Caption This! week #11

While I was off consulting with timelords about to get them to fix my little title glitch, looks like Stephen J is our winner again!

 

 

Poor little kittens, they just wanted some yummy fish!

But now for someone who seems to be enjoying his day a little more.

3….2….1….. CAPTION!!

17 Again Pt 5: Liang and the Domestic Female’s Journey

I’ve noticed there has been a lot of talk on the blog about female characters, especially about the SFC. It’s just timely that this came up while I was writing these articles, because I was wanting to speak on this in regards to Liang.

See, some people push the unrealistic SFC, girl power stories, and ladies that “don’t need no man”; but I rarely find that way of doing them very appealing. In those stories, the girl either has no interest in domestic things or men, or worse, they totally stomp down on them. Because after all, womyn are SO much better than those pig-like men! But what about something I can relate to? Like being strong AND having a man?

17 Again was that story. The character is like most other girls, she wants a good life, a good home…. And a family. But she is held back, by herself as much as by Mao. Wanting to be a house wife is not a bad thing. Indeed, it is a very good and noble thing to strive for. Running a household and raising children is certainly not without its challenges. But I can agree with feminists and the like on one point, you shouldn’t be a mindless house wife with absolutely no life outside of your husband. Even the quiet house wife should have hobbies, something she enjoys or is passionate about. However, this is the rut we find Liang stuck in at the beginning of her journey.

The strong domestic woman is a very important force. I have more I’d like to say on her, but I shall save that for another post. For now, it is enough to say that a good society wouldn’t be able to hold together without them. To me, Liang’s Journey is in her going from a passive, clingy girl, to an intelligent and passionate woman. You’ve heard of the hero’s journey? Well, this is the domestic woman’s journey!

So what makes Liang change from a lame not-house wife, to an awesome woman and possibly real house wife? I think the biggest answer is she rediscovered her passion, and then worked for it. In some ways, she took on the actions of, “I don’t need no man” kinda girl. She kicked Mao away (although, admittedly, that was Little Liang’s doing) She went off and had her own fun and adventures, and she created a career for herself. She had dreams and passions, she perused them, and made them a reality. However, unlike the “don’t need no man” girls, Liang still wanted her man. But before she could have him, she had to learn to live without him. She had to learn to be strong in herself. Only then, could she have the relationship she always wanted.

See, good men don’t want a child for their wife. Some people make marriage out to be a man making all the decisions and dominating, while the woman stays quiet and goes along with whatever he says. That is askewed idea of marriage. Only bad men with control issues take advantage of their wives like that, and it is women without confidence in themselves, who have too many insecurities, that let them. But think about it. How much of a tiresome burden would it be to have a spouse that you have to do everything for? Who can’t make their own decision and opinions? Who has no ambition? Who sits around cleaning and making food while you do everything else?

That’s a maid, not a wife.

Men, good men, want someone to be on the same level as them. They want a partner, not a dependent. Because life is hard, a man wants a woman who can support him as much as he supports her. Now keep in mind, men and women are different, so the way they support and help each other will be different. But the point is, honest men don’t want a pretty-faced, mindless maid for a wife. They want a strong woman who inspires them, whose beauty shines from the inside out. One who will make a house into a home to come back to, and who will be there to catch them when  life is heavy. Someone who they can dream with, and make a life with.

Liang is not that woman when we first meet her. She got one part of it right; she’s there to take care of Mao and make a nice home. But she missed that part about having that deeper level of confidence and support. And because of that, her actions fall short, and somewhat superficial. The nice breakfast cannot be everything, there is something deeper that she is missing. And because of that, Mao has never bothered to marry her.

It’s not until Liang finds confidence in herself that Mao really starts to see her again. Gone is the drifting, shallow Liang. Now she is strong and confident in herself, she glows with the joy of her younger years. She has made herself a woman worthy of great attention and love. And because of this, Mao sees his short comings. He realizes that if he wants to keep this new Liang, he must change and become worthy of her. Because Liang has made herself great, she inspires Mao to make himself great as well.

