Bridge ( Bron/ Broen) season 2..

(I was looking in my archive and was shocked to see that I hadn’t published this post!! Especially since it deals with my 2 obsessions neatly wrapped in 10 episodes of pure bliss. Scandinavian Crime and Lady Detectives!)

bron
Bridge 2. Or Bron/ Broen 2 as it is called in original Danish/ Swedish. Speechlessly great, astounding tv. You know why you should watch this show even if you don’t watch anything else ( other than the equally brilliant first season)?

Outstanding Female characters.
So so non-cliched. It is a pleasure to see shows where women are shown as people. From heroic to bad ass villains to ordinary people caught in life’s complexities. The sheer range of women characters in Bridge- from cops to activists to lovers to tycoons to bitter troublemakers is huge. And there are no thin, young, suspiciously smooth-faced actors there. These women look and feel real and purposeful. Their individuality, intelligence, sexuality is so human, that watching something like Bridge painfully makes you aware of the sexism in virtually every other show.

Saga Noren.
The emotionally distant and inhumanly brilliant Saga gets a painful back story in this season, but the writers do not try to lazily explain Saga away. Saga epitomizes everything about the show. The morality, value system, detached honesty, cool rationality and a sweetly dark humour that makes you happy to be imperfect. The sheer range of this character makes me speechless. She is Lisbeth Salander’s nemesis – with a law rulebook in her hand. Saga tries hard to follow social norms in this season, mostly with hilarious outcome. She is trying hard to be in a relationship too and has memorised all the popular wisdom about modern relationships. Her desperate and ultimately unsuccessful attempts to be part of the normal society actually end up exposing the inherent hypocrisy of the world. Saga, ultimately, is so pure and adorable that you want to protect her from humanity. Not that she would let anyone do that.

Martin.
The intensely huggable and possessing merriest sparkly eyes with the best smile on TV papa bear, Martin is battling his demons from season 1. He is self-destructive in such a relatable way that you want to extend your hand towards the screen and stop him from treading the path that you know will harm him and his dear ones. Saga is perhaps the only one he relates to and is genuinely fond of without any complications. Martin is like you and me- weak, vulnerable, susceptible to temptations but ultimately a nice guy who desperately wants to do the right things.

Partnership.
Saga and Martin is one of the best detective partners in recent times. They are poles apart but are bound by their obsession with work and mutual respect/ affection for each other. Their friendship is priceless for both of them and is the only steady anchor in their rocky lives. In this season also Saga saves Martin’s family. Martin continues mentoring Saga in social niceties and being protective about her, albeit to disastrous results. When these two characters come together in one frame, it crackles with chemistry and camaraderie. Non romantic partnership between an eccentric woman and a more conventional and caring man seems to be the latest Scandinavian gender-bending formula, see Girl with Dragon Tattoo Series, The Killing. Saga and Martin seem like a classic detective pair- a cool, uber-rational, slightly superhuman genius ( Sherlock Holmes) is paired with a warm, genial partner ( a pumped up version of Watson) and the two form lasting friendship. But life is more complex than simple formulas and The Bridge shows us just how so. Towards the end of the show my stomach was twisted in knots with fear that our beloved pair might break off their friendship. The climax, was not unexpected but gut-wrenching nonetheless.

Lack of clichés:
Anything clichéd is going to be demolished in this show. If you, like I, try to be smart and predict the outcome- you will fall flat on your face. Because Bridge 2 is on a mission to give you characters, motives, clues and turn of events that twist the genre and your norms till they are unrecognisable. Seriously. Anything can happen in this show. So make sure not to form too many attachments and cling to any Sherlockian theories here- you will be deeply humiliated.

Emotional pitch:

I was watching the last episodes literally with bated breath, i.e., when you hold your breath for too long and your throat and jaw aches from too much emotion. The show peels away the characters and lays them bare. There is cruelty and honesty in the way we see the battle of conflicting emotions. Every lined face, every leafless tree, the dreary weather, race against time, disappointments, surprises crackle with muted tension. If it was not for Saga’s ‘I want to be normal’ humour, the show would have been unbearable in its sheer intensity.

Storytelling:

Even with a slightly sloppy and disappointing final answer to the mystery , the overall unrevealing of the suspense of the show is pitch-perfect, edge-of-the-seat. Which is not surprising knowing it is the Bridge we are talking about. There is very little one can talk without spoilers, so let me just say that your nerves will be fried in delicious anticipation when you watch the show.

Acting:

See it. Can’t be lauded enough. Can’t be reviewed. Just see it. Sofia Helin and Kim Bodnia are gods. And while Saga is a more challenging character, I think Bodnia’s Martin is my most favourite performance in the show.

Humanity:

Finally, the real success of the show is the deep, very relatable and very very moving humanity that envelops every character, every event, every motive. Be it extreme ideologies or misguided people or dysfunctional relationships- this show champions the imperfect humanity in all of us in a manner that is brutal and still filled with love. Does this make sense? After watching Bridge, I am unable to watch anything else because it just feels so fake and shallow and wannabe.

