Dizzy Disney Princess

Oh there are so many posts and blogs and articles about Disney Princesses and how these are weak, stupid females setting wrong examples to children. For a long time, I didn’t particularly think of these obviously-fiction characters as role models. They were bed time stories and that was it. 

I received a book of feminist stories when I was perhaps 14. The books had an interesting twist on the common stories that we read. Little Red Riding Hood did not wait for someone to come and cut her out of the Wolf’s stomach. She chopped the wolf to pieces herself. Cindrella did not end up marrying the prince – the guy who was so blinded by the lights that he couldn’t really recognize the woman he claimed he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

15 Terrible Love Lessons We Learned From Disney Princesses

Some of these stories were very clearly written for older women. But even if I had heard them as a kid, would it have made an difference to me as a woman? 

I don’t think hearing the traditional (non-Grimm Brothers) versions of these stories scarred me in any way or made me sit and wait for my Prince Charming to rescue me. Perhaps that is also because of other role models I had. 

I know several kids in today’s generation who fawn over the Disney Princess. They have Disney Princess lunchboxes, CDs, backpacks, pencil cases, t-shirts and their rooms are painted in the candiest pink you can find. It is disturbing. Because with all that pink, the girls also seem to be having a definition of what being a ‘girl’ means, even at the tender age of 7 or 8 years old. They wants a ‘girl-specific’ bike, they want a barbie and not a remote-controlled car.

15 Terrible Love Lessons We Learned From Disney Princesses

It makes me wonder – was I one of the exceptions to be influenced by these stories? Do these stories seep into our psyche in manners that are seen only later? 

Do children really believe that if they are trapped in a glass box, a prince will come and break them out of that box? Do they believe that waiting is a virtue? That singing songs in the rain will really be heard by a passing stranger, who then will be nice enough to help you?

I’d like to believe that these fairy tales are just that – fantasy. I probably dreamed more about being in The Hobbit and fighting dragons more than being in a Princess trapped in a boring life of song and high ceilings. But perhaps when these stories are being made into movies, it is more dangerous than letting your own imagination fly.

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The Man By The Tree

It dripped slowly, savoring the long journey from the tip of the nose to the ground. It was a moment to be savored… this pale sunlight in the peak of winter, as snow and ice covered every attainable surface. The drop of water was a sign of victory of warmth over cold, and the drop savored it. 

The sheen of ice over the skin made it seem like a statue. A marble statue, gone to mold a little bit but standing strong and still, nevertheless.

Joggers ran past this human statue, barely glancing at it. It was a part of the tree, the ice, the cold and they were intent on those little devices attached to their wrists, making every step seem like a reward. They chanted in their heads “one more step” and promised themselves hot coffee and rich bagels once they were home. Such a heavy winter, they thought, feeling self righteous to be out running at all this cold morning.

But the drop of water continued, fighting for its right to seep into the ground and probably become ice once more as the evening set. 

He had been a pretty man once. Tall, fair and pretty. Of course, the word pretty would have made him angry, like it would for any self-respecting man. His posture reflected that… the self righteousness. Rigid he stood but one could wonder if that was the rigidity death imposed or he had imposed on himself before he gave himself to death. His face was a mask, sheathed with ice. The eyes were serious, looking straight ahead into the path he perhaps took. 

If one were an artist, they would try to capture him the way he was. He was never so regal in life, and would never be seen as such once discovered. They would call him a victim, they would shed tears and perhaps raise a toast to some good moments. There were a few good moments, and some hearty ones too. He was, after all, a decent man, even if unremarkable. 

Would he have chosen a different pose, if he had known it would be his last one? Would it have been leaning against that tree, staring into the distance? Of course, the ice made it all seem regal and shiny. But another drop of water had found its way to freedom and was following its predecessor fast down the nose. What would be left when all the water found victory? The last gleam of life, giving a shine to his skin or the victory of death lending its unique glow to his cheeks?

The Hobbit

I first discovered Hobbits when I was 12. I had not heard of Tolkien then and was quite happily living in Narnia, when I discovered Middle Earth.

