Green Book: Controversy & legacy

The film that won the best picture award at Oscar’s in 2019 is the Green Book. The story takes us on a concert tour that Dr. Donald Shirley, a renowned classical and jazz pianist took in the Deep South during the segregated era of 1962.  

In this journey, he is accompanied by his Italian American driver, Tony Vallelonga aka Tony Lip who is a tough guy from the Bronx chosen particularly for this risky job of a temporary chauffeur and security guard. Tony was prejudiced against blacks before his trip; had stereotypical assumptions and occasionally used racial slurs. Still, he got this job because of his skill of passing through any kind of trouble, thanks to his ‘bullshit artistry’.  

Despite having quite opposite personalities, the two men were able to form a bond that overwhelms the audience heart with warmth. Dr. Shirley deliberately took on this journey to the hostile part of the country because it takes courage, as his band member said ‘to change people’s hearts’. 
Going through the difficult times together, both understood each other‘s struggles and form a friendship that will illuminate until their death.  

             Image result for green book pinterest                                        

However, this film has received criticisms for various reasons. It has been the center of controversy since its release. The filmmakers didn’t contact the family of the Shirley for any information and the family said that the portrait of the artist as depicted in this film is false. Shirley’s cousin said that the film is once again the depiction of a white man’s version of a black man’s life. 

 Critics accused this film of having racial cliches and hinting to have found the solution or rather ended the racial prejudices. People are even discussing the credibility of a white filmmaker to make films on black people.  

The son of Vallelonga addressed the controversy and said, ‘If you’re discussing the Don Shirley family thing, that falls on me; but Don Shirley himself told me not to speak to anyone.’ He told the journalists that the pianist insisted, ‘If you are going to tell the story, you tell it from your father, me. No one else.’ 

Despite the disputes, the film scored the top prize at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and at People’s Choice. The director, Peter Farrelly said at the acceptance speech, ‘the whole story is about love. It’s about loving each other despite our differences.’ 

Ode to women: Maya Angelou (I)

I’ve known some extraordinary women in my life. Known them through books, virtual or everyday life. Women who made me realize the beauty; the beauty of life and womanhood. I like to say that I have each part of these women, yet, they always inspire me to be authentic and original.

My mother, my favorite singer, my best friend, my teachers and favorite writers are my muses. Women who surround me and those who stir me. This is why when I read the verses of Maya Angelou, it feels like encountering a storm. A reality that shakes you up, a calamity that was bound to happen to revive you, to bring you back in existence. She comes to remind me of the value that love holds— love for yourself, trust and power that lies within a fragile body. The power that cannot be found at any other place and must not be given away.

She makes me believe that I don’t need anyone to appreciate me or to make me realize how capable or good I am. It is a lesson girl that you ought to learn by yourself. ‘You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody,’ she says.

When I feel crushed down by the standards of modern beauty; something that makes all of these pretty young women suffer. Suffer to the extreme point. But here she comes to whisper in the silent, dreary nights saying, ‘I’m not cute or built to fit a model size but I’m phenomenal.’ Waking us again from the dream of lies.

The magic lies in the eyes. She has the power, an absolute power, an inner potential that surpasses the world’s arrogance.

When I think about my first love; he with whom I never shared a word, yet he stays with me until the last breath of consciousness in the night. I feel bruised by my own feebleness, my own decisions, and my own emotions. I saw the enemy that doesn’t stand in front of me but stays inside of me. The greatest foe who can’t be beaten and can’t be a friend.

She appears again from the thick clouds of tangled thoughts. She came to console me; reminding the desires will change and dreams will fade away in the distant memory.

Men walk.
Knowing something.
Going someplace.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.

She learned the lesson with a bitter experience. But she wrote it down to help us choose the right way. Saving us from the rough and tough path.

Not everything we desire is full of roses. Soft and delightful made just for us to walk. We can become blind to reality but only to the extent we want. But ‘life loves the liver of it.’ And you must think of living and learning from it.

Would you still look for me ?

One fine evening,
A thought came into my mind
which made me ponder and think of my plight
I sat on my chair and thought if I die
Would you come to me to say a final goodbye?
Would my dead body be able to get delight?
With  her alive beloved  sitting beside

I am not sure if it all makes sense,
But it is – just an attempt
to know…

That
If!! I am not alive except in your dream, Would you still look for me??

