The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has come up with a very weird way of choosing documentaries that it will consider for an Oscar nomination. Now, only those films that have been reviewed by The NY Times or the LA Times will be considered by the Academy. We all know that these newspapers review only the most mainstream, boring, innocuous kind of movies anybody can imagine. As a result, the entire category of documentary films will be gutted.
I have always used the Oscars as a guide to movies I need to avoid. The only category that sometimes offered some good films on its shortlist was that of the documentary. And now that’s been shot to hell. The Academy has explained its decision by saying that there are too many films coming out and it’s hard to watch them all. So it decided to relegate the decision-making to the film critics writing for two papers selected in an arbitrary manner.
A colleague told me this story. Her mother is in her eighties and it has become impossible for her to live on her own. She has now entered an assisted living facility across the road from where I live (and where I love imagining N. and myself moving in our dotage.)
Everything is good about this assisted living facility except the kind of activities that are provided for its female residents. It seems like the people who manage the facility imagine that all women who are now in their eighties must have been bored housewives with zero intellect in their youth. While the male residents are provided with a discussion club, a political club, and an array of intellectual activities, women are stuck folding napkins, arranging bouquets, and watching soaps.
My colleague’s mother was not a housewife. She was a scholar, an educator, an intellectual. Of course, when she is segregated into a flower-arranging group of soap-watchers, she gets very upset. Just think about it. This is a woman who already participated in one feminist revolution. Should she now start another one in her assisted living facility to promote the idea that women have brains, too? Even women who were born in the twenties, the thirties, and the forties, too.
Maybe its time that we stopped projecting our TV-inspired vision of what the 40ies, the 50ies and the 60ies were like onto actual people who lived in those times. An 86-year-old woman can be as passionately feminist, politically engaged, an intellectual as any 30 or 20-year-old. And a 86-year-old man is not necessarily a mean, patriarchal, woman-hating ogre who will be traumatized by “a little woman” joining his discussion group.
. . . because you:
- are not very beautiful;
- don’t have a perfect body;
- are not rich;
- don’t have a college degree;
- don’t have money;
- don’t use makeup;
- are a feminist in the world of male chauvinist pigs;
- are a fighter for men’s rights in the world of vicious feminists;
- have children;
- are too smart;
- are too complex;
- are too good / nice / kind / perfect;
- have more values and are more moral than people around you;
- don’t sleep around;
- or any permutation thereof
you need to know that none of this has anything to do with your loneliness. You are lonely because you are a self-pitying condescending misanthrope who despises everybody around and people have no interest in engaging with somebody like that.
I know I have written this before, but yet again I’m getting regaled with the statements about how “nobody wants me because I don’t have much money nor am I a huge actor or musician.” Do people not realize how offensive this is to hear? There is an immediate suggestion in this very statement that all women are whores who are just waiting to hand themselves over to a higher bidder.
And if it offends me in an online conversation, imagine how people react when you approach them with this attitude in real life.
And one more thing while I’m at it. I’m not suggesting that anybody change themselves for the sake of a potential partner. Do I make an impression of somebody who would change to please some hypothetical stranger (or even a real person)? That’s a very stupid thing to do. Don’t, don’t change to please anybody or to attract suitors.
All I’m suggesting is that people look for reasons why they are not blissfully happy inside themselves. And if after they resolve the issues that prevent them from being happy, they choose not to be partnered at all, then that’s fantastic.
Human beings have an amazing capacity for happiness. Yet many of us spend our lives in misery with only small pockets of happiness here and there. Shouldn’t it be the opposite, though? Shouldn’t we see happiness as normal and misery as exceptional? When I look back on my life and realize how much needless pain, suffering and depression I experienced because wallowing suited my unhealthy purposes at the time, I feel horrified.
I’m in academia, folks. This means that I’m surrounded by peddlers of misery everywhere. Nobody likes to wallow in self-pity as much as academics (visit the site called College Misery if you don’t believe me). I hope I can be excused for creating a refuge from “the universe is so hoooooorrible” mentality on my own blog, eh?
Even my Indian neighbors are getting desperate for some snow.