Sunday, December 28, 2008

Countdown to the Election I

On all of this Rick Warren Hullabaloo

So it's been a few weeks since it came out that christianist-conservative pastor Rick Warren would be giving the invocation at Barack's inauguration and now that it's more or less been flushed out by both sides of the media, I thought I'd add just about two cents worth of input.

Initially, I'll admit that I felt thrown under the bus. After so much hope, so much camaraderie, after he mentioned "gay and lesbian brothers and sisters" in his acceptance speech, I felt like once again a liberal-democrat official was leaving us behind for the sake of political efficacy. But after all of this has gone down, I feel like ultimately, this whole event will be looked at as a faux pas, on both sides.

Here's why: From what the Barack Transition Camp has said, this is a gesture of good will, something that he talked about in his speech. I can see how ol' boy thought it would be a good idea to make in-roads with the 100-something electoral votes that went to McCain. If I were a conservatron, I'd feel good about the invitation to Warren—but not anymore.

I think we (and when I say we, I mean the entirety of the "liberal media") have ruined all of Obama's good intentions by blowing this whole mess out of proportion. Any kind of good will to the conservative camp has probably been turned into a more heightened sense of us versus them.

Yes, it would have been a better choice to have, say, the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church do the invocation at such an auspicious and momentous event in our country's history, not some middle-of-the-road, white-evangelical conservanator who was influential in the Prop 8. mess. And while those hurt feelings are there, I think we all need to just need to take a step back for a second, and trust that Barack knows what he's doing.

To quote pundit kitchen:

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

I think, between now and the inauguration ceremonies, I'm going to check my baggage at the door. This is going to be looked at, in a year, as a non-issue. Let's be a little more forward thinking, nu*?

*Look for a post soon called Das Fettchen's Wörterbuch, where you'll finally learn about all of those crkay words I use. Incidentally, nu is yiddish for "right?" or "don't you think?" or "what the fuck is wrong with you already won't you just do what I tell you?". We could all use a little more yiddish, I think.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


*Watashitachi yappari dekimasu! That's Yes we can auf Japanisch. Go ahead with my High School Japanese skills.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Iron Man, the Film for Ecofeminists?

For those of you who read Fettchen, I apologize for being MIA these past few weeks. Life has been nutty, you know, with class (Neue-Sachlichkeit-Marlowe-Queer-Theory-What?), work (Forty-Student-Leaders-What?), stomach flu (suck!), Rock Band for my Wii (mwahhahhahhaha!), and design/writing articles for my college's newspaper (read my latest article here).

After the torrent that was the month of September, I took this evening to catch up with a friend of mine and have a night of hanging out and movie watching. The movie of choice? Iron Man.

I enjoyed the film a lot, and since I didn't see the movie when it came out, there's no sense in writing a review or giving you a full blown rundown of the film (you can get that, if you want it, here). What I would like to offer is a slightly different angle that some of my counterparts in the blogosphere may not have taken.

Iron Man fits into the vogue of superhero-moviedom with all of its variegated clichés. Take one part debonair + two parts asshole + 3 fl. oz of dramatic-life-changing-moment + financial capital + weird-primogeniture-motif and you've got 2.35 hours of action packed, testosterone injected, wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am-ary. In a word: Trite.

Not so with Iron Man. I'm excited that, despite preconceived notions, we're starting to see films coming out of the superhero genre with more substance than before. Iron Man offers a lot of truly critical moments that give to more sophisticated moviegoers that spark of higher-thinking we need to keep watching.

The character of Tony Stark fits the mold of comics superhero to the T, with splashes of womanizer and alcoholic. After the character undergoes his crisis and begins to craft his hero identity, we see an interesting frame of thinking envisaged by the filmmaker. In a world where the power of patriarchy and he who carries a big stick is king, Iron Man posits that its the sleeker, more compact, more energy efficient superhero that saves the day.

Ecofeminism asserts that the patriarchal oppression of woman intersects and is analogous to the oppression of the earth through conquest and imperialism. Ecofeminists consider the domination of nature by a system that values male-land ownership to be at the root of the exploitation of lands, the tragedy of the commons, and the subjugation of the third world and persons of color.

While an ecofeminist critique is far from the center of Iron Man's purpose as a film, I find that, at times, the film makes an ecofeminist critique.

In the film, the main character is initially culpable with the patriarchal system of war that rapes and pillages the people of Afghanistan. Tony Stark creates weaponry that is, without his knowledge, sold to the people he thought he was rightfully fighting. After being captured and forced into labor (you know, building a bomb), Stark realizes who the real enemy is: the system that engenders the people that have held him captive with their warmongering and manaical hatred of others. Through this transformation, Stark leaves his powerful weapons that hurt the earth in order to build a single weapon to save it: his suit.

The exoskeleton, unlike the weapons he's crafted previously, are small and compact. Their purpose is to efficiently get in an out of situations in order to help people, not hurt them. Now, I'm not so into my own argument not to admit that his way of helping people is by breaking those who hurt them in half (or throwing them through brick walls, or shooting them in the head, or handing them over to vigilante justice . . . where was I?), but keep up with me. In essence, Stark shifts from thinking about weapons as a way to subjugated and force surrender toward the idea that technology can be used to aid those who are being subjugated and forced to surrender.

In the last epic fight of the film, Stark is pit up against another version of his suit, one that is clunkier, slower, and seemingly more powerful because of its might and brawn. Stark is able to defeat this suit because of the increased effectiveness and efficiency of his smaller suit. In a show down of arms, its the Prius of the two, the suit with better mileage if you will, that saves the day.

