, classic literature is inviolate. I guess I should be grateful for that small favor.


I keep thinking about the alleged assault against pop singer Rihanna by her boyfriend.  It is very upsetting to hear about something like that.  In the back of my mind though, I can’t help but think that, if the allegations are true, this is an opportunity to bring the issue of domestic violence into the spotlight for a new generation of women.  This terrible situation emphasizes the fact that domestic violence does not just affect a certain kind of powerless, easily victimized woman.  It also happens to smart, confident, beautiful, talented and famous women.  It can happen to anyone.

           

            Again, I know there are a lot of rumors swirling around right now, and it will probably take some time until things calm down and the truth actually comes out.  However, if Rihanna was assaulted by her boyfriend, I really, really hope she publicly and decisively ends their relationship.  This would send the message that battery is not ok, is not acceptable, and is not forgivable.  It is a really important message for many, many women to receive, particularly from someone who is very much in the public eye and who many view as a role model.

 

            In my limited experience working with victims of domestic violence a few years ago, I spent two days receiving educational training on the subject, and the most surprising information I learned about it was that the average battered woman leaves her partner around 7 different times before she leaves him for good.  While this information shocked me initially, it began to make more sense once it was put into context.  A lot of abused women do not have the financial resources to leave their partners, nor do they have the support they need from family and friends in order to make a final break.  Also, they often feel trapped in their abusive relationships because they have children with their partners.  In Rihanna’s situation, as far as I know, none of these issue should be a factor.

 

            I realize that it is Rihanna’s choice to make, and that what ever she decides to do, it should be what is best for her personally, and not for her public image.  But, since she has chosen to be a celebrity, I would hope that she will take into consideration the fact that her choices and actions are going to be watched and judged by millions of fans.  Nobody wants to be the face of domestic violence, but right now Rihanna has the opportunity to set a powerful example for women everywhere who are in abusive relationships, by the actions she takes to change her own situation and show the consequences of domestic violence.

 

Note: Sorry about all the angry!  I’ll be funny more soon, I promise.


The Newest Issue of the Perpetual Post is out today.  Below is my argument in favor of more selective text messaging.  Read the Pro-Texting argument Here.

Also, check out the Joe/Jill Biden Sexy-off here:  It’s worth it, believe me.

All right, I’m not going to lie.  I send and receive text messages all the time.  I text with friends I see every day, I text with people I haven’t seen in years.  I text about the weather, I text about food, I text about love.

Glad texts!  Mad Texts!  Drunk texts!  Sad texts!

‘Most fun night I’ve ever had!’ texts.

‘Can you believe what he said?!’ texts.

‘I can’t!  I can’t!  I’ll stomp his head!’ texts.

Texting was initially developed as a great way of relaying brief messages to people without being forced to interact with them directly, because really, who wants that? It’s also a good way to communicate with someone who might be in a noisy area and unable to hear you on the phone, or who has somehow discovered a public place left on earth where it is universally unacceptable to talk loudly on your cell-phone. I have to believe a place like that exists. That dream keeps me going.

Texting is also an entertaining way to keep in casual, sporadic contact with friends. It’s fun to get a random message from someone you don’t get to talk to or see often; it means that they are thinking of you and had some free time while waiting in line at the bank. Still, it should be noted that even constant texting is not a substitute for actually keeping in touch in a meaningful way. Those who think otherwise likely have the emotional capacity of a Speak-N-Spell.

Unfortunately, since the popularity of text messaging has grown in the last few years, I have noticed an increasing trend toward the misuse and abuse of this extremely impersonal method of communication.  I am of course referring to the frowned-upon act of texting someone in a situation that would be more respectfully handled either with a phone call, or in person.

As someone who has been mistakenly referred to as ‘homeless’ more times than I am willing to admit (I was once even complimented for having ‘nice teeth, for a homeless girl’), I do not claim to be a master of etiquette—or, clearly, fashion (until fingerless gloves and punched-out top hats come back in style, which in this economy, should happen soon).  But when it comes to the judicious use of text messaging in obviously unsuitable situations, I am beginning to believe that certain standards must be agreed upon and put into regular use by the texting community at large.  Here are a few examples of types of text messages that should nevermore be sent:

The Break-Up Text: Since the dawn of time, people have been trying to weasel out of having to deliver uncomfortable or upsetting news in person.  I read somewhere that stone tablets from ancient Egyptian times were recently found inscribed with hieroglyphs that were roughly translated to read, ‘It’s not you.  It’s me.  You’re great– I’m just going through some stuff right now.  I need to focus on me.’  Both historically and in modern times, there is no excuse for this kind of cowardly behavior.  Break-up texters, take heed.  Your devastating electronic messages are wreaking havoc on your karma.  No matter how casual, secretive or illegal the relationship in question is, if it is to the point where it needs to be definitively ended, then such an ending should be done at the very least over the phone, or maybe with a thoughtful card.  A text message is not the way to handle this, no matter how gently you express your feelings through the tender use of emoticons.

