Create Your Own Adventure

I hate how cliche this sounds, but I have had such a whirlwind of adventure lately I wouldn’t know which one to start for this assignment. So I’ll pick my favorite.

I’m unlearning perfection, and it is exactly as much fun as it sounds. I want to take this opportunity to document, publicly, how I’ve done that.

Think of this list as a Best Of album of all of  my screw-ups:

  • I picked the wrong college. My first adult decision right after high school and I royally screwed it up. I did my freshman year at Texas Wesleyan, which, is a great school. It turns out I really just needed a bigger challenge, and ironically, I made that decision because I knew it was a small school and I wanted to be number one. It turns out I get bored if there are only fifty other people I’m competing with.
  • I hit a deer with my car on election night and then hit my head and didn’t even know Donald Trump won until like, two days later.
  • I stay up late to watch “The Office.” Even if I’m super tired.
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  • I took a job I hated at a real estate office to compensate for the whole “wrong” college debacle. Choosing the wrong job to cancel out choosing the wrong college does not a perfectionist make.
  • Sometimes I just lay in my bed. tumblr_no8xevZLci1rxhp7xo1_500
  • I gained 10 pounds. I needed to. I have really cute cheeks.
  • I think I spend $30 more a month on water than I need to because I take a shower and a bath everyday. I was never perfect at math, so I’m okay with not being sure. But taking baths and showers make me happy so they’re worth it.
  • I should have been getting my eyebrows threaded instead of waxed.
  • I work at an eyelash studio now. It’s not a Very Important Political internship and I’m okay with that. I love getting paid to talk about how pretty women are.
  • It’s apparently really obnoxious to go to school and announce how much you got accomplished on how little sleep. Also bad for your health.
  • I always just buy the shoes. tumblr_ocacs5wht81tt9lrzo1_r1_500
  • I eat Ben and Jerry’s and stay up late with my friends.
  • I learned you get so much more out of life my being nice.
  • I finally told my boyfriend the truth about my shoe size.
  • I’m okay with the gap in my teeth. I never lose anybody because I can whistle very loud through it. That’s called adaptation, people.
  • I got a C in physics. I was thrilled.
  • These “mess ups” are  not as dramatic or interesting as I would have liked for them to have sounded two years ago, and I just realized how content I am with that normalcy.

Blog Post #3

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1982. Basquiat, Jean-Michel. Untitled.

 

For this assignment, I chose a neo-expressionist piece by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Known for his abstract, largely avant-garde works, Jean-Michel curates elements of racial blackness and surreal color into his pieces. This particular piece, mirrors the style and energy of a graffiti painting, kind of an artistic rebellion. It ties into our discussion on blackness as much of black literature is considered a kind of civil disobedience because it was only a couple of generations ago that black people couldn’t read.

Graffiti has been “gentrified” over the last few years, meaning that it’s been given a cultural, edgy twist and white artists are being commissioned to do what artistically capable artists of color were being arrested for. The post-mortem reverence Basquiat’s works have received over the last twenty years is inspiring to any young Black artist who fears making abstract and unapologetic social commentary in there art for fear they will not be accepted into the mainstream art community. Art that’s this bold and bright and transparent in its celebration of blackness is a glimmering star in a sea of a whitewashed art community.

Moreover, Blackness is often excluded from fantastical representations in any medium of art. It is more believable, to some people, that there are people in movies who can fly on brooms and go to a school that teaches magic and has children fight wars than it is that one of the main characters could be Black. Black representation is typically rooted in realism– images of gory slavery porn, a civil rights depiction that actually happened. It is rare in art that we get to escape and dream and be magic. The oppression of Black people renders many of us resilient, but that is not our exclusive, monolithic personality trait. There’s definitely a effervescent engagement of Black people here.

 

 

Marie Antoinette

I chose to review Sofia Coppola’s 2006 Marie Antoinette. The film received a lot of backlash at the time of its release for not being an all together factual or political representation, with its largely 80’s soundtrack and loose interpretation of the events that took place preceding the French Revolution. Personally, I took the film as more of an artistic take on the Last Queen’s life. Coppola highlights the conflict of the Queen being fourteen, a political figurehead and being forced to navigate her adolescence alone.

