Why I’m Not LOSING-MY-MIND Excited Over Guardians of the Galaxy

   Guardians of the Galaxy left me with the same feeling of boredom that every other movie in the past few years has left me with. I’m so bored. Leaving the theatre in the past few years has been like the feeling (or lack of feeling) you get after you eat the same meal every single night. Sometimes you might add a little avocado. Sometimes you might substitute the soggy spinach for some crunchy kale. Hey, sometimes you might even sprinkle almonds or sesame seeds on top! But at the end of the night, it’s still always the same boring dinner. Not necessarily because it’s not of high quality or because it doesn’t taste good—but because you eat it every night.

    I want an unpredictable, delicious, balanced meal with many colors. I want a multiplicity of characters, plots, music, conflicts… I want a little spice. I just want something FRESH AND NEW. And I want something that god forbid doesn’t solely use female characters to propel the male lead’s interests. This shouldn’t have to be some revolutionary request—but looking around me and seeing the comic craze power forward with more force than ever, and I see people nearly shitting their pants just at the mention of the phrase, “Guardians of the Galaxy" or "Chris Pratt," I realize this really IS some revolutionary request.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching the movie, I laughed at a few parts, I rocked out to the sweet retro soundtrack, I admired the stunning visual effects, the costumes. But it was just “good enough.” I’m done with “good enough.” I’ve been there done that with “good enough.” Next please!

These are my reasons why I am not a super stoked drone totally crazy about this amazing hilarious just-okay comicbook movie Guardians of the Galaxy:

1. The plot is boring.
    Boy’s mom dies. Forced to grow up early. Grows up to be gunslinger with a soft side. Accidentally creates a misfit team to find some valuable circular object that will destroy the world. They do that. They save the world. Hints at a sequel for like the last 20 minutes. I don’t think I need to elaborate more.

2. The terrible representation of female characters is predictable and disappointing.
    Every single female character in the film was solely there to propel the interests of male characters in the film. Peter’s mom dies so he can become this broken yet soft gunslinger. Drax’s wife and daughter die so he can be vengeful and crazy. That slave secretary chick dies so Peter can see the power of the little orb thingy. Gamara is there not only because a man literally turned her into a weapon, but also for sexual tension between her and Peter, and so the straight male audience can get off on a sexy chick fighting like a bad-ass. And Glenn Close’s character Nova Prime is only in it for like two seconds.
    This is a likely story for superhero movies. It’s all the same. It’s disappointing and boring. And for every argument like mine, there will be 10 little male trolls trying to fight me on how powerful these women are, and that I should be thankful and accept these powerful images of women on screen as role models—when in reality they are just new additions to the centuries-old collection of unrealistic and degrading images of women on screen.

3. Zoe Saldana’s beautiful black skin is never enough for Hollywood.*
    Zoe Saldana is one of the most visible black actresses in mainstream Hollywood. And although other characters in the film also had unique skin colors like blue, green, and red, there is something to be said that the most famous modern black actress in Hollywood is always most successful in roles where her skin color is changed (In Avatar, Zoe is blue; In Guardians, Zoe is green). With the exception of Star Trek, audiences love Zoe the most when she is not black.
(*Zoe’s heritage can be traced to numerous places including Puerto Rice and the Dominican Republic, but she identifies as a black woman)    

4. Introducing our brand new product… Chris Pratt! Limited time only! And look everyone! He’s REAL! Just like YOU!
    (Okay, so this point is solely my pissy hipster opinion, but whatever.) I love Chris Pratt! Second only to Leslie Knope herself, Andy Dwyer is my favorite character on Parks and Rec. He is so naturally funny and has this charisma about him. But I found myself less attracted to him in Guardians. Maybe it was because he got all chisled and sculpted and I just want my chubby lil Andy back! But it’s official: Chris Pratt is now a product. Since Guardians, you can’t go on the internet without coming across photos and videos and statuses about him. And it’s like Jennifer Lawernce’s fame—everyone is obsessed with him for how… drum roll please… funny and “real” he seems. “He’s just like ME! A famous person?! WOW! How could a human be like ME?!”

    Not to even mention the obsession everyone on the internet has with his weight loss for the role and how he has become an overnight sex symbol because he lost his chubby figure. Ugggh.

   Maybe this point is heavily my territorial hipster coming out to claim that Chris Pratt was “mine first! before he was famous!” but there is something to be said about Hollywood taking a creative, unique guy and strapping him into this super predictable superhero craze. He gave the movie some color and I enjoyed watching him, but for the most part, the Chris Pratt fandom flooding my newsfeed is boring and annoying. He’s super cute and charismatic so I understand the obsession but there’s just something wrong about it. Maybe I should just be proud of him for landing a blockbuster role and just shut up.

