Monthly Archives: October 2010

Take this, Takers!

Frontline journalism, that is what you expect of this blog, right? I know, and as heavy as all of this expectation might be on my tender mind, I’m never unwilling to feed you as a reader what you eagerly demand. So I’ll give you a movie review before the movie has actually been released. And I was just about to conclude the preceding sentence with a (!), cause really, how good is that?
I know it’s not really impressive, thank you. Plus, it probably already started its run in the US anyways so I’m lagging behind depending on the country from which you access this site. And I really only give you a review, cause I went to the sneak preview of a local Heidelbergian cinema, not because anyone would actually really let me see a movie beforehand.

Yadda yadda, what the heck are you talking about, honey? is probably what you ask your computer screen. I’m about to review Takers right in front of your eyes. It’s a flick directed by John Luessenhop, produced by the studios Rainforest Films and Grand Hustle Films and I was right about my earlier assumption, cause it was released to theaters in the US in August 2010, while it took a little longer to come out here in Germany.

Whatever happened to the careers of Paul Walker, Chris Brown, Matt Dillon, Hayden Christiansen and T.I.? I could start the review like that. Or with: What do you expect from a film featuring Chris Brown, Hayden Christiansen, Matt Dillon, T.I. and Paul Walker? Well, I personally, expect nothing. Not only next to zero but absolutely super-fucking nothing at all. Which was probably the best position to start from.
What we get is a movie about a gang of 5 men, who are thieves. They rob a bank and later on attempt to steal about 30 million US-Dollars from a money transport and their whole life is built upon that money in that they spend their time having a good time in expensive clubs, wearing expensive suits, smoking expensive cigarettes and drinking expensive scotch. Oh and yeah, expensive cars and beautiful women, who’da thunk it. On the other side we have Matt Dillon as a cop with his partner, the two of them struggling in their personal lives but ever so willing to forget about their personal problems in order to solve the case.

via film.de

Let’s dive deeper into our subject matter, okay?
It’s a movie for all those teenage boys around the western world, who like to think of themselves as sometimes thugs who are just too clever for life and alla that shit and their girlfriends who think that being with a thug is the ultimate goal, cause really, they can have a heart too, and class, cause that you can buy (and not knowing any other definition of class other than equalling it with lots of money definitely helps). So it glorifies the whole thing of steal the money and get out as quickly as you can, without ever really asking why we might think of these guys as super-annoying assholes. Admittedly, the movie tries to go all moralistic on us by throwing in brotherly bonds and a drug-addict-sister to remind us that there are more important things in life, but the storylines are as clichéd as you might expect and really don’t alter any of the underlying message.
Big part of that of course is also sexism. Cause really, what would our tough guys be without pretty and readily available women. Don’t expect anything in terms of passing the Bechdel Test here, we have three female characters, one of whom is a child, whose names we know and who of course never even come close to interaction. The closest we get to females interacting with each other is two beauties in a pool sipping Champaign and waiting for a naked Paul Walker to come and “take” them. Yah, it’s horrible, but that doesn’t come as a surprise at all. Small, as in really tiny-little, Kudos to the film for the character of drug-addict-sister Naomi Cozier, because she really defies the genres norm and is in no way your average hot-chick-for-tough-guy type, but looks and to some extent acts her part and adds a little depth to a movie where I expected none.

via filmkinotrailer.com

Then there is good cop and bad cop, as in two partners, one of them with a really messed up personal life, but very righteous, and the other one having it all (seemingly) with dirty secrets, though both of them are really supposed to be the good guys. Matt Dillon in his role is never likeable but that is what the movie wants, so good job, and his more approachable partner does a good job holding up against him.
There is lots of violence and while the shooting each other thingy with all the bad guys doesn’t really gloss it over (except for one horrendous scene where the score is so cheesy the whole audience took a collective laugh), there is the issue of Matt Dillon cop being the “I beat every suspect up and get what I want” type, which is nowhere near sufficiently problematized. The movie makes a distinct point that his superiors condemn his use of violence on the job, but then again the whole movie also presents a story where all his use of violence results in no consequences for him at all, except for the fact that it helps him to solve the case, kinda. Which is not the sort of message I want sexist teen and twen-boys to hear, but yes you’re right, no one cared to ask me first.

