Browsing "Tina Fey"
Aug 9, 2012 - Tina Fey    2 Comments

James Franco doing things

As a self professed online stalker of the Renaissance man, I got hold of his short story collection Palo Alto quite late – two years after it was published. Sadly, the book did not turn out to be what I was expecting. May be I was expecting something better and was kinda disappointed. He over did the youth angst and drug scene, he was politically incorrect through out the text – mocking fat girls and short kids will not win you brownie points anywhere – the tone was flat and the casual sex was just that – casual. At times even the writer seemed bored with his characters and he just wanted to get it done and over with and because of that, even the reader wanted to get it done and over with.
Did that dampen my OCD with Mr. Franco? Not really. You see I am not a fan of his acting chops or writing proficiency, it is his multitasking skills that I am in awe of. His scholarly pursuits include a B.F.A. in English from the University of California, LA; M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia University and Brooklyn College; an M.F.A. in film making from Tisch; and he is currently working on other degrees including a Ph.D. at Yale and another post grad degree at Rhode Island School of Design. Phew, I think I just got tired listing them all. The man not only worked and still working on those degrees, he has done all that while being an A-list movie star, a writer, a performance artist, a documentary film maker, a film director, a columnist, a blogger, and a professor – he is teaching a course in film direction at Tisch School of Arts at NYU and he is not even 35 years old.
As a person who is immensely lazy and is wasting her life away doing really mind numbingly boring shit – like reading Franco’s book – people like him seem unreal and at times awe inspiring. I remember someone calling me a fan once, I am not really sure if I can be called a fan, I think I am kinda jealous of him – doing all those things – while I am doing absolutely nothing.
Here is James Franco doing things.
James Franco reading things
James Franco posing as a teacher
James Franco actually teaching a class at NYU
James Franco interacting with his students after the class
James Franco typing things
James Franco the student sleeping during one of the lectures
James Franco at the opening of his art exhibit
James Franco doing things on computer
James Franco reading some more things
James Franco signing copies of Palo Alto
James Franco acting and directing
James Franco doing something, I cant figure out what.
James Franco reading some more
James Franco & Tina Fey, the two multitaskers with an Anime pillow doll, they both wrote shot books though

Trash TV is just trash, even when the characters wear Prada

One of the advantages of growing older is that you are not generally ashamed about the questionable things you do; like eating nutella straight from the jar, reading Ansar Abbasi’s pearls of wisdom in Jang every week and watching trash tv like Gossip Girl. 
I just finished watching the season finale of the tv series and I am marveling at the fact that people who wrote and produced the show still have jobs. I mean one usually watches soap like crap with suspension of logic, such as resurrection of Daddy Bass from the dead (he was not really dead but was hiding in Bermuda Triangle or a tanning salon if his skin tone is any indication) or Mummy van der Woodson’s accessories  – or was it Bass or Humphery; I lost count and order of her multiple husbands – (She was wearing gigantic earrings while she was still in her gown/robe/not dressed in the morning and is lacing her coffee with something alcoholic) but to caricaturize the characters to the extent that they have done in this show – everyone has lied, schemed and cheated on their spouses and significant others at some point or the other – requires a suicidal level of crazy.
I always bemoan the fact that Pakistani television shows women as either helpless creatures, scheming bitches or victims; but with shows such as Gossip Girl, it looks like that American tv featuring the lives and exploits of rich and powerful of New York is just as lame and with characters with similar flaws. There are two leading female characters who have failed The Bechdel Test in every goddamned episode. If they are not talking about a guy they are dating or want to date then they are scheming with each other and against each other. One of them is a very smart Ivy league student, yet she gives into an abusive relationship time and again (we have seen her suitor being manipulative and violent in the past. He also had the dubious honour of trading her for a piece of real estate and cheating her with an underage girl. He also has an obsession with bow ties and colour purple, but I digress) and can only defines herself through her boyfriends. The other one is not so smart – yet she too ends up in the same Ivy league school (suspension of logic, I tell ya) and has a peculiar obsession with a guy who used to be her boyfriend – turned step sibling – turned best friend’s boy friend (yes, it is as incestuous as it sounds) and slips into her old bad ways of riding trains and hooking up with her drug dealer who looked suspiciously like a pop singer when the said boyfriend turned step sibling turned bestie’s boyfriend spurned her advances for the 537494th time.
What happened to women’s liberation and feminism? Are those ideas so last century that no one wants to portray female characters on TV who are smart, independent and do not define themselves through a man? I know it is asking a lot from the local television writers and producers who are still busy peddling stories about polygamist feudal lords, jahez ki lanat, baap ki izzat and saas bahu tamasha but if the first world’s emancipated women are subject to this crap then there is no hope.
Perhaps my younger snootier self was right in sticking to TV shows with people like Tina Fey
 PS: Watch this awesomesauce video on Blechdel Test if you are interested.
PPS: Tina Fey is like my most gigantic girl crush. 
PPPS: This post is kinda suicidal as I am publicly admitting to watching trash TV. I have a feeling that my sister is going to have a field day when she wakes up in the morning.

