27 May 2013

Posted by Anna Notaras | File under : , , , ,
Let's start with something blatantly outrageous: countries which were thinking to censor Austria's performance were THREATENED to be denied any Eurovision rights for some years to come. In other words, they were OBLIGED to show the whole thing. So where is the right of choice? Why can't every country decide for themselves? There are different cultures. Each should be allowed to be different in its own way.

Ok, so we were all obliged to swallow the act of the bearded 'woman'. Sure, one may say we could always turn off the TV. Fair enough.

I looked at Conchita's song on YouTube. Nice melody line, decent vocal performance. The likes/dislikes bar was a sight to behold though. There were almost as many dislikes as likes! so, since so many people clearly didn't like the performance, how come it was voted as winner in the end? I looked at all the other songs, too. The dislike bar never crossed 10%.

"Let's see how homophobic Europe is". WOW! Are you even serious? This was a tweet I had the fabulous luck to see. What an illuminated mind! So if I don't like a particular song or musical performance, that makes me HOMOPHOBIC??? LBGT defenders are the most hateful, intolerant and most irrational people, always trying to force they views and options on the world! Fact.

Homophobic, homophobic, homophobic. Dare to say you don't like Conchita's song. Watch the instant torrent of feces coming your way from the super-enlightened, super-tolerant and loving LGBT supporters. You dare to say you don't agree with them? Be ready to have all the world's load of hate and insults spilled on you! Because that's how they live by "love and tolerance".

They want to brainwash you into believing the majority really likes transvestites and such. After all, they always win the Eurovision contest, don't they? Well, let's take a deeper look at it. About a decade ago, Israel was victorious through a transvestite. Now, the second transvestite is winning. Based on common sense statistic, this would mean that people adore this kind of singers and that they are always the best. In real life, such assumption is unrealistic. On another hand, since transvestites are winning Eurovision, that should be proof that Europe loves them. The majority voted for them. Then what are they fighting for? Where are the haters they dread so much? What's the issue since they are popular and winning? Seriously. Why cry how everyone hates you and rejects you, when you are actually winning international contests?

A bit of personal experience: I dared to say on social media that I thought Eurovision had to be about music and not about the gay agenda or any sort of propaganda. Do you think I found examples of love and tolerance? Nope, I got a whole collection of curses and swearwords :) Yep, you're doing a great job guys, morally superior indeed! :) Also, I saw someone getting insulted only because of their family name - it remotely resembled something connected to a nationalistic, right-wing party. Awesome, so who's judging there based on truly irrelevant details? Oh, so quick to judge, my dear LGBT supporters!

13 May 2013

Posted by Anna Notaras | File under : , , , , ,
by N. C. Wyeth
Royalty has always been impressive, and not all due to the fairy-tales hailing from medieval times. It tends to go beyond the opulence of royal families and the attractive high social status. Even the power factor itself doesn't fully justify the fascination, as we can see there is more to it. Presidents, statesmen and politicians today certainly do not have the same aura as a king, nor could ever inspire the same sympathy. 

People in need of true leaders
Even those who would never admit it still need them. Not to be controlled by them, but to be inspired. A loyal, caring but fierce, righteous and firm leader easily becomes a role model. For this reason, people have usually loved kings - those of older times mostly - and still do. Have a look at the quest for Richard III's grave. Many had even donated money to support the archeological dig. The people were there, for a king dead long ago, a king who was vilified. As the findings were made public in February 2013, enthusiasts from all over the world knew a renewed interest in ancient British royalty. It was fascinating. Moreover, it was not about him being a presumed murderer (there is nothing unusual in that, considering his era and status), not about the discovery itself even, because it could simply be reduced to a skeleton found underneath a parking place. It was about having found someone important from those times, someone who ruled and fought.

Warrior kings
King Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen)
Unfortunately, the days of true monarchs are gone. There is no way to compare an 'office ruler' to a sovereign who would take his horse and sword, charge the army and go into battle. Those sovereigns of the past were ready to die - and for a noble cause. To this aspect let us add the values they used to embody and profess. Kings, unlike state leaders nowadays, based their rule on certain ethics. Unless we are talking about tyrants, they were quite charming, captivating, awe-inspiring, courageous.

What do we have left today?
The history passionates may not feel completely deserted, because they can easily take refuge into history books and contemplate what once was. Nevertheless, this could hardly be a universal solution to our hunger for kingly values. Luckily, for the rest of us there are the books - the fiction ones especially. Also, there are the movies. It seems that, wherever we look, the best stories are those involving royalty and perhaps some war, too. 

Kings in movies and the people's reaction nowadays
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit
Prince/crownless king Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage)
Without a doubt, they absolutely love them, plain to see. Fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien and now director Peter Jackson have been milking this frantically. They created fascinating monarch figures, addictive even. (The Game of Thrones is not far from that, either).

