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Telling a Lie Long Enough

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First, watch this trailer for Tabloid, one of the weirdest Mormon stories you'll EVER encounter:

Did you catch the bit about how a woman can't rape a man because "a guy either wants to has sex, or he doesn't," where Joyce laughingly dismisses the idea of a woman raping a man, saying it's "like putting a marshmallow in a parking meter"?

Then read this bit about Ms. Joyce McKinney showing up at a screening of the film in SLC.

I wasn't there, but I wish I had been. When Joyce asked

"How many people in here think Joyce McKinney kidnapped and raped the 300-pound, 6-foot-5-inch Mormon missionary?" She counted five people who raised their hands, and then quipped, "You're Mormons, huh?"

I would have said, "I can't say for sure that you raped the guy, but I most definitely believe it's possible for a woman to rape a man. You're making a facile and inaccurate conflation of arousal with consent. One does not automatically signal the other. As all those ads for Viagra and Cialis help to demonstrate, impotence doesn't mean a man has no interest in sex. In the same way, the fact that a guy has an erection doesn't mean he wants to do anything with it."

Which is basically what I did say in my review of the film.

And I must also add that it's feminism that helped me be able to see and articulate the fact that "arousal does not equal consent"--for both men and women. One more way feminism helps to dispel darkness and provide real equality.

Harrison Ford's Face


J, One of my really good friends from grad school, loved the movie Blade Runner. He was always going on and on about how great it was. It was his favorite movie. He'd seen it a gazillion times. He'd written papers on it. He knew it so well that it was hard to discover something new in it when he watched it yet again. He wished he could erase every memory he had of it, so that he could experience all over again the joy of becoming intimately familiar with its each and every frame.

I would listening attentively and then nod politely when J would tell me this, which was long about, oh, 1997. I had seen Blade Runner when it first came out in 1982. My reaction was solidly in the "Good flick--definitely worth the price of admission, but I don't need to see it again" camp. Fifteen years later, all I really remembered about it was that A) it was really dark; B) Daryl Hannah did a bunch of back flips; C) Sean Young kept going on about some photo of her and her mom; and D) Harrison Ford played the lead. I didn't want to tell J that I hadn't found the movie as meaningful as he had, but I also had no particular wish to revisit it and see if maybe I'd missed something.

An Alleged Ledge


A perq of living in Salt Lake City is that some cool stuff happens here. Things other people consider international events are local for me. One such event is Sunstone; another is the Sundance Film Festival, the largest venue in the world for independent films. The 2011 Festival is happening right now.

OK, most of the really cool stuff happens up at the Sundance Institute, in/near Park City, about an hour up into the mountains to the east of SLC. But there are still screenings in theaters in SLC.

My first January here, 2009, I was mostly annoyed by Sundance, because it meant I got really bad service at my favorite tea house. My second January, I actually paid attention to Sundance; I really wanted to see 8:The Mormon Proposition, but I was denied.

However, one of my friends picked up tickets to two other films, and offered me a ticket to whichever one I wanted to see most. I wisely chose the one that actually had a narrative, and it turned out to be The Kids Are All Right. So I can say that I saw an Academy Award nominee for Best Picture back before it had a distributor, which is, if not exactly an accomplishment that says anything about me except that I'm lucky to have a friend with good taste and a generous nature, still cool.

Yesterday evening this same friend called to say that he'd scored tickets to a screening in SLC; did I want to go? He didn't even manage to tell me what the movie was before I said yes.

The Shocking Omission in "8"

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8: The Mormon Proposition was one of the hotter draws at the 2010 Sunstone film festival this past January. I should know: I showed up at Sundance's Salt Lake City box office well before dawn one morning in the hopes of getting my hands on a day-of-show ticket, and, when that didn't work, queued for over three hours outside the Tower Theatre in the wait-list line. All I got for my efforts was extremely cold feet and a new Facebook friend.

I finally managed to see it, this past Friday, when it opened in theaters across the country. I was at the very first general admission showing in SLC.

There wasn't much about the general contours of the movie that surprised me, largely because I've been paying attention to Mormon anti-gay sentiment since the late 1970s. As a teenager I fell in love with the poetry of Frank O'Hara, and discovered to my surprise that no matter how I worked at it, I really couldn't bring myself to care who he slept with. That was when I started to think that homophobia was just plain weird, and found myself puzzled when others expressed it.

