No art, no he-art

“The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time or if one can afford it. Rather, paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue, they all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation.”

-Michelle Obama

Sometimes people ask why you buy books,  handicrafts, materials for scrapbook and painting, watch a play, a concert.  I wonder why people have to look for special reasons. I do acknowledge that there are more important things in this world but I don’t think that it’s a waste of money nor waste of time  to be involved in these art forms. I think art is an investment. Most of the time, we think art in terms of its cultural value. But art has a personal value and has a long term-effect to an individual (whether you are a sender or receiver of art). In the same way how food nourishes our bodies, art nourishes our senses. I am not saying spend more on movies and concerts and spend less on food and clothing. I am not saying go and watch an indie film. I am not saying buy a book even if you’re broke or start collecting comics and paintings. Engage in an art that is accessible and palatable to you. It may be a visit to a museum, studying make-up or reading a graphic novel.

Art is not for the middle-class, for the élite or educated. Some people are willing to spend for liquor and buffet meal but find it expensive to buy a book. Some people buy the latest gadgets but question you why you buy a ticket for a live performance. It’s strange because these are equally unnecessary for survival yet we find a high calorie dinner and an extra cellphone more acceptably rewarding.

So why is it not a waste of money and time?

Art is an experience
Experience may seem ephemeral but experiences cannot be taken away or stolen. An experience is personal, priceless and unique. You cannot copy experiences and you cannot borrow senses. Hence, a friend who shares you how convincing the movie is, how amazing the concert is,  is different from a friend who shares another apple to you.  What you notice a lot in a live performance, or what you see in a mural is not always the same with others.

wicked stage
Wicked Stage

Art makes us human
We are way beyond our biological functions. We are the only creatures that can appreciate design, craft, and showmanship. We sense. We feel. We favor certain sounds and colors. We critique. I guess we should practice what is innately unique in human nature. Let’s find beauty in shapes and sizes, find satisfaction in sounds, sights arrangement, and rhythm. Everyone has an inner artist.

found this painting on SM North
found this painting on SM North

Art gives us another way of looking at things
An example of this would be a bed scene or an adult scene. These are scenes that some people are not comfortable to watch and talk about. You try to close your eyes watching a nude scene because you think you’re not supposed to see it. I just watched Cock of Redturnip Theater and the adult scenes were very intimate. What’s interesting is that the actors are fully clothed and barely too close to each other.

cock

Art mirrors feelings, aspirations, and reality
As the common definition of art in textbooks, “Art is an imitation of life.” A piece of art is one interpretation of real objects, people, life events. He might be a designer, playwright, poet, makeup artist or a graphic artist. Sometimes, I watch a film, I discover not only new ideas, but new feelings, new dreams or maybe they are just suppressed thoughts that are overshadowed by daily routine. When you listen to music, or read a short story, you think there is a medium that identifies your emotions or represents your thoughts.

Art when done with good taste, it adds depth to humanity
I don’t want to sound too serious nor do I want to sound like an activist but sometimes art gives inspiration. A novel can call for a revolution. Paintings teach history and religion. Spoken word poetry (I’m such a big fan) makes beautiful life stories.

Art is a product of hard work, great minds, and talent
This explains why a piece of art is pricey. Every product of art has to go through a creative process and every artist deserves a talent fee. By supporting what they do, you are continuing the  legacy of a special breed of human race who are passionate in what they do.

 

Save a Damsel in Distress

“Why does every princess need to have a prince? It’s the same old story but I’m just not convinced. Why keep on assuming men will save the day? I can be the hero and do it in my own way”

I got these lines from a parody of Disney’s Frozen. It speaks so much on how I feel towards the stereotype given to female protagonists in film, TV, music, cartoons and other forms of entertainment. What bothers me is that most of the time these platforms target young girls. I am a big fan of  arts and entertainment but wouldn’t it be nice if  ‘entertainment value’  speak for both entertainment and value? Pop songs are most of the time love songs and hyper-sexualized. Disney history has been creating female protagonists who have passive roles. I believe in Cinderella’s song: “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true.” My problem is that Cinderella did not have a big ambition. To marry a prince is a dream but not a real goal that can be cultivated by talent and hard work. I just want to hear stories  that empower girls to make use of their own ability without giving up who they are. Though I do not disregard that finding the right man and following your dreams have some value in life, message of celebrating individuality, independence, and family should be given of greater emphasis. These themes reflect what we need in our society.

Frozen

Disney Frozen Elsa
photo source: http://www.hdwallpapers.in/walls/frozen_elsa-wide.jpg

I’m glad that we now have female characters in fiction and entertainment who represent real girls. Disney reinvents  their female characters that fit to our generation. And I’ll never get tired of using Frozen as an example. I love this animated film not only for the songs, and the feel-good Disney vibes, but also of its practical values.

