A letter to the next generation,

Dear youngsters,

Forty. Gah!!

They used to call this age “over the hill”. I categorically reject that notion. Forty is the new… what? Sixteen, is it? I haven’t really kept up with what is what, and what means what. It does not really matter. I’m still having fun. I have kept some notes along the way, and I wanted to pass some of them to the younger ones. Because you guys are EVERYWHERE!

They called us Generation X, the children of the Boomers. The ones after us are called Generation Y. The next ones after will have a different name, and so on.

We thought we owned the world, and we did for a little while, until 9/11 and then the recession, and the world died a little bit around us. We thought we would live our dreams, and we did for a little while until the daily grind of existence forced our hand. We thought ourselves invincible. And we were. For a little while.

You will not believe any of this, because the inevitable curse of youth is that the elders have nothing important to say. And the inevitable curse of the older generation is carrying the bits of knowledge that the younger ones will never heed.

You will have your fashion just as we had our flannels and combat boots. You will have your music, and you will think of it as the first to truly understand, to change the face of music forever, the first who really gets it… just as we had said about Kurt Cobain, and our parents said about Elvis and the Beatles. Whatever you listen to in your teens and twenties will be the music that you one day refer back to as “the last of the good music”. They don’t make it like they used to. We all have said it. You will too.

You will have your youth, your heart will get broken, you will make some messy mistakes, you will live, you will love, you will be hurt and you will feel joy. You will question your upbringing. And then you will question what ever caused you to question it in the first place.

One day you may have kids, and you will find yourself saying things you only thought your parents said. One day you will wake up to find that you don’t really care what kind of ‘statement’ your clothes make. One day you will look in the mirror and see that all of your hair is its natural color again. You will discover that whatever job you have, you have had for quite some time.

There are things that you have been told that are not true.You may have been told that it does not matter if you are a nice person as long as you follow the rules. This is not true. It matters if you are a nice person. It matters very much. Showing kindess to others is most important. The person receiving the kindness does not care why you are being kind, simply that you are.

Follow your dreams. The economy is improving, but it is still in the toilet. Being ‘responsible’ by having a day job will not pay the bills. So if the bills are not getting paid, it might as well be while you are doing something you enjoy.

Dig in. Life hurts sometimes. Find a way to cope with it. Life is also wonderful. You cannot have one without the other. We believed we could change the world. And maybe we did a little bit, just as our parents did, and just as you will.

There is no such thing as being too old to wear black eyeliner, or pink lipstick, or bold print flowers, or leather miniskirts, or Madonna’s pointy bra (though most of you are too young to get that reference). The point is if you are comfortable in something, if you feel good then go for it. Follow your instincts. Trust your gut. If something seems too good to be true then it probably is.

There. That is everything I have learned so far. There is more yet to come of course, so stick around. I’ll write another one of these when I’m 80. Oh, and one last thing. It’s all real. All of it. The conspiracy, the fairies, the dragons and monsters. Everything you have ever thought to be out of reach is there, just around the corner, just over your shoulder.

Go find it.

Sincerely,

This forty year old.

Jem Watch 2015

Okay, so yesterday the long anticipated trailer for the live action Jem and the Holograms movie was released. Yaaaay! Said throngs of fans awaiting the much hyped event, that is until they watched the it, when the internet cried out with a great collective “Really!!??”.

For those of you not in the know, Jem and the Holograms was a cartoon series aimed at viewers between the ages seven to twelve (and up. Let’s be real.) The story starred a young girl named Jerrica Benton who tragically looses her father and inherits the music company Starlight Music and the foster home for girls, the Starlight Foundation. She also is given information which leads her to a secret underground room, revealing the large computer A.I. called Synergy. Through the magic of technology, Synergy had the ability to project a hologram onto Jerrica allowing her to become Jem, the truly outrageous pop star and lead singer of the band, Jem and the Holograms.

Of course one of the CEO’s of Starlight Music, the dastardly Eric Raymond, wants nothing more than to unseat Jerrica Benton and take over the music company for himself. He did this by coming up with various schemes involving his own star vehicle, the Misfits (Their songs are better). The resulting show consisted of wonderful chemistry between the Holograms and their enigmatic leader, fighting to keep her company while raising money to keep the home open for the poor orphans, against the archvillians the Misfits, the self centered fame hungry starlets.

Add to that the, secret identity aspect of Jerrica and Jem as only very few know that they are in fact the same person. It was Hannah Montana before Miley was even born. There was her somewhat confusing relationship with Rio, who had no idea that they both one and the same. It always made me wonder why Jem/Jerrica never had a problem with the idea of him cheating on her with herself. But it made for good television, so whatevs.

