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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Cheap Ways to Travel (No Promo Fare)

I like to travel but I don’t like to spend a lot of money. Because life is unpredictable as always, I’d rather lay up for a rainy day. I have a long wish list and I seriously aim to try everything. With the goal of having to do a lot of things, traveling is my least priority. I choose learning a new software, joining a workshop over a trip outside the Philippines unless if it’s free. Sad to say, money sets boundaries. I frown at the thought of traveling. I look for cheap alternatives. As what I always believe, dreams and rewards don’t necessarily come in the exact package, the way they appear in our minds. What matters is you know how it feels to have them. Here are some cheap ways to travel:

Watch a movie

Movies transport us to places we’ve never been. Sometimes, watching a movie is even more beautiful than the real experience -okay, that sounds weird. Boring days and boring trips are inevitable. On the other hand, movies are meant to entertain or to provoke a thought. They let you escape from boredom. Movies, stories with plots have climax. A three-day trip in Bangkok cannot assure a climactic moment.

movie titanic travel
Photo from  http://www.picturesdepot.com

Read a book

Emily Dickinson wrote: “There is no frigate like a book to take us lands away.” If you are a conscientious reader immersed in a well-written piece. You can almost feel you are one of the characters in the book.

why read quotation
Photo from http://www.rdasia.com

Meet New Faces

Have you ever talked to someone and find your conversation surreal? Sometimes, the best way to paint a vivid picture of another land is to know its people. You can travel back time by talking to comfort women. You can see London by talking to your British boss. The way a person talks reflects another place and time. It’s perceiving another world through the eyes of another human being. And the more people you meet, the more places you will go.

Photo from http://blogoratti.blogspot.com/2009/12/strangers-friends.html

 

You don’t need cash to travel,  just imagination.