This will not be one of those ' my ass itches and my cat just threw up' type of blogs. Instead I will regularly post my own articles on subjects including but not exclusive to: sexuality, theatre, film, literature and politics. Unfortunately there are no sexy pictures, and no chance for you to be 'interactive' so you probably won't read it....oh well! Honestly... I know I'm just talking to myself here, mainly, but...I don't care!
Monsieur Lazhar. Okay how can you be against a movie that is all about dealing with death? Well you can if the movie is filled with endearing kids (my least favorite thing) and has no sex (my most favorite thing) at all. Well I SUPPOSE this movie is kinda well done. I think what pissed me off was that all the old people around me were loving it too much and it was sold out and they were acting like it was The English Patient or something and they all thought I was chewing my popcorn too loud. Jeesh.
2. Really Shite
A Dangerous Method – I’m sorry I fell asleep because I already know all that stuff about Freud and Jung I mean do I really want a lecture? A dumb movie for pseudo-smart people. Or is it supposed to be news that people get off on spanking each other? Uh, duh!
War Horse – And I promised a friend I will see the play. I hope the damn puppets are fucking good! The horse in this movie is not a character, as in i.e. human. I mean the horse kinda looks at the camera now and then -- but it could also be looking at a fly or the movie trainer’s shiny new apple. The boy in it is cute but hardly worth the price of admission. What a waste of Emily Fucking Watson! I understand (she needed the money). Okay. I did cry a bit. But I’m not proud of that….
3. Oh God The Best Movie You Will Ever See Except You’ll Never See It Because of Our Misogynistic World…
Please run, don’t walk to see this one. It is a perfect movie. And it’s not about a cranky old guy like the advertising suggests. It’s about women and abuse, and it has a stellar actress in the role of the abusee (Olivia Colman who is also in Iron Lady but much better in this). This is a truly feminist film made by a male auteur. I was drawn to it because there are people on Rotten Tomatoes who just HATE it and call it beyond depressing and disgusting. It is. That’s why I like it.
Another Fabulous Feminist Movie By A Male Auteur! Wow. If you enjoy seeing women kick men around you’ll love this (and I don’t just mean the male hetero pervs, they will sure like it and more power to them! I mean actually women, and fags who like seeing men kicked around -- this flick will be your cup of tea!). I now worship at the alter of Gina Carano! The best line in the movie and the only one in ANY movie lately to make me laugh out loud was when Michael Fassbender said about Gina Carano “I’ve never ‘done’ a woman’ (meaning ‘I’ve never killed a woman’) and Ewan McGregor responded (and this is NOT a spoiler don’t worry) -- “You shouldn’t think of her as a woman. That would be a mistake.”
This trial has been getting lots of attention lately and we all know why. When a Muslim husband (along with his second wife and son) conspires to murder his three daughters and his ex-wife, all sorts of horrific images and thoughts come to mind; but chiefly they swirl around racism and what has lately been termed ‘Islamophobia.’ Those who are angered by the murder of these women are not simply humanitarians -- sometimes they hate Arabs, dark skinned immigrants, and cultures that are different from western culture. They are sometimes people who are afraid of anything different, and who will use this murder as an excuse to demonize the ‘other.’
That is certainly not my intention.
But a recent article in The Toronto Star by Sikander Ziad Hashmi focused my own thoughts on the matter. Mr. Hashmi is an imam at the Islamic Society of Kingston. His article presents a number of sensible arguments for how society can and should work to stop such a horrifying tragedy from ever occurring again. All fine and good. But, in defense of Islam, Mr. Hashmi, quotes that religion’s premiere prophet on male/female relations: “The best of you is the one who is best to his women.”
Does anybody else see the incredible irony in this defense? Mr. Hashmi tries to defend his faith against those critics who see it as misogynistic – but the only quotation he offers in defense of Islam is one in which the religion’s greatest prophet describes women as male possessions.
The lessons of the trial and conviction of Mohammad Shafia has very little to do with Islam in particular -- and everything to do with fundamentalism. Whenever queer people talk to me about how gay civil rights are gaining momentum in Canada (and how happy they are to have a gay marriage ceremony in Toronto) I don’t hesitate to remind them that they live in a little bubble called ‘A Big Western City.’ Yes big western cities encourage a modicum of tolerance for gay/lesbian, trans and bi peoples. But those who live in these tiny bubbles must not forget that they are surrounded by a world in which the ancient, feudal intolerance for feminism and homosexuality grows daily This is because many countries in the world (including the United States of America) are trapped in the iron grip of fundamentalism.
