Thursday, February 20, 2014

Frozen Agendas: A Bit of Paranoia Satire

If you haven't seen Frozen yet, I'd suggest watching it before reading this post.

By now, you may have heard about or read a blog entry by a woman named Kathryn Skaggs, all about how the film Frozen is part of Disney's Big Gay Propaganda Machine. Basically, her argument is that Frozen seeks to normalize homosexual behavior...not just in the appearance of a gay character or two, but in the ENTIRE PLOT OF THE MOVIE. There have been plenty of great responses, including this one and this delightfully snarky one. (There's also this post from the NY Post summarizing some of the other "hidden agenda" theories.) I joined the discussion on facebook, and a friend came up with a brilliant game she called:

"Fabricate a Moderately-to-Totally-Plausible 
Agenda Behind 'Frozen'!"

Here are some of the highlights of our satire-creation:

It's about mommy issues. The mother represses the eldest daughter's true nature out of protectiveness for the younger daughter, then dies, causing intense but suppressed emotional trauma. Elsa, as the oldest sister, defaults into the mother role, but isolates herself from her "daughter," perhaps due to her own conflicted emotions about her own mother. Anna matures into the mother role and attempts to bring her sister home and rescue her from her self-imposed isolation, but the relationship is too damaged and Anna receives a wound that symbolizes the emotional pain and "coldness" that results from a lack of maternal affection. Ultimately, the sisters save one another by taking on their mutual maternal responsibility. With this, the eternal winter fades and the world is restored to spring/fertility.

ACTUALLY, it's about communism. Elsa's abilities regarding cold make her symbolic of the Soviet Union, since that part of the world is cold. As a "Soviet communist," Elsa is feared by the villagers, who are all essentially McCarthyists. Elsa's self-proclaimed isolation in the mountains is symbolic of communist nations' tendencies to insulate themselves from outside forces. And her famous anthem "Let It Go" is CLEARLY about giving wealth and possession up to the state. You'll notice there's a TOTAL lack of religion in "Frozen"? That's because religion is the opiate of the masses, comrade. Anna's sacrifice for her sister is symbolic of the sacrifices all citizens must make to "Their Dear Leader." From "Frozen" we learn that it is only by giving up everything to communist power that we can be saved.

It's clearly a liberal attack on puritan value systems. The parents cause Elsa to feel that something intrinsic to her is a source of shame which should be hidden. This causes Elsa to believe that her only choices are pain for her and those around her caused by her nature or a life of isolation. Only after Elsa has accepted her inherently sinful nature is she able to control her power. When others are willing to accept her without shaming her the world is restored to it's natural order. This implies that puritan values lead to a culture of shaming and that we should try to avoid making other people feel the shame that they need to feel in order to... do something good. Because shame is good. Yeah...

Obviously Frozen is about the dangers of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. First, duh. Nuclear winter. Elsa obviously is Iran. The movie's agenda is to get the American public on board with renewing diplomatic ties with Iran. As Elsa's isolation made her kind of unbalanced it will do the same to Iran, therefor it is only through diplomacy and understanding that Iran can use its "power" for good and become a peaceable nation and reliable US ally. The sequel will promote complete rejection and annihilation of the Israeli state in order to further cement the agenda of the prequel. See. Obvious. Stand by Israel. Boycott Frozen!

I thought is was about being nice to snowmen, and reindeer instead of real men.

"Frozen" is pushing for the legalization of meth. It's only after Elsa fully indulges in her "crystal" powers that she's able to actualize as a human being. Her song "Let it Go" is about rejecting the societal norms that shame her drug use (not being a good girl anymore, "no right, no wrong, no rules for me," etc.) and using the altered state of consciousness provided by her crystal use to come into her own as a creative being.

As for me, I'd say that Frozen's agenda is all about bestiality. I mean, Kirstoff is very close to Sven, too close to suggest their relationship goes beyond that of owner and pet. This message is all there in the song "Reindeer are Better than People." Hello! What other message can you get from this aside from the belief that bestiality is okay?!

Frozen is clear environmental propaganda. The story tries to trick you into thinking that you somehow have the power to save the earth or create a new ice age. It's disturbing that Disney is indoctrinating our children with the lie that we have some sort of control or responsibility to the earth. Written by liberals trying to distract us from the REAL problems! Like the gaaaaays!

