My Brain Scratching Affair With Disney Movies Presents: Pocahontas (VI)

As I’ve previously written in the first installment of this series-long ‘editorial’ (if you will), the following posts are created to air out more or less, ‘adult’ grievances and flush out underlying (as well as obvious) themes that I’ve found while watching these childhood movies over again. *Please Note: I do not ‘blame’ Disney for any of my findings, as these are films based on very old fairy tales, however, as Disney animated them I will continue to say ‘Disney’ as a reference. **Also, not all cartoons animations of childhood fairy tales were the brain child of Disney, so I will attribute the production companies accordingly.* This month’s installment of my return to my head scratching questions and off the wall theories tackles the EVER racist movie Pocahontas.

First things first: I know it’s pretty inherent how RACIST this movie was, but I’m going to mention it anyway. If you guys are unaware of Pocahontas, she was the chieftain’s daughter of a Native American tribe on the East Coast that got in good when the white man came in, took over and basically said “move over redskins, this is our land.” In some ways, Pocahontas was a traitor to her people, but in other ways she help founded this nation in all its racist pride. However you want to look at it, look at it that way. Anyway, I definitely had a couple problems with this flick. For one, this story is GROSSLY exaggerated and deeply racist (did I say it was racist?), but I’ll talk about that during my lessons section. But I had a BIG PROBLEMO with Pocahontas. She passed on a fine male specimen in the form of Kocoum. Yeah, he may not have been the most talkative of the bunch, but he was strong. And I guarantee you, he would’ve been kind AND boy knew about Pocahontas and her wild-woman-diving-off-cliff ways and probably wouldn’t have changed her (like the English tried to do in Pocahontas II, but I’m not getting into that now). You messed up, Pocahontas! YOU DONE MESSED UP!


Not only does she pass him up for the white guy (who ultimately takes the blame for killing Kocoum), but the white guy she passes him up for leaves her (yes, OK, he got shot — big deal) and DOESN’T come back like he said he would! Hmm … you sure know how to pick ’em Po-Po. And was it me, but didn’t it look like Pocahontas’s bff Nakoma wanted Kocoum? Think about it … she was always telling Pocahontas that she’s got a good thing going AND she was the one who ran to Kocoum (not anyone else in the tribe) when Pocahontas was doing the sneaky-sneak with John Smith.  Am I the only person who thought that Nakoma was hoping that Kocoum would see Pocahontas and get all like “forget that ho” and then date her?

Pocahontas-Kocoum-and-Nakoma-pocahontas-13194955-500-272Hmm, I smell a home wrecker…
Just sayin’…

Another thing: what was with all the unattractive British dudes? The only ones worth baggin’ were John and Thomas. AND they gave poor Tom a hard-ass time for not knowing how to shoot. That’s why this damn country is so trigger happy. There were other questionable things in this film, like what the hell were these Indians SMOKIN’?! Think about it: Pocahontas’s best friend was a raccoon, a hummingbird and a talking tree bark. A TALKING TREE BARK. I mean, I feel like there was some hallucinogenics in those pretty leaves that were always circling Pocahontas, no? I mean, how else did she learn to speak English so damn quick — Rosetta Stone? Well, it’s about that time that we get into the thematic lesson portion of this here post, so here we go:

Theme One: America Was Built on Trigger-Happy Racism

Yeah. I had to go there. And we know this is a universal FACT. From the moment that we’re introduced to John Smith in this movie in all his dashing, blonde-headed glory, this dude is boasting about all the ships he’s sailed and all the natives he’s killed. And when he comes to America, the first thing any of these fools do is pull out a gun on some “shoot now, ask questions later” nonsense. Pocahontas sang it best:

You think I’m an ignorant savage And you’ve been so many places I guess it must be so But still I cannot see If the savage one is me How can there be so much that you don’t know?