via moviereporter.net

So, I hadn’t even heard of the film before, nor would I have cared about it if. It is a very curious experience to sit through a movie that you basically tolerate because you give in to its inherent yet completely involuntary ridiculousness, while approximately 80 percent of the rest of the audience cheer and think it’s actually really cool to be a sexist bank-robber with the lamest one-liners in the world.
Cause yeah, I’ll give you that: I found it entertaining to some extent. If you like a mindless action movie, this is not a bad one. On the technical side, it’s very hectic, lots of handcamera, shaky sometimes, with fast cuts and quick change of scenery. The whole movie is constantly on the move and that is probably what saves it, since it never left me sitting there being bored. It is not exactly exciting, but interesting to watch and wait for the things that happen to happen. Having said that I could have done without 90 percent of the dialogue (if not all), for it not only NOT adds anything to the story most of the time, it’s also very much of the blah-type if not downright embarrassing, and I sincerely hope much of it can be attributed to the horrible German dubbing. Then again, they didn’t have anything more substantial to say in English I guess, so really, without any dialogue this flick might have even worked better. Which is not the definition of a good thing for movie writers, I guess.

Overall, this movie is a C minus in my book. It’s not horrible as in boring, offensive (well, not entirely) and completely stupid, but it is nowhere near good either. Skip it, if you can.

Advertisements

Futuristic Living pt. 2: Moving to Realstadt

After my first post on planning dwellings and cities for the future here, I wanted to revisit the topic by giving you some impressions of an exhibition called “Realstadt” that is still going on in Berlin, where you can visit it until November 28th, in the Kraftwerk Mitte. Right below you can see Berlin two times: the first is an re-imagination of the area around Alexanderplatz, and below that is model of the city, carved out of wood (and though coming close to reality, this too contains buildings that have only been planned but not realized).

Let’s enter the rest of the Realstadt exhibition through a subway model, shall we? Okay.

While the building in the picture above was a design for some youth convention center for the youth organisation of the former GDR, it totally looks like “Darth Vader’s school for stormtrooping children,” right? Hilarious, but even more so if you think about all the potential connections between Strom Troopers and GDR youth organizations. As Daniel Liebeskind mentions here, architecture tells a lot of stories and a lot about the people who designed and built a building.

The exhibition is interesting for the models and designs alone, however, I was slightly underwhelmed. By seeing the ads and reading about the aims of this exhibition, I thought I’d encounter many more models of the type right above or in the three pictures below: Cities and buildings that are not, and probably aren’t to be in the next 100 years, but that represent intersting experiments of thought and imagination, where the wish is the architect, rather than the math. Fair enough, many of the models featured are still amazing to look at, but what bugs me about that, is the lack of information given with the individual pieces and designs. Because obviously basically all designs are unrealized (or at least not yet – or not anymore), but from the texts coming with the pieces it’s often hard to find out, especially if you want to dig a little deeper and see where the model deviates from reality – and why. I feel it wouldn’t have taken too much effort to provide that, and it was noticeably missing in my perception.

In autumn 2010 Berlin is playing host to «REALSTADT.Wünsche als Wirklichkeit» [Realstadt.Wishes Knocking on Reality’s Doors]. The focal point in this exhibition will be not only the concept of the City but also the way we deal with the City. It is the wishes of very many different actors playing an active part in shaping the City that are central to the exhibition: mundane wishes and spectacular ones, idealistic and economic ones, local and global ones. Cities, after all, are built from wishes, animated by wishes and pulsing with wishes.
– REALSTADT Berlin 

The image above shows you one of my favorite models, that of a church. I like it so much, because it does a good job at representing what these models and these exhibitions are all about: Giving you a clear sense of what could be, what it would look like and coming up with ideas that take shape in a more concrete way than just some random thought in somebody’s head. Plus, the model reminds me to give you a “Going to Church” post again. Models like the one pictured right below are also interesting in that they bring maps to life and give you a clearer sense of how where you live is situated in the greater scheme of things. Which sounds way more esoteric than it’s really ment to sound.

