I’m So Tired

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Could I please take a nap while someone makes me cheese pasta?

We are eight weeks into the spring semester, and I am so tired.

I am tired today specifically because after getting home from my evening class, my cat decided to pull one of her classic Great Escapes and bolt out the door. She proceeded to hide under cars while my roommate and I attempted to coax and chase her out, until she presumably got bored and ran back into the apartment. After this I stayed up for a while, stressfully watching Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey while she snoozed on my bed as if nothing had ever happened.

I am residually tired from the weekend, as our department hosted a (very fun!) daylong event for 150 sweaty and hyper high school students. I have never talked to so many high school students in one day, maybe not even when I was in high school.

I am hypochondriacally tired after one of my students told me his girlfriend has mono and that he might have mono. Like, rationally, I know he did not give me mono. But could I ALSO have gotten mono? I have had colds off and on this semester…is that mono? Does my spleen hurt? Are my lymph nodes enlarged? It’s totally mono.

I am tired from anxiety after having meetings with professors about applications for funding, because even though I know that my professors are here to help, meeting with them stresses me out, because what if they find out that I’m secretly a big dummy and have just been faking it all this time? Also, writing personal statements is tiring.

I am intellectually tired from coursework, because hearing my colleagues’ thoughts on our readings vacillates between being intimidating and boring, and having to think my own thoughts (are they good thoughts? are they dumb thoughts? I have no idea anymore) is pretty tiring too.

I am existentially tired from wondering about whether I belong in this profession, and whether my PhD will make me a good candidate for other jobs, and whether we will even value PhDs by the time I’m done dissertating, and from worrying that our country is full of fascists, and from wondering if we’re maybe throwing around the word “fascist” too much.

In conclusion, I’m ready for spring break.

 

 

 

Margot Robbie is Not Tonya Harding

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Maybe you’re looking at the title of this post and thinking, “how is this academic? This is just some girl mad about some pop culture thing!” A) You’re sort of right but also B) It is VERY academic, and here’s why: Since learning about Tonya Harding at an early age – I discovered her name on a list of people banned for life from competing in USFSA-sanctioned events – I was obsessed, and I researched her thoroughly. Any time I had to do some kind of biographical presentation in school, it was about Tonya. In high school, I found out my figure skating coach was IN THE RINK when Nancy Kerrigan got hit (he heard the screaming!!!), which only made me feel closer to the saga. I have seen the 30 for 30 doc on Tonya a whole bunch of times. If I could find some remote way to connect her to the German Studies world, believe me, I would, and I’d write a dissertation on her.

In any event, I know a lot about Tonya Harding, and I believe this qualifies me to say that Margot Robbie should not play her in a biopic.

Let’s get the obvious reason out of the way: Margot Robbie is too hot for this role. I admit it is a problem to reduce someone to their looks, but in the case of a biopic, I think it matters. Margot Robbie is, among other things, known for her looks. If your acting credits include drinking champagne in a bathtub while explaining financial stuff – basically a role that requires nothing other than your hotness – you’re too hot to play Tonya. Tonya Harding was, to put it simply, rough-looking. Part of this was just the early 90s, a time of scrunchies and teased hair and bad eye makeup. And part of this was just her. She looked rough, and she had a rough life. For a little while, that didn’t matter, because she was an amazing skater. The tragedy is that her skating could have pulled her out of a bad situation, were it not for the whole Nancy incident (and Jeff Gillooly). In spite of her crimes (and I do believe she’s guilty of them), Tonya deserves better than the indignity of being played by a hot actress “uglied up” with prosthetics.

My next question re: Margot/Tonya is whether Margot Robbie can really skate. I’ve seen pictures of her on the ice, and she doesn’t look wobbly, but these are just stills, so who knows. Sure, she could have a double for the jumps and spins, but why not cast someone who can skate pretty well already? (For example, the author of this post?) I really appreciated that Miracle for the most part cast actual hockey players to play the 1980 Olympic team, so why not do the same here? (Probably because the human drama will take precedence over the skating.)

I don’t know what kind of movie I, Tonya will be. I hope it’s a nuanced look at its subject – not letting her off the hook for what she did, but also not vilifying or mocking her. I hope Margot Robbie does a good job, and I think, acting-wise, she could. I will go see it, even if I worry it might be a sensational look at an admittedly sensational sports story.

