After The Man Who Fell to Earth

As promised in yesterday’s post, here are my initial impressions and thoughts now that I have seen this film … Part of me is inclined to announce spoiler warnings because it just seems like courtesy, but, given that the movie came out in 1976, it seems silly to do so. Though I am sure there a plenty of other out there who, like me, were born some years after and had not seen it. Anyhow, the following assumes you’ve seen the film and know what I’m talking about:

My very first reaction after the end of the movie, and what I literally asked my friend, was “what the fuck did I just watch?”. OK, I get it, it was the 70’s. I get the excuses for nudity and sex (and I thought today’s movies were bad – I actually got to see David Bowie’s junk) and I have no problem with that.

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You enjoyed that, didn’t you?

But, was there a point to anything in that movie? I certainly have many more questions than answers–

  • I understand that Mr. Newton (Bowie) is an alien from another planet who has come to earth because his own home world has become a desert and his family has no water (and it was never really clear if that family is still alive or if they’re dead by the end of the film – all of the images of his family seem to be flashbacks and imagined scenarios so I don’t know that the clip of his wife and children slumped over in the sand isn’t just his worried imagination). But he never actually makes it back to his homeworld. He goes through all this trouble to amass a fortune to fund a space program that he seems ready to pilot off with water to bring back when…
  • Newton is kidnapped(?) and taken to this holding where there are all manner of tests and experiments performed on him (because he’s an alien, because somehow word got out) and I get that. I understand that. But, while I was initially led to believe he was there against his will -he calls out for help and tries to get out of the building at one point when Mary Lou comes to see him – he also seems rather calm about it all at moments (he’s certainly not being held in a concrete cell) and at one point tells Mary Lou that he can do anything and gets what he wants because he is rich. So, does this mean he wanted to be there? Were the experiments his idea to show the world? There was some brief discussion about this, but it wasn’t conclusive. But, if he wanted to be there, why call for help? Why not just walk out the front door? I’m mostly just confused on this point.
  • Why did he never go back home? At the end of the film, Newton is sitting at an outdoor cafe, drinking some kind of alcohol, and talking with Dr. Bryce (Rip Torn). He drops the glass as a waiter is coming up and there are statements from both the waiter and Bryce, as well as an affirmation from Newton, that he’s had enough (to drink and/or of Earth?). Newton bows his head and credits roll. What, if anything, has been resolved by the end of this film? I realize that it’s entirely possible that the whole point was that nothing was resolved. One thing I DID notice…

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  • At the beginning of the film, all Newton wants to drink is water. He is almost obsessed with it (which is reasonable given the lack of water back home) and turns down any other drink but water. However, shortly after meeting Mary Lou, who is an obvious alcoholic, he begins to drink booze instead. In fact, after Newton begins to drink alcohol, we don’t see him drink water again. BUT, we do see numerous booze bottles around the home. This is also when the plot starts to lose focus. Is there a commentary in there on alcohol? Or is that just my being straight edge seeing that message?
  • The way time flows in this film is hard to follow. It’s obvious that years progress – other characters around Newton age while he stays the same – but we’re never clued in to when time jumps forward or by how much (beyond the general notion that, oh Bryce has grey hair now and Mary Lou has put on a couple of pounds and has some sag).

Over all, I enjoyed the film and am glad I got to see it in the theater. I wonder how this film was received in the time in came out? What aspects of culture or life have I simply not noticed because I grew up in a different point in time? I find it rather interesting, living in the time that I do, to hear commentary from one character in the film about humankind only being able to process and accept so much new tech before they simply can’t take it. I’ve not yet read any other reviews or critiques or theories about it as I wanted to have just my own impressions initially. I think though, that now I’m going to look this up as I am really curious.

DON’T FORGET! This coming Saturday, 3pm CST, I’ll be on Google Hangouts for a live chat.

 

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Before The Man Who Fell to Earth

This post will be in two parts, a before (today’s post) and an after (tomorrow’s post).

This evening a local theater is showing the film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. Kind of a David Bowie memorial/ tribute showing. I’ve not seen it before and I’m curious to see how it is. I’m planning to meet with a friend of mine later this evening and hang out for a bit after the show.

All I’ve seen is the trailer. I know this is a movie from 1976 and that, if I wanted to, I could pull up a kinds of reviews, plot run downs and analyses, and whatnot. I could go in already knowing what to expect and with the opinions of other people telling me how to view the film.  But I don’t want to. I want to have the experience of going in, being surprised, and making my own decisions.