A vast array of around 300 architectural and planning models and 80 exemplary projects from all over Germany testify to the wish for change and the energy needed to make it happen. In response to a nationwide call, these models were submitted by local authorities, town planning offices, universities, planning initiatives and individuals. The prize-winning projects of the competition “National Prize for Integrated Urban Development and Baukultur”, which was organised in 2009 by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development represented important points of reference. They include blueprints for extensive urban redevelopments and pinpoint interventions, realized concepts and shelved competition entries, participatory processes and bold individual statements.
– REALSTADT Berlin

Due to my lack of originality I decided to not bother you with any interesting information here whatsoever. Instead, I’m just gonna say that I love color coordinated things, so let’s just look at some  more things in good old white.

The exhibition is open from 10 to 8 every day, and as a special treat for you, if you’re a student, it’s free. Despite my critique, I highly recommend you to visit the exhibition, if not only for the exhibition building itself, the Kraftwerk Mitte. The bar, cashier and lighting is done nicely and the whole building makes for an interesting background to the designs featured.

 

Loveable you in Despicable Me

Despicable Me is not exactly fresh out of the oven, but I’ve just seen it, so you have to suffer through my review. Feeling grateful yet?
I caught it while pursuing (one of my) day job(s): looking after a bunch of kids. They all enjoyed it, and I’ll go spoiler on you thus far: I did too.

(c) Universal Pictures, via mymoviecinema.com

Despicable Me was released to theaters in July 2010 and is an animation feature produced by Universal Pictures and Illumination entertainment. It was also released in 3-D (which movie nowadays isn’t?), but since I’ve seen it in 2-D I can’t tell you about the merits of dimension number three, though I doubt it added much to the overall quality of the film. But let’s move on to the things I liked and those I didn’t, shall we?

Ok, does anyone else think the whole “the villain is the real hero of this movie” thing feels already dated? I sure do, and at the beginning of Despicable Me I had a bit eye-rolling going on, thinking: oh, one of those. But alas, the tides have turned, my friends. The nice touch in Despicable Me – besides the issue being that the villain-hero is really no villain as in an evil person, but more of a big-hearted weirdo – is that being an evil thief is depicted like it’s just your average job option. Okay, you got superbrains and a mad scientist? Qualification standards met! I find that to be refreshing in that it both makes me ask why it’s just considered to be another day job, and why seemingly nobody is capable of finding the stolen pyramid, but the movie manoeuvres around a giant potential pitfall by just taking it for granted and not explaining a second of it.

I’ve elaborated in my Game of Thrones and Fantastic Mr. Fox reviews why I’m not a fan of the looking-for-the-father’s-recognition trope. Here we encounter an interesting reversal in that Gru (the movie’s protagonist) is looking for recognition from his (supposed) single mom. Which is in itself pretty rad, but then there is also her late realization that she might not be the best mother the face of the earth ever saw. Which is a realization that you’d not expect by a character in a family-friendly animated movie that portrays this character as likeable. The times we live in!
Oh, and of course, we have to linger at bit on gender issues, not only cause we like to talk about them, but also because we get to see the development of Gru from master-thief to single dad of three adopted daughters. Self referencing galore in this post I’ll direct you to my Lilo & Stitch review here, where I talk extensively about why having a say in who you consider to be family really is about the most awesome concept on the planet. Single moms and single dads, orphaned children and grown-up nerds that infuriate their fathers. This film really caters to those who think that it’s not all about your typical nuclear family and the fanboys. Unless they get the joke.
Cause how good is one of the two “real” villains? Vector is Gru’s antagonist, but he too remains endearing to the extent that he is so very much a child of the times we live in (where everything looks like it was just designed by some apple-rip-off company), living the life every nerdy fanboy dreams of, celebrating his own utter ridiculousness.

(c) Universal Pictures, via onme.ca

Ok, shoot me, but really, one of the weakest points of the whole movie is the three girls. Don’t get me wrong, they totally serve their cause in making Gru realize what life is really all about, but other than that they’re very cookie-cutter (the clever one, the cool emotionally detached one, and the cute but crazy one) and don’t work at all as individual characters or as anything other than Gru’s externalized conscience, for that matter. Now, I can’t say: “I could have done without them,” cause then that would have been a whole different movie, but I just wish they would have been a little rounder characters. It’s interesting when we compare them to the minions, Gru’s army of yellow little beings that basically serve to cause trouble, cheer for him or just be downright cute. Although they are only minimally individualized, at the end of the movie I was left feeling I got to know them better than any of the girls. Which is a cool thing for the minions, but not too much for the girls.

