Why I Didn't Hate Maleficent

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. My friends and I left the cinema and everyone was bitter and angry and agitated – except for me. Highly opinionated, intellectually snobbish and very emotional, the furious one is usually me. There were countless moments I’d leave the cinema wanting to punch the director and the producer and the whole crew just to get rid of the anger that collected while I watched their offensive trash. This time, I left quite satisfied, I dare even say: mesmerized. “The story didn’t make sense, the first act was completely different, CGI was so cheesy, I wanted to see the story of Maleficent and not Sleeping Beauty retold, what’s with the lesbian connotation, there were so many cheap tricks (including freezing characters to make them shut up)!” My friends were furious.

I stayed quiet, listened to their complaints and wondered why I didn’t hate it. It took me some time to figure it out. But then I got it:

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Tajder in EMMA

I am happy to announce that my commentary about "Sex and the City 2" is going to be published in the next issue of EMMA, the most renown feministic magazine in German speaking countries. As announced on the Website:

"Alice Schwarzer hat für die nächste EMMA einen Kommentar zur Sache von Ana Tajder in Wien bestellt – und das Resultat begeistert uns EMMAs alle sehr."

Link to the EMMA article

"Sex and the City2". Or "We're all Stuck in the Dessert!"

“Sex and the City 2” is coming to European cinemas on Friday. I, as the ultimate S&C fan should be ecstatic. Well, I’m not. I passed by a cinema with a jumbo poster above the door featuring Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda (in a dessert?!) and I had a very strange feeling. It was a bit like looking at a corpse. A mixture of curiosity, disgust and sadness. S&C used to be our Bible. What we watched on TV screens were our lives. Yes, we were just like them. And our stories were just like theirs. We were educated, had great jobs, paid for our own luxury, we looked good, had enormous fun and we shagged gorgeous men (Really! I was so offended when Playboy commented on my book: “Is it at all possible that all those men were that gorgeous?” Yes, they were!). We were completely independent. And mesmerised with our lives. We were experiencing the probably best phase of our lives. And S&C was an affirmation for it all.

This was 12 years ago. Many things have changed since then. Towards the end, the series wasn’t as true, cheeky, crispy and fun as it was it the beginning. The first S&C movie came to cinemas and, although we were glad to see our old friends, we were disappointed. And now the 2nd part? I’m not sure. I’m even wondering if we should go to see it. I’m afraid it will be everything but empowering.

First of all: Sex is not what it used to be. The S&C sex, that is. The S&C sex was about freeing a new form of female sexuality. Sexuality which was in the same time our weapon and our shield. Sexuality as the ultimate proof of the newly conquered independence in all aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, the sexuality we freed back then has quickly turned against us. The moment we turned female sexuality into a mean for achieving a goal, somebody else used it for their own purposes: To earn money. In no time, our society has became overly sexualised and pornographised. Fashion copies SM styles. Music spots look like soft porn. School kids are watching hard core on their phones. Media is bombarding us with the new image of a woman, a über-sexualised, über-natural sex doll. She is created by using styling, plastic surgery and Photoshop. She fills us (both women and men) with craving for unreachable, constructed “perfection” and makes us spend billions trying to buy it.  She is turning women into objects. Again. Our grandmothers and mothers fought against this - how did we, the S&C generation, allow it to happen?

And then there was shopping. They spent fortune shopping. And they had enormous fun shopping. So had we. Shopping was symbolising the connection between our financial independence and our newly freed sexuality. We were buying (with our own money) sexy stuff that made us feel great about ourselves. And that helped us manipulate the world which is known to be easily manipulated by attractive looks. But hen came the financial crisis. And made it very clear to us that we became hostages of our own consumption. We worked to consume, we identified with the consumed, and we searched for fulfilment where it couldn’t be found.  It all became painful when we realised that the consumerist attitude reflected on other aspects of our lives. We were consuming men, relationships, friendships. Ourselves. And then came the threat of an environmental catastrophe. It is not fun paying for stuff which you know will burry you one day. No, we don’t shop any more.

S&C showed us how fantastic a friendship can be. A constructed family. Four friends, all obsessed with themselves and their tightest circle. Four friends and their never-ending search. For love, for the perfect relationship, for THE man, for happiness… The search lasted for 12 years. And it goes on. It used to be cute. It’s not anymore. Because it is a product of the individualisation which is ruining our society. One of the biggest lessons we were supposed to learn from the financial crisis is that globalisation made us all interdependent. We cannot be solely focused on ourselves anymore. If Greece crashes, Europe crashes. Same is with women. We cannot live our emancipation alone. There are African women sold to our men as sex workers. Indian women are sewing our jeans for $16 a month. And there are many gorgeous East European girls who, of lack of alternative to support themselves, accept traditional gender roles. They are willing to trade their youth and beauty for financial security. Having a beautiful East European wife who keeps her mouth shut and is satisfied with a gift of designer shoes became sort of a trend: Viennese businessmen travel to East Europe searching for wives. Scared of losing their “competitive advantage”, many West European girls are giving up emancipation.

