The Hunchback of Notre Dame: The preliminary for Tangled?

So I don’t know how many of you are Disney fanatics like I am, but I used to LOVE The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Admittedly, I remember some scenes did frightened me, but that was part of the thrill of the film. Besides, the real reason anyone (me) watches movies as a child is for the music–and to sing along (is that only me too? Oh. Alright.).

It’s been years since I actually watched the movie, however. Don’t get me wrong–I’ve been keeping up PLENTY on my Disney addiction.  Beauty and the Beast is my go-to, feel-good movie.  (Inner Child Age = 5yrs old) However, in the last few weeks, I’ve been on a real Disney music kick, and I have to admit, if there is one film whose music trumps all other Disney films’ music, (as far as number of catchy tunes goes) it’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So today, while folding laundry, I decided to kill the time by watching the film. Now, I know the film has some incredibly dark themes, and I’ve been warned before by friends that there are several things in the film that you don’t pick up as a child, but–

Seriously guys, what is wrong with this movie?
I haven’t even made it through the first half of the film, and already I am wondering how my parents ever let me watch this thing.  I even had a little suitcase with Esmeralda on it as a child; little did I know I was rolling around a depiction of Disney’s most obvious sex symbol.  Yeesh.

And what about that Frollo dude, I mean, right?  He’s got the creep turned up to x1000 and constantly lives on the edge…of sexual assault and harassment.  Not to mention he’s a lying, murdering, sacrilegious crow-like character. Seriously, take a look at this dude, if you think your eyes can handle it:

Seriously, is this not the scariest Disney character you’ve ever laid eyes on?

(Btw: while looking this photo up, I realized that there are, for some reason beyond my comprehension, a lot of fan-made pictures of this guy with several other female characters from a variety of Disney films.  Weird. Totally weird.)

But despite the alarming number of un-kid-friendly things going on in this film, I couldn’t help but make continuous connections back to  Tangled. I know what you’re thinking–Tangled, really?  That is just beyond insane.

What does this:

Yay! Happy Lights!

 

Have to do with this:

 

Holy crap there’s a lot of people in this photo.

????

Well, for starters, Quasimodo seems to have a very Rapunzel-like conundrum in being FORBIDDEN from leaving his bell tower in Notre Dame. Not that, like Rapunzel, he listens to his “master”–Frollo–just as Rapunzel doesn’t listen to her mother.  In fact, I seem to recall that Frollo and Mother Gothel lay some very similiar reasons for why both Quasimodo and Rapunzel should never venture outside of their towers.

Flynn Rider and Phoebus also seem to share many of the same character traits, if it wasn’t obvious from things like this:

and this:

I mean, it sort of makes sense that Disney would look for influence in the one other film that deals with that creepy, weird relationship between parent/abductor/oppressor and not-your-real-child/oppressed-yet-strangely-still-normal-and-independent

Right?

Well, whether I’ve made my point or not, I think I’ve dwelled on the useless topic long enough. But, if you have any of your own thoughts about this, other Disney films, or even which film you think has the best music, please contribute a comment below!

Yours truly,

tlc

 

The “F” word

I want to dedicate this post today on a very important, misunderstood, and highly under-appreciated topic today.  You see, the “F” word is a crucial part of my vocabulary, and the reason I refrain from writing it full-out in the title of this blog post is because I do not want to discourage certain readers from hearing me out.  So, before I begin explaining, I want you to make a silent promise to yourself that you won’t write this post off simply because of a word.  Judging this post on a simple word is very ignorant.   And as any dystopian novel would warn you (think Brave New World) choosing to be ignorant (or “uninvolved” or “neutral”, as some might call it) is just as horrible as being an offender. As Elie Wiesel once famously said,

“Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

Now, it might be a bit extreme to refer to those affected by the “F” word as “tormentors” or the “tormented,” but by not putting my two-cents in, or not taking time to consider anyone else’s two-cent, an issue can never be resolved.  It would be like looking at a pile of dirt, and wishing that that pile of dirt would go away, but instead of cleaning that pile of dirt up, simply ignoring it, or pretending that it isn’t there.  Pretty soon, most people will start believing that that pile of dirt is okay–in fact, it should be there, for several logical reasons someone will come up with, I’m sure.  But, know that someone out there besides yourself also sees that pile of dirt and wishes it would go away, but that person probably isn’t able to clean it up by themselves. In fact, they’ll probably go about it in some silly fashion–like trying to spoon it into the trash.