Textin’ 2 Apologize: An apology text, no matter how heartfelt it is, and how many little ‘frowny-face’ or ‘crying-a-tear’ characters you use, is akin to a slap in the face followed by a half-hearted, smirking shrug.  It says, ‘I am aware that I’ve wronged you, but I’m not willing to take more than 10 seconds out of my day to address that fact.  Instead I’m going to assuage my guilt by apologizing with a two-sentence text message. L8R’.  Text an apology if you must, but follow it with an apology to the person for your existence.

The Big News Message: Throughout our lives, if we are fortunate, we will hit many milestones. Some will be large, and others small. It is exciting and important for us to share these milestones with our loved ones. However, no one wants to learn that you are engaged, pregnant or have come out of a ten-year coma from a text-message. (I have a similar beef with holiday greeting text messages. Maybe I’m just a Grinch, but when I get the ‘Merry Christmas!’ text message from nine different friends on Christmas day, deep down I know that each friend has just scrolled through their phone’s list of contacts and checked off a bunch of people to send that one message to. My heart now shrinks three sizes too small when this happens.) In any event, if I’m important enough to you that you want to share your big news with me, share it with me personally. Otherwise, I’ll just figure it out myself by stalking you on MySpace.


At this point I think it’s been fairly well-documented that I want to crown Sarah Palin as prom queen and then dump a bucket of moose blood over her at the Vice Presidential debate.

Fortunately, I don’t have to watch alone tonight.  Brian is going to be home late, and I was worried that if I spent 45 minutes watching the debate by myself, I’d bite my pants in half and drink all the bourbon.  Luckily I found a local town where they’re showing it in a movie theatre.  A movie theater!  Full of similarly tweaked-out liberals!  What could go wrong?

I’ll let you know what happens.


To post in its entirety on my blog a debate I got involved in over Facebook regarding a woman’s right to choose?

Maybe!  But here it is.  Comments are certainly welcome.  I think this is an interesting issue and I got a lot out of engaging in this debate.

 

Pro-Choice Argument:

I’d like to address the abortion issue.

I find the idea that a woman’s right to choose is a ‘silly euphemism’, very disturbing. No human right should ever be taken so lightly.

I personally don’t know if I could ever have an abortion, because I realize that it must be extremely psychologically painful and upsetting, and it is not a choice I would like to have to live with for the rest of my life. BUT I would like it to be a choice that is there for me to make. I would like to be trusted as an individual to make that kind of choice for myself.

There are enough unwanted children in this world– is a woman who would have aborted her baby if given the chance going to morph into a good parent because she is forced to keep it? Enough wanted children are abused and neglected as it is.

I strongly believe that abortion should be an option– but that does not make me ‘pro-abortion’. It makes me pro-choice. I don’t like abortion– I like options. And I disagree with the idea that if abortion is illegal, woman will just work harder not to get pregnant. Trust me, we work DAMN hard at it. If abortions are made illegal, desperate pregnant women– whose unwanted pregnancies trap them in abusive marriages, or keep them in poverty– will be forced to resort to more dangerous alternatives.

Why should you, as a male, have full jurisdiction over your own body under any circumstances, but if I become pregnant (by accident, or rape) my body becomes a gestation chamber– and my own life, as an adult, must suddenly capitulate and be ruled by some fertilized cells that have existed for a matter of weeks? How can you rank those cells above me, and what I want? They are in MY body, and being nourished by my body. This is not your decision to make.

I think that I should have the right to judge what is best for me under any circumstances.
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Anti-Choice Response:

 

This is a certainly a difficult topic, but a couple quick, hopefully non-vitriolic points:

1) “Why should you, as a male, have full jurisdiction over your own body under any circumstances, but if I become pregnant (by accident, or rape) my body becomes a gestation chamber– and my own life, as an adult, must suddenly capitulate and be ruled by some fertilized cells that have existed for a matter of weeks.”

It may sound crass to you, but the life of human beings are characterized by physical necessity. A man no less than a woman must endure the hardships of having a body and all that entails. That women have the particular potency of childbirth is both a blessing and a hardship. That’s the way it is. Nothing we do can change that, and I think it is dangerous, metaphysically speaking, to think of this as injustice.

For you are yourself, “cells.” But you are of course, much more than that, and that is the whole point. You ask how these subordinate cells could be “ranked” above your own. But the whole argument hinges on whether we are willing to “rank” human life itself. And I say emphatically that I am not.

2) As far as choice, it is a choice. It is a choice between something natural and beautiful (that, yes, due to human proclivities can become horrible and miserable, as your examples of desperate women elucidate) and something heinous that should be unacceptable to a civilized society that respects human rights. Never is the latter more desirable than the former.

For me, the very categories of “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are detestable. For us to congratulate Sarah Palin, for example, for her “choice” to have her child, is unfortunate. For that means that we (“pro-lifers”) have adopted the language of choice that presumes that either option is equally good and valid. And that is, quite simply, a euphamization of reality.

 

Pro-Choice Response:

 

I agree with you that the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are reductionist misnomers. However, in my view, this is because people who cast themselves as my opponants because they are “pro-life” implies that I am not in favor of life, and that I am in fact “pro-death”—which is not true. I consider myself to be pro-life as well, except the life in question that I want to protect is the life that must consider whether or not to bring another life into the world—that is, the life of the woman.