What is fundamentalism? Fundamentalism is any religion in which the primary worship of its followers centres around the ‘word of God.’ Fundamentalists attempt to lead their lives according to the rules of whatever scriptural doctrine they deem holy. And this is where the trouble begins. Nearly all of the ancient western religious scriptures are fundamentally sexist and homophobic. Their ethical laws are based on the notion that the body is evil -- and that women are evil because they are purveyors of the temptations of the body. Thus the body -- and particularly women’s bodies -- must be covered and shamed, sex is only for procreation, and sexual pleasure (especially queer pleasure) is an abomination.
I am not a ‘Hitchensonian’ or a ‘Dawkinsonian.’ I am as skeptical of reason and science as I am of religion. It is my opinion that science -- for some, in the west at least, -- has become a new religion. I think that ‘reason’ and science are over-rated, and just as organized religion of all kinds can be connected to unimaginably horrific mass murders and tragedies (as in the Shafia trial) unquestioning faith in the wonders of science can also be lethal (remember Hiroshima?).
The killer Shafia may have been crazy. So, probably, was Marc Lepine. But the unfortunate truth is that a fundamentalist religious ideology that demonizes women and queers lies behind these actions which we wish to imagine are only the isolated insane ideas of singular murderers and madman. Those beliefs may not be the cause of such murders, but the connection between them is neither benign nor accidental.
My solution is simple. Be spiritual (please!). We all must come to terms with life and death. I consider myself a spiritual person. But I am not going to tell you what my beliefs are, or how I worship. When spiritual matters become social matters, we have entered the hallowed realm of religion. This is unfortunately the origin of much of the world’s hate, prejudice, pain and violence.
We’ve got it all wrong. In western culture, sex is considered private and religion is considered public. Why not the other way around? I think sex is something that is, and should be, social -- celebrated by, and with, groups of people. (When was the last time, after all, you were invited to a good old-fashioned orgy?) I don’t hate any specific religion. But I detest them all. I detest the impulse to turn a private and personal matter into one which people judge, flaunt, argue, and compete over their private beliefs, causing them to be jealous, covetous and hateful to each other.
If you believe strongly in some God or other -- well that should be enough for you. If you wish to share it consensually with your adult intimates, go ahead. But spirituality should -- nay must be -- between you and your God. I would ask you, respectfully, to keep it to yourself.
Yeah well Carnage was interesting. But do you call that losing it? I mean is this how white people go crazy? I expected more vomit, more….sex. But I always do. The best things about the movie though, were the bulging veins in Jodi Foster’s neck – they’re probably going to get her an Academy Award!
2. A very irritating waste of talent and money…………………………….
Shame. Wow, the title says it all. It is a shame that all this great acting, writing and directing -- and Michael Fassbender’s quite more than adequate wang -- were wasted on such a stupid premise. We’re supposed to get all tragic over the fact that a brother and sister touch each other too much when their drunk, or because some people enjoy sex without love? I think there are a lot more important things to get upset about. And what about the fact that Michael Fassbender’s character ends up in The Eagle backroom (come on- you know where I mean – there’s one in every town and you’ve been there) getting a blowjob by some guy -- and this is supposed to be the ultimate act of degradation. A usual evening’s debauchery usually just starts that way for most of us.
3. I watched the first hour and really enjoyed the popcorn………………….
Wow The Darkest Hour has Emile Hirsch looking kinda cute (but why didn’t he take his clothes off? maybe he did in the second hour) and beings that look very pretty, swirling around like bolts of lightening, but woah! -- they burn you up on contact in a rather artistic way. Hey -- I’ve had boyfriends like that! And all in fabulous 3-D! 3-D which was supposed to bring people back to the movies! Oh yeah, right. If Hollywood is so emotionally and intellectually bankrupt that the only thing they think will draw you back to the movies is a bunch of flower petals (Avatar), or dead person’s dust (Darkest Hour) coming at your face, then they’re done for. Have you noticed that the most 3-D thing about 3-D movies is the credits or the subtitles? Yum. I love subtitles in3-D. Now that’s scary.