For real, like how to forage food, learn the layout of the land, or ask the natives for help. Really John, really! And despite them “getting along” at the end, they really didn’t. The white man came back, treated the Natives like shit, ran them off their land, went to Africa, brought slaves over and still acted like they owned the land.

You think you own whatever land you land on… …You think the only people who are people Are the people who look and think like you

Sang it girl. Sang it!

And if you think I’m being a little over the top, look at the lyrics  to the (albeit beautiful) song “Savages” :

What can you expect From filthy little heathens? Their whole disgusting race is like a curse Their skin’s a hellish red They’re only good when dead They’re vermin, as I said And worse They’re savages! Savages! Barely even human Savages! Savages! Drive them from our shore! They’re not like you and me Which means they must be evil We must sound the drums of war! They’re savages! Savages! Dirty redskin devils! Now we sound the drums of war!

You know what that is?

And that sad part? This mentality is VERY much alive today. Thank you Disney for preparing people of color for the real world.

Theme Two: Interracial Relationships Are a Risky Business

Don’t get me wrong now — I’m all about loving who you want to love. But let’s be real — this movie showcased how truly difficult being in an interracial relationship could be. First there was the language barrier (until they smoked some of the good stuff from Mother Willow’s bark) and then there was the whole cultural thing. I mean, just look at the faces of everyone who saw Pocahontas and John Smith Kissing…


#NOTPLEASED

Having an interracial relationship is a a tough business, especially if you come from two cultures that are literally worlds apart. However, you have to learn to remain strong and make necessary (and fair) sacrifices to make the relationship work. Stay true to yourself and the one you love, forget the haters and things will work out … hopefully better than they did for Po-Po and John.

Theme Three: ALWAYS Break Off Old Relationships Before Entering New Ones

Tale as old as father-freaking time yo. I ALWAYS blamed Kocoum’s death on Pocahontas AND Nakoma, but mainly Pocahontas. Why? Homegirl knew she was engaged to be married to that fine bear claw tattooed mofo. And instead of keeping it real and saying “Hey Kocoum, I don’t think this whole marriage thing is going to work out for me,” she just sneaks off to see John Smith. And what happened?

Kocoum died … he DIED!

Sigh. If it’s one thing you can take from this movie, it’s that if you are in a relationship (forced into it or not) and you no longer want to be with the person, sneaking around is the worst way to get out of it. It’s better to just make a clean break before anyone gets anymore hurt than they need to be. Yes, Kocoum would’ve been upset and his pride would’ve been low. But how much you want to BET if Pocahontas had just broke it up, Nakoma would’ve been there to pick up the pieces? Please redirect your eyes several photos above, and search your feelings. You know it to be true.

Theme Four: Men Need to Learn How to Ask For Help Or Directions

So, this Ratcliffe fellow, gets on a ship, lands in the Americas, calls his settlement in Virginia “Jamestown” and swears up and down the place is filled to the brim with gold. However, because of his pompous and prideful attitude, not only was there no gold, but he ended up shooting someone and getting in trouble.

Men NEVER like to ask for directions, and this is a prime example of what happens when you don’t. You see, Ratcliffe could’ve just told the Natives “take me to your shiny yellow thing” and they would’ve shown him the only gold they had was corn. OR they could’ve shown him some semi-precious jewels which Ratcliffe could’ve brought back to England. But noooo. He just had to be all “I know what I’m doing!” And where did that get him? Bound, gagged, and on a boat waiting to be tried in England.

Theme Five: Racially-Motivated Deaths Have Escaped Justice For Centuries

OK, so Kocoum comes to Pocahontas’s defense (as he’s told she’s in trouble) and attacks John Smith. They fight and it looks like Kocoum is about to win, but Pocahontas joins in to break it up. When Thomas sees the throw down, instead of helping Kocoum off John,  he pulls out a gun and shoots Kocoum dead.