In nutshell, see the show. And be happy that such TV is being made and we are being able to watch it.

(I was looking in my archive and was shocked to see that I hadn’t published this post!! Especially since it deals with my 2 obsessions neatly wrapped in 10 episodes of pure bliss. Scandinavian Crime and Lady Detectives!)

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Dead women erotica

OK, I am not a Gone Girl groupie and I wrote earlier about how this sensational bestseller has misogynist problems of its own. But when I saw this image from the upcoming movie based on the book, I still groaned.

gg

In art and fashion and cinema, dead or dying or tortured women are fetishised and their agony is sexualized. 1980s’ slasher movies of Hollywood or the titillating rape scenes from Bollywood are crude examples of the same. But you see that even mainstream portrayals of women in varying degrees of pain,agony, death, torture suffer from the fetish trope.

It is not surprising that David Fincher has come out with this hugely problematic image. After all, marketing campaign of his Hollywood crap version of Girl with Dragon Tattoo attracted widespread criticism when he chose to sexualise Lisbeth Salander- a rare character of a woman whose whole essence is against objectification of women. This article sums it up nicely.

I can’t understand why Hollywood rarely makes creepy movies with not-so-normal female characters well. Fuck Fincher and the whole mediocre old boys. I highly recommend Stoker, if you want to watch debauched- erotic-creepy-women-centric thriller.

stoker

It is disturbingly beautiful, eerie, deliciously pervy and doesn’t reduce its female characters to fetishised tropes. Hurrah. Not to mention absolute hunky bad boyness of Matthew Goode. This is a great Hollywood debut of Oldboy fame Park Chan Wook. He brings the uniquely Asian storytelling and cinematic style here with aplomb.

Alex- award winning sexist crap

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre


So I read Alex– by Pietre Lemaitre. It won this year’s CWA’s international dagger along with Fred Vargas’s Ghost-Riders of Ordebec. I have read crime fiction from France now and then. It has never turned me on enough to actively dive in it. I liked Vargas, but not enough to trigger me to actively hunt for and buy buy buy all that is available, like my long time love affair with the Scandinavians.

For some time now, I have been reading about how the interest in Scandinavian crime fiction is on a low tide in UK ( their loss, I say!!). And how it is the French who are going to make Scandinavians look like staid uncles and aunties of murderland.

If so, by awarding Alex, CWA has made some seriously wrong statement. The novel can’t compete even with the likes of James Patterson, forget the immortal and hellish talents of even the most mediocre of Scandinavians.

OK, I exaggerate. Alex is better than James Patterson. Which is hardly a compliment.

Now everything I say about Alex is going to be a spoiler since this is the nature of the novel. Maybe that is why the committee liked the book? I can imagine the members stating ‘I can’t comment on this and that because it will spoil the twist’, and the book gaining phantom like proportions of mysterious silence covering it, till you have to have to have to read it.

Whatever. The only pleasure I got by the end of it was that it cost only 150 rs. I am quite footloose with money when it comes to books, but when I have read a TRULY crappy book that costs little, it actually cheers me up.

Time wasted is deeply regretted though.

First things first, it is so so so sexist in a tired out conventional manner that for the first few pages I thought it is some sort of sarcastic commentary on the nature of sexism itself. No, it is just tired out conventional sexist crap all over. Raped girl killing men: check. Raped girl’s beauty described more than her motivation: check. Raped girl being all mysterious: check. Raped girl tortured by older man with vague sexual overtones: check. Raped girl cherishing small girlhood that she lost at the hands of an abusive family: check check check. To make it even titillating, author makes the brother loan the girl to several friends. And makes him pour acid on her vagina for a good measure. For all of us to feel sorry in this beautiful young girl’s ultimate disfigurement. If I was not so angry at the sexism, I would be howling in laughter at the sheer exaggeration of it all.

You might as well watch movies like Jakhmi Aurat. Or ‘I spit on your grave’.
This type of famme fatale genre self-consciously states, ‘If thou are a woman who kills, thou should be stunningly beautiful and have suffered either the loss of your child or been raped. Thou can have no other reason for being interesting. Unless you are Scandanavian

Gratutious descriptions of wounds, underwear, body parts, beauty achieve a new sexist height here, like a bad slasher movie where camera lingers over the breasts of the woman while she is being killed. Towards the end, every injustice that has a potential to titiliate, has been heaped on Alex. As far as characterization goes, her character is so so so so insultingly flat. Why she kills even good men is never explained as it would spoil the convenient ‘beauty killing beasts’ theme of the book. The small girl motif is laughably predictable. Characters of men she kills are singular caricatures of bad men doing bad things to small girls.

I am so so tired of women made interesting in crime fiction only because they have vaginas: either to be raped or to give birth. Unless they are Scandanavian.

Apart from the crude sexism, the twists are also extremely self-conscious. I admit I sat up straight at the first one, but soon it became clear that this is all there is. This twist. Before and after the twist are tired cliches that the twist doesnt challege or threaten, as good twists are supposed to do.