Pop culture has been invaded by long-haired, more or less bearded, armed kings and princes - characters the world once thought to be just relics, incompatible with our times. For the disbelievers, there is always available evidence online of the legacy of Aragorn Elessar, to give the most prominent example. More recently, another warrior king claimed the spotlight. As of December 2012, when the first film of The Hobbit trilogy got on screen, Thorin Oakenshield quickly gathered an army of thousands of followers. The character, although invested with traits that weren't supposed to attract sympathy, surpassed all expectations and became a detached favorite of the crowds. Handsome, incredibly daring and courageous, fighting for honor, loyal, caring for his kin, proud, determined, rugged, aware, this noble hero enraptured viewers in a way rarely seen before.

Kings with all their might, even with their burdens, turmoil and failures, embody everything that many of us find fascinating. Some may have forgotten, some may be denying it, but there is a longing for all of their kingly traits, for their rare qualities. Those like me are fully confessing it: we feel that the world has never been in a greater need of righteous kings than it is now. 

10 May 2013

Posted by Anna Notaras | File under : ,

Building yourself an undeserved brand.
Unless you are a professional of some kind, there is no reason to get yourself a fancy title, a logo, a watermark with your name and so on. Also, do not present yourself writing in third person. Do not mention it is your "official Facebook profile" unless you really are a celebrity.Let the fame come first, and then tune your profile to match it if so you wish. Don't brand yourself just for the sake of it.

Arguing over tastes and opinions.
"Welcome to the Internet, where opinions are facts", a good observer said once.Sarcasm, I hope you detected it. Sadly, most users are acting as if all opinions - their especially - are undeniable facts. Getting all inflamed because someone praises a book you didn't like, is a fan of an actor you hate or has different beliefs than you is a sign of severe immaturity. Unless they try to push their choices on you, there is no reason to get alarmed, really. You wouldn't want to be jumped at for choices that aren't harmful.

Starting an argument with someone, then unfriending/blocking them yourself.
Nothing spells 'psycho' better than behaving like this. If you provoke someone, overly criticise, insult, condemn or troll in an open manner for what they have posted, and then you are the one to act hurt and upset, you shouldn't be on Facebook at all. It's up to the other person whether you stay in the list or not.

Alright, Facebook is indeed a place where everyone want to be seen as better than they really are, where they show to their ex their so-much-better actual partner, where they post holiday plans and pictures, show how many parties they attend and so on. Therefore, bragging is normal here, but when you overdo it you sent a terrible message out there. No one will be impressed that you ate 3 types of expensive French cheese for dinner, that you just went shopping where none in your friends list can afford, or that you look astonishing in bikini. When too much is too much, you simply pass as desperate to prove your worth. The breaking news is that such despair will never work in your favor, to state the obvious.

Being hostile to nerds.
It's OK to have a passion and it's OK to not take Facebook so seriously. Let those nerds be, let them post and share about The Lord of the Rings, Sherlock or Star Trek - at least they have a passion and they're having fun. If it's too much for you, filter out their updates and remember that we are all here to post whatever we like. Maybe your friends are also sick of your objectifying pics of naked women. There is really no reason to turn hostile or to ridicule those people. After all, you may be that annoying user who plays FarmVille or other extremely intelligent form of entertaining, pestering others with game requests.

Being the rebel.
Maybe some find it cool in school, but when you keep on being the rebel just for the sake of it and you overdo it, there is nothing good to believe about you. It spells no intelligence whatsoever to post only 'scandalous' words or photos, to talk dirty, to mention all the time how 'naughty' you are, to brag about how you don't conform to social or moral norms. It is boring and ridiculous.

Getting inflamed at grammar Nazis.
Grammar Nazis spotted a mistake and they want people to respect their language and to write in an acceptable manner. Point is, you wrote something wrong. Deal with it. It makes no sense to start a flame war because someone corrected you.

Too many post.
Some users out there make at least 20 posts a day, which is beyond more than we can take. Even though your posts are cute, interesting or you really want to share them so badly because they are pure treasures, temper yourself and understand that everyone eventually gets tired of having their newsfeed invaded by a single user. This forces us to unsubscribe and thus your really important updates may be seen by no eyes in the end.

Being there all the time.
Whenever I go to my account, I see the exact same people posting, liking or commenting right at the time. No matter the time of the day.When I check friend's updates, the same people have already liked or commented. Everything. They leave their prints on everything there is. Stop it and get a life. If you think that being there all the time is going to improve your life, stop now. You're not social, you're creepy.

And ultimately... liking your own posts.
It is beyond obvious to anyone that the update/news/photo/video/status you posted is relevant, important, funny or likeable to you. Therefore, what is the point of giving it a 'like' yourself?...