Thomas shoots Kocoum

John Smith takes the blame, but guess what? He gets off when Po-Po stops her daddy from killing him (in that Old Testament way of eye for an eye, mind you). To add insult to injury, Thomas — the one who KILLS Kocoum — gets to go back to England and everyone’s like “let’s stop the fighting and be friends.” Meanwhile, when John Smith gets shot (and SURVIVES), they lock up Ratcliffe, gag him and get ready to send his ass to prison when they get back to England. Kocoum dies, and everyone’s like “aww, let’s move on.”

This, ladies and gentleman, is the moment that I realized that I was being taught racially-motivated hate crimes have gone unpunished for forever, and we can expect this saddening trend to continue to go on until we demand justice for ALL our fallen brethren. #NeverForgetKocoum

Theme Six : Sometimes It’s Best to Be Single

Pocahontas single handedly got two men shot, one of whom died. Real talk, who needs all that stress in your life? One guy likes you, but he’s just not your type. Then another guy likes you, but his people won’t accept you as his woman. What’s a girl to do? That’s when you learn that sometimes it’s best to just walk away from all these men and wait until you can get what you deserve (though personally, Po-Po had a great thing with Kocoum, but eh, she wasn’t feeling the dude).

And in the end, that’s what happened. John Smith went off to England with the “promise” of returning (but never did), Kocoum’s death faded in the background and all Po-Po had left was Meeko (the raccoon), Flit (the hummingbird), Mother Willow and her earth-spirit “herbs.” *Of course, until Pocahontas II, where she meets John Rolfe, but we won’t get into that now.*

Theme Seven: Animals Are The Only Things That Truly Know How to Adapt

I had to give a quick shout out to the animals in this film, because as a person fond of pets, I found that the only things that learned how to adapt to their given situations, were the animals. I mean, Meeko saw (well, smelled) John Smith coming and did what he had to do to get food. He even accepted John with the quickness, though Flit took some time. Now Percy, Ratcliffe’s dog, took a little time to adjust. But unlike John Smith (who probably could’ve been healed with Native American holistic remedies instead of traveling on a ship for MONTHS (which could’ve killed him) for “medical attention”) Percy stayed. Why? Because he adapted.

Lesson learned: animals are a million times more accepting AND resilient than humans. BOOM.

Theme Eight: Exaggerating History Makes it Better to Swallow

So for many of you who watched Pocahontas, going “oh, that’s so sad, why didn’t she go to England,” blah-di-blah, just remember that this film was a highly exaggerated version of the truth. In fact, Po-Po was a young girl when she met John Smith, that whole “Daddy don’t kill him” thing was possibly a stunt and/or ritual (if it even happened at all). Then, when her people and the settlers started squabbling AGAIN, they kidnapped her. Yes. They held Po-Po ransom! And when her people couldn’t meet the settlers’ demands, they kept her. And NO she didn’t go to England like she did in Pocahontas II with John Rolfe and decide “I love my Native American ways.” Instead, she adopted Christianity, changed her name to Rebecca, got married to Rolfe, had a baby and then went to England where she was dubbed a princess of her tribe (though they probably didn’t care) before dying on her journey back home.  Of course that’s “too deep” for a Disney film, so you know do what you must to get it out there: throw in some music, boost her age up, and make it all a lesson in racial (in)equality and you’ve got yourself a hit! Sometimes hearing the truth is a hard pill to swallow. And maybe many people wouldn’t have felt inclined to like Pocahontas as much if they told what really happen. So we get a mix of history and fun with Pocahontas being the brave, strong-willed, beautiful, red-skinned chieftain’s daughter who helped disillusioned traveler John Smith paint with the colors of the wind.

Da Vinci’s Demons Arrive at My Doorstep

After having a wonderful time chatting it up with Silas Weir Mitchell of Grimm last week (check the screenshot of me doing my thing), my week got infinitely better as I was approached by the beautiful social media team at Starz’s new original series Da Vinci’s Demons to receive some gear.

