Monthly Archives: April 2004

Dogville

My mother is in town visiting for my birthday celebrations. Since she lives in Saskatoon and the good movies take forever to get there, she wanted to hit the theatres while she was here. So we went to see Dogville, Lars Von Trier’s newest film.

In a nutshell, the plot is this: Grace, played by Nicole Kidman, is on the run from gangsters for reasons we don’t know. She arrives in Dogville, a small town in the Depression. Tom, a man who prides himself on acting as the moral concience of the town, rescues her and offers to help her win the town over so that she can hide out there indefinately. The town slowly accepts her as one of their own, but in order to pay her debt to the town for harboring a fugitive with such a dangerous past, Tom gets her to do work for everyone in the town. This work slowly escalates as she becomes more and more exploited, becoming the scapegoat for all the sins of the town.

To really thoroughly examine this film, you MUST talk about the ending. However, I know people get mad when someone ruins the ending for them, so I’ll just talk a little about the film as a whole and the themes it presents, and then go to a spoiler warning and finish my review.

First of all, I had some misgivings about Lars Von Trier making yet ANOTHER film about a woman sacrificing herself or being sacrificed and victimized. I’m not sure what his obsession with that particular theme is or whether it has honorable intentions. So my mother and I geared ourselves up for the possibility of watching a woman go through hell for no particular reason. And watching the movie, you do feel as though you’ve been pushed too far. At a certain point you wonder why you’re watching the movie, why you’re complicit in watching someone be abused and used.

The movie raises questions about our own basic human morals. We try to live higher lives, to say that forgiveness is essential to well being, that people are essentially good. And yet in all of us there is the capacity to use and abuse another person, to exploit someone for our own gain. That’s something we don’t really want to think about.

*******************SPOILER ALERT!!!! SKIP TO MY BIRTHDAY MESSAGE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE END OF DOGVILLE!!!************************

The other troubling question which is raised comes at the end. All of us have a breaking point, all of us have the capacity for violence. Grace has become the dog of Dogville, chained to a metal wheel she drags about, with a bell on her collar, she’s being sexually exploited by all of the men in Dogville, except the man she loves, Tom, because she keeps telling him she wants it to be special. He’s not really helping her, though he thinks he is. When he comes to her saying it’s time for them to be lovers because everyone else has had her, she says “Well yeah, go ahead and do it, but you have to be like them and threaten to turn me in to the gangsters.”

So he calls the gangsters. And when they arrive, suddenly we know why she has been on the run from them. She’s the mob boss’s daughter, and she wanted to live a life where people were good to each other and there’s room for forgiveness. But her father tells her she’s so arrogant. She believes in the best in people, but she doesn’t expect it of them. She doesn’t think they need to answer for their actions.

By this point in the movie, my mother and I both hated everyone in Dogville. We wanted the worst things to happen to the people. And suddenly, Grace makes a decision, and in a blaze of gun fire and gasoline Dogville is obliterated, with a special payback to a mother who’s husband had repeatedly raped Grace. It’s shocking, yet feels so righteous. And that’s what’s intense about Dogville. She shoots the man she’d loved in the head, saying some things you have to do yourself. The sole survivor is the dog.

Once I lived in a small logging and ranching town called Merritt, where I was sexually harrassed everyday that we lived there. I was about 13. I imagine that times ten for Grace in Dogville and I completely understand why she’d decide to commit mass slaughter. And as someone who identifies as a pacifist, yeah, it’s unsettling. We all have a breaking point, we would all go to war or flip out if we’re treated like dogs for long enough.

I asked my Mum, if you were in Grace’s position, would you have done the same? Yeah. Fuckin’ rights yeah.

And the other interesting thought, the other unsettling awareness, is that we treat people badly because we percieve them as being powerless. But what about them makes us believe they have no power? How can we be sure? It made me think about Western foreign policy, how we treat developing nations. Meanwhile there are people like Grace there, people with access to a lot of growing righteous anger and weapons.

And to take it back to a simpler level, this question of forgiveness. We throw it around a lot, how people are better if they can forgive. But we have forgotten that people have to work for our forgiveness, someone has to recognize that a wrong was committed and try to atone for it. If we live as a society where we constantly are forgiving people, then no one has to see the consequences of their bad actions. I mean, how is a daughter supposed to just forgive a father who sexually abused her her entire life, for one example. Why should she? Maybe it’s better for her not to forgive.