In conclusion, I want to write, direct, and play Tonya Harding in I, Tonya.

The Unbearable Like-ness of Bae-ing: Werner Herzog

The Unbearable Like-ness of Bae-ing is a semi-regular column where we write about whatever baes we like at present. We will not apologize for the name.

Right now I’m taking a course on Werner Herzog, who is possibly my favorite figure in German cinema – not necessarily for his movies, but for his pop culture presence. He has inspired a parody Twitter account. He was in an episode of Parks and Rec. Paul F. Tompkins does a regular impression of him. His documentary filmmaking, and filmmaker persona, are parodied in The Penguins of Madagascar. Most Germanists I know can do a pretty serviceable impression of him: just say some stuff about the brutality of nature and the chaos of existence in a vaguely Bavarian accent, and you’re good.

My academic interest in Herzog focuses more on his collaborations with Klaus Kinski and the “insane” protagonists in Aguirre, the Wrath of God and Woyzeck. I wonder why Herzog put up with Kinski, a noted awful dude. At times, Herzog seems as crazy as Kinski, insisting on practical effects in his films that led to serious injury. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. What I’m concerned with today is the fact that Werner Herzog is foxy as heck.

Exhibit A: Herzog filming Fitzcarraldo. Cool mustache, cool parrot.

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Exhibit B: Herzog filming Aguirre, the Wrath of God, talking about the obscenity of the jungle. Tortured genius? Totally bonkers? Doesn’t matter, still hot.

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Exhibit C: Herzog and his bear friend. Just kidding, that bear is not his friend, because in the faces of all bears there is “no kinship, no understanding, no mercy…only the overwhelming indifference of nature”. Bears are not your friends. Werner Herzog is not your friend. This is a key part of his appeal.

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In conclusion: Werner Herzog makes a lot of fascinating movies that we should watch, celebrate, and interrogate. He is also bae. This has been The Unbearable Like-ness of Bae-ing: Werner Herzog.

Addendum: consider the degree to which a young Klaus Kinski looks like Sebastian Stan, a bae whom Amy, our resident Sebastian Stan stan, will profile in the near future.

Some Good Pop Culture Things That Are Getting Me Through Grad School

Grad school can at times be a stressful, sad, rage-inducing, isolating, and occasionally boring experience. I’m glad I have a great support system – my family, friends, cohort, mentors, and colleagues – to get me through it. Pop culture is a big part of my support system, too; it’s a good way to escape the world of academia, and sometimes finds its way into my research. Here is a list of some of the things that have, thus far, gotten me through my MA and PhD:

  • All of Tina Fey’s creations: 30 RockBossypantsUnbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Liz Lemon is my heroine, and by heroine I mean lady hero; I don’t want to inject her and listen to jazz. Someday I will find out why Tina thinks we’re the worst, but I’ll accept her judgement for now.
  • Mad Men, which features another personal heroine of mine, Peggy Olson. Say what you will about this scene being fan service, but I cheer/cry every time I see it.
  • The music of Kanye West, particularly The Life of Pablo. TLOP came out in the second semester of my PhD, at a time when I was feeling very sad, and it helped a lot. I also listen to Kanye every time I’m on a plane; his bravado somewhat alleviates my fear of flying.
  • Gilmore Girls, seasons 1-4 (before Rory starts making really dumb decisions). In my MA my friends and I would put it on in the background while we worked; now I watch it with my cat (named Lorelai). I probably will not watch the reboot. Gilmore Guys is also great, especially for driving in Nashville traffic.
  • This video and this video, staples for end-of-semester final paper writing.
  • You’re the Worst and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, hilarious shows featuring great depictions of women dealing with mental illness.
  • Les Miserables, which is really best as a singalong where you try to sing “Stars” worse than Russell Crowe. (It’s hard.) “I Dreamed A Dream” is also a relatable and melodramatic thing for grad students (read: me) to sing to themselves in the car.
  • Danger 5, an Australian comedy series discovered by my MA bestie’s husband. We binged it, we loved it, and we wrote a paper about it, making it possibly the most productive distraction ever.
  • Stranger Things, I guess, because it was a good source of prelims procrastination. (I still think it’s overhyped.)