Willow Movie Review

Once upon a time, there was a man named George Lucas….

And if you don’t know who he is – what – have you been living under a rock since the 1970’s?

Anyway, back in 1988 just nine days before I celebrated my first birthday, the movie Willow hit screens.

Wikipedia describes Willow as a “British-american high fantasy film.” Husband described it as “like the hobbit, but different.” Prior to watching the film I knew these things:

  1. It was about a dwarf who finds a baby and has to do something with it
  2. It has Val Kilmer in it
  3. George Lucas wrote it
  4. Ron Howard directed it
  5. It’s not on Amazon Prime OR Netflix

I was very prepared to be vastly underwhelmed by the movie. BUT Husband was very adamant that I watch it, so we went on our own quests of sorts to find a copy of the movie.

So – earlier this week, we pop the DVD into the Playstation and I settle into the couch with hopes that it won’t be too boring or corny.

It was corny. But it was also made in 1988 so the special effects of the time are just part of the charm.

I promise, I’m getting to the point of this post.

I really LOVED the film.

What I realized as I watched it was how the film was pretty feminist WITHOUT taking away from the male characters.

The film is about this evil queen that is all freaked out because the Seers have foretold of a baby girl being born that will be the sign of the queen’s downfall. So – evil queen impressions all the pregnant women in her kingdom and waits for the baby (identifiable by a special birth mark) to be born. Once the baby is born, it gets snuck out by the midwife and found by the dwarf.  He’s told by this Queen of the Fairies to take the baby to find this enchantress who will help him and the baby. While all of this is going on, the warrior-princess and some pretty intense soldiers are hunting the baby to being it back to the queen so she can do this ritual on it. Willow (the dwarf) teams up with Val Kilmer who helps with all the fighting and whatnot. When Val Kilmer and Warrior-Princess meet, they start to fall for each other. As foretold, Warrior-Princess changes sides and helps Willow and Val. Eventually, there’s a big fight over the baby between the evil queen and the enchantress. Willow comes in and saves the day, but not after these two older women take some pretty intense beatings from one another.

Alright – here’s why I think it’s feminist but NOT femma-nazi.

The women characters all have SOME sort of power (physical or magical) as well as agency. Agency is the key word here. It means that the characters have the ability to act for themselves. Sleeping Beauty – for example – lacks agency. All her abilities (in the fairy tale) are given to her when she’s a baby, she doesn’t have to work for anything, and wakes up to a husband after a long nap. The women in this film, all have the ability to make decisions on what they want to do, and they do it. This is best shown by the warrior-princess changing sides. Yes, she does it for a man – but who cares? It was HER decision. And, she can kick his ass if she ever needs to.

Also, the human society overall seems to be more matriarchal (the dwarves are a bit more patriarchal – and there’s nothing wrong with that) . The queen doesn’t have a king and isn’t being threatened of losing her position in the kingdom by her daughter getting married, or being forced to marry again, OR by any sort of male. She’s threatened by being replaced by another woman.

Alright, and here’s where it gets good. No one is complete in their strength. The male heroes very much seem to compliment and fill in the gaps for the females and vice versa. Which is awesome, if you ask me.

So here’s my big issue with in your face feminist movies and whatnot. A lot of the time, it’s kinda in your face and you’re forced to be aware of it. And, if you’re anything like me, you don’t appreciate that. Also, not sure if there’s any real proof, but it would seem to me that if the message is more subtle, it’s more likely to seep into someone’s subconscious and then really start the wheels going.

Also, and this is something that I hear a lot, it seems that in children’s books, films, and even TV/ commercials, the women are strong at the men’s expense. For example, I loved the Berenstain Bears books, but my Dad hated them. He’d tell my mom that he didn’t like that the Dad was such a doofus and was worried I’d start to see him like that.

For me, feminism is about being proud of my gender, embracing the things that make women women, but – mostly – it’s about equality. Feminists will rant and criticize movies where the women are less than the males – but not when the coin is flipped. And that bothers me.

So – that’s why I really appreciated the movie. The women and the men all had their own kind of power and agency, but never at the expense of anyone else. They all had their special role to fill.

Anyway… that’s my rambling review of Willow.

 

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Will Not Apologize for My Country Even if I Don’t Agree

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock or in a coma for the last 13 hours you know Donald Trump will be America’s next president.