In a world where fashion models are being looked up by most young girls, we need female characters who have flaws. Isn’t it frustrating to observe lot of fashion models trying to perfect their posture, and struggling refinement and glamour? Good thing, Anna of Frozen is clumsy, bubbly, playful. In comparison with classic Disney princesses whose happiness depend on a prince, Elsa strives to be on her own and be herself. Neither Elsa nor Anna is demure or soft-spoken.  Hence, (I appeal), let the girls be themselves, and blossom in their own pace and in their own way.

Also, how many animated films tell a story about sisters? This theme resonates to most of us, and that true love is nothing fancy or out of reach. True love is a hard concept to teach if it is defined by what most movies tell us. As corny as this may sound, but true love should be basic. I have a lot of sisters and we most probably have siblings or members of the family who have been with us since birth. Frozen has made the concept of true love more accessible to everyone.

elphaba
Photo Source: Broadway.com

Wicked
Another good example of a female fictional character is Elphaba from the musical play and novel, Wicked. When I was a small girl, I dreamed of becoming a princess. But lately I wanted to be a witch. I am a fan of Wicked. I have their songs in my play list, read the novel, watch the play on web and on real life. I like Wicked because it celebrates individuality. In reality, sometimes we are defined by our color, and other exterior features. Elphaba, the wicked witch of the West is not a typical protagonist of the story. From the title itself, she is  known wicked. She represents the minority. She goes for the unpopular belief of fighting the rights of the Animals. Alas, a female character has emerged from the male-dominated world, witchcraft. ( There seems to be a bias towards wizards and bias against witch. Major characters as witches are villains while the boy with a broomstick is adorable and not necessarily wicked). Like Frozen, the set of characters in the play are female-dominated.

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I am hoping for more films, plays, cartoons and stories  that feature women as heroes. Just like Frozen and Wicked, I hope they reach mainstream success so that more girls will receive the message of empowerment.

The best way to save a damsel in distress is  not to call for a prince but the best way is to teach her to save herself from distress. Show her true colors and be her own happiness machine. Let the storm range on and let her defy gravity. Let it go!

Because you deserve to be less miserable

Source: Imdb.com

I cannot not blog about Les Misérables because I waited for seven hours in the mall, just to watch the movie. It was one of the longest days of my life! Much has been said and I think I have no right to give a critique on a movie that is million times bigger than I am. But allow me to share my penny of thoughts on why people who are not fans of the musical should watch.

It’s classic

It is based on the novel of Victor Hugo which is oftentimes included in the list of books you must read before you die. The novel has made so much influence as it talks about justice, poverty, and sacrifice. This is one of the literary influences of Jose Rizal. Then later on, it had a musical theater adaptation. And when you talk about theater, it’s one of the first few plays that come into your mind.

They sing truthfully

The music itself is one of biggest reasons why I wanted to watch it and why other Filipinos want it too. I’ve been singing the song On my Own since high school but I just could not nail it. Songs from this musical have been popular choices for audition. For us, musical theater fans,we are curious on how these songs we have loved will be interpreted in cinema. Generally speaking, I like the actors realistic way of singing. In the film, they are not technical singers who have too much vibrato, too much inflections, too much clean and clear notes. That’s difference between singing on stage and singing for movies. If you’ve heard the songs, you will understand them more after watching the movie. Not only you will learn the story behind the songs but also the depth of the character’s emotions. You will know the pain of a prostitute and of a dying loved one. You will feel the passion of revolutionists.

Anne Hathaway is an A+++ actress.

Having a soundtrack of Les Misérables anniversary concert and listening to a lot of thespians, I guess we all have our own preference or what others call “standards.” But I must say Anne Hathaway’s rendition I Dreamed a Dream is one of the most truthful performances.You can almost cry with her. She only had short time in the movie but it was very memorable. She really deserves an acting award.

At times, it feels like watching MTV.

There are a lot of scenes that look like MTV. On my own scene reminded me of the ones I watched in MTV, like singing and crying in the rain. I compare those scenes to music videos because Tom Hooper loves close-up shots. It is as if the actor is singing to the camera. This kind of shot is an opportunity for actors to show their acting prowess. I know some viewers don’t like these close-up shots but it was a refreshing way of reiterating a very familiar story. That’s also a privilege for us audience to see closely the facial expressions of actors. You cannot have that on theater stage.

Drama sells

I personally love tragedies. As you know, I like to watch men in pain and hear stories about death. I think we can identify ourselves more in tragedies than sweet happy endings. There are a lot of dramatic scenes. They say,”the movie will make you cry.” I did cry a little during the last few moments of the movie and stopped myself for crying more because I did not want my friends to make fun of me.

It’s too much

The story will not be beautiful if the storyteller does not know how to deliver and we owe it to the the people who worked hard for the movie. It’s a 157-minute film. You get your money’s worth comparing on how much you spend for a Starbucks coffee that lasts for less than five minutes. There are too many characters that you will fall in love with. There are too many songs that you want to sing along with. There are too many stories inside a story. There are many themes that make all the scenes relevant.  If you really want to heavy acting, lots of singing, and endless tears, go watch it.

Oh, and a friendly reminder:

Photo from Dennis T. Sebastian

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