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Monday, 4 May 2015

Shocking exit

The eviction of Jeremy Clarkson from Top Gear was a bolt out of the blue. The show has millions of fans worldwide and his misdemeanour with a BBC employee was not taken lightly. There are news reports stating that Clarkson will be offered a job on ITV. The question is, will he take it?
His co-host, James May is rather upset about Clarkson’s exit, and has refused to return to Top Gear.  There are many contenders who are being considered to take Clarkson’s place. However, the future of the show is obscure.
There were rumours that Clarkson wanted to quit the show much earlier as he was dissatisfied with the producers. He doesn’t seem to regret his actions, but he does seem rather mellow and unperturbed about his future. But he’s made enough money to last for the rest of his life.
As a man in his fifties, close to the age of retirement, it doesn’t really matter if he gets another job, since he’s already financially secure.
This is not the first time that stars have misbehaved or verbally abused their co-workers or producers.
In 2010, British comedian, Jonathan Ross exited BBC and joined ITV. He had already been suspended for a scandal while he reigned late night television on BBC for 13 years. He was accused for using foul language, which went against many policies of the BBC. But, now, he has a hit show on ITV called, ‘The Jonathan Ross Show’, which features all of the popular celebrities worldwide.  
Ross is still successful.
In 2011, Charlie Sheen, the former star of Two and a half men was fired for abusing his producer, Chuck Lorre. Subsequently that year, Sheen starred in another sitcom called, ‘Anger Management’. The show received positive reviews and it will end soon. But Sheen didn’t go bankrupt as the reports claimed. He got roasted on Comedy Central, and bounced back after being sacked.
There are two things all three men have in common. They are undoubtedly famous, successful and rich.
They will always be offered another job. They will never be short of money.
But is that the case with women?
The late Joan Rivers was banned from the Late Night Show while it was hosted by Johnny Carson, out of envy, since she got her own Late Night show. After her show went downhill, Rivers struggled for employment since nobody offered the female comedian a job.


Another female comedian, Chelsea Handler, who voluntarily left ‘Late Night with Chelsea’, quoting that ‘interviewing stupid people was taxing’. In all fairness, not all celebrities are smart and can be interviewed. But surprisingly, she received a job offer. Times have changed. But nothing much has improved for women. 
But these three women have not been as popular or nearly as successful as their male counterparts. Despite their exit from popular shows, the men still have stable careers in their 50’s, but Handler and Rivers do not have a wide audience. They are known in the continent of North America. But they are not the most popular comedian’s or hosts on TV.
Whereas, Sheen and Clarkson are recognised worldwide, and Ross is the most popular TV show host in Britain. All three men have run off their mouths and always said something controversial, they still get to keep their jobs. But when female comics say something even slightly offensive, they are attacked and criticised more than their male counterparts.
It just goes to show that sexism exists all over the world, not just India. 


Monday, 2 February 2015

Manga

While talking about anime, manga cannot be left far behind. Actually, you can't talk about anime without talking about manga, since the source of most anime is a manga. Hence, they are inseparable.

Manga is the Japanese version of a comic, which has illustrations and is usually printed on cheap newsprint. Anybody in Japan can afford a manga. It's as cheap as a newspaper. It is said that in Japan, if a person is done reading a manga, they leave it anywhere, and another person will pick it up to read it. Cool right?

I'm even considering visiting Japan just to buy manga. Well, sadly, we won't find the English translations of the manga. So, just like everyone else, I'll have to wait for the manga updates.

I love manga, simply because it is a balance between pictures and words. A manga is not your average American comic, neither is not a novel, it combines the best of the two. But the best part is, its available online, for free!!

The amazing aspect of a manga is the artwork. Anything that cannot be described in words, is explained through art work. The hilarious expressions, the deep embarrassment, the anger and the thought process is entertaining.

That dark blush, those lovely irises, those long bangs and the amazing school uniforms, are the physical characteristics of our favourite characters. We all recognize them. We know them, and we love them. Manga is special. It tells us a story. A beautiful/ boring story. But its a story. You know what your characters look like. You see what they're feeling.

