Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Movies

How movies teach the varieties of Manhood behaviors?

if you’re a boy, you are a dopey animal, and if you are a girl, you should bring your warrior costume.

Heroes and villains were all females a few decades ago and behaved by making friends. Modern movies they are all males and they keep fighting violently.

By Colin Stokes, Nov. 2012

You know, my favorite part of being a dad is the movies I get to watch. I love sharing my favorite movies with my kids, and when my daughter was four, we got to watch “The Wizard of Oz” together.

It totally dominated her imagination for months. Her favorite character was Glinda, of course. It gave her a great excuse to wear a sparkly dress and carry a wand.

00:34 But you watch that movie enough times, and you start to realize how unusual it is.

Now we live today, and are raising our children, in a kind of children’s-fantasy-spectacular-industrial complex. But “The Wizard of Oz” stood alone. It did not start that trend.

Forty years later was when the trend really caught on, with, interestingly, another movie that featured a metal guy and a furry guy rescuing a girl by dressing up as the enemy’s guards. Do you know what I’m talking about?

There’s a big difference between these two movies, a couple of really big differences between “The Wizard of Oz” and all the movies we watch today.

One is there’s very little violence in “The Wizard of Oz.” The monkeys are rather aggressive, as are the apple trees. But I think if “The Wizard of Oz” were made today, the wizard would say, “Dorothy, you are the savior of Oz that the prophecy foretold. Use your magic slippers to defeat the computer-generated armies of the Wicked Witch.” But that’s not how it happens.

Another thing that’s really unique about “The Wizard of Oz” to me is that all of the most heroic and wise and even villainous characters are female.

I started to notice this when I actually showed “Star Wars” to my daughter, which was years later, and the situation was different. At that point I also had a son. He was only three at the time. He was not invited to the screening. He was too young for that. But he was the second child, and the level of supervision had plummeted.

 So he wandered in, and it imprinted on him like a mommy duck does to its duckling, and I don’t think he understands what’s going on, but he is sure soaking in it.

And I wonder what he’s soaking in. Is he picking up on the themes of courage and perseverance and loyalty?

Is he picking up on the fact that Luke joins an army to overthrow the government?

Is he picking up on the fact that there are only boys in the universe except for Aunt Beru, and of course this princess, who’s really cool, but who kind of waits around through most of the movie so that she can award the hero with a medal and a wink to thank him for saving the universe, which he does by the magic that he was born with?

Compare this to 1939 with “The Wizard of Oz.” How does Dorothy win her movie? By making friends with everybody and being a leader. That’s kind of the world I’d rather raise my kids in — Oz, right? — and not the world of dudes fighting, which is where we kind of have to be.

Why is there so much Force — capital F, Force — in the movies we have for our kids, and so little yellow brick road?

There is a lot of great writing about the impact that the boy-violent movie has on girls, and you should do that reading. It’s very good. I haven’t read as much on how boys are picking up on this vibe.

I know from my own experience that Princess Leia did not provide the adequate context that I could have used in navigating the adult world that is co-ed. (Laughter)

I think there was a first-kiss moment when I really expected the credits to start rolling because that’s the end of the movie, right? I finished my quest, I got the girl. Why are you still standing there? I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.

04:28 The movies are very, very focused on defeating the villain and getting your reward, and there’s not a lot of room for other relationships and other journeys.

It’s almost as though if you’re a boy, you are a dopey animal, and if you are a girl, you should bring your warrior costume.

There are plenty of exceptions, and I will defend the Disney princesses in front of any of you. But they do send a message to boys, that they are not, the boys are not really the target audience.

They are doing a phenomenal job of teaching girls how to defend against the patriarchy, but they are not necessarily showing boys how they’re supposed to defend against the patriarchy.

There’s no models for them. And we also have some terrific women who are writing new stories for our kids, and as three-dimensional and delightful as Hermione and Katniss are, these are still war movies.