Yes, the world has drastically changed in the 12 years since S&C first became a symbol of our emancipation. The financial crisis revealed a deeper crisis – our whole system is in crisis. In order to survive, we have to rethink everything anew: The economic system, the values, the priorities. To be able to inspire us again, S&C would have to drastically change. And here an idea: Now that it is clear that we have reached the limits of the male world order, how about offering a new alternative? A female, solidary, cooperative, humanistic world order.

I know - it is too much to wish from a US TV-series-turned-film.

But please, allow me to dream.

Horny, monogamous, glowing Hulks

Great! I’m reading in The Economist that scientists have identified both the hormone for monogamy and the protein molecule that acts as a receptor. It is called vasopressin. They have already turned a certain “promiscuous” mice type into monogamous mice. And out of some reason (I’ve lost the thread here), the article continues explaining how scientists also managed to create mice which glow in the dark. So hey, we’re ready to go. But the article ends with “It may be some time before such interventions are available for human males, but women can always live in hope.” Which asshole wrote that article? Like all men are promiscuous and all women are not... Anyway, I was trying to imagine they really invented a pill for monogamy. Would anyone want to take that pill on their free will? And if not, would we end up with WOmen  (this is not a typo) secretly feeding their men the pill….Then I came to the cocktail of pills they could also give their men to improve them a bit, if they have already invented the secret pill-feeding technique. A pill for monogamy, a pill for weight-loss, a pill for building muscles (do anabolica exist only as injections or also as pills?), a pill against hair loss, a little blue-pill called Viagra for… well, you know for what. We would end up with a world full of mad Hulks running after their exhausted wives with big hard-ons, glowing in the dark. How about a new game: “Recognise your Hulk by his… hmmm…glow!”?

Nay, let’s rather like our men the way they are. Like Austrian author David Schalko said, you can always forgive infidelity, as long as you don’t know about it.

The Economist article

Virtual Pollution

Finally it is my time to bitch about Facebook! Our love relationship has turned into a love-hate relationship. I like(d) social networks. I am home in two different countries. Also, I went to an international school and an international university, and later worked in international business (woha, check this international chick out), so my friends are scattered all around the world. The networks are the the easiest way to keep in touch. So, I am everywhere: Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Xing, Small World, Internations, Twitter and some other site whose name I forgot. And yes, I admit, I have 390 friends on Facebook. And no, I don’t know them all – some of them are my readers who have expressed the wish to become my virtual friends. Virtual. That part is slowly fading away. But it is important because that is where the problem hides. Few weeks ago, I posted  my dilemma about switching to Mac on Facebook. Within only few hours, I had 29 comments. Passionate comments. People were arguing and kept returning to see what the others replied. Last week, I posted that I was stuck at home with swine flu. Comments? 0. Zero. Welcome to the world of virtual friendships.

There is one slight problem with virtual friendships. No, three slight problems. Or more... One: We are spending more and more time in social networks. Meaning wasting time we could be spending in the real world, and also wasting money. CNN estimates costs of $2.2 billion a year due to the loss of productivity caused by time spent on networking sites. Problem number two: we are getting seduced by virtual friendships, maybe even allowing them to weaken the importance of the real friendships. What I learned with my post on having swine-flu is what sociologists are calling the phenomenon of “weak links”. We think we have 388 friends who are sharing our lives. We don’t. We have 388 virtual pan-pals who are only here when they want it. “Strong link” is my neighbour Markus. He fed me through closed door (yes, like you would feed a beast) while I was ill.

And what struck me most is that the social networks are strongly changing the way we begin romancing (and eventually end up having sex), which has a huge impact how we view and present our lives. Last two guys I met (yes, I admit, they were [much] younger than me) asked me for my Facebook contact. Phone numbers, even e-mail addresses, are passé. Hello, this is a revolution in our dating pattern! We used to get in touch so that we could get to know the person and see if we like him/her. Now, everything is upside down –we first get to know (the virtual) person, then we decide if we like him/her – and then we get in touch, or don’t. We are making decisions based on the ones-and-zeroes identity of the person. Dangerous. Because in the virtual world, what is missing is… yes, the real thing. Everyone is more or less same, and everyone can create the identity they chose to (do you really think I look like my Facebook pic?). We start thinking of our lives in terms of how presentable they are online.  How alienating is that?

