Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's the Circle of Life!

As you can see by my most recent blog post, I have discovered a new love. No, it's not for buying shoes, or going to the gym or other such things people seem to have love affairs with. It's for a much more geekier past-time. Yes. I watch documentaries.
Since I discovered a website where you can watch them for free, I've been addicted. I've watched movies on the human mind and body, on religion, on racism, on heaps of incredibly interesting topics that I find fascinating. I know many people think that documentaries and mind-numbing boredom go hand in hand, but if you watch documentaries on topics that you're interested in then it's absolutely riveting.

With this discovery, I have learnt something about myself. I have learnt that I can NOT watch documentaries about...
There. I said it.
I just find them far too emotionally traumatising. Animal documentaries lull you into a false sense of security. They show you clips of adorable sea-otters holding hands and deer frolicking in the meadow while birds sing and the sun shines. And then, they flash up a few clips of these sea-otters being swallowed whole by a seal, or the deer being slowly chased until they collapse with exhaustion and are descended upon by wolves.
I know what you're thinking. "It's the circle of life, Emily. Everyone needs to eat." I try to remind myself the wise words of Mufasa. The lion eats the antelope but "When we die, our bodies become the grass, and the antelope eat the grass. And so we are all connnected in the great Circle of Life. "
At this stage, I'm surprised I even manage to get through the Lion King without falling into an emotional heap.
I understand that it's all natural and proper but I can't help but feel terribly sad. I watched a show about baby turtles and how they have to find the ocean once they're hatched, but birds fly by and snatch them off the ground so only a small percentage ever make it to the sea. The rest struggle helplessly in the birds claws.
Or take tonights documentary for example, in which whales played a hunting game with a poor seal until it was slumped, exhausted on an ice float. A sneaky whale came up, bit it's tail and slowly dragged it into the water, with the seal looking helplessly towards the camera. Maybe it was the fact that the seal reminded me slightly of my dog, but whatever the reason, I find animal documentaries far far too sad.

So from now on I shall watch informative documentaries that steer away from the animal kingdom. To avoid being ignorant, maybe I'll read wildlife articles... That way I don't have to see their puppy dog eyes as they're nommed on by a lion.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hiya friends!
Is there any point me saying 'long time no see'? I have realised by now that I am well and truly not a routine blogger. I could never keep a diary either and this is, I guess, along the same lines. BUT the upside of my irregularity is I only blog when I have a thought/idea so hopefully that means my blogs content make up for the lack of updates!
Anyways, I have missed writing on the blog for you guys (whoever you may be). I miss writing in general but I just can't seem to find the time. I've been writing occasionally - working on the musical, composing brilliantly artistic emails and the like. But I do miss blog writing and novel writing - once the year ends (as it will very soon) I'll get right back into it!!

So, onto the main topic of my blog. I'm not sure if you know but I've been staying with a friend from Showfit in the city during the week (apart from wednesdays when I head back to the land of Mornington to work). Recently, we discovered an amazing website in which you can watch documentaries FOR FREE online and they have EVERY documentary you can think of. So we've been spending our nights educating/entertaining ourselves with documentary after documentary.
Last nights film was called 'Multiple Personalities', and boy was it frightening.
It followed the stories of three adults who had multiple personality disorder. The first woman ended up having to be hospitalised because she was becoming a risk to herself, as several of her alternate personalities were self-destructive, and wanted to hurt her. The man was a police officer, who's alternate personalities (or alters) took over depending on different situations. The last woman was a mother of three, who's alters included a young child (who came out whenever her daughters wanted to play) and a teenage girl who stole credit cards and went on shopping sprees.
While fascinating, the show was deeply disturbing. All of these three adults had this disorder as a result of terrible abuse they experienced as children. Being young, they didn't have the capacity to cope with what they endured, and so their minds created personalities who could.