At the end of the day, the film isn't about an ecofeminist critique. Though elements of a critique float around the edges of the movie, the film finishes with all the glory of the commonplace wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am-ary, as always. What remains, however, is that these critiques, these thoughts, are perimating the genre-driven, money-grubbing sphere of that his Hollywood. Its only a matter of time before this sleekified, possibly-maybe ecofeminist superhero takes a not so nuanced step out of the fading limelight of patriarchy and into the, forgive the flourish, basking radiance that is deeply thought provoking, yet entertaining, film media.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

So, sometimes, I can't resist . . .

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

The Problem with "Persepolis," the film

So in an increasing attempt to solidify what this blog talks about, I think it safe to say that anything I want to talk about is what this blog talks about.


Essentially, the frame of this blog is a means for you to understand the writer: where he comes from, what he's thinking, and why, perhaps, he's thinking it. In addition to being morbidly obese and twenty-one years of age, I'm also a proud, gay, gender-queer person who is a staunch feminist. It is from that lens that I'd like to give my two cents on the film adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis."

Having read the novel about a year ago and recently as part of a common reading program put on by my university (which I reported on here for my college's newspaper), I've come to know the book, and the author, very well. In addition to reading Persepolis, I've also read Satrapi's book Embroideries, which was published between the two halves of Persepolis. While I wouldn't call myself an expert on Satrapi, I feel as if I've come to understand her language of storytelling—her interesting cross-section between graphic novel and memoir.

One thing that I love about Satrapi's novels is that they complicate the western view of women in Iran. There's this idea in the western mind (planted there for us by President Bush in his famous speech, naming, among others, Iran as part of an Axis of Evil) that the women of Arabic, middle-eastern countries have, for centuries long, been persecuted under Islamic law. It appeals to our western sense of crusade romanticism that even the intellegencia fall under. One way to rationalize our nation's blatant overstepping of Afghanistani, Iraqi, and dare I say soon-to-be Iranian rights is that we, as a country, will liberate these women from the oppressive, patriarchial hands of their sharia-laden overlords.

Satrapi works against this. She shows that, in Iran, middle to upper-class women had the choice whether or not to veil and that their was great backlash against its imposition upon Iranian women in the early 80s. Satrapi also shows, through her memoir, why women took off the veil, and, I think more importantly, why she might choose to put the veil back on, and what such an action means.

What struck me as odd is the way that the movie side-stepped most of these complications and how that might simplify, or even inhibit, the way a receiver of the memoir perceived the intricacies of the veil.

It's always a problem, adaptation, and good adaptation is almost an art form. For it to go about well, the writers and directors who are adapting the novel need to be experts in the novel and be able to capture the novels spirit—they must be able move past the letters of the page and into the heart of the story. What 'Persepolis' did, however, was go right past the heart of the story's literary complication, and bundle the movie inside of an animated, histrionic ball, that made the subject matter of the book not only more superficially interesting, but also lose insight into the complexities of the gender politics of the novel.

What viewers got was a sense of the hardship Satrapi undertook in her life in order to be a woman, free from the oppression of Iran not the struggle that Satrapi endured in order to be congruent with herself. The book drew an interesting line between what one's actions and words and what one believes and how, despite the simplification of a western eye, the truth of the matter is more complex and deep then ever before imagined. The viewer does a great disservice to themselves by not reading the book because in this adaptation what isn't lost is the heart of the story, it's the heart of the purpose of the story—to show us that we, as westerners, are not only very much like a little girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution, but that, more importantly, we are very much different from a little girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution.

Despite my theoretical impetus for writing this post, I enjoyed the movie. But when reading important and necessary books like "Persepolis," given our shaky political climate, what's more important—that I enjoy the movie? or that I engage in a dialog that makes more difficult my preconceived notions, thus prompting me to probe deeper and understand more?

I'm glad I understand more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What's english for beschäftig?

Oh yes. Busy. Beschäftig (buh-chef-tih) means busy. One can verbalize this noun, and say "ich beschäftige mich" or "I busy myself" (it's a reflexive verb).

The point is—last week Friday was the first day all week that I'd been home before sundown. This is the third time in five days that I've gone to bed around 3 and woken up around 8.

Balance. Please?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

"The Call" Logo

With less than 60 days to perhaps the most world-watched, life-changing, decision-making election of my generation, I can't help but share a bit of my graphic designer's perspective on this:

The logo for The Call, self described as a "divinely initiated, multi-racial, multi-generational, and cross-denominational gathering to corporate prayer and fasting." The group is calling for fellow christianists across the United States to fly into San Diego, clog its empty Manchester Hyatt suites, and join each other at Qualcomm Stadium to fast for the nation and appeal to God to end Gay Marriage. Judging by the ultra-swank video they've posted on their website and youtube, they've got some talented people working for them.

Now, I'm not going to say anything about my opinion of their organization or my belief that what they are doing is not only morally reprehensible as they fundamentally seek to enact their own belief systems into law, but just plain nonsensical [Because not eating is going to make they gays straight? (wait . . . there I go again with the editorializing. Damnit.)].

I'm simply going to offer my two cents on their design choices.

:: ahem ::

An arrow pointing up, inside of a circle, for an organization hell-bent on destroying the right for to all Californians to marry who the choose?

In a word: Sub-tle.

I think their designer was thinking "I'll just shove a bit more penis into this vagina by complementing it with a neat-o sans-serif type treatment."

Way to go, right-wing America. Brava.