Couldn’t Stand ‘The Heat’ – Though it Gets Women Out of the Kitchen

Looking for an easy comedy to wind down the day, a few of us decided to watch Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy’s shenanigans as two paradoxical agents of justice tracking down a drug lord in The Heat. This “buddy cop comedy“, highlights the relationship between Bullock’s intense and pedantic FBI agent, Sarah Ashburn, and McCarthy’s unconventional but passionate Boston cop, Shannon Mullins. There are some great elements to the movie. There are two strong, female characters who are good at their jobs and demand respect from  their colleagues and criminals despite the barriers and negative perceptions they face as women in a male-dominated job. And while the director does take full advantage of Sandra Bullock’s absurdly fit physique (she is 49 years old)…sandra heatshe and McCarthy carry the movie, not with their looks, but with their unabashedly blunt and physical humor. Of course despite McCarthy’s wildly popular success as a comedian and the film’s supposed message that a woman is more than her looks, producers still felt the need to photoshop the heck out of her in promotional photos. -For which they appropriately got a lot of…heat.Mccarthy photoshop I assume that in the end, Sarah Ashburn softens up enough to take the billy club out of her ass, and they both find a mutual respect for one another. I wouldn’t know for sure, but this predictable plot line was already forming when I could not take any more and I left for bed.

By bed, I mean that I left to go fume for hours by myself, trying to wrap my head around what was a completely unnecessary and offensive series of jokes, which for me, undermined those aspects of the movie I had actually respected.

The director of the film, Paul Feig, was interviewed by Buzzfeed, which highlighted the fact that he chose to refrain from fat jokes against Melissa McCarthy’s character. Here’s an excerpt:

Buzzfeed: “Melissa McCarthy is hilarious…but you resist the easy urge to make any jokes at all about her size, which would be the cheap and obvious choice to so many filmmakers.”

PF: Yeah, to me, it should never be an issue.  I don’t like that kind of comedy. They make fun of the albino, but that’s because we made him such an asshole — and also we’re really making fun of the idea that albinos are always portrayed as the bad guys. That’s why I have Foul Play and Matrix 2 at the beginning. I never liked name-calling when I was a kid; I got made fun of because of my nose or I was too tall or my ears were too big, so I don’t find that enjoyable… Plus, Melissa is so lovely, why would you want to say mean things to her?”

And he looks like such a nice guy

And he looks like such a nice guy

I call Bullshit on this and here is why,

The taunting of “the albino” is purely making fun of his looks – NOT his character

Watch the Trailer when it gets to 0:19

This is edited slightly, but as you can see, before the man has a chance to made into an asshole, Mullins says “What the hell is that?” After, there is the comment “I’m an albino, so I look like a bad-guy.” To which, Ashburn halfheartedly denies while Mullins offers a resolute affirmative. This is the only attempt in the movie that any negative statement against the man’s albinism is challenged, and it is weak.

The movie continues gems like: “Drug Enforcement Administration Craig’s wife must be a five-pound bag of flour with a hole in it.”And they go on. Every time the character is on screen, at least with the first two or three meetings I saw, the scene is bombarded with a luge of dehumanizing jokes about how disgusting he looks, not about his character.

Maybe in the end, the movie sits the audience down and really tells everyone how bad teasing is. After all, the director suffered so horribly when kids made fun of how tall he was. Like I said, I left before it was over. But honestly, even if this did happen, the damage is done. Within the first hour, there is yet another movie suggesting, if not downright endorsing, the continued harassment of people with albinism, which is more common and harmful than you might think.

Could one movie really do harm?

Albinism is a condition that affects a relatively small population in the United States – 1:13,000

Its rarity and striking physical manifestation causes albinism to be a condition that many people do not understand, but also can’t help but notice. While my research on albinism focuses on albinism in eastern Africa and Panama, I also have familiarity with how the condition is treated in the United States and around the world – and it isn’t usually positive. There are a number of organizations such as NOAH and Positive Exposure working to change perceptions of the condition, but for the most part, people with albinism face a lifetime of taunting and constant reminder that society does not find them beautiful or even tolerable. In Sub-saharan Africa, people are outright ostracized and killed for merely being born with the condition, precisely because it is misunderstood and feared. Hence why I found the jokes in The Heat to be not only unfunny, but inhumane.

And perhaps the actors and director did too. The man who played “the albino” is Dan Bakkedahl .

the heat albino

Dan Bakkedahl

He, like the actor who played Silas in The Da Vinci Code, the Twins in Matrix 2, and Jeremy “Powder” in Powder, does NOT have albinism.

