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May 17, 2008

Leaving Normal

I enjoyed this film overall. I liked the opposing personalities of the protagonists and how they could both help each other via their extreme differences. I disagree with the reading that said it had a focus of women needing to settle down, it did not come off that way to me by any means. My favorite film we watched was Boys on the Side because it had an interesting plot with many different aspects and storylines within it. But honestly, the reason it was my favorite is mainly because I love Mary Louise Parker. If anyone reads this extremely late blog post, she is fabulous in Angels in America, and i recommend watching it.

May 13, 2008

Creative What Not.

Photobucket

I only ever slept with your grandmother.

This postcard is from the Granpa in Little Miss Sunshine to Dwayne.

In the film he tells Dwayne to sleep with as many women as possible, but in (this) reality (that I made up) he has only slept with his grandma.

He misses and loved her so much that he tells Dwayne to be promiscuous so he won't go through the same pain.

Late...again.

I've seen Leaving Normal more times than I can count; it's one of my mom's favorite movies.
I've always liked it since I can empathize with constantly running away (Darly) and making ridiculous spur of the moment decisions. I've always enjoyed how the characters in the film are archetypical. Especially the sister. I think that the film is idealistic, but I also think that's ok sometimes.
My favorite road film that we watched in class was Priscilla.
This is my favorite because it is the sassiest, brightest and boldest.
I also love queers.
And dresses.
And ABBA.

Yeah, I like ABBA. I'm comfortable with that.

I also like the happily ever after ending.

Last Entry

Leaving Normal was a cheesy film to say the least but there was a quirkiness about it that I couldn't necessarily place, but kind of enjoyed. It definitely echoes a lot of Lifetime, made-for-tv movies and was pretty unrealistic but the themes are relevant. It provided a little different perspecive (female) of the rural than something like Straight Story that was interesting to think about.
My favorite road film of the semester was definitely Vagabond. Technically it was the most appealing film for me and kept me engaged the entire time. The way it changed the female "to-be-looked-at ness" with tracking shots was one of my favorite aspects. The various disruptions in cinematic technique and what they evoke in the viewer made it a really beautiful (and sad) film to watch.

May 12, 2008

Last Entry

As I watched Leaving Normal, I too thought it was a bit cheesy at certain points, but enjoyed it overall. The struggles that these female characters go through are very essential to many real women’s experiences: relationships, self-esteem, motherhood, Both characters seemed to push aside the typical responses to these issues and resolve them in an original way. Because they decided to live together and build a home of their own shows that they rejected normal understandings of family, structure and place. They finally learned to choose positive paths for themselves, which in turn, resulted in their success and happiness. Often times we see women in road films reach a demise because they are unable to function in a patriarchal and oppressive world. These women, however, were able to take part of that world and resist many of the oppressive things in their lives in order to reach full potential. I think it was a great way to end the semester.

Overall, I enjoyed almost all of the films. I would have to say that Sans Toit ni loi, Set it Off and Thelma and Louise were my favorites. Thelma and Louise for obvious reasons that most of my classmates have already pointed out. Sans Toit ni Loi showed a different side of film-making and narrated the story about a nameless girl in a way that was both heartbreaking and beautiful. Set It Off really struck me because I thought at first I wouldn’t be able to identify with women who had such different backgrounds as myself. Right away, I felt like I knew each of them and I cared about them. I wanted them to succeed, to be free, to escape. This wasn’t the case for most of the characters, and it made me mad. I felt frustrated for each of them, like I was stuck in their place as well. I think it is important to empathize with all kinds of individuals and have consciousness when watching films. This class showed me a better way to do that as a spectator.

leaving normal

My thoughts on "Leaving Normal" were in the middle... I enjoyed the film but I could have done without all of the cheesey parts of the film. Pretty unrealistic, but really are any hollywood films realistic? I am at without anymore thoughts of the film, I guess that sums up how I felt about it!

My favorite film would have to be "Thelma and Louise" because there is so much history for the film. It was the first film were women really played outside of gender boxes and still made money off of it. I loved the story line and the characters. I also enjoyed it because it was one of the few films that my mother knew of--so it was a place of conversation for my mother and me. I was able to have a feminist thought dialouge with her, which I really enjoyed and she did as well. I also found myself doing the same thing with friends of mine.

Leaving Normal

I thought this film was really interesting in the way it depicted real life and the friendship between two women. I thought the characters were seemingly very different, but eventually it seemed as though they had more similarities than I would have imagined. They both seem to struggle with finding themselves and living the lives they are "supposed" to have. There were however representations of strong women, and I liked how there was a good balance between the two women of optimism and skepticism. It was nice to see the characters bond throughout the film and be able to lean on each other, in spite of the negative things in their lives.

As for my favorite film of the semester, I think it would have to be Little Miss Sunshine. There is something to quirky and inspiring about that film, that I like it more and more every time I see it. Olive is such a genuine character who is full of optimism and hope, despite her surrounding family, who each possess a different struggle. I thought it was really interesting to watch it in the context of a "road film" and think about what the road meant to the family, and how there time on the road helped change them.

Leaving Normal

The film Leaving Normal was a nice and touching film to end the semester with and it really seemed to sum up the themes of the class. The title in of itself - Leaving Normal - embodied many of the characteristics of the characters we have watched over the semester who were marginalized and "looking for something". However, with this film I didn't find it all that realistic that two people who met on a bus bench would end up building a house together with two Alaskan boys. Unlike Boys on the Side there wasn't really anything realistic other than being a good person that would bring these two characters together and end up living together. But overall it was a sweet film.

My favorite film of the semester though would definitely have to be Little Miss Sunshine. I really think that movie was hilarious and even though I had seen it before I think it epitomizes the road film themes that we had discussed throughout class with the family dynamics. I really liked this film because of all the different quirky characters and how all the disasters in the film had some humor to them.

Favorite Movie and Leaving Normal

To start off, I thought the movie Leaving Normal was a nice movie to end the semester with. It was not my favorite movie of the semester, but Ienjoyed many of the elements. I thought Marianne was an extremely passive person in the film which bothered me at times. I really loved Darly's character. She was outspoken and exciting to watch. I wished at times that Marianne would grow stronger. I thought it was great that she left the husband that beat her and hit the road, but I thought it seemed like she was just following Darly the whole time. I love the end of the movie when she says no to the truck driver and stays in Alaska. It was definitely a surprise. I think that the reason I like this movie is because of the bond that Marianne and Darly form together. I didn't think Darly would return to their trailer/house at the end of the movie, but I'm so glad she did!
My favorite road film of the semester would have to be Boys on the Side. Once again, the reason why I enjoyed this film so much is because of the female bond that is formed. When the three ladies hit the road at first, I thought they couldn't be more different. I definitely didn't think they would end up being the best of friends and living together. They truly were there for each other through pregnancies, court, and battling AIDS. It is a story of inspiration. I think every woman longs for that partnership and friendship in their life.

Leaving Normal...

I really enjoyed the film Leaving Normal, because once again it gave us a view of how strong friendship really is. As was the case in Boys on the Side, the women in this movie meet randomly, but as the movie progresses they become eachothers family. It was very clear to see the bond that women share, and how friends can sometimes fill the void that not having a loving family will leave in you. My favorite film that we have watched throughout the semester would be a toss up between, Precilla Queen of the Desert because it was so humorous, or Little Miss Sunshine because of the family bond that they shared.

Leaving Normal

As one of the lighter films of the semester, I felt that Leaving Normal was a less progressive film than many others we have seen in class. The characters did not push the boundaries as Thelma and Louise did nor did it really question any of the binaries we have been studying in class. Although still a good and enjoyable film, it did not catch my attention as other films have in the past. For me, this was a tame and contained Thelma & Louise .

My favorite film this semester was by far Thelma and Louise; The film came out historically when women were finally discussing sexual harassment and rape and the courts were started to recognize them as illegal actions. I can only imagine the effect the film would have had on women at the time it came out. Even today, the film addresses issues that are still prominent today and speak to many women,even myself. I love the way Louise allows Thelma to go through a sort of self realization process and how it opens her up. My favorite scene by far is when they obliterate the truck driver's rig and drive away stealing his hat. The fearless way in which they stand in the convertible with the pistols in their pants makes me want to do it myself. To me, the film is inspiring and reminds women that they don't have to put up with all that crap. It also reminds me of how far we haven't come as women since the release of the movie and how the themes addressed in the film are still pertinent today.

May 11, 2008

The End is Near: Final Blog Entry

Overall, I disliked the film Leaving Normal. I thought that the plot was not risky enough; it had normal characters (no pun intended), like the chauvinistic male and the quirky female they encounter on the road to Alaska. Moreover, I did not like the film because of the dynamic between Marianne and Darly. Although they are very different characters their chemistry did not work like the unique chemistry shared between the women in Boys on the Side. I also thought the acting was pretty terrible because it came off as amateur work (i.e. the scene where Marianne refuses to go with the truck driver).
However, a film I did enjoy was Thelma and Louise. Not only was it ground breaking in its representations of females on screen, the acting was outstanding. Both leading characters played the part perfectly and their relationship on screen seemed real and genuine. This movie broke boundaries and was unapologetic in doing so. Also, I thought the ending was brilliant. I never expected that this movie would end with the women choosing their own destiny, instead of being subjected to authoritative punishment, as many road movies end (i.e. the way the police gun down the characters in Set it Off). Most importantly this film was my favorite of the semester because it was truly empowering and not because of the use of violence against men. It was empowering because it portrayed women taking their lives into their own hands, saying I have had enough of patriarchy and I am going to rebel against it. I will never forget the scene with the truck driver. It was hilarious because I am sure many women, like me, have been in a position where you are caught in the male gaze and it makes you feel extremely uncomfortable. Thelma and Louise, though, take that power away from the male and teach him a lesson. I will forever think of this as a rebel film that had powerful lead female characters, who took action when enough was enough.

Leaving Normal and Favorite Road Film

The film Leaving Normal was very different for me. When the movie first started I thought it was a joke, with the fake scenery and the cheesy acting done by Maryanne, it was hard to keep my attention. As the film went on I was still confused for the most part, but eventually opened up to the differences the film portrayed. I thought that Maryanne acted very childish throughout the film and was extremely annoying. I also thought the script was out of order in some parts. The film was hard to follow a lot of the times, but towards the end of the film I started liking it. I liked how everything finally came together at the end and everyone ended up happy.
My favorite film in this class was Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. I thought this movie was hilarious and heart-warming. The characters in this film were perfect for the parts they played and the film kept my attention the entire time. I never got bored or wondered when it was going to be over. I thought the film portrayed many different binaries from sex to gender. I thought the end of the film was also perfect because the little boy finally met his dad and ended up getting to travel with him. I also loved their drag shows and the music in the film. This movie was by far the most enjoyable film of the semester.

The end is here

In the end, I did enjoy the movie we watched this week. There were times that I found it annoying or completely unrealistic. However, I am glad that in the end the ladies ended up together. The ending surprised me. I was sure she was going to leave Alaska with the truck driver, I am glad she didn't.
They made it look too easy for all these women to become best friends, but once you could get past that, and the annoying red-headed lady, the movie sent out a great message; don't give up. These ladies were dealt bad card after bad card, some of which they dealt to themselves, but they made it. Even if the faltered a little, in the end they came together, built their house and made a new life for themselves. It was a little cheesy, but on the surface, I think, it was a good movie.

So over the whole semester - what is my favorite movie?
I would have to say Thelma and Louise. In class was my first time ever seeing the film and I thought it was awesome. I am sorry I never saw it before, but now I want to add it to my own collection. It is an empowering movie, where two bad ass chicks take to the road and don't take any shit. Maybe some scenes were a little extreme, but that is what film is for. I think after watching that movie, ever woman wanted to hold a gun. Maybe not even shoot it, but just feel the cold metal against her hand, just to feel the power it holds.
Thelma and Louise is a movie every woman should see.

