Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Years Resolution


It's only taken 3 weeks to break my New Years Resolution....

3 weeks.

I won't even say what my resolution was just to save your minds.

Of course, I think that it is standard for most people that say they are going to try and keep them. Whoops.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The skinny on SIZEISM


I have been contemplating writing about this topic for a while. It was more on my mind a few months ago, but I still feel like I need to lay out why this particular subject has been bothering me.

Warning to readers: I use the word "fat" a lot. Sorry if this bothers you. I believe that it is just a word and we shouldn't be scared of it.

Back in the days when I had digital cable (le sigh), I was starting to get into a LifeTime show called "Drop Dead Diva". The story line is a bit strange. A beautiful (size 0) but selfish woman dies at the same time as a hard-working and overweight (size 16) but under appreciated lawyer. The "beautiful" girl doesn't want to die, so she tries to go back to earth and her soul ends up in the body of the fat girl. Sorry, but essentially this is what makes it so "hilarious". Skinny mind in a fat body. And the strange thing is, it sort of works.

A lot of points are made in the show of how overweight people are treated verses skinny people. When the diva went out with her friends in her old body, she would immediately have a drink bought for her by the bartender and usually someone else without any trouble. In her new body, she can hardly flag down the bartender to just get a glass of wine.

Unfortunately, this is completely accurate. My mother went through a gastric-bypass surgery when I was in middle school. She was barely 5 feet tall and over 250 lbs. Even at that weight, she barely qualified for the surgery, but with her weight affecting her knees that were already in bad shape from a bad car accident, it was in her best interest to get the surgery. She now about 100 lbs less and has kept it off. (Go Mom! ) She has told me that she is treated differently now that she is smaller. She doesn't have to work as hard for people to pay attention to her as when she was fat.

Drop Dead Diva had an episode that was centered around the issue of Sizeism. A woman had been fired from a bar as a waitress because she had gained about 100 lbs. over the course of a year. According to her boss, it was in her contract that she had to maintain her personal appearance to what was appealing to their target customers. Her new size was not appealing. At first, the law firm that the Diva works for tries to get her to spin her weight as a handicap. She would therefore be protected under disability laws and it would be illegal to fire her. This does not please the client and she has to think of a new way to win her case....

I've heard old bosses of mine talk about being overweight as if it were a handicap. It was quite disturbing. An old employer had been searching to fill a new front desk position and had an applicant come in for an interview. She had all the skills she was looking for, was familiar with the programs on the computer, but
"...her rear end was as wide as this desk."
This employer then went on to talk about how she couldn't expect this woman to be able to "walk or run around"(!?!?) when she needed her to and that she would probably find any excuse to not leave her desk. I listened in completely awe and frustration as she went on about how fat people are lazy, good for nothing wastes of space. Sound at all familiar?...

A few shows and online magazines have addressed this topic of sizeism and how it is becoming the new racism. Tyra addressed the topic and a few actresses on television have received a lot of attention about their weight.

I am frequently compared to the character Joan Holloway from Mad Men. Joan is a pale, curvy redhead played by the actress Christina Hendricks. She has received a lot of attention for being possibly "too fat for TV". She is probably a size 12 or 14. Size 14 is the average size for women in America.

Another actress is Casey Wilson from SNL. She was recently fired for not losing 30 lbs. during the shows hiatus. She is about a size 14. Maybe 16. There is even an EPIC video on Funny or Die about how viewers found her not-funny and that she looks like
"Patton Oswald swallowed a couch."

Charming.

There are laws in some states against Sizeism to protect people from this sort of discrimination, but it still feels inescapable. There are so many positive examples of healthy, curvy, natural, or "big-boned" (HATE that term) women in Hollywood and onstage like Cate Winslet, America Ferrara, Beyoncé, even Lady Gaga. But the overwhelming majority likes to see these women as "fat". I'm not sure what it will take for people to stop focusing so much on the numbers that are printed into their jeans or dresses and learn how to value people for the beauty of their ideas or their talent or even how they are trying to change and help society.

At least people are starting to notice.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Live in From the Met in HD...a let down?


Today, I made sure to cut out a large portion of my time to go and see the Met's Live HD Broadcast of "Carmen" starring Elina Garanča as Carmen, who just had a huge cover article written up about her in Opera News. The other cast members included Barbara Frittoli as Micaela, who had her Met debut as the same role back in the 1990s. I'd been excited about hearing Robert Alagna as Don José. So...I left to get my money back NOT because of the performance... But the not-so-good Live feed.

During the first few moments of the show, the sound was behind the video. WAY behind in musical terms. The singers mouths would be moving and ...wait for it... THEN the sound would start. Whoever was broadcasting simply cut the feed during the second rendition of the men's chorus and the sound the video were back together again. This was not the end of our particular theater's problems.

The video cut out COMPLETELY right before Barbara Frittoli could sing the show-stealing aria, "Je dis...". And it never came back on. The screen just started flashing strange images of green and blue and fuzzy video images where if you squinted your eyes and turned your head to the left, you could sort of distinguish a face, or something. After about 10 minutes of this, the a manager came in and told our theater that we could leave and get our money back. But better yet, it was just the theater I was in. Just MINE! The other theater was fine! But by the time we knew, there was already standing room only in the working theater.

So. I left and joined a line of about 30 to 80 blue hairs and got my money refunded and two complimentary tickets to see another movie. Just not in 3-D or IMAX (Considering I still want to see Avatar, this was not appealing). I was so excited about seeing the death scene in HD! IN MY FACE! But alas, this was not the day. Plus, I've heard about the new controversial ending.... Such a let down :(

But from what I did see...

Elina is an amazing Carmen. She's had a 10 year career already. Pretty awesome for any 33 year old singer. I think she is going to follow in the footsteps of the great Mezzos that have portrayed Carmen, like Marilyn Horne and Grace Bumbry. The intensity in her eyes gave me chills! Especially during her scenes with Don José. After he sang his HUGE aria( La fleur

e tu m'avais jetée) which only suffered at the very end, but he owned up to it in the interview with no hesitation. Hey, we're all human. NO one is perfect. Maybe he is past his prime though....


Barbara Frittoli .....I'm not in love with her voice just yet. She is a convincing Micaela though.

Most definitely, the opera world is changing. How often do you leave a MET production because the video feed isn't working? Maybe next time I'll be in a theater where the video feed will work the entire time.

KUDOS to Teddy Tahu Rhodes for stepping in to cover Escamillo!