And then there are more b grade versions of the same till the end. I imagine the writer wrote them first, smirking to himself, and filled the pages later, not forgetting even for a second how clever he was to have thought of the twists. They are not only sad excuses for plot and narrative, they are also totally silly towards the end. I was laughing by the end of the book at the very obvious smugness reeking from the pages.

The characters of the cops are sort of interesting, the language is sort of interesting. And this is perhaps the most redeeming feature, Camille, the cop in charge of the investigation is a genuinely interesting character. That’s it. That is all I can say to make the review sound not too tilting towards the conclusion of ‘burn this book right now’.

There. I am not going to generalize about an entire country’s crime fiction output by one crap book which won the year’s most prestigious prize for the genre, somehow, god knows how. Maybe there are awesome writers there and maybe this award means more translations, more diversity. Which is great and one must be open and all.

But till I fall headlong in another new country/ language/ genre, intensely enough to consume majority of my money and my time, I am sticking with the nordic bloodlust.

Sexist things many young, educated, smart women around me regularly say and believe…

….that really piss me off. They often support their statements by saying ‘it is natural/built in’. That pisses me off more.

Men are better at maths.
Women are better at multi-tasking.
Men are better at gadgets.
Women are better at relationships.
Women are lousy drivers.
Men read maps better.
Women are better in soft communication.
Men are naturally adventurous.
Women are naturally emotional.
Men have sex on their minds all the time.
For women it is love, not sex.
Men look hotter as they grow older, women don’t.
Dating younger men is not done.
I prefer a man who earns more than I do.
I prefer a man who is taller than me.
I prefer a man who is strong and macho.
Men who don’t pay for outings are not real men.
Men who don’t display protectiveness in public are not real men.
Men are strong, silent type. Babbling and gossip is for women.
Men who are nice to their mothers/ sisters make better husbands.
Women like shopping/ retail therapy makes women feel better.
Men don’t like women taking lead in flirting.
Women can make more compromises.
Men like action, women like romance.
Waxing makes me feel cleaner.
I don’t like my… ( thighs, legs, tummy, chest, face, ankles, arms, back, neck and so on and so forth)
I am not dieting, I am eating healthy. ( insert lengthy discourse of carbs, proteins,yoga vs.aerobics etc etc)
I feel more confident when I am groomed.
Women are narcissistic about their looks.
Women use their looks to go ahead in life.
Men can carry off rustic rugged looks, not women.
Motherhood is the toughest job in the world.
Women are natural nurturer.
Motherhood completes women.
It is natural for women to obsess about their kids if they are good mothers.

Yes, patriarchy is all-pervasive and it is not only men who perpetuate sexist ideologies. It is not only ‘old fashioned’ aunty types who perpetuate double standards. Education and exposure is not a guarantee to progressive values.

But I am amazed at certain women who lead relatively independent lives who state these things so very often. They agree that women shouldn’t be treated as secondary citizens, but this belief in so-called ‘natural’ differences are actually very sexist. These women might have achieved a lot, but their belief system supports various patriarchal notions about women that are harmful.

We all, at various points, fall prey to stereotyping. But for women, whose daily lives are actually a testament that sexist stereotypes are false, to fall in the trap, is bewildering.

‘How Sreesanth Splurged on his girlfriend”…and how newspapers rely on lazy sleaze..

Sreesanth Scandal

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ipl-spot-fixing-how-sreesanth-splurged-money-on-girlfriend/1118729/

Lazy Sleazy headline!! 

If you read the full piece, it is clear that Shreesanth splurged on himself, not on his girlfriend.

But then how would it fit the stereotypical ‘ young man going down the corruption route because of wine and women’ trope?? 

Disposable Women

I absolutely love this site . Addictive is the word.

It is also a handy search tool when you are obsessed about something thematic; and want to read/ watch only that theme. I stumbled upon this site years ago when I was obsessed with evil kids in literature and movies. ( I worked in kids’ entertainment, so I needed to do this once in a while to keep perspective.. hehehe)

Anyway, so I wanted to post this particular link forever. It is called a Disposable Woman trope.

Trope is defined simply as a common or overused theme or device.

When a concept becomes so overused that it becomes predictable in it’s structure, it can be called a trope. Tropes are sort of like popular stereotypes rolled into a definable plot device.

So a Gajar Ka Halwa wielding widow mum is a trope. An NRI returning home to find meaning in life and a wife is a trope. Raped sister is a trope.

(Remember the genius scene from Andaz Apna Apna where Aamir Khan lies about his Vidhwa Maa aur Andhi Behen?? Awwwww…. love love love love this movie. Beyond tropes!!)

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DisposableWoman defines this particular trope of disposable woman as :

“A female character, typically the wife, sweetheart or occasionally mother of the protagonist, who is present in the story just so that she can be either kidnapped by the bad guys, thus becoming a Distressed Damsel, or find herself Stuffed into the Fridge, giving the protagonist a pretext for Revenge. In a series, she can be frighteningly easily forgotten or replaced once her value as a plot device has expired, if she has been previously developed at all.”

Interesting na?I am going to call Bollywood the land of disposable women.