For those of you completely unaware of what the show is about, it’s basically a re-imagining of the world renowned artist, sculptor, scientist and all-around genius that is Leonardo Da Vinci. At first, I wasn’t too sure about it (mainly because  DD airs the same time as Grimm did —  Friday nights at 9 PM — before Grimm moved to Tuesdays), but after watching the first three episodes back-to-back-to-back, I got into it. I even started following the Da Vinci’s Demons Twitter account and would engage with other watchers/followers and say the random odd thing.

As usual, I didn’t expect anyone to really give two craps about what I thought, until this happened:

5-29-2013 5-04-22 PM

Yeah. They followed me. That ACTUALLY happened.

That’s only ever happened once before, and that was with Starz’s Camelot (which I’m still mourning by the way). Any how, it  looks like DD liked the fact that I engaged with them because they’d re-tweet or favorite my tweets.

5-29-2013 5-08-52 PM5-29-2013 5-09-28 PMNext thing I know, either a day or two after my live chat with Silas, DD DMs me, thanks me for my support and asks for my address to send some gear. Naturally, I was like:

So I send them my information, and for a while, I thought that they probably forgot about me until my brother-in-law hands me a parcel that he mistook for a package for my sister. Like a giddy schoolgirl, I opened it up and looked at my swag:

I got a t-shirt with the words “Arrogant Visionary Bastard” written across the front and the DD logo in the back with the Vitruvian Man in the upper corner, along with two tweed satchels to hold stuff in (like they do on the show) and a cardboard container housing some really cool wooden pencils, cleverly constructed cardboard pens, and a wooden sharpener.

a77072a4c80611e2b8f122000a1f9345_7

They also sent me a letter (albeit generic, but still a nice one) saying:

“Hi Alj,

Thanks for following and engaging with us on Twitter! We hope you’re enjoying Da Vinci’s Demons and plan to tune-in every Friday at 9pm EST on Starz.

Here is some great gear we think you’ll enjoy. Keep following the conversation on @DaVincis_Starz and please @mention us and include the hastag #DaVincisDemons. We look forward to your tweets about the show!

Your friends at Da Vinci’s Demons”

So I look at it and go:

“Is all of this is for me, just for being a good fan?”

Well then, let the fangirling continue!! 

Of course, I made sure to let my new friends at Da Vinci’s Demons know how thankful I was for the gift and they were just too kind to respond back!

5-29-2013 5-37-23 PM

Before, I thought fangirling was just a lost cause — especially since I’ve been a fan to countless shows without any kind of recognition what-so-ever. But at the same time, tons of other people are fans too, so why should they acknowledge me?  Now, I have renewed hope in my fanatical endeavors. And who knows maybe this little token might show up on my doorstep the next time:

I know, I know,  it won’t happen. But hopefully that little meat puppet that is Tom Riley will respond to one of my tweets. Then I’ll finally know that he knows I exist, and I can run around screaming

As always guys, click on the links because they are active and don’t forget to check out Da Vinci’s Demons on Fridays at 9 PM.

Con Amor,
-Alja

Misled – Poetry

I don’t know when I became Miss Led.

Ms. Led on too damn long.

Ms. Led to sing that same god damn song.

When did I become the follower and forgot to lead?

When did I forgot the importance of my needs?

Last time I checked, there wasn’t a Mrs. in front of my name,

and I shouldn’t have to go through this round-about game.

I don’t know when I became Miss Led.

Ms. Led on the wrong path by the same ol’ guide.

Ms. Led to into believing truths when they continue to lie.

Ms. Led thinking that you’ll always be around.

Ms. Led thinking there was something good to be found.

Ms. Led always trying to see a better side of the same token.

Ms. Led thinking that we could possible fix what was once broken.

I don’t know how I became Miss Led…

Especially when it’s not my name.

