Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy December!

You guys, I ate SO MUCH FOOD this weekend. I feel like I'm going to pop like a Thanksgiving turkey. There's a reason Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year and that is it. LOL! I spent the majority of the past few days doing things with my family so unfortunately (for you) I have nothing really to discuss in terms of films I've watched. I did go see the new Hunger Games movie and, wow, is it ever better than the book. All the Hunger Games movies are much better than the books but this one was MUCH, MUCH better. I think it's because the movies take you out of the first-person Katniss narration to show you everything else that's going on in the world. And in this last movie, the screenwriters wisely cut out about 90% of the moping and 99% of Gale's lecturing. I swear, there were sections of the third book that were just pages and pages of Gale lecturing Katniss about how she was supposed to be feeling or acting and in those sections I wanted to reach into the book and punch him directly on his big, fat mouth.


This article was depressing to me on a number of levels.

A full year and a half has passed since the Japanese government gave its final approval for the Cool Japan Fund — a 20-year, public-private entity aimed at spreading Japan’s cultural appeal overseas — the official soft-power push that some bureaucrats and academics had been advocating for at least a decade. A few months after it was inked, Tokyo won the 2020 Olympics bid, and the timing seemed auspicious.

But even ardent proponents admit the fund’s mission remains vague, and its manifestations mysterious. What, exactly, is the core of Japan’s cool?

The article goes on to talk about how they are taking native trends like "gyaru" fashion and homogenizing and sanitizing them for export.


I mean, the task force feels like it was concocted as a delayed response to Korea's "Hallyu Wave" but it's going about things in such a ham-fisted and stupid way. It's like there's this weird echo chamber where nerds in places like America have picked up on anime and manga and focused on translating those things for themselves, Japan sees this and says, "Ah, foreigners like that stuff" and assumes THAT is what needs to be exported to foreigners, non-nerd Americans see this and assume, "Ah, Japan is all that weird nerd shit." And so on and so on.

None of this is actually helping to foster any sort of cross-cultural understanding or even to get the cultural products IN Japan that could have a big audience in foreign markets TO THOSE FOREIGN MARKETS. Because "Cool Japan" is the buzzword, nobody bothers to translate the detective novels or romance novels or to export the rom-coms and popcorn flicks with subtitles.

It's enough to make a gyaru tear her own hair out… or rip her own wig off.

Bollywood is also half-assed in its approach to exporting to foreign markets but they've done things completely opposite. Instead of doing the whole feedback loop of assuming niche audiences like me make up the bulk of the market, they've tried to make their products more like American products… to very mixed results. Foreigners were confused by Chandni Chowk to China but American critics--as a whole--LOVED Ra.One. I mean check out the Rotten Tomatoes score. It's like looking into a funhouse mirror of the Indian critical response.

So, so, odd. All this globalization and cultural exchange are hard. I know I've said it before but I really wish places with their own strong culture industries wouldn't obsess over the American market so much. It's an impossible task--to the point that Americans pretty much refuse to accept anybody who doesn't speak perfect, fluent English with NO trace of an accent. AND we especially hate Asian accents of all sorts. So why waste time on us ignorant folk?

Also, I got a long comment via e-mail from Moimeme on the topic of age differences in film and how many of us in the Internet realm like to complain about it and how maybe we shouldn't. Well… okay. I do have to stick up for myself a bit because I believe I am on record saying that hero's age doesn't matter if the film is supposed to be "fantastical" or "mythical" in the sense of classic masala filmmaking. I think I went off on this during the Endhiran era? Maybe? But that's been my stand for a long time. Age only matters for me a) if the film is supposed to be "realistic" and that includes all those Saif rom-coms or b) when the hero's age is explicitly stated and made a point of. And I can forgive b… to an extent. 3 Idiots proved that.

The age difference with heroines… there's a lot going on there. It's not that I think the hero and heroine should ALWAYS be the exact same age but the gap can get depressing when heroines that used to play a hero's love interest are now playing his mother when he is still romancing 20 year olds because it implies that a woman's value IS HER YOUTH and (understandably, I hope) putting this message out there over and over and over again can really wear down women and helps foster a toxic cultural attitude about women "of a certain age." It's not just India, America is guilty of this, too.

I'll also add that sometimes a younger actress looks VERY uncomfortable and out-of-place opposite a man old enough to be her father--or even her grandfather. Do we really want to see Ajay and Sanjay perving over 25-30 years their junior Kangana? Do we all really want to relive the final films of Dev Anand? Would it be so bad to see Tabu paired with Shahid as a love interest instead of his mother? Did she have him when she was nine? I mean WTF? Age doesn't matter… to a point.

Lastly, speaking as somebody who tends to date people younger and shorter than myself and who is acquainted with couples of all ages where this is also true, I know FOR A FACT that not all men want to date somebody younger. Older man-younger woman is not a universal, not even behind-the-scenes in Bollywood, so why isn't this reflected on screen? Who is enforcing this age standard? Do we as audiences and critics demand it because it's what we're used to or what the insecure macho elements of the culture need to see in order to feel important?

Aw… Prabhudeva in glasses!

Tevar still looks utterly stale to me.

And Kaaviya Thalavian still looks way too cutesy and "whimsical" for me. I just don't understand this trend of having to put filmi conventions "in quotes" in order to enjoy them.


Divya said...

I saw Kaaviya Thalaivan yesterday. Believe me .. there is nothing even remotely cutesy or whimsical about it. Its a good movie, very much an epic tragedy. I had some problems with it but overall a very good effort with some very solid performances.

Jess said...

Gale is the wooooooorst. That is all.

Mahesh Kumar said...

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Mahesh Kumar said...

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odadune said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moimeme said...

Thanks for your response, FG. Maybe it would help others if you post the link to the article I sent you? Then they would know what we were talking about.

I think the main points I made were: (1)This kind of age gap exists just as much in Hollywood as in Bollywood; (2) the societal norms of what constitutes a "normal" age gap between members of a couple is much larger in India than in the "west", as can be seen by the real life age differences of the major star couples, so the audience is not bothered as much as are viewers in the west (whether desi or nondesi).

The discrimination against heroines past a certain age is a different question and shouldn't be dragged into this discussion, as it only confuses the issue. I have been amused in the past five years or so, when I read people complaining about the three Khans working with heroines who are too young, and recommending they work with more "age appropriate" heroines like Kajol, Kareena, Preity, Rani, and Aishwarya. Well, let's see -- Aishwarya and Kajol are nine years younger than them, Rani and Preity are 13 years younger, and Kareena is 15 years younger. How are they "age appropriate"? In fact, when Rani and Kareena started, many people online used to complain that they were "too young" to star opposite the Khans. But now, ten or so years later, they've suddenly become age appropriate.

I think the main reason why so much importance is given to the heroine being young is because of the audience demographics. For the most part, the movie going audience for mainstream films is in the under 30 age group (and sometimes even under 25). The men in this age group want a heroine they can fantasize about being with, so she should be age appropriate for *them*, not the hero. And the women in the audience are fantasizing about the hero, and as long as the three khans can still fulfill that role, they don't care about the heroine; or at least, they do, but only as some kind of fashion role model for them, which again means she should be in their age bracket, so they're fine with a 20-something heroine. Does that make sense? It may not, since I only came up with this theory in the last minute or so. :)

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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