I don’t know. I just know I’m cutting this thing to a minimum. I have already trained myself to only log on once a day. And I’ve introduced Facebook-free days. Mostly I combine them with news-free days. They are fantastic – suddenly life seems so easy and uncomplicated! You only have to remove the rubbish of other people’s destinies… Sorry, we’re just too many.

little truths of life

My dad complaining against my new bangs (Stirnfransen/siske): Dad: “I preferred you without bangs. You looked more serious. People look more intelligent when you can see their forehead.” (God woman, you look like a kid now. Grow up finally!)

Me: “Yes, it’s really interesting how people react differently now that I have bangs…” (Yeah dad, but you should see men looking at me since my new hairstyle)

Dad (smiles): ”Yes, men don’t like intelligent women” (Forget it, they’ll keep on running away)

Me, wondering: “Shit, is he reading my mind?”

A love letter to all my ex's

Yesterday, I was driving in my car and I heard a very heartbreaking song by a guy who was dumped by a girl and was completely devastated. His heart was on the floor, his life worth nothing, suicide, same old, same old. And it dawned on me that I have never really been completely devastated because of a man (yeah, one evening of crying and drinking a bit too much of Vodka, but that’s not really what I would call devastation). Maybe because it was usually I who broke up (yes, it might be that I suffer from a “runaway girlfriend” syndrome, but don’t really want to go into that). But maybe also because I learned from my parents how to stay a strong individual and always continue building my world, even when in a couple. So I have something to hold on to when I stay alone.And right now I had a conversation with a friend whose boyfriend dumped her after 6 months of a very serious and perfect relationship which seemed to promise to lead to an altar. She was so broken she needed psychiatric help. And that made me think again. I went through my relationships and suddenly felt fantastic – I have never, ever been treated really badly by a man. OK, maybe once, by Mr. P. It all started like “sex only”, but then I fell in love and wasn’t aware of it. We continued the “sex only” thing while he had real relationships with other women. It went on for years. I was very hurt by not being “worth” of being his girlfriend but too much in love to give him up. But then again: mea culpa – I was consciously playing with. So, after I have realised how well my guys actually treated me (no betrayals, no games, no false promises, no disrespect), I had a horrible urge to scream to all my ex-boyfriends/lovers/affairs: THANK YOU GUYS, YOU WERE GREAT!!!!!!

Next!

Consuming Love, or What is Left of It

From The Vienna Review, February 2009 In two seminal books, Eva Illouz analyses the influence of modern capitalism on love and romance. A perfect topic for Valentine’s Day. Ana Tajder met Eva Illouz in Vienna.

Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism

Will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day? Will you buy roses, go for a dinner in a luxury restaurant, buy a little teddy bear with a big red heart? Or will you boycott that kitschy capitalistic product of American culture, condemning it as a crass celebration consumption? Or will you simply be ambivalent? Well, don’t be. As Eva Illouz shows in her two books about the impact of capitalism on romance and love, the topic is too interesting for ambivalence. Professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the Center for the Study of Rationality Eva Illouz is ready to challenge the most intrenched cynic. Her earlier book, Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1997) created a milestone in research of love and romance in capitalism. Following up on the topic was the 2007 Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism, a sampling of her 'Adorno' lectures. Whenever you finally meet a person you had found fascinating by reputation, you will be surprised about how much bigger you often imagine them than they really are. Our brain projects the size of our fascination with the person on their physical dimensions. When I meet Eva Illouz, this surprise stretched even further, to the nature of her personality. Her books are so well researched, so strong in their analysis, conclusions, theories and findings that you expect a very powerful, maybe even insistent personality. A rock. The reality is quite different. Eva Illouz is petite, gracious, and with the most gentle expression in her huge blue eyes. Contrary to my expectation, she does not project, in fact, at all; she absorbs. Still, the gentleness of her appearance cannot hide the immense intellectual power working in the background. A lot has changed in the ten years between the two books, Illouz confessed, and with it, a major shift in perspective. “Choice!” she exclaimed. In her first book, she explained how the economic ideas of choice emancipated human relationships and gave them new possibilities. Commodities did not corrupt relationships and feelings, she believed but served as a way of enhancing and transmitting those feelings. But then came the Internet and a culture of choice. “The problem is, people don’t know how to deal with choice,” she said. “Studies have shown that choice creates confusion, apathy and a shift from being a satisfier, a person who is happy with good enough, to a maximizer, a person who always wants more and better. “The problem is that we do not have a natural mechanism to stop the processes of maximizing our life choices.” In her lecture on Jan. 26 at the Bruno Kreisky Forum, Ambrustergasse 15, in Vienna’s 19th District, Illouz analysed the disenchantment and rationalization of love that were central to the discussion in Cold Intimacies. Three cultural phenomena are principally to blame for this, she said: The Internet technology of dating sites and social networks that has exploded choice; the emergence of popular science that influences our picture of love, and second-wave feminism that blames romantic love for deepening the divide between men and women. “Feminism tore down male chivalry and female mystery, taking the enchantment out of love,” claimed Illouz. So is it back to pre-18th century mode of arranged marriages? No, modern rationality is different, Illouz said. Two hundred years ago, parents made the decisions, based on a few basic criteria: good health, social class and an ability to provide. Sentiment and reason were kept safely at arms length. Today, this rationality comes from ourselves and hinges on a long list of criteria – including emotional compatibility, sexual compatibility and social compatibility. It is ideal that cannot be reached, one that gets us stuck in a rut of endless refinement. “We don’t have the cultural resources to reach the ideal.” Illouz says. The problem of choice cannot be emphasized often enough. While in pre-modern times, love was accidental and the object of love not subject to substitution, now the sheer volume of choice forces rational and analytic criteria. Choice also gives potential partners the characteristics of consumer goods and partners can always be “upgraded” for someone newer and better. So while choice has given us freedom, especially improving the position of women in our society, now that freedom again puts women at a disadvantage. While men still have the socio-economic power and love is still the way for women to gain a piece of this power, the disadvantage lies in the dimension of time. Men can profit from the choice their whole life long, especially if they are well situated. Women have a choice up until their early thirties. But at that point, if they want children and family, they must take the first choice that is “good enough”. Eva Illouz is currently a researcher at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin. The topic for next book is “Why love hurts.” Now that’s a perfect Valentine’s present.