When the Dusk will set its spark,
with the sky full of stars,
Decorating it with their gleam
Will they remind you of your queen?
And  Would you still look for me??

Would you think of nights we spent together?
In that freezing cold weather,
To whom would you say-
“My world with you seems serene”
Would you still look for me ??

When one day suddenly your phone would beep,
Would you pray that;
By any chance, it’s your stupid being
If not!
Would you still look for me??

God forbid something silly happens around you,
Whose name would you scream?
Will it be mine or your new sunshine?
I hope she replies and
If not!
Would you still look for me ??

A lost battle

It was a beautiful day
with the burst of dancing sunshine
moving cars 
autumn pink flowers
and a general blather
A perfect day 
whence nobody peeks in their heart
a dreary place 
to look into
yet the habitual one
can’t help
to wander
to explore
to agitate 
and
to be beaten
A fight
a continuous battle 
with themselves
with their nature
with their soul

To reach nothing
but a defeat

 This is why a man is his greatest enemy

Who was he ??

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There was a knock on my door
when I was sitting all alone
crying, dying and craving for a listener

And to my surprise
The person standing outside,
Asked me to let him in
So that I can vanish my gloom
And
Let flowers of smile again to bloom

His presence lightened my room
As if, we were in a state all aloof
I  asked him – Why has he come?
He said- to make you listen to your inner drum

He said,
My Dear look around
Birds are chirruping, trees are dancing
As the wind blows,
Look at the sky & watch the stars glow
And tell me – Do you still find a reason to be low?

Amazed by the sight of the endless and hopeful sky,
I realized that I can be happy if I try….

Rumination

There are times when the existence seems like a burden. A work unfinished or the person’s mockery wreck the heart as it never should. The sense of individuality increases, up to the point to annihilate the existence of anything else.

Then, we wonder. How? When it all happened? When those childish worries took the form of this mature-ish stress. Where was that turning point? Where are those stupid dreams? Where went that time when you thought that your first crush is going to be your soulmate – the first and the last partner?

Regardless, it happened. Everything changed. And now we are left behind to sort all out. By ourselves. Aren’t we mature enough yet?

Dreaming success and love. A greater future, full of roses. Loved ones beside and financial success at your feet. Isn’t this enough to measure your happiness? Fame and money!

Then we say that the world is cruel. Humanity is drifting away. But don’t we prefer the same?

Longing

Tonight
is going to be cruel
A solemn, dreary blackness
Misty blue mountains
grieving from my flashy window
longing for someone
asking for a loved one
one who is lost
in commonness
someone far away
living in an odd sphere
of time and space
enjoying a lovely evening
maybe
worrying maybe, loving maybe
crying maybe or denying maybe
you can never see
never know
never console

Just imagine
and love

Fascism’s beginning in Italy

The Great War has ended finally. After the death of around 20 million people and even a greater number wounded, a peace treaty has been signed. Italy fought alongside the Triple Entente and came out as one of the victorious nations.

But the country was devastated- inflation, heavy unemployment due to the reconstruction of industries, a high cost of living and an unprecedented wave of protests. Internal divisions led to social turmoil— workers were demanding an improvement in their work conditions, decrease in work hours and good pay. To attain the results, they occupied the factories. Nationalists and landowners were angry too as they didn’t receive the land promised to them during the war. There was a great dissatisfaction for this ‘mutilated victory’.

Yet, the government with Giovanni Giolitti as a head didn’t attempt to bring any order inside the nation. He took a liberal approach and was convinced that these strikes will halt without any kind of intervention.

                          Occupation by the Red Guards in 1920

Benito Mussolini took the action eventually by setting up Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in 1919. Initially, this was a political movement of a para-military character emerged as a reaction to the protests of the working class and the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. Mussolini himself was a former leading exponent of the Socialist Party but was expelled when he favored the intervention of Italy in the war. Tensions escalated and the fascists started attacking the protesters on street. The bourgeois, property-owners, middle-class managers and leaders supported the fascists as Mussolini, for them, was a ‘right man’ who can bring peace and order back.

