Spartan Girl!

Name:

I'm a journalism freshman at MSU, and I hope to eventually publish my own novel one day.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

World Trade Center movie

It has been five years since the 9/11 tragedy. It still seems fairly recent to most of us, especially those that were directly effected by the attacks. Maybe that's why I feel it isn't very respectful to start making movies about it.

First there was the made for TV movie about Flight 93, which was followed by a theatrical version. Now there's going to be a movie depicting two police officers being trapped under the wreckage while rescuers attempt to save them.

I guess they're looking at it as a way to pay tribute to the victims and heroes of that event. A monument would probably be a little more tactful--if they ever build one. I know there have been movies made close to the time where the events they were chronicling were taking place, namely the two World Wars, so it shouldn't seem that unusual...

Still, why do I feel that this is just a way to expose more of the terrible experiences to the media?

Not everyone wanted to see video footage of people jumping from the Towers when the planes crashed. It was terrible enough seeing the Towers collapse. But that was just the news; they're supposed to air these things when they happen. This, on the other hand, is Hollywood. And call me cynical, but this can easily be viewed as an attempt to make money off a tragedy.

I heard that two police officers were disturbed enough to walk out of the theatre during a screening of World Trade Center. I don't know how the rest of the people that lived through that ordeal are going to handle it. Even if some might be all right with this movie being made, others may not be. Chances are, most of them are going to carry those memories with them to their graves. They can't be expected to move on so easily. Think about it: how many of you are willing to let others watch a movie about the most traumatic experience of your life?

I realize that the studio can't count on complete approval for making this movie. There are always going to be people that will be bothered by it. I just hope that they at least considered the feelings and viewpoints of those people before coming up with an idea to make this movie.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the subject. I could be wrong. Maybe I should see the movie before judging the purposes. But I don't think I will. I see it as my way of respecting the victims of 9/11.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What has happened to fast food?

Okay, am I the only one that is kind of put out by fast food places putting out "healthy choices" in their kids' meals?

I realize that the intentions may seem well. After all, it is better for kids to have milk with their meals instead of a soda or milkshake. And there's nothing wrong with choosing apple slices or yogurt instead of french fries.

Still, these are fast food places, people. It's SUPPOSED to be junk food! The United States may be the world's fattest country, but it isn't because of fast food alone. No, it's because people choose to eat at fast food places so much instead of once in a while!

And the reason why there are shows like Honey, We're Killing the Kids is because parents let their children eat whatever they want! More likely, it's because they're too busy to cook a meal themselves rather than just picking up something from McDonalds.

What really annoys me is that these "healthy choices" options are nothing that you can't already have at home. Is there any point to buying your kids yogurt and apple slices from Wendy's when they can just as easily have it at home (if you buy it at the grocery store)? All it does is cost you extra money! It's ridiculous!

If you want your kids to eat healthy, simply don't pick up fast food that often! I realize that in this day in age, you can't really cook your kids a healthy meal because you're so busy at work. I would recommend making a meal plan so that you don't have to do take-out every night. Take them to a fast food every once in a while, perhaps as a reward. But don't make fast food places change. If you're concerned about your health, you don't have to buy your food from there. Fast food places should stay the way they are; it's people that need to change.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Love Triangles

Today I'm going to discuss yet another plot cliche used in movies and books: the love triangle.

This device is probably as old as time. It's been used in classics such as Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, and Titanic. People supposedly like conflicts that involve a person having to choose between two love interests, especially when both of them are decent, rather than the old "one good, one bad" routine.

Frankly, I'm not one of these people. Love triangles are not as romantic in the real world as they are depicted in Hollywood. When a person who is already involved with someone else, that means he or she is either cheating or thinking about cheating. And even if they aren't involved, that means that the party cannot make up his or her mind. You would think that the two competitors would realize that if their love interest can't choose between them, they would realize that he or she is probably not worth it. But nooooo...they always blame each other.

Do you see how annoying this is? Sometimes, the love triangle happens because the person who can't make up his or her mind is the writer. This appears to be the case in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie; Elizabeth is apparently falling for Jack Sparrow, even though she's engaged to Will. As much as I love the character of Jack Sparrow, I think this is pathetic. Wasn't there already a plot like this in the first movie because Elizabeth was engaged to someone else while she was really in love with Will? Do I detect some fickleness on the lady's part.