And, of course, the most successful studio of all time continues to crank out classic after classic, every single one of them about the journey of a boy, or a man, or two men who are friends, or a man and his son, or two men who are raising a little girl. Until, as many of you are thinking, this year, when they finally came out with “Brave.”

I recommend it to all of you. It’s on demand now. Do you remember what the critics said when “Brave” came out? “Aw, I can’t believe Pixar made a princess movie.” It’s very good. Don’t let that stop you.

 Almost none of these movies pass the Bechdel Test. I don’t know if you’ve heard of this. It has not yet caught on and caught fire, but maybe today we will start a movement.

Alison Bechdel is a comic book artist, and back in the mid-’80s, she recorded this conversation she’d had with a friend about assessing the movies that they saw. And it’s very simple. There’s just three questions you should ask:

1.  Is there more than one character in the movie that is female who has lines? So try to meet that bar.

2. And do these women talk to each other at any point in the movie?

3. And is their conversation about something other than the guy that they both like? (Laughter)

Two women who exist and talk to each other about stuff. It does happen. I’ve seen it, and yet I very rarely see it in the movies that we know and love.

In fact, this week I went to see a very high-quality movie, “Argo.” Right? Oscar buzz, doing great at the box office, a consensus idea of what a quality Hollywood film is. It pretty much flunks the Bechdel test. And I don’t think it should, because a lot of the movie, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but a lot of the movie takes place in this embassy where men and women are hiding out during the hostage crisis.

We’ve got quite a few scenes of the men having deep, angst-ridden conversations in this hideout, and the great moment for one of the actresses is to peek through the door and say, “Are you coming to bed, honey?” That’s Hollywood for you.

07:59 So let’s look at the numbers. 2011, of the 100 most popular movies, how many of them do you think actually have female protagonists? Eleven. It’s not bad.

It’s not as many percent as the number of women we’ve just elected to Congress, so that’s good. But there is a number that is greater than this that’s going to bring this room down.

Last year, The New York Times published a study that the government had done. Here’s what it said. One out of five women in America say that they have been sexually assaulted some time in their life.

 I don’t think that’s the fault of popular entertainment. I don’t think kids’ movies have anything to do with that. I don’t even think that music videos or pornography are really directly related to that, but something is going wrong, and when I hear that statistic, one of the things I think of is that’s a lot of sexual assailants.

Who are these guys? What are they learning? What are they failing to learn? Are they absorbing the story that a male hero’s job is to defeat the villain with violence and then collect the reward, which is a woman who has no friends and doesn’t speak? Are we soaking up that story?

You know, as a parent with the privilege of raising a daughter like all of you who are doing the same thing, we find this world and this statistic very alarming and we want to prepare them. We have tools at our disposal like “girl power,” and we hope that that will help, but I gotta wonder, is girl power going to protect them if, at the same time, actively or passively, we are training our sons to maintain their boy power?

I mean, I think the Netflix queue is one way that we can do something very important, and I’m talking mainly to the dads here. I think we have got to show our sons a new definition of manhood.

The definition of manhood is already turning upside down. You’ve read about how the new economy is changing the roles of caregiver and wage earner. They’re throwing it up in the air. So our sons are going to have to find some way of adapting to this, some new relationship with each other, and I think we really have to show them, and model for them, how a real man is someone who trusts his sisters and respects them, and wants to be on their team, and stands up against the real bad guys, who are the men who want to abuse the women.

And I think our job in the Netflix queue is to look out for those movies that pass the Bechdel Test, if we can find them, and to seek out the heroines who are there, who show real courage, who bring people together, and to nudge our sons to identify with those heroines and to say, “I want to be on their team,” because they’re going to be on their team.

11:28 When I asked my daughter who her favorite character was in “Star Wars,” do you know what she said? Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Glinda. What do these two have in common? Maybe it’s not just the sparkly dress. I think these people are experts.

I think these are the two people in the movie who know more than anybody else, and they love sharing their knowledge with other people to help them reach their potential. Now, they are leaders. I like that kind of quest for my daughter, and I like that kind of quest for my son.