Bindungsangst

My big excuse to those who don't speak German! But this is very interesting. It is the description of Eva Illouz's lecture on fear of commitment. Eva Illouz's Kolloquium "Es liegt nicht an Dir, sondern an mir": Bindungsangst als Problem der Soziologie Die Suche nach Liebe ist eine schwierige Erfahrung geworden, die nur wenigen modernen Männern und Frauen erspart geblieben ist. Trotz des weitverbreiteten und fast kollektiven Charakters dieser Erfahrungen besteht unsere Kultur darauf, dass sie das Resultat einer gestörten Psyche sind. Die freudianische Kultur, von der wir durchtränkt sind, vertritt die starke These, dass sich sexuelle Anziehung am besten durch unsere vergangenen Erfahrungen erklären lässt und dass Liebespräferenz in der frühen Kindheit durch die Eltern-Kind-Beziehung geprägt wird. Die Annahme Freuds, die Familie bestimme das Muster der erotischen Karriere, war bisher die Haupterklärung für die Frage, warum und wie wir daran scheitern, eine Liebesbeziehung zu finden oder aufrecht zu erhalten.

Die zentrale These dieses Projekts lautet so: Wenn viele von uns "eine Art bohrender Angst oder Unwohlsein" in Bezug auf die Liebe haben und das Gefühl, dass uns Liebesdinge "aufgewühlt, ruhelos und unzufrieden mit uns selbst" i zurück lassen, so deswegen, weil Liebe etwas an sich hat, das man als "Gefangensein" des Selbst in den Institutionen der Moderne bezeichnen kann; auch spiegelt und verstärkt sie dieses Gefangensein. In einer berühmten Passage formuliert Karl Marx: "Die Menschen machen ihre eigene Geschichte, aber sie machen sie nicht aus freien Stücken, nicht unter selbstgewählten, sondern unter unmittelbar vorgefundenen, gegebenen und überlieferten Umständen." Wenn wir lieben oder schmollen, greifen wir auf kollektive Ressourcen zurück und tun dies in Situationen, die wir nicht selbst gestaltet haben; genau diese Ressourcen und Situationen möchte ich in meinem Projekt untersuchen. Ich erläutere diese Strategie anhand eines Beispiels: der "Bindungsangst". i Harry Frankfurt, The Reasons of Love, Princeton University Press, 2004, p. 5.

Am I human or am I dancer?

Fitting my research on romance/love/relationships & modern capitalism (I am preparing an interview with Eva Illouz for today), here a few lines from the last Killers song "Human":

pay my respects to grace and virtue send my condolences to good give my regards to soul and romance they always did the best they could and so long to devotion, you taught me everything I know wave good bye, wish me well

I actually looked the lyrics up because I couldn't believe he is really singing "are we human or are we dancer" - but he is. So, as a dancer, I wonder why I am not human?

"Every one belongs to everyone else"

Here a few excerpts to illustrate how Aldous Huxley predicted a decline of monogamy in Brave New World (our world?). I believe that "How can you be stable if you are feeling strongly?" says it all:

Family, monogamy, romance. Everywhere exclusiveness, a narrow channelling of impulse and energy.

"But every one belongs to every one else," he concluded, citing the hypnopædic proverb.