Leaving Normal

I did not enjoy the film Leaving Normal at all. I think this was due to the choice of the actresses in the film. I found Marianne to be extremely annoying and much too passive to view for two hours. Though I know she is attempting to find herself through the road after leaving an abusive husband, but I did not find the characters intriguing at all. I think I would have enjoyed the film more if the character, Marianne was played by a different actress. Looking back, I find the story to be an interesting one. I could not find any character to identify with as Marianne was so naïve and a complete child. I found the characters to be very stereotypical and hard for anyone to identify with. I did enjoy how there are two complete, opposite strangers and they grow into a family. I did enjoy the end of the film with the completion of their home in Alaska, but found myself to be extremely annoyed throughout the film with Marianne. She acted like a dim-witted schoolgirl who was incapable of doing anything. I find that personality to be extremely annoying and difficult to watch. She did not even seem to develop as the film progressed. She had her occasional outbursts at Darly, but never changed. I also found the movie to be extremely corny. I do not think it was up to par with any of the other films we watched this semester. It lost my interest very early in the film with the bad and corny writing. It was not realistic at all in comparison to the other road films and was very cheesy and aggravating to watch a character like Marianne continue to speak when I just wanted her to speak up for herself and progress as an individual.
My favorite film this semester was Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. Not only was this film hilarious, but it was completely unexpected. I came late to that class that day so I did not hear any summary of the film before it started. It was a great film in my opinion. It kept my interest with the dynamic characters and the witty writing. It was unlike any movie I have ever seen. It stood out with the feathers and singing from the other films we watched because it was based on a homosexual’s view of the road as a means of escape and an individual journey. It brought in a whole new situation that would have never entered my mind. Drag queens on the road in the outback? I loved the film. The singing scenes and the mocking between characters left me laughing in my seat. Not only was the film funny, but it also addressed some serious issues like discrimination as the men in the outback fought with anger as they discovered the woman was actually a man. It also brought in the double life that many men feel that they have to have with a career as a drag queen. It addressed such issues while still keepin the film entertaining and witty.

favorite film

I very much enjoyed the film this week. It has a certain element to it that I think the majority of people are able to relate to. Often times in life we are searching so hard for something that we never allow ourselves to actually sit back and enjoy it when we may have found it. failure after failure is easy to relate to most people. We remember our failures and they stick with us. OFten times it's much more difficult to remember the successes. Plus, the scenery in alaska has been something always appealing to me. I would love to move someplace like that someday. My favorite film of the semester was actually Easy Rider, the first film we watched. The absolute freedom of that film was unparalleled in any other film for some reason. I know legistically there were other films where freedom was implied, but Easy Rider had already achieved that at the beginning. I can't really describe it, I just loved it and now own it and have made many people watch it. Also, the discussions I have embarked on because of it have been incredible. That may play a big portion of why I liked it so much.

Leaving Normal and Closing

Overall I liked Leaving Normal. I thought it was creative and showed a women's struggle. there were some things in the movie that I didn't like as much as others but overall I thought the film was good. I liked the fact that these women were complete strangers in the beginning of the film. It felt more dramatic, more intense and a less typical female friendship. I didn't like the fact that these women were seeking families. It was weird to me that this filmed made it seem as if women were only searching for homes, families and love. I think there is a lot more to life than this and so this part of the film kind of bugged me. At the end, I enjoyed the pseudofamily at the end of the film because it reminded me more of my own. It reminded me of the formations that people make and call "family". Overall, I liked the film and the independence that the women found through finding each other.

My favorite film of the whole semester was probably Set It Off. I can't really explain exactly why but the women taking control with violence in the hood appeals to me. I thought this film was pretty intelligent because it viewed this film in a womens' view. This film showed women with their children, working and trying to get out of the hard life. I also liked it because it formed serious friendships and also some relationships in the meantime. The end of the film was extremely emotional. I liked how the poilceman filnally realized what he had done wrong and the reason for the girls' actions. Overall, I really liked this film. There are other films I also liked throughout the semester like Boys on the Side, The Grace Lee Project, Priscilla, etc. I didn't really like Easy Rider, Vagabond, Girl on a Motorcycle and The Straight Story because they were extremely slow moving, and the story line was boring.

Likes and Dislikes about Leaving Normal, Fave Movie for semester

I had mixed feelings about Leaving Normal because there were characteristics that I liked and disliked. First, I liked the ending of the movie since it was happy and they finally stopped running and settled down together. This idea of a happy ending hasn't been achieved without someone dying in every other movie so I was relieved throughout the movie. Some other things that I liked were the relationship that the two strangers had, and the fact that the main character ran away from her husband after he hit her. I am fed up with women staying with their man whether he is abusive, verbally and emotionally abusive, or even a cheating on her. On the contrary, there were also things that I disliked for example, the acting wasn't very good in my opinion or too dramatic. Another thing that I didn't like was the fact that every single thing went wrong for them and serious of bad events went on until the very ending of the film.
As for my favorite film, I would have to say Boys on the Side because I liked all of the actresses and the characters they played. It was my first time seeing the movie and I realized that I liked it even more than Set It Off. I thought the relationship was so strong between the women that seemed like they had known each other forever. It was very precious and I almost came to tears, a couple of times. Those are the type of movies I enjoy with plenty of drama and an overall happy ending. Also, when I say drama I mean relational drama in chick flicks, not when a bunch of things go wrong and there appears to be no hope for anything positive.

Semester's End

"Leaving Normal" was not the most compelling film we've watched this semester, in my mind. I think the story of Marianne and Darly's journey is an important one to tell, but we've seen it before. Curt beats her and the women escape via the road. I think in light of all the films we've watched having to do intensely with identity politics, this film falls short of sharing the same important message of what identity is and how the road scuplts it. It didn't dive into homosexuality like "Boys On The Side" or into a sense of what it meant to ascribe to a certain culture like in "Pow Wow Highway." Rather it told the same story of women who did not have strength finding strength on the road, and since "Thelma and Louise" did the best job of portraying this, what's the point of making a substandard version of the same message. I think if we had watched this film before we delved so deeply into identity politics on the road, I would have enjoyed it more.
My favorite movie of the semester that I hadn't seen before was "Set It Off." I thought that not only did it have a compelling outline of how badly some people need upward mobility, it was also badass. I really just enjoyed watching it: when each woman goes through some turmoil which changes them and makes them fed up with the system, when Cleo drives through the wall of the bank, heck, even that weird sex scene where Blair Underwood drags a chain over Jada Pinkett Smith's bum. I thought it was great entertainment, but also showed us how unfair the system can be, and how some people, no matter how hard they try, cannot outrun it. Then again, as with Stoney, some people can. My favorite film that I had already seen was "Little Miss Sunshine." I remember the day we watched that, the title came up on the screen and I got the warm fuzzies. It is such an incredible movie. Never before has the family dynamic been portratyed in such a quirky, tragic, beautiful way. I love how they complete each other, how they can't start that damn bus without each member there. I'm forever in love with that movie and the way it shows that no matter how horrible things can be within a family, they are still the people who you can always count on, who will keep you moving, and who will make you strong.

May 10, 2008

Leaving Normal

This film was not my favorite. One problem I had with it was the fact that there really was no character development. Yes, Marianne and Darly change in the film, but it is very abrupt and almost out of character for them. For example, the moment when Marianne all of a sudden is screaming and swearing at her husband on the phone--I thought it was kind of funny because it was SO incredibly different from how her character had been up until that point. Her character just bothered me in general because she acted so childish. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive and more quiet--a lot of people have a hard time making decisions, but Marianne acted like something was wrong with her most of the film. I think Darly had some funny lines, but overall the dialogue was pretty cheesy- especially when Harry had his few moments in the narrative.
Out of all of the films we have watched it is hard to pick a favorite because I really liked most of them. I think The Straight Story would be at the top of my list. I really like the actor that played Alvin, Richard Farnsworth. I've seen a bunch of David Lynch films, and I liked how different this one is compared to the others. Compared to the other films we watched I liked the simplicity of this movie. It is just such a sweet and endearing story. Others I loved were Thelma and Louise and Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert- wonderful films!

Last Blog

I did not love Leaving Normal, but I did not hate it either. The only thing that really annoyed me about the movie was the 2 main characters. I guess that is weird to say, seeing as they are central to the movie, but oddly enough, I still kind of liked the movie. With Marianne and Darly's characters, I just felt like I'd seen it before many times over. I know this movie came out a while ago, but I still couldn't help feeling the unoriginality of it, even for the time. Marianne's character was so helpless it was hard to watch. I did however enjoy some of the one liners in it.

Overall though, I would have to say my favorite film of the semester was Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Maybe it is because I know someone that is going through a similar struggle, but I really liked the movie. Plus, I liked watching their drag shows throughout the film.

Leaving Normal (and this class)

Despite Leaving Normal being guilty of a stereotypical beginning (including the ever so poignant bus montage), the film managed to redeem itself through more realistic portrayals near the close of the film.

I must agree with several of the other blog posts concerning Marianne. Marianne's mannerisms seemed directly transfered from her five year old self. Her cadence of speech hints that she never quite knows how she is going to end a sentence, and when she smiles bashfully at the end, I always felt like she was proud of herself for simply completing a thought. After watching the film, it seems that perhaps this was a device to demonstrate Marianne's vulnerability. This makes sense because as the film progresses, Marianne loses much of this mannerism, and reverts back to it only when in tough situations.

Darly also embodies a stereotype, albeit a gruffer one. Darly's nonchalant exterior can grow tiresome, particularly when she insists on deprecating herself, almost to the point of boastfulness. The scene with the bonfire where teh two compare "battle scars", and swap stories of their indiscretions seems trite. However, this conversation does develop the plot, because it gives Darly's return to Alaska more emotional depth.

Overall though, the I enjoyed the film, particularly the ending. I thought the directors could have easily turned the story into a heterosexual "fairy tale" of sorts by pairing Marianne with the Romantic Harry. Similarly, we could have seen the return of Darly's daughter, wrapping up the entire story in a nice bow. Also, I enjoyed that the two Alaskan boys they "adopted" remained in the picture. The women did not abandon them as soon as their own lives became more stable. I believe the film ended with a nice balance of unresolved issues and "feel-good" friendships.

My favorite road film for the class would have to be Set it Off. Although I cannot pinpoint my exact place of fondness for this film, I think it lies in the mixture of being genuinely funny with a moderately realistic (and simultaneously heart wrenching) ending. I would have been disappointed to see all four women escape, something that would never ever happen in the real world. The film also did a terrific job of illustrating how frustrating and debilitating poverty can be. The film is not over-bearing on either side. Although the audience will laugh, this is not a comedy. There is also extreme violence, but not gratuitous. Set it Off is a film I will definitely watch again outside of class. Girl on a Motorcycle? Probably Not.

May 9, 2008

Final Blog

At the beginning of "Leaving Normal" I was not very fond of the movie. It just seemed strange and I didn't care for Marianne at all. As the movie progressed, I began to like it more. Overall, I it was not my favorite road film.

My favorite film would either be "Thelma and Louise" or "Little Miss Sunshine". I really liked "Thelma and Louise" because of the truly feminist power portrayed through their outlaw journey. I also have always been a fan of "Little Miss Sunshine" because of it's quirkiness, humor and overall good road film. There were a few other films that were interesting and enjoyable from the semester. Such as "Boys on the Side", and "Set It Off".

Dear Dad,

abuse.jpg

Dear Dad,
I have finally come to terms with you and the abuse you put me through as a child, but now it is your turn to admit to your wrong doings. We both know you have been lying to yourself and your children for years as you have tried to deny any and all of the sexual, physical, and mental abuse you put me through. How can you ever expect to find salvation and peace of mind until you admit to your wrong doings? How can you live every day of your life in denial of the things you did to me? All these years, we have both pushed these memories and thoughts to the back of our minds, but now I have done my part and it is time for you to do the same. What you did was wrong, but it is the past, and all i can ask of you now is that you stop denying all of those years of your life. I don't know what you convince yourself of, but it is time for you to admit to me and yourself that you were very much in the wrong in the things you did to me as a child.
While naturally i harbor bad feelings for all of those years, my journey across the country helped to put my mind at ease. I know deep down inside of you, you must feel pain and remorse for the things you've done, but the first step to helping those feelings is to admit that those events really did happen. For your sake, Dad, please stop denying your past. Now is the time for you to do what you should've down years ago, and admit that you were not a good father or person to your family. You will never find your peace through denial. Admittance is your first step towards salvation.

Your daughter,
Angela.

Leaving Normal

I didn't really enjoy Leaving Normal. It was very hard for me to find a character that I could identify with or even liked. Marianne was weak, childish and naive. The men were all perverts, abusers or saps. I found Darleen to be obnoxious. Most upsetting were the portrayals of the Alaskan native boys. Apparently the director thought the most realistic way to play Indigenous people was to jump around like apes... I found this to be very offensive and unbelievable.
My favorite road movie from the semester was Powow Highway. I am taking an American Indian studies class this semester and the information presented in AMIN class lectures and this film provided a great connection for me. I don't like Powow Highway because of it's exceptional acting or script, I don't think that the movie was exceedingly great in either aspect. I like this movie because it was refreshing to see Indigenous people instigating the action in a plot line instead of marginalized on the periphery like in Priscilla or Leaving Normal. Also, it provided an an example of what Indigenous people are like today, a culture that is still very much alive. In Priscilla and Leaving Normal, the Indigenous characters are caractures of realistic people. Powow Highway provides viewers with a story about American Indian people that is still very relavant today.

Final Entry

Like much of the rest of the class, I have to say that I didn't find Leaving Normal wasn't particularly good or interesting. The two characters of Marianne and Darleen didn't seem particularly developed or interesting to me; infact, i downright disliked the childish mannerisms of Marianne, so much so that it made it tough for me to get into the film.
My two favorite films of this semester were definitely Easy Rider and Thelma and Louise. I felt that both of these films did a perfect job of exemplifying the road/buddy film in two very different, but successful manners. Both films did a great job of building the main characters and our connections to them as the films progressed, keeping the viewer very interested and involved as they wondered what would happen next. While the characters in Easy Rider weren't as easy to sympathize with as Thelma and Louise due to their illicit activity and their mannerisms towards women, they were still thoroughly developed and likeable dispite their faults. Thelma and Louise on the other hand were very easy to sympathize with, as they were both victims of sexual abuse in a time when women were unable to speak out against it. For me, these two films represent the growth and change of the road film genre over time, and set very high expectations for all other road/buddy films to come.