Nonetheless, they were anti-democratic and anti-socialist. Organized in squads known as Blackshirts their violence flared, methods became harsher and intimidation grew as the power expanded. The National Fascist Party was created and a mass demonstration took place in 1922 with Marcia su Roma. The king, Vittorio Emanuele III, didn’t call the troops to repress this coup. Instead, he appointed Mussolini as Prime Minister, giving him the political powers.

                                                      Squadristi & Fascists

After ascending to power, it was a time to legitimize his rule. Thus, he changed the electoral laws (Acerbo law): a political party which would obtain over 25% of the votes will automatically have 65% of the seats. And like this, the National Fascist Party won the election of 1924. He validated the Blackshirts by making them a military organ known by the name of Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale, an all-volunteer militia of theKingdom of Italy. Then he formed the Opera Nazionale Balilla, an institution aimed at young people in order to gain consensus and convert the youth into a political weapon. Media was under the control of the regime. The education system was structured in accordance with the fascist ideologies. The focus was to evoke physical courage and patriotism. At this time, there was no space left for anti-conformism or rebel.

                Giacomo Matteotti, a member of the Socialist Party

One noted case is of Giacomo Matteottia socialist politician who openly spoke against the brutality and election irregularities in the Parliament. Later, Matteotti disappeared and his corpse was found buried outside the city. Fed up with all this, the opposition withdrew from the chamber; an event that is recalled today as ‘Aventine Secession’.

I’ve said my piece. Now you prepare my funeral speech — Giacomo Matteotti

Mussolini took the political, moral and historical responsibility of everything that happened in recent months hinting the murder of Matteotti. This was the beginning of a terrible time during which there won’t be any constitutional restrictions against his power. Nominating himself ‘Il Duce’, he set on a journey to make Italy a great European power. But future have something horrifying for the entire world that goes beyond any imagination.

Italy, o gentlemen, wants peace, wants tranquility, wants a laborious calm; we will give it to her with love, if possible, or by force if it is necessary.

Residual Thoughts

There are times when humanity seems like a far away thing. The point that we all are human beings, appertaining to the same category of species looks like an illusion. And it never crosses our mind that there are other species, besides us, beyond me, sharing this planet. It is an everyday fact, still, seems like a counter-intuitive thought. Our holy network of the ecosystem is ruining day by day but we don’t care. It doesn’t matter if the insects are going extinct. We don’t care what will be the future of this planet, the future of this humanity and this green graceful nature.

It doesn’t matter as long as there is ME.

Maybe, we are too selfish. Ahimè, this growth! Why are we evolved to the point? How do we reach here? This place where anything beyond ourselves doesn’t matter. Caring for other kinds is a distant consideration but we don’t even care for our fellows. We become the prey of our feelings, irrational feelings, emotions, instincts. Killing and ruin others for power, jealousy, love, obsession, madness, and fun. We are too self-absorbed. Too damned. Such a feeling of distinction, almost irrational, extreme. It seems like that connection to the self is lost. Irretrievably lost in the midst of superficiality.

But, craving for that lost link is immense. I can smell that peace I once felt. That satisfaction, that completeness. This memory is sweet. And powerful. A source to keep me alive.

Gives me strength and hope that someday, maybe someday, I can feel that again.

Ill for sympathy & attention

Freiherr von Munchhausen was a famous story.-teller who used to entertain the guests with the tales of his adventures during the Russo-Turkish war. This fictional character recounted impossible achievements which include pulling himself out of the bog with his own hair and traveling to the moon.

This literary model bestowed his name to one of the life-threatening factitious disorder known as ‘Munchausen’s Syndrome.’ Characterized by the invention and fabrication of syndromes, it is a psychiatric disease in which a patient presents himself to seek attention or sympathy for their exaggerated or made up symptoms. The motivation is to acquire a ‘sick role’. These symptoms are faked but even induced sometimes by injecting harmful bacteria, infected materials, detergents or through tourniquets.

A patient, whose name was never disclosed in the studies, used self-harm as a child to cope with isolation and abandonment. This behavior, as she stated, was to avoid the sexual abuse as ‘when I was sick, my abusers would leave me alone.’ This self-damage mounted to Munchausen syndrome and she started to focus more and more on injuring herself. She would go to great lengths to feign illness, such as injecting herself with feces, exposing herself to bitter cold to become frostbitten, swallowing detergents or adding blood to urine samples to cause abnormal test results.