Some of the details of the movie, however, were shocking, and much of it was upsetting--I admit I cried a lot. (I wasn't the only one crying, though.) But the most shocking thing about the whole story is, I think, something the movie misses.

I've got a piece up at Religion Dispatches discussing this shocking omission. I'm not going to link to it, because as I've said, my blog is semi-anonymous, meaning I don't link to my last name. But I hope you'll head on over to RD and check out my essay. It should be easy to find: it's currently the lead story. (Go me!)



So, I watched A Serious Man recently. I started it Thursday and finished it Friday. I liked the first hour.... and then I got irritated, and cut it off for a while. When I came back to it the next day, I was really impatient. What the hell is going on, I wondered? and when is whatever's going on, just going to END?

I admit there were moments along the way I really loved, elements I thought were great. I really liked Michael Stuhlburg, the actor who played Larry Gopnik. I LOVED Mrs. Samsky. I thought Sy Ableman was a wonderfully horrible character. I enjoyed the references to F Troop, which I vaguely remember liking when I was a little girl. I loved when the rabbi started quoting Grace Slick at the end. And there was something about the look of the film that I found quite compelling.

But the end? I had heard that it didn't really have an end, that it just STOPPED. And sure enough, it didn't really have an end; it just stopped. I was so irritated that I cut it off before the credits, which I typically watch.

And then, about ten minutes later, the meaning of the ending hit me, and I just started laughing, because I got it, and because it was perfect. I have been thinking about it all day, remembering the entire movie in a different light, and now I wish I hadn't already sent it back to Netflix so I could watch it again.

If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to read any spoilers, don't click on the "continue reading" link. Instead, just watch this terrific cartoon version of Job:

but if you want the details of the epiphany I had about the end, read on:

Everybody Sing That Last Line

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A friend posted this on Facebook, and I reposted it there, but I have to share it here. It's SUBLIME. It's PERFECT, one of the best things western civilization has ever produced. We should beam it into outerspace along with a statement affirming that this is one of the finest, most complete representations of our culture.

I mean, it's really funny, so funny that I have to start watching "Extras," the show the clip came from. And will you check out Mr. Bowie!?!!! The man will be 63 on January 8, 2010, and look at him! He's still gorgeous! He still has a fantastic voice and what looks like his own hair! I have long believed that he is the coolest person the 20th century managed to produce, and this reconfirms my opinion. He was Ziggy Stardust, and the Thin White Duke, and the freaky guy in Labyrinth, and he provided the voice for a character based on him on Spongebob, and now he does this! Is it any wonder I worship him? I think it must be completely awesome to be him, and to know him.

Anyway. If you haven't already seen it, watch it. Enjoy. I bet you'll watch it twice, and post it to YOUR facebook page too.

Loss Anticipated, Loss Experienced


My favorite poem by Robert Hass is "Meditation at Lagunitas," which begins

All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.

Pretty much.

Friday night I went to the Sunstone Chritsmas party, my first Christmas party of the season, and perhaps my last.... I was also invited to one last night, but I couldn't make it. No other parties are scheduled for the next few weeks except a few celebrations of ME, 'cause, you know, Jesus's birth isn't the only one celebrated in December.

Anyway, there was a conversation about New York Doll, a documentary about Arthur "Killer" Kane, which I wrote about several years ago in an entry that garnered lots of very interesting comments. There were people at the party who had never heard of it, and those of us who had seen it tried to explain what it was about and why someone should watch it. I mentioned what I said in my entry: that when I heard David Johansen sing "Come, Come Ye Saints" I burst into tears and sobbed until I couldn't breathe or sit up.

This struck some of the other people there are strange. "I didn't cry when I heard that hymn," one person said. "Not at all."

"You're still active in the church," I said. "You still get to sing that song as part of a community that values it. It doesn't represent a loss to you."

Loss ebbs and flows. We get over loss to some extent because we have to, and because time, if it doesn't heal all wounds, at least changes them. But our experience of loss starts not with the actual loss, but with our awareness that it WILL happen.