Nov 13, 2008 - Tina Fey, women    16 Comments

How Tina Fey saved me from irreversible brain damage

Watching TV is painful. As a rule, I don’t watch much TV, but one do lapse into the mindlessness of it from time to time and then live to regret it.

Last week, I saw TV for about half an hour and lost it – completely. I caught one of the episodes of a soap on one of the local channels. It had a domestic servant who was first harassed by the younger son of her employers and then later raped by the older son. Because she was a lowly employee, she kept quiet and did not tell anyone about the crime. There was another track where they showed a mafia boss having hots for a middle class behenji type working girl. Instead of befriending the girl, he sent his mom with rishta (formal proposal of marriage) to the girl’s mom and threatened her on the side, that if she refused to marry him, bad things will happen to her family. How did her family reacted to it, instead of reporting the incident to police or something, the daddy asked the girl to quit her job and stay at home otherwise people will talk?

What subliminal message did this half an hour long episode convey, that it is easy to push women around, whether they are illiterate domestic servants or educated and financially independent girls. Men are licensed from God/society/law/whatever to harass/stalk/rape women and they will get away. After all, what rights do second class citizens have, NONE.

I was so annoyed after watching that soap, I wrote a page long letter and emailed it to the channel that was airing it and copied it to at least 4 women rights organizations. I got a letter of thanks from one of them and they said they will take up the matters with the said TV channel. Irony was, the soap was named ‘Tair-e-lahooti’ which literally translates in to ‘a bird with limitless flight’.

I switched channels and saw discovery doing a crazy scientific study about which part of body hurts most when it is pinched and I was like WTF? I was so fascinated with grown men doing ‘ooh’, ‘aah’ and ‘ouch’ after every pinch that I watched it till the end. Apparently, the back of human arms is the most sensitive area. So if you want to pinch someone really hard, aim for the back of their arms.

Among all that crappy TV, I stumbled upon good ol’ Liz Lemon at her old address (30 Rock) and what a relief it was. Where else do you get dialogues like ‘Hugging is so ethnic’ and ‘you are choosing a sandwich over a guy, that’s less cliched’ to a boss who is as adorably insufferable and screwed up as Jack Donaghy.

Here is an exchange between Jack and Liz that reminded me of … me.

Jack: So what are you gonna do with your money? Put it into a 401K?
Liz: Yeah, I gotta get one of those.
Jack: What?! Where do you invest your money, Lemon?
Liz: I’ve got like twelve grand in checking.
Jack: Are you an immigrant?

Believe me, I have had one of these conversations, and I don’t even have the excuse of being an immigrant. The only difference is that the guy I was talking to was not as fat, old or fabulous as Alec Baldwin and I probably would have a lot less than US$12,000 in my checking account.

The reason I love Tina is that she made edgy neurotic acceptable. Take Liz Lemon, her character in ’30 Rock’ is as real as it can get in network television. She strives to be a better, more honorable, more down-to-earth person and gets diverted by her own shallow, petty urges. She knows who she is and occasionally tries to assert that her rather mundane desires and limitations are perfectly acceptable. She wants a husband, sure, but she doesn’t want anyone to be the boss of her. She wants to get ahead at work, yes, but she also wants to skip work and watch a rented movie in bed. She has made it absolutely normal for women to be single at 37, wear glasses, eat Chinese food out of take away box, attract losers or conflicted people, work with losers or conflicted people and deal with a boss whose ego is as gigantic as Grand Canyon, and still be friends with him. The best thing about Tina Fey is that she can be screwed up and likeable at the same time without being over the top, unlike the clinging, coy and clamoring for attention Jennifer Aniston in Friends.