Sunday, January 30, 2011

Disney High Horse

***Check out those innocent doe eyes and her meek expression. She's trying to pull you in. . . resist!***

I just finished watching a documentary, and you know what happens after that. . . thoughts. And thoughts lead to. . . my high horse.

The documentary was regarding Disney and the messages in its media. I have loved Disney forever, ever since I received the Beauty and the Beast VHS tape for Christmas and made everyone at both Christmases watch it. I can sing Little Mermaid from front to back, and Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin never ceases to make me giggle. However, after seeing the documentary and really thinking about those films, particularly their portrayals of women as helpless, I am starting to become incensed. Stop and reflect for a second. Ariel "gets" Eric only after she loses her voice. Beauty "fixes" the Beast so he no longer treats her like trash. And these are happy endings.

Disney's most recent animated film was Tangled. I watched this movie with my students, and its sexism was flagrant. Rapunzel literally wouldn't leave her house without first finding protection from a man, and even though the only man she could find was a dishonest thief, she allowed him to lead her/provide her security on her journey anyways. Sure, she showed strength, if you can count hitting somone with a frying pan multiple times, but in the end, she fell in love, just like countless female leads in Disney movies before. (Spoiler alert! She also changed from blonde to brunette, which was the big surprise twist in the finale.) How original. And here I was, showing this movie to kids?! Ahhhhh! Even Mulan fell in love at the end of her movie! What's a modern, feminist-leaning, anti-chivalry girl to do here?

So perhaps I won't be forcing any hypothetical eventual offspring to enjoy a Disney marathon with me. I wouldn't want to mess with their heads.

P.S.-Chin-Hwa is a self-described "fun-hater" meaning he can't turn off his philosophy to enjoy things. This post is in honor of his ability to hate fun at all times and in all situations.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I want whatever they are selling...

Commercials in Korea are mesmorizing. I can't look away. Marketing in Korea is all about fun fun fun! Even though I can't understand the words in the commercials, I end up wanting whatever they are selling. Case in point:

If you've ever tried Soju, a Korean rice liquor that they are selling in this ad, you would know that it's harsh, rubbing alcohol like taste is hard to stomach. However, after watching this commercial, your mind will change! It might taste like unicorns! It doesn't matter! Just buy some!

A note: Almost all Korean commercials feature actors and actresses who are already really famous. Therefore, you can start to recognize the same faces everywhere you go. Hyori Lee, the main woman in this commercial, can be seen on posters, in coffee shops, and on countless other television ads.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Driving in Korea

I've been driving here in Korea since last September. It took me a while to adjust to the new driving etiquette. To the faint of heart, driving in Korea may feel like a random mix of speeding and ignoring lights. However, there are subtle rules...

1. If a light is red, it is merely a suggestion. This is particularly true if you are a taxi, it's early in the morning, or you are rushing to pick up some ice cream from the store. Also, if you're a taxi, you can just flash your brights to signal that you've got places to go and thus won't be stopping or slowing for the light.

2. If you cut someone off, which all drivers in Korea are wont to do, you may choose to flash your hazards for a few seconds. This is like saying, "Oopsie. Sorry I'm a jerk. Please accept my lame apology as I slow down in front of you after cutting you off."

3. If you are upset at another driver, either for something they did to you or for no specific reason at all, you may choose to flash your brights. Why? To frustrate the other driver. It works.

4. All cars, even the nicest of the newest import vehicles, have little cushions on the outside of their doors. These cushions look cheesy, but they serve the all important purpose of protecting your door from the various obstacles which may get in your way in tiny parking lots. ***For help understanding this idea which I find extremely difficult to describe at this particular moment, see the edited photo below:

5. No parking? No problem! Just pull into the right hand lane, intended originally for thru traffic, and park! Don't forget to turn on your hazards so all the people forced to change lanes so you might run in for a quick errand will feel happy that you at least feel some small semblance of remorse.

6. Should you see a police car, drive in your normal way. There's no need to slow down or follow any rules more closely than before. Why? Because the police have better things to do!

7. Never ever go into the pedestrian walk way during their green light. This may sound logical, but it feels slightly counterintuitive. Pedestrians only have about ten seconds of freedom near the roadways, during which they can be assured that they need not fear for their lives. The rest of the time, pedestrians must be ever vigilant because cars will NOT stop for them, even if the pedestrians are wielding a double stroller or riding in a wheelchair.

8. It is customary to back into your parking spots. This is so you can show off your mad skills. However, after a long empirical study (involving one failed attempt to back into a space), I have decided that backing in takes longer than just pulling into the spot and backing out later.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

House Pants

Today, a harrowing look into the life and times of my house pants. The inspiration for this post came during a recent feverish sickness, so that might explain the strangeness...

What are house pants, a.k.a. cookie pants? They are the kind of pants you only wear in the house. They usually have some major flaw which forces your sense of decency to prevent you from wearing them anywhere but in the comfort of your own home. But their comfort level is irresistible when one's only plan is to lounge about. In rare instances, house pants have been allowed outdoors: early college classes, short late night errands, any all girls school dress down days, and the like. House pants are never allowed outside if you are a Korean woman, who must
have a much higher threshold for fashion than me. Here is a sampling of house pants found in my own drawers.

1. Yellow Scrub pants. Pros: Scrubs are super comfortable. Cons: Yellow color means they are see through at times. Be careful.

2. Flower pants. Pros: Actually cute. Cons: So thin that they seem to make my legs even colder than they were before said pants.

3. Stripes. Pros: A shorter cut for those terrible days you don't know whether you want to wear shorts or pants. The perfect compromise. Cons: The only thing that can make house pants more ridiculous are stripes.

4. Gray fleece. Pros: Perfect for the winter. I was wearing them at the time of the house pants photo shoot. I didn't photograph my head so as not to scare anyone with my morning hair. Cons: Major flood pants.

I once attempted to wear house pants as actual pants. The only thing that stopped me was Chin-Hwa, who lovingly asked me why I was wearing those house pants outside. Thanks to him, I avoided that fashion nightmare.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Festivities!

Here are some pictures from our second Christmas in Korea. Click on the slideshow to see bigger copies of the pictures and to see the captions, which are hilarious, if I do say so myself.