Am I the only one who finds this absolutely incredible? Their minds did this to help. This was the only way they could cope. And though it was done to help, it does so much harm. It is, mentally, a huge huge thing. It seems almost unbelievable, as often the person themselves have no memory of what the alters do, yet the alters themselves communicate within the person. They are aware, they take control and they consider the person they inhabit to be separate to themselves.
This is such a display of the power of the human mind. What's most bizarre is the power it has over the body, for instance one woman wore very thick glasses due to very poor eyesight. When she switched to an alter, she didn't need the glasses anymore as her eyesight had improved.

My friend and I were discussing the movie this morning in a state of 'I'm-still-really-freaked-out'. What scared us the most was that we consider our brains and our minds to be the same thing. Our thoughts come from our mind because we put them there. We control them. Furthermore, we control our brains involvement in our body. When we want to move our arm, we think it, and we move the muscles. What this disorder proves is how independent our mind/brain is - how it can function independently from our thoughts. Most people with multiple personality disorder don't remember the trauma that happened in their past. Instead, the alters bear the brunt of the painful memories. Often they want to find out what happened, as it will help them heal and move on. But their mind won't allow them. One woman was watching a video tape of herself in which her alter (a small child) was recounting memories of abuse. Whenever any detail was revealed in the video, the woman's mind would automatically shut out, her eyes would close, she'd pull away from the screen and, basically, her mind rejected the information despite her wanting to find out. This woman had an alter called Enigma, who's role it was to kill her if the abuse was ever remembered.

I could rant about the things that happened in this documentary for ages, but you'd be better to watch it. It's just so intriguing and so unsettling. It's terrifying to think your mind can turn on you like that. It's terrifying because it's a loss of control, and none of us like to lose control so utterly and completely like that. There are people who believe it's a hoax, some sort of act that these people put on for attention, but I can't understand why a grown man - a police officer and a seemingly good person - would pretend to be a 6 year old child, clutching a stuffed animal and absolutely breaking down as he relives traumatic moments in his past over and over again. People are complicated, more so then we could ever imagine. We only use %20 of our brain, as they say. And that %20, maybe even more, would do anything to make us safe, even if that means creating someone stronger then you to take control for a while.

I can't really wrap this post up as there is no conclusion I can come to other then WOW we are crazy. But that's how I finish most of my blog posts, isn't it?!
Ah well. Maybe one day I'll accept how crazy we are. I'll let you know if I do.
Until next time!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I am not a very angry person, by nature. Not many things make me really angry. Occasionally though, I stumble across something that I disagree with SO MUCH that it makes me furious. One of these things is to do with something I love and have grown up with and cherish - disney films. One day, I was watching some old disney clips on youtube when I stumbled across a video with someone talking about how racist, sexist and generally discriminatory disney films are.

Needless to say I wasn't happy. At the time, I was trying to find a topic for my English year 12 Oral speech, and this made me so angry that I figured it was the perfect topic for a nice long rant. So I did my research, and argued that disney films are NOT sexist, and NOT racist in the way that a lot of people want to believe they are.

This is the speech I wrote:

I would rather entertain and hope that people learnt something, than educate people and hope that they were entertained.

These words were said by Walt Disney himself, the maker of dreams, the creator of countless classic films that have gone down in history. He has made fairytale characters ageless; Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty – household names nowadays in most families. So much creation, so much inspiration - and yet Disney is flailing under recent, and in my opinion, baseless criticism. Disney programs have become the target for unfair judgement. The Internet is littered with opinionated videos claiming that Disney is sexist and racist. They state that Disney’s animated films promote an unrealistic set of moral values that are corrupting the young minds of today with, and I quote, “subliminal messages”.

According to these anti-Disney activists, each Disney character is riddled with these “subliminal messages” designed to mould the minds of young boys and girls. We should really break down these messages into specific areas. Firstly, the portrayal of men and women within Disney films.

