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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...)

March 3, 2008

"The Quest from Different Perspectives"

I thought that the two films were similar in many ways in the way "the road" and "the quest" were portrayed. For example, both films were about finding answers to life's questions (i.e. who am I, why are things the way there are etcetera). Searching for Angela Shelton and The Grace Lee Project were both a quest to find happiness. Happiness of course were two different things for the two different filmmakers. Angela's was finding closure from her horrible upbringing and Grace's is figuring out where she fits in with her Korean culture. Another difference between the two films was that Grace was behind the camera more often making "the road" the more center of attraction, while Angela was usually the main focus of the film. One way that "the road" was "raced" in Grace's documentary was how culture/being Asian American was a central motif. Her narration, the images on screen were constantly being brought back to the idea of the Asian/Korean in America or at home. Both documentaries were "gendered" in the fact that they were from a female perspective and because females were the main characters in both films. Men, when rarely shown, were usually unimportant or the problem for the female film director.

Not Another Gendered or Raced Women's Road Movie!

In both films, the filmmakers embark on journeys to discover a kind of shared identity through individuals with two things in common: their name, and their disposition. For Shelton, women with her name are also victims of abuse. Similarly, subjects Lee speaks to come up with hoards of information leading back into the filmmaker’s assumption that all Grace Lees are the same—they are Korean, and practice piano a lot. Both instances show how these films are gendered and raced. Both filmmakers set out to find a true identity, but instead rely on stereotypes that continue to marginalize women. Classifying a woman as a victim of violence or Korean says little about that woman, but yet a single attribute is used in both films to define not just one person, but a plethora of them, all sharing the same name. While it may be an interesting concept to go out and find all these people with the same name, to throw them all together in a homogenized manner for the sake of neatness disallows any relevatory points from emerging from either film.

Continue reading "Not Another Gendered or Raced Women's Road Movie!" »

March 2, 2008

What's in a name?

Angela Shelton and Grace Lee are two women who let America into their personal lives with the help of a camera crew and most importantly the road.
Angela Shelton’s quest was to, in the end, find herself. She was searching for answers and looking for them in other women who shared her name. Grace Lee seemed to be looking for vindication, also for herself. She wanted to see if other Grace Lee’s felt as trapped in their names as she did. Angela Shelton was looking for similarities in the women who shared a common name, and Grace Lee seemed to be hoping more for differences.
The film, Searching for Angela Shelton, seemed to have more of a purpose. Along with finding herself, Angela was looking to discuss sexual violence against women. She wanted to inform people of the issues and unite these women through this common bond. Not only did they share the same name, but also most of them shared an unfortunate sexual experience in their lifetimes. Angela was looking to let people know about the commonality of these happenings.
Both films were looked at through “the eyes? of a woman. A woman was the star and also the narrator. These films focused on women, and spent little time discussing the men in their lives. Grace Lee’s film was much more “raced? due to the fact that most of the Grace Lee’s in the World were of Asian decent. Angela Shelton’s film seemed to give off a more “Girl Power? vibe. That despite their jaded pasts, most of these women were still standing strong and moving on with their lives.

Angela Lee

In Searching For Angela Shelton, it seemed to me that Angela was using the road as a way to tell her story and her interractions with other people generally revolved around herself and not the other Angelas. While we did get backstories on some of the other Angelas, such as the anonymous, many of them seemed to just be a person for Angela Shelton to tell her story to and film it. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Grace Lee, who was rarely seen in the shots and only had a minimal amount of talking about herself. Instead, Grace Lee used the road as a way to find out the stories of these other women, and to explore the differences and similarities between herself and all of the other Grace Lee's.
I think that for Angela, her quest was to find closure for herself on her issues of abuse that she faced as a child. For her, finding out that so many other women have also suffered through these issues and then confronting her step brother and father was a way for her to try to get some sense of closure about the whole situation. Grace Lee's quest seemed more to focus just on breaking down some of the stereotypes about Asian women named Grace Lee, as well as focusing on some of the stereotypes that seemed to be prevelant throughout.