I want more quests like that. I want fewer quests where my son is told, “Go out and fight it alone,” and more quests where he sees that it’s his job to join a team, maybe a team led by women, to help other people become better and be better people, like the Wizard of Oz.


Hollywood: 8 Lebanese movies making it big!

It is not only on the local and regional scene that Lebanese production is making it big.

In fact, Lebanon is now topping the box office sales in Hollywood through 8 newly released movies all inspired from our daily lives!

Blog of the Boss is the first to release the posters of the hit blockbusters making us all proud.



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“Would you make love with an Arab/Palestinian?” and vice versa:  Interviews with Israeli Jews and Palestinians
Film director Yolande Zauberman and the Lebanese author Sélim Nassib converged to Israel to conduct interviews with Jews and Palestinians on their desires to making love with one another…
The idea of doing a movie on this topic all started with the novel of Selim “A Lover in Palestine” of a love passion between young Golda Meir (later Israel PM) and the Lebanese/Palestinian  Albert Pharaon.
The story unfold in late 1920 when Palestine was under British mandated power.
And Yolande wondered whether these kinds of love passions can still hold in current apartheid State of Israel.
Yolande is convinced that if Palestinians and Jews in Israel are unable to feel any sexual desire toward one another, it would be impossible to break this apartheid system.
It is the same process as what happened in apartheid South Africa: If the blacks and whites there could not break this barrier on the sexual level, apartheid south Africa would have still remained. This conviction of hers materialized as Yolande was directing “Classified People 1988” in south Africa.
And why Yolande decided on making love to an “Arab” and not Palestinian or Israeli Jew? Yolande thinks stating “Arab” has a stronger significant impact. Mind you that the Israeli Zionist ideology insists on naming the Palestinians as Arab in order to remove any kind of national identity and legitimity to the Palestinians, whose lands were occupied and chased out of their villages…
Yolande claims that this movie might not heal the wounds, but can reduce the level of anger…Whatever that means…
The French interview was published in the weekly magazine Le Novel Observateur on Sept. 10, 2012.

ISRAËL: Feriez-vous l’amour avec un Arabe ?

L’affiche du film. Sur les écrans français à partir du 12 septembre.

L’affiche du film. Sur les écrans français à partir du 12 septembre.

C’est une histoire très simple, celle d’une cinéaste française qui prend sa caméra et part interroger les Palestiniens et les Israéliens sur un sujet, et un seul : le sexe.

Elle entre immédiatement dans le vif du sujet en posant une question crue, une question qui n’a pas l’air essentielle pour résoudre le conflit historique entre l’oppresseur et l’opprimé mais qui n’en dévoile pas moins des secrets enfermés dans des cœurs débordant de haine et de reproches.

Puis cela devient un film documentaire, qui sera présenté en 2011 à la Mostra de Venise sous le titre Would You Have Sex with an Arab? [Feriez-vous l’amour avec un Arabe ?].

En appliquant une thérapie de choc pour briser le silence consciemment ou inconsciemment entretenu, elle accède au refoulé d’un des plus longs conflits du Proche-Orient.

Son compagnon dans la vie, Sélim Nassib, journaliste libanais et auteur du roman Oum [consacré à la diva égyptienne Oum Kalsoum, éd. Balland], a participé à l’écriture du film.

Vous parlez du conflit israélo-arabe à travers le sexe. C’est une idée…
Yolande Zauberman En fait, tout a commencé avec le roman de Sélim Un amant en Palestine [éd. Robert Laffont], qui aborde l’histoire d’une passion [à la fin des années 1920, dans une Palestine sous mandat britannique] entre la jeune Golda Meir [qui va devenir Premier ministre d’Israël] et Albert Pharaon, un Libano-Palestinien.

C’est une histoire qui n’aurait jamais pu se produire dans un endroit comme Israël. Quand nous avons commencé à vouloir adapter ce livre au cinéma, un sujet a suscité ma curiosité, à savoir le désir non partagé.