I tend not to share my political beliefs (I mean, most people can guess) but I don’t like to straight-up say who I voted for or what party I’m more inclined to learn toward. It’s like, you say you’re a Democrat and suddenly people think you’re okay with late term abortions or want to take all the guns. Or if you say you’re a Republican people assume you and are totally homophobic and racist. I know plenty of Democrats who are against abortions and own guns. On the flip side, I know Republicans who are gay. It’s not fair to make those snap judgments about people based on their party.

I am an American. I am proud to be an American. Maybe more today than yesterday.

Our system gave us two candidates where (I believe) a majority of people felt that they had to pick between the lesser of two evils. I would argue that they are BOTH criminals. I wasn’t really proud to get behind ANYONE in this election. All the candidates (I believe) had major character flaws, but they were what we were given. We were given lemons and damn it, we’re going to have to make lemonade.

So – how can I be proud to be an American?

Because I live in a country where I can vote. Period. Right? Or – even – I live in a country where I have a real choice in my vote. I am a woman and can vote. Women haven’t even had to right to vote for 100 years yet, but I can. So – yay. But, I can also choose NOT to vote. That’s my right too.

Also, I can say whatever the hell I want to about our current and/or future president.

Am I thrilled with how the election ended? No. If it had gone the other way would I have been happier? Not really.

But I am happy that I am American. I’m happy that when I was at the poll yesterday the line extended out and around the building. I mean, did everyone who voted make an educated decision? Probably not. Did I? I hope so.

I don’t know if I can really express it well. Some people think this election tore our country apart and that Trump’s win will do the same. But maybe – maybe it will make us unified again. Like I said, we were given two choices that a majority of people didn’t really like. So – maybe there will be more people who will be there to challenge Trump when he’s on the cusp of making a mistake. Maybe there won’t be this blame that we put on one another during his presidency. I know that somehow, every mistake that Obama made I got blamed for because I voted for him. Um – no? Not my fault. And I don’t care if you’re kidding, I heard it enough from enough people that it wasn’t ever funny. Personally, when people did that I felt attacked. Maybe that’s because political leanings are so tied into our morals and the way we think that when we get blamed or pigeon-holed into something we aren’t we feel like others think less of us. So – maybe if we know that people want to make the best of what we have, there will be less of that.

All I know is that Trump is the antithesis to what our system is right now. And Hillary was the embodiment of it. I think people are tired of crooked politicians. Tried of career politicians who know how to play the game. People are tired of the Democrat agenda (or tired of the way it is being enacted/ pursued). Do people really think Trump – himself – will make America great again? Or do they think a change in the system will?

I believe that this election will be the beginning of change within in political area as we, and our parents, and grandparents know it. I believe that there will be some growing pains, but I believe that America will survive. And if we can’t tolerate Trump – we vote him out in 4 years. If he MASSIVELY messes up – we can impeach him.  Or not. Maybe I’m still too naive.

As far as having a business man run the country – I think we could’ve picked someone better.

As far as having the first female president – I think we could’ve picked someone better.

I will make lemonade. I will not apologize for my country (well, not on this point). I am an American and I am proud.

Adult Tantrums

It’s annoying and frustrating, but it’s totally acceptable for a 3 year to lay on the floor and have a tantrum. I mean, full on throat-scratching screams with hot, angry tears and the wild flailing of arms and legs. Sure – the kid gets chastised and probably doesn’t really get what they want in the end, but the tantrum is expected on some level because THAT’S WHAT KIDS DO.

Lucky bastards.

One of the things about being an adult that no one ever warns you about is that you’ll miss being able to throw a tantrum like that. Not because I think it’ll get me what I want (part of the motivation of the child tantrum) but because sometimes (like this week) I just get so damn frustrated at things that I just crave that cathartic release. I mean, I literally want to close the door to my office, lay on the floor and scream my little heart out. But I can’t. Because people will hear and – honestly – no one wants to see an adult having a tantrum.

Sure, we have our adult versions of tantrums that are less of a spectacle (for the most part) but none-the-less still very childish. But this still isn’t really socially accepted. Other adults (me included) judge the adult having the tantrum. I think things like, “can’t they put their grown-up pants on and just deal?”

So what do we do? Some people drink. Some people take it out on others. Some people seek thrills. Others write really  intense blog posts that they will never publish… We try to find some form of release. Some of them healthy, others not so much.