I don’t think it is pushing ANY of those liberal agendas. It is clearly fraught with religious undertones. This is the story of two different types of believers, Anna, to whom faith comes easily, and represents the Protestant Reformation, and Elsa, who dually represents the convert, as well as the pre-Reformation church. After her first spiritual experience, Elsa chooses to leave and go to the mountains, where she builds a castle. There is no mistaking the ornate, cathedral appearance of her new home. “Let it Go” refers to her baptism of sorts, where she lets go of her previous life of sin, and embraces her new life of Christianity. She even mentions “heaven.” Her statement that the “perfect girl is gone” is her acceptance and realization of her fallen, sinful state, and need for a Savior. However, still early on in her spiritual journey, and still representing the pre-Reformation church, she believes her baptism to have absolved her of all sin past and future, leaving “no right, no wrong, no rules.” Anna comes to decry the error of Elsa’s selfish ways, and is punished with ice through her heart, or an attempt to “freeze” the Protestant Reformation in its tracks. Elsa only truly comes to understand the true power and grace of Christ later through her sister’s own sacrifice, where she is willing to give her own life to save Elsa’s. With both of them now behind the Reformation, they oust the supporters of the old religion (the duke and prince). There is nothing liberal about this at all, unless you are talking liberal for the 16th century.

It's a commentary on the importance of authentic spiritual expression, and maybe even a promotion of pagan/nature-based/magickal spiritualities over Christianity. In fact... Yes. Let's run with that. The cathedral-like palace and ritual of coronation obviously refer to the accoutrements and ritual of Catholicism and, to lesser extent, various Protestant denominations. This environment represses Elsa's true creative (and therefore god-like) spirit. It's only after she flees this restrictive environment and embraces her intrinsic connection to nature, in an environment of solitary contemplation and magick-working, that she is able to return, heal her sister, and replenish her kingdom's abundant natural resources.

Dude. The movie is totally phallic. Hello. The snowman's nose? Really. Those people are all gonna go blind.

Here's the thing about everyone saying "Frozen has a hidden agenda! Frozen has hidden symbolism! Here's what Frozen is REALLY about!"*

At it's heart (ba-dum-chhhhh), Frozen is about fear and love.

Which means that if an agenda has ANYTHING to do with fear OR love, you can probably find it somewhere in Frozen.

The truth is that we don't see things as they are. We see things as WE are. Everyone will have a different personal interpretation of art, and the majority of them are totally valid as personal interpretations. But there's a difference between sharing your personal interpretation and accusing someone of creating propaganda. Kathryn Skaggs' personal interpretation of "Frozen" is totally valid for her personally, even if it's different from your personal interpretation. And if what she sees in Frozen goes against the dictates of her conscience, she has every right to NOT WATCH THE MOVIE ANY MORE. But everyone else has a right to watch the movie and see in it whatever they would like to see in it. And most of all, don't let FEAR dictate your interpretations of art. (Especially when that art is all about overcoming fear with love.)

*What's that? You'd like to hear Jennifer Lee talk with other successful screenwriters about the process of creating the story for Frozen, and what the story is really about? Well, here.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this post with their satirical interpretations of Frozen! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Musical Confessions

In general, I don't believe in guilty pleasures. If I like something, I'm not ashamed of it. I like chocolate. I like Will Smith's early rap hits. I like all eight seasons of House, MD.

But there are a handful of songs that I KNOW I shouldn't like, but do anyway. Either for language, or sexism, or something equally problematic. There's something satisfying about them. And I like them.

Parents, in-laws, students, grandparents...forgive me. If you choose to listen to this playlist, just...maybe plan to be slightly horrified?

D******d by Kate Nash
Swear-filled righteous anger, to a slow and sultry beat.

La Vie Boheme from Rent
I used to listen to this when I was in my early twenties and frustrated with Mormon culture.

Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke
*sigh* This song seeks to undo everything feminists have fought for since 1907.

Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO
Okay, I'm actually not guilty about this. I don't think...I haven't yet listened closely to the lyrics, so...

Me and Mr. Jones by Amy Winehouse
I mostly feel guilty about liking this song because of the strong language, but it's the most creative conjugation of the F-word I've ever heard.