For an extremely bored, annoyed 12-year old, The Hobbit was a beautiful discovery of dragons, little men, dwarves and adventure. Surprisingly, I don’t remember all the details of the book, except for the musty yellow pages and a book cover that has been changed many times over now.

I waited nearly two decades for the movie to be released, praying that Peter Jackson would be the one to direct it.

Peter Jackson remains true to the book. The Lord of the Ring series captured every painstaking detail of the book, yet managed to keep it simple. A book like LOTR was perhaps always meant to be made into a movie. The human brain tends to fizzle out when reading the entire book in one sitting. But while LOTR is big – big lords, big wars and bigger evils, The Hobbit is still in its infancy, as a book and as the movie.

The movie’s advance technology (which apparently people have been cribbing about) seemed quite awesome. This would perhaps feel overwhelming in a scene of sheer chaos, but when the fights are smaller and the characters are not as evil, it feels good to watch. It took me a while to adjust to the simpler plot. We kept expecting those big armies of elves etc.

The movie also seems a little inspired by Star Wars, particularly the Goblin King who resembles Jabba the Hutt, including that slightly sarcastic way of talking. Before people begin criticizing it, please do remember that this was a book for the kids.

And Gollum aka Smeagol… is it ironic that of all the awesome characters in the movie, we come out imitating Gollum and his precioussss and the talking styleses? He is creepy, vulnerable, calculative and absolutely, delightfully unpredictable. It would be worth watching the movie just for this one, schizophrenic scene between Smeagol and Bilbo Baggins. Of course, we could rave about the technology that made the 6 foot 1″ Richard Armitage as Thorin (quite majestically though… almost makes up for not having Aragorn in the movie) and other things.

But this is only the beginning and there are two other parts to go… quite a feat to stretch a small book into three parts without making it seem boring or long. And the movie, which is only 2 hours and 50 minutes and NOT 4 hours as some say, leaves you longing for the next part.

Here’s to the hobbitses.

Leaving you with the Soundtrack 

The Man They Thought They Knew

When he walked in first, he announced that he would not stay. Nobody would’ve paid attention if not for the manner in which he said it. He wanted people to hear that he wouldn’t stay. He walked to the back of the room and sat in a table, ordering a cup of tea. People sneaked looks at him. Everyone came here, nobody intended to stay. Nobody said that loud either. They all hung around as long as they wanted to or their wallets allowed them to. Nobody spoke much in this room either unless they specifically came here for conversation.

Some were here looking for peace. Some looking for trouble. Some just to see the world and some because they had no where else to go. Even if you didn’t know who the other person was, you would recognize him. The type you know. Like calls to like. It was, after all, just another tea room.

When he walked in, nobody could place him though they all thought they knew him… from somewhere. Maybe he is like a guy on TV, the woman by the window thought. There were so many of them on TV these days and most of them paid the directors to take them in instead of the other way, like the way it used to be and should be, she said to her companion. Her companion agreed and they forgot about him.

Maybe he was the guy who lived next door, the man thought. He had never spoken to his neighbors. Pesky people would always want something. He nodded to them everyday and they to him and he felt superior that he did not get involved in the humdrum daily gossip affairs of everybody else. He heard the snippets of what everyone was upto. When he was buying his biscuits from the bakery he would hear quite a lot of gossip simply because the baker was incredibly slow in his work, mainly because he was gossiping non stop or receiving information. Or when he stood on the terrace exercising, the two women did their stretches and caught up on what their neighbours were doing. But this one guy who just moved in surpassed the man by not even bothering to keep in touch with those snippets. he was never heard, seen or cared about. well he didn’t care. the others did. maybe this was him. the man started to think about what he had heard about the guy…

the kid-man in the corner knew the guy was rich. who else could afford a watch like that and the phone the man was frowning at. Teenagers knew such things, painfully, as they could never afford them as it seemed. despite, or perhaps because of that, they knew what were the latest models in the market of every gadget and exactly by how many thousands it was beyond their reach. he wondered if the man would let him peek into the gadget he had. It looked like a 120 gig model that could handle wireless from where he was sitting but considering the watch was high end, it could be better. He craned his neck for a better look when he girlfriend walked in and he pretty much forgot about everything else.