At the beginning,  both of them are stuck in a rut, and have all but lost their love for each other. Love is  tricky, it’s something you must work to maintain. But by the end, once they both have grown, they are able to come back, stronger, and fight for each other and their love. Very pro-marriage. And I know, they weren’t technically married, but they seemed very much like a divorcing couple. But instead of giving up, they grow and learn, and eventually come back together. This is sooooo refreshing to see. I wish more movies and stories would give that same message of hope. That you shouldn’t give up on marriage just because it became boring or hard. That love is worth fighting for.

Because of that, 17 Again has a very superversive feel. But that is not the only reason. Liang is the focus of the story, the change in her relationship is provoked by her personal journey. And so it was her journey that left me with the greatest feeling of hope and inspiration at the end of the movie.

As someone who is still young and full of passion and dreams, but who also has a desperate desire to never let go of my inner child, I really connected with this movie. I wish to keep that joy and wonder at the world that a child has. I want to have passion to create and chase my dreams. I’m getting a taste of adulating and what real world life is like. With jobs, responsibilities, money, and bills, I’m discovering different kinds of stress and troubles that sometimes weigh heavy on me, and I don’t like it very much. But as long as I have my imagination to run wild, and my stories to get lost in, I can keep my younger self alive, and I’ll be alright. But….. If I ever lost that, if I ever stopped writing and imagining…. Well, the thought is truly terrifying.

And so the story of Liang finding her younger self, reconnecting with her passion, making herself better, and working for her dream, is very moving. She has adventures, learns from her mistakes, makes her dreams a reality, and gets her man back – even better than he was before! She became a stronger woman, but not a womyn. It’s hilarious, it’s refreshing, it’s inspiring, and it is superversive. Plus, there was chocolate! And in case you couldn’t tell from the FIVE articles and 5000 words I’ll spent on this thing, I really really loved it!

Hope you enjoyed my absurdly in-depth look into this movie! Time to go eat some chocolate.

17 Again Pt 2: When a Boulder Meets a Lake

 It takes some time for the Little Liang and Old Liang to become aware of each other. In the meantime, every time Little Liang is let loose, she wreaks havoc and chaos wherever she goes. And on top of that, she meets a guy, and starts falling for him.

This happens when Little Liang is taking the train somewhere. A cute guy catches her eye, so she takes out her sketchbook and starts drawing. Just as she finishes the picture, the train stops… and the spell cast by the chocolate ends as well. Old Liang drops the notebook and walks out, totally unaware of what she has just done or of the boy who’d seen her doing it.

Later, we see Mao is talking to the all-important Mr. Geo. The businessman is not impressed with the designs for his new perfumes that Mao’s company is providing. He explains they need something fresh! And exciting! Like….. He pulls up a photo that has been going viral online. It’s a photo of the picture Liang drew and left on the train, along with a picture of Liang herself. Yan, the guy from the train, is apparently trying to find the girl who drew the picture. Mao is dumbfounded as he immediately recognizes Liang. When Mr. Geo finds out Mao knows the girl, he says he’ll invest in Mao’s company….. IF Mao will have Liang do the designs. Mao tires to argue that Liang is not right for this. But Mr. Geo just waves him off, and leaves Mao with no other choice.

And thus we enter the real meat of the story: Old Liang must convince Little Liang to draw the pictures. Old Liang has lost all her skill and passion, but she wants to win Mao back, (because when Little Liang was around, she kicked him out of the house and told him to push off). But Little Liang is not at all interested in painting for her older self. All she wants to do is go hangout with Yan and have fun.

