Activism, Life Rants

Bad Dreams

This week brought to you by vivid dreams about drowning in water parks and having incredibly detailed screaming fights with members of my family (admittedly the latter isn’t always an invention of my unconscious).

Among other things, last week’s shitshow of a Supreme Court hearing has really gotten under my skin.  Accompanied by a sense of doom ahead of November’s midterm elections, this hasn’t been great for my psyche (or the tension headaches that lie in wait when they can sense I’m feeling overwhelmed).

I don’t have anything to add on the Kavanaugh hearings and the composure of Dr. Blasey Ford that hasn’t been said by others much more eloquently:  here, here, and here to name a few.  But (geographically) closer to home another disturbing political development has been on my mind.

This weekend saw my alma mater, Kent State, unwillingly become a rallying place for ahem, “grassroots” gun rights activists very much sponsored by extremist right-wing groups.

Coverage of the event is detailed by the student news site, Kent Wired:  http://www.kentwired.com/latest_updates/article_998c22ac-c597-11e8-a33d-bf61db148c4d.html

If the name Kent State is familiar to you, it’s likely because of the infamous Kent State shootings of 1970 in which members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War, fatally wounding 4.  As a place of historic importance, the area where the shootings occurred looks almost identical to its appearance in the 1970s, and there is a center on campus dedicated solely to educating students and visitors about the tragedy.

Of course I take issue with the idea that more guns are needed on college campuses in light of the number of students who have opened fire on their classmates in recent years.  And of course I take issue with the idea that the so-called Constitutional right to bear arms should receive so much coverage when the growing number of college students who are homeless or regularly go without enough food are much more pressing concerns for anyone in higher ed.

But honestly it’s most concerning to me that some of the protest signs suggested the Kent State shootings could have been prevented if the victims had been armed.  I understand this type of statement is meant to provoke outrage rather than make sense, but to me nonviolent protest is an integral part of democracy and the identity of the United States.  Civil disobedience is a value to strive for rather than scorn–whether or not those participating in acts of civil disobedience receive civil treatment in return.  I find it disturbing on a fundamental level that the appropriate response to threats of violence seems to be more threats of violence.

If there’s one silver lining here in a very troubling story, it’s that many students on campus expressed opposition or annoyance in response to the protestors.  Students rallied with signs and chants, forming a human wall to prevent the march from proceeding across campus.  As a librarian, my favorite response was one student’s sign indicating outrage that the library was closed as a safety precaution.  Image is on Twitter:

 

Stay golden, library sign boy.

Featured image by Michael Weidner on Unsplash
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a bee uses a device for collecting pollen from a pink flower
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Bee Movie, or: Not the Bee Puns

Wrapping up our first free-for-all of 2018 is a first for our Blog Collab:  a dive into the world of animation!  Will we immediately regret stepping outside of our usual sharks, demons, and killer mermaid territory?  I mean, probably.

The Film:

Bee Movie

The Premise:

Jerry Seinfeld made a children’s movie with a vaguely environmental message as an excuse to write a lot of cringeworthy bee puns.

The Ramble:

This should come with a warning label for the number of bee puns that are likely to induce physical pain.  I was ok with the first few, but slight amusement and eyerolls quickly transformed into resentment that made a movie less than 90 minutes long feel endless at times.

If you aren’t dissuaded, let’s continue.

Barry is a young worker bee who has just graduated from the equivalent of bee university and is now facing the prospect of choosing a career.  Or, rather, a mindless repetitive task he’ll complete every day until he dies.  This really begs the question of why bees even need to attend university and what they’ve even been studying if they have no idea what they’ll do for their short lives (AND other bees later reveal there are certain roles bees are bred to perform)…but, if like me, you think about this one too hard, your brain will implode.

a group of smiling bees wearing hard hats sits in a tram, facing forward
The longer you look at this image, the more convinced you become their eyes are moving.

