Sunday, March 26, 2017

He's Holding His Man and His Parents Mind But Not as Much As I Thought They Would

I recently watched the movie Holding the Man.

It's a romantic true story about two men, John Caleo (Craig Stott) and Tim Conigrave (Ryan Corr) who fall in love as teenagers during the 70's; then sadly die of AIDS in the 1990's.

The movie is based on the memoirs of Tim Conigrave.

What surprised me about the movie is the reaction of the parents to their sons being gay.  Three out the four of them seemed pretty cool with it.  Mr Caleo (Anthony LaPaglia) was not okay with his son being gay, but compared to what I'd expect in those days, he was pretty damn tame.

From the stories I've encountered about being gay in the 20th century, I've come to expect screams and cries of, You're going to rot in hell!  I picture young adults being kicked out of their houses, being told never to return.  I picture clothes, and other belongings, being dumped out of upstairs windows onto a picture-perfect lawn.

In other words, I pretty much tend to imagine 20th century parents of gay children all acting like they're members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Unfortunately, I'm sure many young gay men and women have had to endure Westboro-type parents. The movie did make me question how many, though.  Were most parents like that in the 1970's-1990's.  About half?  Just a few, but like Muslims they've been pigeon-holed into something awful?  

Now that I think more about it, I'm guessing I probably had two type of parents in my mind.  The first type would be the large majority. They would hate their child for being gay and send them away forever.  Then there'd be the rare, super progressive mom and dad who would be totally accepting. When they heard the news, they'd act happy-happy and have some kind of pot-smoking ceremony with their gay son or daughter.

I don't think I pictured there being a in-between those two groups, so the movie challenged my mind a bit.

Mr. Caleo does forbid John from dating Timothy. In the beginning of the relationship, he even threatens law action against Tim's family.  Still. In the movie, at least, it all feels a bit half-hearted.  It's kind of like when a mother declares the family is going to be eating only fresh fruit for dessert for now on; then a month later they're all eating ice-cream sundaes again.

Please don't be offended by my analogy. I'm not trying to say that being gay is like indulging in an unhealthy dessert, and that not-being-gay is all wholesome and healthy.   What I'm trying to convey is that the dad seemed firm with his uptight, conservative morals at first, but then seemed to reluctantly relax a bit.  He never welcomed Timothy into his heart, and he never acted okay with his son being gay.  But he was much more first-season-Jay-Pritchett than Westboro about the whole thing.

One thing I'm wondering, though, is if the Dad was more awful in real life—that this was conveyed in the book, but left out of the film.

Or maybe not.  Maybe Mr. Caleo was like the way he was portrayed in film.  If that's the case, I feel compelled to give him credit.  But then I worry. Am I being too lenient?  Are my expectations too low?

My expectations would be much higher today.  If a 21st century parent acted like Mr. Caleo, I'd see them as being a pathetic loser.

But for those days....

He didn't kick his son out of the house for being gay.

He never seemed to like Tim, but nor did he act like absolutely despised him.

He was there for John when he was dying of AIDS. Though he seemed to blame Tim for his son contracting AIDS, there were no dramatic scenes with him trying to kick Tim out of the hospital room.  Parents and partner were in the room, in sort of harmony, for the death scene.

Anyway....

I'm glad I watched the movie.  It opened my mind a bit. If I watched something like that in the 1980's, it would have probably been mind-opening in terms of sexuality.  But I'm a 21st century woman now. When it comes to sexuality, my mind is way opened.  But it MIGHT not be that open when it comes to parents of the bygone days, or about how families are different.

I saw parents of gay children in a stereotypical way, and now I'm more open to the fact that not everyone fits the extremes I had in my mind.

You know....

I'm thinking it's dumb I had these stereotypes. Why? My own parents. They were parents of teenagers in the 1980's and 1990's.  They've never been super progressive. But I can't imagine they'd ever disown us for being gay.  Like the parents in the movie, they'd reluctantly accept the whole thing.  I guess my image of the whole situation has been shaped more by the stories I've encountered than my own personal experiences.

I just thought of something else. It wasn't just the parents, in the movie, that were less homophobic than I expected.  John and Tim's classmates and teachers were as well.  There was some teasing and negative comments, but for the most part, the people seemed fairly okay with homosexuality.  There were no scenes of evil bullying.

