Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Whole Package

Following on vaguely from last week's themes of marriage and equality, today I would like to talk about why I believe Rick O'Connell and Evelyn Carnahan (later Carnahan O'Connell*) from The Mummy and The Mummy Returns** are cinema's most perfect couple***.

I'll start off by admitting that I love these movies so I might be a bit biased. I essentially wrote every single one of my university essays with these two movies on a constant loop in the background to keep me from flipping out or leaving the room.
But despite my almost Stockholm Syndrome level of regard for them as entertainment, I maintain that the points I am about to make stand on their own.

Why Rick O'Connell And Evelyn Carnahan/Carnahan O'Connell Are Cinema's Most Perfect Couple by Ricochet, age 28

  • They're Not Perfect And They Get To Stay That Way.
    When we meet Rick and Evie, Rick is a jaded and disillusioned soldier who doesn't have the best of luck and Evie despite her academic achievements hasn't achieved much success or regard and is somewhat unworldly. This is a fairly normal introduction to people involved in a romantic movie storyline but what isn't entirely normal is their continuing characterisation. They each have their own areas of knowledge, skill, insecurity and ignorance that form their personalities and their relationship isn't shown to artificially fix or negate these the way a lot of movie relationships seem to. They get to keep their imperfections as well as their strengths and therefore get to keep their personalities. They're not 'fixed' now that they're in a relationship, they're just in a relationship.

  • They Are Self-possessed Enough To Stand By Their Own Convictions And Don't Back Down Or Defer To Each Other During Arguments.
    They don't always agree and when they disagree they do so vocally and confidently. There's no hushing up to avoid trouble or condescending false agreements, they stick to their guns. For the purposes of the movie this was done for drama and comedic effect but in terms of a relationship it is a healthy airing of emotions and shows that they are individuals who are determined to have their say. There is compromise and sometimes they agree to follow one person's suggestion rather than the other but there's none of the simpering or suppressed fuming that is usually put forward as normal in heterosexual relationships.

  • They Aren't Afraid To Show Fear, Vulnerability Or Doubt In Front Of Each Other.
    When things are going completely bonkers-nuts-bad, Rick feels free to look completely terrified and admit that he has no idea if they're going to live, there's no putting on a false front of bravado in order to impress anyone. When their son is in danger the second movie they both show a completely understandable level of fear and concern. This allows an emotional honesty and a deep connection that gives them the opportunity to support each other. When Rick grieves in The Mummy Returns it feels very natural and honest.

  • They Respect Each Others' Individual Strengths And Don't Harp On At Each Other About Individual Failings.
    Rick is good at general jumping around, heavy lifting, navigation, reading situations and getting them out of tough spots. Evie is good at translating, problem solving, archaeology, thinking under pressure and prioritising. They're both good at other things but I'm having a nice lazy generalise here. The point is that they each play to their strengths and don't start yelling at each other when the other person doesn't share the same level of competency in every situation. They complement each other and in The Mummy Returns we get to see that they have managed to build a life together that allows them both to do what they're best at, neither of them having to give that up in order to allow the other partner to follow their interests.

  • They Maintain A Passionate And Romantic Love For Each Other Even After Years Of Marriage And Raising A Child.
    One 'trick' I really despise in movies is the '1st movie has a happy ending, 2nd movie opens up with bickering and recriminations and over the course of the 2nd movie they learn to love each other again' ploy. It's annoying, it feels lazy and it teaches kids that no matter how much you love a person, you'll eventually end up screeching at and belittling each other. They didn't pull that trick with The Mummy Returns and I will always love them for it. After at least 10 years of marriage Rick and Evie still love each other and still treat each other as individuals. They don't swap between being people who are in love to parents when they interact with their child, they are those same people who just happen to be parents. It's the most hope-inspiring depiction of having a relationship and a family and still getting to have a distinct identity that I have seen in mainstream cinema.
    True getting to have athletic battles with intruders/aggressors interspersed with public and genuine declarations of affection add a bit of spice and aren't everyone's experience (except in The Incredibles, also a great movie) but their dynamic remains good.

  • They're Ready To Risk Everything To Save And Protect Each Other And Their Family.
    Rick and Evie have their priorities all sorted out. They travel, they have work they love, they have an insanely nice house and a slightly annoying precocious son. And when someone tries to threaten their family, they don't give a damn that their nice house has been shot to shit, they drop everything and they rally together to protect their loved ones.