You know what they're experiencing right now. You see their facial expression. That's the beauty of it all. You don't have to imagine it. It's all right there. That's why its better than a novel. For those who aren't good at imagining things, manga is right up your alley.

Teachers say kids learn better without pictures, but actually pictures help explain a lot of things. If its the right picture that is. And manga is the right picture. Every page you turn, tells you a story. From the front cover to the back cover, the art work is amazing. The most arrogant man to the sweet, shy girl, we can see it all.

We don't know what to expect, or we anticipate what may happen in the next chapter, and we can't wait. The agonizing 7 day, (in our case, the agonizing one month) wait is worth it. The wait is killing us, but we still want to live. Just to read it. That's the power of the author. Their ability to tell a story doesn't end in the first chapter. 

My only complaint - it's printed on low quality paper. The colour of the paper is awful. It's like they've printed on a 10 year old newspaper. This ruins the whole experience. I agree white paper is expensive, but if you want better readers, print it on white paper. But since most of us read online and we get fine quality, it's not a problem.

But for those who buy the original manga, it must be hard if you aren't used to reading low quality print. Sometimes, the words are hardly legible, because of the awful paper colour.

The manga websites host the best quality images, and their translations are excellent. However, some manga are rarely updated, so it gets annoying. Unlike the weekly update in Japan, manga websites do not update on a regular basis. They just update whenever they feel like it.

The problem is, there are very few translators who are fluent in Kanji and English. Hence, it takes a while to get the job done. However, if the manga is great, then it's worth the wait. Sometimes, many amazing mangas are left abandoned, due to lack of translators. This is one of the hurdles which we manga lovers have to overcome.

Some manga like One piece, Naruto or Dragon Ball Z are too long to read, so I prefer to watch the anime. In sports or action manga, I prefer to watch everything happen 'live in action', rather than wait for it. To me, action on a page is different from the fast pacing action on screen. But for those who can't wait for the next anime update, manga is your next best option.

I know its not the same, but its worth it. Something is better than waiting!

Just as I am writing this, I'm eagerly waiting for a manga update!

Happy reading!

Manga forever!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Anime

Anime has taken the world by storm and won the hearts of people worldwide. It is no longer directed at a single demographic. There are very few countries in the world which do not air Japanese anime.

With that, I would like to analyse the content of these animated shows. There are popular anime in every genre, be it slice of life to dystopian fantasy, every genre has been covered by the anime world.

But the question is, what makes it so popular?

Anime is unconventional. It doesn't belong to the TV soap opera category, neither is it a cartoon. Its different. It has formed a category of its own and is a trail blazer for anything different. It has provided animators employment. There are translators, voice artists and even scholars who are required to make an anime.

From character design to voice acting, from hair colour to facial expression, everything is evidently expressed. It is not abnormal for an anime character to have pink hair, violet eyes and dog ears. We may see certain unique physical traits in cartoons, but the character design for cartoons cannot be compared to the design made by the Japanese animators. While anime started airing in HD long ago, cartoons and soap operas have just started this trend.

Both male and female characters are designed in such a way that the audience pays attention to their every move. What's more surprising, is that due to excellent character design, even antagonistic characters have gained popularity. Anything that deviates from the normal is what the audience accepts, simply because 'normal' is boring. That's why cartoons, which have crazy plot lines, but repetitive episodes, are only popular with children who can't grasp higher level ideas.

Soap operas waste time by extending a simple 2 seconds to 2 minutes, whereas anime is quick paced with fast dialogues, instant facial expressions, and action. Missing even a single episode can mean loss of vital information in order to follow the anime. That's not the case with cartoons or soap operas. There is a recap in anime and soap operas, but during soap operas, the conversations will reveal what occurred in the previous episode, so it's not like you missed much.

But sports, psychological or action anime, missing an episode is inadvisable.

While watching anime, there are certain noticeable aspects which almost all anime have:

1. Sexism- There are very few animated shows which do not portray sexism. There are scenes of rape, sexual abuse, voyeurism, and molestation which are made to appear acceptable. This maybe acceptable in the Japanese society, however, that's not the case in other countries. Ukraine has banned all anime, for this very purpose. Many women have voiced their dislike for anime due to this reason. Most of the female characters are weak, idiotic and act as fillers with no major screen time. There are constant jokes about their breast size, underwear colour, and groping is as normal as breathing in certain animes.

