On Twilight, and Other Evolutionarratives

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Okay, guys… I have a confession…

Regardless of just how utterly and completely awful they are, I have a secret fixation with the Twilight Saga movies…

I swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me Edward.

I know, I know – I’ve probably lost your attention (and your respect), but please read on. It gets juicy.

I saw the first Twilight movie in 2008 when it was released in theaters and thought it was complete and utter horseshit, full of talentless actors and enough awkward and cringe-worthy moments to make you feel more uncomfortable than being caught masturbating by your parents – yes, it was that bad of a movie. In fact, the ones that followed were even worse; New Moon, Eclipse and subsequently Breaking Dawn – Part 1… the lack of depth in the characters, the stagnant plot-lines, and the dull and banal dialogue had me catching myself in moments of sheer disbelief. I actually laughed out loud several times and not because it was rivetingly funny, but because it was so pathetic that I could not believe what I was watching.

But oddly enough, thousands of people (myself included) are strangely addicted to this series – in fact, there is a whole generation of people who are devoted to the books and movies, mostly consisting of females between the ages of 12 and 18. It’s a pop-culture phenomena. There are literally (and I wanted to avoid using that word) hundreds of thousands of fan websites and fan videos; even a sub-genre of human beings who call themselves Twihards who would probably plot my assassination if they ever read my review of the movies. Incidents of non-consensual neck bites and brawls over ownership of Robert Pattinson posters and Team Jacob/Team Edward debates have been reported more than once in the mainstream media.

So how has this series captured the minds and hearts of millions of people when there is very little artistic or creative merit to it? How did this series turn a simple story into a full-blown obsession? I believe my tiny little brain holds the answer -and after a bit of researching and a few intense philosophical conversations, I have come to a debatable conclusion.

Evolutionary psychology is a field of study that looks at the behaviors of people from a modern evolutionary perspective. To quote Wikipedia, “Adaptationist thinking about physiological mechanisms, such as the heart, lungs, and immune system, is common in evolutionary biology. Evolutionary psychology applies the same thinking to psychology, arguing that the mind has a modular structure similar to that of the body, with different modular adaptations serving different functions. Evolutionary psychologists argue that much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments.”

As a friend of mine explains, “Basically it’s all from the perspective of DNA; DNA wants to survive, it wants to duplicate – so our entire existence is based on our evolutionary need to reproduce, which means that we tend to unconsciously utilize strategies in order to better our chances of finding a mate.”

It's not misogyny, it's evolutionary psychology.

Now before you start telling me that evolutionary psychology perpetuates 1950’s gender roles and that it is constituted entirely of theories formulated by misogynistic men… hear me out. I’d like you to entertain for a minute the idea that  maybe, just maybe, our lives are not solely comprised of our nurtured identities, but that there in fact exists a relationship between who we are and the makeup of our DNA as well.

Science tells us that women want a man who they can raise a family with, who is emotionally available and who can provide for them and protect them. “On the one hand, women have the natural imperative to select optimal genetic traits, one way of making that selection easy is through hierarchically superior men, a.k.a. “alpha” males. On the other hand, women want men who can materially provide for their families, commit to a long-term relationship, and enjoy interacting with children, a.k.a. “good relationship skills.””

Now I’m not saying that this is 100% true of all relationships… gender role reversals, same-sex relationships, dominatrix fetishism and people who simply have different tastes in mates are just some examples of situations where I am wrong about this. But I’d have to say that through my own experience, I find that evolutionary psychology is the most common narrative that dominates many male-female relationships.

"Are you scared?"... "Only once a month"

Relating this back to Twilight, enter Edward Cullen… a one-hundred and something year old, filthy rich, immortal vampire who is stronger than any creature on the planet. He is pretty much capable of doing anything he wants to, and yet he falls in love with Bella Swan, a young, fragile human mortal who is quiet, clumsy and accident-prone to a fault – and the entire movie is based around his efforts to protect her. Throw in Edward’s handsome face and chivalrous, gentleman-like mannerisms and you have yourself the ultimate chick flick.

When I was a little girl I would create my own “evolutionarratives” in my head about being the damsel in distress waiting for a strong man to come and save me – it was my own form of mental masturbation. Today, I just watch Twilight and get my jollies. If you hate the story of Twilight, you have a fairly good reason to hate it. If you love it, that’s okay too – no one is judging you (except for your entire family, all your friends and everyone else you know)… Just let the people who love it take what they can from it and let the people who hate it have their reasons.