Being sick had become a way of life and I was unable to stop. The rewards were just too great.

Her self-inflicted damage brought severe consequences: she had to remove her bladder and she went to ICU due to a septic shock.

‘For the first time, I found myself really scared that I might die’.

She had been fortunate as she realized the dangerous path she has been leading and vowed, then, to start her life again. Psychotherapy helped her to recover further and she went anew for a healthy and better life.

However, there exists another mental illness in which the deception doesn’t involve themselves but someone under the person’s care. This is known as Factitious Disorder Imposed On Another or Munchausen syndrome by proxy. In this case, an individual can deliberately make a second person ill without his or her knowledge to have that special attention reserved for the ill and their families.
This is often done to someone who they are in charge of, as an elderly family member or child. In the recorded cases, the parents that frequently fake Munchausen by proxy are mothers.

A person with FDIA uses the many hospitalizations as a way to earn praise from others for their devotion to the child’s care, often using the sick child as a means for developing a relationship with the doctor or other health care provider. The adult with FDIA often will not leave the bedside and will discuss in medical detail symptoms and care provided as evidence that he or she is a good caretaker.

Most known cases of FDIA:
The story of Marybeth Tinning and her nine dead children. Between 1967 and 1985, eight of her children died under suspicious circumstances. The rumors circulated that Tinning family suffered from ‘death gene’ as each child died within months.
Finally, she was convicted and sentenced to 20 years of life. Last year she was released from the prison after serving more than 31 years of her 20-years-to-life sentence.

Another recent case is of the blogger Lacey Spears who was convicted of the murder of her 5-year-old Garett Spears. Lacey documented the health struggles of her son in the blog garnettsjourey.blogspot.com. Garnett suffered from severe ear infections, high fevers, seizures, and digestion problems induced by her mother who was blogging, at the same time, about his hospital trips. She was found guilty on account of murdering her son ‘by poisoning him with table salt, which she had administrated to him from infancy through his feeding tube.’ Social media seemed to become a place of attention and sympathy for her.

Spears fed her son lethal amounts of salt and conducted Internet research about the effects salt would have on the boy.

In another heartbreaking case, 40-year-old Kathy Bushy intentionally sickened her child and made her go through 40 pointless surgeries.

Marc Feldman explained another case of Mrs. A who joined an online community where she claimed to have five children and one of these children, she said, suffers from gastroesophageal reflux and celiac disease. As came out, this whole thing was a ruse and Mrs. A. was actually a 21-year old woman with no children whatsoever.

This can be defined as Munchausen by Internet as people join the support groups and make up a story to get sympathy. It is becoming more common because of easy online access. People don’t have to go from one emergency room to another to convince about their illness; they can fabricate anything behind the screens.

Gypsy endured more than two decades of meritless hospitalizations and treatments for illnesses

However, the most famous case of Munchausen by proxy is of Dee Dee Blanchard who eventually ended up brutally stabbed by her own daughter. She made everybody believe that her daughter, Gypsy Rose suffered from leukemia, asthma and muscular dystrophy. Dee Dee made her daughter pass as disabled and chronically ill with a mental capacity of 7-years-old. She made her went through unnecessary surgeries, medications, and occasionally psychological and physical abuse. Fed up with the abuse, Gypsy and her new boyfriend murdered Dee Dee.

It was not because I hated her. It was because I wanted to escape her- Gypsy Blanchard

Explaining the extreme behavior of these mothers, Marc Feldman, professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Alabama said,

These mothers tend to be psychopathic. They don’t experience guilt and they lack empathy.

He, further, noted that the number of people who fake diseases in the hospitals is usually higher than estimated but the doctors often do not realize that they are being deceived or they, simply, do not confront the patient fearing the consequences or being insensitive or bad-mouthed.

However, detection and treatment for this disorder are vital. The treatment is often complex and includes long term psychological recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help to change the thinking and behavior of that individual.

They believe that having an illness will make them feel special. Patients who are diagnosed with the syndrome are almost always found to be struggling with something — perhaps depression or a traumatic childhood. They need help. But for whatever reason, they cannot admit this to others and so they use illness as an excuse to reach out for emotional support- Gregor P. Yates