Does the movie downplay homophobia?

Were John and Tim simply lucky...at least in that regard?

Is there less homophobia in the world than I've imagined?  I mean, actually the amount of homophobia I saw in the film, for the late 1970's is even less than what I imagine many teens encounter these days.

Well....I'm sure there are many variables.

Statistically there's going to be less homophobia in this decade, but that doesn't mean it's not out there. It's doesn't mean there aren't gay folks being treated horribly by their parents, siblings, grandparents, classmates, neighbors, coworkers, etc.  The chance of this happening is less than it was decades ago, but then decades ago, there were probably gay people who were lucky enough not to endure horrific examples of homophobia.  


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Leaving Australia

Last night I had multiple dreams with the same theme. It's our last day in Australia, and we're getting ready for our flight.

In one, We're waiting for our flight by hanging out at an indoor pool. We sit against a wall.  People play some kind of sport in the pool. Our friend Greg suggests we all join them—get in, clothes and all. I actually consider it, and give some type of notion of this. Greg lets me know he was joking.

I consider wearing swimming suits the next time we wait like this. Then I start to wonder if we'd be allowed. Is it a public pool? I remind myself that no one is stopping us from sitting here. But it might be different if we tried to swim.  Maybe you need a membership to get into changing rooms. 

When we were in Sydney in 2009, we went to a pool. I'm not sure if it was considered a public one, but you didn't need a membership to swim there. You just paid a day fee.

I just googled to find the pool. It's called Cook Phillip Park.  It looks like mostly it's a membership thing. But at the very bottom of all the choices and prices, they have Adult Casual Pool Entry for $7.40.  I guess that's what we did.

Anyway, in another dream....

The airline keeps all the passengers together before the flight. It's like we're in a tour group.  Before getting on the plane, we sit on bleachers/steps.  They hand us coupons that can be used in Australia. I realize it's way too late to use them now, and this must be a tactic to get us to return.

Later...I joke around with family that we should make going-to-Australia a yearly winter-break or Thanksgiving tradition.

I think the keeping-everyone-together came from watching American Crime Story about the OJ Simpson trial.  It reminds me of how the jury was often kept together for meals, shopping trips, etc.

There was another dream where...we're waiting in a room until it's time to get to the airplane/airport. We're waiting for a certain time or message letting us know we need to go.  Someone sees that the time has already come and we didn't realize it.  We start rushing to get ourselves together.  I hurry and start throwing stuff in bags.  I see stuff we never used in Australia, and consider whether I should just leave it behind.  My mom starts talking to Jack while he's trying to get ready.  It's totally not a good time. I let her know this. She acts apologetic, and I feel guilty for shutting her up.

That's a basic anxiety dream.  We're going on an international trip soon (not Australia) so I think that's where that is coming from.

I do wonder why I had multiple dreams last night about LEAVING Australia rather than heading to Australia. And why was it multiple dreams about leaving rather than just one?

I feel my mind is trying to tell me something.



Sunday, March 12, 2017

I'm Having a Problem with Liane Moriarty's Latest Novel

My almost-Australian cousin introduced me to the term "vague-posting".

This is where someone tries to be mysterious by posting on social media and leaving out the details. The goal is for their "friends" and followers to want more information.  It's a way to get attention.

I can't believe she said that!

Why do these things have to happen to me?

I can't believe I just ate that.

I'm so excited for this weekend!

He's being so unfair!

One thing I've come to realize, both from myself and others, is that not all vague-posting is about getting attention.  Sometimes it's about venting. You are all bottled up. You gotta take off that cork because it's suffocating you. You want to speak out, but you don't feel comfortable or safe giving out specific details.

So yeah. I guess we could divide vague-posting into two categories: venting and attention-seeking.

Either way, it's kind of annoying...especially when it's done frequently.  I personally don't find it very attractive.

And now I'm reading Jaclyn's Moriarty's Truly Madly Guilty, and it's full of this vague-posting behavior.

 Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors.  But...yikes!

I'm not saying I dislike the book.  I'm enjoying my time reading it.

But it's annoying.

Most of the book is about this mysterious thing that happened at a neighborhood picnic.  All the point-of-view characters know what happened at this picnic, but they're not telling the reader what it is.  They're just dropping hints...like vague-posters.