  • They Don't Selfishly Protect Their Knowledge/Specialities.
    In The Mummy Returns we get to see Evie kicking fairly impressive amounts of ass and wielding a sword in a fairly competent fashion because Rick cares enough about her to teach her how to defend herself. We get to see Rick involved in and more knowledgeable about Egyptian lore, history and archaeology because Evie has shared her passion with him. Instead of keeping their strengths to themselves so that they have 'one thing that they're good at that the other person needs them for' (something that can unfortunately be seen in far too many real life relationships), they offer their skills and knowledge to each other in order to expand each others' experience and capabilities.

  • They're Able To Function Separately And Confidently Without Each Other When They Need To.
    When they have to split up to get things done they do, no questions asked. They don't shilly-shally, there's no screaming or wailing or hesitating. They aren't co-dependent and that is something that is rarely explicitly demonstrated. Even though they ultimately are trying to reunite, they aren't scrambling to get back together because they are freaking out or can't manage without each other which seems to be the case with many action or action/comedy or even romantic/comedy couples.

  • They Love Each Other.
    This might seem a fairly 'well duh' thing to say but the amount of movie couples who only seem to get together as wish fulfilment for the audience, whose only points of compatibility are artificially created by the crisis they've endured together are the ones who end up bickering in the sequel. Rick and Evie have inherent similarities and compatibilities that are demonstrated before they met and which are brought out during their shared crisis. And once the crisis is gone, they still love each other. I mean look at them!
    Who rubs their nose on somebody else's nose if they don't love them!?
    Nobody that's who.

I rest my case!

*See? Even Evie kept her original surname in her name after marriage!

**I don't include The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor because I have thus far refused to watch it. No Rachel Weisz, no my eyeballs. You're probably lovely, Maria Bello, but you are not Evie!

***In the category of movies that I've seen and can remember right now at this very minute.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

What's In A Name?

One of my friends got married last year and much to my surprise, she changed her name.

She's a fairly independent person, her family is very important to her and after her father died she made a big point of commemorating their shared history.

As a result, I was not expecting her to be the kind of person who would giddily start referring to herself as 'Mrs [My Husband's Name]'.

Now another friend in our circle is engaged and is planning to change her name as well.

I have trouble wrapping my brain around the whole thing.

My name is... my name.

It's part of who I am.

I've never really thought about getting rid of it and the fact that other people are so comfortable with doing so confuses me.

I know it's traditional and a lot of people say it's 'easier' but still, unless I was marrying someone with a super awesome surname like Wartooth* I don't think I could do it. And even then I think it would be an addition and not a substitution.

There are all sorts of arguments that usually get trotted out at this point about "If you hyphenate your surnames then what is the next generation supposed to do? How long do you want these names to get?"
At least two women I know who are in long term de facto relationships that have produced children have kept their own surnames** but all their children share surnames with the fathers, not their mothers.

Though it may be unfair, to me that sort of thing always smacks of appeasement.

"Of course they're your children! See? They have your surname!"
"Look! We have children together and they have your surname! They're like little yous! Please don't leave us..."
"I know how you like to own things and now it's like you have your own franchise..."

What with DNA testing it's no longer necessary to use surnames to denote who put what into whom and what the result was and having the kids share the father's surname alone really feels like a matter of possession.

If the children shared the mother's surname alone it would also feel a bit odd as the children are no more just a product of their mother than they are just a product of their father***.

If a same-sex couple get married and adopt a child or give birth to a child, people would acknowledge that a decision would have to be reached that was acceptable to both spouses/parents****. Why do people find it so hard to apply this recognition of individual identity to hetero couples?

There has to be some kind of sensible solution. Or even multiple sensible solutions.

I know stepping away from the 'tradition' means having to think a bit harder about things and have - what might be for some couples - some rather involved and fraught discussions but there are plenty of options:
  • both keeping your own names with no alterations
  • one or both of you adding an extra surname either in front of or behind your own
  • adopting a shared hyphenated surname
  • making a composite surname from components of both or your originals surnames
  • making up a badass new surname that has nothing in common with either of your previous surnames
If you choose to take your spouse's name because your own family was an abusive or neglectful train wreck and you want nothing more to do with the name, go nuts.

If your parents named you something cruel and unusual that turns your full name into a little sentence that has made your life hell, I can definitely understand you wanting to change your name*****.

But don't change it just because your spouse's parents/grandparents/family biographer will crack the shits if you don't or because you're worried about people looking at you askance.

We don't accept bullying as acceptable when it comes to partaking in or abstaining from controlled substances, engaging in sexual acts or whether or not to become a parent; why should it be allowed or seen as appropriate when it comes to something as important as your identity?

Catherine Deveny wrote several newspaper articles and a blog post on this topic and when I brought the subject up at work I was actually rather shocked at how conservative most of my female coworkers were, either believing that a woman should change her name 'just because' or using the 'it's just easier' explanation that has Catherine knocking her head against the wall.