Continue reading "Angela Lee" »

The Raced and Gendered Road

In both Searching for Angela Shelton and The Grace Lee Project, the road is used as a way to find answers to each director's personal "quests". They differ in that Angela Shelton uses the road in an attempt to connect her experiences of abuse with those of other Angela Sheltons. For Grace Lee, her quest begins as a way to find differences amongst the seemingly similar Asian-American Grace Lees. What is interesting is that in the end, Angela Shelton's documentary (for me) failed to connect women on the level she was looking for. Grace Lee's original intentions to find differences amongst the women actually helped her to see the similarities in the women--in terms of their struggle as Asian-American women. Whereas Angela Shelton went to the other woman, Grace Lee allowed women to come to her through a website she designed for her documentary. Also, Grace Lee seemed more interested in each woman's personal story while Angela Shelton's intentions seemed overshadowed by her own personal quest. Each woman's topics of discussion and their intentions were different which led to different outcomes. As for the road being "raced" and "gendered", in The Grace Lee Project the story is filmed from the eyes of an Asian-American woman and the Grace Lees that she interviews are all Asian-American. The story then speaks to specific issues they face as Asian-American, and as women. In Searching for Angela Shelton, the quest develops out of the experience of a white woman. What becomes an issue, even though Angela Shelton is trying to connect the women she interviews, is that she does not take into consideration social, cultural, economic, etc. factors that go into the experience of each different woman she talks to. This is why I think The Grace Lee Project was so successful because it explored the experience of a specific culture and tried to interpret that experience from a variety of different viewpoints.

Angela vs. Grace

Both Angela Shelton and Grace Lee use their documentary road films to embark on their personal quests. Angela Shelton's use of the camera embraces more of a gendered road.... by this I mean that Angela really seeks to unite women across the country. However, Angela's story seemed to be selfish and self-seeking. Angela continued to prove that her film was more of self-discovery quest. Grace Lee sought to discover a stereotype not only about women but about Asian-Americans. Grace Lee's film focused more on individual identities and other Grace Lees' stories.
An interesting observation is how the "road story" almost gets lost in Grace Lee's film as she dives into individuals' stories. You really almost forget that she is on a personal journey as well as a cross-country journey. I really see both documentaries using the road as a way to explore gender (specifically women) roles in American society as well as looking at a stereotype of Asian-American women. You get both gender and racial issues from Grace Lee's film. I thought too it was interesting how Grace Lee sought out to prove the usual Asian-American girl stereotype wrong, but she failed. She found like one or two cases in which Grace Lee's were not "what they were supposed to be". But even then, people still viewed them as what they expected Asian-American girls to be.

Angela Shelton vs. Grace Lee

For both of these movies, the quest is the whole point of the documentary. Grace Lee's point was to find other women named Grace Lee and see if they actually are like the stereotypical asian girl who is supposed to be nice, cute, quiet, conservative, and pratically perfect. In Searcing for Angela Shelton, her quest was to find out what other women were going through across the U.S. and if she was alone with the abuse, she went through in the past. In the end, they both seemed to have closure, where Grace Lee figured that there are many other ways to define yourself besides your name and that in itself sets you away from others of the same name, race, gender or class. Angela Shelton, on the other hand, got to talk to her father but the real closure was that as long as she was going to be able to forgive what happened in the past in order to move on. In both cases, the women learned something about themselves and other women through their quest. Without the use of the quest, they probably wouldn't have been able to recover (Angela) or be able to happily accept their own name because of the lack of perfection (Grace). The quest is what drove the documentary and kept it going until each of them was satisfied with what they found out about other women.
As for the use of the road, there was many differences between the two documentaries. For instance, the road was an important in Searching for Angela Shelton because there was always shots of the RV and Angela was driving so she had control of where they went and for how long. The road played a very significant in the document for Angela Shelton. As for Grace Lee, the road got her to each of her destinations but it wasn't the main event. She took the bus and other ways to the locations she was interested in. There was never a time when she was in the driver's seat though. She was more wrapped in the quest and she took as long as she needed in each place but she didn't have a set schedule like Angela who wanted to travel around the U.S. in 60 days. To Grace, the road was only a means of transportation but for Angela, the road was under her control and she took it to get away and have the power to do so. In this sense, I do think the use of the road in both of the films, is an example of why the road is raced. The road was built mostly by the minorities of the U.S. but it was built for the white people, and specifically the white male. White Priviledge is a factor because a lot of things are given to white people, and the use of the road is one and always will be. Grace, on the other hand, didn't really even value the road as a significant factor in her documentary besides to get her to her destination. This could have something to do with race where Angela felt that since she was going on a journey, she needed to be in complete control of it, so she was the driver, the main focus of the film, and had control of all components of the interviews. She had a dominant, controlling role which is a stereotype of white people. Grace Lee, on the other hand, focused more on the stories of the other women she interviewed so most of the time when Grace was talking, it was just her voice because there was something else being shown through the camera. Grace played the main role but it wasn't dominant at all, it was more passive which is a stereotype of Asian people.