From Alvin, To Danny Riordan

straightstoryfinal2.jpg

Mr. Danny Riordan,
I wanted to thank you again for letting me stay with you and your wife on my journey to Wisconsin. Slowly but surely I finally made it. While on the road I had plenty of time to think about mistakes I have made in the past, especially concerning my family, namely my daughter, Rose, and my brother, Lyle. Through my reflections, I came to the realization that keeping your pride isn’t worth losing your family and sometimes along with seeking forgiveness from others, you have to forgive yourself.
My daughter, Rose, has every reason to be angry with me. I was not the father she deserved to have growing up. After the war and losing so many friends, I felt that the only way to cope with reality was through alcoholism. Through the years, I have learned that life is much more enjoyable when you’re not numb to it. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling guilty about what I did to my family and to Rose. I think today though, Rose is happy to have a father and I am certainly happy to fill that role. I realized that in order to be the best father I can be I need to be there now and try to forget the past. I’m not going to be around forever, but I can be there for her now and try to make up for lost time instead of losing it by dwelling on what happened so long ago.
While on the road, I also had a lot of time to think about what exactly I wanted to say to my brother, Lyle, when I saw him for the first time after all these years. We talked for a long time. I guess we must both be getting old because neither one of us could very well remember what we were so upset about. It’s nice to have my brother back and a relief to have those ill feelings and bitterness that I’ve been carrying around for so long off of my shoulders. We were so close growing up and it was hard to hear the things that he went through because of me, because he cared so much about me.
I took me almost fifty years to realize how important it is to have a family. It took me a long time to understand why I was so lucky and not my friends, and to forget the things that I saw during the war. It has taken longer to forgive myself for what this has done to my family. But now, at 73 years old, I feel like I can finally begin to live in the present.

Sincerely,
Alvin Straight

Leaving Normal

“Love doesn’t exist, people just settle,? (Darleen, Leaving Normal). I thought this film was alright but definitely not one of my favorites. Both women, Darleen and Marianne, seemed so unaware and detached from reality. This is especially true of Marianne’s character who acts as though she is still a child and incapable of making positive decisions in her life. I was impressed however, when Marianne leaves her abusive new husband Curt. The film makes you think that this was the first time he hit her but we don’t know that and it can be assumed that he was verbally abusive.
Leaving Normal did very little to include different groups of people and only had characters that were your stereotypical white heterosexuals. There was however, two native boys from Alaska but the perception I got was that they were like animals especially the one who didn’t speak English in the scene where he runs after the mail truck. The father of these two boys was not around because he was in jail which is another big stereotype. Although Darleen finally agreed with Marianne about letting the boys stay on the land who is to say who really owns the land. The piece of paper that says Darleen has the rights was issued by the government who STOLE the land from Natives anyway.
I appreciated the end of this film because it seemed pretty realistic. Overtime, the two women and the two native boys finally built the home that Darleen had assumed was already there. Thankfully, Marianne did not ride off into the night with Harrison the love sap and we never knew if Darleen heard back from her daughter which would be very unlikely as the front desk woman assured her several times.
My favorite road film of all hands down is Thelma and Louise. At the beginning the two characters were practically polar opposites with Louise being witty and tough as a rock and Thelma completely oblivious and delicate. The one thing they did have in common though was the fact that they were both women trying to survive in a white male supremacy. They had to deal with some very difficult interactions, harassment, and abuse based solely on the fact that they were women and they quickly leaned how to look out for and depend on one another.
One moment that I found particularly special was when Louise suggested that the reason they got in trouble with that pervert who tried to rape Thelma was Thelma’s fault. This scene is when they are in the diner after they had shot Harlan. After Louise makes this comment she realizes what she has said yet the damage has already been done to Thelma who shoots back.
Through out the film all the women on the road seem so connected and it is such a powerful thing. For one, the waitress at the bar who knows Harlan speaks of his death as something that should have happened long ago and how she rooted that it had been his own wife because after all, he totally had it coming. The end when Thelma and Louise decided to go over the cliff is very inspirational because the two women prove that they are not afraid and they are not about to give themselves up especially when it means that they might spend the rest of their lives locked up in some jail cell under another ruler but just in another form.

Leaving Normal

If I saw this movie ten years ago, or when it came out, I might have enjoyed it then, but I have to agree with the people who've blogged before me that Leaving Normal wasn't that great; especially compared to Thelma and Louise. Yes, it had some underlying important themes about finding a home and that having a non-normative family is a great alternative, but it was predictable and the acting felt too contrived. I feel that this film was trying too hard and I definitely think that it would have bombed (if in fact it didn't) if it had been released any closer to Thelma and Louise.
MY favorite film was a tie between Set It Off and Thelma and Louise. I had never seen Set It Off and it actually made me cry. Seeing those women deal with all the hardships life had dealt them and just how difficult it was to be a black underpriveleged woman really got to me. Their friendship was also so important, I became very introspective after watching it. On the other hand though, Thelma and Louise is such a classic that just watching it was like reminiscing. I felt much more connected to the characters this time I saw it too, I love a road trip.

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I miss my friends, but freedom feels good.

After everything that went down, I can't believe I made it out alive.
I miss my friends so much, but I can't believe I am finally free and can start living the life I want to live.
I will think of my friends everyday and remember all of the sacrifices they have made for me.
I will remember my brother and think of what he could have been.
I will never forget the man who changed my life and gave me the courage to change my life.
My life will never be the same from here on out, and that is just the way I want it.
Wish me luck with my new life, everyday is a new adventure.
From here on out I'm going to do it right.

Peace,
Stony

Home

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Dear home,

I have been hesitating to write to you mainly because my earlier communications with you lead to Thelma and me getting caught. I am not sure why it is that I feel an intense need to keep in contact with you. My assumption is that I have been taught, as women in this world, to know what is supposed to be important to me. My family comes first, then my husband, then my home and possibly somewhere down the line myself. I left you, I wanted to get away from you but as soon as things became hard and I became lonely, I called. First I talked with Darryl and I made him quickly pass me on to the cops. I believe Hal is his name. Hal was trying to be a nice guy but I knew he really didn’t want to help, I think... One would assume that after my first call home that it would end there because I knew it would only lead to Thelma and me getting caught. I guess what I realized on the road was that no matter how much I wanted to escape my domesticity I couldn’t. I guess I am not as strong of a woman as I thought I was. These feminine ideals still have control over me—but I tried to fight them, oh how I tried. You should have seen me! I killed a man, blew up a truck, drove a get away car but still that simple concept of home and where I “belong? still had a strong hold on me. I will tell you this, you ultimately didn’t win. I drove of that cliff, hand in hand with Thelma. I didn’t look back, I didn’t call you one last time, and you actually didn’t cross my mind. In the end my constant calling you lead to us driving off the cliff but you didn’t win—I won. I didn’t return back to you. I did escape you.

Sincerely,

Louise

To my dearest friends:

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TT., Frankie, Cleo,

I can not tell you all enough how much I have missed you. When I look back on our last adventures together, I realize how stupid we were. How could we think that money would be the only way to be happy. I have all the money in the world right now, but I am miserable. I have lost the three best friends I have ever had. Loosing you all has been extremely hard on me.
I feel guilty for surviving. I know that the policeman saw me leave on the bus, or at least I thought. I feel guilty that I got away and am living a life with so many nice things. However, I am not happy. I am lonely without you, without Keith, and without the old me. I know that I can never go back to see Keith. IT will never work out unless I want to sacrifice myself. So, I have decided to hide away in paradise. However, the paradise feels too good to be mine, and I feel out of place. I miss you all so very much.
I will not give up girls. I eventually hope to meet friends again and feel happy the way we were. The rest of my life, I will live for all of us because this is the life we dreamed of. Even though we are not all here together, I will never forget the way it could have been and the way it should have been.
I miss you; i love you, forever.

Love, Stony

Everything I Wish I Would've Said.

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Silence isn't always golden.

Olive,


There was a time in my life when I thought I knew exactly what I wanted; that I was the type of kid who had everything figured out. I wanted to shut out anyone I had an attachment to, live simply, study hard, and literally get my license to fly away. I was sick of being disrespected by Richard, worried for mom, and somehow seeing shards of myself whenever I looked at Frank from across our cramped room. My muteness was more a cry for help, my rebellion a false sense of freedom.


Still, amidst all the fights and frustration, the constant dysfunction, you stuck by me no matter what. I could always tell you were the one person in our family who really got me, but I never gave you the satisfaction of knowing that. I realize that a postcard isn't the most efficient way to dispense big-brother advice, but here's everything I wish I would have said to you all that time I kept quiet:


1. Always keep your dreams in check, no matter how outsized they might feel.
2. Some may say your wide-eyed awe at the world is a mark of your naivety--I admire it. In fact, I wish more people saw things as sweetly and simply as you did.
3. Believe me, pessimism is a lot harder to maintain than optimism--stick with what you know.
4. Stand up for what you believe in, even if it's just getting the dessert you deserve. (Oh, and parents being able to hold things above you and always win arguments? It'll pass. Soon, Mom and Richard will see that you actually know what you're talking about.)
5. Even if they can be a pain in the ass, your family will always be there for you. For better or worse.
6. People will be cruel. Keep YOUR chin up; sock 'em on theirs if you have to.
7. You can do anything in the world you want to.
8. If you ever need anything, you can always come talk to me. I promise I won't be silent anymore.
9. I love you and want to thank you for everything you've taught me, even if you were unaware an impact was being made. It was.


Your big brother,


Dwayne

RIP, Billy

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Billy,
Our journey was a lot of fun, but I can't help but feel guilty for leading you down a path that I thought would change our lives, but instead ended them. I don't feel like we escaped the oppressive society that we meant to, which is why I felt that we blew it. Man, getting girls and tripping on acid is a good time, but what did we really learn? Our whole trip was about finding something better, some kind of freedom, but we ended up just using some girls and heading back to our same old rotten homes. I know you felt the trip was a success, and in that way, you should be resting in peace right now. I'll be seeing you soon.

Wyatt

Leaving Normal

I liked the plot of the film, but the acting was horrible. Marianne was an annoying main character. If she talked a bit more adult like, I probably would have liked the film more.
My favorite film we watched this semesters was "Thelma and Louise". I had never seen it before this class but often heard of it. I liked it because Louise is a tough woman who questioned male authority. Another aspect I liked about "Thelma and Louise" was that the characters went with the flow. Plans were always messed with but it allowed the story to develop on its own. I only didn't like the ending. I wish they would have escaped and live happily ever after, but I guess bad girls have to die, too.

From Alaska

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Dear Emily,

I finally stopped traveling and built a home. Please excuse me from the way I left the last time I saw you. Your plans just weren't working for me. Darly and I are living in Alaska and are working full-time. I should be getting a promotion soon at the hardware store to assistant manager. Along our journey through Canada we meet many different people. I must tell you that I've learned that many of my past choices have resulted in failure but now thats all behind me. Darly and I are no longer running around and its nice to have a home where someone cares about me. Before I thought it was alright to just get up and leave when things got difficult. But here in Alaska things are different. This place feels right to me, I've never had this since of security about my ideas before. You, Rich and the kids are all well. Please write me soon, I would love to hear from you.

Love,

Marianne

May 8, 2008

Darly's Confession

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I don't even know your name-

I ran out on you. Two days old, and I left. I couldn't handle the idea of being a mother, being tied down, being stuck in Alaska the rest of my life playing housewife. It just wasn't me. I was so messed up then. I didn't know what I wanted or what I was doing. Every decision I ever made turned into a disaster. Including the decision to leave you behind. I'm sorry. I wish I could make it right. I know this is a letter you may never get. I know you may never want to know anything about me. I just want you to know that I never forgot. Not a single day did I forget about you. I tried. I have been hiding behind a tough attitude for years. Don't tell anyone, but it's just to mask the pain over leaving you. Maybe I wouldn't have been the best mother. Scratch that, I know I wouldn't have been, but I hope you are happy and have found people to take care of you and love you the way I couldn't. If somehow you do get this, I'd love to see you. Or just hear your voice. Let me know you are okay. I'm back in Alaska now, go figure. Back to the place I so desperately wanted to leave behind. I've finally started making the right kind of decisions, ones that will benefit me and the people I care about. My friend and I built a house up here with some beautiful scenery, I hope one day you'll stop by.

I really do love you and think of you every day. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.

-Darly Peters

Appreciation of an Escape from Normal

I liked the movie Leaving Normal. I thought the underlying messages to not lose sight of what is important, to treat yourself with respect and to value your friends were all too true. At the end when Harrison showed up after Darly had run out on Marianne I was impressed by Marianne’s ability to turn down his offer to go with him. I saw this as a test of who Marianne had become and I wish I was as true to myself as she was.

My favorite film of the semester would probably have to be Boys on the Side. I loved the dysfunctional relationships of the characters and how one obnoxious guy could bring the three together. I thought that Whoopi, Mary-Louise and Drew were all able to paint a vivid picture of their characters. It was nice to see the connection between Jane and Robin and watch how it changed from their first meeting up until the time of Robin’s death.

