Monday, January 26, 2015

What's Next On My List? Becoming Jane

It took me longer to get around to this movie than I thought it would. I really love it, but it was hard for me to put into words why and I think I got it now. So, enjoy:

This movie is about the life of Jane Austen, the writer behind such classics as Pride And Prejudice, Sense And Sensibility, Emma and Northanger Abbey, among others. Jane spends her time writing on her parents' land, until one day she meets a man named Tom Lefroy, who, despite being quite rude at first manages to steal her heart. Lefroy is promised for another, and being subjected to his uncle he decides to run away with Jane, but she senses that his heart is not fully committed and that perhaps she alone won't be enough to make him happy. She leaves him, never marries, but never stops writing either.

I am a big Austen fan. This has been causing me a great deal of pain lately. At the University I was looking forward to studying her - after all, it is the English department - but all I got was, well, boredom. The teachers have grown tired of talking about her over the years and by the time I got there nobody really cared anymore. That was a real pity. Especially because they have like 423534 classes on Shakespeare, which is fine, but I used to love him too and they made me hate him. There is only so much you can say about him. And by say I mean what the teachers say - because the ones I encountered so far did not really care about our opinions... But, we'll criticize the educational system some other day, let us get back to the movie. This movie got me to fall in love with Anne Hathaway. Before that I did not particularly care for her, and I have to admit that she really got me. She was sweet, innocent, really everything I thought Austen would be. I could tell that she enjoyed playing this character!
Of course, being a writer, my idols influence me a great deal. About her books I don't so much care for the happy ending, but the relationship among the characters. She wrote with such finesse, and if you get to re-read any of her work, you'll notice that the dialogues are the best part. There is something wonderful about insulting someone by being polite, don't you think? Either way, the movie allowed for the characters to develop and there are a lot more facial expressions than there are dialogues which I can say was a brilliant idea. More importantly you realize where this writer got her inspiration from. If am completely honest, I enjoyed her books a lot more after having seen this movie, because yes, there are theories that teachers can tell you about, but the movie makes you feel like you had tea with her and she told you her story. Really, it's a wonderful idea to get to know your favorite author that way.

Watch it? Definitely. If you like costume movies or biographical movies than you will not be disappointed. And you will find that Austen has lived all of her novels, which I think is quite magical.

Until the next item on my list!
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Jane Austen - Anne Hathaway
Tom Lefroy - James McAvoy
Mrs. Austen - Julie Walters
Reverend Austen - James Cromwell
Lady Gresham - Maggie Smith
Mr. Wisley - Laurence Fox

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Homework Assignment: Scholarly Writing

I am about to conclude my English studies on the American track and this right here is my very last paper - last essay - on the BA level. I made a huge mistake with it, but corrected it in this version. I came up with the idea a month before and I was very happy that I did manage to get what I wanted on paper. For the last paper that I had to write it was probably the most fun that I ever had! So, I hope you enjoy my view on the topic. To be completely honest, I don't care about this topic as much as it would seem :D But I loved arguing for it!
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The USA Should Have a Female President

            The USA has been known to be at the front for innovation, both scientifically speaking and on a moral level. However, on a political level it has fallen behind as it seems that women’s fight for equality still has a long way to go. In order to achieve that equality, the author of this paper believes that it is necessary to put a woman in a more influential position within the US government, more precisely, to elect a woman as President. The following essay will argue why it is important for the United States to elect a woman as their next President. The reader should take note that the essay will not give preference to either Democrats or Republicans, as the author wishes to remain impartial.
            First, the reader should take into account that the term feminism is wildly misunderstood among the largest part of the US population. It is often believed to be a derogatory term in relation to men, while it simply means giving women the exact same treatment as men. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, it stands for “a doctrine or movement that advocates equal rights for women”(“feminism”). In other words, it is simply a synonym for equality, and not only for women, but for men who wish for this equality to prevail. To elect a woman President, perhaps some will believe that they are abusing such equality; however, others can be educated about the meaning of non-discrimination. The Second World War showed the United States what would happen if racism prevailed and what followed was a Civil Rights Movement that was successful in comparison to its earlier versions (Stevens). Perhaps it is time to force the population to realize that their lack of equality covers a larger percentage than just minorities.
            Second, “after stagnating in the mid-1990s, progress toward closing the earnings gap between men and women in America basically stopped in the last decade” (Swanson). The difference is about 20%, and according to the article above mentioned they are often discriminated for the time they take to stay at home after giving birth and the time they spend with the care of their families (Swanson). In another study conducted by The New York Times’ The Upshot, it clearly shows the difference in pay for women and men  in certain jobs: woman only make 67% of a men’s pay as physicians, 82% as lawyers or judges, 84% as postsecondary teachers or computer engineers and 96% as chemists. The only three areas listed by the article where they get the same pay are as dental hygienists, H.R. specialists or advertising salespeople (Miller). This means that the pay gap is not only a general problem, but it differentiates based on employment and the area in which a woman wishes to work.
This is a problem that has resurfaced several times during the Obama administration, but it has been swept under the rug. It is the firm belief of the author that a woman in the Oval Office would be able to designate the necessary importance to this problem and to make sure it is dealt with. Whether or not she is capable of achieving a change during her term in office is a completely different argument. Nonetheless, the problem should be addressed sooner than later.
And last, but not least, women in Congress are highly underrepresented. In 2013 only 17.9% of the Representatives were woman and exactly 20% of women were in the Senate ( The numbers are a bit better on the state level, but it is hard to get an influential job on Capitol Hill. In 2007 Nancy Pelosi became the first woman elected as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and out of the sixty-eight Secretaries of State three Madeline Albright, Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton, were women. In history no woman has ever surpassed the primaries as a presidential candidate, but there were two times when there were Vice-Presidential candidates. Once in 1984 on the Democratic ticket, when candidate Walter Mondale ran with Geraldine Ferraro as his Vice-President; the second time it was on the Republican ticket, when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008 (Murse). In an interview Cynthia Terrell, chair of FairVote’s “Representation 2020” project has said that “women won’t achieve fair representation for nearly 500 years” (Hill).
The President chooses their Vice-President as well as their cabinet and they can also appoint judges to the Supreme Court. If there was a woman in the Oval Office, perhaps the number of women in Congress would also increase, as one has already got elected to do the hardest job available out there. In the long run, a woman is more likely to concern themselves with all kinds of problems, not just the ones they get to fix in the run of their four year term to boost their chances of re-election.
The reader might argue that men in the US government have previously acted as male chauvinists, and the President is bound to make mistakes as they are human. Unfortunately, these mistakes can be judged based on the fact that it was a woman making them, and instead of learning from them, politics will come in and crash the person elected to office. It is without a doubt a problem that the same mistake made by a man will have fewer consequences than one made by a woman.
In conclusion, the author of this paper wished to shed some light on the fact that the fight for equality within the United States is still very far from being over. The main argument was that having a woman in a very influential power position within the US could be the first in many steps to achieve that equality. People could be educated on the meaning of feminism, the pay gap between men and women could be addressed with more success and maybe more women would be willing to seek jobs on Capitol Hill. The aim is to achieve proper representation and non-discrimination. The USA has always been a leader as far as freedom of religion, of speech and equality is concerned, showing that just like its European counterparts it is capable of voting without discrimination would boost its popularity on a political level once again.

