No guys, I need to stop and talk about something in this movie and how fucking revolutionary it was; something that I haven’t seen in a movie before or since.
This is a movie about a kid who leaves her birth family.
Not a kid who find that they have a secret lineage or something that allows them to find their ‘true family’ - this is a movie about a kid whose true birth family is made up of bad people. So she gets out. And that is played as the right thing to do. She isn’t punished for it or made to feel bad about ‘abandoning her family’. There isn’t an underlying ‘but they’re your family and you have to love them’ or ‘they’re your family and they love you even if they don’t show it well or do hurtful things’ message of the kind that I see OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER in media. Matilda gets out and livess happily ever after because of it.
We need a million more movies like this to counter the metric shit ton of movies that directly counter this message.
I did like this movie…but I liked the book more. Roald Dahl wrote some fucking amazing books. He’s on my top 10 list of all-time best writers. His work is clever, humorous, entertaining, and insightful. He inspired me as a child, and it baffles me that more of his amazing books have not been made into equally amazing movies. There’s so much to work with…but that’s the film industry. They aren’t quite as easily merchandised, I suppose.
As an aside, as a kid, I believed that Roald Dahl lived in the giant peach pit from James and the Giant Peach. True story.
(Source: yaoikuza, via rosalarian)
Kurt Vonnegut’s Rules for the Short Story
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things–reveal character or advance the action.
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
via advicetowriters.com (via kadrey)
Good suggestions. (There are no rules.)
"A popular exercise among High School creative writing teachers in America is to ask students to imagine they have been transformed, for a day, into someone of the opposite sex, and describe what that day might be like. The results, apparently, are uncannily uniform. The girls all write long and detailed essays that clearly show they have spent a great deal of time thinking about the subject. Half of the boys usually refuse to write the essay entirely. Those who do make it clear they have not the slightest conception what being a teenage girl might be like, and deeply resent having to think about it."
David Graeber, “Beyond Power/Knowledge: An Exploration of Power, Ignorance and Stupidity” (pdf)
He also says much the same thing in “Revolutions in Reverse,” an essay included in the book Revolutions in Reverse (which can be read in Scribd at the link). I’d been meaning to post a quote from the second source for a while, thanks to Aaron Brady for the actual excerpt above. That last link is a good essay on the recent Rush Limbaugh BS and how patriarchy works and how male privilege is defended by having men like Limbaugh around to keep women’s opinions out of the allowed discourse on the subject. To keep high school boys forever unable to write essays that could relate to the issue of needing hormonal birth control to control ovarian cysts.
We talked about this a lot this year in English. Girls are taught from a young age that we have to connect to what we read, so when we do excercises in class, everyone talks about how they connect to Huck Finn, or to Jay Gatsby, or to Julius Caesar. We connect to all the characters because we have to, because if we don’t then we won’t survive through the years of school.
Boys don’t deal with this. Practically every book or story they encounter from the time they begin school is full of male characters and written by men. So when confronted with female characters of female authors, they don’t know what to do. They feel as if they can’t connect with these characters because of the gender boundaries. As one woman in my class pointed out, “girls have to connect to male characters, but boys don’t have to connect to female characters.” By the time they’re my age, it’s not even intentional: many honestly think that they won’t understand a female character because they have no shared experiences whatsoever.
Awesome and reminds me of the thing I was talking about last week: the deep discomfort I see with YA fiction which has a girl as a protagonist instead of a supporting character for a dude. ‘Will nobody think of the boys?’ and ‘There’s too much of this!’ and ‘This female supporting character is better than any female protagonist ever!’ The overwhelming majority of books are still slanted in favour of boys, but this panicked rejection of the ladies says a lot. I think. Makes me very proud of my genre.
I remember this coming up in at least one college-level fiction workshop: a male student insisted a classmate’s protagonist was unrelatable, and, when pressed to explain, argued that the character should be male because then more people would identify with him (never mind that the professor and at least half the class were female).
The kid was a clueless jerk, but it really drove home how thoroughly and unquestioningly we accept male (and white and straight and cisgendered and and and) as default for protagonists. These days, I see it most pronouncedly in video games—people get furious if a company dares front a game with a female character and/or a queer character and/or a character of color, writing those choices off as pandering and tokenism but never thinking to question the fact that the demographic they treat as a universal, neutral default is every damn bit as specific.