Recently I’ve started to see that the person I was as a kid is who I am most comfortable as now. I don’t know if that makes sense, but the things (or types of things) that made me happy then are what brings me the most satisfaction now. In light of this, I fully petition a culture change.

I want to live in a world where I can just lay on the floor and have a tantrum. Is that too much to ask?

Strength to Be Me

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection recently.

Recently, I had to do a presentation for work that I was really nervous about. As I practiced it, I felt myself slipping into the “try to be funny so they’re laughing WITH you and not AT you” defense mode. I’m not funny in that mode so it makes it all a lot worse and then I get more and more nervous.

So – I felt myself constantly reminding myself to just be me. If they didn’t respond well to me being me – then they weren’t worth the energy I was putting into getting them to like me. There’s this part of me that really believes that I need people to like me to respect and listen to me. I mean, that’s probably not true, but it makes it A LOT easier. Right? The whole catch more flies with honey than vinegar thing.

When I finally got to do the presentation and the time after, I felt this huge relief of just letting go. I spoke my mind and didn’t worry about what people thought – and I think they respected me more for it.

That’s a hard thing to do though. I mean, I’m 29 years old and just now I have this self confidence to let my barriers down and just be the raw version of me. It makes me wonder, where did this self-confidence come from? And – it’s not just being confident, it’s being comfortable with me.

My parents laid a strong foundation, and my coworkers have helped, but the one person that deserves the most credit is my husband.

I think a lot of the time, people put up those walls around who they really are because of fear of rejection – right? And rejection is hard, but I think rejection is tied into a person’s fear of being totally alone. Alone physically and emotionally.

My husband is my absolute best friend. I savor the times where we laugh so hard we cry over the smallest things. I love going out and sharing the smallest observations and events with him (like the goofy little bird taking a bath in the puddle as we drive past). Having someone that I trust totally and completely to be there for me is such a wonderful feeling.

Remember group projects back in school? I was always the kid who got stuck with the slackers. I’d wind-up doing everything, because I couldn’t count on the others to pull their weight.

Being married, at first was like being in a group project and hoping that the new kid could pull their weight. Then, as time goes by, you see that they can and will without you having to ask, but you ask anyway because there’s still that doubt there. Now, having been married for 5 years, that doubt it gone. I know Husband will be there. I know in my soul that I have someone that loves me and supports me in a way I never knew was possible.

Having this relationship with Husband has been so healing for me. Before, I had high levels of anxiety. I worried too much about the smallest things. Now, I have the strength and confidence to be me. So Superman gets his powers from the Sun and is able to be this awesome superhero, right? I mean,  I feel that Husband is my Sun and because of him I can be the superhero of my own story.

Husband is my home. I can face each day and grow as a person because I know that I can always go home.

Reflections

If you’re just tuning in, here’s what you’ve missed: About a week and a half ago, I discovered that my best friend from high school is undergoing a gender transition from being male to female. Really, I’ve set the stage, but today, I want to focus on my thoughts and reflections. When I told my parents about Ben transitioning into Lucy, they reacted perfectly. Dad might’ve chuckled and remarked on how that was a bit out of the blue, and after a long pause my mom mentioned that Ben always has lovely hair. It was perfect because they didn’t really have an answer, and they didn’t need to. At that point, I still didn’t know what I really felt about the whole thing apart from shock. So – to not have to listen to them tell me how to feel or how to react was perfect. I think if they had reacted differently, it would’ve just overwhelmed me.

A week later though, and they admitted that they were worried they they didn’t handle it well. Dad said, “You know, it’s not like there were any chapters in the parenting books on how to respond when your adult-child discovers that their best friend from high school is changing genders.” Then, they asked if I’d write about it. So – here I am.

So my thoughts and reflections…. they’re complicated. How could they not be?

I guess the best place to start is with the most powerful feelings.

The best way I can verbalize it is that part of me in is mourning. for Ben. I loved Ben. I loved that she was my geeky “guy” friend that was more like a girl friend. Ben is who I connected with in high school. Ben is who I missed and who I was expecting to see at the reunion.

But – Ben’s not dead. Ben is now Lucy. I don’t really know Lucy as well. I mean, I know her as much as I know anyone else from high school I haven’t spoken to in ten years. But – somehow, it’s different. I guess because things I took for granted, like gender, have changed drastically.