8 May 2013

Posted by Anna Notaras |
- Part of the analytical journey "Film Thorin vs. Book Thorin" -
"At the University, we used to debate whether a literary work can be greater in the end than its author has intended. An author may unconsciously invest his work with underlying meanings and traits. While he is unaware, others may catch on those."
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit
The human mind works with archetypes, and this is what we usually deal with in Literature and Film. Therefore I would appreciate it if certain types of readers don't get inflamed and don't consider this as religious propaganda, indoctrination and so on, because it is a simple talk of archetypes, their meanings and how we have these impregnating our art.
Undeniably, Tolkien was a devout Christian of Catholic denomination.
No matter what your beliefs are, it is impossible to write something that is not in tune with them, especially when it's such a vast work of art. Considering this, one is often tempted to find the places where the author's beliefs are getting through in a more obvious way - be it planned or not. In the light of such fact, we can venture to explore Tolkien's books and analyze their nature. With Thorin Oakenshield, things have taken an interesting turn, especially with the cinematic installment.

A New Archetype: Thorin as a "Warrior Christ"

The term of "warrior Christ" came to me as I was counting all the striking similarities, as well as the obvious contrasts. Tolkien couldn't have had the intention of making such a portrayal, because the ending and the moral of the story stand in opposition to this idea. But to me, the King Under the Mountain is noble, loving, kind, loyal and determined, he has a certain purity of the soul, in spite of his anger, hurt and bitter destiny. I had to find a term to describe his uniqueness. Below is a list of the coincidences, followed by insights of how the character would create a new and captivating archetype.

    The Coincidences:
  • ascetic, not married
  • has an exceptional following (not only in the company he gathers for the quest, but also outside the work of art itself, in the fandom)
  • been a simple worker for many years of his life (blacksmith)
  • capable of immense love - not only for his kin, but even for the hobbit he much despises.
  • noble origin
  • has 12 immediate followers
  • these followers are not of the brightest (also the disciples were seen as imperfect many times, but it was the "willing heart" that got them there)
  • it's himself to say - not Balin - "for when I called, they answered" (Balin is the disheartened one, but Thorin has the hope, he sees the good in them).
  • set to reclaim his father's lost kingdom
  • dies because of his mission, but is sure of the afterlife and looks forward to going to the halls of his ancestors.

As a close observer of The Hobbit phenomenon, what I was amazed by was the incredible following that Thorin would get with the first film. Although his position was meant to have common points with that of an antagonist (which is anyway a gross exaggeration to me), he got way ahead of Bilbo - he practically stole the show. He would inspire genuine appreciation and love, and lead fans to the point of fanaticism. If Thorin were a real leader existing on our planet, there would have been great unrest within the society. I can safely assume that his followers would be quickly seen as a fierce, exhilarated and uncompromising sect that would have in sight nothing else but their leader and his goal. My claims may appear as exaggerations, but the time spent at the core of the fandom and the endless conversations I had with various fans have shown me so. Thorin's charisma as a leader and a hero are undeniable. Indeed it would be very interesting, to say the least, to have a real, living Thorin.

Tolkien hasn't conceived Thorin as a christic figure, by no means. But then why....

Well, he obviously hasn't, but then shall we just ditch all those coincidences? I believe the one we should look at from now on is Peter Jackson. He was the one to invest so many of such elements, that is impossible not to think of it. A warrior Christ I'd call him, why not? Humans work with archetypes, and this is what we usually deal with in Literature and Film. Therefore I would appreciate it if certain types of readers don't get inflamed and consider this as religious propaganda, indoctrination and so on, because it is a simple talk of archetypes, their meanings and how we have these impregnating our art.

Allegory? I wouldn't go that way. There is something however, and this exquisite portrayal made me call Thorin Oakenshield the warrior version of Jesus. Perhaps he isn't supposed to convey more than Tolkien initially intended. Therefore he is just that: a unique kind of character, which everyone is free to interpret as desired. This is my interpretation, one still burdened by many question marks.

A book can be more than what its author has intended...

As seen in the film, Jackson & Co. have invested in Thorin much more. Thorin has lines that don't appear in the book (in the Bag End scenes especially), but which deepen his character and are very relevant. Most of the coincidences posted above are rather emphasized in the film. Could Peter Jackson have wanted to take this character to a different level? Could he have seen certain potential in him that Tolkien hadn't seen? We have a greater King of the Dwarves thanks to him. At the University, we used to debate whether a literary work can be greater in the end than its author has intended. An author may unconsciously invest his work with underlying meanings and traits. While he is unaware, others may catch on those. It is what I was trained to recognize when dealing with a work of art. I am sure this can be applied to many cases.

Possible Reasons

I am purely speculating here, but Sir Peter Jackson could have invested the King with these traits for their appeal to the masses. The great majority of the viewers would pick on these clues (subconsciously or not) because they are familiar to them. It also makes the story more touching. There will be drama, beware.