The girlfriend noticed the guy right off. Model she thought. Older men were always attractive, especially if they were young enough. Exec hiding out of the rain or wanting a place to make a few quick calls, she thought. of course, if they were private calls this would be the best place. how many people would actually care in a dump like this, she thought, flipping her hair back and completely oblivious to the glances she got when she walked in. Everybody looked, catalogued, grouped and looked away.

But they all looked. They all looked at the guy when he walked in and he sat. They flipped and flipped and there was a glimmer of recognition but nobody could peg him. A kid rocked on his chair, while his parents whispered furiously about something amidst themselves. He slowly played with a little ball on his hand, letting it bounce on the table and considered letting it drop on the floor to chase. He watched the man walk in, announce he wasn’t staying and go sit. He watched and watched. He let the ball lie still on the table, cupping his hands around it. the boy shook his head, watching the server deliver a cup of tea to the man and walk away. He got up, carefully picked up the metal box on the table, opened his little backpack and pulled out a white box. he put his ball away, his parents wouldn’t after all buy him another one if he lost this so soon. then he walked to the man, balancing both in his little hands. He put the white box and the metal one in front of the man and ran back to his table, even as the man watched. He picked up the glass of water and carefully walked back and sat on the chair next to him.

“Give me your hand. If you don’t wash away the blood and put medicene, it will get be infected. I know how to do it. They taught me in school to give first aid.” the boy said, pulling out a tissue from the metal box. The man looked at him surprised for a minute, then at the little homemade white box with the red cross on top. Then held out his bruised hands and sighed “I fell off my bike”.

Where is the “coming soon” – stuff that leave you hanging

You know what I hate? Waiting.

Particularly for a sequel of a book, a movie or a sitcom where you need it to find out what happens next. I stopped watching serials on TV because they’d always leave you hanging at the end. They resolve one issue and just as you settle down in satisfaction they create another problem and leave you hanging for a whole week in anguish.

So I took to watching sitcoms in bulk. Wait till it has peaked, rent the entire fricking series and watch it. Unless it was something fun like Friends.

I was reading this book Eragon (by Christopher Paolini). I first discovered this book over an year ago. 3 books in the series had come out and though Eragon starts off quite slow, it is catching. By the end of the second book, you really want to know how the bad guy is killed and what happens to Eragon and his dragon, Saphira. In most of the fantasy books, the good guy kills the bad one and he takes over the throne. The woman, be she elf, dwarf or human, will be by his side and if he had another sort-of fling in all the adventure, she’s killed somewhere (did Bollywood copy that idea or was it the other way).

But in Eragon, you wonder who’ll be the woman… because there is the elf, who is hey! sexy and smart, and there is a witch. And there are a few other women who could have the option too. So the author needs to decide what he’ll tweak and why. Except Paolini is either living off the money from the first 3 or has a writer’s block, but there has been no book or an announcement of the book since the last one – Brisingr – was published in 2008.

I would’ve thought Random House would’ve come up with something or the other. The first book was even made into a movie, which fell a little flat. The dragon was beautiful in it but the rest really needed some work. I didn’t watch the whole movie… but then to be fair, much of the action in book occurs towards the second half too.

Anyway, so now i am just plain frustrated about waiting for this 4th book – for what was supposed to be set of 3 in the first place. Public memory’s short Mr.Paolini.

Another thing I got tired of waiting was How I Met Your Mother. I know technically the sitcom ends when he meets the mother… but hey! I so badly wanna know!!!

Efficiency is deeply appreciated in matters like this. Imagine if they’d made a Star Wars movie where we had to wait for another 10 years to know Hans lived or not when he was… cemented. Or if Indiana Jones survived a jump off some cliff. Indian movies in particular love this “returning to life” philosophy, which unfortunately has bled into serials as well. I laughed like a loon when one of those K-serials bought back a guy they’d killed off simply because the public loved him and they said “he met with an accident and had amnesia”. Bah!