Final entry

My favorite road film is a tie between Pow Wow Highway and Set it off. Both were very different but I enjoyed the way both ethnic groups were stereotypically portrayed. Actually to say I enjoyed it would be facetious.
I was surpirsed by the way both ethinc groups were bound to their stereotypes, and I think Pow-Wow highway taught me a lot about the general expectations of Native American in society. Set it Off also showed what the normative behavior of blacks is in society. It is dis-heartening though to see that popular cinema never challenges these stereotypes, and I guess another reason i like these films is because of the rididculously normative, stereotypical behavior. It makes me chuckle, and at the same time makes me want to yell" you know it's not that way for everyone..right?!!"

I found Leaving normal to encompass a lot fo the things we learned about in this emester. It was an enjoyable movie to watch with multiple comedic moments. I watched a film critics' review before class and they compared it to Thelma and Louise, I don't think ti is exactly the same. There are quips about T&L in the movie, which lend a bit of self-depricating humor to the film.

It's me grandpa...

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" Olive, honey you're killing me, I told you to wear the black swimsuit."

My beautiful Olive,
It brought me so much joy to watch your pagaent from above, except that the frieken judges didn't appreciate your performance that we worked so hard on. Ey yi yi though, I thought we decided you were going to wear the black swimsuit and wear your glasses. Olive you're a beautiful young lady just how you are, never change for those around you. I must say though, you kicked some major butt on that performance. I was laughing my ass, I mean butt off up here.You made me a very proud grandpa and choreographer today. I only wish I was there to get you ready for your next pageant, though I hear we got the boot from Little Miss Sunshine... oh well, there are plenty more. I love you little girl, say hi to the family for me!
~grandpa

It's A New Life

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Dear Nick,
I can’t believe I thought I actually loved you. Well, deep down I always knew I didn’t really love you, I was just too afraid to leave. When Jane and Robin came over on that unforgettable day, I knew I was never going to see you again. The drugs consumed you and even though I told people you were nice underneath, I WAS LYING. You were a piece of abusive trash! I am writing this letter to you to say thank you. Thank you for helping me realize that I hated you and the drugs. Jane and Robin gave me courage to leave, and all you ever gave me was black and blue marks. I just wanted to let you know that I am the happiest person I have EVER been right now. I got married to a fabulous loving man who would never think of hurting me. I finally went into labor and had a beautiful baby, turns out it wasn’t yours after all. I went from a self-destructive young girl to a caring, responsible mother and wife. You wouldn’t even recognize me anymore.

P.s. You were an amateur in bed compared to my new husband!

Straight Story/ Time to Think

(This is a make-up blog)

The rural road gives the character a chance to think. Unlike the road that is lined with malls, lights, and always has something going on, the rural road is simple. It is lined with fields, and every once and a while, a house. There is nothing to distract the driver on the rural road, and there is nothing to do but look at the simple beauty all around, and to think. This means that on the rural road there is a better chance of the character coming to terms with, and accepting who they really are, because for the first time they have a chance to think.

Postcards Home

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I deserve respect.

Dear Darryl-
When we got married I thought I was going to be safe. I had no idea my life would turn out this way. But in a strange way, I’m glad it did. I had experiences out on the road that I wouldn’t take back for anything. When I first decided to go on a road trip with Louise, I did it partly for the adventure, and partly because I was mad at you for not letting me go out and have fun. While on that trip, however, I learned some things about myself, and my life. I found out that just because I was a housewife didn’t mean I was stupid, or should be treated as such. I am a strong, independent woman, who can make it on her own in the world, and should be treated with respect. Women aren’t just objects of sexual desire, but human beings with inner strength and brains. It is too bad that this information wasn’t revealed to me earlier in my life, but I think I am lucky to have realized it at all. I hope Darryl, that you learn from my experience as well, and in the future you start appreciating the women in your life. Because the woman who cook and clean for you aren’t just mindless idiots, but beautiful, brainy women who deserve your trust, loyalty, and most of all, your respect.

Always,
Thelma

The Bank Job

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I shouldn't have gotten you involved.

Blair,

I can never fully thank you for what you have done for me and I don't expect you to ever forgive me. You didn't give me away to the police and that is only one of a million things you have done for me. I can't tell you how sorry I am for getting you involved and trying to rob your bank. The last thing I wanted to do was get you in trouble or see you hurt. I just hope that you can understand where I am coming from. I come from such a different world where advantages and opportunities aren't handed to you and you have to struggle to get by. This seemed to be the only way out and to start a new life. Plus I couldn't let my girls down. We had to work together on this and be there for each other; I couldn't back out. They needed the money so much more to have any chance or opportunity that you already have. I wanted it to be any bank but yours. I never thought that it would end up this way. I just needed to thank you though for showing me and giving me a taste of what it could have been like with a new life. You were the only part of my life that was seemingly normal. I still have the dress you gave me and I will never forget you or how you treated me and believed that I could be something better. Trying to get out of my world is hard and my friends never got to escape it and I have to live with that every day. It wasn't fair to them and it wasn't fair to you. It wasn't right of me to get you involved or lie to you the way I did. I'm just glad your safe and maybe one day I'll get to see you again.

Always,

Stony

May 7, 2008

Maybe our Girlfriends are our Soul mates....

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Maybe our Girlfriends are our Soul mates and guys are just people to have fun with
- Sex and the City

Dear Thelma,
You changed me. You let me break out of my shell and be the woman I always new I could. You let me take my hear down and let the wind blow through it. You are more than my best friends Thelma, I believe we are soul mates. All this time, we were looking for this deep connection to form with some guy, when all we needed was each other.
I regret nothing, and I am happy to have started and ended this journey with you. There is no one better out there for me to have shared this experience with. We may have made some bad decisions and got ourself into a sticky situation, but none of that mattered. What mattered is that we stuck it out, together. You stood by my side no matter how many men I needed to hold at gun point, and when I couldn't hold the gun, you took the trigger.
You are my everything Thelma.
Thank you,
Louise

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Robin,

Thank you for everything you've done for me. When I was younger I didn't understand my own worth, but you that day came into my house without a fear. It didn't matter that we came from different backgrounds because you handled the situation incredibly. If it wasn't for you, I would be dead. You gave me the mindset to think about my relationship with Nick in a different way and even though you're gone, I still find you telling me what to do and giving me advice with almost everything I do.

I never told you this, but at first I thought that you would have been different. But you weren't. We are both women and we might come from different classes and lifestyles but that didn't matter to you. You still saw me as a person.

Thank you Robin. I miss you dearly.

Love, Holly

I, Billy

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I, Billy should have been more conscious to the fact that the same way patriarchy denied me access to freedom and individuality I denied women these same rights in treating them like tools.


I expected society to accept me as I was. I wanted my uniqueness to be understood or at the very least to be respected. Traveling on the road as the 'other' with my friend Wyatt was oftentimes dangerous because many of the small towns we drove through had the assumption that we were nothing but trouble based on the fact that we rode motorcycles, had long hair, and unusual clothing. Some places refused us room and board, diners refused us food and drink, and others tried to lock us up in their small town jail cell. Luckily, Wyatt was there to keep my temper down when I wanted to solve these conflicts by using my fists rather than my mind and reasoning. I was just so frustrated with the way people treated us based on the way we appeared to them and then I realized that I treat women in this exact same way.
The way I used to chase after women and treat them as though they were objects to use for my own pleasurement was not only completely degrading to them but it was selfish and hypocritical on my part. I wish I would have noticed how foolish I was sooner. While I was angry at society for their ignorance I was being the same way about women and placing them all in the same box even though they were all clearly individuals. I wish I could go back in time and set an example for the rest of the men out there but unfortunately I can not and for that I say sorry to all women. I'm sorry...

May 6, 2008

I just want the ice cream!

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I really don't know what the big deal is...

Dear Mom and Dad,
I know you think that I'm not the most beautiful little girl to enter a pageant and that this beauty contest must have mistaken itself when it chose me. But just give me the ice cream! Don't take away this wonderful, innocent pleasure I desire! I know the whole family doesn't understand how important this contest is to me, but I have not reached the stage in my life where I'm obsessed with my body like many girls. I like our weird family. I like Grandpa being my teacher. I do really want to win the contest, but it's not about my looks Dad, Mom! Let me enjoy my childhood and just give me that dang ice cream!
love your quirky, yet wonderful little girl,
Olive

I regret nothing...

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Thelma and Louise,

I am the embodiment of the sexual malaise in America. I am a sociopath, who has no feeling for women except for what I can take from them. In this story, I function not only as a brute who is beyond ever being considered for any sort of redemption, but also as realistic example of what is wrong with the legal system in regards to rape/sexual assault/ everything that I enjoy. Because, really, I remember hearing Louise say that there wasn’t any way that anyone would believe that you would say no (and mean it) to me. I really can't say that I ever felt you didn't want me, but I can understand that you can be a bit fussy and embarrassed that others may think you are a whore. Believe me, from my point of view, all women are whores, or at the very least, horny sluts. Now you may think that I'm being an unsavory chauvinist pig, but honestly, I'm way too drunk, and too turned on by violent one sided sexual aggression to even care what you think. And after all, while this instance of a violent display of misogyny may have been stopped by one of those few instances of righteous violence; you can rest assured that there are plenty more of men just like me who know what a woman really wants. As I lay dying on the hood of this car, I can’t say that I regret anything except perhaps not giving you rufies, and then maybe Thelma wouldn’t remember to say no.


I am sorry that I can't have you both,

Harlan

May 5, 2008

A name is merely a label...

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Dear Family,

As you may know, my name has always been an issue for me. I was the only Asian in my town, and soon enough found out I was not the only one with this name. At times I wish I had something more unique, something crazy that expressed my creative side. Other time, I'm okay with this name. I wondered though, what does it stand for? Who does it make me?
I realized after meeting all these Grace lee's, it doesn't make me who I am-it only gives me a label. It distinguishes me from the person I am sitting next to on the bus, or the people I work with. That is, unless it's a Grace Lee. Chances are though, that if it was a Grace Lee, we would look different. So there's that too. My name does not make me who I am.

Much Love,

Grace Lee

Leading Proust Scholar

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To my Sister,

Although I never actually disliked you, I have to admit that I never considered us friends, let alone close family. The directions our lives took led us down such utterly different paths that I began to live as if I had no family—no family except the one I constructed for myself from friends and colleagues. However, I soon realized that the family I created for myself didn’t actually care about me. What they cared about was how I was contributing to their lives. When I needed something—needed someone—to lean on without questions, I was shut out of the community. No one cared that I had spent most of my life contributing to their field of study. What shocked me most was how this ‘family’ went on as if I had never existed. No one mourned my absence, or asked where I had gone.

But you, my sister, you had been standing behind me with open arms the entire time. You swept me up in the first genuine hug I’d had in over a decade. I was so entirely convinced that we were too different to interact, that you didn’t ‘get’ me, I didn’t even consider reaching out to you. I have another confession to make: I didn’t want to come to your home. Your husband and children embodied a life I would never experience. In your typical American home, I felt isolated and embarrassed. In the beginning, I was simply waiting for the opportune moment to slip away—to let you get on with your life and me get on with mine.

The trip changed my perspective in ways I never would have imagined. What I had imagined as a happy family was really just a group of people who put up with one another—no matter what. I wasn’t expected to be witty, intellectual, or polished. I simply had to show up and I was accepted. This isn’t to say I was liked all the time, but at no time did I worry about losing you. I learned a new level of acceptance—one that didn’t hinge on my likeability or accomplishments.

Thank you for giving me my family back, even though I didn’t even realize I was asking for it. I wouldn’t choose a dead man I’ve never met over you anymore.

Your brother,

Frank

Dear Benji...

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Benji,

I've lived my life in a very fulfilling manner, doing what I love to do, even if that was deemed odd by others. Despite this satisfaction, I still have this void in my heart, like something is wrong. That void comes from you. I've always wanted children, but I always told myself that I would bring them up in the right way. Although I in no way feel any shame due to my lifestyle and profession, I undertstand that society sees it differently. My recent roadtrip away from the city has only made me realize this more.

While on the road, my comrades and I have experienced immense hardships due to our different choices in life. It will never be my intent to bring you into a world of seeming hate. Not unwillingly anyways. When I look at an innocent child, it is then I feel shame. This shame is not stemmed from my profession, or lifestyle choices, but from the troubles that come with it. I want you to ultimately choose your own path in life. And I want you to know, I will support whatever it is you want to do... even if you choose to live outside the norm. It will be a bumpy ride, and I know I haven't been there for you so far, but you can count on me.

boys on the side: redefining roles and structure

From reading my classmates blogs, it may be unnecessary to reiterate the fact that Boys on the Side challenged normative ideas of friendship. The three women together displayed a gradient of sexuality, class, race and ability. Unlike most of the films we've seen, these women's differing characteristics do not hinder their ability to create lasting, strong non-homogenized relationships. In addition, there is not a single man referenced in the film that plays a savior-like role. (Holly's husband may be the closest, but he played an important role in her imprisonment. )

Once again, we see the road as a place that is leaving the past behind in search of a new beginning. Jane is looking for career success and new people, Holly leaves behind an abusive boyfriend, and Robin is attempting to escape her disease, or at least the place where she acquired it. Like one of my classmates pointed out, the movie itself focused more on their resettlement than their journey. It could be argued, however, that resettlement is a kind of journey that carries on the transient nature of the road.

