Thursday, July 18, 2013

Criticism - The Bad VS The Good

So, I was on vacation in Mexico, with my dad and my step-mother and my two little siblings, who are just the cutest by the way.
Ok, that was just to show off. Now, the real deal: the topic of critics and criticism came about (because I often quote critics) and they (well, my step-mother anyway, though she claims that my dad's opinion as well) said that (they) don't like critics and criticism and think they are losers. Why?

The Bad:

    1. Critics feed their ego-s by bashing someone else's work, but in reality they are just talentless pricks.
    Ok, that's not really what she said but it's what she meant*. Critics take quick satisfaction by poking at someone else's work, because it's easy. Why don't they do something original if they are so smart?
   And while, there is truth to that, here's my counter-argument(s):
    1. That sounds like a lot like a fan-fiction defense.** "If you hate it so much and find so many mistakes with it - do better!" The thing is, it's not about being able to do it better (even though if you had the money, the time and the desire, you probably could)! It's about being free have a taste to express opinion. If someone doesn't agree with that opinion, that's also fine.
    2. Most of them are doing or have tried to do original work. Maybe their original work isn't/wasn't as successful, but that doesn't mean
      a) they are talentless hacks
      b) they haven't seen what it's like to do the actual work.
      c) their original work also sucks.
While one or all of these may be true, usually they are not. It's just means that business is competitive. That's why some people are multi-billionaires, owning 3 private jets and golden toilet seats (yeah, this is a thing) and some starve to death and die of pollio.*** And everyone knows, that just because something is famous, doesn't make it good.

   2. Criticism gives quick satisfaction and makes you feel smart, but brings about a lot of negative energy long-term.

My counters:
   1. Yes, negative criticism, maybe just like most negative things in life. But just because someone is a critic or "reviewer" (if you prefer that word because it's more neutral) doesn't really mean everything that comes out of their mouth has to have negative connotation. Sometimes a critique is positive, sometimes neutral, sometimes it's just light-hearted humor.
    2. If something offends you personally or intellectually or in any other way, how is keeping your outrage over it healthy for you? Lashing out lowers your blood pressure and helps you move on to more positive things. You may get an ulcer, if you don't say anything. Malcolm in the Middle had a great episode about that.
     3. Yes, it does produce some unhealthy energy, but if you have a fanbase that is entertained and eager to listen to you, why is that not a good thing?

  3. Critics can make (push-over) people biased and take away their ability to see the product with fresh eyes.
   1. First of all every person's opinion will be influenced one way or another. How strong that influence is, is a whole other subject. My opinions are constantly influenced, but I am 19 and still pretty much forming as a person.
   2. Just because you may find flaws with something doesn't mean you won't necessarily like it. You can still like something and acknowledge its flaws. Plus, everyone is different, everyone likes diffrent things.
   3. If those people are so easily influenced - why are they listening to critics? No one's making them.

The Good:

   I. I respect the hell out of anyway who can come out and say an honest opinion about something, especially if that something is popular and the said opinion is negative. It takes courage to do so, you may get attacked by the fanbase and fanbase-s are crazy.

  II. Pretty much all  humor is born out of some form of critique.

   If you think about it most jokes are critique of something. Irony, Sarcasm and satire are big parts of humor and they are basically critiques in their nature (satire even means a critique of something).

   III. Critics are the editors of the industry.

   This one is pretty straightforward - everyone needs someone (something) to oppose them. It's the third law of  Newton: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If no one talks about how trashy, trashy products are, and get people not to buy them, no one will stop producing those producs.

    IV. The media and entertainment today affect our lives and sometimes there are more important things to be pointed out than simply "This product has a bad quality."
           Racism, Sexism, themes of abuse etc. when they are not put there ON PURPOSE (or even if they are subtly into the meaning) or the opposite themes are good examples of that.

    V. Like Doug Walker says:
What a critic should do is challenge someone's point of view. Even if you don't agree with it, just give some different outlook or point of view that perhaps another person hasn't thought about before.
* By the way I respect and love my step-mother and my father a lot. but I certainly don't alwsys agree with them.
** Which I didn't tell her. because then I'd probably have to explain what fan-fiction is.
*** Sorry for the downer.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Racism VS Creeping

  This is totally random, nothing to do with any form of art, just something I have been wanting to talk about for a while.