It is completely fine to love something that is bad for you, isn’t that what Twilight taught us anyway?

Love Nikki

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On Technology, and Other Mechanized Thoughts

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our societal dependence on technology for of a few reasons: 

A) We had a discussion in my Sex, Gender and Nature class about Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Theory (which caused me to interrupt the class discussion with a demonic (and unapologetic) sound that escaped my mouth when I experienced a full body chill from sheer terror).

B) I learned about a new TV series premiering on February 21st entitled Operation Unplugged – a show where they take 8 technology-dependent Canadian citizens and attempt to “unplug” them by throwing them into the middle of the woods or something of that sort.

C) I reflected on a particular experience I had where I was “unplugged” for an extended period of time, in order to win a contest from Hopscotch the Globe to see the premiere of said TV show.

4) I read this article.

D) I have been prospecting jobs in the Yukon so I can travel back this summer, and applied for one in Beaver Creek, YT – which is pretty freaking isolated and I keep asking myself what the crap I’m going to do with myself if I happen to go there this summer.

Now, folks, don’t get me wrong – this stuff isn’t news to me. I have spent the past 5 years in a University program designed to scare the crap out of you and make you leave all your earthly possessions behind… right before you run away to a remote piece of land, build a bomb shelter and attempt to sustain yourself off of “shit you find” for the rest of your life. I don’t know how many times I’ve had the technology discussion that makes almost every student fear for their future… but the issue I’m coming to terms with now is that they have only remained thoughts and fears the entire time I have been in school.

As young children, we are inclined to explore the intricacies right underneath our feet – the tiny, messy and unique characteristics of the earth below us beg for us to acknowledge the small and complex worlds that we co-exist with every day. As we grow older, we lose that sense of discovery and turn to a much “cleaner” method of exploration. I remember an excerpt from a book I read earlier this semester called The Geography of Childhood by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble  that reads “Adults spend [so much time] scanning the land for picturesque panoramas and scenic overlooks. While the kids [are] on their hands and knees, engaged with what [is] immediately before them, we adults [travel] by abstraction” (Nabhan & Trimble, 1994)

With that being said, my experience as a student in a mainstream educational system has taken the hands-on discovery that is so biologically important to our development as human beings and turned everything into a theory that can be categorized and compartmentalized and other academically pleasing words that I’d love to use (but can’t exactly think of right now). So it is only fair to say that these theories about our dependence on technology and the concept of “unplugging”  have only been theoretically important to me thus far. In my head I have always understood the importance of being “unplugged” –  the majority of our interactions with people are through the internet or text-message and I’m also finding it more and more of a reality that when I’m riding on the subway, nobody is going to look up from their iPhone and say hello (I talk to random strangers a lot, and 90% of the time they probably think I’m crazy). The perceived value of face-to-face human contact is becoming somewhat extinct and it is only now that I have realized that although I do go out of my way to connect with people in person, I don’t actually make an effort to lower my dependence on technology. I’m not as addicted to technology as most people, but I do know that my quality of life would drastically increase if I decided to cut down on my Matrix time… so that’s what I’m going to do. Hopefully this means more beers with friends and perhaps a boost in my metabolism.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Love Nikki

P.S.: As I published this post, I got up to urinate and I forgot that I was wearing headphones, and as I walked away the headphones “unplugged” themselves from the computer. Very metaphorical. I giggled.

P.P.S.: I actually got the chance to go to that premiere, and it was awesome – and hilarious!I highly recommend that you watch it!

Nabhan, G. P., & Trimble, S. (1994). The geography of childhood. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

On Veganism, and other Mindful Junkfood

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               I’ve been a vegetarian for about ten years now and I will admit that at points I have seriously questioned my commitment to continuing this lifestyle any further. I have battled with my fair share of people who have insulted my rationality, and a few more who have needlessly picked on me for what I have always considered to be a compassionate choice. I will admit, though, that some of the bullying I endured was well deserved  (back when I first became vegetarian, I was a highly opinionated and radical animal rights activist* who would shove biased and juvenile ideology down peoples throats)… but for the most part, I took a lot of crap from people for making the decision to eliminate meat from my diet. In fact, a lot of veg*ns** that I have met in my lifetime would probably tell you the same thing. So what’s the dealio, guys? Why is there such a negative perspective on veg*nism in North America? Of course I do not speak for everyone as positive perspectives exist as well; I only speak from my own personal experience.