But the secret identity thing was a huge part of the show. Huge. It created tension which drove the story. Several episodes consisted of the ‘will she make it in time’ plot line in which one girl is expected to be in one place while the other has an engagement across town, or even better, when they are both expected to be in the same place at the same time, leading the viewer to wonder, what will they do??? (It’s showtime Synergy!)

Skip ahead about thirty years. We are presented with this:

Of course, this is just the trailer, and it could be misleading. But right off the bat, there are SEVERAL things very, very wrong.

One: Jerrica is an ordinary girl living a most unexceptional life. As of yet, there is not indication of any tragic backstory other than a veiled reference to absent parents. She lives with her aunt (who seems fairly attentive and caring) along with her various foster sisters in what appears to be an ordinary house (not any kind of foundation for girls or anything so high-falutin’). When Jerrica’s music is discovered, they are flown to a very L.A.-esque city (I’m assuming) to be transformed into Jem, her famous alter ego. Thing is, EVERYONE KNOWS THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON!!!! This takes away a key element of dynamic tension within the show. The relationship with Rio can now be classified as Boring McDullsville because there is no more “Who does he actually like?” The specifics of Jem/Jerrica being at odds with herself is being internalized creating a very angsty vision of the character, completely different from the confident, dynamic Jem of the original cartoon.

Two: Erica Raymond, gender flipped and played by Juliette Lewis, will probably turn out to be more evil than what this trailer hints. In the original cartoon, Eric Raymond had known Jerrica’s father as they worked together at Starlight Music. His ongoing plans to foil Jerrica’s inheritance made him that much more dastardly, as his actions betrayed the legacy of Jerrica’s father because he was his former associate. In the live action trailer, it appears that Erica is simply a regular old evil record producer, with no familial connection to the Bentons. Also, Starlight Music does not seem to be in anyway affiliated with the Benton family name or the foster home. I could be wrong. Time will tell. Removing this element of the story takes away from Jerrica’s drive to keep the foster home open and to run Starlight Music. The original Jem showed that girls could aspire to be shrewd business women and philanthropists (as well as drenched-in-pink fabulous pop stars).

Three, where the heck is Synergy? The early eighties represented a time when the nation was on the cusp of a technological boom. The dawn of the computer age presented us with dreams of new possibilities that previously had seemed impossible and magical. It was the representation of magic through technology that allowed Jerrica to turn into Jem through the use of a pair of computerized earrings. This device allowed her to communicate with the super computer Synergy and transform herself into Jem. In the trailer, there is a very brief scene in which she touches her earring and whispers the famed line “It’s showtime, Synergy.” Time will tell what that is referencing, but so far it just seems as if she is a girl with a haircut and a change of clothes. The magic has literally been eradicated from the story.

Four, where the heck are the Misfits? Every hero needs a bad guy. Batman has Joker. Superman has Lex Luthor. Jem and the Holograms had the Misfits. You can’t have one without the other. This trailer indicates the equivalent of Superman roaming the streets of Metropolis wrestling with his inner turmoil of “Who am I, Clark Kent or Kal El?” That does not make for an interesting movie. The conflict has gone from Person vs. Person, to Person vs. Self. They are going to lose the supposedly targeted audience if they haven’t already.

At the end of the day, the movie may end up being scads better than the first trailor indicates. I would hope. If not, then what they have done is taken a beloved story with many appealing and empowering messages and story lines, and they have completely gutted it. They have attempted to make a movie for today’s tweens and preteens and I’m assuming girls. Problem is they have failed to recognize what today’s girl wants, a good story. I was ten when I watched the original cartoon. I knew then what a good story looked like. Today’s ten year olds have not been given as much credit.

Truly outrageous. And I don’t mean that in the good way.

The Final Frontier

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When I was a little girl I discovered something wonderful. To others it may have seemed inconsequential, perhaps even trivial. A television show about space travel. I don’t recall the exact moment when Science Fiction became my go-to genre of choice for books, movies and TV shows, but I do remember my remarkable fascination with this old rerun that I watched after school called Star Trek.

Here was a world in which all the people were of different backgrounds and heritages working together to explore the universe. The charismatic Captain Kirk, the old school southern gentleman Doctor McCoy, the charming Sulu, the effervescent Uhura. (There was even Ensign Chekov! A Russian! That Roddenberry had such an egalitarian vision for the future in the midst of the Cold War blew my little mind!) This vision of the future inspired hope, setting an example that people with such vast differences could come together with a common goal for the good of all mankind (to borrow from the language used at the time).