Prepare to be corrupted.

Guilty Pleasures by Liz Chapman on Grooveshark

Friday, February 14, 2014

"No Such Thing": A Throwback Real-time Memoir

Dug this out of the drafts today. Back in September, I flew to southern Oregon for my ten-year high school reunion. I wrote about it at the time, but somehow never published what I wrote. So here it is now.

Sharis in the rain. The quintessential high school in Oregon experience. 

Friday, September 20, 2013
2:30 pm
It's been a long day of travel but I'm here safe and sound. It seemed like there were so many obstacles to me getting here that it didn't quite hit me that I could go until I was here. Felt like an adult getting a rental car at the airport.
It's surreal to drive around and not have any idea where you are, even though its your hometown. I finally realized I was in Central Point, because I drove past the elementary school where I used to volunteer with Jared Doshier.
Hotel is cheap...hidden behind the Motel 6 where Mom would always stay, near the Dairy Queen. It's far from classy, but only terrifying enough to lend a sense of adventure to the trip. Like, the fan and lights may not have covers, but the walls are painted a stylish shade of blue. Had a brief moment of alarm when the shower faucet emitted orange water, but it cleared after a few seconds. I just won't drink it.
Meeting the old gang of drama/choir girls at Fichtner Park in half an hour. I'm debating about whether or not to take a Xanax. On the one hand, it's a little tranquilizing, but on the other hand, fear is equally paralyzing and far more uncomfortable. I truly haven't seen these girls in ten years. I'm self-conscious about the massive zit on my chin, but hey, these are friends. And I simply didn't want to go through the effort of packing and putting on and taking off makeup.
I'm going to try and find Fichtner Park from memory. (The GPS is in the car as a backup plan.)

Friday, September 20, 2013
6:34 pm
I did take half a Xanax, but I don't think I needed it. Everything fell right back into place...our friendships picked up right where we had left off. Of course, our circumstances are different...namely, half of us have children now, and our conversations were punctuated by the occasional "Don't eat that please," and "Yes, I see you, good job." But other than that, so much remained the same. Sarah still talks with her hands. Brette still tells great stories. Kristin is still proactive and passionate. Mekela has the same sweet smile. Amanda has the same wonderful way of talking. Sarah is still the serene and kind friend she always was.
We had all agreed to meet at a park, partly because it was the park where we would eat in high school and partly so the kids could entertain themselves. I got there and sat in the car for a few minutes, a little bit at a loss about how to proceed. For one thing, I didn't have anyone's phone numbers, and for another, I was terrified. I sat there thinking, "How do I do this?" until I finally replied to myself, "You just do it. That's how." I got out of the car and walked toward the playground, scanning for familiar faces when I noticed Brette, with baby George on her hip. We hugged and suddenly re-connecting wasn't hard at all. I didn't need all the social advice I'd been giving myself all day. Things just happened on their own.
Everyone else soon arrived, and we talked about the things that have changed for us...some joys, some surprises, some tragedies. Unexpected pregnancies, dream jobs, family crises, and accomplished goals. I'm excited for tomorrow. :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013
10:29 am
When you don't have television at home, that's one of the luxuries of staying in a hotel. I might have laid in bed in my underwear and watched 3 hours of "Say Yes to the Dress" last night.

Saturday, September 21, 2013
1:57 pm
Enjoying fish and chips at the Black Sheep pub in Ashland. Was tempted to catch a matinee at OSF, but remembered how poor we are and resisted. Had visions of spending the day lounging in Lithia Park, but it's grey and rainy. I did end up putting on the makeup I bought yesterday at Fred Meyer in a traditional compulsive Fred Meyer splurge. Take that, adult acne.
Spent this morning driving around a few old familiar haunts...old high school, old Medford house. (That house is so ugly now. Ugh. Orange and brown paint, and the huge backyard is now an entire second house.) Wishing it was warmer...I could do with some wild blackberries while sitting in Bear Creek Park. I could be happy living in Southern Oregon.
I think a drive back to Medford and lounging/exploring until the shindig tonight.
(Maybe I should run my lines...?)