I guess I would say that the reason why I have continually been deterred from vegetarianism is because of that experience. The impassioned animal rights activist that I used to be has slowly, over the years, become this weak and submissive excuse for an activist that can’t even defend the decision to be vegetarian anymore – and all thanks to the mean guy with the eyebrow piercing in grade 11 that shoved a burger in my face when he learned about my affliction.

Okay, I will admit that not all of it came from people like that… you can’t always blame the bully for making the kid cry, because at some point the kid’s gotta stick up for herself and say “hey, fuck off!” and knee that bully in the teeth! – but they definitely perpetuated it. So here’s where I am now; at a point where I am realizing that it is just as important to me as it was ten years ago, but perhaps for more logically sound reasons than before. Call me weak, shove a burger in my face, and tell me that I am wrong! I dare you! I’m not budging.

I don’t believe that everyone in this world should be veg*n –  that’s a silly expectation that could possibly lead to major disaster. I also don’t believe that humans are natural  herbivores either… we’re animals. Some animals eat animals. To reject that is to deny our humanity and reject the idea that human beings are animals too (and in that case, as a veg*n, reject the idea that non-human animals are considered equal, which means they are equally as deserving of respect). I just don’t want to contribute to the suffering of any living creature… and maybe cutting meat out of my diet isn’t the best way to deter that suffering, but in my mind it is the best contribution I can make to all of the creatures that exist on this planet right now… so I will continue doing it. Even if now, preventing a few male chick’s from being ground up in an industrial blender means cutting out delicious Egg’s Florentine smothered in Hollandaise sauce from my diet, then I’ll learn to deal (I’ve decided to make the switch to vegan).

It’s a particularly sad thing to understand that suffering will always exist in this world… and with that being said, if there is anything I can do to prevent any miniscule amount of suffering I will do it. That’s just who I am – maybe not you, but definitely me. Think about that next time you try to shove a burger in my face!

Love Nikki

*A person who sticks horrifyingly graphic stickers of animals being chopped into bits on their parents fridge to deter them from eating meat. Oh, and on the bathroom stalls at school. Hardcore.

**Veg*n is used to refer to vegetarians and vegans interchangeably.

**UPDATE** Bought Vega’s “Whole Food Health Optimizer” and it’s literally (and figuratively) hard to swallow.

On the Sasquatch, and Other Ramblings

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              “Be passionately aware that you could be completely wrong” – Dian Marino

           In case you haven’t already noticed, I have a weird fixation with the Sasquatch – which stems from a long history of obsession with mythology, paranormal activity, UFO’s, etc (when I was a kid I was watching horror films and begging my mom to buy me books about hauntings and mythological creatures like the Loch Ness and Ogopogo). But to me, believing in the Sasquatch is more than just about having a fixation with the “unknown”… it’s about revisiting a quality that we all possessed when we were children; imagination. Sometimes we can become so fixated on truths and logic and reason that we  forget to have a dialogue with our imaginations… and when we lose that dialogue, life loses its colour.

            There are some things that don’t need to be proved with science or logic – these are the things that can be proved if we start looking in the right places, through a new lens. Like when you look at the night sky and see that everything is so vast and so far away and you’re just sitting on this watery spot suspended by nothingness, surrounded by things much bigger than you are, and you realize that it is a miracle that you’re even alive. Or when you’re sick and your dog crawls up next to you in bed and gives you extra special attention and you realize that animals may think and feel just like you and have consciousness after all. These answers are all around us – and being able to realize these answers relies on our ability to connect with our imaginations because our imaginations give us the ability to see the intricacies that are right in front of us all the time.

             So to celebrate what this blog is about, I have chosen the Sasquatch as my comrade, friend and mascot to remind you all to engage with your imaginations and never accept anything as the complete and utter truth because there are so many other fun possibilities. So with that being said, here a poem I wrote that I’d like to share about the Sasquatch.

Love Nikki

Sasquatch

Let’s play hide and seek.

Maybe you’ll find your dreams,

tucked somewhere in the evergreens –

But you won’t find me.

Maybe some of you

will smell me –

a scent that stings the eyes and

makes you seize;

And if you’re lucky

you’ll hear me scream.

Here is where imagination’s key;

Because science is a belief

in things you can only see.

But I believe there is more.

I believe in believing,

because I’m me.

This is all the evidence

you will ever need.