(c) Universal Pictures, via movies.ch

And yes, I know, the “villain is the most interesting character in about every story” is a cliché come to life, but this movie’s hidden gem really is the mistress of the orphanage that the three girls live in, Miss Hattie.
Very reminiscent of Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies, she looks so conservatively cute and demure just to reveal the most despicable personality of them all in this movie. I know that I’m supposed to hate her, but because the movie does so well in portraying her as being very hate-able with only a few brush-strokes here and there, I am totally smitten with this character. We – at least I – meet people like this basically every other day and while they think they’re totally likeable, decent and righteous, they’re really basically just monsters in conservative attire, which makes it all the harder to call them out for their effin’ bigotry.

(c) Universal Pictures, via fanpop.com

A few sidenotes: The dog. Annoying. Gimmicky. Irrelevant. The Russian accent. Now there lies a whole issue, and it made me kinda angry in the beginning, until I realized that what the film really does is playing with our prejudices, and that the stereotypical evil Russian guy turns out to the be loveable hero of the film. Fauxpas redeemed. And then there is the shamebox: ouch and heehee, at the same time.

(c) Universal Pictures, via absolutefiction.com

So to conclude this little review: Despicable Me is a decent movie in that it is moving, funny and good if you have kids or happen to go to movies with kids. It’s not a masterpiece, but it is definitely enjoyable.

Grace Jones tells you an Inside Story

Reviewing an album by Grace Jones is not that easy because she has several superb albums, so choosing one has implications.
Well, I chose Inside Story for several reasons. Fist, because it is one of her lesser known and also of her lesser important ones. It marked a return to more mainstream pop music with strong 80s influences and thus is noticeably different from the more experimental stuff she released from Warm Leatherette through to Slave to the Rhythm. Inside Story was followed by the even less famous and less important Bulletproof Heart that features a big bunch of forgettable mediocrity but one stellar exception – Amado Mio – that reminds of her avant-garde-glory. Another reason I chose to review Inside Story is that it enables me to save gems like Slave to the Rhythm or Nightclubbing for a later time. It might also garner me more site visits though web-search-engines, since somewhere out there in this world there have to be people listening to the album, wanting to know more about it and finding little on the net. Heehee, clever I.

via michaelpgh.blogspot.com

Inside Story was released in 1986 by Manhattan Records and produced by über-famous Nile Rodgers, who probably had a lot to do with mainstreaming Grace’s sound, for better or for worse. The album saw multiple single-releases, but none of them became a hit, so you really don’t have to excuse yourself if you think that her last single in the 80s was Slave to the Rhythm.

via saltyka.blogspot.com

Mediocre
I’m not perfect (but I’m perfect for you) & Hollywood Liar & Party Girl & Crush
I’m not perfect was released as the first single, and okay, my memories of the 80s are somewhat blurry (‘cause I was young, alright). I don’t think it’s particularly catchy or fun, but someone apparently did. Much like I’m not perfect, Hollywood Liar sounds like your typical 80s song that is neither very inspired nor totally forgettable. It’s just there, it’s not really party, it’s not really fun, nor is it dramatic enough to stick to your brain. To me at least. Judging from the albums intro, you wouldn’t think that this could be a review-worthy album…
Party Girl opens with the most embarrassing intro of all the songs on Inside Story. Fortunately it gets slightly better from there, unfortunately not a lot better. And yes, the horrible background vocals do not help. Out of the four songs labelled as mediocre Crush could probably have gotten farther, but something is just missing. There are promising touches here and there, musically and vocally, but they remain too standard and boring to make a good song. A waste really.
To me these four songs are really basically just bland, not exactly forgettable, but sound like something that I’ve heard before a thousand times, and oftentimes it seemed to have been better.

