You Know What Sucks?

I just received a plaque commemorating the award I got for my monograph. It’s big, shiny, and really pretty. And it’s in Spanish. And my last name is even spelled correctly. It would look amazing on the walls of my office where students could see it.

But I can’t put it up for the same reason why I haven’t been able to put up my diplomas: the walls of my office are covered with stupid sheet metal. I’m sitting here, feeling like I’m hiding in a bunker. I have been able to put up some postcards because they can be held up with magnets. But framed diplomas and this expensive plaque are heavy and I haven’t found a magnet capable of holding them.

Students often say, “Oh, so YOU have a PhD?? Really?” I’d much rather they saw the diplomas the moment they walked into my office and were suitably intimidated. And if there were a plaque next to the diplomas. . . well, you can imagine.

Of course, I can always hang the plaque at home, but who is there to be intimidated by it? And what is the point of a plaque if not to scare people into complete submission to your intellectual powers?

Irreflexive Sexists

Irreflexive sexists are the worst. It’s not like they actually set out to harm or undermine their female colleagues and employees. No, they like women and really want them to succeed. It just so happens that Helen and Keisha are always asked to clean up after a departmental party while Josh and Peter always end up managing new and exciting projects. This isn’t in the least because of their gender. It’s just that “the girls” are so careful and meticulous. It’s a valuable skill that they should be proud of. And “the boys” are simply better at leading people and taking risks. Not all girls and boys, mind you, because that would be sexist. Just these specific ones. An irreflexive sexist is always more than willing to accept feminist ideas just as long as they are put in practice somewhere else.

An irreflexive sexist gets incensed when anybody suggests that there seems to be a disturbing pattern in how people are treated in the office on the basis of their gender. Sexists of this type often see themselves as open-minded and progressive. Many even claim to be feminists. They don’t accept even the slightest possibility that there is anything but pure chance behind their denial of promotion to their female employees.

Paradoxically, it is much easier to deal with a sexist who is conscious of being one. You can at least try to enter into a dialogue and offer counterarguments. An irreflexive sexist, however, spouts all the right verbiage about women’s rights and gender discrimination, so there is nothing to argue about.

Even the Rain: A Review

I’m following through on my resolution to watch the movies on my list of the best Spanish films of all times. Today I watched Even the Rain (También la lluvia), a 2010 movie by the famous Spanish director Icíar Bollaín. She is supposed to be this ultra-amazing movie maker but I’m very unimpressed by this film.

Bollaín is obviously very desperate to be noticed by Hollywood. As a result, she creates a product that follows every convention of the worst and cheapest flicks Hollywood ever produced.The movie is very heavy-handed in its treatment of the story. The mean, greedy producer from Spain turns out to be a deadbeat father. His antagonist, a noble leader of indigenous protesters, is, of course, an amazing father. A famous actor is a falling down drunk. An idealistic young movie director discovers that his compassion towards the indigenous people is nothing but a pose. A cynic turns out to be more compassionate than an idealist. The greedy producer is redeemed by his desire to save a little girl. And guess what? He arrives “just in time” to save her. One minute longer, and she would have died. Isn’t that horribly convenient?

This director also has no idea how to work with actors. She takes two phenomenally talented actors, Luis Tovar and Gabriel García Bernal, and doesn’t manage to utilize them in a way that would make their talent come through. The use of music and slow-motion sequences are nauseatingly predictable. Every scene, every move, even the inflections of the actors’ voices made me feel like I’d seen this movie a hundred times before. And I don’t even see that many movies.

Ideologically, the movie is an embarrassing failure. The point of the film is that even those people from the 1st world who pretend to care about the struggles of the indigenous folks only want to use them for their own gains. However, this is exactly what Bollaín does with her movie, too. The protests of the indigenous people in Bolivia are only worthy of her attention inasmuch as they can be used to allow her rich Western viewers to wallow in pleasing self-flagellation.

In short, I was not surprised to discover that this crapola was selected as one of the finalists for the Oscars in the Best Foreign Movie category. Icíar Bollaín was obviously filming for the sole purpose of getting this nomination. I have no idea why I always hear about this director at scholarly conferences. I haven’t seen her other movies but this is commercial garbage of the worst caliber.

P.S. Even the Rain is available on Netflix with English subtitles.