So the point is, don’t be that person that refuses to clean up the pile of dirt. And also, when you do decide to clean up that pile of dirt, bring a shovel.

Alright, now that I’ve gone on a sort-of long tangent, I’ll tell you what the “F” word is.

I know what you’re thinking–it’s not that. Well, if you know me at all, maybe it is what you’re thinking.

The “F” is (drum roll, please): Feminism.

If you are a person, and you’ve stopped reading this blog because of that word, and therefore do not know what this line says, you are a certified dummy. (I’m a bit of an anti-climatic name-caller, my apologies).

So, Feminism. Yeah.

Let me start this topic by saying that I’ve been attempting to write this blog for about three hours now, but got sidetracked by my dear brother, who–at the start of this blog–addressed me by saying, “Just so you know, I don’t agree with your viewpoints on feminism.” And thus ensued a two-hour-long discussion on what feminism really is, and why we feel the way we do.  And, as frustrating as I always find verbal discussions such as that because they never change anyone’s viewpoints, and I am significantly less talented at verbalizing than I am at writing my thoughts and opinions, the conversation was good for me, and subsequently this blog post because it has helped me decide how to approach this post in a better way than I would have before: Instead of sitting here, and spending hours spewing my thoughts and opinions on gender equality, sexism, woman’s rights, etc, I would like to talk to you about the connotation behind the word feminism.

You see, it greatly upsets me that many of the people I come across or speak with are of the belief or opinion that feminism is a bad thing, an extreme, or radical thing. Many of the people I know hold this idea that feminists are man-hating, bra-burning, ugly, old hags who just hate the world and want women to be the superior sex.

This is possibly the most frustrating and depressing idea and stereotype I have ever run up against personally. Saying this to me, feels like the equivalent of telling me that the Civil Rights Movement was a bad thing because MLK Jr. hated white people. Or saying that we should not hold events like Relay for Life because cancer research will go on without the fundraising event.

These things, to me, seem absurd.  Of course MLK Jr. didn’t hate white people–if that had been his main motive for supporting the Civil Rights movement, he probably wouldn’t have supported it at all. He would have simply gone somewhere where he could have been further away from the kinds of people he didn’t like. And of course events like Relay for Life are good. Sure, cancer research will go on even without it, and sure, there will always be private donors, but every effort is important in its own way (besides, Relay for Life supports cancer victims in other ways as well).

What I’m saying is, do not judge a label because of a stereotyped connotation.  The definition of feminism is simply the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.  It has nothing to do with hating men, being ugly, sexist, or wishing for the superiority of women. It has nothing to do with the extreme protesters who burned their bras or stopped wearing skirts or make-up (granted, there is nothing wrong with living in pants or going make-up free. I also think there is nothing wrong with wearing skirts or dresses or heels. It’s your body, be aware of yourself, and choose to portray yourself the way you wish to be seen).

My brother says that from experience, many of the women he has met who call themselves ‘feminists’ are extremely sexist, which unfortunately supports the stereotype that feminists look down upon men.  But that simply isn’t true.  With the definition of feminism that I’ve presented above, my brother would be considered a feminist, even if he doesn’t call himself that, and so would many, if not all, of you reading this post.  The real problem here is that the term has picked up such a negative connotation over the years that many people don’t see this, or understand this.  It really, really, REALLY frustrates me–particularly when I am having an intellectual conversation with someone, and their reaction is, “Oh, you’re one of those.” And suddenly, all of my opinions and viewpoints on everything are invalid to that person.

It’s extremely upsetting not to be heard by someone, because they so readily buy into a stereotype.

So, to make this post short, please don’t buy into the stereotype.  And, if you want to help make the connotation go away, don’t be afraid to tell people that you’re a feminist.  Being a feminist is nothing to be ashamed of, and if more people get educated on the topic, and openly admit to supporting gender and woman’s equality, then people like my brother might meet more rational, true feminists, and stop readily accepting such stereotypes.

*If you would like to read more on the Woman’s movement and feminism, check out the book: When Everything Changed by Gail Collins.

*To get an idea of why feminism is still an important topic, check out this page.