I’m really excited to cultivate this new friendship with Lucy, but a small part of me is very sad that it’s not with Ben.

And why should gender matter? Why does it matter to me as long as the essence of our friendship is still there? I mean, Lucy has all the same memories that Ben has. Same person, but just a different kind of wrapping paper. Like I said before, Ben could be a purple and green penguin for all I care.

And maybe it’s wrong. But in some ways, it does matter and I DO care. I’m so happy that Lucy is taking steps to become more comfortable in her own skin, don’t get me wrong. Until recently, I don’t think I could really understand/ relate to that. I lost 15 pounds in the last few months, and while I wasn’t UNHAPPY before, I am much happier now. I like looking cuter. It makes me feel like my outside matches my insides. I posted a while ago about Power Armor and how some days, you just need to wear that one outfit that gives you the ultimate confidence. Well, now I feel like I’ve got permanent Power Armor on. And everyone should have that. I don’t want to ever contribute to someone not trying to feel good about who they are, inside and out.

But still…

Still, I miss the Ben-wrapping paper. And that’s okay. I think it would be weird if I didn’t. Obviously, Ben was someone who was really important to me, and NOT missing Ben would belittle that.

I’m going to try and condense this all into one sentence: I mourn for Ben, but I am happy for the opportunity to continue that friendship with Lucy. There. One sentence.

For me – people are these bright shiny objects. Souls. Spirits. Whatever you want to call it, and the body is just the thing we inhabit.

I strive to be a person that judges people on their actions and words. Not on their wrapping paper. It’s difficult though…

Eh. That’s all I got. No pretty conclusion or anything because, it’s still something I’m trying to figure out. I mean, I’m trying to figure out what it means to me to be a woman. Taking that a step further into what it means for Ben to be Lucy….

All I know is that I’m enjoying talking to Lucy. I can always use more friends. Purple and green penguins and all.

10 Years Later

I’ve reached the age where I can think about what I was doing ten years ago, and have vivid memories. It’s weird. I’m getting old. I graduated high school ten years ago, and shortly later, started my freshman year of college.

Ever since I got the invite for my 10 year reunion, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on who I am now and who I was back in high school. Weirdly enough, not much has changed. It seems, I’ve circled back to that person. I mean, I’m stronger and more confident (and I know what to do with my hair now – those old pictures are cringe worthy), but I dress the same way (for the most part) and like the same movies, TV shows, music – all that. I totally branched out and have grown as a person, but it feel like at my core – I’m the person I was trying to find when I was in high school.

Turns out – I’m not the only one. The only one finally embracing who they were trying to be back then.

Let me set the scene as I remember it: my sophomore year of high school, I got really sick with mono and missed a lot of the year. I was the new kid the year before, so many of those “new” friendships kind-a vanished while I was sick. I mean, I wasn’t around, so it felt like people just kinda forgot about me. However, during that time, I became good friends with two guys: Ben and Tyler.

Ben and I became really close. I wrecked my car junior year, so Ben drove me to and from school every day. He’d let me drag him along shopping and we just did whatever. We’d hang out at Tyler’s house and play video-games or watch movies. During free period at school, when Ben and Tyler were playing Magic The Gathering, I was usually shifting through the discarded pile looking at the artwork.

The best memories of high school always have always had Ben in them. People would ask all the time why we didn’t date. For me, Ben was the brother I didn’t have. I’d jokingly tell people he was like “a girl friend but just happens to be a boy.”

After graduation, we hung out a few times when we were both home, but it seemed like Ben was VERY happy to get out of our city and move on.

Years go by and Ben totally falls off my social media radar. I thought about him from time to time, but didn’t do much more than that. I felt like Ben always needed his space and if he wanted to talk to me, he would. Also, back in high school, when Ben had a girlfriend we were less likely to talk as much and hang out as much outside of school. I figured, that was the pattern we’d fallen into after high school.

So now, here we are. 2016 and I get an invite to our reunion on Facebook. I start scrolling through the names of everyone invited to see who had already replied one way or the other. I’d already decided if Ben and Susan (a girl I’d been really close with on and off since 9th grade) were going, then I’d be there.

A name pops out to me: Lucy. But attached to Ben’s last name and with Ben’s picture.