  I am a starer. I stare. For a long periods of time. Not in a subtle way. I can stare at people and make them so incredibly uncomfortable that they may wonder if:
a) Am I a spy that's incredibly bad at her job?
a) Do I maybe have a physical disorder that literally prevents me from turning my head away

  And I stare at different people for a lot of different reason - a guy I have a crush on; a girl I think it's pretty and am jealous of; someone I hate; someone that wears something strange and/or incredibly ugly; someone I think is cool; someone who does something strange/interesting... the list just goes on. And because I am a writer (kind of, sort of) I like watching people - how they behave, consider what they may be thinking etc. I especially love watching people... that are new to me.

  I however am not a racist. To me that means - I don't think that the white race is somehow in some way better than any other race. When I see a colored-person, I do see a color, but I don't think of the people in terms of color, rather them in terms of well... people. True, I don't find black guys as attractive as white guys, although I might if they are multiracial.

  However, where I live there are not a lot of colored people. I have come to notice quite a few Asians, so when I see one, I naturally... stare. And here's what goes in my head during that time:

"Oh my god, they think I am racist for staring at them like that. But I can't they are so new-y. Ok, just look away, look at any other direction, just don't look at that person. Oh, great now they must think I am racist, because I won't even look at them. Well, I can't look now, that'll just be creepy..."

And yes, intellectually I understand that most people probably have better things to worry about than whether that stranger has anything against them, because of their skin-color, but it's my problem and I can't solve it.

As I said - in Bulgaria, doesn't really matter, but I am leaving to study in UK in September and I am sure there will be more variety there and I want to make a bunch of international friends, because it's always cool to have new friends that are different then you, and'll be able to teach you something new.  And I don't want them to label me 'racist' and refuse to talk to me, because I stare at them awkwardly.

My point is that some people are narrow-minded bigots and some are just weird and awkward and I am the second type. I am still unsure which is worse, because if I were racist, I won't care about their opinions of me. Now, I am just sort of... stuck.

Comments will be appreciated. =)

Note: I feel racist just talking about color. I apologize to all non-white people, who may be reading this, I hope you are not offended.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

37 Reasons why Twilight Is Better Than 50 Shades

  Yes, this is happening. The book(s) that everyone bashed for it's plotlessness, abusive relationship, one-dimensional characters, unrealized antagonist and Mary Sue-ish main characters, stupidity etc. I am now going to defend as being better than something. Oh, don't get me wrong, those are still incredibly bad books, but at least they are not 50 Shades.  Brace yourselves.

1. Twilight is unintentionally hilarious. 50 shades is either dull or aggravating.
Yes, there are boring parts in Twilight and loads and loads to get angry about, but mostly you just revel in the stupidity. 50 shades is either a snore or so bad it makes our head hurt, for trying not to explode with anger.
    ("Aren't you hungry?" he asked.
      "No," I didn't want to mention that my stomach was already full - full of butterflies." See - hilarious! It's gems like this that make Twilight worth it.

2. Twilight doesn't slut-shame.
    Bella has many problems (that Ana copies), like being a selfish, superficial, bitchy, elitist and just overall unpleasant, but at least she doesn't slut-shame -herself or others.
     Ana (and her subconscious) on the other hand is constantly blaming herself or other women for enjoying sex.

4. Ok, this one is going to hurt, but... Twilight has a somewhat, coherent, sensible, sort of threatening plot, which actually affects the characters and their relationship.
     Yes, all the plotlines in Twilight are stupid and they go away almost as quickly as they show up, but they... kind of affect the characters and their relationships.
       50 Shades on the other hand is just filled with over-the-top drama and villains that in the end don't affect Ana and Christian's relationship or affect it too little. And while some people may argue that in a romance novel the plot is the relationship; this arc is mostly filled with Christian being an abusive douchebag and Ana loathing and doubting herself. And even with all that the inner-conflict is pretty much finished by the middle of book 2, so book 3 is just over-the-top drama.

5. Stephenie Meyer doesn't hate her (good) characters.
    While Meyer may a misogynist and a racist and what-not, she's those things only subconsciously. Not that this excuses her, but she does not openly hate The Native American characters. Jacob in particular is pretty nice and likable character, when he starts out (until Meyer realized that he was much cooler than Edward and performed a character-assassination). 
    James on the other hand goes out of her way to make sure that José is stereotypically brown Hispanic, and then has him almost date-rape Ana in chapter 3, to make sure that we don't like him and he is no competition for Grey.

6. Twilight is at least based on something cool.
    Vampires and werewolves and vampire-turf wars? Awesome! Dull-ly written, but awesome.
     I am not saying that erotic romances can't be interesting, but... the way that 50 shades makes us follow every - single - little - thought that Ana has, weather it's important or not... grrrrrgh, just shoot me already!