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Figure: Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) enjoying the trappings of her lavish lifestyle. Source: Marie Antoinette (2006)

Kirsten Dunst, a fair and delicate contender, was selected for the titular role. She takes on sort of a high school queen bee, distracted from the banalities of her royal life with fashion and palace gossip. Unfortunately for Antoinette, however, there is no female equivalent for “boys will be boys.” Those who know of her untimely demise wait for baited breath throughout the film for her beheading and bloated, gray mob scenes, the results of her lavish spending. Instead, we are met with light and innocent depictions of femininity juxtaposed with subtle, fallen faces that remind us just how lonely it is to be a woman.

 

Figure: Coppola deliberately places a Converse sneaker in the film to symbolize Marie Antoinette’s youth. Source: Marie Antoinette (2006)

Contrastingly, the men in this movie, though few and far between are driving characters in the film. King Louis XVI (Jason Schwartzmann) is essentially your typical high school nerd: quiet, rambling on about his obscure interests when he does bother to talk, and sexually insecure, which results in him being unable to produce a child. As this was the entire reasoning for Marie Antoinette’s coronation to the French court, it renders the French people apprehensive about the regime’s future. The blame is placed immediately on the young Antoinette who is left feeling worthless and inadequate because she cannot convince to Louis to have sex with her. During this time and arguably now, women were simply vessels with which to carry children. Unlike in political depictions of King Louis XVI’s regime, we see a more human side of Marie and her frustration with their unconsummated marriage. It is said from a historical standpoint that the couple’s initial inability to have a child was the beginning of the end for Antoinette’s reputation.

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Figure: Marie Antoinette (Kirsten Dunst) just before her breakdown. Source: Marie Antoinette (2006)

Moreover, we are reminded constantly how much we expect out of young women, to compensate for the inadequacies of men, to bear responsibility when they do not have to. Antoinette was a pawn in an existing broken system, and most notably, she was a child. Coppola’s obvious and deliberate awareness of this notion are why we get to see the raw, giggly moments Antoinette experiences as a teenager, and the longing to just be a child.

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Figure: Coppola deliberately places a Converse sneaker in the film to symbolize Marie Antoinette’s youth. Source: Marie Antoinette (2006)

Sofia Coppola brilliantly captured the complexity and what it means to be a teenage girl. Because Sofia herself has experienced being a woman, she can accurately depict a sexually frustrated, burdened, feminine character. When women write women’s stories, we are able to view and relate to female characters as complete humans.

 

What It Means to be an American

There was a time where being an American was largely associated with rebellion. We were the group of settlers that swore we could find success and nothingness, the ragtag militia that somehow defeated one of the greatest empires of the Western world for their independence. 3809103ffa79c3467e8ad7055bb73ef4

Figure: Colonizers protest taxation by England though they had no representation in Congress. This depicts the riots preceding the 1765 Stamp Act. Source: Historical Scrapbook.

As much as the history nerd in me wants to pinpoint when, somewhere along the way our defiant nature on which this country was founded. Now, two-hundred-fifty some odd years later, we’ve become obsessed with conflating patriotism and being complicit in any violence the State deems necessary.  We’re not to question the police, any wars, any legislation and certainly not to dredge up the historically oppressive residuals of any aforementioned entity. The only real distinction I can make between protests of 1774 and protests of 2017 are that in 1774 it was white men demanding freedom, and now the rioters are marginalized Americans asserting humanity.                                                              mSPGYLh    Figure: A Ferguson protestor throws tear gas back at cops in Ferguson, 2014. Source: Twitter images.

If we measure being American by how much I agree with imperialism, Christianity, or capitalism then I am about as un-American as they come. I don’t believe in the military or prayer in public schools or a healthcare market where people cannot afford medicine. I think patriotism has become dangerously conflated with jingoism which fewer and fewer people seem to know the meaning of and more and more people seem to be partaking in. I believe wholeheartedly the American people have a responsibility to critique and dismantle any oppressive entity as our founding fathers did, whether the current American looks like one of the founding fathers or not.

However, if we’re discussing “American” in terms of that old spirit of rebellion? I’m as American as they come. I acknowledge the government as in imperfect institution, and like the Boston Tea Party attendees, put the value of human lives before property that can be replaced. And while my revolution will include people of color and women, I’m relieved to have a history where the groundwork has been laid out before me.