It’s true that I am also cells. You may be outraged at the idea of ranking human life—and I understand this. But when it comes to the rights of a woman versus the rights of one of her fertilized eggs, as someone who recognizes the consequences of giving birth to an unwanted child, I will sooner uphold the rights of the woman.

I agree with you that having a child is ‘natural and beautiful’—but that ‘due to human proclivities it can become horrible’. Ideally, every child that is conceived is going to be wanted and cared for by those who have conceived it. However, you and I both know that we do not live in an ideal world. Further, I don’t believe that by deciding our laws based on those elevated standards, we will make people live up to them. If that is your view I understand that it is well-intentioned, even though I think it is unrealistic.

I also feel that there are too many children in the world who have been born into households of violence and misery—and that it is THEY who will benefit most from the passionate defense and aid of dedicated people like us. Working with children whose mothers fled to escape domestic violence, which I have done for years, is to me a better way to protect and promote the sanctity of life. These children did not choose to grow up in dangerous and scary environments, but they did, and they will benefit FAR more from my protection and care than an early, unwanted pregnancy will.

 

 

Anti-Choice Response:

All very fair.

I do find the notion of “life” in this context strange. When pressed, the early feminists (the biggest proponents of abortion) put up the life of a fetus–theoretical– up against the “life” of the woman. They basically suggest that when a woman has a child, she “dies”; she “loses her life” and now must care for another, constantly encumbered.

I find this telling. Rather than see the raising of children as fulfilling, these women saw it as a biological tyranny.

Anyway, I was the seventh of nine children, and it would certainly be accurate to describe the life I was born into as one of “violence and misery.” But I am certainly better for it. (First, for existing in the first place; and second, for learning early about life’s difficulties.)

 

Pro-Choice Response:

 

I think that the early feminists had a point, considering the times they lived in. Before the beginning of the feminist movement, women were not expected to make anything of themselves, besides mothers. Once they had children, their chances of doing anything else with their lives, except parenting, were probably small. And even today, I agree with the spirit of their argument — it’s not that your life ends, if you have a child. But your life as you have always lived it changes irrevocably. Men still have the option (although it is deplorable) of disappearing and shirking fatherhood. It is not as easy for a woman to abandon her baby (although statistically, it is certainly not unheard of). Really, though, every person has the right to their view of abortion. Each individual’s circumstances and perspectives are different.

I would be curious to know whether your parents, having had nine children, were also against abortion? My parents were always pro-choice. It is interesting to see how whether a person tends to hold the same opinions on these kinds of topics as their parents do. They don’t always, of course. But I think it is a factor.

Certainly, having been born, you are the better for it! I don’t think there’s a person on the planet that truly believes it would have been better if they’d been aborted. But frankly, there’s no way to know, either way. That is the problem with an irreversible decision— there is never absolute confirmation that you made the right choice. There’s no “It’s a Wonderful Life” montage to show you both scenarios. This reality, and the ‘what-ifs’ it conjures, could haunt you forever.

 

Thus, the choice to abort must be an extremely difficult one, and any woman considering it likely asks herself a number of agonizing questions. (If she doesn’t, what kind of parent does she promise to be?) What if I am aborting the next Mozart? She might worry. What if the fertilized egg I’m harboring could become a scientist who cures cancer? Worst, what if my parents had decided to abort ME? This last is a question that I think is particularly troubling to those who are strongly opposed to abortion. The idea that you could have been aborted is a terrifying one for anyone. It can scare you to the core. If abortion is illegal, then you don’t have to bother hypothesizing about it anymore. It is an easy way to stamp out a frightening concept.

When I was around 25, I found myself in a stable, loving relationship with a boy I trusted. I had an apartment and a job that paid the bills. It slowly dawned on me that were I to become pregnant, I could conceivably (ha ha) have the baby and—just barely—afford to raise it. After all, other women my age were having families. My boyfriend would have to drop out of school, and I would probably have a very hard time focusing on the writing career I wanted, but it would be doable. I could no longer justify the idea of abortion as an option for myself by for reasons like, “I’m too young, I am broke, I don’t want to be tied to the guy”. Granted, I still thought those things to a certain extent, but they were less convincing arguments to me at that point. It was almost enough to make me stop having sex, because although I still didn’t want the responsibility of a child, I knew I could probably handle it. Would that mean that, given an unexpected pregnancy, I HAD to?

 

Ultimately I realized that whatever happened to me, it would be my responsibility to rely on my own judgment, weigh my options and circumstances, and make an informed decision—just like I did in every other area of my life. The idea that my government would not trust me with this decision-making ability, in this crucial area, is absolutely terrifying. Having a baby is an enormously important, personal, and life-changing event. No sort of prohibitive legislation, no matter how comprehensive, could ever do justice to the complexities of the issue. Banning the option of abortion implies that women are unable to govern their own bodies and lives in one of the most important ways they have. If we aren’t granted that right, then it reduces the other rights we have to meaningless euphemisms.




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