2. Plot line - Some anime have astounding and unexpected plot lines, other anime are mostly the same. These are called 'formula' stories. Soap operas follow them, and so do the anime. The top 5 worldwide loved anime all have the same plot line. A new adventure begins, and with determination, the main character overcomes all obstacles and emerges victorious. Ex: One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z.

3. Portrayal of male characters- Surprisingly, the male characters do not have any depth. Their surface and source traits are as transparent as glass. Goku, Yusuke, Inu Yasha, and Naruto have only one goal in mind. To 'protect' their loved ones and defeat evil. The good vs bad never gets old. Hence, the old hero with new enemies makes it rather repetitive. Whereas in cartoons, it the old hero vs old enemy.

The complexity of the human mind, or the emotions of a normal man are not captured. Their strength, their agony and physical pain are palpable, but their emotions aren't addressed appropriately.


4. Clothes- For girls remaining in school uniforms throughout the day is very common. Short skirts is not uncommon either. Very little effort is put in for clothes in most anime, and the characters never seem to change their clothes. True, this is the anime world, the laws of Physics don't work, but stylish clothes are  important. In certain anime, circumstances and plot lines do not allow characters to frequently wear different clothes, while some other animators just never bother to put in the effort in designing good costumes for characters, even when it's necessary. Hence, their clothing and personal style is usually ignored.


Despite all this, there are hundreds of anime communities in every country, with Otaku's taking their life long pledge, and some others entering the field of animation due to their love for it. Whether you're a 13 year old  or a 25 old year old, there is bound to be an anime which you like or did like as a child. Whether it's Inu Yasha's dog ears or Sasuke's chakra, we love it all. The plot line has you hooked for life.

Otaku forever!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

LGBT...seriously?

Now, for those who don't know what LGBT is, it is expanded as: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. Until 2013, even I had no idea about the existence of this community. I never understood their struggles, or their crisis of identity. Although everyone says it's a controversial topic, I don't think so.

I really don't discern how being attracted to both genders, or your own gender is appalling.  The fact that you're attracted to everyone, even transsexuals shows that one is broadminded, and that sex is a primary drive. I'm straight, and there have been times when I wanted to find out my sexual orientation. But from the very beginning, it was very clear that I like men.

But everyone isn't that lucky. Some need time to explore themselves. When I was asked to do a presentation of the LGBT in my fifth semester of college, I began to do thorough research. And let me tell you, the LGBT are no different from the straight community.

The LGBT feel displaced in their own homes and bodies, because they have to pretend to be normal. Don't we all put on that act? Don't we all pretend it's ok underneath the surface? Haven't we felt incompetent? Haven't you looked at yourself in the mirror, and at least once, thought, 'I'm fat, I have too many pimples, and I'm ugly.'?

It's not hat distinct for the LGBT. Many say that LGBT is a disease that can be cured with yoga. Even I know that it's absolute poppycock. No. It's not a disease, it's the way you are. You are gay, straight, or bisexual, or you choose to date all sexual orientations. That's your personal choice.

It's all about how comfortable you are with yourself and your partner. Nobody wants to talk about or even comprehend that.

As for 'coming out the closet', that's an other issue I will talk about, in my next blog.

No LGBT is not AIDS or a cold which can catch. It's who you are, and your way of life. It's your personal choice to embrace it, or admit it, or change it.

Even in a country as progressive as America, the LGBT is still shunned by a good percentage of Americans. In India, same sex marriage is banned. I just don't get it. I know, a sentence which the LGBT has heard about themselves, I'll say about article 371.

If we lived in a world where there were no societal norms, then would all the LGBT eventually come out? We may never know.

But right now, times are changing. From having LGBT radio shows, TV channels and LGBT parades, this community has come a long way. Celebrities voicing out their support for this community, and openly admitting their sexuality, life has become slightly easier for the community.

American TV shows have portrayed the struggles of gay characters, and books have gay characters in prominent roles. But what about Indian TV shows? Or books written by Indians?