While their bonds as women and friends (and even lovers) created a family-like community of understanding, loyalty and agency, at the same time, they re-inscribed many normative family ideals. Men took a backseat in this film and were often shown in authoritarian positions, abusive roles, or hyper-sexual beings. Like Thelma and Louise, the women in this movie must perform male gendered behavior to gain independence. Jane takes on a lot of the decision making and other stereotypical masculine qualities. Holly and Robin still possess many feminine qualities and mannerisms. Holly's bi-racial baby rejects normative ideas of same-race families and paternity. Yet her happy ending with a husband and a clean slate seems to reinscribe the normal. Robin's mother represents someone who didn't fit the typical idea of a mother. She and Robin were very removed emotionally from one another and she alludes to the fact that she wasn't the best parent but it was the best she could do. All of these confirm the rejection and acceptance of normative family structure.

To Olive...

littlemisssunshine2.jpg

It wasn't all bad...

Dear Olive,

I'm so proud of you and what you did at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant! But not only that, I think you helped all of us think a little harder about what it means to be a family. Moreover, a family in American society. Me and your father have always wanted to maintain a relatively normal, middle-class lifestyle and his work in motivational speaking is a perfect example of this. Your father believed that positive thinking, optimism, discipline, and perfection are all one needs to succeed in this world. I myself love the idea, but realize that things are never this easy. I think it took being rejected for your father to realize this as well. I want you to see that on the other side of this picture perfect ideal can be found our reality. Our reality includes an addicted grandfather who no longer is with us, a gay brother/uncle who so strongly felt failure that he wanted to end his life, a teenage boy also struggling with failure, and financial insecurity that looms over the future of the entire family. It is important to understand that although these struggles go directly against what it means to be a successful family in American society, they are struggles that EVERYONE goes through. Hiding from this fact only makes the struggle that much longer and arduous. It is in your relationships with your family and friends that some reprieve can come from these struggles. American society would like you to think otherwise through the projection of ideals that are impossible to upkeep. You helped us all to realize that. It is in acknowledging the truth behind the lies about what a "normal" family is these days that one can then actually attempt to make real change in their life. So for that, thank you Olive!

Love,

Mom

To Olive...

littlemisssunshine2.jpg

It wasn't all bad...

Dear Olive,

I'm so proud of you and what you did at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant! But not only that, I think you helped all of us think a little harder about what it means to be a family. Moreover, a family in American society. Me and your father have always wanted to maintain a relatively normal, middle-class lifestyle and his work in motivational speaking is a perfect example of this. Your father believed that positive thinking, optimism, discipline, and perfection are all one needs to succeed in this world. I myself love the idea, but realize that things are never this easy. I think it took being rejected for your father to realize this as well. I want you to see that on the other side of this picture perfect ideal can be found our reality. Our reality includes an addicted grandfather who no longer is with us, a gay brother/uncle who so strongly felt failure that he wanted to end his life, a teenage boy also struggling with failure, and financial insecurity that looms over the future of the entire family. It is important to understand that although these struggles go directly against what it means to be a successful family in American society, they are struggles that EVERYONE goes through. Hiding from this fact only makes the struggle that much longer and arduous. It is in your relationships with your family and friends that some reprieve can come from these struggles. American society would like you to think otherwise through the projection of ideals that are impossible to upkeep. You helped us all to realize that. It is in acknowledging the truth behind the lies about what a "normal" family is these days that one can then actually attempt to make real change in their life. So for that, thank you Olive!

Love,

Mom

Boys on the Side

The film Boys on the Side introduces many bianaries to viewers, often favoring the marginalized as opposed to the normative, more valued traits. For example, Whoopi Goldberg displays many of these non-normative traits. She is black (or not white), lesbian (not straight), working class (not privileged) and she does not act her gender (female-feminine). Mary Louise-Parker in most cases fits into the more powerful “normal? bianary. She is white and privileged. She is straight but falls out of this bianary due to her relationship with Goldberg. Louise-Parker’s struggle with AIDs challenges the “normal? social structure as those with disabilities fall into a marginalized bianary. Drew Barrymore and Louise-Parker both act their gender roles. They are both feminine and pay special attention to their appearances. Barrymore is white and straight but she also challenges normal as she is not really privileged, she is in an abusive relationship and has a criminal record. Barrymore also challenges normal as she is pregnant and not married. She doesn’t know who the father of her baby is, she is flirtatious and promiscuous, traits which challenge her portrayal of her female gender which normally means quiet, innocent and monogamous.
In the end Boys on the Side redefines and reinscribes "the normal." Barrymore succombs to normative expectations of a heterosexual white woman. She gets married to the all-American police officer and fulfills her womanly duty as a mother. However, her baby is black and isn't the biological son of her husband therefore challenging "normal" bianaries. Louise-Parker and Goldberg completely reject "the normal:" a bi-racial lesbian couple plagued by AIDs. I also noticed that the soundtrack to these women’s lives was comprised of songs written by males and initially sung by males but adapted by women suggesting a shift of bianaries and power.

Boys on the Side

In the film Boys on the Side, the friendships of the women challenge the "normal" social structure because their bonds are so tight. They understand each other in a way no one else can. In a way, their experiences with men, while all different, brought them closer than anyone could imagine. In court, the prosecutor doesn't understand how the women can feel so much for each other without being in a relationship. At the end of the film, when Holly is out of jail, we see that the women are living "normal" lives again. Jane is living with, and taking care of her sick friend Robin, and Holly has a husband and family of her own. Everything is back to how society says it should be.

Boys on the Side

In Boys on the Side the social structures were challenged because of the relationships between the women. It didn't matter the race, sexuality or class of these women. This challenged the social structure because it broke the barrier between these structures. This film shows that black, lesbian women can have a platonic relationship with rich, or poor, straight, white women. Boys on the Side tries to show the foolishness of these structures. It shows that the structures do not matter, but that they are obviously there.

In the end of the film, a new form of family is created. It is a family made purely of women. The women in the family have different lifestyles, are different races, and believe in different things in life. The women consists of Jane, Robin, Holly and Elaine. It seems that all the women that form this family feel alone and not understood. After Holly accidentally kills her husband, there seems to show a bond in their relationships. The women start to realize although there are physical and mental differences between them, they are understood by and cared for each other. This is the ultimate thing that forms their new, strong family toward the end of the film.

Boys on the Side

The female friendships in Boys on the Side very obviously challenge existing social structures. They challenge ideas about interracial friendships through the already existing friendship between Jane and Holly and the friendship that forms between Jane and Robin. The friendships made between the Latina women in New Mexico challenge this as well. The fact that Jane is a lesbian, Robin is straight, and Holly is bisexual and that they can all develop such strong bonds with one another also challenges social norms. Robin being a straight, white, middle-class female infected with HIV is also an important facet to the plot. Demographically, this goes directly against common views about who is infected with HIV. When Jane embraces Robin in friendship despite discovering her illness, it is an important way of showing a person who transgresses a social inclination to abandon those infected with a disease as fatal as AIDS. It isn't merely the fact that all of these women with such different backgrounds become friends, it is the strength and complexity of the bonds of friendship (however cheesy they are portrayed in the film) that challenges social structures. It is one thing for them to just be friends, but, for example, to stand up for one another in the one of the ultimate spaces of patriarchal power (the court of law) is much more subversive.
Unfortunately, however daring the friendships are, at the end of the film a very traditional sense of the "normal" family gets reinscribed. After Robin dies, Jane is left feeling alone but this loneliness is supposed to be redeemed by the fact that Holly is out of prison and beginning a new family. Only, this new family does anything but challenge existing social structures. Holly serves a short sentence in prison, rightly, for a crime of self-defense but it needs to be noted that (as was mentioned in other blogs), had Jane committed the crime this would be a whole other story. Holly gets out of prison and returns to a perfectly normative white, middle-class lifestyle with a handsome, white law-abiding cop. The truely transgressive nature of the "family" that was cultivated throughout the film, in the end gets replaced with the epitome of a "normal" all-American family (bearing the names of a very revered American president, Abe Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd, haha).

Boys on the Side

As has been shown in many of the films we have viewed previously, the bond between women is very strong. We have been previewed to many different types of friendships and bonding that women share, especially when on the road. Boys on the Side is no different in the idea that it shows the friendship and bond that is shared between women, but it is very different in the dynamic of that friendship. No other film that we have seen has shown such a strong non sexual relationship between a lesbian and two straight women. Their friendship breaks down any stereotype that has been held on the friendship between homosexuals and people of the same sex. The friendship that these women shared would by no means be called "normal", but they created their own normal. The women had no one else, so they leaned on eachother and became family to one another. Even though one of the women was a lesbian, that only strengthened the bond and friendship that they built. It gave us as viewers a new perspective on what friendship is and what it could be. In the end they became, what was to them a family unit.

Boys on the Side

The film, Boys on the Side, shows a wonderful relationship between female companions. Each of the three women bring a unique character to the story. Their differences are what make their story so touching and inspiring. When Jane and Robin meet for the first time, Jane is unsure that the two of them would make a good watch for taking a road trip. She sees Robin as an uptight middle class white woman. Jane is an out of work black, musician who is also a lesbian. To Jane's surprise, Robin does not judge Jane at all and the two end up becoming great friends and secret lovers. Holly, the third woman in the group, is extremely freespirited and young. After killing her ex-boyfriend, the three women make a run for it to Arizona and never look back. The bond that they share through this secret keeps these women bound to one another. They move into a ranch in Arizona and live together in a peaceful environment.
The bond between women in this story is more than a bond of friendship. It is a bond of family and true belonging. These women understand each other and lean on each other. Towards the end of the story when Robin is dying of AIDS, everyone is greatly effected especially Jane. The story shows that a bond between women can be an extremely deep and emotional one. These women reinscribed what it means to be a part of a family, and it can easily be a groups of women that all care for and love one another deeply.

Boys On The Side, Girls On The Edge

"There's something that just...goes on between women."


The bold female friendships we see in Boys On The Side are first and foremost marked by a kind of uncommon infallibility that would usually fall victim to the petty backstabbing in film fiction. Bound together by a series of unfortunate circumstances (Robin's struggles with AIDS, the accidental murder of Holly's abusive boyfriend) and "unconventional" situations (single women "shacking up" together without men in the picture), these three women are ultimately unafraid to display this different kind of love to a generally misunderstanding society. It has traveled beyond notions of romance, lust and lesbianism--despite what a number of supporting characters seem to think--and into the realm of family, where even the most difficult of paths always leads back to a comforting sense of companionship. And yet, it's something more than a dependence on one another--I like to think of it as independence with and because of the people you've chosen to surround yourself with.


Unfortunately, Boys On The Side's new family system at the film's end reinscribes a "normal" it seemed so hellbent on combating. Though she starts out as a wild alterna-riot grrrl who does what she must to escape her shitty life, Holly gives birth to her baby and marries her straight-laced dream-man-of-the-moment (whose dedication to the law means he "knows best" and has the right to arrest her), but not without first--and willingly!--paying the price for what was essentially self-defense. Robin is of course exterminated, because she for whatever reason failed to follow society-deemed rules of lifestyle and could not be allowed to live with her disease (another student pointed this out, and though I didn't quite see it that way at first, it now makes a whole lot of sense considering the rest of the happy heteronormative ending). And Jane, who spends most of the film avoiding the morph into a walking stereotype, is still saddled with a crush on a straight girl and denied at least an obviously happy ending. It's as if that accusatory courtroom scene shaped the conclusion, and two women who were "too close" to be in just an extremely intense friendship had to be punished.

boys on the side

“Boys on the Side? gives us a new angle on the road film. Three women travel on the road with no men, there are two different races (black/white) and different forms of sexuality (lesbian/bi/straight). This film is the first film where most of the plot takes places after the road journey ends in New Mexico. It is our first look at life after the road. And that life both pushes and reinscribes normative ideologies. The three women are brought together by not so normal means. Jane and Robin meet because Rob needs a driver to take her across country (who does that with a perfect stranger?) And they add Holly into the mix when they flee her abusive boyfriend after killing him. Not how “normal? friendships form in this world. But this unique bond creates a depth of friendship that pushes normative ideologies of female companionship. There is constantly a tension of sex and lust between the three, where friendship and lover becomes blurred. That alone pushes normative ideas about older single women living together. All of this is looked at through the lens of the almost fairy tale ending., almost because one character “dies?. Even here Robin’s death is not so clear. We never see her dead body; we just see an empty chair. And just like “Thelma and Louise? after the final scene it cuts to the credits and while they are rolling, snap shots of the three women flash on the screen. This alludes and signifies that the three still live on even though the reality is there “family unit? has changed. I believe the biggest way the normative family was reinscribed was by Holly and her perfect little white, straight, middle class family. I wonder if the outcome would have been the same if Jane killed Holly’s boyfriend. In this society the outcome would have for sure been different. Only the privilege of Holly’s skin allowed her to have the ending she did.

Girls on the other Side

In Boys on the side, these ladies create an unbreakable bond with each other. They become extremely close and are unafraid to share this relationship with the world. They are brought together by one women’s unfortunate relationship with her boyfriend, from this moment they are bound together. Also, because one of the women turns out to be homosexual, this also challenges social structure. They also openly talk about their sexual experience, which is not always seen coming from women. And in the end, we find out that two of the women have developed a relationship that is more than friends. Even though people are exposed to lesbians, it is out of the norm that a heterosexual women would fall for a lesbian.
In the end, we see everyone together singing. As they pan across the living room we see Holly and Abe with their new baby, a perfect little family – disregarding the fact that the mother is a convict. This scene reinscribes the “normal family? with the masking of the music and panning over the smiling faces of all the friends and family.

