1. Push yourself to get up before the rest of the world — start with 7 a.m., then 6 a.m., then 5:30 a.m. Go to the nearest hill with a big coat and a scarf and watch the sunrise.
2. Push yourself to fall asleep earlier — start with 11 p.m., then 10 p.m., then 9 p.m. wake up in the morning feeling re-energized and comfortable.
3. Erase processed food from your diet. Start with no candy, chips, cookies, then erase pasta, rice, cereal and then bread. Use the rule that if a child couldn’t identify what was in it, you don’t eat it.
4. Get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful breakfast. Fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic, fry an egg, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. Sit and eat while doing absolutely nothing else.
5. Stretch. Start by reaching for the sky as hard as you can, then trying to touch your toes. Roll your head, stretch your fingers, stretch everything.
6. Buy a 1L water bottle. Start with pushing yourself to drink the whole thing in a day, then try drinking it twice.
7. Buy a beautiful diary and a beautiful black pen. Write down everything you do, including dinner dates, appointments, assignments, coffees, what you need to do that day. No detail is too small.
8. Strip your bed of your sheets and empty your underwear drawer into the washing machine. Put a massive scoop of scented fabric softener in there and wash everything. Then make your bed in full.
9. Organize your room. Fold all your clothes (and bag what you don’t want), clean your mirror, your laptop, vacuum the floor and light a beautiful candle.
10. Have a luxurious shower with your favorite music playing. Wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth. Lather your whole body in moisturizer, get familiar with the part between your toes, your inner thighs and the back of your neck.
11. Push yourself to go for a walk. Take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. Smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. Bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. Realize how much you can learn from your dog.
12. Message old friends with personal jokes. Reminisce. Suggest a movie or sushi date soon, even if you don’t usually follow through, push yourself to follow through.
14. Think long and hard about what interests you. Crime? Sex? Chinese folklore? Long-forgotten romance etiquette? Find a book about it and read it. There is a book about literally everything.
15. Become the person you would ideally fall in love with. Let cars merge into your lane when driving. Pay double for parking tickets and leave a second one in the machine. Stick your tongue out at babies. Compliment people on their cute clothes. Challenge yourself to not ridicule anyone for an entire day, then two, then a week. Walk with straight posture. Look people in the eye. Ask people about their story. Talk to acquaintances so you become friends.
16. Lie in the sunshine and daydream about the life you would lead if failure wasn’t possible. Breathe in, breathe out. Open your eyes and take small steps to make it happen for you.
I wanted my first-year film students to understand what happens to a story when actual human beings inhabit your characters, and the way they can inspire storytelling. And I wanted to teach them how to look at headshots and what you might be able to tell from a headshot. So for the past few years I’ve done a small experiment with them.
It works like this: I bring in my giant file of head shots, which include actors of all races, sizes, shapes, ages, and experience levels. Each student picks a head shot from the stack and gets a few minutes to sit with the person’s face and then make up a little story about them.
Namely, for white men, they have no trouble coming up with an entire history, job, role, genre, time, place, and costume. They will often identify him without prompting as “the main character.” The only exception? “He would play the gay guy.” For white women, they mostly do not come up with a job (even though it was specifically asked for), and they will identify her by her relationships. “She would play the mom/wife/love interest/best friend.” I’ve heard “She would play the slut” or “She would play the hot girl.” A lot more than once.
For nonwhite men, it can be equally depressing. “He’s in a buddy cop movie, but he’s not the main guy, he’s the partner.” “He’d play a terrorist.” “He’d play a drug dealer.” “A thug.” “A hustler.” “Homeless guy.” One Asian actor was promoted to “villain.”
For nonwhite women (grab onto something sturdy, like a big glass of strong liquor), sometimes they are “lucky” enough to be classified as the girlfriend/love interest/mom, but I have also heard things like “Well, she’d be in a romantic comedy, but as the friend, you know?” “Maid.” “Prostitute.” “Drug addict.”
I should point out that the responses are similar whether the group is all or mostly-white or extremely racially mixed, and all the groups I’ve tried this with have been about equally balanced between men and women, though individual responses vary. Women do a little better with women, and people of color do a little better with people of color, but female students sometimes forget to come up with a job for female actors and black male students sometimes tell the class that their black male actor wouldn’t be the main guy.
Once the students have made their pitches, we interrogate their opinions. “You seem really sure that he’s not the main character – why? What made you automatically say that?” “You said she was a mom. Was she born a mom, or did she maybe do something else with her life before her magic womb opened up and gave her an identity? Who is she as a person?” In the case of the “thug“, it turns out that the student was just reading off his film resume. This brilliant African American actor who regularly brings houses down doing Shakespeare on the stage and more than once made me weep at the beauty and subtlety of his performances, had a list of film credits that just said “Thug #4.” “Gang member.” “Muscle.” Because that’s the film work he can get. Because it puts food on his table.
So, the first time I did this exercise, I didn’t know that it would turn into a lesson on racism, sexism, and every other kind of -ism. I thought it was just about casting. But now I know that casting is never just about casting, and this day is a real teachable opportunity. Because if we do this right, we get to the really awkward silence, where the (now mortified) students try to sink into their chairs. Because, hey, most of them are proud Obama voters! They have been raised by feminist moms! They don’t want to be or see themselves as being racist or sexist. But their own racism and sexism is running amok in the room, and it’s awkward.
This for every time someone criticizes how characters of color and female characters of color especially are treated in text and by subsequent fandoms. It’s never “just a television/movie/book”. It’s never been ”just”.
Rayhaneh Jabbari is sentenced to hang for killing her rapist in self defense in Iran. She is now 26 years old and has been in Tehran’s dreaded Evin prison since 2007. The petition for her release can be found here: http://bit.ly/1h7EP4D
EVERYBODY SIGN THIS PETITION
It needs 100,000, and only has 8,000 as it stands.
SIGNAL BOOST THE FUCK OUT OF THIS GUYS
There is SERIOUSLY a “Dump Starbucks” campaign because the company supports marriage equality. Do you know who else supports marriage equality?
- American Express
- Kraft Foods
- Morgan Stanley
- Liberty Mutual
- Wells Fargo
- Bank of America
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
- State Farm
- General Motors
Like, okay homophobes: CHALLENGE PROPOSED.