This is why I loved Harry Potter. I knew the date when the next book was coming out by the time I was done reading the current one. It was a bit of a disappointment to see it end… (though I hated the 6th book! What the hell was all the snogging about? It maybe Brit but the word reminds me of pigs kissing… not to mention it didn’t deserve a whole book!). I don’t particularly care about the movies… the first 3 were a joke right from the casting of Dumbledore and the way they ‘modified’ the script… and then realised they’d have to chop out whole lots of stuff from the sequels because there was no way to go back and explain all of that again – and the bits they chopped was what gave the series its charm. The 4th was good animation… least you could forget about Harry Potter books and watch it as a movie. 5th was brilliant and now they plan to chop up the snogging book into two??? Whatever for?!? Two whole movies of teenage kids kissing? Don’t we have enough of that already?

Imagine if Peter Jackson had decided to do this to Lord of The Rings. After he’d been cursed and chopped up by the fans, he’d never have won all those Oscars. The books were a hit for a reason. They are cults. If they had decided to say.. hey! we don’t need those two other midgets… oops, hobbits… in the movie – there never would have been a Fellowship.

And the last of the latest hit series – Twilight. Who likes it? If you are a fan, stop reading this now. There have been various articles talking about the ‘teenage psychological significance’ about the book. BS. Right. The best though I think was something I read recently about how Bella was an empty shell of a girl. she is described so very vaguely that any teenage girl could say “hey that’s me. i have bad days… days where I feel blue. I have a crush on this gorgeous guy in school who doesn’t look at me” – does that sound familiar. Of course it does!!! It is every teenage girl, including perhaps Cindy Crawford, Giselle and Sushmitha Sen. And then the guy who is supposed to be the ‘dream boy’ – he is always by her side, moons over her, watches her sleep and has sweet smelling breath (and no problem of BO). Pfft!

No wonder it was a hit. I didn’t have a problem with the veggie vampires but I just wanted to shake Bella and bitch slap her and say “woman get a life!!” It is a little stupid how she keeps moaning about being invisible when there are at least 3 guys fighting for her hand. Would it really scar the pysche of teens? I don’t know. I mean Harry Potter didn’t send all the kinds to find wands and dragons and stuff. It is a book… but it just reinforces stereotypes so much!!! Weak girl. Strong boy who always comes to the rescue, even if he caused the problem in the first place and is dead.

Okay maybe I get what those critics were talking about. It is extremely passive aggressive and unhealthily dependent. Not to mention – every teenage girl starts wanting a guy like that even if he were dead. Would be so much easier to dream about Johny Depp. Least there is more of a chance of that maybe happening… you could be stranded on an island and he could be… and in the couple of hours it takes for the coast guard to locate you via GPS, you can have an interesting time.

Anyway, which is the book/movie/sitcom you gave up waiting on? Or wished had never been published. My vote for latter seriously goes for Twilight!

And has anyone ever managed to finish The Wheel of Time?

Song of the day: RadioHead – Karma Police

The Princess

Princess she was called.

But she wondered why that was her name. Everyone had a title and so did she, but she never felt she fit the role. She wore slippers of silk and robes studded with diamonds. She never had to worry about losing the rubies in her tiara or the wallet filled with notes.

Nor were the gardens and the flowers to be planted her concern.

Like she didn’t have to worry about cleaning her room, having her car serviced, paying her insurance on time, or having to shop for groceries.

No, she did not have any of those concerns and worries. She was the princess.

So she often sat in her room and wondered – why was she the princess when she did not have anything to do?

Why was she the Princess when no one allowed her to make her decisions? Why was she the Princess when everything she did was fodder for the press and everybody believed only the worst of her?

“Your job is to tell other people what to do and how to do it,” her mother said.

And when she started doing that, she realised that she would rather do all the other chores and leave that one little task to someone else.