What fascinated me the most was the character of Mr. Spock. To my memory, he was the only alien character represented as a main cast member. With his pointy ears and monotone voice he stood out from the rest of the cast, and his use of logic created a dynamic foil to Kirk’s brashness. As the show progressed the friendship that developed between these two men kept my attention. Kirk followed his instinct, but often sought out the advice of his First Officer. Spock often received mocking from the others, more specifically McCoy who often chided him for his differences, his green blood and odd placement of internal organs. Spock hid his emotions, relying heavily on his Vulcan coolness. Longstanding viewers of the show, know that Spock ran deep. A conversation with his human mother revealed that even as a child he received taunts to his dual nature for which he suffered. Having just moved from Switzerland to the U.S. I felt this way myself sometimes. An American born, but a resident for the first time. Outcast. Other. Different. Trying so hard to fit in, but not quite getting it right.

I never told many people. When I was young, super young, before I had the chance to understand all the nuances of this particular thought path, I had heard about the Make a Wish Foundation, an entity that grants the wish of children with potentially terminal illnesses, I had decided that should it ever happen my wish would be to meet and spend the day with the original cast of Star Trek. That wish has long since faded (for which I am ultimately grateful as that means I have never had a potentially terminal illness). But the years go by, and one by one the original cast flies away to the true Final Frontier.

Leonard Nimoy portrayed Spock with such nuanced grace. Fighting against and eventually accepting the human side of his heritage, what Spock perceived as his weakness. He personified what each of us has felt at some time in our lives. That is burying some part of ourselves in order to be who we think we must be. Never has a character been so richly portrayed to mean so much to so many. Thank you for all that you have done.

The Only Thing I’m Going to Say About “Fifty Shades of Grey”

So I haven’t read it and I haven’t watched it and I don’t intend to. But I am coming to realize that it would be remiss of my duties as a feminist if I did not at least acknowledge this cultural phenomenon in some way. I intentionally know very little about this story/book/movie, except from what I have been exposed to from the media and various conversations and what not. I do know that I walked into a supposedly family friendly book store last week, which featured a prominent display depicting an image of a woman with her arms bound over her head and a man looming over her holding her face. Hey, I’m all in favor of doing whatever you want to do with whomever you want to do it with, in the bedroom (or whatever other room of your choosing), but I don’t necessarily want to see pictures of it while on a family outing.

Here is a few other things that I think I know about the story.

  • It features a young girl, naive, repressed, etc. She sees herself as plain, dowdy and boring, but others think she is quite pretty and interesting. (Can we get past this trope already!!??)

  • She meets a rich, handsome hero under dubious circumstances.

  • She is intrigued by him, even though he seems to be rude and self absorbed pretty much right off the bat.

  • They go out.

  • There is something about a contract, to which she agrees. Supposedly the contract dictates multiple details of her life including but not limited to what foods she can and cannot eat. (How little self esteem does one have to have for this nonsense to fly!?)

  • There is something about a helicopter ride.

  • At some point he sells her car without her knowledge. (I’m sorry, but if someone sold my car without my knowledge, I’d report it stolen and press all kinds of charges. I mean, people develop emotional attachments to their vehicles, develop memories, etc. i.e. “I had this car my senior year of college, and we road tripped down to Pensacola during finals week.” I don’t care if I’m driving a beater. It’s my property and no one has a right to sell it except me.)

  • There is some sex in the story.

  • Somewhere towards the end he beats her up and prompts her to count to six. From everything I have heard this scene is disguised as a sex scene. But apparently she is not into it and she is crying and upset. So really he’s just hitting her and getting off on it despite or because of her reaction. I don’t know which is worse.

  • Finally, she stands up for herself to some extent and walks out.

There. That is the full extent of my knowledge. It may or may not be accurate. Feel free to let me know one way or the other. I’ve heard countless readers/ movie goers say “Oh, but wait!” and “Don’t worry. In the end she actually SAVES him!” and so on.

But I guess the question I have always come back to is this. Why would she want to? What is so fascinating about this obnoxious thug that she must invest so much of herself into leading him to redemption? It is not our job as women to ‘fix’ our men. This mindset continues to remain prevalent. It’s disgusting. Men are capable of self control, self awareness, empathy, and accountability. Can we please start saying so out loud?!

There are so many things about the story that make me want to run the other way, and of course I am appalled that such a large portion of the population has been sucked into this narrative.

I don’t get it.

There is another list which I must post here. I would like for you, dear reader, to join me in a small game. See how many similarities you can find between the two lists.

  • Controlling behavior

  • Possessiveness

  • Makes major decisions without consulting partner.

  • Criticism and control over details of partner’s life, appearance, eating habits, etc.

  • Isolation

  • Sexual pressure

  • Demands for actions, sexual or otherwise, the partner is uncomfortable with.

  • Holding partner responsible for emotional state.

