Tag Archives: opinion

Accurate Story Titles: The case with Disney’s Princesses Part 4

I’m delaying this last installment like a student who needs to clean her room.

Some things never change

Some things never change, in case you’re wondering.

Now where’s my saxophone books? I need to butcher Ode to Joy.

So, Pocahontas and Rapunzel eh?

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Okay, I’m going to wrap up the usual stuff with how media thinks.

Princesses seeking independence and freedom in some form = forbidden romance (in some form or another) + historical inaccuracies to pretty things up.

First of all, Pocahontas:

A perfect example showing history is not written by the conquerors, but by the romance writers

A perfect example showing history is not written by the conquerors, but by the romance writers

The true account of Pocahontas is obviously much different and I’ll leave my readers to go to the wiki-mobile to get some idea.

So we got this free spirited princess who falls in love with a stranger. It’d be easy to say that John Smith was Pocahontas’s ‘bad boy’ romance but really, you don’t get that feeling (despite who the voice actor is). In all honesty, Pocahontas might be considered the ‘least’ worst Disney princess out of the lot. However, her nativity bugs the hell out of me.

Yes, love conquers all but we’re talking war between two peoples (who apparently all speak the same language even though they met each other for the first time). She should know better at least on how her father would react to certain things and manage a strategy from there.

Instead of singing her way through.

I could go on but best to keep this short and sweet.

Ah, Rapunzel….

In Rapunzel’s case her nativity is justified given how she’s lived, but the story still has its issues.

How to cleverly 'update' the classic fairytale princess during your PR campaign

How to cleverly ‘update’ the classic fairytale princess during your PR campaign

I enjoyed the jokes and the general story line in Tangled, but in my opinion it could have exploited something much stronger besides true love and all that jazz. Really, Eugenie is a walking plot device cleverly disguised as the love interest.

Run off with crown, check, bring it to princess as a way of fate going ah-ha! check, now to fall in love

Run off with crown, check, bring it to princess as a way of fate going ah-ha! check, now to fall in love

Brave really explored the relationship between mother and daughter which is one of its strong points. Of course, it goes about a healthy relationship which has its differences between generations that is bound to happen. In Tangled, we obviously have, if we break it down, an unhealthy relationship.

In comedic moments, we see Rapunzel struggle with her desire to see the world and obeying her ‘mother’. If she did it on her own without romantic-interest-plot-device, it could have made a more profound story about a young woman overcoming a bad relationship and learning what’s right for her.

Of course, this is Disney. Certain lines and phrases in the story scream ‘PR campaign’ . At the same time, they made her somewhat independent but not too much which is a problem I find with most of the Disney princesses.

It’s that sort of ‘ceiling’ I often see when interacting with female peers. There’s an invisible ceiling that everyone pretends they don’t see and yet, still keep away from.

You could argue that Pocahontas might have been an older sister in the PR campaign before it came to fruition on some level. At the same time, there’s only so much you can do with the romanticized story without falling back on traditional roles the previous princesses had.

As for Rapunzel, she’s just part of the PR campaign.

After reviewing all the Disney Princesses, I think its time we seriously create stories not based around getting the love interest and having an adventure. Maybe, she’s a queen, has married but now for some real adventure regarding her power or something? That can send a much stronger message about women’s roles today.

It’s just a thought, but I know people are comfortable with the approved fairy tale formula.

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What stories represent and what they tell us about ourselves

This week I wanted to discuss something on the more serious side of writing and representing the real world through story. So without further ado, allow me to take to the stage of the blogging world.

Gorgmenghast.

peake2

The name quietly stirs in your mind as you read the tale of its 77th Earl, Titus Groan. Complicated words, but colorful imagery. Small events and tragedies, we take for granted in our epic fantasy tales but under the careful magnifying glass of Mervyn Peake’s imagination, you feel its weight on your tired eyes.

The Gormenghast trilogy is quite different from your standard fantasy epic, even if you put in A Song of Ice and Fire in the mix. When you read it, you can see why publishers at the same had a hard time categorizing it. This was one of the reasons that prevented these novels from being published and recognized in writing circles.