Sunday, September 22, 2013
9:59 pm
Yeah, I never ran my lines. Instead I had an awesome time with wonderful friends whom I haven't seen in years. And it was worth it. :) My voice was kinda gone for a lot of today from yelling over music last night. It was awesome.
I had a similar moment of paralysis in the parking lot when I got to the reunion...a brief sitting-in-the-car-feeling-uncertain. But then I saw Amanda, and just like in high school, she was there by my side. The winery where we had the reunion was gorgeous, out in Applegate, with great pasta and lovely views.

The DJ played music from high school, and we all talked for hours and hours. It was fun to simultaneously reconnect and learn about our new selves. We haven't changed so much as grown more into ourselves. In high school, you're still this scared teenager, even if high school is a good experience for you. But in ten years, a lot of the fear and "phases" have sloughed away to reveal more of who we are. There was something beautiful about recognizing that in each other.
At the end of the night, it was Brette, Kristen and her husband Adam, Sarah and her husband Caleb, and I, just standing in the parking lot, talking until the people at the winery told us they were closing the gates. It was close to 11 and I had said about an hour earlier that I had to head home but then kept enjoying the conversation. Someone said they heard a few people went to the Jacksonville Tavern and suggested we go. At first I was was late, I was tired, it was a long day ahead of me. But then I thought, "Hell. I haven't seen these people in ten years, and who knows when we'll all be together again. To the tavern!" It was crowded and loud and wonderful. I said something about getting a Shirley Temple, but when I got to the bar, Kristen was turning around with a Shirley Temple in her hand. She handed it to me with a wink and said, "It's an honor to buy you your first drink."
I decided that Kristen and her husband are a much cooler, more realized version of Jacob and I and that we should all four of us be friends and do that thing where we have each other over for dinner. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival said they hire about 8 couples every year...maybe we will move to southern Oregon.
The next morning was breakfast with Jesse and Kathleeny and little Danny, whose existence still makes me so happy. Also, the food was amazing. As usual. It was so good to see them again, however briefly.
That afternoon was playing with Georgia and cuddling Ruth while chatting with Carrie and Scott. Georgia wore this outfit:

And also told me that my legs were hairy. But then she got wrapped in a blanket and leaned her little head on my shoulder until I laid her in bed, so I didn't mind the hairy legs comment. Besides, it was true.

I keep trying to come up with a non-cliche word or phrase to describe this weekend. But my creativity fails me so I'll just conclude by saying it was just what I needed.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Historical Figures You Didn't Know Were Super-Attractive

So some of these people weren't the nicest people in the world, and some of them even did some really bad stuff. But we're not talking about that. Just how attractive they were.

(Which some may argue is objectifying people, but here's my defense: I'm not blogging about them as objects. I'm blogging about them like, "Hey, here's an additional piece of information about this person you can add to your repertoire of knowledge about them." Objectification seems to be when you ignore the whole person and make them a thing to be acted upon. My intention is to add an extra dimension to their personhood.)

Plus, it's fun.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientist who worked on the atomic bomb:

Got almost a Clint Eastwood thing going on here.

Johannes Brahms, musician and composer:

Um, I hate to admit it, but check out this young, brooding Joseph Stalin...

Almanzo Wilder, husband to "Little House on the Prairie" author Laura Ingalls Wilder:

Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President of the United States:

More like Rutherford B. "Heeeeeeyyy how YOU doin'...."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Reasons Not to Drop Hints to Your Friends About Having Kids

I know that people make these kinds of comments light-heartedly, humorously, and innocently. I know that no one means harm in dropping playful hints about "when you two are gonna have kids." But there's more going on here than I think people realize, and I want to talk about it--not just on my own behalf, but on the behalf of friends, acquaintances, and strangers for whom these teasing comments are painful.

Of course, the main reason you shouldn't drop hints to your friends about their family planning is because having children is an incredibly personal decision that no one but the couple and deity have a right to weigh in on. But often, we kiddingly drop hints anyway. And here's why that can hurt.

1. They may be dealing with the early stages of infertility.
Roughly 6% of married women in the US deal with infertility. That's only 6 out of 100, but that's still more than 1 million married women. And that doesn't count unmarried women wanting to have children, or any of the women in other countries. Around 10% of men in the US experience infertility. But the numbers don't even really matter--the journey of learning about and dealing with infertility is a painful and personal one. And it's difficult to talk about painful and personal experiences. Your lighthearted hint about "having kids" may be well-intentioned, but to someone dealing with infertility, it's a little twist of the knife that's already hurting them.