Slightly above average
Scary but Fun & White Collar Crime
These two songs are really interesting, because they could have easily appeared in the category before, but there is something about them that makes them more enjoyable. They somehow manage to transcend the standard 80s pop song cheesiness and succeed in making me hum along and think about them even when they’re over. With Scary it’s probably because the build-up of verses and chorus manages to be dramatic without being overly embarrassing, except for the backing vocals by that guy that also ruined the backing v’s on Party Girl. The advantage of White Collar Crime probably lies in its subject matter – I mean how effin’ ridiculous but at the same time strangely fabulous is it to have Grace Jones singing about White Collar Crimes? Like that ever mattered to her or would make her more relatable to the general public? Nice try, honey.

Stealing from a company, taking all the profits

Good
Chan hitchhikes to Shanghai & Victor should have been a Jazz Musician
Chan opens with a gong and turns into a very 80s pop-song. It’s faster than Victor, but equally melancholic. This is a song that you should probably encounter ultra-wasted at a mediocre party in some dark and dirty club as one of the last songs played. Sets the mood for riding the subway home and makes you think of Chan and wonder: Did he make it to Shanghai (and why would Ms. Jones care)?
Victor does practically the same, but is more for smoking a last cigarette before going to bed at 5 in the morning. A little Jazzy it gives you the feeling that Grace really wants you to grab all the chances you get to not end up like a Victor who was a Jazz Musician to the bone but never really made it as one. That makes sense, right?

Made Of Awesome
Barefoot in Beverly Hills & Inside Story
Barefoot opens with happy drums and high-pitched voices singing to you about walking barefoot through Beverly Hills. Alrighty, I’ll give you that: Grace Jones singing about how she kept it real and survived all the Hollywood Bullshiz isn’t really what we’d like to hear about on our average Sunday afternoon tea party, because really, having suffered through J.Lo’s from the block-blah, we’re naturally having allergic reactions to celebrity nonsense. But it’s a very uplifting song, and although I really don’t believe it anytime else I believe – listening to that song – that Grace learned a lot from the business and became a wiser and stronger person. It’s a song that is both sweet and somewhat melancholic with that golden glow on the horizon that promises that the future that lies ahead is a bright one.
Now that Grace actually released another album in 2009, after a 20-year hiatus, it’s interesting to compare the new William’s Blood that is about her mother’s side of the family with Inside Story that clearly deals with her relationship to her dad. Much like Barefoot it is a song that is bittersweet yet uplifting. Musically it features a pretty cool opening and drums, which is always a plus in my book. Her vocals become fuller and fuller, in combination with the instrumentation, and then in the chorus – yeah! – a choir. That song has me joining the choir every time I hear it. Things are good, and they’ll get better. That is the Inside Story that I’m hearing.

Trahsy underwear, living it up in L.A.

So, if you haven’t had a listen to the album yet, I highly recommend you to go have one!

All things Stitch (because really: why not?)

Back here in this review you can read about why I am so in love with the movie that is Lilo & Stitch. Unfortunately for my wallet and my flatmates this love for the movie extends to its merchandise, in an infantile connection of longing for the fantasies of the movie becoming reality in my life. Or whatever. ‘Cause really: I’m in heaven.

Living in Japan for a while turned out to be the most gratifying experience for any Lilo & Stitch Fan, because they love the movie as much as me, only as a nation opposed to me as an individual, which means a whole effin’ industry takes care of my need for things Stitch. And because all of them things are so radically pretty (oh, and totally sensible and stuff) I’ll force you to another practically mindless blogpost that is heavy on pictures and light on thinking. But who really cares? Exactly! Let’s start with the wonderful USB-stick that looks like Stitch on a surfboard (thanks, Mone!), follwed by a changing-motive-postcard (once more, Mone, thanks).

Our bathroom is by far the most harrassed space in our flat. That is where my Stitch-passion has a firm grip on the interior design of the room (mixed in with some Spongebob and Pokemon, mind you). Because really: isn’t a bathroom supposed to take you back to the joys of childhood and alla that? Yes, we say (collectively).

 Of course, the bathroom is not the only place that Stitch has invaded. There is the lovely paper-sculpture in light green (glowing in the dark) that Jochen made for me (thanks) and the magazine holder in my room.