The students nodded, emphatically agreeing with a statement which upwards of sixty-two thousand repetitions in the dark had made them accept, not merely as true, but as axiomatic, self-evident, utterly indisputable.

……………………

"But after all," Lenina was protesting, "it's only about four months now since I've been having Henry."

"Only four months! I like that. And what's more," Fanny went on, pointing an accusing finger, "there's been nobody else except Henry all that time. Has there?"

Lenina blushed scarlet; but her eyes, the tone of her voice remained defiant. "No, there hasn't been any one else," she answered almost truculently. "And I jolly well don't see why there should have been."

"Oh, she jolly well doesn't see why there should have been," Fanny repeated, as though to an invisible listener behind Lenina's left shoulder. Then, with a sudden change of tone, "But seriously," she said, "I really do think you ought to be careful. It's such horribly bad form to go on and on like this with one man. At forty, or thirty-five, it wouldn't be so bad. But at your age, Lenina! No, it really won't do. And you know how strongly the D.H.C. objects to anything intense or long-drawn. Four months of Henry Foster, without having another man–why, he'd be furious if he knew …"

.................................

"Of course there's no need to give him up. Have somebody else from time to time, that's all. He has other girls, doesn't he?"

Lenina admitted it.

"Of course he does. Trust Henry Foster to be the perfect gentleman–always correct. And then there's the Director to think of. You know what a stickler …"

Nodding, "He patted me on the behind this afternoon," said Lenina.

"There, you see!" Fanny was triumphant. "That shows what he stands for. The strictest conventionality."

…………………….

Lenina shook her head. "Somehow," she mused, "I hadn't been feeling very keen on promiscuity lately. There are times when one doesn't. Haven't you found that too, Fanny?"

Fanny nodded her sympathy and understanding. "But one's got to make the effort," she said, sententiously, "one's got to play the game. After all, every one belongs to every one else."

"Yes, every one belongs to every one else," Lenina repeated slowly and, sighing, was silent for a moment; then, taking Fanny's hand, gave it a little squeeze. "You're quite right, Fanny. As usual. I'll make the effort."

...................................

No wonder these poor pre-moderns were mad and wicked and miserable. Their world didn't allow them to take things easily, didn't allow them to be sane, virtuous, happy. What with mothers and lovers, what with the prohibitions they were not conditioned to obey, what with the temptations and the lonely remorses, what with all the diseases and the endless isolating pain, what with the uncertainties and the poverty–they were forced to feel strongly. And feeling strongly (and strongly, what was more, in solitude, in hopelessly individual isolation), how could they be stable?

Internet Networks & Love Life

Eva Illouz, author of “Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism” and “Cold Intimacies: The Making of Emotional Capitalism” will be speaking at Bruno Kreisky Forum on 26 February.

Here a few sentences from an interview about how internet networks influence our love life:

"Internet networks develop a culture of freedom, which is a culture of “choice”. Everyone can look out for everyone, everybody gets endless possibilities to search for a partner. This technology of choice has a very negative influence on emotions. It leads to high rationality in love life and leaves no space for intuition.

The problem with the idea of consumerist “choice” is that one assumes that consumers know what they want. But that is absolutely not the case. Human beings do not know what they want – there are studies which prove this. Even more so: the more choice they have, the more confused they are about their wishes. They know even less what they want. And when this consumerist behaviour infects love life, it doesn’t make life any easier.

The level of disappointment, especially in the world of internet dating,  is very, very high. Even when in relationships, people are on the look-out to test their market value. Because maybe, they could find a more "valuable" partner. They zap like TV channels.  Additional to that, the repetition turns them emotionally blunt. Goethe's Werner wouldn't commit suicide today, he would just go to the PC and zap himself to the next affair."

To read the whole (very interesting) interview (in German), go to Robert Misk’s site: www.misik.at

Ana's Ode to Manhood

Yesterday, I attended a lecture by Erich Lehner, an Austrian gender scientist. The promising topic of the lecture was “Man: the neglected sex”. The first shock was that Mr. Lehner, although very sympathetic, managed to turn this exciting topic into a sleeping pill. The second shock was his main message: save the poor men, help them, they are in crisis. We expect them to be manly but also have soft skills, be strong but also understaning, go on maternity leave, look like George Clooney, be rich like Bill Gates, etc., etc. WE don't! It is the media that makes you feel we do. We want men to be men, to respect us and to be reliable (plus: we want chemistry, of course). This was so heartbreaking that I immediately wanted to hug all men in the audience and tell them how fantastic they are. Is manhood really suffering a crisis? I didn’t notice that. I mean, yes, all that shaving of breast hair and tons of cosmetics and the quest for a six pack are….well…..not really necessary…… But hey, today’s men are fantastic! They care of their looks (didn’t I write about those muscles few weeks ago?), they are hard working, they are great lovers, they are more open to women and their complex nature (and needs), they can cook and change diapers. And come on, they are still the bosses (in Austria only 6% of top management positions are occupied by women)! So where the hell should a crisis come from?