Yours truly,

tlc

I Am So Totally Technologically Un-Savvy

Wait, have I used that title before? Whatever.

So I think I’ve decided to make Fridays the official days for weekly summer posts. Get excited. In the mean time, I should really spend some time making this blog/website look cool.  I mean, come on. Look at it. Just look at it

The problem with me and technology is that we have a love/hate relationship that’s been going on ever since my brother left for college and I was left to figure out how to plug the VCR into the television set.  It’s long, and it’s not pretty.  

Frustrated sessions with me and technological devices involve all of the following: 

1) Talking to my electronic device like it’s a conscious being.

2) Threatening my electronic device like it’s the antagonist in my life story and its sole purpose is to befuddle all of my technological goings-on.

3) Coaxing my electronic device like it’s a cat.

4) Plotting silent revenge upon my electronic device once it is outdated and I can afford to upgrade. 

But my struggles with technology don’t stop at my personal devices; I also have a beef with the internet–particularly websites–particularly my own…and Facebook. I spend so much time simply trying to find my way around and pick out design layouts, etc (am I, like, 80 years old or what?), that I probably spend a realistic 90% of my time in front of a computer screen. And if I’m not in front of a computer screen, I’m watching TV. Because let’s face it–I honestly don’t know how people lived their lives before television and computers. 

Frightening, I know.

But, like any terrible, yet typical addiction, I.Just.Can’t.Stop. And what’s worse, with being a college student, I really can’t stop. I don’t remember when the last time was that I picked up a pen and paper to complete even a measly homework assignment.  

And the internet is so tempting. So very, very tempting.  The internet–particularly social media platforms like Twitter (no sleep), Youtube (hours of procrastination), and Facebook (the death of me)–are like my fat kid + chocolate scenario. Like take this moment, for instance. I just stopped typing this blog and spent five minutes scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed because my mom asked to see a picture, and then I got distracted.

I know, I have a major problem. 

But, in the end, the very tempting Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook sites don’t change the fact that I still have to use the internet every.single.day.  Nor does it change the fact that when I do have to spend time working on website stuff–mainly my own–it takes me hours because that’s simply how technology works: I invest hours of time learning how to use it, and then it becomes outdated and I have to re-spend hours of time learning how to use the newest version. Until the next version. And the next. –Kill me now? (please don’t)–

Will the madness ever end? Probably not. Do I want it to? Out of convenience, yes, for the sake of society, not really.

But to get back on topic–really guys, I need to motivate myself to spend some time on here cleaning things up. And we should all motivate ourselves to be more productive in general. 

And then when we’ve finally conquered everything on our to-do lists, we can get together and ride unicorns into the beachy sunset.

Until next (Friday now, apparently) time-

Yours truly,

tlc

*The video linked above was a prank video some friends of mine did while we spent half a summer in Britain on a study abroad trip. 

Torchwood and the Death Penalty

As I promised in my last blog, I am keeping up on these weekly posts!  I still have not decided whether to set an official weekly posting day; I guess we’ll see what day I end up posting most frequently and go from there.  Anywho, I thought today I’d write about something that has been on my mind ever since I took a human rights course two years ago this fall: The Death Penalty.  It’s not a particularly light subject, so I thought, what better way to talk about an issue than through the lens of television and popular culture? Okay, okay, give it half a chance. I’m just as curious to see how this turns out as you are (despite your lack of interest, pretend to be just as curious as I am, for my sake?)

As is a typical and unsurprising habit of mine, I have been using my free time this summer to get caught up on several television shows (Marvelous use of time, isn’t it?–Well perhaps for this post’s sake, yes).  One show that I have become particularly keen on is Doctor Who.  In fact, I fell in love with the show so much that at Christmas time (after only having seen the first season of the new “regeneration” of the show–2005, ninth Doctor: Christopher Eccleston) I got so excited about all the Doctor Who gifts my sister-in-law was giving to my brother that I unintentionally made both her and my brother feel bad about not having bought any Doctor Who items for me (so, if anyone reading this would like to send me a sympathy sonic screwdriver, I would have no objections).

