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Archive for May, 2009

[Edit: Cross-posted sa Racialicious. Makisali sa diskusyon.]

Let me get this out of the way first. This is not a movie review. It is a review of movie reviews about Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay. Spoilers follow, though the title pretty much tells you what you’re gonna get.

kinatay

Last weekend, Filipino director Brillante Mendoza won the best director award at the  Cannes Festival for the movie Kinatay (“Slaughtered“). Mendoza’s win was a surprise, considering how Kinatay is probably, as Prometheus Brown puts it, the most hated film at Cannes.

Exerpts from Maggie Lee’s synopsis and review at The Hollywood Reporter:

Newly married Peping, who attends the police academy, receives an offer via text message to make a fast buck with a shady friend. By nightfall, he is in a van with a group of vicious gangsters who have kidnapped a bar hostess to demand a loan repayment under orders from an elusive general…

The real time pacing, feels like being stuck in a traffic jam, but the dramatic thrust is relentless as one hears through the muffled darkness, the woman being gagged and beaten mercilessly. The horror escalates to rape, murder and dismemberment. None of this is left to the imagination, with the men’s verbal sexism being equally distasteful.

That was a positive review. (See here to view Kinatay excerpts, and here for a round-up of reviews and more background on the film.)

Roger Ebert’s review, charmingly titled “What were they thinking of?”,   is typical of how critics who hated Kinatay approached the movie. There is hardly any discussion of the merits of the movie itself, and instead a whole lot of indignation over the unpleasantness that viewers were subjected to:

It is Mendoza’s conceit that it his Idea will make a statement, or evoke a sensation, or demonstrate something–if only he makes the rest of the film as unpleasant to the eyes, the ears, the mind and the story itself as possible…

No drama is developed. No story purpose is revealed…

Ebert adds that:

the sad thing is, the opening scenes in his film give promise of being absorbing and even entertaining.

How dare a film expose its audience to a woman’s violent murder and dismemberment? A form of violence against women that, by the way, happens not infrequently in the Philippines?

And how dare the film depict this violence in a way that is unpleasant, rather than entertaining?

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Outside

It’s been a pretty cool but intense semester, both online and off. I’m in a couple of postcolonial theory classes, so my offline writing has gotten way too cultural-lit, although there’s been a lot of valuable reading that I eventually hope to incorporate. One of those po-co theory classes has been particularly tense, because it’s an anthro class full of defensive white anthropology students who are “interested” in Africa.

So when the weather turned nice around mid-March, I got on my mountain bike and went riding. My unconscious plan was to ride away from all this for a while, to ride deep into the trails where there are no people, and to get away. I’d only read bicycle blogs and discussion groups and just go into bicycle stores and I will totally avoid arguing about race or class or gender or sexuality and just ride ride ride.

Hala, that was just privilege on my part, because you don’t get away from this. One of the most obvious points–there are hardly any people of color riders. Okay, I take that back. There’s me, there’s a Black rider, there’s my partner. A few more poc here and there, but this is Los Angeles, so the dearth of people of color on the trails is quite noticeable. The cost of a good mountain bike and the lack of proximity to the trails are factors that immediately come to mind. Not everyone has the luxury of spending hours on the trail. The necessary accessories like a good helmet and padded shorts can also be expensive.
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Not mine. The blog’s.

I totally missed the first blog-anniversary, in fact, since Tanglad was born in April 2008. It’s been a cool year. I look back at what I previously wrote. Some of it, I’m happy about. Some of it makes me cringe.

But I’m happy that I’m writing and thinking. I’m happy to be in conversation with people who are helping me struggle through these issues. Salamat for all that.

Some people stumbled onto this blog googling for lemongrass and tanglad, but there are also searches for feminism, capitalism, women of color, export processing zones. Then there are other interesting and recurrent search terms, like:

  • “Is militant angeleno filipino?” [My answer: I don’t know.]

And some disturbing ones, like “killing [racial slur]” Wtf? Why would a search like that land here?

And some funny/puzzling ones:

  • throwing knives events
  • gay boots
  • fake vasectomy certificate

I wonder what searches are coming.

What’s been your most amusing or surprising search term?

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(Late reflections for Mother’s Day)

Of all the made-up commercial holidays, Mother’s Day, for me, is the least irritating. After all, if I was going to be guilted into blowing money on cards, flowers, and the obligatory brunch, at least it was going to be for Mom. So to moms everywhere, y’all rock.

And this goes double for the moms we do not celebrate on Mother’s Day — the ones  who get painted as fiscally and sexually irresponsible, the deviant  mothers who are subjected to discipline and sanction.

For decades, the deviant mother has served as a convenient scapegoat for state ills. As Anna  Marie Smith has observed, “the State lays the blame for poverty at the door of the deviant mother who is ideologically constructed as black, heterosexual, unmarried, and sexually precocious.” These are the mothers who are somehow painted as undeserving.

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