4. Oh, and by the way…………………………..
Did you catch the headlines over the Holydays? “Big studio executives are worried their profits are down…but they’re counting on Alvin and the Chipmunks in Chipwrecked to save the day!” Whaaaa? I say thank you so much to James Cameron for destroying movies TWICE -- first with Titanic (watch out- it’s coming back this spring!) and then Avatar. The man who single handled taught audiences they are only supposed to like things that are big and stupid and cost a lot of money. Arghgh.
Let me draw you back to Toronto’s dark, dim artistic past; the late 1980’s. I was on the board of the Toronto Theatre Alliance (which is now the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts: TAPA). I was annoyed that the Toronto Theatre Alliance included both commercial and non-commercial theatre companies as members. I have always believed that commercial theatre (which rarely involves Canadian plays) is fundamentally different from indigenous Toronto theatre (which is often Canadian, small-scale and not-for-profit). Big mega-musicals -- which were just beginning to dominate the Toronto scene back then -- are about making money, whereas not-for-profit theatre is about making art. Way back then, I pointed out that even New York City has the Tony’s (for Broadway plays) and the Obies (for off Broadway plays). Even New York City recognizes two very different kinds of theatre that require separate categories for judgment.
No one listened to me.
I quit the Toronto Theatre Alliance soon after and quit my job as artistic director of Buddies. One thing that spurred my resignation was a letter from the Toronto Arts Council in the early 1990s saying (and I am paraphrasing) “Why can’t you just put on ‘Angels in America’ -- and get some bums in seats?’
It just seemed to me that nobody understood my love for Canadian theatre.
Set your clock ahead to 2011. Last spring I invited the critics to see my new play The Situationists. Richard Ouzonian was too busy. J. Kelly Nestruck, was also too busy, but was nice enough to send second stringer Martin Morrow (who was nice enough to massacre my play. But hey, that happens). I understand that Ouzonian and Nestruck are somewhat helpless in the face of pressure from their bosses, who often assume Canadian theatre doesn’t sell newspapers.
Is that why Canadian plays are dead? Well the fact that the newspapers seem to prefer puff pieces about American actors, writers and directors visiting Toronto to interviews with Canadian playwrights – that’s certainly a huge problem. But more importantly, arts councils have abandoned their support for Canadian work. I’m sure that people still want to write Canadian plays and still want to see them, but indigenous not-for-profit artists working in the shadow of a giant megamonster like the USA need lots of tender encouragement (remember Nathan Cohen?).
Soulpepper and Canadian Stage are a case in point. Arts councils vied for the opportunity to give the privileged white folks at Soulpepper piles of dough for seasons built around a preponderance of non-Canadian classics. Canstage seems to be hell bent on encouraging experimentation from around the globe. Hey I loved Stuart Hughes in the fabulous Soulpepper production of The Time of Your Life. But where is the Canadian Saroyan? And why are Toronto’s best funded theatres ignoring her? I choose Saroyan as a poignant example because he was – ironically -- a champion of diversity. Some mid-size theatres seem to be struggling to put on Canadian and non-white work. However, though we have Cahoots, Fu-GEN, Native Earth, b-current, and Obsidian, among others – these are all smaller UNDERFUNDED theatres trying desperately to develop the non-white Canadian play. I would argue that as long as government funding agencies reward theatres with the biggest bucks for producing the latest The International Avant-garde Sensation or the new Big New York Hit or time honoured Edifying Classic From The Past -- you can kiss the The Canadian Play goodbye.
Yes I know, ‘theatre’ and ‘plays’ – and even the adjective ‘Canadian’ seem old-fashioned to some. But a play is certainly no more old-fashioned than a piece of ‘performance art.’ And writing a Canadian play isn’t important because we love Canada, or just to wave the flag, but because it’s necessary to write about where we come from and where we live, not about lives made up by others for us.
Yes, I know we all have ipods and itouches and blackberrys glued to our heads and up our asses (frankly). But these global gadgets don’t tell us much about ourselves. Entertainment we gobble up from the web just tells us how fabulous we are so that we’ll keep buying stuff. That’s not self-exploration, analytical thought, or deep understanding. Unless I’m wrong (and I may very well be) we will always need our own writers to explore the self that has not yet been downloaded into a hard drive.