Browsing "vampires"

A case of exploding ovaries

Back in the day when tumblr was launched, I checked it out and decided that it was not for me. I mean it was neither here, nor there. If I wanted to blog, I had my blog, if I wanted to microblog, I had twitter, if I wanted to post cute videos of kittens, I had my youtube account and if I wanted the world to know that I had a crap day at work, I had my facebook page. After lurking around for another 45 minutes, I decided to give it a miss and never went back.

Until earlier this year, that is.  A friend was conducting research on audience influence on creative processes on serialized television drama through social media and wanted my help to sift through data, contact some of the more militant fans, interview them and see the patterns of influence. Boy was I in for a surprise or what! What started off as a favour to a friend for an academic research turned into a social experiment in … wait for it … Fangirling.

The fangirls do a lot of things, they ship, they have feels, they get into shipping wars and they gif. They gif scenes from their favourite TV shows and they gif their reactions to whatever is happening in the TV verse. Gone are the days when a picture was worth a thousand words. In this day and age, only a gif is worth a thousand words. A static picture is valued at a lot less.

No, this is not a disparaging post. I have all the admiration and respect for fangirls and will write a more elaborate piece about them, but if there is one thing that guaranteed a laugh out loud response – at least from this scribe – it was the gifs with explosion of body parts – ovaries to be precise.

Tumblr taught me that handsome men have the capacity to literally explode ovaries. The fangirls explode their ovaries over everything. Johnny Lee Miller’s Sherlock goes snarky in his upper crust British accent, the fangirls explode their ovaries. Gabriel Macht’s portrayal of smooth lawyer Harvey Specter and his crinkly eyed smiles are usually followed by ovaries explosions. Ian Somerhalder brings out his vampire fangs in The Vampire Diaries and there is a general ovary explosion across the globe. Stephen Amell shows off his impressive abs in a shirtless workout session on the superhero show Arrow and the fangirls explode ovaries, multiple time (is that even possible?). All the cute guys that Mindy Lahiri dated in The Mindy Project equals to exploded ovaries. Tom Mison’s 200 year old Ichabod Crane’s complains about inflated taxation on coffee and donuts are also followed by exploded ovaries. Imagine an explosion like that one, there will be so much blood and gut all over.

 

tumblr_mxc99qBoKA1qdez28o2_400

Men might watch Arrow for action and DC lore, women totally watch it for Stephen Amell’s abs and their ovary explosion abilities

holy fuckGabriel Macht in Suits

 

ian 2Ian Somerhalder, ovary exploder par excellence

 

Miller sherlock
Johnny Lee Miller does not need to go shirtless, his accent is enough to explode ovaries

Yes gif sets of these guys are usually accompanied with gifs of exploding ovaries

ovaries 0

 

ovaries 2  ovaries 4

 

ovaries 5

 

and my personal favourite is

 explosion

Anyways, while thinking about the exploded ovaries and scanning the newspaper; I came across a news that said that UK will be selling pig’s semen to China in an exorbitant £45m export deal. I don’t even want to think how David Cameron worked out this deal but that is a debate for another post – if I ever get around to doing that.

Unlike UK, most other countries produce swines that are not of four legged variety and cannot increase their foreign exchange revenues by selling their reproductive juices, which lead to a discussion among the ladies at work about the two legged creatures whose sperm would sell for a fortune. If the explosion of ovaries on tumblr is any indication to go by then all the names mentioned above would make a load of money.

A totally unscientific survey based on half an hour of tumblr search, water cooler gossip at work, two hour long phone conversations with girlfriends and random conversation with women on subway who moved away after responding to my query – giving me looks that vary from “who left this one out’ to “she must be locked in a padded cell” – reveals that people whose baby makers would fetch top dollar are Jared Leto, David Beckham, Portuguese footballer with killer abs (I am assuming that lady was talking about Christiano Ronaldo), Matt Bomer, (gay man with ridiculous good looks, decent manners and a university degree was the top choice) Captain America, Thor and Iron man (I guess Marvel has done such a good job of branding its super heroes that people refer to the characters instead of actors Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and Robert Downey Jr. Abhay Deol with his cute dimples was the only desi entry (but my unscientific sample had very few desi women and all the desi women have hots for super hero types).

When I pointed out the omissions such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney, I was told that they are too old (and promiscuous in case of Clooney) and while they might look good, for procreation purposes, the ladies might want to look for younger specimens who reportedly have healthier sperm – such objectification of men on the basis of age was quite refreshing if I may say so. The ladies who wanted to pay a high price for David Beckham’s baby makers were not shaken when it was pointed out that there is a very good chance that a David Beckham male offspring may inherit his squeaky voice. I guess there is no deterrence against the larger than life billboards of the man with washboard abs, killer tattoes and very little clothing – definitely a case of exploding ovaries.

