Winter’s Bone

I’ve gotten on a movie kick recently, which started off with a visit to a local theater that shows independent movies, Landmark Bethesda Row. The very first movie I saw there was Winter’s Bone, and let me tell you, it is amazing. I had read a lot of hype about it beforehand – Jennifer Lawrence, the main actress (from Tennessee!) gives a “watchful, precise, and quietly heroic performance,” and the film is “close to flawless,” the “American film of the year.“, etc, etc, etc. Even so, I tried to keepĀ  my expectations down. I’d heard a lot of hype about Let the Right One In, too, and turns out I thought that was just a weird Swedish vampire movie with all the excitement sucked out of it (lol, pun).

But Winter’s Bone did not let me down. I found it pitch-perfect. Everything about it was amazing. The acting was fantastic, the story was real and made sense, and it had a ring of authenticity to it that really resonated with me. I caught myself thinking “I’ve been in that house,” or “I’ve met those people.” Let me be clear, I have not actually been in a meth dealer’s house, but the look and feel and sound of the people and environment of the poor South rang true to me.

The movie also made me evaluate my privilege. It happens sometimes that I bump into people who’s worlds are so much smaller than mine, and it’s always disconcerting. Ree, the main character in the movie for example – going to college is probably not even something she imagines as an option. The best she hopes for is to provide for her family in such a way that they don’t go hungry and don’t become homeless. Her dreams are not particularly relevant, and “career goals” is not a phrase she’s likely spent much time on. And having a healthy family life, making a legal living, would be miles above what most of the people she knows have, and so is a goal to strive for, rather than something to take for granted. And by some quirk of fate I’ve landed in a place where my options have always seemed limitless. Going to college was not a question – of course I would go. I want to get a Master’s degree, so I put off getting a job in my career field to pursue more education. If I want to be a lawyer, I can go to law school. If I want to be a doctor, I can go to med school. Same for psychiatrist, pharmacist, politician, engineer, accountant, physicist – all of these careers were (and are) mine to choose from. I’m aware that I have disadvantages that work against me, but compared to Ree, they’re laughably small. And that’s a valuable piece of perspective.

But I don’t think it’s enough to watch Winter’s Bone and think “Wow, I’m so lucky I was born in Nashville and not in the Ozarks!” and then forget about it. Working to make it so that the Ree’s of the world can have a big, boundless world like ours is the only acceptable course of action once you’ve realized that her world is limited through no fault of her own, and yours is limitless for reasons you can’t take full credit for.

You can watch it to provoke thoughts on class and gender, or you can watch it cause it’s a great suspense thriller, it doesn’t matter. The point is – watch it!

Here’s a link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bE_X2pDRXyY

And a link to the official site, where you can find out where it’s playing near you: http://www.wintersbonemovie.com/

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Obama Visits AU

Last week Obama came and gave a speech on immigration policy on campus. He spoke in our brand-new School of International Service building, which was pretty cool. The speech itself didn’t disrupt campus life too much. They closed the SIS building at 5 the day before, and all staff and faculty with offices in that building got the day off with pay (nice!). They also closed off the quad in front of the building and the library.

The closed area of the quad, complete with officers.

I didn’t see any snipers, but two of my co-workers said they did! On my way back from my errand, the police were closing off more of the quad, and they were really freaking me out because they were being so polite. They were like pleading with us, “Please go through this building. Please step off to this side.” It was like they were trying to soothe us because they thought we’d explode into a rage at any minute! But I guess that’s preferable than how the G20 protesters got treated, so in the end, I win!

Vote for my Co-worker Bettina!

California Tortilla is having some sort of contest in which the person with the most votes gets to go to a Word of Mouth Marketing Conference in New York City. My co-worker Bettina is one of the finalists, and she needs your help to win! She’s really cool, and has promised to teach us all the stuff she learns at the conference, so if go and vote for her! You can vote as many times as you like until the contest ends on July 11th (my mom’s birthday!). I’ve already voted like twenty times, so you have some catching up to do!

Here’s the link to vote: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Supergenius