Words By S.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Dina Goldstein’s ‘Fallen Princesses’ Series.

Filed under: Art,Creativity,Feminism,Popular Culture — S @ 6:53 am

Perhaps a little late to the game, I familiarized myself with Dina Goldstein‘s photography series, “Fallen Princesses“, yesterday.  In this series, Dina seeks to show what happens to Disney’s princesses after the “…happily ever after”, by placing them in what she perceives to be real world settings.

I find the series to be quite interesting, and some of the images are quite powerful.

Cinderella

Rapunzel

Snow White

Belle

Aurora (of Sleeping Beauty)

Jasmine

Ariel

Little Red Riding Hood

Princess from Princess & The Pea

Depicted are what Dina considers “…real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.”

While I enjoy the concept of the series, I have a couple problems with it.

1) Not all of the princesses she chose are Disney.  If she were to just say that she chose “fairy tale princesses” for her series, it would have made much more sense.  But, she didn’t.  She specifically said she was focusing on Disney’s representation of the “happily ever after” – in such, she left out some actual Disney princesses in order to include other, non-Disney princesses.

2) Red Riding Hood is not a princess.  As such, I am baffled as to why she is included in this series.

3) While I can understand, and climb on board with some of these depictions, how on earth is Jasmine’s supposed to be “fallen”?

The issues of Red’s obesity and Jasmine’s racial stereotyping have been brought up and flogged to death, so I will not discuss them at length here.  I will, however, touch on them – as they do fall in line with my initial reactions to seeing the photos.

Cinderella, while thought provoking, is a little hard to wrap my head around.  I understand that it is supposed to depict alcoholism, but it is poorly executed.  Placing her in the center of a bar full of old men, looking glum (yet not intoxicated), to me, does not portray alcoholism.  Perhaps if she wanted to portray the instances of self-medicating your woes with alcohol as her issue, rather than alcoholism, it would have been much stronger.  To me, this photo simply makes Cinderella appear to be “fallen” because she is having one drink and is lonely.

In the case of Red, I can understand the outcry – how much more fat shaming do we really need to see go on?  Fat people are aware of the fact that they are fat, there’s no need for the frequent reminders.  But, the issue is depicting her obesity in such a manner.  I understand both sides of the argument: on the one hand, gross overeating is not the only (and hardly the primary) cause of one’s obesity, and to depict it as such is really careless.  On the other hand, depicting overeating is the most accessible and most fixable cause of obesity.  That said, titling the photo “‘Not So Little’ Red Riding Hood” is really juvenile and takes away from the message that the image is trying to convey – particularly when your other photos just uses the character or story names.

In the case of Jasmine, the depiction is also lazy.  Giving her a rifle and sticking her in the middle of a war zone is too easy.  She may as well have strapped explosives to her chest, or stuck her in a nose-diving airplane.  The others attempted to deconstruct the lives of the princesses, and I think that the problem here is that, she’s not deconstructing anything.  She’s playing up a harmful stereotype of a culture that has a lot more going for it than being a sand-filled war zone.  I would also like to reiterate that Jasmine’s depiction of a woman in combat also is not “fallen”.  If anything, it’s the opposite.

I also had a real problem with Belle’s depiction.  Again, I think it is way too easy.  It also strays very far away from the essence of who Belle is.  The whole point to her character is the internal beauty, and how she doesn’t care about superficial qualities.  She grew up modest, and a sudden change to royalty likely wouldn’t mar the essence of who she is.  There were so many other things Goldstein could have done with that character that it’s a shame that she went for the obvious.

Aurora, I don’t understand.  She wakes up upon being kissed by the prince in the end.  Therefore, why is she asleep while he is in a retirement home?  What is that possibly saying about real women’s issues?  Also, how does this depict life after her “happily ever after”?  If anything, this depicts what would happen if her “happily ever after” never occurred.  In the same vain, the princess of Princess & The Pea depicts life if her “happily ever after” never occurred, but does not portray her in any real scenario.

Another issue that I have, with the series as a whole, is that these are the “real issues” that she perceives women’s issues to be.  Of all of them, I find Rapunzel and Snow White to be most striking and saying the most about real women’s issues.  I feel that, in all, the message that she was attempting to get across was a good one, and the idea was fantastic.  But, as far as execution, it was just poor and lazy.

She states that there are two more to be added to the series, let’s hope that she gets to the heart of real women’s issues with those.

Friday, 16 October 2009

1967 All Over Again.

Filed under: Humanity,Interesting News Links,Politics — S @ 6:11 am

Interracial couple denied marriage license in La.

By MARY FOSTER, Associated Press Writer

Friday, October 16, 2009

(10-16) 01:50 PDT New Orleans (AP) —

A white Louisiana justice of the peace said he refused to issue a marriage license to an interracial couple out of concern for any children the couple might have.

Keith Bardwell, justice of the peace in Tangipahoa Parish, says it is his experience that most interracial marriages do not last long.

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t believe in mixing the races that way,” Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. “I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else.”

Bardwell said he asks everyone who calls about marriage if they are a mixed race couple. If they are, he does not marry them, he said.

Bardwell said he has discussed the topic with blacks and whites, along with witnessing some interracial marriages. He came to the conclusion that most of black society does not readily accept offspring of such relationships, and neither does white society, he said.

“There is a problem with both groups accepting a child from such a marriage,” Bardwell said. “I think those children suffer and I won’t help put them through it.”

If he did an interracial marriage for one couple, he must do the same for all, he said.

“I try to treat everyone equally,” he said.

Bardwell estimates that he has refused to marry about four couples during his career, all in the past 2 1/2 years.

Beth Humphrey, 30, and 32-year-old Terence McKay, both of Hammond, say they will consult the U.S. Justice Department about filing a discrimination complaint.

Humphrey, an account manager for a marketing firm, said she and McKay, a welder, just returned to Louisiana. She is white and he is black. She plans to enroll in the University of New Orleans to pursue a masters degree in minority politics.

“That was one thing that made this so unbelievable,” she said. “It’s not something you expect in this day and age.”

Humphrey said she called Bardwell on Oct. 6 to inquire about getting a marriage license signed. She says Bardwell’s wife told her that Bardwell will not sign marriage licenses for interracial couples. Bardwell suggested the couple go to another justice of the peace in the parish who agreed to marry them.

“We are looking forward to having children,” Humphrey said. “And all our friends and co-workers have been very supportive. Except for this, we’re typical happy newlyweds.”

“It is really astonishing and disappointing to see this come up in 2009,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana attorney Katie Schwartzmann. She said the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 “that the government cannot tell people who they can and cannot marry.”

The ACLU sent a letter to the Louisiana Judiciary Committee, which oversees the state justices of the peace, asking them to investigate Bardwell and recommending “the most severe sanctions available, because such blatant bigotry poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the administration of justice.”

“He knew he was breaking the law, but continued to do it,” Schwartzmann said.

According to the clerk of court’s office, application for a marriage license must be made three days before the ceremony because there is a 72-hour waiting period. The applicants are asked if they have previously been married. If so, they must show how the marriage ended, such as divorce.

Other than that, all they need is a birth certificate and Social Security card.

The license fee is $35, and the license must be signed by a Louisiana minister, justice of the peace or judge. The original is returned to the clerk’s office.

“I’ve been a justice of the peace for 34 years and I don’t think I’ve mistreated anybody,” Bardwell said. “I’ve made some mistakes, but you have too. I didn’t tell this couple they couldn’t get married. I just told them I wouldn’t do it.”

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/10/15/national/a124653D11.DTL&tsp=1

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