 

Ladies of iftaar, Imran Khan and vampires

A man who was bitten by a radioactive spider once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Similarly, ever year, with Ramazan come hordes of iftaar invitations. Now iftaar parties are not regular get-togethers where people eat and gossip to their heart’s desires. The iftaar invitations come with a hint of holiness that surrounds everything in Ramazan; men and women segregate because they want to offer Maghrib prayers and somehow stay segregated, which usually results in some very interesting and at times entertaining conversation.
Like every other time of the year, ladies talk about things that are discussed in the popular media. This year, they talked about the color palette of Aamir Liaquat’s kurta collection and his cooking abilities – the opinion of the ladies of iftaar was divided on his godliness and piety but they all agreed that the man can cook. One even made her husband watch the cooking segment, hoping he would take the hint. (He didn’t.)
 

Aamir Liaquat, running away with someone’s child

Quite a few discussed their annual Ramazan Umrah stories from the years past and those who were going for Umrah this year discussed their hotels and their proximity to Haram, flight details and shopping options, as many are coming back via Abu Dhabi or Dubai and plan to pick up a Sabyasachi sari and Dorothy Perkins heels for Eid.
Another topic that was heatedly discussed among the ladies was whether Shaukat Khanam still is a viable option for zakaat donations. The unanimous verdict was that a man as handsome as Imran Khan and one who can speak such perfect English just cannot be bad; it followed (logically, you understand) that Khwaja Asif was the devil’s spawn for trying to besmirch the good name of the good-looking Khan, and Shuakat Khanum stayed a viable zakaat option.
Imran Khan the eternal ladies man

Actually Imran Khan is a favourite topic of conversation among the ladies of iftaar. They discuss his wardrobe, his children, his political options and aspirations, his house and of course his love life. One lady was actually praying at iftaar time that her clan elders should decide to support a PTI candidate. When asked why she wanted this to happen, she said she wants Imran Khan to become the Prime Minister. Her argument was that the only two good looking men (Imran Khan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi) in their fifties are in PTI and if PTI is voted into the assembly, the ladies will get to see them more often on TV. I wanted to point out that Imran Khan is turning sixty later this year but decided not to burst the lady’s bubble. I wonder how the Sharif brothers will respond to this kind of public opinion if it becomes widespread. They may not be as genetically gifted as Khan or Qureshi, but they should get full marks for making an effort and going through the painful process of hair transplants to make themselves attractive to the voting ladies.

If the mommies discussed good-looking men when they were away from the daddies for Maghrib prayers, the preteens were just as vocal in expressing their adoration for the leading men from The Hunger Games and Twilight series. I would not have believed it if I had not witnessed a 12-year old asking her cousin, a dentistry student, to make her fake fangs because she too wants to look like Edward Cullen. When I said that she would also require copious amounts of deathly white powder to look like him (much to my shame, I know exactly who Edward Cullen is, but then I have taught teenage girls in the past so that should explain it), she giggled and said that she only wanted his fangs. The dentistry student just rolled her eyes and confided in me that many young girls and boys who come to the clinic where she is interning ask for little disposable fangs as a compensation for going through painful dental procedures.

If you thought vampires were only popular among preteens, you are mistaken. During one of the iftaar parties, I sat down with two ladies after the Maghrib prayers. One even had prayer beads in her hands but both were very busy debating who is the hottest vampire on TV, whether it is Damon Salvatore or Eric Northman. Apparently they are both bad boy vampires from two different TV series (I was told one show cannot have more than one hot blue-eyed super sexy vampire) fighting for the affections of human girls. When they could not settle on who the hottest vampire is, they turned to me to cast the deciding vote. Even though I watch a lot of trash TV, I draw the line at vampire and werewolf shows, so I couldn’t help them (I googled them later of course). Discussing hotness of vampires on a prayer mat after maghrib was something I never thought I would witness but I guess life surprises you in strangest ways, especially during Ramazans. 

Ian Somerhalder as Damon Salvatore & Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Northman

First published in The Friday Times

A world without The Alchemist

A friend Raheel shared this graph which lists top 10 most read books in the world on Facebook. As expected, there were some usual suspects in the list like ‘The Bible’ and ‘The Harry Potter series’. Raheel appeared to be a little bummed that the list also features the Twilight Saga and thinks that if anyone is looking for a snapshot into why the world is so fucked up, they need to see what the world is reading. In other words, if too many people are reading about angsty vampires, werewolves with pedophilic tendencies and insipid pinning girls then something is NOT right in the world. 
I am sure Raheel has his reasons for being sick and tired of the Twilight Saga but I think there are other entries far more worrisome than the tales of a teenager who alternates between necrophilia and bestiality. 
For starters, the world can do with a little less religiosity and a lot more compassion but let’s just not go there because I have no desire to be lynched by that overwhelming majority that reads all the religious texts.
Secondly, twilight is not dangerous because it is mostly read by the prepubescent teens (and their older sisters with stunted mental growth and their moms who wants to do all things their little girls do) with absolutely no delusions of grandiosity. If they are happy reading about undead old creeps who look like sparkling teenagers then let them be – in their own little bubble. 
Far more dangerous are those who read absolute shite like ‘The Alchemist’ and think they have had this spiritual and/or philosophical and existential awakening which kinda gives them a license to pontificate according to their heart’s desire. Not only do they want to expound their new found wisdom to any poor unsuspecting soul that comes with the radius of 200 meters, they also think they are doing the others a huge favour by sharing their profundity. It is at times like this one agrees with Scott Adams and blames it all on the Gutenberg press for spreading the pop philosophy mumbo jumbo to the masses. The world would have been a better place had there been no ‘Alchemist’ in it.