 

 

 

The Left Hand of Darkness Made Me See The Light

I completed The Left Hand of Darkness  with about 7 days left in the month to go, achieving my first goal of finishing the epic sci-fi novel before the end of May.

As I mentioned before, the book is slightly dense, and the hardest yet most endearing part of the book dealt with the journey of  the two main characters, Genly and Estraven, across this massive ice land. I didn’t think I would make it through, much like the characters. But I did. And when I made it through with them, it was a quick succession of events that ended with me being very teary-eyed. I may have shed a tear or two.

So … what did I take from the book?

1. To Push Beyond the Envelope
If it’s one thing that Ursula definitely does throughout most of this novel, it’s making you think. From the introduction to the end of the book, this woman had my brain working overtime. First she gives me an an androgynous/sexless/hermaphroditic society, then he poses questions about the consequences of equality, and then she talks about the duality of a person, while weaving in all these sociological and political undertones. It was like:

2. To Make a Story Rich
TLHOD had a lot of vocabulary. At one point I thought I was straight out stupid because I didn’t know half of the words in this book. Then I realized that she made them up! And used them so flawlessly in between actual words that I couldn’t tell the difference. And of course, her story was made all the richer for it because her world was complete with its own words to describe its culture

and last but not least…

3. Don’t Be Afraid of a Long Tale
As I previously mentioned before, I only got into TLHOD after hearing it mentioned in a movie I watched a while back.  It was only after I started reading the book, did I learn that it was a part of a larger tale. One of my fears it to have a story that’s really now and not interesting, but sometimes it does take several tales (sometimes even different ones that interweave in and out) to tell a story, or make it more interesting. Not to mention, I loved the way Ursula changed her narration between scientific findings, to the point of view of one character to the legend of a group people to the point of view of another character for the same event.

That’s about it for now. Oh, I’ve also started on book 12 of 13 in the Sookie Stackhouse Novels (aka the True Blood books) called Deadlock.

After this book, it’s Dead Ever After and then we can say goodbye to all the characters that I’ve grown to hate, dislike, loathe, can’t stand, and love. However, I did read somewhere that we can apparently expect an epilogue novel with a follow-up of all the main characters. *shrugs*

Con Amor,
-Alja

Had a Grimm Night With Silas Weir Mitchell!

Hey there!

As I mentioned earlier, I’m going to try to “blog” as much as possible — even if it’s not book/writing related because there is more to moi than just my book-reading and novel writing. Any who, just wanted to say that last night was such a SPECTACULAR night for me and I couldn’t be any happier that the stars FINALLY aligned in my favor! I, along with a couple other fans, got to speak with Silas Weir Mitchell from my fave show, Grimm!

Actor Silas Weir Mitchell

Yes. I got to speak to Mr. Monroe on a live chat forum on Huffington Post Live. << Click the link to check the video and forgive my awkwardness — I had technical difficulties about a second before the show aired where I couldn’t see myself at all and thus I had a bad camera angle, stared into space and bit my lip a lot…>>

It all started when I was approached on Twitter (probably because of my fanatic live tweeting) to do the segment Monday night. I thought I missed my chance because when I responded I didn’t hear back from the producer, but then Tuesday afternoon I got a text asking if I was still interested. Of course my answer was:

If you’re a Grimm fan such as myself, you can understand the amount of happy that was flowing through my body.

So I and another fan, Courtney Wood of Grimm-fan.com, got all set up and after about eleven minutes of the show’s host getting Silas all warmed up, we were on screen asking him questions! Though before the chat they told us we could get like 3-4 , we were only given two a piece due to lack of time. Whomp.