May 4, 2008

Boys on the Side

In “Boys on the Side? the strong female friendships that are established within the film challenges the existing social structure by not hiding their deep love for one another. Society attempts to label their bold relationship as “romantic? as demonstrated in the courtroom during Holly’s trial. Yet, the women do not try to hide their deep love for one another even when individuals in society deem them as lesbian. Also, their strong relationship which is established with their independence from men and their dependence on one another for companionship is questioned. The social structure views such a relationship as wrong because three women are capable of a life without men and are successful. The lawyer believed that Holly was forced to leave her husband as if brainwashed from the “lesbian? Jane. How could any woman want to leave a man even if he abuses you and hit the road with a lesbian and an AIDS victim? How crazy that is! They are questioned for their actions without men and ultimately succeed and bond. They each are from completely different backgrounds and social classes. Yet, three women come together to form an unbreakable bond and a family. They bond over the oppression that they each suffer in our patriarchal society and create an oasis away from it with each other. They created their own safety net within each other that they can confide in and trust. The new family system at the end of the film reinscribes “the normal? because family is based on love, not genders or minorities involved. They form their own family out of the true, undivided love for one another. They formed relationships on a deeper level that leaves the memory of Robin in the memory of Jane forever. It simply shows the effect of a loved individual on another in a relationship. Why question sexuality when the relationships established are strengthened through experiences, both spiritual and emotional.

Boys on the Side

“The bond they form is based not on the personal intimacy and the
emotional intimacy that characterizes sentimental female friendships, but
rather on mutual recognition of shared oppression,? (Hollinger, 108.) In
this film Boys on the Side, the three main characters are quite a diverse
group of friends and that right there is a threat to the white patriarchy
in the U.S. Firstly, Jane is a black woman who is a lesbian and lives with
Robin, a white supposedly straight woman. Robin’s mother quickly points out
the how this is not normal and unacceptable in society. Robin is also a
woman who has contracted AIDS and this is something that for many years and
around the time of this film was a gay man’s disease. The third character
Holly is into drugs and seems to find herself in many different sexual
relationships with men. When these three women decide to leave Pittsburg
they are leaving their friends, families, and intimate relationships behind
as if to suggest they don’t need the partners in their lives nor their
families. Our society firmly believes that family and spouses are the most
import things. Another huge thing that doesn’t mesh well with the social
structure is that fact that all three of them worked together to help Holly
escape her abusive boyfriend and even worse he ended up dying. This
suggests that these women are violent and murders (GASP!!!)
The end of the film reinscribes “the normal? especially in Holly’s
case because she gives birth to her bastard baby and marries Abe who is a
cop. Before this Holly had to spend time in jail because her boyfriend ABE
thought it was the right thing to do even though he didn’t know Holly as
well as Robin or Jane did he is a man so therefore he knows what is best.
Also, this shows that if a woman uses violence than she must be punished
even when she is defending her own life and the life of her unborn child.
The death of Robin in a figurative sense reiterates the outcome that women
who do not follow societal norms will have-death. Jane also, illustrates
the lesbian woman who will never be happy and will never have her happy
ending.

Boys on the Side

The friendships in "Boys on the Side" challenge the existing structure of women living with the men who take care of them. This is especially true for Holly, who leaves her baby's father to live with two very different women. The women are brought together by the secret that they accidentally killed Holly's boyfriend, Nick. This situation gives rise to a powerful friendship that more closely resembles a family than simple friends. One of the obvious features which make this an odd "family" is that Jane is in love with Robin, who is battling AIDS and in need of a companion. Also, Holly's new boyfriend agrees to help her raise her child. Although theirs is not a traditional family, the three women started a new life together and are bound by a love as strong as any other family.

Boys On The Side: Bold Relationships

The bold female friendships that were portrayed in Boys On The Side challenged the existing social structure on many levels. At first Jane wasn’t very open about liking other women and had to explain herself to Robin but, at the same time, Robin was very open about being HIV positive and had to explain herself to Jane. I felt their relationship grew so much throughout the film. On some levels it could have been mistaken as a romantic relationship. Robin questioned Jane a lot about her sexuality and if she was interested in her and I thought for sure by the end of the film Robin was going to fall for Jane. Yet, I think on some level she did and their friendship developed even more. It was also clear that Robin’s mom started accepting Jane more as the film went on. Robin’s mom started to break out of her shell a little, especially when she called the nurse a cunt (I don’t think anyone was expecting that). The relationships at the end of the film kind of reinscribed “the normal? because what happened at the end of them film is what a lot of people expected to happen. Holly and Abe ended up getting married and keeping Holly’s child together and Jane decided to go pursue her dreams in singing. Jane also made it clear that she was never going to forget Robin and that she loved her dearly.

Full Circle - Bold Female Relationships to Normal Family

Bold female friendships challenge society’s existing family structure in Boys on the Side. In this film Jane and Robin’s friendship is so bold that it actually borders on a gay-relationship. These two women appear as part of a couple when Jane is in the hospital and lifts and repositions Robin, or when Robin started to sing at a party but was not strong enough to finish so Jane joined her. Jane and Robin loved and respected one another and a part of me had hoped that they would end up together, romantically.

In order to reground this film in the existing social structure a new family system evolves at the end. Holly, who has almost been like a child to Jane and Robin, is pregnant but manages to meet and fall in love with Abe, a local police officer. In this relationship we watch as Holly takes on a submissive woman role that is demonstrated after her trial when she is given two options for her sentence and says that she will do what Abe wants. In the final scenes of the film Abe, Holly and the baby show up to visit Jane and Robin. This family system seems to demonstrate what “normal? is and I found that it gave me hope (which when further considered makes me kind of sick).

The House that Jane Built

I don't know what it is but there's something that goes on between women. You men know that because it's the same for you. I'm not saying one sex is better then the other. I'm just saying, like speaks to like. Love or whatever doesn't always keep. So you found out what does, if you're lucky. –Robin, Boys on the Side

The relationships between women in Boys on the Side challenge the existing social structure on a variety of levels. Firstly, the crossing of racial boundaries: Jane embodies the archetypal Urban black woman (also lesbian, which we’ll get to later). Jane is forward, brazen, and unapologetic. However, she does not confine herself to this social circle. The women who grow to be her two closet confidants are both white, one of them (as Jane states), “The whitest woman on the planet?. Although these women approach the topic of race, they do so only in a curious (and comic) manner, such as when Robin asks, “Is this a black/white thing??. Similarly, Robin serves as the stereotypical, Type-A, controlling, anal-retentive, timid white woman. However, as the two women spend more and more time together, they shed some of the layers of their stereotypes, and take on attributes the other possesses. For example, after spending a mere day together, Robin begins to lose some of her tittering mousiness by taking hold of the chaotic situation at Nick’s apartment. Jane also allows some of the gruffness she started the film with to fall away as she spends time with Robin and Holly. Jane allows tenderness to show through during the scene in the hospital when Robin admits she has nowhere else to go. Both women are care takers of Holly, who takes on the role of the child in the relationship. Although she is the one giving birth herself, the two older women act as parents, guiding Holly through the naiveté of her youth, and helping deal with the mistakes of her recklessness.

The women also break down social structures by being accepting of both homosexuality, and those living with the results with social/sexual immorality. After the women discover each others secrets (being gay, being pregnant, being HIV positive), they do not distance themselves from one another or seek to demonize behavior. Instead, they offer one another a place of refuge both psychologically (Jane offering friendship and support), and physical (Robin offering up her home as a haven for all 3 women). None of these women expect one another to conform to socially normative behavior. This acceptance continues even when Holly involves herself with a man that the other two disapprove of, a man who completely ascribes to the heteronormative/white/law abiding way of life.

Despite the ‘falling out’ the women experience, they reconcile in such a way that reinscribes the typical family. The family has all the necessary components: adults, children, a house, etc.; however, they do not appear in a typical fashion. The child is biracial, and the man taking care of her is not her real father. One woman is stricken with AIDS, a disease once completely associated with homosexuality, must be completely cared for by others. Another is both black and gay. However, the women have learned to form social bonds outside the normative structure, as Robin states, “I'm just saying, like speaks to like. Love or whatever doesn't always keep. So you found out what does, if you're lucky?.

Challenging social structure

In Boys on the Side, there were many characteristics that made the friendship between Jane, Robin, and Holly challenge social structure. Jane is a black lesbian, Robin has AIDS, and Holly is young and pregnant which sets them all as minorities in the society so they already challenge society, in general. All three of them together make a very unique friendship because they rely on each other for support and all live together which society doesn't condone. In society, it is labeled as normal when college students live together,mothers and their children live together, but not when three girl friends who are all different ages and who have nothing in common. Women are supposed to be with men and therefore live with men and they are to be married before they have babies, at least this was the idea in the past. Robin's mom is an example of what society expects that white people live together, gay people live together, and married people live with their children. Robin and Jane were like best friends but they managed to fall in love which pushed the limits of how society looks at friendship. The friendship was closer than many in society since people usually live with family or their mates and then go see their friends in separate homes. Society has its own boundaries for what families and friendships are supposed to be like. But even though their friendship challenges the social structure, the family that develops in the end reinscribes what is seen as "normal." In the end, Jane goes to live on her own in LA, while Holly, Abe, (her husband), and her baby go to live together. Families stay in contact over the phone and see each other on the holidays and that is just what appeared to be happening at the end in the movie as they parted ways. The family that reinscribed the "normal" that Holly and Jane had, and Robin but she died, was built on honesty, trust and loyalty because they stuck together through thick and thin. For example, they showed that they were a family when Robin and Jane went on trial for Holly when she was on trial for murder.

The "normal" and social structure in "Boys on the Side"

Bold female friendships in the film “Boys on the Side? are challenged by the existing social structure. Within the existing social structure female relationship between women who are close or live together are questioned. They are questioned on the level of sexuality within the relationship. Are the women lovers or wish to be lovers? In court, when Jane is on the stand, the lawyer questions Jane’s sexuality and relationship status with Holly. Jane comments on females not needing males, which allows the lawyer to question Jane and her relationships. Women cannot be close in the social structure of “Boys on the Side.? However, Jane and Robin challenge the social structure by living together and standing by each other as a spouse or family would. Jane, Robin and Holly also have a relationship that challenges the social structure of the film. Jane and Robin save Holly from her abusive and drug addicted boyfriend. From then on, Jane and Robin work together to protect Holly. After a fight and Jane moves out of Robin’s house, Holly is put on trial for the death of her ex-boyfriend Nick. Robin puts the fight aside because they are family and family sticks together. Robin is also questioned about her sexuality on stand because of her close friendship with Holly and Jane. Both Jane and Robin have to explain themselves and their female relationships to society because society pushes their relationship to the side. The new family system between Holly, Abe, and their child is not the normal white suburban family one normally sees in films. However, this family does reinscribe “the normal? in a few ways. Holly and Abe marry and become a family and plan to raise the baby in normal structure, with a husband and wife. Abe signifies the man that was missing to complete the home for Holly, Jane and Robin. A home with security, acceptance, and support is what all three women were looking for. Before Robin dies the home they were all looking for is complete.

Boys on the Slide

Herbert Ross's Boys on the Side while at points poignant and touching seems to feel dated even for a 1995 film. Amidst the intertextual references to Thelma & Louise, as Jane says cattily "I ain't going over any cliffs with y'all"; the film reinscribes the social normal in similar ways to some other queer films we have watched, The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert comes to mind for me.
This films challenges the social norms, in a profundity of ways that almost echo Priscilla, as much as that the use of three primary characters, immediately destroys a binary, by introducing a trilogy of different social circumstances from which the characters are indoctrinated with.

Holly's description of Jane's sexuality to Robin seemed comically dated, and stereotypical, but Jane's attempt to "normalize" Robin's sexuality by arranging a sexual liaison for her with Alex created the most interesting friction of social norms, particularly strengthened by Robin's disease. Although HIV has been mentioned in films before (Philadelphia , anyone?) to see it placed in a film affecting an upper middle class heterosexual white woman, certainly adds some depth to its dangers, and is a noble effort to not only humanize the disease's effects, but to demonstrate that it is dangerous to all humans. Robin in a lot of ways as the catalyst for reinscribing normality in the film, as she not only saves Holly from her abusive lover, and acts as an almost surrogate mother to her, but bridges the gap of understanding between her "feminist" mother, and Jane. But sadly Robin's suffering, and death could be read to follow such misogynistic tropes as women need to suffer to maintain their families.


But then again, maybe they do.

;)

Dear Daniel

Girl-on-a-motorcycle.jpg


I was blinded by my obsession...