I'm sure some people like the idea of changing their name and as long as they're doing it for reasons that they're happy with then that's their choice and right but the whole practice will always weird me out a bit.

*That was just an example, I'm not really thinking about marrying a fictional cartoon character. Toki and I would be totally incompatible.

**It was three but one of the women mentioned got married, took her husband's name and now has the same surname as her children.

***I also know some men are a little paranoid about their likelihood of getting custody or visitation rights after a marital/relationship split and that this option would only exacerbate that anxiety.

****Well, those people who accept the validity of same-sex relationships and/or the existence of same-sex sexual attraction...

*****In any of these circumstances, you could have changed it by deed poll of course but a lot of people don't seem to consider that.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Out Of Toner!


Imagine that we found out that there was going to be a cataclysmic EMP* event, that every computer and electronic device on Earth would stop working at the same time.

Imagine the panic as we realised exactly how much of our information is stored in exclusively electronic mediums.

Imagine the logistics. No really, think about it.

If we knew we only had a finite time before all that information was lost to us forever how would we handle it?

Scientific and educational facilities would obviously start printing at a rate of knots.

The production and delivery of ink and toner cartridges and paper would be prioritised and possibly would require the use of armoured cars.

Government branches and public services would draft all their people into collating and stacking and waving fans at overheating printers.

Would it get to the point where they started commandeering or contracting civilian printers?

Would civilian businesses cooperate?

What about professional publishing houses? Those best set up to print large amounts of material in an efficient fashion.

Would they accept priority jobs from universities and the like?

Or would they be grimly printing as many of the classics and as many new novels and non-fiction resources as possible before technology is knocked back to the industrial age?

Would there be riots in book stores?

Would libraries be at risk?

Does anybody still know how to construct a reference card system on the dewey decimal system?

Would there be time for the companies that still print camera film to go completely buck wild seeing as digital cameras would soon be nothing more than inefficient paperweights?

What would we do?

*Electromagnetic pulse

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Fertility Conspiracy

Facebook, I understand that you data mine us and then try to sell us things.

That's practically a given.

But either you're really bad at targeted ads, or you're a complete bastard.

I mean, I was cross enough at the WiiFit when it started flinging thinly veiled insults my way but this?

OK, so my Facebook profile says that I enjoy certain kinds of music, so you put ads for different bands and related items on my sidebar.

My profile says I'm a certain age so you make other assumptions from that and mix in a few other ads about 80s cartoons and band reunions.

It also says I'm single and I'd gotten used to all the sidebar spots that were devoted to advertising various dating websites.

Then you gave up on the regular, run of the mill dating sites and started advertising almost exclusively that I should give single dads a chance.

I'm sure there are lots of single dads out there who are great guys who deserve a loving partner and what not but the way the ads are presented gave a very 'And hey, who are they to be picky? You've got them over a barrel!' vibe which I found somewhat creepy.

And when I didn't click on any of those either, Facebook, you took it a step too far.

Why are you showing me ads about IVF information sessions, Facebook?

Yes, I'm single.

Yes, I'm 28.

But no, I have not yet reached the turkey baster stage of life.

So if you want me to keep pretending that you're a social networking site and not the elaborate marketing research tool that you are, you will drop the IVF ads and I won't have to go completely effing mental on you.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Welcome To My Nightmare...

I'm on a bit of a tight deadline these days.

Having spent most of my life believing that I wasn't 'that into music', only to discover in the last few years that it was because I wasn't introduced to the right music, I am now trying to see as many bands and performers as possible before they all retire and stop touring!

Luckily most of the new music I've fallen in love with is rock and metal and those guys and gals have a history of soldiering on like unbreakable leathery gods, hence today's post.

I've just seen Alice Cooper in concert and it was glorious :-D

Not only is Alice Cooper probably still fitting into just about the same size pants as he was back in the day, he is still 100% committed to his performance.

The sets. The costumes. The theatrics. The musicians he performs with.

All top shelf.

There's a difference between people who are touring because they're broke and people who are touring because they still enjoy it and it's very clear that Alice Cooper falls into the latter category.

And no matter what his age, or how much his face resembles a handbag, there is something rather sexy about a man resting a cane across his shoulders and draping his arms over the ends.

Classic power stance.

From the friends I went with to the people who have been Alice fans since before I was on solids, some of whom had brought their children and grandchildren, thanks for sharing the experience with me.

And for screaming just as loud and high as I did during the best songs and drum solos, that was a pretty impressive effort for the dudes.