In which I realize I may be more of a millennial than I previously thought I was

I’d been coming down from the high that was Stranger Things 2, a gentle re-exploration of 80’s nostalgia and wanted to keep the buzz going. The movie in my head was Pretty in Pink, but I’d momentarily blanked and picked Sixteen Candles instead. It didn’t really matter; it unwittingly tied into my recent tiny spate of self-exploration vis-a-vis my upcoming birthday.

Of course I knew of Sixteen Candles. Who could miss that delightful visual of an awkward young girl in a dress as pink and fluffy as a cloud of cotton candy sitting across a handsome young man, their faces lit by the candles on a birthday cake? I knew it was a coming of age story, an honest exploration of what it means to grow up, a seminal movie that changed the face of American cinema.

It’s an awful movie. It’s racist, it’s demeaning, and, considering the climate of today’s sexual sensitivity, downright predatory.

“There’s your Chinaman.”

“I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to.”

Everything the lone Asian guy in the movie says is punctuated by a gong. The family calls their eldest daughter’s fiancee an epithet for an Eastern European immigrant. The Jock practically gives away his drunken girlfriend.

The Geek is the worst. I’m not quite sure if he’s intended to be the endearing breakout star in this film, but all I feel when I see him is disgust. He comes on to our heroine on the bus, all bluster and fake swagger, sidling next to her on the seat, trapping her next to the window, obviously trying to smell her like some dog in heat. He follows her around incessantly, accosting her at the dance, getting close to her again when she clearly wants to be alone, attempts to kiss her not once, but twice, the second attempt right on the heels of her telling him to stop. It ends with him asking her for her panties so he doesn’t look like a loser to his friends. I was three when Sixteen Candles came out. Apparently it wasn’t just the hairstyles and the fashion that were heinous, social mores were, too. If this was acceptable behaviour in the 80’s, then I’m glad most of that decade was a blur to me.

I grew up with teen movies. The nineties were positively lousy with them. Clueless. The American Pie Trilogy. Cruel Intentions. She’s All That. Bring it On. Ten Things I Hate About You (still my personal favourite after all these years). There was such a glut, they made the criminally underrated Not Another Teen Movie. Female leads were just as spunky as redheaded Samantha Baker, but none of them were willing to take as much shit as she did. Male leads were just as handsome as Jake Ryan, but at least knew enough not to be Bill Cosby. They were by no means perfect, still a smidge creepy and maybe not as inclusive, but certainly a hop, skip and a leap ahead of Sixteen Candles.

It could be the current barrage of rapists and sexists being outed these days and the heated back-and-forth about racism and cultural sensitivity which I often think borders on the edge of hysteria, but who uses “Chinaman” anymore? Sweet Jesus. Even with the understanding that things were really quite different back in the day, it was still an exercise in clutching my non-existent pearls, and I don’t clutch my non-existent pearls very often. So thanks, Sixteen Candles. I’ve always felt more of a kinship with Gen X than I have the millennial generation, but I’ve never felt a closer link with millennials than I did while watching you.

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Jeepneys, Tramps and Thieves

The year was 1999. To a teenager on her own in a a big city, on holiday for the first time, Cebu was a magical place. It was all fun and games up until I needed a ticket home. Times being what they were and Google maps being nonexistent, I inevitably got lost searching for the ticketing office of George and Peter Lines. Directions were needed, nothing that a smile and a few words of thanks wouldn’t fix.

Or so I thought. Long story short, I asked an otap vendor. He  was so eager to help, he roped in a friend who had one of those trikes you see at piers, for ferrying people with heavy luggage around. The good news? I found the ticketing office. The bad? I came home with 500 PhP worth of otap and a lifelong distrust of strangers.  Clearly, the lesson here is that otap is evil. Oh, and get directions from someone who isn’t incentivized to benefit from your ignorance (like a policeman), and learn to say no.

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Random YouTube K-hole: Stalk is Cheap

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The pigeons around my building are incessantly horny. I get treated to displays of  relentless and unabated stalking every morning. All day, every day, it’s male pigeons waddling desperately after female pigeons, coaxing them to mate. Nonstop. Mate with me. Mate with me. Mate with me? Please?

Welcome to the animal kingdom. Where art imitates life.

Everyone knows the best way to make a girl fall for you is to stalk her incessantly throughout an entire music video. Four minutes of this, and she’s yours. Forever. Music videos never lie. Not exactly sure why Tara Reid was being so coy here. Soul patch, questionable hair, ripped denim jacket, Ed Hardy trucker hat? Her ovaries should’ve exploded.