Total ‘eclipse’ of the mind

Earlier this year, I was teaching an undergrad class a course on Gender. While discussing femininity and feminism, I asked my class to name one male and female they think of as the epitomy of masculine and feminine beauty. The idea was to determine how the concept of masculinity and femininity is socially constructed and male and female desirability is strongly attached to it and that  it evolves with the passage of time. As I teach generally hip kids, their idols were mostly western and their tastes represented that trend. Salma Hayek, Shakira and Beyonce were considered most feminine women by both the boys and girls, clearly indicating that concept of femininity has undergone a transition and blue-eyed blonde is no longer the pinnacle for beauty.

The boys in my class came up with the usual suspects as models of masculinity such as Brad Pitt and George Clooney with a mention of Ali Zafar and Salman Khan to add the local flavor. However, most girls swooned when they mentioned their heart’s desire and it was a guy named Edward Cullen. Now, I may not be a teenager well versed with the latest trends but I don’t exactly live in a cave and do managed to keep a track of things but I seriously did not know who Edward Cullen was. So I asked and was regaled in no uncertain terms how wonderful a character he is and how I have missed on the greatest thing since the sliced bread. Equipped with the background info, I asked my female students whether they liked the character of Edward Cullen or the actor, Robert Pattison, who plays the role. One of them gushed that she couldn’t distinguish between the two of them; she loved them both and everything about them.

Quite obviously I bought the “Twilight” and “New Moon” DVDs on my way back to witness the ultimate specimen of a gentleman. Needless to say, I was galactically gutted when I found out that he is, you know, kind of neither alive, nor dead. I mean back in the day when I was a teenager, we used to swoon over sun-kissed men with big shoulders who were alive and kicking. A pasty-looking, slightly effeminate, undead vampire is definitely not my idea of swoon worthiness, but heck, what do I know? I am not a twenty-first century teenager!

In the first installment “Twilight,” we have a sulky teenager Bella who likes this boy – the personification of undead romance Edward Cullen – in her class whose eye color keeps changing which basically lead her to believe that he is a vampire; how perfectly logical. Then we have a family of vampires (Edward’s family) who think they are vegetarian vampires because they do not drink human blood. In what parallel world, sucking the blood of cute furry animals makes you vegetarian? I am quite surprised that PETA stayed quiet over it.

In the second installment “New Moon,” the romance between the whiney (Bella) and mopey (Edward Cullen) runs into snag when one of his siblings wants to suck her blood so he breaks off with her and goes away. Bella’s friend Jacob, who is actually a werewolf – is there ever a woman who attracts more inappropriate men than our tragic heroine? – falls for her and now Bella is torn between two highly unsuitable men.

Because I am the type who would want to finish the things, I decided to watch the third installment “Eclipse,” against my better judgment. I am still not too sure whom Bella chooses at the end of the 123-minute saga where newbie vampires were wreaking havoc, trying to kill the heroine. The werewolves and the vegetarian vampires band together to save her – amidst the general lovesick atmosphere of the film.

Apart from the regular teenage romantic anguish, an army of well-groomed vampires, Bella’s whines, Edward Cullen’s cherry red lips and Jacob’s buff bare torso (Jacob was shirtless for most of the 123 minutes that even the character of Edward had to ask him whether he owned a shirt), there were a couple of things that need to be highlighted. I was in for a surprise when I saw a scene with a hint of “Brokeback Mountain” where the undead and werewolf get curiously intimate during a long night in a tent. Frankly, there was more honesty and chemistry in that one scene than the whole angst-ridden trilogy where Bella keeps panting after the total dreaminess of Edward.

Another thing we learn is that vampires are as big on hierarchy as European royal families are. There are some blue-blooded vampires called Volturi who prefer the Goth look and rule the vampire world with a rocker wardrobe. And of course, they decide which vampire stays in the state of undead and who gets to die the true death.

After I told my students that I had seen the films (the first two installments), the eager ones wanted to know how I liked the movies. One of them even asked me if I was rooting for Team Jacob or Team Edward (yes, the crazy fans are divided between who gets the heroine). Honestly, despite being a werewolf and an underage werewolf (Taylor Lautner who pays Jacob in the movie was 17 when my students asked me), Jacob gets my vote for being, err you know, not dead.

Should people go and watch this film? I don’t know but I have to say, it’s unique. After all, you don’t get movies like this very often where a werewolf and a vampire battle it out for the affections of a human and not to make a meal out of her.

Originally written for Dawn.com 

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