Thursday, 6 November 2014

'The Girl With the Satanic Rabbit Tattoo': What's the crack about Donnie Darko? SPOILERS

"What's that thing on your arm?" Is actually something I get more often than you may think. I mean, yes, obviously it's a tattoo. My first one of what is now three (sorry Dad). But when I then proceed to say "That's Frank, from Donnie Darko?" I am still met with blank faces. Not just because most people don't even know who or what Donnie Darko and Frank are, but because they don't see it as something aesthetically pleasing.

It's not a secret that Donnie Darko is my favourite thing to exist in the world since the dawn of time. The obsession timeline goes as such: I bought the DVD for £5 in a discount film and music store in 2013 (along with the Matrix trilogy, also for £5. The shop has subsequently closed down after what seemed to be them just giving films away,) watched it with my mum, watched it five more times, got a tattoo of Frank on my arm.
I admit, Frank is not what you would class "a looker". He's not even, on first viewing, that much of a good guy. He runs Gretchen over, he makes Donnie flood the school and set fire to Patrick Swayze's house, and crash the plane Donnie's mother and sister are both flying on into a whirling black hole of destruction, death and mindfuckery.

Everyone hates Frank at first, and I don't blame them. But what you have to know about Donnie Darko, and we'll return back to why this makes Frank awesome in a second, is that the whole film revolves around the fact that there are two universes: the Primary Universe (PU) and Tangent Universe (TU). Now, the amazing thing about this film is that it's open to many different interpretations. However, with Kelly releasing his Director's Cut (available on Netflix) that explains the Philosophy of Time Travel in more depth, the "two universe theory" is the one that most people regard as the only one worth reading if you're struggling to understand the film (if you don't really give a shit about the in depth meaning of it all and felt like your head nearly exploded, just go with the "daylight schizophrenic hallucinations" explanation.)
Now, in the world of Donnie Darko, a TU is created at midnight on October 2nd, and will last for 28 days - as per Frank's message to Donnie. Now, events can unfold within the TU that do not happen in the PU (the universe we currently live in: e.g. the world that is shown in the film up to midnight on October 2nd and after 6:42.12am on Halloween. Most of the action takes place in the TU.) However, even though those events don't occur, they have a link to reality in the PU: e.g. Gretchen looking at Donnie's mother like she knew her, Frank waking up and touching his eye, Patrick Swayze in tears.

Now, where does Frank come into this? . We see Frank emerge from the car after killing Gretchen, and we recognise him as that guy in the cinema - oh yeah! Well, in the cinema he has a big hole in his eye - right? And then at the end of the film, Donnie shoots Frank in his eye - right? Well the cool thing about Frank is that he's "manipulated dead" which is essentially a "reverse ghost" (Gretchen is too). He dies in the TU and travels back in time to October 2nd to help Donnie. What is Donnie's quest? Remember that plane engine that crashed into Donnie's room? That is called an "artifact", and according to Roberta Sparrow an artifact is created when a TU is created (October 2nd) The TU began over Donnie's house, so that is where the engine is dumped - the TU replicates everything in the PU, so there was a spare engine just hanging around. Donnie's quest is to return the artifact by sending it through a portal into the PU. The engine then crashes in the PU, but because Frank didn't get Donnie out of his bed in this universe, Donnie dies.

So, basically, Frank is a good guy! He saves Donnie from dying from the original drop of the engine, by honking his car horn and talking to him direct. His aim is to help Donnie on his quest to restore the unstable TU to the PU by returning the artifact. Frank gets Donnie to flood the school, causing him to meet Gretchen who also acts as a guide for Donnie. He also makes Donnie burn down Patrick Swayze's house, exposing his "kiddie porn dungeon".
Frank is Donnie's spirit guide, and that's what he is to me too. Frank is pretty misunderstood in the film, and as well as just looking awesome (who doesn't love satanic bunny rabbits?) He actually helps Donnie restore the universe to peace, even if it means sacrificing Donnie - completing his Christ-like transition throughout the film.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Depiction of Gender in "500 Days of Summer" Presentation 05/11/2014

Using two or three examples of your choice, explore ways in which film and/or television have depicted issues related to modern society.

·       Successfully flips the stereotypical film about a heterosexual relationship on its head: it is usually the male character who is distant, afraid of commitment, and wanting to keep things casual rather than adopt the label of a relationship; and it is usually the woman who expects all of these qualities from him. Laura Mulvey “The narrative structure of traditional cinema establishes the male character as active and powerful: he is the agent around whom the dramatic action unfolds and the look gets organized. The female character is passive and powerless: she is the object of desire for the male character(s).”

·       The story is told entirely from the male perspective, about male expectations of females and ultimately the aim is for the male audience to view Summer as a heartless monster.
·       Summer was completely honest with Tom from the start that she didn’t want a relationship – adopting the male role in the partnership – but Tom is still presented as a victim of this strong, independent and heart-breaking woman. Again, flipping the classic rom-com/romantic genre on its head; countless times it is the female characters presented as victims of male ideas about love.

·       Towards the end of the film Summer is shown crying at a marriage scene in the cinema, clearly this is the turning point for her when she realises that the only reason she has enjoyed not being tied down is just because she’s not met the right person. This realisation is something pop culture suggests is engrained in every woman; the desire to get married and settle down and adopt the domestic personality in exchange for your young and unruly one.

·       As the film is from the male perspective (written by men, produced by men, directed by a man) the message the male audience would take from it is that if you are friendly to a woman, or if you give her sex or spend any quality time with her, that she owes you something regardless of whether she specified when you met her that she didn’t want a relationship. Laura Mulvey: “Representation of 'the more perfect, more complete, more powerful ideal ego' of the male hero stands in stark opposition to the distorted image of the passive and powerless female character. Hence the spectator is actively made to identify with the male rather than with the female character in film.”