And finally, the most troubling realization after seeing Dogville is that human nature is too complex for us to ever live in a utopia, in a world free of war and violence and exploitation.

Happy Birthday Me!

Today’s my birthday, which means I might get to eat crab tonight. Mmm, crab and raw oysters I’m so excited. I’m now 26 years old, yay!!! 26 on the 26th.

And what did I see on the news last night but the huge march for women’s reproductive rights on Washington, headed by an angry looking Whoopi Goldberg waving a coat hanger and other stars like Julianne Moore and Susan Sarandon marching. Makes my heart feel so full!! I really hope they get Bush out of office.

Wish me a happy birthday!

Saskatoon Berries are NOT a novelty item

Today I heard the funniest news in a long time. It seems that Britain has decided it will no longer allow imports of Saskatoon berries because they don’t believe they are safe for human consumption, and in fact have classified them as a novelty item.

For those of you who have never eaten Saskatoons, they are one of the most supremely delicious berries around. They are somewhat similar to blueberries, but far sweeter and tangy-er. Blueberries are pretty bland once you’ve eaten a Saskatoon.

Being from Saskatoon myself, I spent many a summer picking Saskatoons with my mum and gramma, getting a purple tongue from skimming off the top of my little berry bucket. I was a pitiful berry gatherer because I ate so many. We used to make Saskatoon pie, oh my god, one of the yummiest pies in the world (next to nectarine pie). In fact, my mom is bringing me some Saskatoons when she comes to visit next.

A funny gourmet prairie fruit, the royals have even been proudly fed saskatoon based desserts. And of course my home town is obviously named after the berry, which has been devoured by us aboriginals for ages and ages.

And now it’s been called a novelty item. I’m shocked. I’m appalled. But you know, if Britain doesn’t want these lovely berries, I am willing to make the sacrifice of eating their share.

I’m one of those bad artists who wants more money for my work and yet I download music off the internet. Bad me, I am a contradiction. At least I admit it.

Artists making work for free, or rather, finding themselves in the position of being robbed out of a fair wage, is a sad state of affairs, and is especially prevalent in the film and video festivals. Yeah yeah, festivals are fun to go to, but rarely does a festival pay the recommended CARFAC rates. In fact, many of the bigger festivals go so far as to charge outrageous entry fees for the “processing” costs, when they won’t pay fees AFTER you’ve been chosen. Cash strapped filmmakers reaching into their own pockets to basically subsidize a film festival is an appalling way to treat artists. In my thinking, if you can’t afford to even LOOK at the work being submitted to your festival, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.

Yep, I am very much about being paid a decent wage. Which is why this upcoming show I am in is the most surprisingly potentially stupid and damaging move I have ever made in my career.

Sometime a few months ago I was majorly depressed and time was trickling by very slowly, I had my screenplay I was working on and not much else going on. Someone said “Hey, why don’t you put something in our window display,” I said sure, and then from there it sort of mushroomed into a show at a little gallery.

Months go by. I’ve got a great short video idea which keeps getting stonewalled by well meaning friends wanting me to work on it in a far more formal style than I wanted, and I was being passive. The end result is basically, this video I wanted to have done for this show to screen as a solo piece is no more. Finito. Dead, at least until I can find someone who will let me borrow a working mini DV camera with a firewire.

And yet I still have a show coming up.

A show for which I will be paid absolutely nothing in artist fees, which is why I was remembering the problem with some film festivals and artist fees in general.

So here’s the thing, it’s now a discount art show of crappy Thirza Cuthand drawings which will probably not have any kind of cohesion, I don’t even know if I will be able to afford thumbtacks to put them up. I may in fact just do a show of a hospital gown and the two smiley face slippers you get when they send you to the psych ward. Since there’s no money involved and I don’t have the resources to work in the medium I love, which is time based, this show is basically going to suck, and I know that. Okay, maybe I don’t know that. It just seems sad that there isn’t more funding for the arts out there so that it would be unthinkable to not pay artists what they’re worth. We undervalue culture so much as a North American society in general.