2. They may be survivors of sexual trauma, which may be affecting their sexual relationship with their spouse. 
The statistics of sexual abuse are staggering, and may not even reflect reality, since they depend on incidents being reported. A commonly cited statistic is that 1 IN 3 women are sexually abused before age 24. So that means if you have 30 female friends, 10 of them have likely experienced some sort of sexual trauma. For some women, they are able to overcome and move on to healthy relationships with their spouse. But for some, the journey is longer. There are a whole host of physical and emotional side effects of past abuse--everything from emotional numbness during intimacy, to the confusing experience of vaginismus. Many survivors of sexual trauma have lingering feelings of shame that make their experiences difficult to talk about, so they often keep things to themselves. Joking comments about having babies may feel to the couple or individual like their experiences are trivial--making it all the more difficult to heal.

3. They may be dealing with other psychological issues related to body image. 
For survivors of eating disorders, or individuals with deeply rooted body shame issues, sexuality can be complicated and frightening. They may be working hard to overcome those issues, but it's not always an easy journey. It's embarrassing for people to disclose these challenges--there's a lot of stigma attached. They may be working towards having children, but trying to put themselves together first.

4. It could be that one spouse wants to have children and the other doesn't, and it could be a source of enormous tension. 
It seems like this is a less common factor, but it's certainly one worth mentioning. A huge life decision like having kids isn't easy to make. Big issues in marriages are hard enough to work through without everyone else commentating. Even if the couple chooses to ignore everyone's commentating, the simple act of trying to diplomatically ignore everyone takes a lot of energy, that could otherwise be spent on working through their own challenges.

5. Maybe they have decided not to have children. Or to wait to have children. 
Whether or not someone else should have children, or when they should have children, is not your decision. It's easy to look at someone's relationship from the outside and say, "Well, they'd be great parents! They shouldn't wait! They should just have faith and go for it now! Heavenly Father will help them! It's selfish of her to want to finish school first!" Etc. Etc. But it's not your call. The couple themselves know best. They've probably put a lot more thought into their decision than you have.

6. Maybe they want to have children, but are scared crapless about it and feel uncomfortable talking about it, because maybe it has roots in an abusive childhood or something equally challenging.
The things that happen to us in childhood stay buried within us for a long, long, long time. It's totally possible to break cycles of abuse, of substance abuse, of codependence, of any of the other things that make family life dysfunctional. But it isn't easy. The task can feel monumental to young couples who aren't sure if they can handle the whole "parenting" thing. And those fears are real and deserve acknowledgment.

So let's say someone you know is dealing with these or any other challenging experiences. When you light-heartedly joke about "when they're gonna have kids," they may feel like they only have two options to respond with: confession or silence. Confession is difficult, because there's no way to bring up any of these things without being vulnerable, which is hard. In addition, replying to a light-hearted hint about having kids with an honest "Actually, I'm dealing with infertility/sexual trauma/deeply rooted fears/tension in my marriage/an abusive past" calls a person out on their being insensitive for dropping hints in the first place, and no one wants to be the jerk who does that.

The jokes and comments and hints can make the journey of healing even more challenging for people dealing with any of these things. You may be thinking, "Well, if I had known, I wouldn't have made the comment! Why didn't they tell me?" But they shouldn't have to. They should feel safe in your friendship regardless of what they disclose. Teasing, making jokes, and dropping lighthearted hints trivializes the very real experiences people have, even if you don't mean to do so. People may interpret your comments as the message, "Your serious experiences aren't important to me." By teasing someone about something, you may be unintentionally closing the door on deep and meaningful communication. People who carry difficult things in silence often long for someone to talk to...for someone to help them carry their burdens and share their experiences. Being sensitive to others' lives can allow us to help one another.

I am far from being as sensitive to others as I want to be. And this isn't intended to point fingers at anyone. But the more I learn about people, the more I realize the deep need for kindness, for patience, and for listening. And I'm just trying to spread that message--it's worth talking about.