7. Twilight has a, er... philosophy?!
     Ok, that's a stretch, but the part where Bella says 'You can't always be Superman and I - Louis Lane.' was kind of smart. Also the souls thing, that was ok, I guess.
     50 shades has 'BDSM is bad for your relationship', and that's just stupid.

8. Twilight doesn't gloss over scenes without Edward in them.
    Ok, maybe the first book does. It's a romance, they've just met, it's normal... but later on we get some really cool scenes with the werewolves and the other vampires and even a few "human" scenes. We even get Jacob as a narrator for a while and we learn more about the werewolf-pack dynamics, this was pretty cool.
      50 Shades on the other hand, feels that if Christian isn't in the picture, it's not interesting or we don't care. But actually, I spend every moment wishing he would go away.

9. Super awesome intended characterisation - Twilight haz it.
    Jacob, Carlisle, Rosalie, Aro, Jane, Leah, Sam, Renesmee, Riley, Allistair -  all these characters have either amazing backstory, or amazing character traits, or/and are forced with actual mortality or life choices. Pretty much every one of them (especially Carlisle) could've had a book written all about them - Bree actually does - and in the hands of a skilled writer... oh, the possibilities are endless. And I am hoping that if someone does do something Twilight-connected now, they'll tell us more about any of those characters (and hopefully, it won't be written by Smeyer).
    Who does 50 shades have? Tayler, I guess, but... not enough!

10 . Actual morality.
       Twilight may handle everything it talks about badly, but at least tries to actually pick up morality and teach kids a thing-or-two. I'm talking about the consciously written-in parts of the books - the ones about souls and equality and "Don't have sex or the first time, unless you really love that person" and learning to love and accept yourself and forgiveness...  Sure, it fails miserably, but at least it tries.
       What does 50 Shades teach us? BDSM is bad an abnormal, and only "vanilla" couples are ok? I am sorry, but.. no.

11. Actual tension and conflict in the relationship.
      Yeah, yeah, everyone knew that Bella will end up with Edward. But Jacob was still a very viable option, what he offered was tempting, even for her. Even she thought (though for a very short moment) that she may go for the guy that genuinely makes her happy. And the whole human/vampire thing kind of presented a problem for Bella and Edward.
       There was no such thing for Ana and Christian, being together was the only choice. He had no competition whatsoever (well, who could compete with the Alpha-est of Alpha males?!), despite the emotional connection Ana may have been sharing with José or Kate (yes, I believe Ana is lesbian-in-denial (for Kate), and Kate is at least bi-curious). It doesn't matter. Grey has looks, brains (supposedly, I never really got that impression) money and has Ana under his black-magic spell.

12. Twilight can be intentionally funny too.
      Occasionally, the books will have a joke that really works. For instance, I enjoyed the bit in book 4, where Rosalie and Jacob had the bitch-dog argument and she bent a bowl to look like a dog's bowl, but he didn't care and ate the food like a dog, even licking the bowl, just to infuriate her. That bit was funny. There were others too. Now, of course, even the ones that work are not as nearly as good  as say the intentional humor in Harry Potter, but the are not too bad.
      50 shades tries to write intentional humor, but is all either clumsy, annoying or inappropriate. Like when Ana jokes with Christian that he needs more therapy. Really, Ana? Really? Ana's inner goddess does a bunch of stuff, yey! (sounds of drowning kittens). The only good humor from those books, comes from the ridiculous writing or the re-caps other people do.

13. The Author.
      It's just so easy to make fun of Stephenie Meyer, she acts like a twelve year-old writing fan-fiction. Her refusing to accept or respond to criticism; her brother checking her email and deleting every email that doesn't praise her... and my favorite - her proudly claiming that she's done NO RESEARCH WHATSOEVER and that she DOESN'T EVEN THINK about what she's writing. :DDD
       James on the other hand claims to have done a ton of research, including people who are actually INTO BDSM telling her about it, yet she so blatantly misses the point. And with her bullshity premise (that I've already talked about)... I just pity her, honestly, I do.

14. All the jokes.
      Twilight has so much to offer us to joke about: sparkly vampires, whiny teens, the protagonist that sits back and lets her boyfriend save the day, all the "Still better love story than Twilight" jokes all the "shirtless werewolves" jokes, clumsy purple prose, Kristen Stewart's acting - it's just an endless source of humor. 50 shades, despite maybe it's hilariously misguided sex-scenes and awful writing, it only really gives us topics to rant about.