I'm sure it will be resolved in the next movie. All the same, I'll be kind of annoyed if she chooses Jack over Will. Jack is funny and everything, but doesn't she realize that he's already "been around", as implied in the repeated joke of Jack getting slapped by prostitutes? I wouldn't want to be with a guy that's been from port to port! Besides, Will is brave, noble, and he loves Elizabeth (not to mention that he's ORLANDO BLOOM, for crying out loud)! I don't get why some female character are supposedly attracted to dangerous men. Wouldn't they rather be with a nice guy who loves them instead of dangerous men that may disrespect them? I know I would.

Here are a few other love triangles that I can't stand:

The Dawson's Creek Triangle: Oh, gag. What was so special about Joey Potter that made Dawson and Pacey go gaga anyway? As I stated earlier, she clearly wasn't worth it if she couldn't make up her mind between the two of them. Like Dawson and Pacey were good prospects anyway. Pacey slept with a teacher, for crying out loud! And Dawson has to be the whiniest guy on the planet!

Gone With the Wind: I don't know why Scarlett kept wasting her time over Ashley. He clearly wasn't interested in her. Rhett probably should have left her sooner.

Smallville: Will somebody PLEASE tell the writers to axe Lana Lang? I can't take it anymore!!!! And get Clark in the Superman tights!

Any triangle on a soap opera: Like I said, the women involved are spineless. They just can't seem to get along without a man, can they? A real good message to single women--NOT.

The Wedding Planner: The guy in the movie was cheating on his fiancee and Jennifer Lopez STILL ended up with him?! She should have followed through on her threat of plan involving "a machete and a pair of plyers." Hasn't it occurred to her that what goes around comes around. No one in the right mind wants a guy who is a cheater.

Love triangles are clearly overrused; they are the reason I can't stand most chick flicks. Avoid them in your writing and in real life. You're likely to get hurt if you're in a love triangle. I'd advise you to remove yourself from the situation, if and when you ever end up in one.

P.S. Despite my problem with the love triangle, I loved Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and can't wait to see the next movie.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Why Superheroes Don't Need Girlfriends

After watching recent superhero movies, there has been a thought lurking in my mind. I thought it about it while watching Smallville and the Spider-man movies. Yet after I read the summary for Superman Returns, that thought became crystal clear:

Superheroes are better off single.

Seriously, they are! I know that most of them currently are single, but they’re always pining over the love interest they can’t be with. It doesn’t give them comfort; it’s just another source of stress for them to deal with. I realize that this is mainly the writer’s fault. They insist on using the classic superhero’s dilemma: “I can’t be with you because my enemies will use you as a target.” It’s understandable, but it’s been used so many times that it’s been reduced to a tiresome cliché.

And are most of these women really worth the angst that the superheroes go through? No, they aren’t! Yes, they’re beautiful, yet beauty, as they say, is only skin deep. When you look past their facial features, there isn’t a lot that is likeable, at least from what I have seen.

When is the last time we have seen a superhero’s girlfriend that has been supportive to her boyfriend instead of a source of emotional anguish? Was there ever a love interest that wasn’t a damsel in distress whose safety isn’t a constant concern to the hero? Granted, she usually has no idea of the superhero’s secret identity. Still, it’s hard to sympathize with their characters when they act so annoying.

Let’s begin with Smallville, already infamous among Superman purists for messing around with the mythology. Throughout the five seasons of the show, Clark Kent has been pining for Lana Lang, one of the many women in his life whose initials begin with L. Obviously, he cannot tell her about his abilities because 1) she would freak and 2) her parents were killed in the meteor crash that brought him to Earth as a child.

Lana knows that he’s hiding something and isn’t happy about it. Whenever she isn’t lamenting about why everyone “abandons” her, she harps on Clark for keeping secrets from her. She does this in almost every episode, which is why a majority of viewers are sick of her—aside from the fact that every guy in the whole town wants her). Chloe, Clark’s friend, was smart enough to wait for Clark to tell her his secret (even though she already found out in the fourth season), so why does Lana have to throw a fit about it?

Even worse, last season began her relationship with Lex Luthor. Okay, I’m supposed to believe that Clark and Lex became enemies not only because he was evil, but also because of some stupid girl? What is this, Dawson’s Creek? It’s bad enough that everyone else in Smallville is in love with Lana, not to mention that Clark saved her life at the cost of letting his adopted father die! Why don’t they just both get over her so Lex can start hatching more evil schemes and Clark can start being a journalist/superhero?

If next season is indeed the last, I hope that it will end with Clark attending a Smallville high school reunion, where he comes face to face with Lana for the first time since officially becoming Superman, and wonders, “What did I ever see in her?”

Now let’s move on to Spider-man, whose love interest is Mary Jane Watson. I won’t get it into the comics’ version, because even though Peter and M.J. had a rocky relationship because of her inability to accept her husband’s choice of career, they eventually worked it out. I have no problem with the comic book version of Mary Jane—it’s the shallow, snotty, self-absorbed, movie version of Mary Jane that I can’t stand.