Tomorrow I will post my thoughts and reactions.

Stop Telling Us What to Wear: Mini Rant

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Yesterday, while I was at the library, I picked up a copy of Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing our Daughters from Marketers Schemes by Sharon Lamb, Ed.D and Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. I’m only about 40 pages in so far, but it’s already been something of an eye opener. I’ve been aware of rampant consumerism and the way the clothing industry tries to push people (not just girls and women) into the little categories it wants us to be in (male/female, preppy/rebel/geek, “urban”/”rural”, etc) for awhile and I’ve been aware of the brand-worshiping aspect of consumer culture for as long as I’ve been scratching my head over the importance of wearing clothes just because there was a certain word or logo on it (that happened around age 9, when I moved to a new school and everyone seemed to have to wear stuff from The Limited or Limited Too and if you weren’t wearing those clothes then ohmygodwhatiswrongwithyou?). However, it turns out that there’s a little more than I ever wanted to admit going on.

What I have gotten out of this book, thus far:

  • There is always this push to make girls want to be older, faster. This is nothing new to me, but, they’re marketing “bras” and pretty underwear and bikinis to 4 year olds now. *4*!!
  • Girls are being pushed into camps from a early age
    1. Camp 1: pink, the classically feminine color is soft and sweet (which there is now a bit of a split in the pink camp, with the pastel hues reflecting innocence and bolder hues (or pared with black) reflecting a bit of a sexier edge.
    2. Camp 2: red, a bold and assertive color.
    3. From the book, “The red girl is the girl who is not like the other girls can develop into not liking what makes those other girls who they are, putting them down for being too girly and weak. The girl wars mentality we see in the media is often between girly girls and tomboys, between what we fear starts out as the pink girl and the red girl.”
  • The same items are marketed to 6 year olds and 13 year olds.
  • The hetero-normative push into what is supposed to be the most important thing on a girl’s mind: Boys! (which, even I fell victim to with the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync when I was 12-15) Stores are happy to sell all manner of trinkets and shirts that espouse love for whatever male teen star is hot at the time… and this is marketed to 8 and 9 year old girls as well as teens. Why would 8 and 9 year olds be concerned with the cuteness of boys? When I was 8, I was still listening to what my parents listened to (and Michael Jackson).

Like I said, I’m only about 40 pages in. However, while I was scrolling through teh internets, I came upon one of those stupid “what you should/shouldn’t wear” lists. From LifeScript: Healthy Living for Women (I’m already laughing, folks), is an article telling me the “Top 10 items [I will soon be] Too Old to Wear” Here are some of my favorites:

  •  I can only wear my beloved Tshirts that say stuff for another year and a month. According to this article, I have to retire my tshirts at 30 because, “the freedom to express yourself via your wardrobe is part of the teen and 20-something years… but beyond that?… ‘The message tee boom was fueled by Young Hollywood… it’s mostly a way for people to express frustration.'”  So, I guess I’m only allowed to express myself for another year, then I need to shut up and hand it all over to people younger than me.
  • Not that I like to expose my cleavage, but I am now aware that after 50, it’s no longer an option for me. That’s because, according to the article, “‘An older woman shouldn’t feel she needs to show it all off. Anything below the middle of your [bustline] has got to go,’ DeMartino says. ‘A little goes a long way,’ writes Krupp, who in her book bans excessive ‘boobage’ past the age of 40 and warns readers not to display too much sagging skin.”  That’s right, women who are 50+ need to cover up because they have “too much sagging skin” [read: not attractive anymore; gross – read: younger *should* show cleavage – read: women are to constantly be aware of, and compliant to, the male gaze]
  • Now, I don’t do much with my hair beyond a simple pony tail, because I don;t like it down and I’m too lazy to do anything else with it. BUT. If I feel like putting something cute in my hair (it happens), like my tshirts, I’m only allowed to don these items until I’m 30. Because, “whether it’s flowery scrunchies, banana clips or your daughter’s plastic kiddie barrettes, whimsical hair accessories are not fitting for a fully grown woman.”  For the record, my grandmother, a woman in her 60’s, wore a pretty red hair gizmo over the holidays -the first time I’ve seen her wear anything in her hair in my life – and I thought she looked fabulous.

Dear Internet, Marketers – Kindly stop telling us what to wear or not wear and stop pushing us into boxes. I’ll wear what I want, how I want, for as long as I want.