It’s called Disclaimer, and you can see it at the Alley Gallery on Pender the first weekend in May. Unless something dramatically wonderful happens in the next couple of weeks, it will probably be a very mediocre showing and you’ll be horribly disappointed in me and not want me to do a show again, when I can do a very excellent show given the proper funding and artist payment.

CARFAC

p.s. There is a reason this site is called Fit of Pique. For all I know it will all work out and look good.

Being poor means doing silly things to ensure your basic day to day survival. Stealing toilet paper from relatively clean public washrooms, using Sunlight instead of Shampoo, and forging student id to get groceries from the food bank. Learning which clubhouse serves lunch and dinner. One resourceful friend of mine even managed to steal five pounds of Bacon. Hey, it’s on the Atkins diet!

That wasn’t what I was thinking about today though. I was thinking about the year I lived in America. America, soda cans and o’grady potato chips. People there were really nice to me and my sister, two public school girls learning the ropes of Montana. Montana, where our family fled to after taking part in a relatively well known Canadian native uprising. Montana, where we joined the wild west shows. No wild west shows for me, only 2nd grade hamster circuses, and once I wanted to put on a show using only metal filings for actors. Very conceptual.

At the time I was really into nuclear disarmament, I still am, but then it was more pressing, what with the Cold War looming over our heads. Being a Canadian during the Cold War was a real trip. Somewhere in the middle where stray bombs would inevitably obliterate us. So I wrote a letter to Reagan, asking him to disarm. And my Gramma found a stamp for it and mailed it off for me.

I got a reply back. A thank you for sending a letter to the President, along with a booklet on the history of the White House. I didn’t get an answer about his stance on the nuclear weapons program, and I don’t think they even read my letter.

The booklet had a section about all the ghosts in the White House. That appealed to me, morbid person that I am. I still like ghost stories. I can appreciate anybody as long as they can tell me a good ghost story. I think I should have been more indignant, wrote a zine about it or something, but I was in the second grade, and ever so appreciative of a good scare and some o’grady potato chips.

I’ve heard better ghost stories since then, but never again did I get to eat O’Grady’s chips. If anyone finds a packet of them, please send me some.

BONUS FOUND POEM ON GOLDEN FUGI GARLIC CHICKEN CRACKER PACKET

“How to take it is too long to tell, it is unable to keep off the sweet smell”

Hmm, I haven’t updated in a while. Let’s see what has been festering in my abnormal brain.

George W. Bush sure does like to dodge questions. I was smoking up and watching the Presidential address with a friend. Even though people are starting to say it’s a new Vietnam, he still thinks everything is totally hunky dory. I don’t know what drugs he’s on. And from what I understand Afganistan is still in terrible shape, they didn’t do much to clean up after that war.

That’s what bothers me the most, I mean, how many years did it take to bring Germany back? If you’re going to have a war, it’s just good manners to at least clean up after.

I don’t feel brilliant today, I’m lost in a dream world of fiction, trying to figure out what to do with some characters, and then this other abstract world of my short video I’m working on. Sometimes I totally space out on friends while this interesting fictional conversation goes on in my head, and then they think I’m really tripping out.

This friend of mine and I got into an arguement with this guy who refused to believe that the Bush’s are descended from old royal bloodlines. He said “Don’t believe evrything on the internet.” My friend said “No, it was on the news on television.” “Well it’s not true!!” Oh he was upset. So we just pretended to go along with him.

People are funny that way, if you say something they don’t want to believe, they absolutely abhor you. Once I told some now ex-friends that 150 000 000 aboriginal people were killed during the colonization of the Americas. They said “No, it wasn’t that many!” They were so mad! I had good sources, but apparently since I’m aboriginal I was biased? I dunno. I’m a halfbreed so you’d think that I’d be a nice mediator. But no one ever thinks of my racial identity like that. Gotta pick a side.

Here’s a link to my favorite political comic Get Your War On

I also threw on a counter for how much this war is costing. Sit back and watch the American money burn!

Shroud of Turin: Is it real or a hoax?

