“Solving” the Poverty and “Secret Millionare”

I’m sitting around enjoying my Sunday afternoon. I enjoyed some quality (ahem) reality show America’s Next Top Model: Cycle 2.0 (with boyz!!), but I was all caught up, so there was only one episode. And I had a sleeping roommate on me, so I was too limited in my movement* to read articles, so I began exploring Hulu in search of other great shows (previous contenders have included House Hunters, but also Holidate, whose contract with Hulu has sadly expired). I had heard of Shark Tank and was sort of curious about it, since I’m getting to be a bit more interested in start ups, start up culture and the mechanics behind investment in them. Perhaps this show is a good way to explore that, even though it’s still reality. It was interesting, and I discovered that I MUST FIND THESE SWEET BALLZ, but there was also only one episode. Hulu recommended to me a show I had not heard of, ABC’s Secret Millionaire. So I watched the first episode.

I’m so conflicted. Continue reading

Spring Breakers: Insane, or Brilliant? [SPOILERS!!]

Tonight I got to play with Gypsy (improv group) at The Magnet for the Rundown, which was great fun, if not really amazing, and then after some shuffling of plans, ended up randomly seeing Spring Breakers, one of the new films James Franco is in. I’d listened to the Slate Culture Gabfest discussion of the film, and it kind of made me curious. And I’m actually super glad I saw it. And even more glad that I listened to their discussion of it before seeing it, because I feel like this is not a movie you should walk in blind to.

So first of all, I just want to describe the feel–flashy, lots of bright and obnoxious colors, fluorescent lights, and boobs and butts galore. So many bikinis. The opening scene is just girls shaking their butts and naked breasts with alcohol being sprayed all over them in the ocean and on the sand. And it was such a strange combination of titillating and yet really creepily not sexy at all. Like, it was too ostentatious to be really sexually appealing.

After stealing money from a local restaurant with a water gun and sledgehammer, the ladies go to St. Petersburg, FL to see a world different than what they’re used to. And meet Alien, Franco’s character, who is really into money and guns. And also shorts and cologne, much like this guy.

My favorite scene in the movie, and the moment I really started to believe this film is seriously satire was when three of the girls, dressed in one piece swim suits with generously cut out sides, ridiculous pink masks, sweat pants with “DTF” (Down To Fuck, for anyone not familiar with this phrase) printed on the butts, gently carrying AK-47s, stood around a gorgeous white baby grand piano at Alien’s house, by the pool, with an incredible ocean view. They ask him to play a sensitive song, and he proceeds to play (and sing) Britney Spears’ (an “angel on Earth, according to Alien) “Everytime.” This is perhaps the weirdest scene I’ve ever seen in a movie. The screenshot is used for one of the posters:

Spring Breakers, movie poster

 

Strange. Also a key that the movie is really not supposed to be taken seriously, in my opinion.

Subsequently, one of the girls gets shot in the arm by Alien’s enemy/childhood best friend. She goes home, and the other two girls seek revenge; Alien gets killed in the process, while the girls go on a shooting spree, leaving many of the gang the enemy is a part of, including him, dead. And then they go back to school.

There was lots of gratuitous violence/showing off of guns & cash, and MANY shots of boobs and butts, which were entirely unavoidable, sometimes boobs taking up the ENTIRE SCREEN. But my take is that that’s sort of the point. The film feels (and I don’t know how to explain this really, or why it is exactly) sexual, but in a dirty, creepy way, as I say. It feels like it’s forcing you to be turned on, if that makes sense? But like, not in a fun way. In a forceful, violent way. And through that violence, for lack of a better phrase, the film jolts you into recognizing how unfulfilling these things are, and how demoralizing the concept of spring break can be. Repetition is used throughout the film and creates sort of a strange alternate universe, particularly Alien saying, “Sprang braake 4eva.” It’s eery. The whole movie is. But I kind of loved it.

Black HIV Awareness Day

First of all, I am LOVing this song:

Second of all, it happens to be Black HIV Awareness Day. Usually I don’t get all excited about the things we do at work, but we had an event today, and it really was refreshing and a reminder of how I can love my job, and see that we are actually making a difference, which is pretty incredible. We watched this incredible video here:


It’s a bit long, but it is seriously incredible. I think it does a fantastic job of providing some explanation about how this particular population has such a horrific infection rate, and why it is quite literally invisible at a higher political level.

I will say that one of the biggest differences between 2006, when this piece was filmed, and today is President Barack Obama.  He is part black, and that doesn’t hurt, but he has, for whatever reason, created a National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which is the very first of its kind.  We discussed today how Bush funded $48 billion toward the global fight against HIV, and any country receiving any of that funding needed a national strategy/policy in place; we in the United States never had one until 2010.  Incredible.  But really, I highly recommend the piece on AIDS in Black American–it’s really well done and informative.

Cheers!