J’ai également eu le sentiment que je devais comprendre beaucoup de choses avant de me lancer dans l’adaptation du roman.

Donc Would You Have Sex with an Arab? a démarré en tant qu’étude préparatoire.

Or il se trouve que le film s’est imposé en tant que tel. Il m’a permis de fouiller dans les profondeurs de la société arabo-israélienne, une société très particulière.

J’avais découvert cela en travaillant avec [le cinéaste israélien] Amos Gitaï, en tant que coordinatrice entre les équipes française, israélienne et palestinienne.

Soudainement, je m’étais retrouvée face à une société à la double identité, arabe et israélienne. L’expérience de la découverte de l’autre, fût-ce sous un jour déformé, m’a donné envie d’aller plus loin.

La question qui est posée dans le titre du film peut paraître anodine au premier abord, alors que nous ne connaissons pas encore le but que vous poursuivez en la posant. Mais elle prend vite une tournure plus grave.
Y. Z. Pour nous, ce film était une expérience stimulante. Nous avions hâte de voir ce que la réalité allait nous apporter.

D’un côté nous posions la question : “Coucheriez-vous avec un Arabe ?” De l’autre : “Coucheriez-vous avec un Juif israélien ?”

Pourquoi avoir retenu “avec un Arabe” et non “avec un Juif israélien” pour le titre ? Parce que c’est plus aguicheur ?
Y. Z. Non. Parce que ça a une signification plus forte.

Sélim Nassib Yolande a parlé de désir non partagé. C’est normal entre deux groupes qui s’entre-tuent et où chacun “résiste” pour ne pas se rendre à l’autre.

Or, ce que nous avons découvert en travaillant sur ce projet, c’est que pour les Juifs israéliens il y avait un tabou supplémentaire, à savoir qu’ils sont venus sur cette terre afin de fonder un Etat juif, le judaïsme en étant la religion officielle.

C’est pour cela que l’idée d’avoir un amant palestinien est inacceptable. Ces tabous persistent jusqu’à nos jours.

En même temps, parler de sexe chez les Arabes est plus problématique que d’en parler avec les autres peuples.
Y. Z. La question est moins compliquée avec les Arabes israéliens. A la fin du film, quand le DJ Sami, en plein milieu d’une fête de gays palestiniens, dit que lui et ses camarades font la révolution sexuelle à leur manière, j’ai trouvé cela très fort. Dans ce film, nous ne visions pas l’affirmation d’une théorie ; tout ce que nous voulions, c’était savoir jusqu’où pouvait nous conduire une telle expérience.
S. N. De plus, nous n’avions aucune idée de la réponse que nous allions obtenir. Etant plus politisé que Yolande, je me disais que nous n’allions rien changer à la réalité, parce que ce n’est pas dans le lit qu’on résout les problèmes.

Au début, je ne pensais pas qu’on irait très loin. Mais petit à petit je me suis rendu compte que notre projet touchait à quelque chose justement parce que nous ne demandions pas aux gens ce qu’ils pensaient du conflit israélo-arabe.

C’est un sujet où chaque côté a son avis sur l’autre, et en même temps chacun connaît l’avis de l’autre sur lui-même.

C’est de l’ordre de l’indiscuté. En revanche, quand on leur demande s’ils feraient l’amour avec l’autre, on touche à autre chose.

Ce qui m’a également frappé, c’est l’inversion qui se produit dans les positions de certains, à savoir qu’ils passent du refus total à l’acceptation…
S. N. C’est pour cela que nous voulions qu’ils réfléchissent à la question du désir. D’où vient notre désir ? Et pourquoi ? Une simple question a ébranlé leurs certitudes.

Nous les voyions découvrir des choses qu’ils ignoraient avoir en eux.
Y. Z. Il y a même dans ce film une relecture du Livre saint. Abraham n’a-t-il pas été le premier Juif à épouser une Arabe [Agar, sa deuxième épouse] ?

