Saturday, May 23, 2009


Keeping up with my tradition of reviewing the obscure, I will now go ahead and talk about something that has the potential of either fading into obscurity or becoming the next best thing television has seen in a while. I kind of knew that the pilot was going to be awesome when I watched this trailer before the show premiered, and was quite excited about it.

Before I start gushing, I must confess two facts that can be potentially used against me in the future. But, my last post was on the Gmail Fox and I think I have kind of lost all my sense of shame after that. So, I shall go right ahead and confess:
  1. I love musicals. No, I unironically love them all. I even liked the movie version of Rent. This is how shameful my love for musicals is.
  2. I also love Journey, you know the band, Journey. What can I say? It all stems from my teenage love for power ballads. I promise to get over these songs one day, but I suspect that day is not going to come very soon.
The pilot of this show has somehow miraculously ended up involving both the points listed above, and there was no just no way that I was going to end up not liking this show after that. The show is a kind of mash up between Bring It On meets Election meets Mean Girls meets High School Musical meets Fame. Considering how amazing each of these films are, the show has not only a lot to live up to, but also a big possibility of becoming into some of the other not-very-good high school films that are out there, and believe me there plenty of those around.

The American high-school move genre is a very precarious one to invest into because 95% of the films it generates are simply awful. However, if well made, and mind you decent movies in this genre are extremely rare, the films have a potential of becoming into something special. There is a very thin line between the high-school films that are good and the ones that are not. Of course, you are going to make fun of me because I watch high-school films, but I do, and I love the good ones. I mean, how can you not? They are not just chick flicks; I like to look at them as a plethora of wit that give us a deep insight into American popular culture. Regardless for my blind love for this genre, I have to admit that the bad ones are simply painful to sit through. However much I would like to continue and point out the differences between gems like Clueless and the awful ones like The Prince and Me, I am well aware that I am digressing from the initial subject of my conversation.

Glee is not a high-school film. No, it is much more than that. It is a high school television show, which makes it pretty unique from everything else that is out there. What I mean by unique is that the show does well in trying to distance itself from other high school dramas that are currently airing like Gossip Girl or 90210. Plus it markets itself as a musical comedy, and not one of those musicals where people talking suddenly burst out into song and dance routines, but a musical where the music numbers actually make sense and are limited.

The premise of the show is pretty simple, it revolves around a teacher who is trying to train a bunch of high school misfits to participate in a national competition, which involves singing and dancing. To top it off, there are evil blond cheerleaders, evil dim-witted football players, rival schools and a whole set of quirky teachers (who are fit for everything else apart from teaching) involved in trying to make the lives of these six teenagers as hard as possible. All the want to do is perform on stage, dammit! Why should this be so hard?

Since it has the pretty conventional high-school plot, the show will probably have to do a lot in the future to make sure it remains quirky and witty, which is going to be hard. They also have a lot of expectations to live up to in terms of the music, epsecially after the amazing rendition of Rehab performed by a rival school and Don't Stop Believing that were used in the pilot. All this gushing aside, the pilot was not perfect. Few high school films are perfect, and I have yet to watch a high school show that is perfect. There were a few parts that made you go meh along with the traditional stereotypes of high school characters complete with thin, blond cheerleaders and a fat African American girl who wants to be Beyoncé.

The pilot was just a preview and the show is going to start airing later this year in September/October. I thought the pilot was pretty decent, and good enough to make me continue watching it for a while, but pilots rarely tell you all there is to know about a tv show. If the epic failure of Kings (which I thought started out as quite well, by the way) is to be taken as an indication, all we know is that audiences are fickle and unpredictable. I loved Glee, but I love Journey and watch all my television shows online, so my demographics and opinions don't really count in the big scheme of things.

PS: The lead actress has an amazing voice and I love her character so hard. She puts gold stars next to her name every time she signs it somewhere. How could you possibly not love this girl?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The grass is always greener

I love Google and everything Google related. But I have to admit when they came up with Google Themes to customize your Gmail, I was a bit peeved off. I am not much of a fan of customizable web sites (and yes I'm talking about you, MySpace). In any case, I swore off against them because I thought layouts were silly and preferred the original inbox design. This was until I was introduced to Google's most adorable creation in the whole world, the Gmail Fox.

The Gmail Fox, also known as the Tea House Fox comes with the 'Tea House' layout, which is an interactive layout that changes throughout the day according to the time. As time passes, you can see what the Gmail Fox has been up to all through the day. The Gmail Fox always makes sure that he is busy all day long. You'd think he would get bored all by himself in this little tea house and not do a thing all day, and yet, every time I open my inbox, he always seems to be up to something.