Sometime ago...somewhere (not being purposely vague here. I just don't remember) I learned it's not good to have a mystery that's based on information the characters know and are keeping from the reader.

I thought about this while reading the novel and questioned whether I dislike the practice only because I was taught it's wrong.  Is there anything inherently wrong with it? Is it REALLY a problem?  Or have I just been prejudiced by advice I was given?

Now that I'm about 1/3 through the book, I'm concluding that I do actually find this type of writing distasteful. I haven't just been brainwashed.

The writing technique feels cheap to me.

Besides vague-posting, you know what else it's like?

Clickbait!

Do we click on clickbait because we expect a good story and good writing, or because we have become victims of our morbid curiosity?

And there's the question—am I reading the book because it's actually good, or because I now have to find out what happened at this damn picnic?

Well, in the case of this book, I actually DO find it good.  I find the characters interesting and relatable. I love Moriarty's casual writing style.  But if I didn't like the characters, the writing, etc?  Would I feel obligated to continue so I could find out about the picnic event?

I think one of the problems with novelists using clickbait/vague-posting techniques is that expectations are built up.

Am I going to be blown away by this picnic event? What if I'm disappointed?  What if it doesn't seem like a big enough deal to me?  What if I think it's silly?  Will I regret the time I put into reading the novel?

I'm thinking about the previous Liane Moriarty novel I read—Big Little Lies.  If I remember correctly, that had the same kind of vague-posting thing.  In that, though, I think it was just at the little interview snippets at the front/back (?) of each chapter.  I don't think the regular narrative had it.
I loved Big Little Lies, but I wasn't a fan of the little interview snippets.  My dislike was probably due to the vague-posting aspects.  Now this next Moriarty novel has even more of it.  It's infected the whole narrative. In fact, I think it's pretty much the backbone of the novel.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Watching Roots...and More Accent Stuff

I've been watching the remake of Roots this week.  I go on IMDb a lot to see which actor is from where and what other projects they've been in.  I love IMDb.  

Anyway, yesterday I finally decided to look beyond the actors. I looked at the directors and saw two out of the four episodes are directed by Australians—Phillip Noyce and Bruce Beresford.  

I haven't watched the the Beresford episode yet, but I did watch the Noyce one.  I thought it was very good. 

I just checked the third episode to make sure I didn't miss an Aussie.  I saw that the director for that is Thomas Carter.  Thomas Carter also made a movie about Ben Carson, the neurosurgeon who seems to have a lack of understanding about the African slave trade.

It was the day I started watching Roots that Carson made his bizarre comment.  I think I had very recently finished watching the horrific ship scene when I read what he said. 

Carson said, ...a land of dreams and opportunities. There were other immigrants who came here on the bottom of slave ships. Worked even longer, even harder, for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity.

Trump supporters have put much energy into pointing out the hypocrisy of the left. Videos have emerged with Obama also referring to kidnapped Africans as immigrants.  

Like Carson, Obama probably used an inappropriate word. But from the footage, I've seen, the context and usage is different.  

Obama said,  It wasn't always easy for new immigrants. It certainly wasn't easy for those of African heritage who did not come here voluntarily. And yet in their own way were immigrants themselves.

At least Obama mentions the bit about not coming voluntarily.  Though that too is sugarcoating things. 

In Australia, VOTING is not a voluntary action.  Kidnapping people from their land and families; then chaining them painfully to the bottom of the ship is another thing all together.  

Maybe Carson would have scored better if he mentioned the chains at the bottom of the ship.  With the way he says it, it simply sounds like the slaves weren't prosperous enough to buy first class tickets.  

The other thing bothersome is Carson beginning his talk about kidnapped Africans with the whole dreams and opportunities thing.  WHITE people kidnapped and abused black people in order to help make their white dreams come true.  I don't think being a slave was in the hopes and dreams of Africans.  

The other thing I'll say for Obama is I think it helps that he says, and yet in their own way...  This shows that he recognizes that the African-American story is very different from other American stories.  

Anyway....

Today I saw other news that was timely for my Roots viewing.

Samuel L. Jackson has complained about British black actors being used to portray African-American characters.  

Donald Trump is so busy complaining about our clothes and toys being made in China, he seems to have failed to notice that a lot of the people we see on our screens were made in the UK, Australia, and Canada.  