The other day I was at a friend’s house when we came upon a PBS program about the Shroud of Turin. I thought it was a fake myself, after there was that carbon dating that placed it in the 1200’s, but this show was pretty surprising. It’s a forensic look at the shroud and all the evidence suggests that it really is 2000 years old. The weave of the linen used is the same kind found only in the middle east 2000 years ago, the imprint can be explained by bacteria which occurs on the skin (the same bacteria that makes yellow pit stains in otherwise nice white shirts), and the water stains can be explained by this 2000 year old method of keeping valued objects. They probably placed the cloth in a clay jar, which then had condensation and stained the bottom corner of the cloth. AND there’s also a companion relic to the shroud, a cloth used for covering the head of the deceased after a violent death, whose blood stains match the blood found on the shroud.

So who knows? Maybe it was Jesus, maybe just another unfortunate crucified soul’s shroud. Check it out on your local PBS station.

Ah, PBS, it’s so informative.

Shroud of Christ?

For Christians reading this blog, happy easter, for other people, happy day off work weekend!

Avian flu. Mad cow disease. Soon we’re not going to be able to eat any meat products without running the risk of getting some awful thing. It’s not a new thing to get crossover diseases from livestock, that’s been happening for as long as livestock farming has occured. Read Guns, Germs, And Steel by Jared Diamond and you’ll learn all about it.

And it seems like everybody is developing some kind of mental health problems. Maybe I’m only noticing because I have one and so of course like a newly diagnosed patient I’m diagnosing all these other people. But really and truly, I feel like mental health problems are increasing in the population. And in a roundabout way I will connect this to the little sick chickens.

See, I think the whole world can’t keep going on the way it is. I don’t know how it can change for the better, but something has to happen. It seems almost as if the cows and chickens are on strike. They don’t want to be meat anymore, or something. I mean, feeding them their own kind is the sort of idiot move that humans would think of.

But it feels like all of the world is going on strike, even our very own brains. I know there’s a lot of research being done on brain chemicals being the reason for mental health issues. However I think part of it is also just the world we live in, people go crazy because they’re living a life that’s getting unhealthy for them in some way or another. We don’t eat properly, or we’re putting too much stress on ourselves. I think part of it is that humanity needs to evolve, or we have evolved, but we don’t know what it means for ourselves yet. Maybe we have to live life totally differently, I don’t know. But something has changed.

The interesting thing is that as much as things have changed, they’re also balancing themselves out with older things from our history as humans. Take gender for instance. There used to be alternative models of gender in all kinds of different tribes of people. Then it turned into that damn boy or girl thing and we buggered up the continuum.

But then you have queers in my generation, where gender is so much more fluid. Most of the queers I know are bisexual or transgendered, or don’t really cling to a label. It’s pretty cool, because I don’t feel like a lesbian, I feel genderqueer. And I think as time goes on, those rigid definitions of who’s a boy and who’s a girl will start blurring again.

But then you know, there are those people who get scared by that. And this is where the little sick chickens come back into play, because like little sick chickens, there’s also this weird backlash beginning to form to try and take us backwards. Back to when “real” men were macho assholes and women didn’t have the right to abortion. Back to when life was pretty fucking boring.

I hate that, the people who want to make the human experience boring and homogenous. Bleh.

So in short, more fun, more play, don’t make animals eat themselves, let yourself be what you’re needing to be, and don’t get caught up in hegemonic delusions of whose’s a better human.

I think I’m getting Parkinsons or Tardive Dyskinesia, today I started twitching uncontrollably for a little bit and it freaked me out. It’s a side effect of this new medication I’m on. Fuck. I think I have to get off of it, besides that it puts me at risk for diabetes and breast cancer, two things which already run in my family.

I hate it, I hate how clueless my doctor is and I hate how people don’t realize how bad side effects are on some medications. There are REALLY good reasons why people stop taking their psych meds, and these are some of them. But people call us crazy for not taking it.

ARG!!! Why do I have such a sucky disease whose treatments can cause a bazillion other sucky diseases.

Tardive dyskinesia is irreversible once it starts. I hope to God I don’t have it.

I’m sad and frusterated. I want to be healthy, but it’s like my mental health means a trade off with other aspects of my health. Why?

Zyprexa Side Effects

Tardive Dyskinesia