I think I can summarize her character with a monologue from Peter in the first movie: “You may not have realized this, but we’ve been neighbors since I was six...” For the first part of the film, she barely acknowledges his existence—unless of course, he was taking pictures of her or complementing her acting skills. A nice yet somewhat awkward guy like Peter was certainly better than the creeps she kept hanging around.

And like so many other superhero girlfriends, she falls head over heals in love with the man in the spandex while basically ignoring who he is in real life. I can understand that she’d be attracted to Spider-man because mysterious guys are somewhat of a turn-on. But after her near-death experience at the hands of the Green Goblin, she suddenly comes up to Peter and declares that he’s the only guy for her? Yeah, right!

As disappointed as I was that Peter didn’t end up with Mary Jane in the first movie, I thought that he deserved better. That thought became more apparent in the second movie, when she’s rubbing the fact that she’s engaged in his face and sniping at him for missing her play. Again, I would have understood her callous behavior had it not been for the fact that this was supposedly when she “knew all along” that he was Spider-man (or so she claimed). If that’s true, then wouldn’t saving people be slightly more important than seeing The Importance of Being Earnest?

Still, I liked the Spider-man 2 ending. All I can say is that she had better have an attitude adjustment in the next movie. Scenes from the teaser trailer involving her with her ex, Harry Osborne, do not make me hopefully (though the trailer itself is overall awesome).

I could go on, naming other names. Many have noticed that other superhero films have taken the trend of b*****y female characters. It’s obvious that it was a big mistake to hire Katie Holmes as Batman’s “first” love interest in Batman Begins. I watched the movie with an open mind, but her performance just reeked of Joey Potter. She breaks up with him because she couldn’t handle the fact that he was Batman? Whatever, Joey Potter. If you can’t handle Batman, then go back to pining over Dawson and Pacey—like they could hold a candle to him!

And now, because they just have to continue the “tortured hero” angle, the Superman Returns writers have proceeded to ruin the one superhero girlfriend I still had any admiration for: Lois Lane.

Okay, I admit, she wasn’t much better than the other girls to begin with. For a seemingly intelligent woman, she can’t look past A PAIR OF GLASSES to realize that Clark Kent is Superman. Even worse, she barely gives Clark the time of day just because of those same glasses, while she has a big crush on the Man of Steel.

Nevertheless, I liked her. She was a woman with a career, something that would be rare in a 50s comic. Even though her adventurous spirit kept getting her in trouble, she didn’t act like a damsel in distress. I respected her. And whether you’ve read the comics or watched the Lois and Clark TV show, she proved that it is possible to be married to a superhero with a little patience and a lot of support.

In the new movie, Superman has been gone for five or six years. Despite the dubious time period, I can get over the fact that she’s engaged—even that she has a kid. But to write a Pulitzer winning article entitled, “Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman”? After all the times he saved her ungrateful life, she convinces people that they don’t need him anymore?!

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I can’t take it anymore. Yes, I know that’s only fiction, but I wonder how many police officers, firemen, and soldiers suffer the same problem within their families.

Frankly, it isn’t fair. Superheroes have enough to deal with their obvious savior complexes and the other issues they have. I realize that they, like, anyone else are lonely, but they should stop wasting time with women that are obviously not worth it, and try to find someone that will understand. It would a lot less aggravating.

I end this editorial with a plea to the writers of Spider-man, Smallville, and any future Batman or Superman sequels: it’s not going to kill you to let superheroes be happy. The miserable, lonely hero is getting old. Either give them better girlfriends or break them up. A lot of regular people are single, and some of them are all right with it. Superheroes shouldn’t be any different.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The ORIGINAL Omen

I really don't like scary movies. It's not just because I don't like being scared, but also because horror movies nowadays are so stupid. I mean the characters keep making the same mistakes over and over again! They are practically asking to die!

Still, there is one movie of that genre I enjoy. No, it's isn't The Exorcist--that was a little more gross than scary. It is neither Halloween nor Friday the 13th, mainly because their many sequels turned me off. For a while, it was Child's Play, but now it's more funny than scary.

No, the ultimate scary movie I am talking about is the original 1976 film, The Omen.

I think I first saw it on TV a few years ago. I knew I probably shouldn't have watched it, only it was so interesting that I couldn't change the channel. Even though I regretted it, it was probably one of the best scary movies I have ever seen, mainly because it still scares me no matter how many times I see it.