Mais pourquoi donc lier le sexe au monde de la nuit, aux bars… ?
Y. Z. Je n’ai pas souhaité poser ma question à des gens susceptibles de se sentir agressés, comme les personnes mariées ou les religieux.

Je voulais m’adresser à des gens qui sont à l’aise avec l’idée du désir, des gens qui sortent le soir, disponibles à l’autre.

J’ai visé ces zones de marginalité afin de voir si les gens qui les fréquentent étaient prêts à accepter l’autre.
S. N. Le film a suscité des discussions virulentes entre adeptes et pourfendeurs de l’idée.

Chez certains, les réponses ont évolué positivement entre le premier et le deuxième rendez-vous, y compris chez des personnes aux positions politiques très arrêtées.

Soudainement, elles ­admettent quelque chose qu’elles enfermaient en elles. C’est vrai que c’étaient des cas rares, les deux communautés étant totalement séparées.

Quelle est l’image qui vous a le plus marqués ?
Y. Z. J’aime beaucoup quand Ibrahim dit : “On ne m’accepte ni d’un côté ni de l’autre, mais de toute façon, moi-même, je n’accepte aucun des deux.”
S. N. Il y a chez Ibrahim ce qu’on peut appeler un complexe vis-à-vis de lui-même, puisqu’il est en même temps arabe et israélien alors que c’est impossible d’être les deux à la fois.

C’est un exil, mais pas comme celui des autres Palestiniens.
Y. Z. A la fin du film, quand on voit tout le monde danser avec tout le monde, on découvre un sourire sincère qui irradie les visages. C’est le bonheur.

Il y a quelques années, quand je tournais en Afrique [du Sud] Classified People (1988), une histoire d’amour entre un Blanc et une Noire, je me disais que, si cet amour ne faisait pas tomber le régime de l’apartheid, rien ne pourrait y parvenir. Et c’est toujours ma conviction.

C’est ce qu’il y a de bien dans le “printemps arabe” : il donne une leçon au monde sur la manière de redevenir un individu au lieu d’être un élément d’une communauté.

Cette leçon vient d’une région dans laquelle il est très difficile d’être un individu.
S. N. Et les Arabes israéliens ont toujours été considérés comme une communauté. On les voyait sous l’angle d’une communauté ayant subi la Nakbah [la Catastrophe, création de l’Etat d’Israël].

Dans le film, on ne les voit pas en tant que communauté, mais en tant qu’individus.

Y. Z. Ce film n’émet pas de jugement. Ce qui m’a motivée, c’était de pousser un cri : “Mais qu’est-ce qui nous est arrivé à nous, les êtres humains ?”

Les théories sont toujours, à un moment ou à un autre, dissociées de la réalité. Notre film réduit le niveau de colère, même s’il ne soigne pas la douleur.
S. N. Le film ne propose pas de solution. Il fait juste le portrait de gens qui appartiennent à un même espace. Les deux côtés se ressemblent sur beaucoup de points.

La différence tient à la place que l’un occupe par rapport à l’autre.

Linking Prozac to Mass Media?  How thinking can be so painful?

I read recently that research has demonstrated that the potential of recalling our past is not totally accomplished until we reach maturity.  And I am wondering “How come it is the youth category that suffer the most from recalling?  Is it because thoughts are very fresh, lively, and tainted with acute imagination?”  I am wondering “How come the youth category is the highest consumer of Mass Media products?  How come their brain structure is so capable of comprehending new discoveries related to Mass Media products?”

What happens when you forget your headphone at home and you have to go through the day?  The pain of living with your thoughts? Do you think that “thought pains” are the best catalyst or motivator to discovering the potential and versatility of the latest Mass Media products?

And here, on September 3, I receive this link on It reads:

” I am in my studio… irritated, frustrated, angry, and bored. I’m constantly agitated, looking to entertain myself. I cook, check my email (without replying), chat with my brother, cook, email, and finally I’m boiling some potatoes.