Do you see it?

This is a partial list of warning signs for an abusive relationships compiled by the National Domestic Violence Hotline. These traits are not romantic. They just aren’t. I’m a little concerned that the ticket sales are indicating that so many movie goers seem to think they are. Keep in mind that I HAVE NOT seen the movie, nor have I read the book. Please feel free to let me know if I have any of the details incorrect.

In the mean time, here are a few helpful links for anyone who might need a resource for help.

NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: http://www.thehotline.org/

RAPE AND INCEST NATIONAL NETWORK: https://www.rainn.org/

Of course if one needs immediate help, call 911.

Feminists are angry about Kirsten Dunst quote?

So this morning I’m doing my usual fiddling around on Facebook thing, when I noticed that Kirstin Dunst is trending. Ah, I say. I like her. She was in ‘Spiderman’. So I click on it to see what all the hubbub is about that might cause her name to be trending on Facebook. Turns out that Kirsten Dunst recently had an interview with Harper’s Bazaar and apparently she gave an opinion on gender roles. Fine good. Here’s the quote:

“I feel like the feminine has been a little undervalued,” she told the magazine. “We all have to get our own jobs and make our own money, but staying at home, nurturing, being the mother, cooking – it’s a valuable thing my mom created.”

Okay. No biggy I can agree with that. Then she goes on to say:

“And sometimes, you need your knight in shining armour, I’m sorry. You need a man to be a man and a woman to be a woman. That’s how relationships work.”

Okay. I don’t terribly agree with that for all people, but if that’s what works for her then so be it.

But wait a second…

The headlines are saying that Feminists are all up in arms about the quote. I am on nearly every feminist newsletter and Facebook page out there and I haven’t heard a peep about any of this. I mean, I’m seeing phrases such as

…Feminist are chanting “Off with her head!” after Marie Antoinette starKirsten Dunst‘s latest comments on gender roles were revealed in the May issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK. …”

And...

…Huge buckets of excrement quickly fell from great heights….”

Whoa. That’s pretty extreme.

The comments section under each posting in Facebook, showed scads of people vilifying all these raging mobs of feminists that surely must be rioting in the streets somewhere based on what the media states. But from the actual feminists websites… crickets.

So I went looking.

On Jezebel.com I found ONE article, a rather short one at that, which clearly states that Kirsten Dunst is not “not paid to write gender theory” and her statements are not all that surprising. The writer’s opinion is stated and the article wraps up in a fairly tame manner. Hardly a pitchfork welding mob that I had expected.

Then I hopped on over to Feministing.com, the finger on the pulse of all things feminist. In their Weekly Feminist Reader they include, this week links to various articles. For example, a discussion on what women are reading, another on the whole Hobby Lobby situation, still more about those living outside of traditional binary gender identity, and so on… but nothing about Kirsten Dunst. I even put her name in the search bar. The first article that came up was from 2007.

Next I jumped over to the pages that I follow on Facebook. I saw a meme about Rush Limbaugh calling malls museums for women, another one about a child bride who had her face burned with acid after refusing the advances of her much older groom. Yet another about laboratory-grown vaginas. Another still about a Cecelia Payne Gaposchkin, a female scientist who discovered that the sun is made of hydrogen, yet her name is never mentioned in high school science classes. 

But nothing… I mean, NOTHING about Kirsten Dunst.

Weird. The only hint I can find that we are supposed to be angry about this, is various media outlets reacting to the short barely-paragraph regarding the quote. Everything else I have seen and found has been in favor of her statements. Facebook’s trending page showed pages upon pages of troll-bait statements vilifying anyone who dares to call themselves a feminist, the scourge of society, the detriment to all things traditional and sacred! Name calling, woman bashing, DOWN WITH THE CRAZY FEMINAZIS!!! In other words, actual mob mentality right there on the screen. 

So where then are all these angry riotous feminist mobs calling for Kirsten’s head on a platter? I’ll tell you where. They don’t exist. We are all too busy trying to support the equal pay act, or to put an end to rape victim blaming, or to stop the objectification and over sexualization of the female body. You know, the usual stuff. But we all know feminism is a bad word, so if we can be marginalized even further this easily belittles anything valid or reasonable that we might have to say.

“Hey everyone! Let’s pretend like the Feminists are angry about Kirsten Dunst and we won’t have to do anything important or make any actual changes to society. Yeah! That’ll be great!”

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy nut, it’s a set up y’all. Really, it is.

Novella time

I’m working on the Novella today. Don’t have to go in to work. I am happy to hang with the fam today since it’s going to be super nice today. I’m always torn between getting some words in and hanging with the fam. I suppose there’s worse problems to have. Heh. 

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