5. The music and the comedy were different, but not different enough.
    It was fun jamming out to some old school tunes. I appreciated that incorporation. But that aspect in itself isn’t even that different, because how creative is it really to play on Millenials obsessive nostalgia and add some retro rock and soul to a comicbook movie?
    The jokes were funny and I was laughing out loud a few times. It was refreshing to feel genuine laughter during a superhero movie, but the movie overall still left me with the “just okay” vibe.
     Both the music choices and the comedic undertones were fun and set Guardians apart from other recent movies in the genre, but they weren’t fun and creative enough to redeem the overwhelmingly predictable qualities of the film.
    In conclusion, Guardians of the Galaxy was just okay. I don’t mean to shame anyone who enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed it. It entertained me for two hours with its dashes of uniqueness including music, humor, and the most adorable baby dancing tree I’ve ever seen in my life during the credits—but it did not wow me. And the fact that everyone around me seems like they are on some serious upper drugs when they talk about it (including my own boyfriend), is a little concerning. I am honestly wondering if this is some Josie and the Pussycats brainwashing shit. I think that’s the best theory for why people are completely losing their minds at this mediocre summer movie. Come to think of it… I really think I’m on to something with that.


^ (Hollywood’s private reaction after raking in the billions for yet another boring male-centric comic book movie. Photo from: Josie and the Pussycats) ^

<3 Happy Monday everyone! <3 

<3 Happy Monday everyone! <3 

Coming soon…

This is a difficult one for me… I’m going to tackle something I’ve been avoiding for some time now: BLINK-182! 

Blink-182 has been my favorite band since I was a kid. They got me through some rough times, and I even have a tattoo of them. No matter what, I will always have a special place for these fellas in my heart (and on my skin!). But I can’t avoid talking about the explicit sexism in their music (cough cough see Dumpweed lyrics: “I need a girl that I can train”) any longer.

In my next post I want to explore the levels and fluctuations of sexism in the Blink canon (and in pop-punk and emo culture in general) and discuss if and how we, as feminists, can enjoy problematic media.

Laguna Biotchez

I’ve been re-watching MTV’s 2004 series Laguna Beach (I know, I know. But it’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures). Just like other reality television shows, Laguna Beach has pretty terrible female representation and teaches women to compete against one another.  A theme that I’ve been particularly interested in in the show (and in my life) is the automatic hatred of “the other woman” and the automatic forgiveness of the so-called “committed” boyfriend who does the cheating. This idea that if a boyfriend cheats on his girlfriend, the girlfriend is supposed to hate the “mistress” and blame her instead of directing the anger at her boyfriend, has been so prevalent in popular media that it has trained us, starting when we are young girls, to believe that this reaction is the natural, right way to go.

It seems pretty obvious to me that if someone who commits themselves monogamously to you has an affair, if you are going to be upset with anyone, you should probably be upset with them (at least be upset with them MORE than the other woman), because yeah, the other woman may or may not have known that this man is in a relationship, but guess who else knew he’s in a committed relationship…

An example of this in Laguna Beach that got me thinking is the whole crazy stupid Jason love triangle drama in Season 2. Jessica and Jason are together, but Jason is cheating on Jessica with Alex. Jessica hates Alex and stays with Jason. Then Jason breaks up with Jessica and gets together with Alex. While Alex and Jason are dating, Jason hooks up with Jessica. Alex continues to date Jason, is barely even mad at him, but almost physically attacks Jessica, getting in her face and screaming things like what a “slut” and “horrible evil person” she is for hooking up with her boyfriend. Alex and Jason break things off and Jason starts dating LC. Jason kisses Jessica in front of LC and although LC blames the kiss on Jason and breaks up with him immediately, Jason continues to place the blame on Jessica.

Blah blah blah there are plenty of other examples of this, especially with LC, Kristin, and Stephen. The point is, most of these women are so quick to forgive the man who is committed to them (yet betrays them) and yet so quick to demonize the girl who has not made a commitment to them. I’m not saying the other women are innocent, I’m just saying that hating them is pointless and purely driven by emotion and media messages, because the person who is committed to you is the one who really has betrayed you. It seems so obvious, yet it’s so common to hear about these situations.

I really hate this training of little girls to hate other girls—even if the girls have participated in something that really hurts them. Because this theme doesn’t just go for situations of cheating, but it spills over into women hating other women in general. It’s pretty standard in my experience to hear a woman say something very mean about her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend but still put the ex-boyfriend on a pedestal—hey, I’m even guilty of it. Very guilty of it. But that kind of thinking doesn’t get anyone anywhere.