No. Nothing. Not a damn thing. Amir Khan's show dedicated an episode to the LGBT, explaining everything they could about this community to the public. But the LGBT is still cajoled in movies, soap operas and even frowned upon by almost everyone in all generations. But they don't understand the community, I'm not saying I completely understand, but to a certain extent, I do.

That's why I'm writing this blog. For the LGBT. Don't be ashamed of who or what you like, that's what the LGBT represent. The rainbow flag, as beautiful as it is, shows diversity. How all the individuals, or 'the weirdos' as society calls, can find a place to call home.

Trust me, a time will come when heterosexuals will be the minority, and the LGBT will be free.

 .


 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Writers...seriously?

I am appalled to see the number of celebrity's publishing their 'Memoirs'/ 'novels' every other day. It's most probably because I know that they've hired ghost writers to do it.

I don't blame ghost writers, because they want the cash, they can't get the recognition they want, and they're struggling to pay their monthly bills. With some ghost writers, their identity is an open secret. They're not J.K Rowling, Stephen King or Stephenie Meyer. They're probably paid as much as these writers, and hired by tons of people, so I guess they are just fine with remaining anonymous.

But celebrities, everything from their onscreen to off-screen persona is a travesty, including the fact that they are lying through their teeth about their latest book. Ask the interviewer to make the celebrity spell, 'pleasurable', 'denouement', or even 'telekinesis', then I'll believe that they contributed at least one word. Some of the celebrities are school drop outs, poorly read, and some of them are just plain stupid.

Kendall and Kylie Jenner, are both school drop outs, who can barely spell, and they flaunt their new 500 page notebook like they didn't pay their ghost writer to write it for them. Just like their mother, Kris Jenner, or their half elder siblings. Now Cheryl Cole, who claims to have written an autobiography, is nothing but a joke. People barely understand when she speaks, let alone sing. She must have told her ghost writer what to write. The ghost writer must've have created a simulated environment in his mind, imagining himself as a woman while writing for her.

Coming the most recent man to hop on this bandwagon- Sachin Tendulkar, one of the world's greatest batsman. The man is a master of his trade, which I respect him for. Unlike the other talentless celebrities I mentioned. His biography/ expose on the Indian cricket catered good reviews from the critics. He may have written some of it, but again, all credit goes to his editor- his acting ghost writer.

The same goes for Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Snooki. These people have barely lived their lives long enough to pass high school, let along write books. And yet, there are people who buy these books. So next time you buy a book written by such celebrities, make you give all the credit to the ghost writer and editor.

But with celebrities like Tina Fey, Kathy Griffin or Mindy Kaling, I will believe that they've written something, because they're writers, comedians and actors by profession. There is no doubt that editors have a role in shaping their books, but it's minimal.

But either way, celebrities easily get publishers. While freelance writers like me, tired of rejection can never get a break. My question is...how is it fair?  Just because a publishing house wants get more fame, they sign book contracts with celebrities who can barely read. And celebrities will do anything for publicity and money, even if it means holding a heavy book, which they have 'written'.
They are willing to wash their, and their family's/enemies dirty linen in public.

I guess the millions they have is just not enough.

     

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Change for women...seriously?


When was the last time you actually walked on the street, without a guy whistling at you, not passing dirty comments about you, or some cheap guy trying to touch you? When was the last time, you read a newspaper, which didn’t contain any information about dowry deaths, sexual harassment or rape cases?

The patriarchal society cannot be culpable constantly; it’s how women look at themselves too. Many writers, of both genders have portrayed women as damsels in distress, vulnerable, and incorrigible. Let it to be Stephanie Meyer’s well known 'twilight saga', or Jane Austin’s celebrated, 'Pride and Prejudice', the protagonists were married off at a young age, showing adulation to their in laws just like any woman in a Hindi serial or Indian household.

Elizabeth, the so called ‘feminist’ and ‘maverick’ , Jane Austin’s personal hero, has done nothing to be called so, considering the fact that she has done anything impactful in the novel. Bella Swan is nothing but a damsel in distress, as stated in a chapter of the book. She has proved inept of looking out for herself, and lets the men in her life dominate her, and yet the books are a great success.