Because the survival of the hive seems to be rather terribly planned out, the graduates have just one chance to pick the job they’ll do for the rest of their lives.  Unable to decide, Barry jumps at the opportunity to go out gathering nectar with the pollen jocks.  The pollen jocks are an oddly militaristic group of bees with nectar guns and a cartoon stereotype of a general as their leader.  Can I point out that the queen would really be their leader, and I can’t remember anyone mentioning the queen even once?!?!?  Does no one else find that bizarre?

To move on to the actual plot of the film (I’ll do my best not to analyze every single logical misstep in this movie from here on out), Barry manages to survive an unlikely number of obstacles when he is separated from the group.  While dodging rain drops, Barry finds shelter in an apartment belonging to Vanessa, a florist.  After she saves him from meeting the business end of a shoe, Barry decides he must thank her even though talking to a human is strictly against bee law (can I just point out that 1. this film spends more time on that over the fact that bees in the US magically speak English despite never talking to humans and 2. the highly important rule against talking to humans becomes nothing more than a vague recommendation after this moment).

a woman dressed in a pink sweater talks to a bee standing on a kitchen counter
Love at first questioning one’s own mental well-being?

Upon meeting Vanessa, Barry instantly falls in love with her (what) and she seems to reciprocate?  Or at least their relationship is significant enough that Vanessa eventually breaks off her engagement.  FOR REAL.

Now that Barry gives zero fucks about humans learning bees can talk, he and Vanessa spend their days together out and about in New York City (btw, Vanessa can somehow afford an apartment mere blocks from Central Park).  When the two visit a grocery store and Barry sees the amount of honey harvested from bees, he uncovers the truth that humans have been stealing from bees for centuries.  Determined to right this wrong, Barry decides to sue humanity–representing himself because who the fuck would represent a bee in court.

a bee in court presents evidence as the judge looks on
WHY IS BARRY WEARING A BLAZER, TIE, AND SHOES, BUT NO PANTS.

In a not-so-shocking turn of events, Barry wins the case.  Bees now own all of the honey they produce, begging the question of what bees would even do with money.  And there’s still half an hour left(???).  After the bees no longer have to work hard to make honey, they stop pollinating flowers and everything dies.  How can Barry possibly restore the balance again?  Will it somehow involve an unlikely scenario in which he has to land a fucking plane?

Yes.  Yes, it will.

The Rating:

2/5 Pink Panther Heads

I tried so hard to remember this is a children’s movie and is going to rely on imagination over logic in its storytelling, but the logical leaps are really difficult to overcome.  The message about bees contributing to the hive by completing boring, meaningless work until they die seems rather dystopian for a children’s movie.  At one point, a bee even points out how every job matters, no matter how small, which would have been a much better message if this film were going to choose one.  I don’t know what this movie was trying to say.  Yield to the inevitable, perhaps?

It’s also really difficult to believe that an adult human woman would put her entire life on hold to help a bee win a court case–a bee she may or may not be in love with.  And, honestly, what is the lifespan of a bee?  Spoiler:  Vanessa and Barry are in business together by the end of the film.  How long is that going to last and will it really all have been worth it???  Am I giving this film way more credit than it deserves as a philosophical reflection?

All of this I would consider overlooking if it weren’t for the fucking bee puns.  The bee puns, OH GOD, THE BEE PUNS.  I’ll give you just one terrible pun so you can feel my pain:  Sting testifies at the trial.  I could’ve forgiven this film for a lot, but I can’t fucking forgive that.

Overall, the plot is horrifically nonsensical, there’s no identifiable message, and I really don’t understand who the target audience for most of the humor was.  I’m bumping the rating up slightly as I am proud that we’ve gained admission to the exclusive(?) Bee Movie club, but I’m ready to return my membership card.

Would my blog wife defend this one in court or introduce it to the bottom of a large boot?  Read her review here to find out!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Rosemary’s Baby, or: No No No No No No

One last film for Horror Month even though it’s November! Rosemary’s Baby, which I’m not ashamed to admit I watched during the day. Demon babies, you guys. As if I didn’t find childbirth horrendous enough to begin with.

Find out if Christa is made of sterner stuff here!