It is very interesting, and amusing, watching the two Liangs learn how to communicate with each other and make deals. Slowly, the young and the old Liang become closer, working better together, and getting along. Many things happen. Little Liang discovers that not everything is fun and games, and that life and relationships can be hard and confusing. Meanwhile the Old Liang, while she still has many bumps and trials, is remembering there is still color and wonder in the world

It’s an interesting dilemma set up here. At this point I was totally committed. The two Liangs couldn’t be more different; it was like watching a boulder crashing into a lake and making waves without end. So how are they going to resolve this? I just had to keep watching to see.

The Perfect Society and the Body of Christ

I have recently read 1984 by George Orwell, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley for the first time.

Both excellent pieces of Science Fiction.

Both immensely disturbing.

When I finished Brave New World, I began to think and muse, and compare it to the world of 1984. In doing so, I discovered both have a surprising amount of things in common.

First, in both stories the society is under strict control. But while one is controlled through force and hatred, the other is controlled through Soma and conditioning. The second common theme is that for the societies to work, the sense of individuality must be destroyed. They need everyone to fit and work together; they need the people to be perfectly in place to make everything run smoothly – just like gears in a machine. But gears are expendable. So if one gear starts acting up, it is much easier to toss it aside and replace it with a more manageable gear. Which is something they wouldn’t hesitate to do.

I was thinking about all this, about a world where everyone is united under one force, working perfectly together. In theory, it sounds great. Since everyone is united, there is no strife and no war within that society. Everyone agrees on everything. And so, in theory, there is world peace. But as you see in both stories, when there are those who dream and who don’t want to live in the boxes they are told to fit into, it almost never comes to a good end. So how can you have a stable society and world peace, but also have free will and imagination? Well, I believe the answer is, you can’t.

If you want a perfect society, you need perfect people. The problem lies in the fact that humanity is messy and imperfect. The only way to make the perfect people for your perfect society, is to take away their humanity and turn them into compliant sheep. Because thinking, dreaming, and using our imagination and intellect is always a dangerous thing, especially to those trying to rule over us. After all, if the sheep started thinking, they might build a ladder over the fence or set the farmhouse on fire.

As I mused over all this, I got to wondering if it was possible to be completely united under one force, while keeping the respect for the individual and human life. Indeed that is possible. People band together for important causes, or to defend themselves in war, and I’m sure a lot of other reason. But it’s never perfect, there will always be some clashing of will within the most united movement.

And so I was trying to think of the closest thing there was to a perfect and completely united people, that still held their individuality. My mind was immediately drawn to the The Body of Christ. Just look at the saints – the men and woman that completely immersed themselves in the Body of Christ. They are all united in their dedication to serve God’s will; yet at the same time, are so vastly different.

Saint Joan of Arc: A warrior and martyr.

Saint Thomas Aquinas: A master theologian.

Saint Gabriel Possenti: Who single handedly ran ruffians out of his village at gunpoint.

Saint Therese of Lisieux: A girl who wanted, throughout all her childhood, to be a nun.

As you can see, there is everything from warriors to thoughtful monks. Certainly, the Body of Christ it is not perfect. Since it is made up of imperfect humans, there will always be small and large struggles; there will always be things that could be better. But it has held up for over 2,000 year – of course, it’s only been held up by the grace of God – but that’s kinda the whole point of it. The Body of Christ is so connected, yet so completely diverse. That’s what makes the Body of Christ so unique and different from the worlds of 1984 and Brave New World.

With all those thoughts melding in my mind, I began to compare the Body of Christ to the Societies. So allow me to further lay out my musing.

As I mentioned before, both societies seek to destroy the individual. Human life is not valued. And so, you are just a part of a machine and have no worth other than serving the society.

Where in the Body of Christ and His Church, you have innate value. And although you have a duty to serve, your value comes from the fact that you are a child of God – made in his image. Not from what you can do or produce.

The other thing is that in both societies, marriage is offensive and the family is repulsive. I find it interesting that even though intercourse in the two societies is viewed in completely opposite ways, their hatred for family and the strong relationships found within it, are almost equal.