If I described the Gormenghast trilogy, on face value it wouldn’t stir much interest let alone be considered a treasure in the literary world. Yet, while I read Gormenghast, I was wondering why the story stirred something inside of me. The writing and description was extraordinary but something about the story made me realize its true value.

I couldn’t put my finger on what is was though.

The story is about the life Titus Groan from birth to….well until the author died and never really completed the series. However, it shows how his life is ruled by rituals and traditions that have lost their meaning. Somehow, everyone in the castle goes along with this, as if its some sort of law.

Gormenghast was and is the law. Defying it, challenging it and any form of rebellion was unheard of that it even drove Titus’s father mad.

There is no escape, only submission.

mervyn peake illustration of dr. jekyl and mr hyde

After reading a bit about the author’s life,  I learnt that in his early years he lived in China. The way Gormenghast, the castle, and all its inhabitants live separately from the rest of society sort of reminded me of the Forbidden City.

Then it hit me.

No questions, go along with everyone, obey traditions that have lost any meaning and relevance in today and forget any individual happiness?

Maybe I’m over thinking this, but it felt like the story was representing a sort of Gothic form of collective societies. I’m not saying all collective societies are bad or every single characteristic they possess makes them bad. But anything in excess is usually bad, even individualism (I’m looking at you Ayn Rand).

atlasshrugged200

Back to my point, the Gormenghast novels seemed to resonate with some of my childhood (and even adulthood) experiences regarding collectivism. I grew up in a culture that emphasized on following traditions to the point that they had, figuratively, broken life down into an ordered grocery list. If you fall out of line or do something not accepted or done before, you risk being ostracized.

From a psychological point of view and personal experience, this conflict between choosing for yourself and following what the group does come at a price regardless of the choice you make. Now, if you reject certain traditions not only are you ostracized but you also, within your community, loose that sense of assurance you’re accepted. Maybe to some people that doesn’t sound so bad, but it can have devastating effects on a person’s emotional health.

And forget about ‘middle ground’ in these situations. It’s a dead concept.

Gormenghast offers readers a story about a family, specifically a boy, whose whole life has been planned before he takes his first breath. The senseless rituals he has to commit to have lost all meaning but no one dares question carrying them out or their relevance.

This reminded me of several arguments when I questioned certain traditions and mentalities about the collectivist society I was born into. Any direct question was pretty much met with the same answer (maybe an adverb or adjective if I was lucky):

Because that's what's best because- *insert rest of answer*

Because it’s what’s best because- *insert rest of answer*

This was especially true if I brought up about the role of women in today’s society. Out of my own stupidity and the sweet taste of rebellion (plus the added bonus of pissing off relatives), I wanted to insist certain values were….quite Victorian in nature.

Though doing this would’ve been more productive use of my time:

normal_headdesk

Nevertheless, books like the Gormenghast novels capture difficult concepts to weave into a story, let alone be the central theme.  Also, certain values that are morally grey are harder to come across effectively. But its these stories that bring a wealth of culture and the ability to look at ourselves and the world around us more closely.

It is these stories that we keep in our hearts and minds much longer than your standard white knight saves the world from dark wizard.


Pseudo Pornos, Lusty Undergrads and a bad Tv show: The unofficial tale of Sex and the City

Once a upon a time, when I was a wee undergrad, I wanted to watch a funny show. This was in the dark ages before the Big Bang Theory brought us hope and light.

Of finding funny tv-show

On finding funny TV-show

All my friends told me about this one series I should watch.

“Hey you should watch Sex and the City!” One said with glee. The other jumped in and agreed.

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I was hesitant by the name and wondered what kind of game they were playing. After all, these were my friends, they watched Dexter and other shows we all liked. If Game of Thrones had been aired, we’d all be rejoicing how Viserys got his golden hair.

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“Dear friends,” I asked, “it does not sound like something I’d watch.”

“OH!” the other jumped in. “For it is! It is about the stereotypes women have to deal with, ignore the title, that’s part of the issue,” she said with a mischievous smile.

I was convinced at that point and figured I should give it a try. They love Dexter, I kept telling myself.