The Film:

Rosemary’s Baby

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

I really hope you have a basic idea of the premise b/c I’m about to spoil the fuck out of this film. Please stop reading this review and watch the film if you haven’t.

The Uncondensed Version:

We’re off to an ominous start with the fucking creepy lullaby that opens our film. It’s really effective, but I hate it.

Basic setup is that Guy, a struggling actor, and his wife, Rosemary are looking for an apartment so they can settle down and make some babies. It’s really hard to watch the apartment hunt without constantly screaming “Don’t do it! Don’t fucking do it, Rosemary! Don’t open that door! Don’t move that fucking dresser!” Plus it’s really frustrating to watch all the men totally dismiss everything Rosemary says ALL THE DAMN TIME even though she is a really observant person and is usually fucking right.

Inevitably, Guy and Rosemary move into the creepy apartment even though their only genuine friend tells them in detail all of the shit that happened there.

It doesn’t take long before Rosemary meets a woman who lives in the building. This lady has a troubled past, but a seemingly nice couple has taken her in and given her a good luck charm that may or may not contain herbs to be used in Satanic rituals (it does). The two women decide to do laundry together, which is I guess is how women socialized in the ‘60s.

All of this comes to a halt when the lady from the laundry room ends up dead on the sidewalk in an apparent suicide. In their grief, Minnie and Roman, the “nice” couple from the apartment building, invite Guy and Rosemary over for dinner.

A middle-aged woman with hair up in a bandana stands next to a younger woman.
RUN AWAY.

So begins the most disturbing relationship between neighbors I can think of outside of Hitchcock. Roman does give us some nice lines about religion being all show business, but it makes me really reconsider the appreciation I have for criticizing organized religion. I am running the other way from the next person I hear disparaging the Pope.

Even though Guy was not into the idea of hanging out with the nosy neighbors, he becomes close with Roman. Meanwhile, Minnie is constantly inviting herself over and giving Rosemary things, like a Satan good luck charm of her very own.

Shortly after, Guy gets a part he’d auditioned for when another actor suddenly goes blind. Guy feels conflicted for approximately 3 seconds, but takes the role anyway and decides he’s ready to try for a baby. The baby making goes terribly wrong when Minnie brings mousse that Rosemary says has a chalky aftertaste. Fucking Guy says there’s no aftertaste and tells her to finish the mousse. GIRL. GET THE FUCK OUT.

A man and woman sit across from each other at a dining table. The woman is drinking a glass of wine.
Worst human being.

The mousse gives Rosemary really disturbing dreams, which she suddenly realizes weren’t dreams at all. When she wakes up, she has scratches all over her back, and Guy explains that he continued with their baby making plans when Rosemary was passed out. Gross gross gross gross gross.

I don’t want to completely spoil the entire movie, so let’s just say the creepiness continues to escalate (seriously, though, watch the damn film).

Everyone thinks it’s appropriate to control all elements of Rosemary’s pregnancy and even her hair. She gets so much shit for her pixie cut that I’m amazed she didn’t give anyone a black eye.

Two older men sit in a living room, talking to a younger woman with short hair.
Proper response when you don’t like someone’s haircut: KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

And I admit I know little to nothing about pregnancy, but the doctor tells her the stabbing pain in her chest is normal. Fucking men.

The Critique:

URGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH, I am even more afraid of childbirth after this film (that and parties). I think I should just get my ovaries removed now.

This film gets to the terror and claustrophobia of big city life or maybe that’s just the antisocial impulse in me. Also men being, as a whole, a bunch of douchebags.  It’s incredibly frustrating that a film in which a woman is manipulated by men and has no control over her own body is still so relevant.

There is no film as suspenseful as this one besides Strangers on a Train or perhaps Chinatown. It occurs to me how similar this is to Chinatown, actually, and Mia Farrow/Faye Dunaway could be twins. I really want to watch that film now, but I should probably just leave it…it’s Chinatown.

The Rating:

Small Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink PantherSmall Pink Panther 5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I don’t know if this film is more creepy or enraging, but it’s a good one either way.

Find out if Christa is creeped out, enraged, or completely unperturbed in her review here!