Like most girls, I grew up with the Disney princesses dancing across my T.V screen while I watched in awe and admiration. The princesses represented everything good in my eyes; kindness, generosity of spirit, and optimism. My sisters were the same, as were my friends. And yet, despite our childlike admiration of the princess’s good qualities, some people find it necessary to destroy the fragile innocence that children only just maintain by seeing bad where there is none.

As long as Disney films have been created, there has been argument over their portrayal of gender. No matter what era, some over sensitive parent finds fault in a certain look or word that a character may say in a potentially offending tone. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world can be universally pleased and, by now, Disney well and truly understands this. And so, the Disney we see today is a careful company. It markets to its audience intelligently, using their films as a representation of modern times and this is the key point to my argument. Disney films reflect the time they were made in. Snow White was not a rebel, nor a strong, feminist woman because the traits that were admired in women of that time were gentleness and reliance on men. Now, in a time where individualism and emotional strength are the admirable qualities, we see far more feminist-like characters. Take Mulan, Pocahontas, and Meg from Hercules. These are women who promote bravery and determination. Yes, Snow White is a subservient character, yes, she relies on men, but we can’t deny that once, this was the ideal woman.

When it comes to men in Disney films, the arguments are not dissimilar. The public say that not all men can be strong and handsome, that Disney promotes an unrealistic standard in their heroes. What the public so easily forgets is what the Disney films are; cartoon animations. As Walt Disney says himself, “All cartoon characters and fables must be an exaggeration, caricatures. It is the very nature of fantasy and fable.” There is no greater representation of this cartoon creed than in the Disney films. The characters, especially the men, must exaggerate their qualities in order to communicate whether they are good or bad. For a child to understand easier, their qualities take outward manifestations. A person with inner beauty (the protagonists of the story, most commonly) will show this with their appearance. Blackness of heart will also show through appearance, meaning that the evil characters are most commonly not referred to as beautiful. In short, Disney does not create heroes as powerful men and subservient women like some people claim they do, but rather they use the surface of the character to show a deeper motivation.

The topic that raises the most controversy in regards to Disney is racism. The public has made it increasingly difficult for Disney to use different races in their films due to the uproar it normally causes and yet still, they demand racial equality. Disney has no way around it.

Take for instance, a film that I would never, never, have thought could be targeted for racial slander. The Little Mermaid was one of my favourites, and everyone knows the crab Sebastian who sings the famous song, ‘Under the Sea’. Much to my horror, this character was listed as one of the top ten most racist characters in Disney films. The writer declared that Sebastian’s lyrics, suggest that Jamaican people are lazy.

What does this say about people today? It seems like the only characters that do not spark outrage are those with American accents and white skin. Is this a reflection of Disney films, or a reflection on our own racial views?

Disney tries. It is obvious that they try but they are constantly stopped in their tracks by protestors. Their first film in which the heroes were not American, Aladdin, was instantly met with angry Muslims and Arabs. The monkeys from Jungle Book also caused arguments, along with the crows in Dumbo due to the fact that they had African-American voices. It seems that, with our canny knack for finding fault where there is none, the human race is never happy with anything.

I have watched Disney my whole life, and I am neither racist nor sexist. I am not disillusioned. I do not expect a fairy godmother to help me out of my troubles, nor do I place a stigma on any step-mothers I may know. I am my own person and while I love Disney, I do not base my whole life education on their films. These people who complain that Disney is “secretly trying to brain wash us”, are forgetting key points about life itself. They are first of all forgetting that Disney films are for entertainment. They are films, not social commentaries or political documentaries. Second of all, and most importantly, they are underestimating the intelligence of our children, who are not so suggestible, despite some claims, to see an evil character who may be Chinese and believe that all Chinese are evil. They do not see what we see. It wasn’t that long ago that I was a child myself and I still remember. Children are so willing to be innocent - to cheer for the good guy and laugh and be entertained. If the adults of today are so intent on seeing the bad in a company that creates immortal films that made me feel happy every time I watched them, then we better say goodbye to our children’s innocence now because sadly, Disney, there’s not much hope.