Indian society claims to give respect to women, drawing leverage from the Western society, but what is the status of women in India?

Women are dancing to item numbers, music videos, wearing the least amount of clothing, walking on ramps with rags branded as high fashion clothing. We middle class women are expected to give up our careers for the sake of our family.

I wish to ask the society : when women sacrifice everything; go through pregnancy, the most painful process a human can undergo, why are students taught that father is the head of the family? The mothers do all the work, and they are expected to do so, because of the thousand year old patriarchal society.

Parents, as modern as they may be, still warn their girl children not to travel alone everywhere, and are vigilant as ever. If a boy comes home late, then ‘He’s a boy, what do you expect?’ is the answer, but if you’re an hour late, ‘Where were you? Girls aren’t supposed to go out so late!’ is the question.

Even today, the bride’s family asks the groom’s side whether they have any specific demands for the wedding.

The same series of events will occur in the lives of today’s young women. Is there any girl who has remained respected, never eve - teased or humiliated, or never experienced gender inequality?

Every single need of the boy is taken care of, but we women sadly have no time for ourselves. Have your husbands, brothers or boyfriends ever tended to you, the way you have, in their time of need?

Women are titled as emotional fools, and are deprived of education, and liberty at every level.

We are free to study, but our nuptials is mandatory. Why can’t men stay at our homes, instead of us going to theirs?

In countries like Norway and Sweden, majority of the population are women, and the economy and administration is running very smoothly, unaffected by either recession or cold war. They are one of the most peaceful and least corrupted countries in the world.
Going back to history, men have never practised sati, and women have never have practised polyandry. While widows have shaved their head off, men hadn’t bothered to shave their beards.

Our fathers, brothers come home, and are ensconced on the sofa, with either the paper or the television, while we girls are expected to wash the vessels sweep the floor, and replace the shoes thrown on the floor by the men in our family.
We only have ‘kaamwali bhai’ no ‘kaamwalas’ at all. 

Have you ever seen a female auto driver, or female electrician and plumber? We women conform to the rules of this bad society in order to save our family name, and prevent gossip.

The famous saying that “Women, we can’t live with them or without them,” is bogus, probably because, many gay men, have hardly any female friends. Living with women is not a herculean task, because she adapts herself to your lifestyle.
The highest rate of female infanticide in is in India, and there are only 932 women per 1000 men in our country, according to the 2010 census.

There are many funny, yet authentic quotes given by people. “Prevent female infanticide, or your son will be forced to turn gay.” As infuriating or funny as it may sound, the situation will definitely arise in our country, if not in any other.
If an unmarried woman is pregnant, it’s never the man’s fault. A child born out of wedlock is ill-treated in our society.

Boys will resume reading porn magazines in their toilets, while we women clean up their mess. There are desperate women in this country, in need of fame and wealth. They are willing to stoop to any level for it, by sleeping with producers, directors and everybody available that can help them climb the ladder, has carved a path for other vulnerable women to do the same.

All those aspiring singers, actors, dancers and models are obliged to wear skimpy clothes since they’re in desperate need of money. For all those who have done all this, continue to do so, and are aware that fame and money can never last forever.
Hence, the short cut method is highly recommended by them. Men are well aware of the fact that women can’t hit back, which leads to sexist attitudes.

If we are claimed to be the weaker sex, then I’m sorry, all the scientists and doctors who agree to this, can retire or tear up their degrees, since a woman is much stronger than a man. She has the strength to give birth, work at the office, and look after the household.
Not many men can do any of that. Sadly, women give birth to scoundrels, who roam around the city gazing at women’s body parts, irrespective of whether they wear a burkha, chudidhar or saree. 

For all those who fit in the 'fame-whore' category, please, get a life! You’re not women at all, since you’re willing to become commodities.
When was the last time any of the directors made a female oriented movie, where the woman actually has all her clothes on? What about all those advertisements, showing sanitary pads, and undergarments? Where is our privacy?  
And the great female politicians in this country, how exactly do you plan to help us, and are you actually listening?