Is it wrong that I wish I could live the life of the Gmail Fox? He's a good little fox living in his adorable home by the lake. He has friends over all the time for tea parties, goes rowing with them in the lake, practices tai chi in the mornings, does his chores around the house diligently, has actual hobbies including but not limited to bonsai, and if all that was not enough, he even plays the flute and the mandolin. I know a lot of people would find this kind of a cyclical life that is full of routines dull, and yet I seem to find myself longing for it, especially these days.

I love opening my inbox and looking at what the fox is up to and checking up on him from time to time. At 3.15 AM every night, the Gmail Fox is visited by the spirits of is ancestors, who come each night and play Go as the little fox sleeps. I first actually noticed this when I was in Hong Kong because I hadn't changed my Italy timezone. I am such a ridiculous geek and even found an article that explains the backstory of these ghosts that visit him. I don't care if its not true, I am totally going to believe in it because it is just so cute, and everyone can go ahead and tease me to death about this.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Funny Face

The problem with Hollywood actors these days is that they are trashy and cheap, and there is nothing more to be said on this. Most people in old Hollywood were just as messed up in alcohol, drugs and cigarettes as every other person in Hollywood right now, and yet they did it with class. How can Lindsey Lohan and Megan Fox ever compete with this?

Friday, May 01, 2009

In which Pan gets butthurt

I've been living in Europe for long enough to not let these things bother me because I know that asking for things to change would be asking for too much. I let things go by without trying to let them affect my mental state. So, its okay if I am always called aside when I'm travelling to have my documents checked and double checked. Its fine if I get shifty looks from old women on the tram or while I'm going to pay the bills. I've even had someone asking me what vaccines they need to take if they are going to Malaysia for a holiday (it was because India and Malaysia are so close to each other, you see!) I don't let these small things bother me, not because they are okay, but because I really couldn't care less. However, when I see full blown advertising campaigns like this one, I get really irritated.

These are some of the pictures from the new India themed Zegna campaign that are plastered all over Milan lately. There is this huge blown up version of the picture below at the airport here that I saw a few weeks ago.

If you show the above advert to any other person living in this country they will not find anything wrong with it, but it seems to be making my blood boil. Look at the sari clad native woman welcoming the handsome white man in a suit and his Indian sidekick (who looks like Mohinder Suresh, by the way). Why is she bowing down so submissively, unable to even look him in the eye? Am I the only one who is overreacting at this advert? No one else seems to have noticed it apparently if they've covered half the airport in this city with the picture.

The thing is that I don't think that the adverts were made with a malicious intent. The Zegna marketing department didn't wake up one morning thinking that all Indian women are shy and submissive. The problem is that they don't even realize that they are being inherently racist by playing up to the Indian stereotype or that there is something clearly wrong with their ad campaign. It is them having some ridiculous notion that there is nothing wrong in showing subjugated Indian women bowing before their handsome European saviours. It is a classic form of white privilege, and white privilege bothers me so much more than the most obvious forms of racism because its so much scarier.

Look at this other picture from this campaign. Doesn't the above picture bring back fond memories of the Raj? The natives playing a wonderful game of polo on elephants while the Europeans enjoy the show in the gardens of their palaces. This blatant display of Raj nostalgia is just really creepy actually. I don't know how to put it in more eloquent terms. The above advert actually scares me. It scares me because it is celebrating a period in my country's history that no one is proud of, at least not so openly. I am just astounded that other people are unable to notice these things given the fact that everyone seems so keen on being politically correct these days. If this campaign was a German 1940s retro military themed advertising campaign, the world would have exploded right now. I am not trying to compare Nazi Germany with the British Raj, but trying to show how the campaign is a romanticism of a terrible period in the history of my country.

I know that I'm probably overreacting and making an issue out of something so trivial. I also know that if I was living in India right now, I wouldn't have even noticed the racist undertones of this campaign. I've read so many articles written by Indian journalists about how proud India should be that international fashion designers are turning to our country to film their campaigns and are seeing India as a new consumer market. But, you don't wake up one morning and start noticing these things, its more of a gradual realization which comes with experience. Although, I have to say that I haven't yet experienced any humiliating forms of racism yet because I simply tend to let things go and am generally out of tune with what is happening around me.

There seems to be this trend on the internet and also in real life about fetishizing the Orient and anything else that is seen as exotic from western standards, and this is frankly disgusting. We just seem to be unable to get over racial stereotypes. I do know that stereotypes stem from facts and everyone uses stereotypes, even without realizing what they are doing. I probably do it too. However, I do feel that it is our duty to try and overcome them and not let things continue the way they are. The problem is that no one seems to be trying, people are just really worried about being politically correct, but that isn't changing their way of thinking or the things they actually believe. Realizing that we are faily idiots is the first step towards trying to work on the problem, but how are we going to get people to admit that we are all racist assholes?