Dear Daniel,
I have been thinking about all the fantasies I had about you and experienced with you. I couldn't wait until I went to see you because with you was like a natural high. I yearned for the touch of your body and your good love-making but that is simply all that you wanted from me. I know you believe in the idea of "free love" and I understand that but it gets old and I can't deal with it anymore. My husband, Raymond, might not have been the one for me but he did love me even though he didn't express his intimate feelings with me at all. This is where you came in, to fulfill those physical needs that I longed for, but I can't live for those feelings anymore. I obsessed over you so much that it became my life and I wasn't complete unless I saw you.
I loved how agressive you were and that you gave me a motorcycle. I finally realized though that the motorcycle was just the bait to make me keep coming back to you. I know you enjoyed the time we shared together and I did too but it needs to end. I have come to the realization that I am better off without you. You played with my mind and practically brainwashed me to think that there was nothing wrong with the random relationship that we had. I, on the other hand, am unable to separate my emotions with my physical needs so I am going to let you go and settle for something else. I know you will find someone else to mess around with and I will stick to my dreams. I don't want to know what you have to say back nor do I want you to contact me ever again. I am going to move on and that will start will straightening things up with Raymond and if he doesn't change then I'll have to settle with no one. It is time for me to live for myself.

Sincerely,
your ex lover,
Rebecca

I have no idea which category is for David Lynch's Straight Story also late... :(

Straight Story David Lynch's peculiarly heartwarming film (especially when considered with his canon of films, many of which have been described as violently misogynistic) depicts life at a pace, and tone different from all of the other films we have viewed this semester. That big nasty beast, known as the road, is ridden at pace that may kindly be called contemplative, as Alvin Straight travels on from Laurens, Iowa, to Mt. Zion, Wisconsin on a riding lawn mower.

The road in this film differs not just from the slow pace at which it is traveled, but also from its exclusively rural setting. This rural setting also has a sentimentalizing effect on me, as it is in the Midwest, but the film's town tends not to overtly sentimentalize anything. But also Alvin Straight is a bit different from all the other characters we have seen, insomuch as he is 73 years old. Straight's journey, seems to be conceptualized as an allegory for the seemingly slow journey towards death, as his goal is not to escape his current life, but to make amends for his actions from years earlier.
Though making amends, could read as a desire (or want) the grave life or death circumstances are coupled with his increasing fragility, and Straight succinctly puts it, "Well I can't imagine anything good about being blind and lame at the same time but, still at my age I've seen about all that life has to dish out. I know to separate the wheat from the chaff, and let the small stuff fall away." Thus the road journey becomes not a desire but rather a need for him to continue on, or at the very least close the last chapter of his life on a good note.

Better Late Than Never.

Jonathan Wack's Powwow Highway is interesting in its fusion of identity politics, drama, and humor. It contains moments that seem to exemplify the rage and frustration that can arise from being subjected to a corrupt, and apathetic dominating culture. The ending of the film, however, feels to me to be very reminiscent of a Hollywood film, in it that it comes across as pretty peachy. Redbow (the politically minded, and now spiritually awakened Native American) and company (his sister and her multiracial kids, and a open minded and understanding white woman) escape from the police, while Philbert is presumed dead in a car crash.

Only for Philbert to have narrowly escaped a tragic accidental death, and (surprise!) now we have a happy ending. For me this seems like putting a band-aid over an amputated limb, insomuch as this creates a much more fantastic (in the formal "remote from reality" sense) ending, and seems to patch over aspects from... oh say the last 500 years of European's occupation of America, to give a false hope for the ancient spiritualist to have the last laugh.
However, I realize that this is also coming from a self-loathing non-native American, and that the ending does capture a certain hope, that despite its impracticality does provide an example of how things could improve not only for not only Native American Identity politics, but also for all marginalized people in the world.

Challenging Social Structure

In Boys on the Side it is east to see how the female friendships throughout the film challenge the existing social structure. The first example that the film demonstrates is when Holly hits Nick in the head with a baseball bat and then the tree girls, Holly, Jane, and Robin strap him into a chair and leave him there. This shows how the women in this film are able to overcome the social identity of the female that does not defend herself. They are able to help each other recognize what a true relationship is supposed to be like and stop relying on people that are negative aspects of their lives, like Nick was to Holly.
Another aspect of the film that challenges the existing social structure was how open Robin was with her sexuality. Often times, gays and lesbians tend to keep to their selves about their sexuality so that they will not be judged in any way, but Robin did just the opposite. She was willing to give a piece of her mind to anyone that had something to say about her being a lesbian. She was able to defend herself in many situations throughout the movie. As an example, Robin continually made jokes to defend her self against people that were making fun of her. She was able to look past the existing social structure to create her own as a means to be the real person that she is.

Dwayne writes home

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Dear Mom,
Our trip to get Olive to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant really changed me. At first I was angry about having to watch uncle Frank and unhappy about life and hated you. I really didn't want to go on that trip. But then we found out I am color blind and everything changed. Now my one hope in life was gone and I wasn't angry anymore, I just plain didn't care. And that was when uncle Frank turned out to be useful. He made me see that I can't let anyone stand in my way and I will find a way to overcome anything that gets in my way.

Flight school is going really well now. The lesson that Olive taught me that day at the Little Miss Sunshine pageant will be with me my whole life. Every time I feel like I'm not going to do as well as the others because of my eyesight I just remember Olive and keep going. There's another student here who insists he has the perfect American family because his father is a doctor and his mom stays home. What he doesn't brag about is that they never talk to each other and are never there for each other. I know we are the perfect American family because we look out for each other. Tell Olive hi for me and that I miss her.
Love,
Dwayne

Boys on the Side

Boys on the Side challenges existing social structure of female friendships by the types of women they put together in the film. It is noted in the beginning of the film by Jane that she and Robin do not have much in common. Especially at the time, interestingly enough a working class black lesbian becomes as close as friends can be with a middle class white straight woman. Not only are they different in just these on paper attributes, they also have very different personalities. Along the road they bond in a way that creates a new kind of family. Through the events that take place such as the incident with Nick and with Robin's growing illness, these certain characteristics that differentiated the women seem to disappear. They just become friends in light of other's suspicions of a lesbian being "just friends" with straight women. This film breaks those ideas and just shows a wonderfully touching story of friends and family. Even when there are disagreements and arguments, the friendships are never broken supporting this new kind of family. Their bonds override anyone's judgments (example the Prosecutor's questions in Holly's trial). They do what family does- stick by each other, show concern, and love unconditionally.

Boys on the Side

The friendships in "Boys on the Side" challenge social norms in three ways. FIrst, there is the presence of a character whose sexuality does not meet social norms, which prompts viewers to think about how that changes the dynamics- it opens up new avenues for the characters to explore and discuss, ones that might not have been there if all the women had been straight. Next, there is the close bond that is formed almost immediately between the women, which is in part brought on by the harrassment and subsequent death of Holly's boyfriend. Finally, at the end of the film, when Robin figured out Jane's feelings about her, it caused the dynamic of the friendship to shift and brought them closer together, allowing them to have a deep (nonromantic) love for each other, which is not a situation that is commonly addressed in film.
The new family system challenges the social structure most obvisouly because there are no men. While there are men in the film, and while two of the women become involved with them, the dynamic of the "family" does not change. The women are the foundation of the family, and the men freely float in and out of their lives in a way that does not threaten or challenge the system that the women have created. The "family" thus becomes single-gendered, forming a relationship that is almost entirely dependent upon itself (i.e. each other).

Boys on the Side

In the film "Boys on the Side", the audience sees a revolutionary challenge to the social structure of a 'family'. Three women put aside men and become close-knit and unconditionally strongly connected to one another. This feminine family challenges the norm in society and only becomes stronger as the film progresses.
At the end of the film, one lesbian admits her love for her straight friend and together they both fight for their other friend who is being accused of basically defending herself from an abusive man. This new family structure proves itself to be strong, not in the need of male counter parts, and shows continual love and continuity between the three women. Even as one woman gets married, one woman passes away from aids and the third decides to move, this tight-knit family is anything but falling apart. This film really captures a new viewpoint of what "family" is.

Boys on the Side

The women in "Boys on the Side" challenge normative female relationships because of the boldness with which they regard one another and the world around them. Female friendships in other films (i.e. Set it Off, Thelma and Louise) did the same - it seemed that when in the presence of their friends, even the quietest or shyest of women were louder, more outspoken, more confident and more likely to stand up for their own wants and needs than they were when they were alone. The three women in Boys on the Side protected one another (removing Holly from a violent situation by using violence to pacify her drug-dealing boyfriend Nick), nurtured one another (Jane waited at Robin's bedside when she was in her sickest moment in the hospital) and encouraged one another (by cheering up Jane to help her get over her last failed relationship). These three were "outlaws" running from the police in Pittsburg, so as not to get caught for NIck's accidental murder, and so challenged the existing normative female relationships by being in-your-face and bold.

Their family structure at the end of the movie, however, was closer to what society may consider "normal": when living together, they cared for Holly's new baby, helped ease Robin's pains until her death, and were reliable and were there for one another through thick and thin.

Female Friendship

The friendship among the women in "Boys on the Side" challenges existing social structure because of who the women are and how tight a bond they form. The women are from different races and social classes and a middle class white woman being friends with a lower class black woman, and a lesbian to boot, simply was not allowed. And add in the friend who was beaten by her boyfriend and is pregnant and you get a very unusual group of women who would never be considered normal. The women all settling down into one house together stretches the boundaries even further. They become their own tight little family and attempt to look out for each other when society expects women to compete with each other for men and considers families to be a mother and father and a child or two. But then at the end the "normal family" is reinscribed because Holly marries Abe and they have a child and their own house. They have gone back to the "normal" mother, father, child type of family with a cute house and no extra women.

Female Friendships

In the film, "Boys on the Side," the normalcy of female relationships is put under the microscope. All three main female characters create a family unit that is in no way normal to society's structure. Robin embodies the dominant woman of society, a white, straight, working woman. Her role in creating an irregular family unit doesn't come until we find out she has AIDs, casting her into the pool of disabled, and stereotypically broken women. Jane juxtaposes all of this. She is black, gay, has an inconsistent job, and is healthy. The relationship between these two women alone bends the boundaries of social constraints. They enter into a very close friendship which turns into love. Though Jane is a lesbian, there relationship transcends sexuality and really blossoms from understanding and the connection of their differences, aka Robin's struggle with her disease, and Jane's constant battle to defend her color and sexuality. Then we throw in Holly, the whore archetype. She is dependent on men; after Nick beats her, she still tries to go back to him. As she becomes pregnant, she signifies a transformation from the whore to the mother archetype, and as she joins the family unit, completes it as the major types of women are represented. As a white, single, pregnant female, Holly aids in bending social constructions. By the end of the movie, the women have reinscribed "normal" in their unit in their justification of their relationship. In the court scene, Robin talks about an uncommon bond amongst women, that they naturally understand each other. This validates the family unit as normal since who can really deny that women have an unspeakable bond, no matter what type they are. Also, as nothing sexual occurs between the women, they stay within the confines of normalcy with their bodies, making all the difference in a 1990's movie.

Boys on the Side

Boys on the side has very obvious challenges of social structure. This begins with the joining of an african american lesbian singer with a heterosexual white female real estate agent on an expedition to California. The joining of Holly, a pregnant friend of Jane adds to this when experiencing the fight between her and her abusive boyfriend leading in the boyfriends death. This statement set a theme for the remainder of the film of the reliance of men, to some extent, to be minimal and only dangerous in the case of Abe Lincoln, a police officer to who Holly confesses, or the fallout between Jane and Robin because of Janes telling a man interested in Robin that she has HIV. Their lives still cooperate as a family to in some regards as they take care of each other through diseases and pregnancies and sexual preference. They knew each others short comings and fought to some extent but was still apparent of a nesicary reliance and love each had for the family.

Dear dad

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Dad,
I can't tell you how much I and the family miss you since you passed away on our expedition to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. I needed to let you know I've changed and I hope you're somehow watching me and already know this. Before the trip, I was far too consumed with my 9 step program to an extent that I truly believed that everyones life circumstances were a direct product of only choices made in a way winners made them or losers made them. Believing that, I labeled people winners and losers far too often. It began with Frank on this trip after trying to kill himself, and I think I laid into him pretty hard. I guess I didn't know him all that well making it easier to judge his situation. I found, as the trip progressed, my entire family, including myself, under my own standards to be losers and i don't know if I can truly deal with that. Dwayne found he was never going to be able to attend the Air Force Academy, a dream as you already know he spent the entirety of his attention on, due to his color blindness. Sheryl couldn't hold our family together despite her sincere attempts partially due to me and my tension-building lectures. At Little Miss sunshine, the family realized that there was no way Olive could win, even though she did possibly want it more then any of them and worked day and night with you. Even you left, dad, to a heroin overdose. It took my own failure, though, with Stan Grossman when he told me I the book deal on my program was not going to sell because of me that I realized the extent of what I had become. You told me at that point that you were still proud of me, even though I failed, because I tried it on my own. I brushed it off in the car as if I was beyond hearing that, but it meant a lot and I never got to tell you that. You gave me a grace I hadn't given to anyone in a long time. I didn't say any of this but I tried to live the rest of my experience on the trip in light of your words. When you died, I wouldn't have dreamed of giving a mightier then thou speech, just so you know. You also should have seen Olives performance, you would have been so overwhelmed. I actually got on stage and started shaking my ass like you taught her to do with Olive to let her do her thing. The result of how she placed didn't matter in the least to me as it did when we set out. These people, including you, have shown me that life goes beyond winners and losers and truly in who you are. If you truly try at something you want, it doesn't matter if you make it or not. The fact you gave as much as you did is praiseworthy by my new standards. I hope you know how much you are missed, loved, and remembered. I love you dad.