PLUS, my friends and I say this all the time—that other woman who you are so jealous of because your crush or your ex is totally into them, that woman is probably a really cool lady who you would really get along with, because you both like the same dude, and the same dude like(d) both of you, so you would honestly probably all get along—once jealousy is put aside.

I have a cool story of how this is true. In high school I had this major crush on this boy, and we were flirting and talking all-day, every-day for months. We both really liked each other and we told each other that. Right when I thought we were finally going to be officially together, my crush started dating this girl I didn’t know anything about. I knew she was pretty, skinny, and more feminine than me, but that was about it. I was LIVID. I HATED this girl with all my little angsty adolescent heart. I made fun of everything about her to my friends and I just couldn’t stand the thought of them being together. And I blamed HER. I thought it was HER fault that my relationship with this boy never came to fruition. When in reality, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. He didn’t like me any more, he liked someone else. Big deal. That doesn’t mean she was better than me, that doesn’t mean that she “won.” It just meant that we are different ladies and he had different desires than me in mind. Long story short, this girl and I started talking and getting to know each other, and we ended up becoming really close friends. Turns out we were really similar, we clicked so easily, and we just had a lot of fun together. This situation, while seemingly obvious and simple, is really important for young women to realize. Stop hating the “other woman,” take a step back, and assess the situation. My story is not extraordinary, and could happen more frequently if we stopped imaging women as incredibly jealous and to turn that jealous energy towards the “less guilty” party (in my opinion).

On a positive note, I recently watched The Other Woman, which is really outrageous and pretty dumb, but I really appreciated the story for what it is. Not only is it a starring cast of three women, but it’s three women, who in the media’s standard training of today are supposed to hate each other, but instead team-up to get revenge on the man who has done them wrong. And more importantly, it’s three women who form a deep friendship and sisterhood—even though the media has trained them to compete against each other.

Just a few thoughts for today.

<3 Joe

"Pam, Pam, Pam…"

As usual, a very long post that I meant to be short about an amazing TV woman who I love. I can’t get Dwight’s voice out of my head saying, “Pam, Pam, Pam…” in the 8th season when he caught her for lying about moving to a new office.

"Pam, Pam, Pam…"

The Office. Where do I even start. The Office is my all-time favorite show. All-time favorite. Not only do I find it hilarious, smart, and witty but it has helped me through some really tough times. I have watched the entire series through… honestly over a dozen times. With the risk of sounding a little insane or just a little cliche, I REALLY feel I have real relationships with these characters. I love them all so much, and I’ve enjoyed watching them grow, and then watching the series over, and watching them grow all over again.

One of my favorite characters is obviously Pam Beesly. Pam started off as shy and reserved, and she was in a terrible relationship with Roy who she had been engaged to for several years. Roy did not appreciate Pam and did not value their relationship. While in this relationship, Pam did not have much self-confidence and it was clear that she never stood up to Roy or broke it off with him, because she felt that she could not do much better. She was stuck in a relationship that she felt was the best she could get. Which was totally untrue cos Roy was a huge big fat jerk!!! Anyways, Pam becomes braver as the series goes on, she accepts her romantic feelings for best friend Jim Halpert, and becomes much more assertive, honest, driven, and courageous when it comes to getting what she wants. She breaks things off with Roy and eventually marries Jim.

That scene from “Beach Games,” when Pam walks the coal walk and has a very public, direct, and intimate conversation with Jim about their friendship and how she wishes things were different, is one of my favorite scenes in anything EVER!! I’m routing for Pam and so proud that she has come so far and feels confident to be honest with herself and with everyone else. Even in the following episode when her coworkers make fun of her for said speech, and Karen Filippelli (Jim’s girlfriend at the time) approaches her saying she “forgives” Pam for what she said because “everyone says things they don’t mean,” Pam does not back down and stands by her word unapologetically. Go Pam! Seriously!! It’s really an amazing moment for her character. And really an amazing moment for young female fans of the show, to see a woman who is asserting her desires, being open, being honest, and we are not meant to view her as a “total bitch” (as Karen calls her), but we are meant to love her even more for it, and we route for her success.

Another aspect that I just love about Pam is her relationship with Michael Scott and how it blooms throughout the series. Pam demonstrates an amazing ability to deal with this ignorant and deluded regional manager, and she shows great empathy and understanding towards him, while also doing her best to be honest and to keep him in check and accountable for his actions. Not only that, but they form a genuine friendship throughout the show. Pivotal moments that signify this friendship include the episode where Michael is incredibly touched by a painting that Pam did (“You did these?! These could be tracings!”); when Pam follows Michael when he quits Dunder Mifflin and forms the Michael Scott Paper Company; and ultimately in Michael’s last episode, “Goodbye Michael,” Pam serves as Michael’s scarecrow, and their goodbye at the airport is the most touching goodbye of all.