I really wanted to ask Silas what kind of Wesen baby he thought Monroe and Rosalee would have (Blutbad, Fuchsbau, or a Fuchsbad-Blutbau hybrid) , but I got two questions out — one he said “was a good question” and another where he commended me for using proper Wesen terminology. Of course, I was like:

After showing my sisters (who are also Grimm fans) the segment and hearing my mom squeal at the sight of me on a live streaming show, I came down from cloud 9 a bit to do my live tweeting for Grimm’s season finale. *SIDE NOTE* It took me a long friggin’ time to be recognized by Grimm’s Twitter page up until maybe last month. Then they switched the show from Friday to Tuesday and I guess the Grimm Twitter handler on Tuesday hasn’t recognize my awesomeness yet, so I haven’t been retweeted since.

Any who, I was hoping to be picked up by the Grimm Twitter feed for the finale, but instead I got a favorite from actress Bitsie Tulloch aka Juliette.

Bitsie Tulloch Favorites My Grimm Finale Tweet

Now this isn’t the first time Bitsie favorited my tweet. This is actually like the fourth time. But it shows that girly likes what I say. And apparently, last night she really liked what I said because she tweeted this at me:

Bitsie Tulloch Tweets She Digs My Grimm Finale Hashtag

Yeah, that happened. And then sometime later actor Reggie Lee aka Sgt. Wu favorited my tweet about him.

Reggie Lee Favorites My Grimm Finale Tweet

It’s not the first time he’s done that, but you know it was like Grimm actor overload for me last night and I was loving

EVERY. SINGLE. MINUTE.

Oh yeah, *completely off topic* I helped a blind guy off the train yesterday. And I felt really good about doing it.  That’s it for now. Be sure to click the links because they are live and you can see me, tweet at me, and everyone else mentioned in this post.

Con amor,
-Alja

I’m Making a Triumphant Return! Maybe…

Hello all!

I have to admit, I am utterly ashamed of myself. By not writing to you all (on a consistent basis), I’m failing myself. So, I make a resolution (once again) to jump right back into being a more frequent blogger. Lord knows it’ll take some time, but I’m going to work hard towards it. Even if I have to write about things that do not pertain to my several unfinished novels (which I intend on working on).

First on the list, the book I am currently reading: The Left Hand of Darkness by  Ursula K. LeGuin.

So if you guys know me, you know that I have sort of a soft spot for science fiction and fantasy.  I stumbled upon the book after hearing it referenced in that movie The Jane Austen Book Club, which was also based on a book. I figured if one of the main characters made such an argument for his love interest to read it, then shoot, I should read it too.

I will not lie — it took me a minute to get into it. Not knowing that this book was a part of a larger series, you can imagine the numerous questionable looking expressions on my face when I fell on weird ass city names, species of humans and the word kemmer which is like one of the MAJOR themes of the book.

Nonetheless, I continued to read and found myself getting increasingly immersed in it — especially because I had never read a book about an androgynous race of people. They are not androids, they’re not “aliens” in the sense that we know them, they’re a race of hermaphroditic beings that mate once a month almost on a menstrual cycle!

Consider my MIND #BLOWN. Add the fact that a person can be either man or woman at a different cycle?!?!?!? Could you imagine that?!

And this is why the people of their world  believe that there is no cause for war; there is no imbalance of hormones to create a feeling of superiority. At the same time, it’s awkward because there is no gender, the society is just a mass of the same people.

Anyway, I’m starting to enjoy the book because of its shift in narration — and because this book was published in like 1969. It’s pretty freaking amazing that this was around at a time where social constructs were being challenged, but at the same time remained very much rigid.

I’m at a point in the book now where POVs are about to converge and I’ll finally get to see them interact once more. I have to say this book is not necessarily an easy read, but some of the metaphors are beautiful and some of the quotes make me want to highlight them for forever.

As for everything else going on? I’ve halted on the period piece, despite the fact that I have the entire plot mapped out. Finding the words to move the plot can be so hard to do sometimes, and I don’t really want to force it. And my fantasy novel (pfft), I haven’t looked at the in a while. My novella is on hiatus BUT I intend to make a triumphant return and finish at least ONE this year … maybe … no, I have to. I just have to!

Mucho besitos!
-Alja