15. Villains/antagonists
      Twilight has them and they almost affect the plot and characters. 50 shades doesn't and they affect almost nothing.

16. Semi-feminism in secondary characters.
      Twilight has Rosalie, Jessica, Leah, Kate, and Jane. People hate Leah, because Smeyer presents her as  a bitch, but her only real fault is that she doesn't bent her head to the men. Anyway, all these women are interesting and a little feminist. The all face and have faced hard lives and try to overcome that. They are interesting, cool, crazy, funny and every single one would e much better protagonists than Bella.
      50 shades has Mia (Alice) who acts more like 11, than 21 and Kate who is so incredibly inconsistent, she might as well have a Multiple Personalities Disorder. All the other women in the series are either antagonists; not mentioned enough or trying to "steal" Christian from Ana.

17. Edward has other companions. Christian doesn't.
      Edward has Jasper and Emmett. True, they are more brothers than friends, but he spends time with them and seems to enjoy their company. It also makes sense for him to be kind of a loner, because - vampire - duh!
      Christian has one brother Elliot (Emmett) and he isn't very close to him at all. He has no other friends guys or girls, besides his molester Mrs. Robinson and that doesn't count. Every guy needs guy-friends and every girl needs girlfriends.

18. The dad.
      Charlie was awesome - at least in the movies.
      Ray was... in two scenes and then in a coma. Umm... relative to something, I guess?

19. The mom.
       In the movies at least, Renee might have been absent-minded and flighty, but she was also sweet and caring and sort of a hippie-bohemian, which was awesome.
       Carla is just sort of... not all there. She is also super misogynistic and when Christian shows up in Georgia, she basically tells Ana to go f*ck him, while they were spending time together (conversations that will never happen) instead of  "He followed you to Georgia without your invitation or knowledge, after you specifically told him you want time away?! Ana, honey, call the cops, call them now!"

20. No tedious email-exchanges with unnecessary subjects and long signatures in Twilight. 
     Twilight may have felt like it was happening more in the early 90s than the beginning of the 21st century, but at least it didn't treat us to incredibly long and dull email-exchanges with TO: FROM: DATE: SUBJECT:, unlike those other books.

21.  Twilight has hilarious made-up science.
      Oh, Twilight, you fail at so many things, so miserably and yet so epically... One of those things (and in my top 10) - instead of just explaining away the vampires with "It's magic!" Meyer tries to bring in biology, chemistry and physics in it, and... oh, it's glorious! Nothing like that in 50 shades!

23. "This is the skin of a killer, Bella!" *sparkles*
        Nothing, absolutely nothing in the entire universe can ever top this moment. I watched the movie again with a friend of mine sometime ago, and we both burst out in such fits of laughter on that line, we almost choked.

24. 50 shades is extremely homophobic, Twilight just pretends gays don't exist. 
      Now, I am not saying the pretending an issue doesn't exist in the grand scheme of things is ok, but a lot of YA fiction never addresses this, as if teens or tweens don't know about it, or as if they are not supposed to read about it (I'll talk about this bullshit another time, though if you want to hear my opinion, you can watch this video. It basically sums it up). Not having gays in your work is certainly better than what 50 shades does, which is:
       Addresses the fact that homosexuality and bisexuality exist, but acts like this is the worst thing you can be. "Elliot has slept with men?!Well, it's a good thing Kate doesn't know, cause that'll be a  huge deal-breaker." Or my favorite: "Christian may be a self-loathing abusive asshole, but at least he's not gay! Bleh!"

25. The end.
       Yes, Bella and Edward pretty much get a Happily Ever After, but there are a lot of other unfinished stories, other characters to care about and the treat of the Volturi in the future isn't completely eliminated. So you know Happily Ever After... until one day. :D
       50 Shades is pretty much Happily Ever After... in your abusive relationship. Pray for a zombie apocalypse, Ana - pray for it. God punishes abusers during a zombie apocalypse, as we all know. :D

26. Stephanie Meyer was passionate about her story until the end. James hated it by the time the third book came around.
       Yes, everyone agrees that Breaking Dawn was a huge epic fail, even by Twilight standards, but hey, at least Smeyer still liked the story and the characters. James hated 50 shades and everything about it at that point. Do you know what happens when you start to hate whatever you are writing? You get lazy about it and your writing starts to suck (if hers didn't before).