This got me a bit sad. First, we have women in crisis. Then we have “Frauenpolitik” (women’s policies). Now we should have men in crisis… Männerpolitik? Isn’t our society just totally absurd? I mean, this should be the simplest thing in the world. It is just that we managed to make it so complicated.

And finally, Mr.Lehner mentioned a very interesting statistics: 3x more women attempt suicide. 3x more men are successful in it.

Guys, get your act together. You’re fantastic!

My Maria

I just bought my first Christmas crèche ever. It is a mini (and a minimalist) crib, cut out of one flat piece of wood. As I was trying to arrange the figurines on my desk, Maria miraculously kept jumping out. I was trying to push the stubborn figurine back to her husband under the star-clad- roof but she kept sticking out. Somehow, I felt for her.... Maybe I should try to exchange this thing tomorrow. And get one with a Maria glued in.

Little F...ed Riding Hood

OK for the start – today, an old granny would live in a nursing home or would have a nurse visiting her regularly. And please, today, a mama would never ever send her daughter to walk alone through a dark wood to visit her old grandmother. Because today’s mom fucked with the wolf too many times. Today’s mom KNOWS the wolf. Maybe he is even still her lover. This is why today’s mom would put the Little Red Riding Hood into her SUV and drive her to the grandmother. Yes, I know it can happen that Little Red Riding Hood’s dad is on a business trip and her brother is ill and the teenage babysitter doesn’t have time to baby-sit because she has an appointment for her pregnancy check up. Well, if it really didn’t work in any other way, then mom would make sure to prepare Little Red Riding Hood for her trip through the woods.

Of course, she would never allow Little Red Riding Hood to wear that red sexy hood! No, off goes the short red number, on goes a long grey coat. And that little skirt and little white socks? No! “Where’s your jeans, Hoody-Baby?” Little Red Riding Hood would whine and tell her mom that it is not fair that Little Green Riding Hood can wear her cool hood and she has to wear that grey sack. Mom would of course hate the idea that her daughter feels inferior so she would allow the red hood. But jeans would have to stay. Next, mom would tell LRRH about her own rape experience. “You know, when I was your age I was hitchhiking to the sea side. And two nice young boys offered me a ride to the next city. But they didn’t take me to a city. They took me into the woods. And tried to rape me. I was lucky that a jogger was passing by, saw what happened and rescued me. You can never, ever trust no one! Not even young nice boys. And especially not wolves!” And finally, she would prepare the basket with wine and cake for the granny, but make sure to put a pepper spray, a mobile phone with 911 on speed dial, and a condom on top. Just for the case that instead of a wolf, Little Red Riding Hood meets a cute hiker and really cannot resist.

So off goes our Little Red Riding Hood into the deep dark woods. And hey, the wolf appears. A modern LRRH would never waste time to talk to an old, hairy wolf. She knows she is too cute for him. She is aware of the fact that she looks a bit like Britney. So today, the wolf would have to put some effort into his appearance if he wants to talk to little girls. He would take a loan to buy a shiny Porsche, put on a fake Rolex (or if he is a finer wolf, a Panerai). He would have his hairs removed by a laser treatment. He would maybe even die the rest of his hair blond and get a funky cut. He would put on a sleek suite and always have a Blackberry in his hand to look very busy. And he would never, ever be so stupidly bold like the wolf in the story and simply ask the Little Red Riding Hood of her grandma’s address. No, he would be all charming and tell LRRH that he actually got lost and needs her help. He would tell her about this urgent business meeting he is going to with investors from Quatar and that unfortunately, he is off to St Moritz tomorrow early in the morning but he would be really happy to thank her for helping him with a nice dinner in Fabios or whatever fancy restaurant there is in that wood. He would entangle her into a nice conversation so that she wouldn’t even realising she is giving him her grandma’s address.

Of course, today’s granny is just like today’s mom – she met the wolf many times before and wouldn’t simply let him in. But maybe the last time she met the wolf was very, very long ago (she only became granny when she was 80) and already forgot how bad the wolf was. She would like the wolf’s charm, and after all, the new wolf looks like a fine young man, so she would let him in. And actually, today’s granny wouldn’t even be endangered, because the oldest woman today’s wolf would eat would be 26. 27 is too close to 30 and that is too close to a biological clock. But for the sake of the story we have to assume our wolf either didn’t eat a woman for so long that he is starved to death and would eat just anything. Or that he is so hungry for Little Red Riding Hood’s young flesh that he will make himself devour granny with his eyes shut, visualising the pinkness that’s already on her way to him.