I would love to know if the actors could have said those sneering lines to the face of someone who actually had albinism. 

See more of Rick Guidotti's beautiful photos at www.positiveexposure.org

See more of Rick Guidotti’s beautiful photos at
http://www.positiveexposure.org

RickNOAHboy

RickAlbinism

____________

To learn more about my Fulbright grant to study albinism in Panama, check out my other blog, or email me at kllyalln@gmail.com

To read reactions to The Heat from people with albinism all the way from Australia, click here.

Interested in learning more about the struggles of people with albinism in Tanzania, check out Under the Same Sun, an incredible non-profit doing some amazing work.

How Can People Defame Trayvon Martin?

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 26:  Jordan Miller, 10, alonside thousands of protestors rallying at the Georgia State Capitol

MARCH 26: Jordan Miller, 10, alongside thousands at the Georgia State Capitol

Amidst the outpour of protestation from the acquittal of Zimmerman this past weekend, there are still those who not only believe in Zimmerman’s innocence, but who go a step further to defame the child who lost his life one evening while walking home in his own gated neighborhood.

When I hear these and some of the other callous remarks regarding the case, my stomach sinks. What was already a depressing injustice has grown to a nauseating sideshow of ignorance and hate.

How can people continue to avoid the realities of the case to think that Trayvon Martin could have been in the wrong and even deserve what happened to him? As I asked myself this question, I started to believe that as twisted and misguided as these thoughts are, they show a need to believe that something as horrible as an innocent teenager being killed by the avoidable imbecility of one man, cannot be possible – there is humanity beneath it all.

They are trying to legitimize his death,

Trying to believe this world is just,

Trying to avoid the pain and despondency of accepting that this world is cruel, that people can be so blinded by fear and ego as to murder an innocent child.

People that believe in Zimmerman’s innocence or that Trayvon had it coming do so against all evidence to the contrary. And they do it because in the end, they are also capable of feeling loss and the anger of injustice. Denial is a far easier path, and as they say, ignorance is bliss.

How blissful to believe that the right person lived and the right one died? After all, that’s what our books and movies tell us is supposed to happen.

If we are to understand that this one boy was innocent and that the wrong person is both alive and free, then we must question our justice system and our society. If Trayvon was an innocent boy who was attacked and killed for no reason by a man who has been set free of all charges, then isn’t there something horribly wrong?

Could the organization entrusted with the assurance of our safety and preservation of what we believe to be right be wrong?

Could race still mean life or death in this land of the free?

Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin. Two boys killed for what?

Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin. Two boys killed for what?

The answer is yes.

And that is hard to swallow.

And though I can recognize this denial. I cannot forgive it. Because it is this denial that allows for the continued injustices in our world.

Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.”

…And for average people to believe that nothing is wrong.

-Kelly

Are we at the bottom or the top of the Title IX inning

First, apologies for the slacking of blog posts. I have written a couple blogs, but they were for Anchal Project, where I sometimes moonlight. So while I try to get my sh*t together, enjoy this blog I wrote about Title IX. Full of sports references and wonderful puns!

And while you’re at it, check out the Anchal site. It’s an incredible organization that empowers, former sex-workers in India by providing training, work, education and a future.

 

How to offend people without even trying…Part I of Many I’m sure

The other day, I attended a lively social event celebrating the accomplishments of several employees.

I knew few at this lively shindig, but everyone was welcoming and in good spirits, as they welcomed in the good spirits.

Alcohol does a funny thing in that interval between when our thoughts are formed, and when they are released into the world through words, intonation and body language. Sometimes we luck out, and alcohol gives us the courage or even poetic inspiration to say what our sober selves can only muddle around. Other times, a little too much of ourselves slips through a slippery slope of slanderous suppositions.

DOH!

One member of the festivities made a remark that left quite an impression on me. The wording and the implication were what made the impression; the individual, I could not pull out of a lineup today.

While I was conversing with one man I had met a mere 10 minutes before, this woman walked up to throw her arms around the guy and declare “YOU are one of my TWO main gays!” This she then proceeded to declare a few more times.

– Take a moment to read this declaration and ask yourself what might be wrong with this sentence –

I noticed no negative reaction from the man I was speaking to, and from the physical proximity of the woman to the man, I guessed that they were indeed personal acquaintances to say the least, maybe even BFFLs (best friends for life).

Again, only knowing this man for 12 minutes, the last two of them being preoccupied by this exuberant heterosexual, I did not feel comfortable pointing out what to me was a rather belittling comment by someone who appeared to feel she was a good friend.

“YOU are one of my TWO main gays!”

not

“YOU are one of my best friends!”