·       Summer changes her mind about wanting to be tied down when she meets who she thinks is her soul mate, and Tom is hurt that she has found someone else. What she explains is that she “woke up one day and she knew she felt differently” and the male perspective the film is written in portrays this change of mind as something horrific and hurtful. Anneke Smelik: “The woman's 'guilt' will be sealed by either punishment or salvation and the film story is then resolved through the two traditional endings which are made available to women: she must either die (as in e.g. Psycho (1960)) or marry (as in e.g. Marnie (1964)).”

·       The modern and misogynistic ideology of the “friend zone” is effectively represented in the whole plot line. The whole concept of this idea, as explained rather disdainfully by countless feminist writers, is that it is the duty of the woman to return any affection shown by the male otherwise she is at fault. This term used frequently in pop culture is said to have originated from an episode of Friends. Agusta Christensen: “The insidious problem with these 'nice guys' is that they certainly don’t respect these women. Instead, they stew bitterly in a sense of their own entitlement, waiting indignantly for something that was never promised to them."

HELLO AND UPDATES and (more importantly) Rape Culture Watch: Transport for London's Latest Campaign

Before I get into the main topic for this post I'd like to apologise for being away from you all for so long! I moved to Southampton in September and I've been settling in and getting my head stuck into some film and television studies and I'm loving it! I'm going to make a few promises right here because I need to take this blog more seriously!

  1. I'm going to continue with my 60 second projects, at least doing some once a week! I found them such good practice and a really good way of warming my brain up for some writing that I want to do!
  2. I'm also going to transfer some of my older short pieces of writing over from my Tumblr, mostly these are short free verse poems but I want to make a compilation of them all and have all my writing in one place; I no longer post my writing on Tumblr as it doesn't fit with my blog style!
  3. I had so much fun doing my "Art-A-Day" project, but now I'm at university I don't have much time to sit down and do a painting a day and I left most of my materials back at home, so I will post any drawings I do but I won't be continuing with this project!
  4. Leading onto today's topic, I'm going to be posting more about current affairs on this blog now that I need the practice for writing, as well as posting more film reviews (I PROMISE I WILL EVENTUALLY) I realise that this blog doesn't really have a set theme to it, it is just me moaning and waffling and sounding awfully profound and pretentious, but I hope you enjoy the vastness of what I like to write about!
So thank you all for reading! If you want to share any of my posts please do, it would really help me out to get more of a following going - and would probably motivate me to be more active!

[Trigger warnings: Rape, rape culture, awful people being awful, will make you question humanity etc etc.]

Rape Culture Watch: Transport for London's Latest Campaign
I came under fire on Facebook for opposing to Transport for London's latest campaign of the #HomeSafeSelfie, but eventually after I explained why it is so awful people saw sense. 
Let me get a few points out of the way early on here:
  1. I appreciate TFL's idea here: raising awareness on the constantly pressing issue of illegal cabs.
  2. YES precautions are a good thing if you're going on a night out 
  3. and YES let people know when you're home if they are worried about you or if they have asked you to
Now let me outline my issues with this campaign, and I'm not the only person to have them.

This campaign shows that it is the women's responsibility to get home safe, rather than male responsibility not to attack or rape. The example I used on Facebook is that rather than #HomeSafeSelfies we should do "Didn't rape anyone tonight selfie #winning." It encourages women to celebrate not being raped over social media (Side note: Celebrating not being raped? How do you think this will make actual victims feel? Insensitive.) Not being attacked or sexually assaulted shouldn't be something to be celebrated it should be the norm. 
Leading onto point two...
The general tone behind this campaign is that getting home safe is something that rarely happens which is why it should be publicly celebrated, and we as females should feel lucky every time we accomplish getting home without having been assaulted. It's something you recognise as a day-to-day thing; you don't stumble home drunk at 4am and go "I must thank all the wonderful men in my area for not raping me like everyone tells me they will. Boy, aren't I a lucky lady." It trivialises the issue of rape and makes it seem like women need to feel grateful every time we get home without being raped or attacked because that is obviously something that would happen to us.
And finally...
(Well obviously not Em otherwise you wouldn't have made a post about it, I know, but...) In a slightly different feel to the previous two problems, it has been commented that this campaign could jeopardise women's safety rather than help. With advances in modern technology and what we know are our limited drunk texting/Tweeting capabilities it is far FAR too easy to click the "send location" button on a tweet - I've done it when I'm sober - and whoosh, your address has been attached with a photo of you drunk and alone in bed. Well that's not clever, is it? Even without sending your location, there will be people who follow you on social media who know where you live, and possible sharing  on social media that you've "got home safe" drunk at 4am would encourage someone to come to your house? 

Generally you can tell I'm not impressed with this campaign, and I know that there are people who disagree with my disagreements. I definitely support the idea of promoting the use of legal cabs considering the issues that arise from illegal ones, and I am in favour obviously of letting your friends and family know where you are and when you are home safely (my mother wouldn't be able to sleep until I got home from a night out if I got a cab home, meaning most of my time at home I was leaving parties at 11pm so my mum could get her 8 hours peacefully.)

Thank you for reading! I hope you have learnt something today.

Remember if you have been affected by issues such as rape that there are organisations that you can talk to:
Samaritans (UK) 08457 90 90 90
Rape Crisis (England and Wales) 0808 802 9999 A text-based online crisis network