I am a person with a lot of screeching and strident anime opinions, but when it comes to actually diving into hot button conversations on a season-to-season basis, I usually wimp out because conflict eats me. But there’s a new show, Darling in the Franxx, that I was compelled to bleed a lot of word viscera about because it’s being very blunt with themes of sexuality and sexual roles. It’s at an intersection of things I spend a lot of my time processing as a girl, a feminist, a sexual abuse survivor, a person with a blood fetish, the list goes on. I don’t think the world needs my take, but I haven’t really seen much discourse in the pro or con camp coming from a cool sexual trauma haver, so here it is.
I was going to finish this post in December but depression, etc. I saw a lot of very affecting movies in 2017 – not necessarily 2017 movies. These are the most important movies that I happened to watch in the year 2017 and why they were important, underexplained and with no internal consistency.
I finally! saw Dario Argento’s cult classic in its beautiful 4K restoration. The story, about American ballet student Suzy who travels to Germany to attend an elite dance school that may have ties to evil witchcraft, is ultimately very stupid, but that doesn’t matter. Just the Grand Guignol ass setpieces and stunning colors wash over you. It was also an influence on Kunihiko Ikuhara, so that qualifies it as essential viewing.
This was a relatively subdued Almodovar (and I love me a convoluted Almodovar). The story of middle-aged, independent Julieta is framed by a tell-all letter to her estranged daughter, Antia. Julieta is played brilliantly by two actresses, representing her youth and middle age, the division between which is also marked by life-changing grief. It’s a simple story in some ways: a woman alone meets a man, by the alignment of circumstance they build a life and family, there is loss, there is estrangement, and the woman is alone again. What stuck with me about Julieta is its exploration of how much of ourselves we put aside in relationships without planning to or realizing it, how grief can rewire our entire self, and how we really just don’t fucking understand other people – especially our parents.
I have a habit of making an absurd joke, overthinking that joke, and finally realizing that the heart of the joke is some latent but unironic sentiment. This was the case when sometime last year, I turned to a co-worker and said, “if you had to describe one work in the canon of classic literature as NTR, what would it be?” And because this person entertains my whims way more than a normal person would or should, he helped me mull it over. For the purpose of a one-off joke I landed on Doctor Zhivago.
In the second to last episode of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, a small moment – just a single sentence spoken by Miyokichi in the middle of an already emotionally rich episode – struck me on a bone-deep level. Miyokichi wasn’t my favorite character. That wasn’t my favorite scene, or my favorite episode. It might be my favorite line. In just a few words, Miyokichi articulated something that I think most women have long known, a problem many of us grapple with our entire lives.
“Role” seems to come up a lot in relation to a woman’s life: the role of mother, the role of daughter, the role of a career woman, and the list goes on. I don’t think we talk about the “role of man” as much because at some point we just collectively agreed on what men are in a more cohesive way than women. The conversation of what roles a woman chooses to play are often phrased in terms of trade-offs or sacrifices. If a woman can’t “have it all,” she must give up something, usually family or a career. But people rarely talk about the foundation of all of this: the role of being a woman itself. No, I don’t mean the purpose of women.
I have recently gotten very into Lana Del Rey – her decidedly not training montage material even dominates my running playlist. I’ve been aware of the siren with the 1,000 yard stare since she hit the scene in 2011 but avoided her, maybe unintentionally, for six years. As someone who runs in an unapologetically feminist circle, Lana Del Rey is not exactly on message. Outside of my bubble, Lana’s conceit is likewise out of tune with the zeitgeist. The current image of stars like Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato, and Ariana Grande generally espouse agency and confidence. Although their songs can deal with tumultuous relationships, the message that wins out is almost always self-love and self-care. Lana, on the other hand, is often subsuming herself in the shadow of a man. Her (very internally consistent) world of dangerous, negligent men, affairs, and sugar daddies isn’t something I aspire to. But here’s the thing – it still speaks to me and my life much more than dozens of girl power creeds. It may be bad feminism, but damn if it doesn’t resonate with me.
Teens going to great lengths to get Kylie Jenner lips has popped in and out of the beauty blog circuit in the past few years, but full lips is not a new trend. When I was finally old enough to wear makeup and take notice of what features I was supposed to be accentuating, plump lips a la Angelina Jolie were the top priority. Then, to my relief (thanks for the genes, Mom), long lashes were the hot ticket. Then it was brows. We’ve moved past the age of 1,000 thick brow trend pieces, and lips and lashes have become a natural part of many beauty routines. We are now living in the skincare moment, and this is both awesome and crippling.