I want to break down the intent from the implication:

Intent: This woman wanted to simultaneously display her fondness for the man as well as show her support for his sexuality. By the use of numbers I inferred a subtle boast as to the sheer magnitude of homosexuals she is acquainted with.

Implication: This man is his sexuality. He is not one of her closest friends, he is one of the closest gay people she knows. It is a separation, one in which I am certain she has no idea she has mentally made and now verbally admitted.

And that’s all he and his vegetables will every be

She is certainly not alone. So many of us well-meaning folk, including myself, have made comments of this sort at some point in our lives. This is not just a divide that is created among sexuality, but race, gender, cultures, religion, etc. This happens over and over, with and without the aid of alcoholic verbosity.

It is an example of how even those of us who consider ourselves open-minded and accepting create very real divisions between those we truly care about; many times, without having the slightest idea we have done it.

While her comment was meant to be an expression of fondness toward the man, I can only imagine it served as yet another reminder that his sexuality will continue to define him even in situations where it should not matter.

Bay to Breakers Borrachera

Last Sunday was San Francisco’s annual running of Bay to Breakers. A day for what-would-be-shocking public displays of nudity, flamboyance and inebriation, were it in any US city but San Francisco.

Since 1912, San Franciscans have been running from one side of their peninsula to the other, about 8 miles away. One of the largest races in the world, the eccentric crowd swarms to over 100,000 some years; but the most predominant exercise for the majority of people is the multitude of beer runs.

From what I gathered, Bay to Breakers is yet another one of those opportunities that closeted exhibitionists wait for. Like a toddler ripping open the shiny wrapping paper from a chirstmas gift, many people here can’t wait to grab a couple of those shiny scraps and try to pass them off as the world’s smallest top and bottom.

As I took in the sights, sounds, and unfortunately some smells, of bay to breakers, there were a couple things that rubbed me the wrong way.

Sexual harassment, by definition, is not something that anyone asks for. But I feel I must say that with the caveat of one particular participant: a young blonde who wore little else besides an orange bikini bottom with the words “Tap This” so cleverly scribed over her crotch. My assumption is that the underwear was meant to advertise beer, but the double entendre is hardly obtuse or accidental.

There were a number of outfits that were not as blatantly forward. While I don’t believe even our barely-clad beer billboard was actually asking to be harassed, she and many others were also not asking for respect.

The slutting up of unimaginative costumes was like walking through a Frat Halloween party. Sexy 3 blind mice, sexy penguins, sexy Abe Lincolns?!

Bay to Breakers is known for its wild costumes, and I give my hats off to the clever folks who thought to reenact the running of the bulls, Monty Python’s knight and Patsy, or this guy’s resourceful Marvin the Martian:

Great use for a broom

Paradoxically I had more respect for those people who embraced their bodies and ran as naked as the day they were born – provided they were born with shoes and socks.

Yes, even though I cannot say I enjoyed the sight, and was somewhat traumatized by a few, there is something empowering in taking full ownership of one’s body and putting it all out there.

Conversely, there is something pathetically dehumanizing for the women and men who chose instead to frame their tits/dicks and asses in small swatches of spandex.

They’ve learned well from our media gods who have again and again hacked and harvested the female, and to a lesser extent, male, form. 

Perhaps I am being too harsh. But I couldn’t help but see a desperation and insecurity in the way that many of these people dressed.

Of course, I’m sure what made getting into the outfits easier was a liberal dose of alcohol, (that and maybe a bucket of Crisco).

While I have nothing against drinking, and I look quite fondly upon day-drinking, it boggles my mind how such a large number of people well into their 20s and beyond seem unable to grasp the concept of how to properly partake in this ancient pastime.

Around every turn was someone in some state of alcohol poisoning: falling face-first over absolutely nothing, puking their guts out, and some flat passed out on public property. And while I found myself thoroughly unimpressed by the fortitude these people demonstrated to continue drinking well past the point where both their body and their friends were telling them to stop, in the end they are mostly hurting their liver, and that massive headache will be all theirs to deal with come Monday. But this is not actually what rubbed me the wrong way.

What bothered me to the very core, was the idiocy of the drunk party-goers who just couldn’t help themselves from doing dumb drunk shit, like cramming as many people as possible on a flimsy fire escape, or climbing those fire escapes to the roof.

Because what inevitably happens, is something like this: “Man falls to his death during annual Bay to Breakers race”.

And now a whole world of grief comes to his family and friends, and to the people who were just calmly enjoying the afternoon in the park when they saw him fall to his death.

It was a stupid and pointless death. It wasn’t the first… and it won’t be the last.

Be safe and look after each other.