Works Cited 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What's Next On My List? Killing Kennedy

Well, Happy New Year! I know two weeks have already passed, but this is the first time I got to write since this year started as I just finished with my exams. And, speaking of studies, I have to write my thesis. I have exactly one week to finish the first draft and I just have about 30% of it done... oh yes, I am very desperate, in case you are wondering! If you have been to my blog before you might have read that my research area is Kennedy and so I thought I'd hit two birds with one stone and make this review about the movies I had to watch recently, as I need to mention it among my sources.

The movie does not center around Kennedy, but his killer: Lee Harvey Oswald. The movie tells the life of this man in comparison to Kennedy's life from when he was elected President. Oswald was a soldier stationed in the USSR during the Cold War and he wished to have his American citizenship revoked.
He, however, grows tired of not being heard and he goes back to the states with his wife Marina. He works hard to let his communist views known, but he is never taken seriously. He attempts a friendship with American-Russians Marina meets while they stay in Texas; in the end he tries to get to Cuba to support the Castro regime, but he is denied the visa. Meanwhile Kennedy's visit to Dallas is about to happen and after having failed an attempt to assassinate Texas Governor John Connally, Oswald grows angry and wishes to make a difference or be finally noticed. November 22nd arrives, Oswald shoots Kennedy from the Texas Book Depository facing Dealey Plaza. He flees from the scene, only to be arrested a couple of hours later. Two days later he is shot and killed by Jack Ruby, after confessing to have been a patsy all along.

The movie shows Kennedy's affairs and his struggles in office and, most important of all, his loving relationship with his wife Jackie. The movie was based on Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard's book, which deals with Oswald's life mostly. Having personally watched now several documentaries and having read enough about the theories behind the President's murder I liked this movie for one particular reason: It teaches you something. It doesn't matter at the end of the day whether or now you believe that Oswald really did kill Kennedy, but while watching the documentaries on the hundreds of conspiracies, one thing became clear to me: Americans who believe otherwise don't know basic facts.
Fact number one: Oswald was known for his shooting skills in the marines. It is actually the only thing he was good at. The fact that he would've been able to make that shot has been proven over and over again over the past fifty years. Fact number two: He had several times admitted out loud to not be of the same opinion as Kennedy. He was a communist, open and proud about it too. Fact number three: He wanted to have his American citizenship revoked. He hated his life in the US so much that during the Cold War he wished to become a Russian citizen. Fact number four: He had previously already tried to assassinate a politicians as that was his way of dealing with men he deemed dictators.
I don't want to convince anyone of my own theory, please, you are free to look up anything you need or believe anything you want. I simply loves this movie (and of course the book behind it) for trying to educate people about the man behind the gun. If you wish to believe he was still truly a patsy, by all means do, because now you know all the historical factual evidence behind it. But, without it, your opinion matters very little. Not knowing, for example, that he was exceptionally skilled with firearms it is natural to assume that he was simply set up to take the blame.

That having been said I recommend this movie to everyone. The casting blew my mind, the few scenes with Kennedy were fantastic and Lowe had great chemistry with Goodwin, not to mention the exceptional acting by Rothaar. You have hundreds of movies and series made about the Kennedys, so it is great to have one about his (presumed) killer.

Watch it? Absolutely. The movie came out a year and a half ago, just two weeks before the 50th anniversary of the President's death. The book from which it was adapted bears the same name and was a New York Times Bestseller. I recommend that too if you like this topic!

Me? Back to writing my thesis. Until the next item on my list!
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John F. Kennedy - Rob Lowe
Lee Harvey Oswald - Will Rothaar
Jackie Kennedy - Ginnifer Goodwin
Marina OswaldMichelle Trachtenberg
Bobby Kennedy - Jack Noseworthy
Jack Ruby - Casey Siemaszko
Lyndon B. Johnson - Francis Guinan