I couldn't help bringing in two of my favorite references

I couldn’t help bringing in two of my favorite references

They lent me the first DVD and said the beginning was poor.

“But that is to be expected, for this was their pilot!” I nodded at my friend. Some shows need to get their ground before coming around to great rating expectations.

“How many episodes shall I watch then?” I questioned examining the DVD. I had a feeling I should throw it away, but I thought maybe it was just my dismay at the title.

“Three, or five, and then you’ll be hooked! It won’t be long before you ask for another box set!”

So I went to my dorm and ordered pizza, while I waited, I decided to watch and hope for a laugh.

I sat and watched and wondered why, the first scenes were erotica not story at all. It’s probably just for ratings.

After two episodes, I got distracted.

Eating was more important

The pizza was delicious

After the third episode, I was downright uncomfortable.

According to the laws of the internet and Vamp from Metal Gear, at any moment someone will walk in

According to the laws of the internet and Vamp from Metal Gear, at any moment someone will walk in…

I managed my escape from the horrendous show, by playing dead in case Sarah Jessica Parker became the Ring girl.

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The next day I went to my friends and returned the DVD.

“Did you like it???” They asked with hope in their voices.

“There’s video stores, there’s movies, and there’s books. But if you wish to continue lying to yourselves, just rely on one place where no one can judge you for watching, there’s always dear old HBO, or YouTube. Hell just type in on Google!”

I learned something that day as my friends pleaded me to torture myself through another two episodes.

Yes, we know Sex sells. But it can never replace character development, plot and have a better story for audiences. Sex is overused and often undermined now that we have to take it a bit ‘extreme’ to get it noticed. Or more importantly, people to watch.

‘Tis the end of my sad tale. About being lied to about series which discussed several issues.

Instead I got fooled into watching a porno with the dark lighting making it erotica and with dialogue making it a story.


Lies to breakdown before writing about Adult characters

Dear Ma,

Over the past few years, I discovered you lied to me about many things but certain LIES stood out from the rest.

Those lies are much worse than the Santa Claus incident and Tooth Fairy stunt you pulled off years ago. I have organized these terrible, horrendous lies into a short list:

1. Adults are mature: Ma, you gave me an impression that all adults (regardless of sex) acted like these people:
Goliath      Carter_StargateSG1

When I stop hearing young women arguing how people’s lack of fashion sense is a bigger issue than the current financial crisis and when I stop hearing young men boasting how they ‘own’ companies in different countries or exaggerating any of their accomplishments, I might re-consider my position.

They’re young you say? Not fully mature? Wait, this isn’t a level up gauge bar like my Final Fantasy games!

It is?

Okay! Then how about when they become parents? Ma, when was the last time you heard another parent showing off their spawn? Hell, when was the last time another adult boasted about their accomplishments to everyone?

Yeah thought so.

2. Adults don’t get jealous:

Seriously? Ma, I have a database of issues I’d like to go through. They are also alphabetical for your convenience!

We can start we B, from Beauty to Bonuses? Or maybe you’d prefer E, start off with Education to extra-curricular activities (the one you immediately thought of and the more ‘sporty’ one…wait that can be misinterpreted). Or S? From…*wink wink nudge nudge* to Spouses or how about Success? C, Children. Who has smarter/better spawn? Oh, already mentioned that.

3. Work hard and you’ll get what you want: I work very hard in procrastinating while doing papers but I still end up doing them! Yet, when I don’t procrastinate and work to write epic stories to dazzle my audiences, I end up writing nothing.

4. As you grow older, you’ll become more humble:

Have you ever seen how masters’ students act after they graduate? Hell, have you ever seen someone act when they get their first ‘official’ job?

Not old enough?

Ma, do you remember the last family reunion?! It was like watching a bunch of high schoolers who somehow became the product of a deadly concoction of teen fangirls gossiping about anyone in sight and jersey shore boys flexing their financial muscles sprinkled with cultural pressures and expectations.

Okay, okay, yes Ma that was mean. I take it back. I’m sorry.

Well, the last family reunion was more like-

Gladiator

This.

How could you, Ma? How could you?

As an amateur writer I have a sworn duty to accurately portray human nature! No matter what!


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