Maybe MTV is to blame for my slightly more tolerant acceptance of male heckling. (But MTV taught me that it was normal! Insert sad face.) It happens, and being overly offended by it is a waste of my time. Wasting time is bad. Blatantly ripping off the video that started this all, including extended dance break? Worse.

Sorry Usher. Michael Jackson did it first and did it best in this modern-day feminist’s nightmare. That white cotton sash will live on in infamy, though. This would never fly in 2017, that girl would’ve maced MJ after the first few bars, because progress.

 

Spandau Ballet

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The truth is, you will wake up and realize the old life you had, as you knew it, is gone. And the truth is, you will want it back. You will want it back with all your heart, and it will hurt, because that is what loss feels like.

The truth is, even if you did find a way to go back, things are never going to be exactly as they were because you aren’t exactly the same person anymore. Neither are the people you left behind. There will be parts of you that you recognize, the core of you that makes you who you are, like your love of books, of adventure, of the absurd, and your ability to put things down and walk away for good. There will be parts of you that you will lay to rest, like your need to writhe unabashed under flashing lights with strangers, to stumble home with addled wits and equally addled friends. There will be parts of you that are new and surprising, like your increased capacity to compromise and the true extent of your caring. The truth is, the march of time is inexorable, and the change it brings is inevitable for you, and for everyone else you know.

The truth is, you will get tired. Of each other. Of the sameness. Of the monotony.  You won’t always like the same things, and want to do everything together because the truth is, sometimes sharing space – your space – with another human being gets claustrophobic.

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Easier to Run

A post shared by LINKIN PARK (@linkinpark) on

Put to rest what you thought of me
While I clean this slate
With the hands of uncertainty
So let mercy come and wash away
What I’ve done

– What I’ve Done
Linkin Park, Minutes to Midnight

Today’s post is brought to you by the untimely death of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington. Untimely for all of us maybe, but timely to him. I’ve seen a dozen thinkpieces pop up over the past two days since word spread that he’d hung himself on Chris Cornell’s birthday. Most people reacted with shock, anger, and sadness. Mine was surprise, but I wasn’t as surprised as I thought I would be. Anyone familiar with his work was aware, at least on a subconscious level, that this was a guy who had inner demons he dealt with every day. He sang about endings as beginnings, about sunsets over sunrise, about being numb, about things that rippled under his skin begging to be set free.

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It’s Your Day, Mommy

This is still the song that comes to mind whenever Mother’s Day rolls around. My best friend and colleague says it’s likely because my taste in music is unevolved. (I know, how dare he?) I prefer to think it’s because its message is clear, strong and still resonates after all these years. The truth usually does.

“Mama” is the exploration of a changing perspective. It’s the gradual dawning of understanding that Mother knew best… or did what she did with the unshakeable belief that she knew best. It was never just about us; it was always about the greater good. It’s gaining the ability to truly laugh, without any remnants of resentment at the foibles of our mothers and accept them for who they are. Maybe even forgive them for whatever psychological scars they’ve inflicted on our nascent childhoods, and ask for our own redemption for all the crap we’ve ever put them through.

What rite of passage defines one’s entry into adulthood? First job? First bill paid? First time to move out?

I think the true rite of passage into adulthood is the one where we stop blaming our parents for every slight, real or perceived, and take hold of the life we have fashioned for ourselves. It’s the moment we accept that it’s the decisions we make – external circumstances bedamned – that shape the life we currently live, that’s when we truly grow up. This is why we can thank the mothers that we do have – because they are just like us. They may be clueless, they may be flawed, but they are courageous. You can listen to all the advice and read all the parenting books in the known universe, but no one knows what they’re really getting themselves into when they decide to be parents. Our parents took the plunge and did it anyway. The craziest, most insanely dangerous leap to take, and the one with the most lasting after-effects. It’s a leap I’ve never even been able to bring myself to make, but our mothers did that for us. And that’s all we can really ask for from them, isn’t it?

Taste the Rainbow

Last week, Starbucks debuted a limited edition drink called the Unicorn Frappucino. The name alone evoked magic and cotton candy, which sounds interesting on paper, but turned out to be all sorts of extra. I’ve downed my fair share of bubble teas that have run the gamut of colours, but even this was just a little much too much.

The Unicorn Frappucino (April 18-23, 2017, RIP) was a blended drink that was created to dazzle the eye.  It had a pink, sparkly, mango-flavoured cream base, was laced with a “pleasantly sour” blue ripple and, as a final flourish, topped with whipped cream and a light dusting of pink “fairy dust.” In other words, it looked like someone took major elements of gay pride, put it in a blender, poured it in a venti cup and topped it with diabetes. Read More »