Race and Gender Displayed on "The Road" and "The Quest"

Searching for Angela Shelton and The Grace Lee Project are similar and different in many ways relating to the use of “the road? and “the quest? and how each is raced or gendered.

In Searching for Angela Shelton “the road? has a strong presence. There are many scenes that take place in the RV as Angela and her camera man travel the country to visit the other Angela’s. However, in The Grace Lee Project we witness Grace travel on the road only a couple of times. Instead, most of the film plays out at different locations that are important to the other Grace’s.

The quest that both women find themselves on is similar as they both are looking to discover something. Angela is looking to discover just who she is and wants to inform the population about how common violence against women is. Grace is looking to distinguish herself from all the other Grace Lee’s.

Angela does not use race to distinguish the road or her quest. She visits both white and black Angela Shelton’s. I think this is important in her documentary because she is able to show violence against women holds no racial bias. Grace uses race in her film to distinguish the road and her quest. She limits her focus on Grace Lee’s to Asian women. I think this is important in her documentary because she is trying to get at the stereotypes Asian women experience (nice, smart, quiet, pure, etc.).

Continue reading "Race and Gender Displayed on "The Road" and "The Quest"" »

Angela and Grace

As I think about the two films Searching for Angela Shelton and The Grace Lee Project I find that there are more differences than similarities. First of all, both of the films were made for different purposes when compared to each other. Although both of the main characters were on a quest to find something they both had different reasons for setting out in the first place. Angela Shelton seemed to be very selfish in her film because she was the most interested in her own life instead of the other people that she talked with. Grace Lee, on the other hand, was more selfless as she talked with other people. She was interacting with the other people in a way that made it very clear that she wasn’t on this journey for her own well being. She was interested in finding and voicing the differences in people that makes them who they are.
As far as the issue of the road being “raced? and “gendered? in both of these films goes, I also see more differences than similarities. Angela Shelton’s movie was neither raced nor gendered because its issues dealt with and confronted many different races while including the views of both males and females. Grace Lee’s film, on the other hand, was both raced and gendered. She mainly focused on the issues that surrounded Asian women living in the US. She did include the views and thoughts of the male gender and other races but only in small amounts, which were not significant enough to provide enough imput for the movie to not be raced or gendered. Grace Lee's film didn’t relate to as many people as Angela Shelton’s did because she narrowed her movie down to only being able to tell the story of Asian women.

March 1, 2008

Angela Shelton and Grace Lee...

Though both of these documentaries seemingly set out to embark on similar journeys, their outcomes are quite different. The way the road was used in each documentary lead to many differences. Angela Shelton used the road as a means to come to peace with her abusive past. In a way, the road more served as a quest for her in the sense that as she continued to travel it, her story would unravel and then finally, her quest was fulfilled. Grace Lee on the otherhand had no personal set-task while she travelled the road. She wanted to find other Grace Lee's and see if she could break the stereotypes that followed the name. Grace's journey on the road was not a self-centered one, like Angela's.