The other awesome quality about Pam’s character that I adore is her open dislike for scumbags, aka Ryan the Temp. Her ongoing fued with Ryan is fueled by his arrogant persona, and also his blatant disrespect for women, particularly Kelly Kapoor. I just LOVE the episode where Pam continues to put down Ryan as he proposes to Kelly on a big white horse dressed in some sort of traditional Indian wear.  She yells things like, “boo!” “you suck!’ and “barf!” because this man has cheated on Kelly, treated her like garbage for years, and been just a true asshole, and he continues to get away with it. Pam’s open anger is something I really relate to because, like I’ve mentioned in my “I’m not a murderer, but that’s why I love Kate” post, one thing in my life that I am most passionate and angry about is when men treat my friends like crap.

Anyways, throughout the series, Pam becomes more independent and explores her interests. She is interested in art, and with the support of Jim, she moves to New York for 3 months to pursue a degree in graphic design. She fails an important class, and decides to come home because graphic design just “isn’t her thing.” But it’s implied that Jim being in Scranton was an equal part in her decision to come home. After she fails art school, “art” becomes a little bit more than hobby for Pam, mentioned scarcely here and there.

Later, she decides to leave Dunder Mifflin and support Michael in his start up paper company. The company has no money and no real direction, and runs itself out of business very quickly. She returns to Dunder Mifflin as a sales representative. Pam tries but really struggles with sales and is ultimately unsuccessful in her attempts. After months, possibly years, of struggling in her sales position, in a strange set of spontaneous circumstances, Pam decides to create her own job as “office administrator.” She really succeeds in this arena, and we can see that she is happy and good at this job. (This job is a somewhat glorified receptionist… but I won’t open that can of worms).

Towards the end of series, Pam’s art interests resurface again, and she is actually commissioned to paint a mural or two in the last season of the series. This is a very proud moment for Pam, as she is finally finding a way to make money with what she loves to do. And it’s her talent and her drive, despite her previous “failures,” that get her there.

Now, in the last season of The Office, one of Jim’s series-long aspirations begins to collide with Pam’s series-long journey of self-love. From day one, Jim wants to get out of Dunder Mifflin, and we all know he is smarter and better than the position he is in, so we want more for him. When he has the opportunity to start his own sports marketing company with a group of close friends, we are all very excited for him—except for one thing, Pam is not comfortable abandoning her life in Scranton to move to the West Coast to follow Jim’s dreams. I’m not even going to get into the relationship tension this causes, and Jim’s lies about it, and Pam’s seeking of comfort in another man, because in the context of what I’m talking about, it doesn’t really matter much. The point is, Pam ends up compromising and realizing that what Jim wants is what she wants— and not in a “I’m-just-gonna-follow-my-husband-blindly-and-abandon-my-desires” kind of way… but in a, “hey-I-love-you-you-love-me-I-want-to-support-your-dreams-too-so-let’s-start-a-new-life-together” kind of way. It shows the strength of their partnership and Pam genuinely decides she wants this as well.

Now, like everyone else, I wanted Pam and Jim to be together from the beginning and am so happy that they are! They treat each other with respect and love and Jim encourages Pam to accomplish her dreams (unlike Roy) and he genuinely takes interest in her interests. So obviously, Jim for the win!!! But it just bugs me that Pam’s story (on the show) ends with her making a decision based on her husband’s life, even though she originally was very much against it. I don’t mean to hate on Pam because I love her so much!

I mean, it’s pretty simple. Pam’s sacrifice to support Jim’s dreams would not annoy me as much if we didn’t live in a world in which this was the resolution of every female character’s storyline. And if Pam hadn’t had such a powerful transition throughout the series, where she became self-empowered. I think all I’m saying is her character just could have been more interesting, and more challenging to female stereotypes on screen. Having Pam drop all of her desires to follow Jim’s dreams just isn’t creative and the brilliant writers of The Office have the capability to be more original than that. BUT that being said, I kind of love Pam in the same way that I love Kate Austen (Lost). I love her because there are some remarkable aspects of her character that represent female empowerment and REALNESS. She stands out in the sea of sameness among females characters in Hollywood. Not only that, but I can relate to Pam’s character—being the shy, timid girl who wants to make everyone happy and always worries about herself second… but who then transforms into an assertive, brave, honest, and (still) lovable lady with self-respect! I am just disappointed that there wasn’t more of this Pamazingness!

I will end with Pam’s final words of the series:
"It would just make my heart soar if someone out there saw this, and she said to herself: ‘Be strong, trust yourself, love yourself, conquer your fears, just go after what you want, and act fast, cos life just isn’t that long.’"

I think you know what this means…

There’s a Pam Beesly post in the your near future!!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3

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