Wednesday, November 18, 2009

An Education on Having it All

People are faced with it all the time - choosing between being a career woman or a mother. Choosing between being successful or happy. Choosing between being rich or moral. In "An Education", the lead character Jenny (Carey Mulligan) finds herself in that kind of a predicament at the very young age of 16. Should she follow the path she's been on forever and attend Oxford
University or should she stay with her much older boyfriend and live the life she's wanted to live forever? Fancy dinners, exquisite clothes, beautiful cars, impressive art galleries, grand theater productions, lavish vacations... all these things make Jenny re-think her plan. My question, however, is why can't Jenny have both? Likewise, why can't we all have both? Can't mothers be successful in the workforce AND incredible moms to their kids? Can't people achieve true success in their field AND be happy? I think we can. Sure, it may be a challenge at times and it may be hard work, but I don't think it is too much to ask to have it all. So, next time someone says "Well, you can't have it all", I'm going to say "Oh, yeah?" and prove them wrong. What are YOU going to do?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Life Not So Precious

"Precious" is a film about a Harlem teenager in the 1980s suffering through a life that is far from precious. This film inspires so much thought, it's almost impossible to choose a topic to discuss. "Precious" touches on the failures of our education system, obesity, bullying, physical abuse, mental abuse, HIV, teen pregnancy, problems with our welfare system, incest and giving birth to babies fathered by the woman's own father - just to name a few. Each topic is huge enough and important enough to have entire books written on the subject, but for this book of sorts, I'm going to focus on mothers, who know their husbands or boyfriends are having sex with their daughter for years and simply stand by and let it occur. How can this happen? A mother carries her baby inside her body for nine months - that child is truly a part of her. What kind of person stands by knowing that the person she brought into the world is being raped by her man (or any man for that matter) and allows it? As hard as this film is to watch at times, as far-fetched as some may think it is, the devastating truth is that this is not as uncommon as you may think or want to believe. While the rapist is clearly the perpetrator, isn't the mother just about as guilty? She could have stopped it. Mothers are supposed to risk their own safety to save their child in a disaster situation. Isn't incest one of the biggest disasters around? What happens in a person's mind that they can rationalize their actions and believe that not doing anything is acceptable? In what world would that ever be o.k.? Not in any world I'd like to live in.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Assumption, I Hate You

"Looks can be deceiving." "You can't judge a book by its cover." We've all heard these phrases throughout our lifetime, but for some reason, people continue to stereotype and often get the wrong idea. In "New York, I Love You", we see this all too common real-life problem. The film is a collection of stories about various people living, working and playing in New York. Each story has its own writer and director. In the story written and directed by Natalie Portman (though she only appears onscreen in another vignette), we see a Cuban man named "Dante" walking through Central Park with a little Caucasian girl named "Teya". We can tell that they are close and get along very well. They share some very sweet moments. At one point, they go to a section of the park, where two Caucasian women tell him that he's really good with her and that it's rare to see that kind of bond between a "manny" (male nanny) and their charge. The women mean it as a compliment, but the man (played by Carlos Acosta) doesn't really respond. He seems to be reflecting on what they've said. Fast forward to a later scene when we realize that Dante is the little girl's father. Her mother is Caucasian and we never find out whether the child was adopted or just didn't inherit any of her father's coloring, but that doesn't matter. This happens all the time. We see a Hispanic woman in the middle of a weekday pushing a stroller with a Caucasian child sitting in it and people automatically think the woman is the maid or nanny. Could she be the child's mother? Of course! We see a man in his 60s with a child and people assume he's the grandfather. Could he be the father? Of course! We see a man in his 80s with a gorgeous woman in her 30s and assume they're father/daughter. Could they be married? Of course! We see a man and woman about the same age holding hands with two young children and people assume that the woman is their mother. Could the woman be his girlfriend and not his wife? Of course! We see a man and a woman together at a wedding and people think they're going out or married. Could they be brother and sister? Of course! No matter how many times we see Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with their ethnic children or hear of a gay couple having a child together, people continue to jump to conclusions. When will people truly become open-minded and see life as it really is? When will people stop making seemingly positive comments that end up insulting or hurting someone else? Please forgive me for my assumption, but I think we have a long way to go and a short time to get there.