Your son,
Richard

ps. I hope you don't mind but the family and I stole your body from the hospital and shoved it in the trunk before the pageant. We almost got caught, but your little porn purchase saved us.

Boys on the Side

The friendships developed in Boys on the Side between the three female characters challenge the typical friendships between characters of the same sex such as the one seen in Thelma & Louise or even Easy Rider. In these two films, the friendship between the two characters is seen as strictly platonic. Even though Thelma and Louise kiss at the end, the kiss is written into the script as a kiss between two best friends, not two lovers.

In Boys on the Side, the friendship between Jane (a homosexual female) and Robin (a heterosexual female) is questioned at the dinner table. Holly and her boyfriend question the dynamics between the two women. In fact, Robin never directly denys the possibility that she and Jane have had sex, but she doesn't affirm it either. This scene challenges the ideas of female friendships when it presents the fact that there may be more than just a friendship between the two women. Robin explains this feeling about their friendship when testifying on behalf of Holly at her trial; she says that there is just something between women that she can't exactly expalin.

In the end of the film, Boys on the Side is not able to completely escape the norms placed on women from society. As Robin has died, only Holly and Jane remain in the story. However, Holly gets married and has a baby, which complete the perfect family. Jane on the other hand is left alone with out anyone as a companion. Holly is able to survive the story because she is a heterosexual woman and is able to marry and become a mother. Jane on the hand, is not allowed to do so and finds herself in a very different situacion than Holly.

Challenging the Hegemonic

"Boys on the Side" is a film that crosses many social boundaries, such as class, race and sexuality. The friendships in this film challenge the audience’s thoughts on sisterhood by employing non-normative characters; a black lesbian, a fatally ill middle class woman and a passive ditz. Strangely, the dynamic between these oddly grouped women is fantastic, thus making the viewer challenge social structures like friendship and the law (i.e. the faithful testimonies to protect Holly from going to prison). The new family system that the women create reinscribe "the normal" by demonstrating that a family does not have to be mother, father, children, but that it is about "the people who stick by you when no one else is around." The women all love each other very much and whether the love is platonic or not it shows that families can take many forms. As long as care and support is in the equation people can make new families beyond their blood relations. This film is excellent because of the strong connection between the women. When you read the synopsis of the film it is easy to be skeptical of such a radical plot and character selection, but when you see the chemistry on screen it becomes apparent that what you think is a "normal" family might not be normal after all.

Fem. Family

"Boys on the Side" challenges the typical American, "normative" family by re-enscribing what makes someone family. Traditionally family is blood relatives which grows into unconditional type love, caring, respect, and growth with one another. In Boys in the side the women find and share unconditional love while growing together on their road journey. In the end of the movie a new type of family is defined by a close friendship.

May 3, 2008

Boys on the Side

In the film Boys on the Side the strong friendship between the three women challenges the social structure of what a "normal" family entails. These three women each come from different backgrounds and yet they live together in the same household and support each other as if they were family. These women challenge the social structure because there are no men present in their household and throughout the film they are definitely marginalized and indeed reinforce the title Boys on the Side. The women challenge the norm and show that they can be successful and be strong enough without men in their lives. In this film men are portrayed as more of a hindrance than of help - such as the abusive boyfriend Nick and also the lawyer in the courtroom that cannot believe women could have a relationship similar to that of a family without being related.

However, although this film challenges the traditional social structure their family certainly reinscribes what constitutes a "normal" family. For instance, Robin and Jane become the pseudo parents for Holly. When Holly is in trouble Robin comes to help out her and Jane saying that Holly is just as much of her responsibility as she is for Jane. This care, support system, and fulfilling of certain roles in the family structure reinscrbes what it is to be a "normal family".

Boys on the Side

Throughout the film Boys on the Side, the three main characters develop a very strong bond despite their characteristics that would normally marginalize their journey. This film breaks the typical binaries expected in movies. For starters, the central characters are all female. In fact, the majority of the males in this film are marginalized, and only cause trouble for the 3 women. Like Nick, who physically and verbally assaults the 3 women which leads to his unintentional murder. And Abe, who thinks he is doing his lover Holly good, by turning her into the police because it's his "duty." The troubles the male characters bring the female characters only makes the bond between the women stronger.

The bond between the women eventually becomes practically like a family. They live together, confide in each other, and basically just look out for each other. This is not the typically family one would expect to see. In fact, even at Holly's trial, when Robin explains that they're like a family, the prosecutor cannot fathom the idea, more than likely because there is no male influence at all in the picture. Yet all of the males in the film have done nothing good for the women, so why is this so surprising? They've only been able to count on each other so far. The three of these female characters set out to prove that nothing is stronger than the bond of sisterhood.

A Female Family

Within Herbert Ross’s 1995 film Boys on the Side, the female friendships that form within the film prove to challenge the existing social structure within society by challenging sexual and racial boundaries in a variety of ways.
When Jane and Robin take to the road together, the two formulate a female bond and friendship begins to form, the longer the two are on the road together. As situation arise to bond the women together, such as fighting against Nick, and saving Holly when being beaten up, a strong bond is formed that crosses racial and sexual lines. Having two women of different races and sexual orientation be such close friends, and fight for each other, challenges the existing social structure currently upheld within society of white, straight female loyalties and friendship.
Also, as Robin, Jane, and Holly form a close friendship on their road journey west, they become each other’s family, which reinscribes what a “normal? family entails. By the end of the time, the women have fought for each other, lived with each other, traveled with each other, and loved each other as a family does. Having three women prove to be a family unit, it reinscribes what in America a ‘normal’ family is viewed as. Instead of a mother, father, and children living together, and caring for one another, Boys on the Side reveals that you don’t have to have a heteronormative lifestyle to compose a family; a family can be a mix of gender, race, and sexual orientation. Boys on the Side portrays and upholds that a family is a unit of people who are willing to consistently fight, and love, those who are closest to them, such as Robin, Jane, and Holly do for each other.

May 2, 2008

Boys on the side

Boys on the side was a film about how women can form stron bonds and therefore challenge stereotypes by creating a support system for each other. I can see aspects of this film refelcted in my life and I feel many women can understand how this type of social bond happens.
There was the token butch lesbian, who happened to be black this time, and the young girly girl and practical Robin. Each character had a struggle in her life, and through each struggle they became a closer knit group. They drive to arizona in what many people associate with the middle class. A mini-van! It may also be associated with white middle -class, but that is up for interpretation.
Duriing the film one of the women says " we got to stick togther" and "there is strength in numbers". These are two quotes the demonstrate how close these women bond during their trip. starting off as two strangers chatting about a trip in a cafe to picking up a friend in danger and then becoming a group of three with many secrets.
Women seem to be taught to be catty and to not trust each other, but when we do- amazing bonds and support groups can be formed. Often times, a night out with the girls can end up being therapeutic. Who needs therapy though when you have great friends? (unless you have some big problems...)

Girls on top

_Boys on the Side_ challenged many social structures and was an empowering film for women crossing racial and sexual boundaries. Jane and Robin were in a situation where they were dependant on someone else because they both needed to get out of New York. Jane was an African American, lesbian, singer and Robin was a straight, white middle-class, retired real estate broker. The perfect recipe for everlasting friendship, right? Their opposite social identities set them up to be enemies and if not for their being confined in a mini-van and traveling across the United States, they might never have gotten along. Spending so much time together however, and with the addition of young, naive Holly, Jane and Robin broke many binary-centrisms. They both had different race, class, gender and sexuality backgrounds, and overcame them with the love they shared for each other in creating a new "family." Because they spent so much time together, especially when dealing with Robin's terminal illness, they formed an everlasting bond that gave them a love associated with family.

Mona's regrets

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Je suis desolée

Dear Mom and Dad,
I'm sorry. I left without leaving a trace. I was confined in our town and felt that I needed to escape. Although I know I must go on, I don't know where my life is leading me and I feel lost. I know I can't look back, but the future seems so daunting. Why is this the path I've chosen, you ask? I'm searching... I need answers. What is my voyage? Where is my adventure? Will I find freedom? So far I've met some challenges and I keep learning. You know I've always been stubborn and that's why I have to do this. I'm sorry if I've caused you to worry. Just know that I loved you both and although I don't know when I'll return, this is a journey that I have to do on my own. Thanks for your guidance and love throughout the years.
Your daughter,
Mona

It's Hard in the Hood

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Dear Detective Strode,

I am writing to you after my escape from the hood to justify my actions in the past. My girls, Frankie, Cleo, and T.T (R.I.P.) and I have been screwed by the system. We struggle as African American Women in a society which does not accept us. I am not stating that robbing banks is okay, but I am saying that it was our only option to get out of the struggle. Frankie was fired for not pressing an emergency button at work. T.T.’s baby was taken away because he was hurt at her job. My brother was killed because the 5-0, including you, thought that he was involved in a crime. To you these actions may seem validated but let me explain OUR situation.

Frankie could not press the button because she knew the robber. This didn’t mean that she was helping the cause. She pleaded with him to not rob the bank but he did anyway. She worked hard to try making something better for her life. Tisean couldn’t afford daycare. She had no choice but to bring her child to work so she could pay her bills. The lack of assistance where we live is gruesome and her only option was this. It’s hard to understand how Tisean working a job to provide for her child makes her a bad mother and not able to keep her baby. As for my brother, he was our only hopes for a bright future. He was going to be the first in our neighborhood to go to college. He was smart and going to do big things in life. Because he had a friend who was a criminal, you shot him. After these things, my girls and I realized that we needed to do something to get out. We needed to do something to escape.

You see, in our neighborhood, it’s hard to get out. You either have to sell drugs, sell your body, or rob banks. We barely make enough money to get by, so trying to save to get a car and leave is impossible. It’s a vicious circle Detective Strode and we were just trying to do what’s best for us. I knew that robbing those banks wasn’t smart, but I didn’t have a choice. I stuck with my girls to try to save our lives from poverty forever. In the end, everyone was killed.

It’s the system that led us to do what we did. Being a black, underprivileged woman is hard. Every time I got a step ahead, the system would push me back down. There is no room in the system’s world people like us. It seems that the only way I could attempt to start a new life was to do what I did. So I robbed the banks. I took the money to save my life. My girls and I did it to get out of the hood. We did it to get what deserved back. In the end, all my girls died. I guess it was a risk we were willing to take to get out of our poverty stricken lives. I guess it is true that the only breaks you get are the ones you take.

-Stony

P.S. In the future, think about the other side. Try to understand why people do the things they do. Are they robbing banks, killing people, and selling drugs because they are greedy, money hungry individuals? Or are they doing these things because it’s the only way for them to survive? Think about that the next time you point your gun at a “criminal?.

P.P.S. Thanks for letting me go. I am now living the life I dreamed of, for the four of us.

May 1, 2008

Proust Scholar's Revelation

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You should have caught me when I fell...

Dear Josh,

Hi. It's Frank. I know, I bet you're surprised to hear from me. Last time I saw you, I embarassed myself horribly in that gas station. I cared so much about what you and Larry thought of me. I still do, I guess. I've been on this trip with my family: my niece is in the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Along the way, I've seen all these people face their own personal turmoils. From dreams of flying being crushed, to a failed business attempt, to...well, death. Somehow, though, somehow these people have survived it all. I couldn't understand how. You see, after you left me for Larry, and I lost my job, and he was given that genius grant, I attempted suicide. I'll give you a moment for that to soak in. I couldn't survive it, not like these people. And do you know what the difference is? What that one, crucial difference is? They have each other. Including me. As screwed up as we all are, we have this uncanny ability to make each other strong. Because we're family. This is the point where you're thinking, "Why is he writing this?" Well, I've realized in this damn yellow bus, that you should have been able to help me survive. You were my family, and you were even normal, and you still made me want to kill myself. "This is unfair!" you're thinking. Don't get me started on unfair. You dropped me when I depended on you. Thank God, or whoever, that this family caught me, and that I played a part in catching them. I guess I wrote you this just so you'd know. Where you, my golden Apollo, failed horribly, a rag tag group of freaks succeeded. I hope you ponder this next time you're sucking Larry Sugarman's dick

-Frank

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Postcards Home

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COME BACK SOON...

Tick and Felicia-
Hello my friends. I wanted a noted from me waiting for you when you return to Sydney. Though you have just left, I wanted you to know that I miss you- yes, even you Felicia, which surprised me.

Tick, I want to thank you for inviting me to come along. This strange journey we found ourselves on brought me back to who I really am. The change of scenery gave me the time to heal from Trumpet's passing. I didn't think I could be myself again, but you helped me get there. Oddly enough, even Felicia made me remember how strong I am. Plus, I have to admit, it was quite fun performing again. I did miss it deep down. If you don't know this already, you are going to be a wonderful father. He's a lucky boy...never doubt yourself. I know you will be a great figure in his life- he will learn the kindness and spirit of his dear dad.

I hope your ride back has gone by quickly. Even with the distance, I do hope you come see me- retire Priscilla for awhile and fly next time.

Much love,
Bernadette
P.S. Bob sends his love...