We’re in 1977 divided Berlin and a young girl named Patricia manically enters her psychiatrist, Dr. Klemperer’s, office. She curls into the fetal position of his chair muttering of how she was groomed to be “perfect” by the heads of the famous Markos Tans Dance Company. She twitches squirrelishly and sees eyes on everything, tossing albums and books about to avoid their all-seeing gaze. She hears voices in her head. In an Arthur Miller manic episode she shouts “Witches!” and Dr. Klemperer writes down that her psychological state is diminishing. The camera then shifts to a dying woman in rural America as Thom Yorke’s melancholic score creeps into the background. This is Susperia (2018)– not a remake of the 1977 Argento film, but something meant to hold its own. And while it’s a horror film first, it also supplies a healthy step in the right direction for women in film as well.
Overall, it’s been a relatively hopeful time for women in movies and television. With the reincarnation of DC’s Wonder Woman and the excitement trailing the upcoming release of Captain Marvel, it’s safe to say that women are getting more lead time in mainstream film. Strength and autonomy radiate from female protagonists who, in many ways, embody the quintessential feminist narrative. The Buffys and Lara Crofts. The Salts and Mrs. Smiths. The Jill Valentines and Female Commander Shepards. All of them powerful and independent. None of them objectified in their creation. It’s inspiring to think that young women can see these characters and realize that there is a relatable strength within them – characters that previously only reflected a shallow sense of service to the plot; it’s even better to see men embracing them as protagonists as well. But Susperia is unique because, even though it could be considered an empowering feminine narrative, it’s not about a heroine—and it’s that’s tremendously important to promote. Being strong in the physical sense – being able to defend oneself and throw a car across a room – is still, at least initially, a man’s idea of strong.
It’s 10 p.m. and one of my best friends and I decide to compulsively go buy about thirty dollars’ worth of flowers. We did this often–impulse buying after stressful days at work. Flowers are practical. And so is that nail polish with self-imposed misogynistic names. Spontaneity kept our minds quasi-busy. The moment we sat down—the moment we stopped—that was when our minds would dwell on heartbreak and failure so seemingly ubiquitous in education.
While children sit in holding pens and parents are sent away — while lives are broken — we are sitting behind our screens debating the legality and blame of a horrific situation. We are blending and bending facts to our will when, by definition, facts should be defended as iron-clad objective reality. Lines that do not bend to petty rhetoric. The general argument surrounding immigration and detention is derailing us from the conversations we should be having. Instead of what is right or wrong, we need to shift to something akin to how do we fix this… or what are possible solutions? What is the damage we are causing? In the face of these questions, who did it and who could be arrested for it should be overshadowed by the blatant fact that it is happening in the first place.
A recent article written by Ben Shaprio stated that the media was “going insane” and “lying” over families being separated at the border. That these issues were present during the Obama era. That families entering the country legally were not separated and treated fairly. While Shaprio is not factually off, his points are moot and fallaciously non-sequitur. They are bait, meant to entice readers to partake in a cyclical examination of the current state of our immigration reformation and Trump’s no-tolerance policy. He covers no grey area and makes claims that easily fall into the binary of the political game.
Arm me with the ability to successfully teach; give me a task that is not impossible. Hire me in a position where I really do act as an educator instead of a babysitter or cog in a wheel. Allow me to make decisions and change in education, and take that ability away from people who have never stepped foot in the classroom. Respect me enough to trust my opinion and treat me as a professional. Stop giving us tasks that, at first brim with a tempting frothy hope, but then fade into hopelessness. My heart was so full before I took this job, and now it is simply bitter and angry at the field of education.
According to a press release from last September by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the suicide rate of veterans in the United States is 22% greater than non-veteran citizens. “We know that of the 20 [veteran] suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin in the report. “This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach.” Even without this data, it’s easy to see that war affects all lives intertwined with its pervasive web. Being deployed overseas is not a nine-to-five job; war doesn’t stop for coffee breaks or lunch dates. And, over the last few years, there is an increasing lack of belief in the support the VA can offer veterans returning home; a question in credibility that stemmed from whistle-blowers who, in 2015, made the claim that hundreds of thousands of veterans have died while on the VA’s waitlist for healthcare.
The rhetoric behind the click-bait title “I Went on a Date with Aziz Ansari. It Turned into the Worst Night of my Life” beacons a bias that is hard to ignore. Unfortunately, it attempts to evade its one-sidedness by milking current trends: predominately the progressive #MeToo movement that began in October 2017 with the Harvey Weinstein scandals. #MeToo is an international narrative of women speaking openly about sexual assault and mistreatment in the workplace–something women are often reticent to discuss amidst threats of unemployment, the ambiguity of sexual violence, and the unfortunate stigma that follows these things.
How language is manipulating our thoughts and why it is drastically important to teach.
The trouble with words is that, regardless of their size, whether they are salient or subtle, they matter. In their weightless form, they can move mountains and manipulate realities. They can inspire genocide and create peace. America’s national parks are built on their formless back. The Nazi Party was founded on their circulation (e.g., all race other than what Hitler deemed Arian were described as parasitic “bastard races” in schools). The anger, or hatred, or disdain you may feel toward our current political situation in the United States could be based on the graceful words from our president’s mouth, or his Twitter.
Some may argue that its financial downfall at the box office dooms the film as a failure — yet many critics deem Blade Runner 2049 the best film of the year. There is a strange dichotomy in thought here, as to what deems a film’s success: on one hand we have financial failure, perhaps not enough popcorn to draw in the casual fan; on the other, we have a resounding success as one of the best science fiction films of all time, thanks to the very thing that made it unfriendly toward the casual viewer: existential investigation.
In that case, Blade Runner 2049 succeeds. It is long. It is hard to digest. But, to that end, it takes the viewer on a philosophical exploration of the human soul. That exploration, hard though it may be, is all the more important in an age when we are inundated with mindless entertainment, instant gratification, and unreliable information (I write, as I sit in a café staring at a couple in conversation — the girl, uninterested, browsing through Instagram; the guy, attentive, stares in erudite longing at her “uh huh” responses).
I am in love with your crevices and quirks. The man vehemently dancing with a sign on the side of the road. My waiter at the bar as he slides me a glass of wine and asks me how I am and listens to the rants of a stranger. The nuanced movements of starlings in mirmiration. A funny and nostalgic conversation with my brother. The smell of hay. The apparition of breath in cold. Dancing with friends to Christmas music in the back of a truck. The resonating sound as a piano key is struck.