27. Twilight inspired literacy.
      Twilight came in the perfect time after the Harry Potter phenomenon was over and after reading so many words, teens and tweens discovered the wonder of books.
       True, after reading 50 Shades many people discovered the wonders of erotica, and that's awesome, but it can't compare to having an entire generation of literate girls (sort of).

28. Bella doesn't feel the compulsive need to always be the prettiest girl in the room.
      She may often feel bad that she isn't as pretty as the vampires, but she isn't constantly obsessed with it. Ana on the other hand has almost compulsive need to compare herself to any other woman in the room, even in a situation where people are worried/grieving and looking good isn't the first thing on their minds.

29. The play baseball in Twilight.
      This is just an incredibly hilarious scene, both in the book and the movie, not to mention that awesome Muse song "Supermassive"! And the hilarious explanation of why vampires can only play baseball in a storm. Because everybody knows how high-contact sport baseball is. :DD
      I know that's not being entirely fair to 50 shades, because there are no movies yet, but I doubt there will be a sport-related scene in there that will top the baseball scene in Twilight. Unless they added an incredibly hilarious scene of Christian playing golf with his business partners in his white-rich-man-country-club (which you just know he has a membership to) and Ana just stands aside bored. .

30. The beta-couples in Twilight are established and make sense (by Twilight-standards).
       The only reason certain characters are together in 50 Shades is because they were together in Twilight (and 50 shades was fan-fiction). We never get any insight into Mia and Ethan's relationship, for instance.

31. Edward isn't entirely unrealistic. Christian is.
     What I mean is, yeah, Edward is quite dull for someone who's spent 107 entirely in his own company - you'd think he would've developed a personality for all that time.  Yet, he is somewhat realistic - he often acts and talks out of his time; he knows a lot more than an actual 17-year-old; his reaction to his feelings for Bella make sense etc.
      Christian on the other hand left college to start a business; manages to become a billionaire in 6 years or less, yet constantly blows off work to go to a near town and stalk a girl (for days); or make scenes at his wife's work-place and then take her home; responds to personal emails instantly; goes on long vacations and all in all... never really seems to work. He's made what - three business calls in the whole trilogy so far?!  Oh, and also, 27, yet calls a 36-year-old man "a boy". I know this is from when he was supposed to be a vampire, but... no, just no.

32. Bella fights for what she wants (sort of). Ana doesn't.
      Bella wants to be a vampire and she'll do anything to get it. Yeah, it's stupid, heat-of-the-teenage-hormones-moment, misogynistic, psychotic blah-blah-blah, but at least she does it. Ana just sort of bends to Christian's will (and not in BDSM sort of way, but in abusive sort of way).

33.  Twilight at least attempts symbolism, while 50 shades completely misses the point.
       Don't really have anything to add to that, moving on:

34. Bella and Edward (sort of) share things in common. Christian and Ana, have nothing, except maybe sex.
      Bella and Edward have dull music and classic literature in common.. Ana and Christian have um... Kings of Leon?

35. Twilight had real editors. 50 shades didn't.
      Because Twilight was published through the "normal" channels, it had actual editors. I am not sure their opinions were respected enough, but I imagine it could've been a lot worse.
      Because 50 Shades was self-published first, and it made a lot of money like that this author (read her books, by the way, they are amazing) suggests  - and I agree with her - that 50 Shades did, in fact, have editors, but because it had already made a lot of money, they didn't put great bunch of effort into, well... editing it.

36. Bella actually shares a bond with the Cullens. Ana just sort of... tolerates the Greys.
      Bella actually likes the Cullens and they her, and she likes spending time with them.
      Ana never really expresses any kind of feelings towards Christian's parents and she sort of... tolerates Mia and Elliot, while she doesn't like his grandparents at all. Really, Ana?! Really?! Unless they are super-racist or sexist Nazi-lovers or just... evil, there's no reason not to love other people's grandparents. And Christian's are pretty nice.

37. The names (of the main characters). 
      Bella Swan may be incredibly contrived and self-indulgent in meaning, but it does sound like an actual name - so does Edward Cullen.
      And while Christian Grey isn't the worst name, except when James constantly uses it to point out that he has grey eyes, wears grey suits and ties (and also has a grey personality - see what I did there? xD) Anastasia Rose Steele is just... gahg! Really? Really? It sounds like the name of porn-star, who specializes in fairytale-based porn!
ould be that interesting.

P.S.: Feel free to correct me in the comments, if you think I am wrong.
P.S. 2: I was actually shooting for 50 reasons, but c'mon, guys. It's freaking Twilight!