I think, “well, that’s a bit weird – but not really out of character for Ben. Or anyone from my high school..”

So I go along my merry way and start looking through Ben/Lucy’s profile pictures. He looks just like I remember him, but his hair is much longer and he’s rocking some glasses. Oh, well, he’s got eye-liner on in that one. That’s also not that weird… Then, boom. I see him wearing a long rainbow skirt, with a big smile, and a caption about it being his “Pride day” outfit.

Shocked. I put the phone face down on my desk at work. What – what the hell did I just see? That picture, put everything else into a much different context.

I think if you know me, you know that I’m a pretty open-minded person. People are people and I believe I’m here to be a steward to the Earth and be kind. So – it wasn’t the Pride thing. It wasn’t even the skirt on it’s own. It was what that meant in my brain’s context of who Ben was. Some fuses short-circuited and I wasn’t really sure how to process it all.

Taking a deep breath, I sent the friend request on Facebook. Almost, instantly, Ben – Lucy – whoever had accepted the request. I took this as a good sign meaning two things: 1) She (because I did a bit more stalking and found on Facebook that Lucy identified with the “She” pronoun. I didn’t even know that was a thing on your profile, but I was glad for it) was plugged into Facebook more than she had been before and 2) that she wanted to still be my friend. Granted, in our day and age, being Facebook friends doesn’t really carry much clout – but it was a start.

Then we started messaging. I was so worried and aware of every word I typed. I missed my Ben – my best friend that knew me back when. I felt like he was someone that would still know me today. I missed that person so much, that I didn’t want to wreck this new thing we had going.

After swapping some pictures/Snaps and messaging more, I knew that my friend was pretty much just the same. He could’ve undergone surgery to turn him into a green and purple penguin, and it’d be the same as her gender change.

That’s right. I guess I haven’t come out and said it. Ben has started on his journey to become Lucy – a woman.

From my messages with her I learned several things:

  1. Ben (using this name when referring to her back as my high school side-kick) had felt like she was a woman for a long time
  2. She’d just started hormone therapy
  3.  She’d become a hardcore feminist
  4. She didn’t play video games as much anymore

None of these new things really changed who Lucy IS to me. After the initial shock,. I think that the most upsetting thing what that she didn’t play video games any more.

In some ways, maybe gender wasn’t ever anything that really factored into our friendship. Maybe, gender was how we knew to verbalize things.

My word counter says I’m already over 1,000 words and I still have a lot more to say. Really, all I feel I’ve gotten to do here is set the scene, but I still want to share my reflections on it all.

I want to end on this though: Out of all of it, I’m glad to be talking to my friend again.

Power Armor

Husband plays video games. Me? Not so much. I mean, I like to come home after a long day and boot-up the Wii for a round or two of Maro Kart every once and a while, but that’s about it.

Husband, on the other hands, plays these epic games with these intense and detailed plots. I love watching the cut-scenes and seeing the story unfold. While I don’t pay too much attention to the details, I know that you can get stronger depending on the armor you wear. There are all these different combinations of helmets and chest plates and whatnot. Most of the suits are really awesome and Husband’s character looks pretty terrifying after the upgrades. But, it’s not really about how the character looks, right? It’s all about the Power Armor.

There are days when I think that life would be easier in a video game. I could suit up, load myself down with a small armory of weapons, and go kick some ass. If I messed up and died, no biggie, I’d just wake up at the last save point. If a conversation goes south, all you have to do is quit and load some other previously saved game data and start over.

Obviously, life is not a video game. I can’t reset. I can’t come back to life. If I make mistakes, then I have to live with the consequences. Luckily for me, the same applies to everyone else.

But – there’s one thing that I can take away from a video game: Power Armor.

That’s right. Power Armor.

There are days where you need that extra protection. Days like – a big meeting at work where you’re pitching a new program, or when you need to kick some ass, or when you need to convince everyone else you’re more of an adult than you really feel.

When I’m in my Power Armor, I feel stronger, braver, more powerful. When I have my Power Armor on, I’m taller (literally because my Power Armor includes some wedges – I am a girl after all) and can look people in the eye on their level.

Also, when I’m in my Power Armor, I feel like I can dip into that World of What If. I don’t need to imagine how a day might be different if I was braver or bolder or more confidant, I live it.