Jumping forward to now, having caught up on the most recent episode of the new series, I’ve returned to finish the one spin-off series of the show that I’ve started: Torchwood.  Now, there are several Doctor Who spin-off series–seven or eight official ones, not counting the numerous special appearances, special episodes, and special-everythings that include Comic Relief and other charities, comedy shows with guest appearances, and even a very special episode of Britain’s “The Weakest Link” (I spend way too much time bored on Youtube). Torchwood, however, is the only spin-off that I have so far allowed myself the time to get into. Eventually, assuming I don’t ever let my inner child and sci-fi nerd grow up, I will watch all the rest, and then I will become the most Whovian, nerdy, knowledgeable Doctor Who fan around (or at least, that’s what I will obnoxiously and–unfortunately–uninhibitedly claim to everyone).

Alright, I know, now you’re wondering: How in the world does this relate to the death penalty? And why?

Well, to first satisfy your leeriness about watching the show, if you were considering it before I tied it so desperately to this controversial subject, I don’t think the writers ever intended the show to make any statement about the death penalty. As a typical English major would do, I’ve taken it upon myself to connect the dots between what was said and done, and what no one ever probably wanted it to mean, and I’m applying that into a life lesson here. Or maybe just a political and moral opinion.

Okay, so a bit of background:  Torchwood is a spin-off series that started its main character’s story line–Captain Jack Harkness–in the first season of the new series of Doctor Who, but began airing around the start of the third season of the new series (at least, that’s how the timing of the two different show’s story lines line up, roughly). Torchwood is Britain’s defense against alien invaders–it was a government-affiliated institution until the (spoiler alert!) Cybermen and Daleks essentially destroyed it in the finale of the second season of the new series.  Now our lead, Captain Jack Harkness, and Gwen Cooper, the determined, mouthy, and head-strong, bad-ass female lead, protect the world from alien invasions and investigate disturbing and seemingly extraterrestrial crimes in typical CSI fashion (sort-of) from the tucked-away Cardiff branch of the facility.  Or, at least, they did through the first and second seasons.  In the third season (which aired in five-part, hour-long specials) the Cardiff branch is destroyed and Torchwood is essentially decimated, to the point that the one character working for Torchwood who was not a lead and hadn’t been (spoiler alert!) killed off in the second season, Ianto, is killed.  At the end of the specials, Gwen and Jack part ways, presumably to let their emotional scars heal and learn to live their new lives, post-Torchwood.  But I’m not really concerned with any of these seasons.  What I’m really interested in here is the fourth season.

That’s right, Torchwood has a fourth season.  It’s interesting to see that the show developed so far into what it did, considering that after both the second and third seasons the show seemed to be saying, “Okay, we’re done now. You can leave it be–no, just leave it–stop, okay! Just leave it–well, alright, maybe one more.”

But I digress.  Despite my initial disappointment in the show’s “Americanization” by being brought over seas (and also just the general feeling of overdone-ness) I concern myself with it in this blog because it has a morality to it that fits really well into the conversation about the death penalty.

Now, I’m not going to lie; I am wholeheartedly, and unashamedly, against the death penalty.  No one should have the right to end another person’s life intentionally, even in the name of the law.  The fourth season of Torchwood, entitled, “Miracle Day,” strikes this chord right at it’s heart.  The season centers on the “miracle day”–the day no one died, and everyone started living forever, and attempting to investigate the cause of the miracle day, and to stop it, before the world goes bizonkers.  In the midst of time between the  miracle starting and Torchwood stopping it, the world turns into quite the dystopian novel–population numbers rise above sustainable rates, hospitals are over-flowing, the stock market crashes, concentration camps are set-up for the sick and injured, and those dubbed category ones–those who should be dead, though they are still living–are burned alive to regulate population numbers.   All the while, these injustices are felt most deeply because, as Gwen Cooper so elegantly puts it, “No one should have the right to control death.”

And isn’t that why murder is so bad, anyways?  Someone has taken it under their control to determine another person’s life, and subsequently, death.  They have taken another person’s right to life out of that person’s hands–out of the hands of life and fate–and made it their own right to take that life away.

But isn’t that just what we do with the death penalty, too?  There is debate about whether a person is entitled to their basic human rights–including their own right to life–when they commit a vile act like murder.  But as a modern, civilized society, shouldn’t we know by now that an eye for an eye is a barbaric justice system? The New Testament knows it. Heck, you could even argue that the old testament knows it. But I’m really not here to argue a religious reasoning for or against the death penalty.  I’m here to state some facts and statistics about why the death penalty is not only barbaric, it’s inefficient, unjust, and ultimately more expensive than life in prison, and thus try to convince a few more readers why getting rid of the death penalty would be one more step away from the dystopian world that Torchwood: Miracle Day portrays.

1) Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right: While I can’t begin to imagine the pain and horror that must be felt by the loved ones and families of murder victims, and I’m sure that if I knew that feeling, I would myself feel the blood-curdling hate and horror against that person who committed such a terrible crime, I am also glad that I live where a justice system doesn’t rely upon my vengeful spite.  However, the death penalty is essentially that–a blind retribution of the crime against a perpetrator.  As Amnesty International puts it, “It imitates and compounds the crime it condemns.”  And frankly, the thought of a murderer also being a ‘victim’ sickens me.

2) Frightening Flaws: The death penalty in the United States has a frightening amount of evidence against its flawed system.  According to Amnesty International, 70% of cases are overturned because of serious legal error, and just since 1973 alone, 135 people have been exonerated on the evidence of their innocence.  Even so, many people are put to death on limited and often sketchy evidence of their guilt, and with new forensic science developments, some have even had convincing cases made for their innocence–too late.  Amnesty International states that, “the most reliable predictors of who gets sent to death row are a defendant’s economic status, the victim’s race, and the jurisdiction where the crime occurred.”  So, like what seems to affect much of the justice system in this country, there seems to be some underlying  racial and economic factors that determine whether a person’s life is worth saving. Even as a white, middle-class American, I am uncomfortable with those implications about our society.

3) America is Behind the Times:  As Americans, we pride ourselves in being on top of the game; a leading military force, economic force, and governmental system.  But it seems that as we grow more stubborn–yearning for this false idea of the “Golden Years,” some mystical past time where everything was much better (here’s a hint: it doesn’t exist)–and attempt to revert back to older ways of thinking and governing, we fall farther and farther behind in the modern world, both in new developments economically and governmentally, and in our title as a leading nation. Presently, two-thirds of countries around the world have eliminated the death penalty.  Even in the U.S., some states have begun to recognize the staggering costs and inefficiencies of the death penalty, as well as the fact that most criminologists agree that capital punishment does not deter murder.

4) Capital Costs: According to Amnesty International, New Jersey saves about $11 million annually, since abolition of the death penalty in 2007.  An estimated $126 million/yr would be saved by California, and $51 million/yr by Florida.  According the the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, the estimated median cost of a case ending in a death penalty is $1,200,000, while the estimated median cost of a case not ending in death penalty is $740,000.  I don’t know about you, but it seems to me like this money could go to a much more effective use in crime control and our judicial systems, especially in the economic state of America currently.

In Torchwood: Miracle Day, one of the leading characters happens to be a man who was put to death on the day of the miracle.  Naturally, he survived and becomes a national celebrity and spokes person for this new, never-ending life.  However, as a pedophile and child-murderer, he is despised by all and often comes across violent interactions with those who meet him.  And though he so publicly makes clear his pleasure at being alive, the viewer discovers over time that the man wants nothing more than to die.  Not only does he face disgust, humiliation, and torture from everyone he meets, he is internally tortured by his own mind and his inability to understand that he cannot make a new life for himself after the crimes he has committed.  In this case, in the end, death comes as a pleasant gift to him.  Wouldn’t it be more of a punishment, after committing such a horrible crime, for the man to live out the rest of his life behind bars, having to wrestle everyday with the idea of the type of man he has become? Wouldn’t it be more humane and moral, as well, to give the perpetrator the rest of his life to peacefully come to terms with himself and his crime, if he is able?  While I don’t wish to dive into the moral and religious arguments for or against capital punishment, isn’t  wholly, unspecified or categorized forgiveness what we are aiming for in the end? Not only for ourselves, but for others as well?  There is no doubt we must keep society safe on the whole; that does not mean that we need to enact upon others what they enact upon us, for both humane and financial reasons.

*If you would like to learn more about Amnesty International and their case against the Death Penalty, visit www.amnestyusa.org/abolish

*If you would like to learn more about the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, visit www.ksabolition.org

*If you’d like to learn more about Torchwood, just Google or Netflix it.