I also got stacks of sticker-sheets and giftwrappers with all L&S characters on it. I’m especially in love with the ones that look like stamps from Ohana village. The beauty of it! Almost too much to behold!

Yeah, okay, so what, you say? Gee, I don’t know, go read a book! But admit it, somewhere deep down in your stone-cold heart you nurture the tiny flame of love for all things Stitch… And if it overpowers you, just come back and visit this post.

These boots are made for … wearing

A little while ago I blogged about how badly I wanted a pair of boots sold by H&M (you can see the post here), and by now I actually possess them. Have for a while, as a matter of fact, but was terribly undecided if I really wanted to keep them (especially since I would have treated myself to some black faux-leather-bag in lieu of the boots). I was practically already almost 100% that I’d return them, when I did a few outfit mix-ups and ultimately decided to keep them. And yes, I know, all of this is horribly irrelevant actually, I bother you with it nevertheless.

The above outfit was roughly what I had in mind when I wanted to buy the boots. Well, turned out, it didn’t really look good. I don’t like my legs in these trousers being visually shortened by the boots. Oh, the terror!

It was the outfit below that kind of – after days of contemplation and thinking I’d give them back for sure and get myself the bag instead – reconciled me with the idea of keeping them, because although it’s very business outfitty, I like how the boots complete the look.

Ultimately, it was the outfit right above that sold me on the ideas that keeping the boots was the way to go. I love oversized things that completely distort proportions, and I’ve owned that pair of trousers for at least 10 years, now I finally have the boots to let them celebrate their comeback. And 10 years and comeback are roughly the terms that describe how 90’s boyband-y I feel, when looking at these pictures of myself.

And cause celebrations are all about having fun, I’ll give you another shot of me with the outfit and them boots:

Do you think that keeping the boots is the right decision?

Masculinism, Feminism, and the power of labels

I was ready to explode in your face here with a rant about masculinism. I just recently stumbled across the term itself and naïve me thought “ah, yeah, I know that, that is when men join the feminist cause and challenge dominant gender roles that also oppress men.”
Except for: the website I stumbled upon (named genderama) is nothing quite like that. Expressions like “oh so patriarchal Berlin” and “femocratic German politics” are used when referring to how men are oppressed in Germany. Politically. And Socially. And Economically. Of course. What?

via wallacethinksagain.blogspot.com

Let’s just graciously ignore the fact that polemic expressions never rarely make for a good argument. That still leaves us with the notion that German politics are femocratic. Ermh, yeah, because the last 5 chancellors were women…right? And because the German parliament is famous for its female parliamentarians outnumbering the male ones…right? Because there is a long tradition of German cabinets consisting of more women than men….right? Yes, we all know the answer is no to all of these quassumptions (which is my clever combination of question and assumption, ha!), so how in the world might the author over at genderama speak of femocratic structures?
Because there are quotas to ensure female presence in political parties? Because affirmative action is pursued by actively encouraging women (and people with a background in migration or people with special needs) to not only apply for jobs, but to pick them for the job rather than a man when they are equally qualified for it?
Now mind you, of course I applaud you for being critical of affirmative action. However, we might start asking: In how far does it even work? Because let’s face it: Neither in politics, nor in the media, nor in the realm of economic elites, nor in academics (and let’s not even talk about religion, shall we?) are women OVERrepresented, let alone equally represented. Far from it. So what in the world gives the author of the-blog-that-shall-not-be-named-again the idea that all these men THAT ARE OVERREPRESENTED IN ALL OF THE ABOVE REALMS actually work against themselves and submit willingly to female domination and oppression? Okaaaaay, I admit, writing in caps technically qualifies as polemic writing, which I discredited above (but only to some extent, heehee), so I should rather say… Yeah well, what? The question I just asked is a real question: Does anyone know? Because I don’t fucking get it.
Well, yes, of course I have my ideas (who’da thunk it?), so let me just speculate:
Mr. Blogauthor feels threatened by feminism, because he feels that the power and privilege that he should actually possess based on his sex/gender/whatever, justified by conservative ideologies of patriarchal bliss, are threatened by it. I don’t think he actually feels threatened by particular women per se, only to the extent that they all act up and don’t stay in their place. So discrediting feminism by claiming all it does is discriminating against boys and really just oppress men is an easy way to construct a scapegoat, drag it to the slaughterhouse and shoot it in the head.
It’s just that the bullet misses its target. By about a thousand miles.