Another key difference between the two documentaries was that Grace Lee's road was raced, while Angela Shelton's was not. While Grace travelled the road, she tried to keep the documentary's focus on Asian Americans named Grace Lee, seeing as they are the ones who fit the stereotype she was looking to debunk. Angela Shelton's road was not raced, seeing as she looked up every Angela Shelton, regardless of their race.

Overall, I would say that I liked Grace Lee's documentary better than Angela Shelton's because I enjoyed hearing more about all the Grace Lee's stories in depth, rather than just one Angela Shelton's. I also thought the concept of showing how different and unique all the Grace Lees were was better than showing how much a like all the Angela Shelton's were.

Grace and Angela

Both films, Searching for Angela Shelton and the Grace Lee Project, use "the quest" and "the road" in order to tie all of the stories and women they find on the road together. Both women are on a quest, one on a road to recovery and the other to find her identity, and they do this by finding other women and listening to their stories and through them, both Angela and Grace do eventually "find" themselves and complete their quest. Although one main difference is that in the Grace Lee Project, the road isn't as prevalant in the film as in Angela's and we actually only see one or two sequences when Grace is actually on the road. In addition, Grace stays behind the camera more than Angela and seems to play more of a passive role in her quest - which allows her interviews and the other Grace's stories to tie the film together more than the road itself. Whereas in Angela's film, the road is more necessary to connect everyone as not all of the Angela Sheltons that she meets have been abused or share her same story.

I think that in both documentaries the road is gendered but only in the Grace Lee Project is the road also raced. In Searching for Angela Shelton the road is gendered in the way that Angela focuses on only women abuse. Granted searching for only "Angelas" limits the film to female abuse but in addition all of the facts and statistics that she put on screen were related to women's abuse. In the Grace Lee Project, however, the road is seemingly gendered by default in the fact that she is looking for Graces which are usually female. But for Grace Lee, her road is raced. She does this by defining the stereotype of Asian women and then in her search she tries to defy the stereotype of the quiet, smart, passive Asian woman in order to find her identity. And in all of these stereotypical "perfect" Asian women Grace does in fact find an identity after speaking with all of the women. Although both films try and connect stories and people through the road, a quest, and through a name, it's amazing how different the films are from one another and how the different styles of the films play such a huge role in how the audience responds to them.

Two Very Different Personal Quests...

In the Grace Lee Project, the road was not a central feature to the film. Rather, the quest was used more as the theme. Grace Lee had a goal, which she used the road to help her accomplish, but the road was not the foremost theme. She documented her journey through the people she interviewed, rarely, if ever showing portions of the journey she had to take to get to those people. Angela Shelton, however, had the road be the central feature to her film. Use of objects such as the RV and symbology such as signs or views of her on the road helped to make the road the central feature. Angela too had a goal, or quest, but the road symbolized her journey rather than existing in the background as the means of travel.
The Grace Lee Project made the road "raced" since she was focusing on Korean Americans- she was focusing on one ethnicity and one gender (females), which were a significant part of the film. She did not however, exclude races or genders from her film, as she included short pieces on the history of the name Grace Lee in early America, and also included interviews with men on the Grace Lees that they knew. In Angela Shelton's film, the women were sort of defined by their experiences with men, therefore making the film "gendered" towards men, which I would assume was not the original intention, as she set out to interview women. Angela's film was not "raced" though- race was not a defining feature or a dominant theme- she interviewed any Angela Sheltons she could find, regardless of who they were, and treated all in the same way. She did not pruposely include nor exclude anyone or their story based on race.
The Grace Lee Project and Searching for Angela Shelton were distinctly different films, even though they both set out on a journey towards a goal while using the road as a means of completing this goal. Beyond that, however, the differences are blatantly obvious, as one focuses on the quest and the other focuses on the road in order to tell their stories.