Why is it so scary? Probably for the same reason why The Exorcist scary: religion. I'm not an overly religious person; I'm not one of those people that think that the end of the world will come any day now. All the same, when I saw that movie, I was terrified. Religion in movies always seems to touch a nerve with people. Maybe on some level, we're all terrified of whatever is beyond life, whether it's paradise, eternal damnation, or some sort of limbo.

The idea that the apocolypse could be caused by a five year old child is also interesting. What adds to the film's suspense is the character of Damien himself. Throughout the movie, you're not sure whether the child knows that he's evil. Let's face it, he's the creepiest part of the movie. Yet throughout most of the movie, he never actually does anything evil--the dirty work is done by the demon dog and the evil nanny--aside from the party when he knocks his "mother off the indoor balcony with his little tricycle. Yet it's clear that he isn't normal: the animals go crazy with fear at the sight of him and he goes berserk within ten feet of a church. (Actually, when filmed from his POV along with the satanic music, the church did look kind of scary.) It's easy to understand Gregory Peck's situation: how can you kill a little boy, demon or no?

But at the funeral scene, when we discover at the funeral seen that Damien is still alive, all that sympathy vanishes. As he smiles eeriely at the audience, we can't help but think, "Oh, my God, we're all going to die!"

Other factors are the Latin choir that makes up the soundtrack and the death scenes. How each character dies is so creative, it makes all the Final Destination movies look ludicrous in comparison (which isn't hard). I know that in real life, rarely anyone dies in freak accidents, yet at the same time, you're a little more paranoid every time you go outside.

I did see the other two movies, though I didn't enjoy them that much. Having Damien find out who he is in the second movie defeats the tone set in the previous one--it isn't as much fun when you know that he knows that he's evil. Still, the death scenes were as elaborate as ever. And the part about priests becoming assassins to kill Damien in the third one was creative.

The first Omen is a classic. So most of you will understand why I was so angry that there was going to be a remake. The reviews I read were pretty much what I expected: it's the exact same movie, it's pathetic! The new Damien's creepiness is too obvious, and whose idea was it for Julia Stiles to play the doomed mother anyway? Needless to say, I will not be seeing it. I can only hope that audiences will wise up and the movie will bomb in order to prevent any sequel remakes.

My advice is to rent the original movie. Even if you've seen the old one, paying five or ten bucks to see a remake that's the exact same story is just stupid.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My thoughts on "The Da Vinci Code"

Nearly two weeks after its release, I finally saw the Da Vinci Code. And I liked it. It was interesting, exciting, and made me think.

And guess what? I'm a Catholic.

I honestly am annoyed at the controversy surrounding it. To me, it was a repeat performance of the backlashes of The Passion of the Christ, The Last Temptation of Christ, and even Harry Potter. Recently, a representative of a Jewish group that was so outraged at The Passion admitted that they should have just let the film run its course. But apparently, nobody has learned their lesson if they continue to make deal out of everything that "challenges" Christianity.

Yes, the film's portrayal of sects that kill to perserve the foundation of their religion can easily offend people. Still, IT IS JUST A MOVIE. Yes, some of the descriptions of the religious groups and their rituals are true (or so we are told), but the whole story is fiction! It shouldn't be anything to make such a big deal about it.

In any case, these religious groups make themselves look ridiculous by producing "counter-attack" books and basically saying that Dan Brown is a liar. Did telling everyone not to see it do anything, aside from get more people interested in it? If anything, the controversy resulted in the book being a bestseller, and the movie is currently the top movie in the whole world! It's obvious that not many people are listening to them.

What makes me angrier is that these self-righteous so-called "religious people" give people of all religions a bad name. It's not just about this movie: it's about all the terrible things religion has been used to justify.

I had always believed that religion was about love, forgiveness, and peace. Yet the Catholic Church claims that homosexuality is a sin. Also, as the movie brings up, there is a negative attitude of women in the church.

Think I'm exaggerating? Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan use religion as an excuse to get rid of people they consider to be inferior beings. Look at the Taliban: they claim that any religion that isn't Islam is pagan and use violence to carry out what they consider to be the will of God, when in reality, Islam preaches non-violence! And they also have a negative attitude about women.

Of course, the Catholic church is nothing like those groups, but there are some dangerous similarities. The main problem seems to be that they take the Bible literally.

*Caution: the following may contain spoilers*

And regarding the big secret of The Da Vinci Code, I agree with Tom Hanks. Why couldn't Jesus be both human and divine? What was wrong with him being married and having children? Having a family isn't supposed to be a sin, for crying out loud!