via gapersblock.com

The headline says something about the power of labels, and it is important. Because as much as I’d like to slam masculinism as some stoopid fuckery, that would really just be me being super immature, un-reflected and narrow minded. Because of course, masculinism, just as feminism is not one block of unitary wisdom, but a label that groups together the most diverse of opinions and agendas. So there are also those masculisnists, who really are joining a (and not the) feminist cause, in that they struggle to reveal the gender roles and assumptions that inform our lives and create patterns of patriarchy that oppress women, but also work against many things that men should care about.

via waynemellinger.blog.friendster.com

So, to end this tale, I’ll serve you the morale:
My definition of feminism is of course not THE definition of feminism, it’s really just mine (though I think a few people share it), even if I’d really love it to be The Definition. Ha. But what my definition entails, is the belief that identities are complex constructions and modes of discrimination and oppression cannot be evaluated in a hierarchical system. That means that my definition of feminism tries to incorporate both men and women, because it thinks that gender relations are (as the term itself already states) not one-sided, but work both ways, and they work both good and bad. This means that as a man I might find myself in multiple situations of oppression and discrimination, and although I am not a woman, I firmly believe that it is this brand of feminism that is able to counteract and eventually end my experiencing of oppression and discrimination. I want to make explicit that I did not write about questions of racist structures and questions of dis*ability, but they are integral constituents of my definition of feminism. I’ll elaborate on that in the future, I guess.

via novaseeker.files.wordpress.com

So: Yay feminism! And yay progressive masculinism (that really is also feminism with a different label)! Yay!

Black faces, white fashion and ‘Blackface’

Oh my. So, there I was, sitting innocently in my room, thinking we were living in progressive times in less offensive times. Heck, was I wrong. Updating myself on all fashion-nonsense I stumbled across this (okay, you may have already seen it – and beware, it ain’t ‘pretty’):

“Huh?!” you probably go (well, I did), thinking: “are they shitting me?” Yep, that’s actually what they do.
Over at isatrends.at I read that 8.6% of the models booked during New York Fashion Week were black or women of color. That is a whopping percentage of models who were/are white. Now mind you, we might just wonder: “Oh, how come anybody could think then, that white models don’t get enough work?” Yeah, exactly, who would ever…? Apparently the folks over at Numero thought so. Poor white models.
Got an idea: let’s paint her black, but not really. More like: give her an afro-wig, tan her skin very (very) dark. Oh, and make it look like she’s the mum of a black baby. But yeah, not that anyone would mistake her for a real black woman.  Because that would be….? Eermh, yeah. I’m at a loss.
Numero folks apparently go to great lenghts to not hire a black model, all the while wanting to represent what they imagine to be black. Let me put it like this: They are not exactly coming down from their high horse of white privilege and cultural assumption, they rather take a wild ride on it (probably hoping no one will notice). Actually, they probably didn’t think about that at all, which makes it even scarier. Everybody like: “Hey, you know what would be fun…” and no single person coming like “ermh, maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all….”

Is this Blackface (which you can learn about here, here, here and here) is the question attached to these photos floating around the internet. Yep, I say, it is. It’s ridiculously offensive. Can’t you just hear them say: “Nah, it’s not Blackface, cause we portray her in a positive way as a mother…” yadda yadda. No, it is Blackface, because you once again refuse to let a model of color be the center of your editorial in a world where structural racism is rampant. There is a history of Blackface, appropriation of cultural signs without understanding any of the content of the code, and white privilege that is still continuing to structure our everyday lives. And you do nothing about it, probably boasting how the spread celebrates diversity, without resulting in any real diversity at all, spitting in the face of those, who’d like to be your diverse model, but are not, cause you chose to portray diversity with a white model. That’s so astoundingly off the track for anyone who pays attention to the racist structures that we live in, it makes me want to scream.

