Hello, everyone! A month ago I started watching a show on Hulu called Parenthood, a “dramedy” that follows the Braverman clan as they navigate the ups and downs of family life in suburban America. Parenthood is probably one of the smuggest television shows I’ve ever watched, where each of the parents is incredibly insufferable and the kids are nightmares, but I still find myself tuning in episode after episode, if only to hope that Max Braverman, the most poorly-written autistic kid to grace television, might get punched in the face. This post isn’t about my qualms with the show, however, it’s about Adam Braverman, one of the show’s main characters and the perfect example of the “over-protective man.”
The “over protective man,” or OPM as I will call him in the rest of the post, is pervasive in American pop-culture and in American life. He’s the dad who takes “hilarious” pictures with his daughter’s homecoming date warning him to keep his hands to himself, or makes his tween daughter wear a shirt emblazoned with a picture of himself to keep any potential suitors away. He’s Scarface‘s Tony Montana dragging his sister Gina out of a bathroom because she kissed a man he didn’t like. And he’s Parenthood’s Adam Braverman in his every interaction with his daughter Haddie, or pretty much any woman he deems himself worthy of controlling.
The OPM is common enough to warrant its own page on TV Tropes, but I’m going to limit this post to discussing the characters Tony Montana and Adam Braverman, mainly because I find it equally hilarious and distressing that the trope is so embedded in American culture that it pops up in the characters of an über-violent gangster and a mild-mannered white-collar dad. These two characters wouldn’t be able to have even a civil conversation over coffee, but they’re on the same page when it comes to controlling the women around them. The most disturbing aspect? Tony Montana was written in 1983 and Adam Braverman’s character started in 2010. If pop-culture’s portrayal of protective men has changed that little in the past 27 years, then equality between men and women has suffered an equal setback.
Hello, everyone! Let me preface this review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by saying that I’m a casual viewer of the franchise. It’d be a stretch to even say that I’m a fan, since the only time I’ve watched a Star Wars film is at someone else’s behest or for a family outing. I view the films with pleasant indifference. The series is fun, and its contribution to pop culture is staggering, so if a friend suggests that we see The Force Awakens or Rogue One, I’m game and I don’t regret it. I didn’t plan on seeing The Last Jedi and I would have skipped it altogether if it wasn’t playing for $5 at my local college theater. I expected an easy night with an exciting, sentimental, and yes, formulaic film. But what I got was an in-cohesive, nostalgia-drenched mess that was so trite and boring that my boyfriend and I left the theater with twenty minutes left until the end.
How did a Star Wars film, especially one directed by Rian Johnson (the fantastic Looper), fail so badly at being a quality film? It all comes down to the dilution of character in service of promoting nostalgia and sticking to a formula that long ago wore out its welcome.
Hello, everyone! Short post today but I wanted to catch you guys up on what’s been on my bookshelf this month. I’ll be writing a long review/critique of the news Star Wars film later, so if you’ve been missing my snark, you won’t have to wait very long. So, let’s get to it. Here’s what’s been on my shelf this month:
Hello, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the fine spring weather. I’m on Spring Break now, so I checked out about ten books from the library and have been devouring them. Today’s review covers Eva Ibbotson’s The Reluctant Heiress. I went through an Ibbotson phase years ago and read all of her children’s books, but I completely missed her Young Adult reads. The Reluctant Heiress is rich with Ibbotson’s elaborate prose, but suffers from an enormous dose of that horrid 4 letter word called “love.” Why does it have to ruin every YA book? I promise I am not a bitter spinster, I’m just sick of plot being swept away in the face of heart-stopping, coup de foudre love. As a romantic novel, The Reluctant Heiress is enjoyable, but as just a novel, it lacks the same magic as Ibbotson’s other works.
Hello, everyone! Time for another Month in Books post. This month was a mix of teen reads and historical fiction. I read 4 books in total and started one book that I didn’t finish. Overall, it was a good month for satisfaction, though I did stumble back into an old habit of re-reading. My power was out, can you really blame me? Let’s take a look at what was on my bookshelf this month.
Hello, everyone! I recently watched William Oldroyd’s bloody drama Lady Macbeth. I expected a beautiful period piece with murder and mayhem, and what I got was just that and an intoxicating glimpse into a teenage girl’s psyche. I haven’t been this terrified of a teenage girl’s intentions since I watched Ellen Page in Hard Candy. And in fact, Lady‘s Katherine and Hard’s Hayley aren’t so different. They both enjoy having control over men, using their sexuality like a weapon, and lying through their teeth. Coincidentally, both characters might verge on being psychopaths. And in a cinematic world full of Patrick Batemans and Hannibal Lecters, they’re a much needed breath of fresh air.
Hello, everyone! As you know if you’ve read my blog, I’m a big fan of the author Lisa See and have reviewed a few of her books on the site. Recently I read her newest novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, and was disappointed at the drop in quality. Even though all of See’s tropes are present, Tea Girl lacks her other novels’ greatest asset: a compelling protagonist. See writes fantastic female characters who suffer from hardship, betrayal, and restrictive cultures, but in this novel, she gets caught up in a net of her own favorite gimmicks. After the brutality of the Taiping rebellion in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, the tragedy of the Manchu invasion in Peony in Love, and the horror of the Mao regime in the Shanghai Girls duology, the hardships of a girl in 1990s China pale in comparison. But See is a sucker for suffering, and her insistency on emphasizing the plight of protagonist Li-Yan just makes it that much more obvious how See has seem to run out of catastrophes.
Horror movies have a habit of reflecting society’s darkest fears. Invasion of the Body Snatchers had its heroes fighting a futile battle against communists in the guise of soulless aliens, while films like The Strangers and Funny Games explore the average American’s helplessness against a new generation of adolescents whose apathy can cross the line into sociopathic violence. When considering which horror movies best exemplify America’s greatest fear from the 2010s to the present, I could point to films such as Unfriended, The Den, Friend Request, Dark Summer, and #Horror, which all paint the dangers of social media as this generation’s biggest epidemic. And while these films point to a grave societal problem, I think I’ve found a film that encapsulates modern America’s deepest fear: the American healthcare system. The film responsible is Would You Rather, a mediocre horror movie that seems oblivious to its true source of scares. Sometimes the best societal commentary is accidental.
Hello, everyone! I watched Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread twice last week. The first viewing left be impressed but emotionally unmoved, the second viewing left me more impressed, but still unmoved. But I was at last able to grasp the themes from the film that eluded me on first viewing, so I must say, if you watch Phantom Thread once, you’re going to need to watch it again, since it’s a quiet, ethereal, and somewhat vague film that deserves to be appreciated. If you like films with the pacing and beauty of a slow waltz, you’ll probably love this film. If you’re expecting a movie about the intricacies of the world of 1950s haute couture, prepare to be disappointed. Phantom Thread isn’t a film about fashion, but a film about artistry and control. As a backdrop, however, you could do worse than a 2 hour movie filled with the stunning Vicky Krieps swanning around in ball gowns.
Hello, everyone! I haven’t done a My Month in Books in basically a year and a half. So much has changed since my last Month in Books – I completed 1.5 years of college, I withdrew from that college, and now I’m in the midst of transferring to a different college to finish my studies. But even through all that tumult, my love of books remains the same. Here’s what’s been on my shelf the past month.