In any case, I guess it's the same as questioning why priests and nuns can't be married, even though it's probably considered a matter of devoting yourself to God, which there also nothing wrong with. And I'm starting to wonder why can't a woman be a priest. The whole Adam and Eve story doesn't mean that women are inferior to men. Everyone, man or woman, can be weak-willed.

You want to know what I believe? I believe in a loving, forgiving God. A God Who loves everyone. A God Who does not reject people because of their gender, race, or lifestyles (so long as their lifestyles don't harm anyone). That is what I was brought up to believe.

So when people say that if you read or see Da Vinci, Harry Potter, or anything else that threatens their precious views, you're eternally damned, then I say if their version of Heaven is a place filled with smug, bigoted, self-righteous people like themselves, then I would prefer to be in Hell.

Everyone has their views. If you don't want to see The Da Vinci Code because of your beliefs, then don't see it. But don't expect to have anyone listen to your rants about everything in it is a lie. Stick to your own beliefs, don't interfere with or badmouth anyone else's.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

There's Nothing Like A Show on Broadway

Last weekend, I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat, almost at the same time I got The Producers on DVD. I enjoyed both shows very much. I had almost forgotten that musicals used to be funny and lighthearted.

Nowadays, Broadway has taken a more dramatic turn. With the exception of several funny musicals like Spam-A-Lot and The Producers, the majority of popular musicals are more tragic. Who would ever thought that one would make turn Les Miserables into the musical? Or that The Phantom of the Opera would transform from a horror genre to a Broadway obsession?

Still, doesn't it seem that those kind of musicals are a little too sad? I mean, real life is depressing enough as it is; I don't need the heartbreaking Miss Saigon to feel even worse. Even Little Shop of Horrors is somewhat of a downer becuase all of the main characters die at the end! The upbeat kinds of musicals are a little corny at times, but at least they won't leave you in tears at the end!

Not that I don't like the sadder musicals. It helps you sympathize more with the characters. In fact, here are some characters whose tragic stories and powerful singing really struck a chord with me:

Eponine from Les Miserables: Who didn't feel bad for her? Sure, when she was a little girl, she was a spoiled brat, but that was her parents' fault! Not to mention how mean they were to poor Cosette. She seemed to change for the better after her family wound up broke and turned into a gang of thieves. And when Marius, the boy she adores, shows interest in Cosette, she doesn't try to fight to keep him for herself; instead, she not only arranges for him to meat her, but also protects Cosette and her "father" from getting attacked by her father's gang! Her famous solo, "On My Own" is one of the most poignant songs in the show. You also have to admire her courage to join Marius on the barracades, even when it resulted in her death. My favorite part in the performance I saw a few years ago was in the final moments of "A Little Fall of Rain", when Marius kisses her right before she dies... :(

Kim from Miss Saigon: Okay, I never actually saw the show, yet I know the story and have the song track, so I can still feel bad for Kim! She had it as bad as Eponine: the guy she loved married another woman! To make matters worse, she had her son, Tam, to care for. Now, I can understand why Chris didn't wait for her--he thought she was dead--but I can't understand why he and his wife wouldn't take the boy with them to the U.S. Yes, they didn't want to take a child from his mother, but just because the wife couldn't accept having her husband's former fling around doesn't give them the right to leave them behind in Bangkok! They should have been thinking about what was best for Tam, and it was clear that there wasn't a future for him in Vietnam! It's pretty sad that the only way for Kim to secure a future for a child was to kill herself! I know it's terrible to think this, but I hope Chris and his wife felt guilty for the rest of their lives for how they handled the situation.

Nala from The Lion King: I really like how the musical deepened her character. "Shadowland" is one of my favorite songs from the show.

The Beast from Beauty and the Beast: I know this musical has a happy ending, but even when the Beast is acting beastly, you can't help but feel bad for him, especially when he sings, "If I Can't Love Her." And it's so sad how depressed he gets when Belle leaves. I cringed when Gaston was beating him and lying about Belle wanting him dead. And it's impossible not to be moved when he nearly dies... or maybe I'm just a sap.

Joseph from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat: Again, it's not a sad show. You still can't help feeling bad for Joseph. I always liked the story when I was a kid. Being sold by your own brothers is an all-time low. I don't like my brother, but even I wouldn't sell him into slavery, if only for my parents' sake. It's incredible that he manages to forgive his brothers even after everything he went through...although you can't blame him for that little bit revenge he has with Benjamin, the cup, and the whole groveling sequence. "Close Every Door" is also one of my favorite Broadway songs.

The Phantom: I don't think explaining this one is necessary.

While I do love getting emotional over the plights of these characters, I maintain that there is nothing wrong with happier musicals. We already have TV shows and movies to add to the daily melodrama. A little escape from depression never hurt anybody.