Because the Dolls Are Seriously NOT Having Fun


This morning I was busy accomplishing great things when I thought, "Hey! I forgot to watch the latest episode of Dollhouse over the weekend!" Of course I forgot; I'm not really interested, and I've been watching only out of obligation. But I tend to meet my obligations, even to Joss Whedon, so around noon I clicked onto Hulu to catch up on Joss's crappy current project while I ate lunch.

The ep started off with some creepy guy arranging a strange croquet tableau with real women propped up by the sorts of stands used to position mannequins. I figured it was a client of the dollhouse using its "dolls" in the most literal ways: as dolls. I continued to think that even after he used a croquet mallet to bash in the head of one of the women. I continued to think that after we flashed to the dollhouse and there was a discussion of helping some guy who'd ended up in the hospital after being hit by a car, which was what happened to the creepy guy we saw using real women as life-size dolls.

BUT NO! Turns out that the creepy guy was NOT a client of the dollhouse, but the nephew of a stockholder of the dollhouse's parent company! And Creepy Guy's brain scan reveals so clearly that he's a serial killer, that even the amoral, idiotic Topher is unwilling to bring this guy out of a coma.

Get out of the Dollhouse, Find Glee!


Remember earlier this year when I was writing indignant screeds about how VILE Dollhouse was? I complained about the names, the stupidity of Topher Brink (the Dollhouse's putative "genius"), the sexualized violence against women that the show trafficked in.

And then the show ended and I forgot about it.

Last weekend I was visiting Hulu, and an ad for Dollhouse popped up--seems Season II has gone and started and I forgot to pay attention to the buildup. But hey, it was the weekend, and I had a sandwich to eat, so I figured, what the hell, I'll watch the first ep of the new season.

And it bored me.

Now, as I have written in relation to True Blood, I can watch something that is JUST boring, but if something is boring on top of being annoying, pretentious, pompous, unbelievable, unrealistic AND really super busy, then I have a hard time watching.

There is so much going on in this stupid show, but not in a good way. Echo is SUCH an amazing presence, according to the show's own mythos, that she can be A) a doll who has to go back to the Dollhouse and get checked up repeatedly, AND B) an undercover federal agent who has an apartment, a life, a partner, and an agenda that involves bringing down a super-duper HOT arms smuggler whose specialty is dirty bombs, and C) so seductive and alluring that in a few short months she convinces said arms smuggler to propose to her and marry her in a lavish ceremony with killer catering and lots of guests? (Aside: Which dolls were used to served as the family and friends of this particular persona? I'd supply the persona's name, but I can't remember it for the life of me, not on top of the other two names Eliza Dushku already has in this show, and besides, the individual personas don't really matter; they just disappear into the TV void.)

Anyway. Adding to the unrealistic, unbelievable nature of the show is the fact that this long-term assignment for Echo is paid for by Agent Ballard, who now works for the Dollhouse. Wow! The Dollhouse must pay its employees well, if they can afford to hire the entire establishment for a massive project.

I should note that there are still people who love this show. The reviewer at Salon thinks it's great. She mentions an exchange from the Season II opener, between the doctor played by Amy Acker (whose name I also can't remember--oh, wait--apparently it's Claire) and head of security Boyd something, and writes glowingly about it:

Bore vs. Gore


A few days ago Rebecca left a comment on my post about True Blood that brought me up short: she mentioned that she found the show kinda boring.

Yeah, I thought, she has a point. It is kinda boring. I could tell I was kinda bored because I would get up and walk into the kitchen without pausing the dvd player so I wouldn't miss anything. Occasionally, I would fast forward through something extra tedious.

It just didn't seem like a big deal. In grad school you get really used to reading and watching boring stuff all the way to the end. It got to where if something was merely boring, instead of, say, boring and misogynist, or boring and irrelevant, or boring and riddles with errors of grammar and logic, I was grateful.

Bore me, in other words, just a little bit, and I'll go along for the ride. Bore me AND offend me, and I'm gone.

Which is what happened with True Blood. It moved from being just kinda boring to being kinda boring AND horrifically violent and gory and mean-spirited. All but a few moments of Episode Ten depicted the characters being completely HORRIBLE to each other. I fast-forwarded through more than I ever had before, and at the end, I felt I'd been assaulted. I was heartsick and nauseated, and I needed a bath as much as the characters who ended up drenched in blood--and I mean drenched in blood, having taking a blood shower, with it saturating hair, face, nostrils and clothes.


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