In 1984, the family is a threat. The loyalty of the people must be exclusive to Big Brother. Procreation is viewed as an unsavory, yet necessary, act that is not allowed to be enjoyed. The children are instructed in watching and monitoring their parents, and they are rewarded for betraying their parents to the Thought Police for even the tiniest offence.

The family is just as much of a threat in Brave New World as in 1984. Because they are conditioned to flinch at the very word “mother.” Because everyone belongs to everyone else. Because it is not good if someone feels too strongly for someone else. Because intercourse is just a pastime. Because strong feelings lead to strong action. And we have Soma to take that away.

Another common theme is segregations. You can see this in 1984, not only that the inner Party is much richer than the normal labor folks, but in the almost livestock view of the Proles. The Proles aren’t really part of the Party, they are only there to do the dirty work. They are let to their own ways: to work, and drink, and breed. They are less than lower class to everyone else.

However, Brave New World is where you can really see the segregation. Everyone is made into a class. They are made the fit into that class by tamperings while they develop in a bottle, and they learn to love their class from hypnotic conditioning in their sleep as children. There is never much hate between the classes. At most it’s disdain, especially from the upper classes. While you are conditioned to love your group above the others, you are also conditioned to recognize you need to other classes. You’re just really glad you’re not them.

But in the Body of Christ, all are equal and all are welcome. Everytime I go to mass I see rich and poor, man and woman, black, white, and purple, all kneeling next to each other and praying in the same voice. We have people of different backgrounds and walks of life. But neither do we go around bragging about how “diverse” we are. No, I never even notice. I just see people. Because everyone will be looked at and judged the same when brought before the Lord.

Next is the subject about rations, and how everything is assigned: from who they are – as I mentioned earlier – even to what they eat. In 1984 it is very clear to see. The Ministry of Plenty controls how much of what you get, from clothes, to razors, to food. And with the “war” going on, it’s easier for them cut back and give you less.

In Brave New World, it is not as harsh. In fact, is seems like most everyone has plenty of whatever they want. But the Soma is regulated to a degree and passed out from day to day.

In the Body of Christ we are not promised that we will have any earthly comfort. We are only asked to trust that God will provide, and to trust and follow his will. But at the same time this doesn’t mean we can’t work hard and try to make something out of what we have. You can push yourself to do better, you can improve. You do not always have to be stuck with is handed out to you.

Lastly, and what I found most interesting, is that both societies severely limit your free time. They must keep you working, making, doing. They fear, and rightly so, that if a person is allowed to be without distraction and let their mind settle, they will be drawn to find truth.

Where, in the Body of Christ, we are encouraged and even commanded to be still, to pray, and to be alone with the one who made us. The longing for silence is a spiritual longing. And I’m not simply talking about absence of  sound. I’m talking of an inner silence and quieting of mind – the longing to find who you truly are, and from where you came.

You can see this happening in Bernard and Winston.

In Brave New World, Bernard desires to be away from the crowd and the noise: out of the stupor of the Soma, to be alone. Of course this is unheard of and scandalous, and everyone shuns him for it. He feels cast out and empty – looking to be filled by something beyond him.

You can also see this in Helmholtz. He is a writer, wishing to write something with power – or as he puts it, something piercing. He is tired of writing the same, formulated propaganda. He seeks more than just the shallow entertainment allowed to the masses. However, that is impossible, since high art is not allowed in their stable society. They are to be happy, dull, sheep – not made to think too hard about things.

It is very similar for Winston in 1984. He hates that his every move, and every thought, is being watched. He chafes and strains against this strict society. He wishes for, and pursues, freedom. Of course, doing so means certain death.

I believe the common thread unifying these characters, is that they are reaching beyond themselves. Winston wonders and hopes that there is a world, or people, beyond the cruel one he knows. Bernard wants to know what it’s like to have self control, and he wants to be able to sit and look at the world. And Helmholtz wishes to write something to stir the hearts of men. In the societies in which they live, they are held back. But in the Body of Christ, they would be praised and fulfilled.