While waiting for the potatoes, I sit in an isolated room in the house. It’s quiet, without electronics. I’m just sitting. And without delay my thoughts start flowing in. Just like molecules coming together and bonding, my thoughts start creating links. They generate other thoughts, which generate new links, and thus, new thoughts. One of these thoughts happens to be a realization.

I think to myself: “Am I constantly trying to distract myself so that I shut away my thoughts?” Why would I shut away my thoughts? “Because they reveal a painful reality”, my mind answers back. And then it hit me again.

I realize that when I was little, I used to daydream. I realize that there’s a difference between daydreaming and sitting with my thoughts. When I daydream, I invent things. My mind is pre-occupied and focused on one purpose, “My invention”. 

In contrast, when I grew a bit older, I used to run away from home because of family problems. I used to go to a forest and sit on a rock for eight hours or more. And now I realize, that even then, I didn’t sit with my thoughts. I didn’t invent either. What I did do is watch the trees move in the wind, the multitude of smells, my dog moving about, the ants laboring, etc.

In short I was living in the present, being aware of the present (Years later, I find out that what I was doing was some sort of meditation, with being present as its ultimate aim.) But even then, sitting on that rock, I wasn’t sitting with my thoughts. Although I did, unknowingly, develop the ability to live in the present. Yet when sitting on that rock, the thoughts of my current life are so painful, that I had to shut them away.

And now sitting in that isolated room in my house, I’m still doing it. Yet now, I realize that even when I distract myself from these thoughts, I’m still aware of them.  I still experience their painful effects. And to think that I’m protecting myself from pain by constantly distracting myself.

Now I know that this constant distraction leaves the painful thoughts as is, unresolved, un-diffused, unprocessed. The thoughts are sitting there, in the back of my head, causing constant pain. And until now, I wasn’t aware of the source of this pain.

I’m basically under the false illusion that sitting down with my thoughts is painful. Yet, I’m constantly living with the pain these thoughts bring in.  And thinking about them, and resolving them, isn’t more painful. It’s actually liberating. From now on, I’ll try to create the time to sit with my thoughts, go through them, and break out of my pain. resumes: “More and more people are finding it hard to live with their thoughts. They are constantly looking for ways to distract themselves; from their thoughts.

Maybe it’s because their thoughts bring them pain? Are they hiding from the realization that they are not living the lives they hope to live?

Maybe it’s when we start living with our thoughts —when we accept to experience the pain these thoughts bring us— that we really start to live.

Isn’t it obvious that when we constantly avoid something, it probably means that there must be pain in that something? A lot of people know that this pain could hold the secret to their happiness. Yet they are such cowards, that they refuse to accept this pain. Maybe this secret is simply a realization…

The realization that this is not the life they want to live. The realization that they’d have to start all over.

Maybe the only way out of the pain, to find out is to sit with your thoughts, go through your thoughts.

Why is Mass Media such a success?  Everything we’re bombarded with all the time, and everywhere: Television, Movies, Radios, Music, Billboards, and so on… The list is endless. And I realize that Mass Media is such a success because it capitalizes on a most basic human instinct: Our “away-from-pain” instinct. How does Mass Media do that?

Most of the time our thoughts bring us pain. We’re unsatisfied with our lives. We haven’t met the expectations of others. Our lives are crowded with all sorts of problems. We deal with large amounts of stress, anxiety…. All of these are sources of pain — unless we distract ourselves from them. But for this to work, we have to constantly be distracted, because the moment we allow our thoughts to seep in, pain immediately follows. And that’s why Mass Media is such a success. We welcome it, unknowingly, as the best way to treat the symptoms; Just like Prozac.

Why don’t we treat the cause for a change?  Listen to your thoughts.” (End of quote)

How modern ascetics go through life? Those 4 billion of mankind who cannot afford to purchase a single Mass Media product?  How mankind a century ago managed to navigate through the pain of thoughts bombarding their wretched living?  Is it time to re-analyse the life-stories of authors who published their books and memoirs a little over a century ago?  Is it why “ancient” manuscript are ever so current and more so when we read them?




June 2023

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