To Fuss is Human, To Rant, Divine!!

Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I don't usually post about celebrity news, but at least they didn't name her Antietam

Saturday, May 27, 2006



Instead of X-Men III "The Last Stand," a more apt title for the third X-Men movie might have been X Men III "Fear and Loathing (for Female Sexuality)"

Because really, that's what the movie is about once you dig beneath the CGI.

I found the film to be incredibly misogynistic, surprising because I didn't think one could express so much vitriol towards the female body in a film in which no character has more than 40-odd lines.

Jean Grey's character, The Phoenix, is brought back in a deluge of water imagery, imagery which pounds you until the climax of the film. But she's no longer Jean, we find out, not the Jean we saw at the end of the second film, who gave her life for her compatriots and her husband.

The audience is informed that as a student under Professor X, she developed some kind of split personality, the more destructive and carnal of which Professor X had to confine to some region of her subconcious keep her safe (from herself, ostensibly). Upon her rebirth, the Phoenix is released, with pleasure-seeking hedonism and destructive, chaotic tendancies in tow. As is evidenced by her first action after she is reborn, the sexual pleasure and the destruction go hand-in-hand.

In painting her character this way, the filmmakers depict a female body which is to be feared for its appetites and destructive powers. And worst of all, she is not in control of her body - instead, her appetites control her.

Attempts by Professor X and Magneto to either control or use the Phoenix are met with failure. Professor X's "noble" desire to help Jean is "necessary" because she cannot control herself, and is ultimately futile because the Professor's mental powers, and attempts to reason, do not match Jean's telekinetic powers, and her powers in the physical world. Magneto's attempt to recruit Jean, or to use her as a figure of revolution (something very unclear that the film never articulates) is thwarted because she simply will not serve a cause other than herself.

It takes Wolverine, a man whose carnality and impetuous attitude matches hers, to bring about an end to her rampage, which of course involves an act of physical penetration. But even before the climax, he notes to Professor X that one cannot "cage the beast." He knows this from experience, and he sees in the Phoenix a beast to be feared. That beast, of course, is the feminine sexuality, and all the accompanying mystique, fear and destruction.

Part of the reason the misogyny is so blatant is because the filmmakers refused to characterize Jean in any substantial manner. She rarely speaks, which is curious. Even stranger is the fact that she is rarely spoken about, besides in hushed tones regarding location and a vague sense of danger. The name "Phoenix" is merely mentioned once or twice, and its connotations are completely glossed over. Rather than say something about the Phoenix representing the destruction of mankind and the rebirth of humans as mutants, Magneto makes his grandiose speeches with Jean at his side, standing there like a statue, or a queen on a chessboard. The chess imagery is obvious, as it was central to the first film of the series as well.

But this is a queen that stands for nothing - not Magneto's cause, nor the death-rebirth imagery of her name. She is but power embodied in the female form, sexual, silent, and uncontrollable. She never even expresses a purpose for herself, and instead embodies some kind of vagina dentata, a threat of castration which endangers all of mankind.

If I were making this film, and had to work with the same plot (the Phoenix as Jean's uncontrollable alter ego, Wolverine as the one who has to save everything), I would have at the least presented some kind of allegory between the two characters of Jean and Logan.

The characters of Jean and Logan would make an excellent allegeory for the Hindu God and Goddess Shiva (Logan) and Kali (Jean). Kali, like the Phoenix, represents death as well as birth. Shiva is the destroyer of evil, as well as the ideal lover and the husband of Kali. They still represent distinctly male and female entities, but there is at least a significant amount of meaning to be explored there (death and rebirth, energy and substance, and most importantly, one's codependancy on the other), as opposed to this film, which merely presents Jean's uncontrollable form as a sexual, mindless destroyer.

Now, one might point out that the comics, especially the Marvel and DC versions, have never been the greatest medium for progressive women's roles. But for a series that has been recently (and often) hailed for its metaphors that pertain to homosexuality and treatment of minorities, we might want to re-examine the other sexual stereotypes and metaphors presented in the film before we start applauding.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Just when you think

I like to think that I've seen a lot of things. While I haven't traveled the world over, or ranged too far from a certain comfort zone, I like to think that between CT, work in New York and D.C., travels to China, and college in Hanover, New Hampshire, I've been exposed to a lot of sights and sounds.

But nothing prepared me for what I saw on my way home from work this afternoon.

As I walked towards the Farragut West Metro Station down Connecticut Ave along with my fellow D.C. workers going home after a day of toil, I noticed an ambulance on 17th Street, on the other side of the intersection.

The light had just turned green, and my fellow commuters and I prepared to cross the road. But before we could take a step, the ambulance lights went on, the siren started blast, and the ambulance began to turn right, onto K St. The policewoman directing traffic immediate held up her hands at us to stop.

Everyone held still to wait for the ambulance to make its turn. Except for one person.

A late twentysomething Caucasian man, wearing a Nationals cap, dark-rimmed glasses sitting on a clean shaven face, started riding his bike through the intersection. He must have had headphones on, because that's the only way he could have possibly NOT known that there was an ambulance turning into his path.

Since the ambulance had not sped up yet on its rescue mission, wherever that might be, it was able to come to a stop before it hit him. Only then did the man see the ambulance. As he rode past the drivers side, he turned to look at the driver.

They exchanged glances.

The man on the bike extended his middle finger.

At an ambulance. With its sirens and flashing lights advertising its haste.

With an incredulous look on his face, the man driving the ambulance pulled away. He obviously had more important matters to attend to. The guy on the bike then looked up, noticed that everyone at the intersection was not moving, but was instead staring at him. He muttered "asshole," under his breath at the departing ambulance, and sped off on his way.

The moment broken by his departure, everyone at the intersection started moving again. Several people were clearly shocked by what they had seen. I was one of them.

I don't pretend that an urban setting like D.C. or Manhattan doesn't have its share of rude individuals. In fact, city dwellers often pride themselves on it. I've seen the suits swear at homeless, the homeless swear at the suits, the old ladies swear at the tourists, the mothers with kids in tote curse at protesters, and so on and so forth.

But in all my experiences in a city, I have never, ever seen someone flip off and then curse at an ambulance. An on-duty ambulance with its sirens on, no less.

It was something that shook the people around me too. We are all desensitized to some extent by the city. Rudeness is expected. It's not really that everyone in a city is rude, I think. With so many more people, and with so many varying goals and destinations, there is bound to be a select few who simply can't be bothered to be courteous. I would venture that there are just as many courteous people - the rude ones just tend to be a little louder.

We still take them in stride though. An accidental bump and a subsequent curse is nothing to really dwell on. But today? That was different. Who curses an ambulance? Did he think that whereever he was biking to was more important, more urgent than someone's potentially mortal call for help? Did a typical veneer of bravado, applied before going to work like so much makeup, just slip out, purely out of habit?

I like to think that perhaps it was the latter, that he treated it as he would any car that cut him off as he biked through an intersection without warning. That as he rode on, he wondered about his words and actions and perhaps felt a little guilty, or at least embarrassed.

I like to think that he would have at least that decency and humanity to feel those emotions. Because if he didn't, perhaps the city is more desensitizing than I had ever imagined.