Now, Little Red Riding Hood arrives to granny’s house and sees that big, hairy wolf in her granny’s bed. Come on! What the hell happened to our Little Red Riding Hood in the original story? Was she blind? Or did she eat some weird mushrooms in the woods and was too high to react? How could she not recognise the wolf in her granny’s nightie? Whatever was going on with the original Little Red Riding Hood, today’s Little Red Riding Hood would immediately react. She would try to run and find her phone to call 911. She would kick wolf’s arse with her Taek Won Do moves. But, although she is the junior champion in Taek Won Do, the wolf is bigger and stronger and would manage to catch her and eat her.

And now comes the hunter. In contrary to the hunter from the tale, today’s hunter who passes by a house and hears an old woman snoring loudly wouldn’t react. He would either think that the old woman has an old lover or he simply wouldn’t give a shit about the old woman. But we have a very nice hunter here who kills the animals but helps old people so he would go in to check on the old lady. He would find the wolf asleep in the bed, and would immediately shoot him. Our nice hunter does not shoot the wolf but cuts open his belly and frees Little Red Riding Hood and granny. In the story, the hunter skins the wolf and everybody lives happily ever after.

BUT! In our story, the hunter doesn’t care about wolf’s skin! He wants a reward for having freed the ladies. So while granny is collecting her savings to pay the hunter, the wolf starts chatting up the LRRH and explaining to her what has actually happened: He was driving by on his way to a business meeting and remembered that her poor ill granny is alone and wanted to check up on her. The crazy old witch opened the door and so badly wanted to be eaten by him that she simply jumped into his mouth. And the moment he saw LRRH, he was so overwhelmed with love that he lost his brains and just wanted to be as close to her as possible. Oh, he swallowed her out of pure love! Hearing this story from this charming, loving, strong, cool wolf, Little Red Riding Hood would become totally disgusted with her old crazy grandmother. Yes, she knows her mom warned her – but this wolf is different! This wolf is nice and successful and soooo strong! And he loves her!

She would make sure the old witch was locked into a nursing home. And then she would move into granny’s house with wolf, her cool new boyfriend. Every day, while wolf would go to his imaginary business meetings (actually he would just drive through the woods searching for young flesh), she would work hard at her new job as a secretary – this way they at least had one secure income. After all, the Porsche needs regular service. And she likes her wolf in his Prosche. The wedding will of course be postponed for better times.

So basically today, not the wolf would get fucked. The poor old granny would get fucked. And then the Little Red Riding Hood would get fucked. Because after she gave birth to wolf’s two kids and his business has finally kicked off, he would find a Little Pink Riding Hood (she is of course 15 years younger than LRRH) and marry her. Women never learn their lessons.

And the wolf would live happily ever after.

Facebook Horror

Few years ago there was all that hype about Second Life. Second Life was a virtual reality. It was not a game – you did not play there but you would go in and create your avatar the way you like it, build your house, meet new people, go to rock concerts, etc. It was what the name said – a second, or a parallel, life. Many companies invested money to be represented in Second Life. Adidas created special SL shoes, Coca-Cola was in, IBM, Ford . Many people spent hours there, many spent dollars there, and some even earned a little fortune there. Thank God, the Second Life craze eased (or is it just that I don’t follow the news on interactive topics since I left Ogilvy?) but we immediately found a substitute. Within few months, Facebook turned into Second Life, just a bit creepier – because in SL you invented your avatar. In Facebook you are yourself – but (trying to be) funnier, sexier, cooler. And you constantly feed the world with the newest update about how you are feeling, what you are doing, whom you are meeting, how you are looking. I notice that we are slowly becoming seriously addicted to this possibility of a virtual projection of our lives to the world. Yes, Facebook has good sides – like me finding my first boyfriend who is now in Thailand and whom I would have otherwise never found. On the other hand, I am wondering if Facebook will soon turn into some weird second reality which will slowly take up a life of its own. Imagine one day the Facebook “us” started rebelling and decided to mess up our real lives. With all that information and trust, easily done….

Are we becoming prude?

I just read an article by a Croatian writer saying that paparazzi pictures showing Kate Moss’ underpants as she is exiting a car prove how our society is becoming more and more prude. She claims that we watch paparazzi pictures of drunk, half naked or messed up celebrities because we are shocked about their behaviour. I see it opposite. We look at paparazzi pics not because they shock us but because they calm us. The world of celebrities went so far to become a parallel, virtual universe. Through plastic surgery, private fitness trainers and Photoshop, the celebrities look too perfect, even plastic. Never in the history have actors and celebrities earned such amounts of money. And lately, they also manage to have perfect families. The pictures of Kate Moss’ underwear and drunk Britney help us remember (or realise) that they too are only human. So first one part of media earns by making them seem über-human, then the other part of media earns by showing that they are human after all. That makes double profit. And we are the idiots who gladly pay for all of that. And then we also pay for plastic surgery and designer clothes, hoping that we too can look the part… And as for the prude, just look at a few videos on MTV or a few ads in magazines. You can also go to galleries and see what sells as art. No, we are far from becoming prude.