And puhleaze, don’t give me any of the “she’s not black, only tanned” crap. There is no denying that everthing about her outfit and make-up implies screams “supposed to be black” or “ethnically other” (cause obviously Numero does not count on a readership of color. How…uh…diverse…?), it’s not just meant to be cute. At least not in the meta-kind-of-way.
Of course, it is very intruiging to have a look at what we can do with our body and its image. It is interesting to assume a different appearance, dye our hair, apply make-up and whatnot. But just because all of that is connected to outward appearance does not mean that it doesn’t come with cultural baggage attached. It would be perfectly fine to do so, if we lived in a world where black models get as many jobs as white models, where black people are not harrassed, oppressed and bullied by white people, and where black people could just as easily apply white makeup and pose like a white person without invoking and reinscribing practices of whitewashing or being brutally reminded of centuries of oppression and ridicule. Mhm, we don’t live in this world, so I’d say: “No.”

To end this post on a more positive note I’ll give you a shoot that features a black woman. This shoot is gorgeous, I love the styling and the model’s look, there are two three issues though: Curiously, this shoot appeared in the L’UOMO VOGUE, the Italian Vogue magazine for men, which makes sense in that it’s about tuxedos (and is actually cool in a gender-bending sort of way), but could make us ask if women of color are not considered to be woman enough to appear in the issue targeting females (though admittedly, I don’t know who got featured in the women’s issue). Ironically, this shoot is by the same photographer – Greg Kadel – who shot the editorial that I dissected above. Urgh. And unfortunately, I’m unable to find the model’s name anywhere in the magazine. Does anyone know?

Secondly, the shoot is called black and white etiquette, obviously a pun, since the clothing is all black and white, all the photos are shot in black and white and… yeah, and. The model is black and the audience is apparently imagined to be white. While this also leaves a bitter taste in my mouth to some extent, it is also kinda cool in that it explicitly highlights the issue and makes the reader aware of the different layers of meaning. So, yay … ?

Notice two things here in the last picture: I am a horrible photographer and didn’t even manage to adjust the colors to match the other photos and they used the same picture twice within this spread. Ermh, okay. Blame the economy.

(c) of the pictures: 1st shoot – Numero magazine, 2nd shoot – L’uomo Vogue, all shot by Greg Kadel

Waffles on a Sunday

This last sunday was blessed with beautiful weather here in Berlin. I got up early, worked out, and then me and my flatmate went to the fleamarket in the Mauerpark. Afterwards I had to work ’til evening, but even that was fun, considering it was an event filled with nice people and colleagues in a good and playful mood. Then later I was treated to some good old Swabian Linsen with Spätzle (lentils with Swabian noodles) and even some sausage, vegetarian though, cause I don’t eat meat. Full as I was, I fell asleep while trying to watch a movie.

But what I want to post here is actually what we did right before hitting the fleamarket, namely visiting a café called “Glücklich am Park” on Kastanienallee, because I got a gift coupon for my birthday earlier this year. Big thank you to Carolin and Maren for that! We spent 10 Euros on three waffles and felt super-self-indulgent, which was good. We started with the one on the right in the picture above, with a fig-mint-curd sauce on top, and afterwards had a waffle with some raspberry sauce and whipped cream. Delish!

Our last waffle was topped with some vanilla-curd and a fruit salad. As you can see below, we had some interested table-guests, little sparrows, who were very intent on picking up all eventual crumbs.

And those two lovely giraffes are in this post, cause I spotted them on the fleamarket and I just love myself a good giraffe. Or two. So enjoy.

Thrifting kitchenware and the like

My first real post on this blog was about plates and stuff (you can read it here), so it’s been a while, over a month already, that I posted something like this.

Me and my flatmates are passionate fleamarket and thriftstore raiders and have acquired quite a few gems. To remind the world of their glory I give you a glimpse on some of them, but avert your eyes quickly if the glamourosity is too much to bear!

Notice how I forced the US-countryside coasters already two times on your eyes? Ha! I’ll even do it a third time! The three green vases are actually from Ikea (ultra cheap) and were given to me by my mother. Below a plate that reads “Happy Birthday!” in German and will make a great little gift for the next birthday kid in town, instead of just some lamey card.