In Roots, two of the main black characters are played by men from England.  

A few of the slave owners are from Ireland/England.  

But still...they casted a fair amount of white and black Americans as well.  

I don't share Jackson's grievances, but I'm not an actor hoping for more work.  Maybe it would be different if I was.  I'm not sure how many American actors feel cheated out of jobs because foreigners are taking them.

The only time I'm personally a bit bothered is...

A) As I mentioned in my last post, I become attached to the fake accent and have trouble accepting the real one.  

B) When there are way too many people in one project faking an accent.  The one project that sticks in my mind, in that regard, is that creepy show Camp.  It was filmed in Australia with all Australian actors pretending to be American.   And even in interviews, the actors pretended to be American. There was something not right about that.  

I also wish, that when appropriate, more actors were allowed to keep their Australian or British accent.

I give Kudos to the new show Speechless for letting Minnie Driver play a British-American.  

I like that in House, Jesse Spencer plays an Australian doctor.

I know there are probably other examples, but, in my opinion, not enough.  

Oh! I just remembered another one.  In This is Us, Janet Montgomery, a British actress, plays a British actress.  And what's even more unusual, American actor Denis O'Hare plays a character with a British accent.   Or at least I think he does.  I'm not sure if I'm remembering things correctly.  It's been many weeks since we've watched the show.

Anyway...back to Roots.

It's great.  I highly recommend it...especially to people who confuse voluntary immigration with violent kidnappings.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Accents and Crushes

This morning I read an old post I wrote about Jason Stackhouse.  It's about how despite loving Australian accents, I prefer Ryan Kwanten's pretend American accent over his Australian one.

Reading it was timely, because it has happened to me again.

Actually, this is the third time it's happened.

A few months ago, I watched House. I love Hugh Laurie's American accent. Then I tried to watch him in The Night Manager, and his accent really annoyed me.  Though I'm not convinced that's his real British accent. I've heard Hugh Laurie talk in interviews before, and I've never disliked his voice. Maybe it's not just about the voice?  Maybe it was also about the character?  I have no idea, really.  It couldn't be just that he played a villain.  I've liked plenty of villains before.

Anyway....

The most recent accent-issue I've had is with Hugh Dancy on Hannibal.  He plays Will Graham, who has an overly adorable American accent.  I developed a bit of a crush on Will Graham.  I tend to feel unsettled about having a crush on a fictional character. I have this compulsion to transfer it to the actor.  But when I heard Dancy use a British accent, it just didn't work for me.

BUT then later I was watching a gag reel for Hannibal, and there are times when Dancy keeps the American accent.  He's probably just doing that to stay in character. He probably uses the accent all the time when on set.  But still...it was enough to give me a short moment of irrational fantasies.  I leave Tim. He leaves Claire Danes. We get together. Then the fantasy shattered. I pictured him using the British accent and me saying something like...Uh, Honey. Can you please stop that? 

Then let's say he does follow along with my demented, controlling behavior.  It probably wouldn't be enough for me.  I'd probably also insist that he actually act like Will Graham.  I'd probably even want to call him Will.

It would be VERY Anne Wilkes...which actually might turn Hugh Dancy into a Will Graham type person.

If I was evil enough, I could take my fantasies into those directions. But I'm not. And besides, my crush ended.  I'm not sure if that's the result of my doing some self-psychotherapy and figuring out why I was crushing on Will Graham.  Or it might be because I'm liking season three of the show much less than I did season one and season two.

The other thing is I'm trying to tell myself that I don't need to transfer my crushes on fictional characters to the actors that portray them.  I think I did this in the past because the characters I had crushes on might have been slightly inappropriate.

For example...speaking of Hannibal.  In the 1990's, I might have been a bit attracted to Hannibal Lector.  Since crushing on a serial killer, cannibal wasn't exactly kosher, I pushed myself to transfer the feelings to Anthony Hopkins.

But one of the ideas/themes in Hannibal is that Hannibal Lector has a way of getting people to become attracted to him.  He's charming, lovely, and addictive.  Even when the decent characters figure out that he's a serial killer, they can't stop their attraction to him.

If I can be understanding towards fictional people having affection for a cannibal, I figure I can also be forgiving and understanding to myself, for all my crazy crushes, both long ago and recent.