Bambi or Wolf?

God, I survived a walk in the woods with a heterosexual man!

I normally go for my weekly wood magic with my gay neighbour (and friend) Patrick. And it is always plain beautiful: In spring, we are excited about the little pink and white buds coming out of the wet and dark earth, later in the year we pluck Bärlauch (ramson or bear’s garlic) and discuss the best Bärlauch recipes. In summer, we lie on a little chequered blanket and bask in the sun. And in the fall, we search for mushrooms in all colours and sizes. Like we did last weekend in the Little Red Riding Hood wood – it really was like a scene from a Disney cartoon.

Well, today was the first time in a long, long time that I went into a wood with a hetero man. And no, it wasn’t all about the big bad wolf eating poor Little Red Riding Hood behind a bush. First, we got lost – my walker was absolutely sure he knew his way around as he is mountain biking through this wood every week. Then, we ended up climbing a VERY high hill. And then we were even more lost, soon sliding down a very steep slope covered in slippery red leafs. Please note: I was wearing little golden adidas shoes. So once we managed to get off the slope (finally), I ended up sinking in mud – not only did my little golden shoes disappear in black mud but so did my cool jeans, all the way up to my knees. Thank god the hetero man on my side was big and strong and immediately fished me out. I really love woods, but I swear to God, I just wanted to get out of that one.

What is it about gay men?  How can they make any wood into a Bambi paradise? Why are butterflies and rabbits and flowers dancing in the sun whenever a gay man enters a wood? I mean, when you go into a wood with a gay man, you could as well put on your thinnest stilettos and you would be ok…. I don’t know. It’s…magic. Gay magic. Or am I simply a fag hag?

  I don’t get it.

But since writing about woods (again), here my favourite wood joke:

“Aha! Little Red Riding Hood!” says Big Bad Wolf, upon finding the girl in the woods. “Now I’m going to take off your little read cape, lift up your little red skirt, pull down your little red panties and fuck your brains out!”

“Oh no, you’re not, Mr. Wolf,” Red Riding Hood retorts, pulling a pistol out of her basket and drawing a bead on the wolf. “You’re going to eat me just like the book says!”

 

Maybe that is it! In the woods, girls either want to meet Bambi or Wolf! Not sink in mud.

"New Man" or Are we all becoming "Everything"?

I am on a desert island, it is hot and beautiful and the only internet access is over a telephone line. Plus I am very busy swimming, sleeping, eating and reading. All together – the brain melted and is currently working on “the island mode”, so writing a regular blog is kind of a serious challenge. Please, bare with me through those “tough” times which will last till the end of September.Reading Croatian newspapers is a crucial part of the island life but not really inspiring. Still few days ago, I came across an article about the “New Man”. Yes, just another article about how poor men are today because they are expected to be sensible and tough in the same time. Well, if you ask me, they are in the exactly same position like new women who are expected to be educated, have a career, look beautiful, stay eternally young, work hard, be independent and in the same time be dedicated wives and mothers. I thought about this strange situation in which men are expected to be like women and women are expected to be like men and then the part of my brain that didn’t yet drown in the Adriatic Sea started thinking beyond the gender topic – actually, aren’t we are all expected to become EVERYTHING? Not only are women becoming men and men women, we are becoming citizens of a few countries simultaneously, we are multilingual, we are either switching careers or have parallel careers. But look at this: we also becoming both eternal children and eternal seniors. We are prolonging our childhood and the state of singlehood to our late thirties. Even when we become parents (and partners), we still allow ourselves toys, flexibility and adventures. (Interesting book on this topic: Pascal Bruckner “The Temptation of Innosence”). In the same time, the brutality of turbo capitalism is pushing us into (professional) responsibility, reliability and hard work typical for experienced adults from the very beginning of our work life – forcing us to become (professional) “old people” already in our early twenties. (Here, I am touching the topic of Richard Senett’s “The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism”, another highly recommendable book about how capitalism is influencing our character, turning us into endlessly flexible beings (the German translation of the title is “Der Flexible Mensch”). So little by little, starting with the “New Man” I landed on the aliens as we know them from SF: highly developed beings for which the difference between old/ young, male/female, Austrian/Croatian no more exists. But ugh, I have to admit that I really do prefer the “Old Man” to E.T…..