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girl_interrupted1I watched the movie Girl Interrupted. I found it highly disturbing! For those of you, who haven’t seen the movie or know the storyline, click here.

Susanna Kaysen, questions the idea of being sane and insane. What is perceived as sane? Is being sane really about hiding the insane parts of you so that they will let you out of a mental institution? Maybe “Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy.”

When Lisa and Susanna break out of Claymoore with the intention of going to work in Walt Disney resort, they meet a gang of hippies. The conversation with one of the hippies goes:

Susanna Kaysen: You don’t want me, Tony.
Tony: Yes I do, baby.
Susanna Kaysen: No, you don’t, I’m a crazy girl.
Tony: You’re crazy so we can’t one night of bliss?
Susanna Kaysen: I am a crazy girl, seriously.
Tony: You’ve been in a hospital.
Susanna Kaysen: Yes.
Tony: Do you see purple people? My friend, he saw purple people. And so the state came and took him away. He didn’t like that. Some time went by and, and he told ’em he didn’t see pueple people no more.
Susanna Kaysen: He got better.
Tony: Nah, he still sees ’em.

So here we see that the purple-visions friend has really not been cured of his purple visions. He lets people think he has been cured of them, so girl_interrupted2that they would let him go. So is he sane because he was smart enough to know which part of himself he had to suppress or was he insane because he was still having the purple visions? When he stopped telling people about his purple visions, people stopped thinking he was crazy. Is being sane or normal the equivalent of trying to fit in and be part of the crowd? What about Joan of Arc, she had visions and heard voices? The church called insane, heretical and burnt her at the stake and a few centuries later hailed her as a saint. So is sanity really about acting smart and survival?

Another character in the movie, Daisy Rathbone, a sex abuse victim in an incestuous relationship with her dad is also let out of the mental institution. She goes back to live with her dad, though everyone including her therapist knows that her relationship with her dad is skewered. Also her stay at the institution had not in anyway dampened her enthusiasm for her father. She has a love and hate relationship with him. Love or strong feelings; some thing keeps her coming back to him. She is also shown to have strong hatred for him, because she’s girl_interrupted3constantly trying to kill herself because of the incest. She also has an eating disorder.

But she’s let out of the mental institution. Other inmates deem “it unfair.”  She commits suicide within a few weeks of her release. So is being sane, really about proving to society that you are sane and not real sanity?

Georgina Tuskin: Lisa, is Daisy really getting out?
Lisa Rowe: Yeah, she coughed up a big one.
Susanna Kaysen: But how could – I mean she’s… insane.
Lisa Rowe: Yeah, well that’s what ther-rape-me’s all about. That’s why fuckin’ Freud’s pictures on every shrink’s wall. He created a fuckin’ industry. You lie down, you confess your secrets and you’re saved. Ca-ching! The more you confess, the more they think about settin’ you free.
Susanna Kaysen: But what if you don’t have a secret?
Lisa Rowe: Then you’re a lifer, like me.

Daisy’s father was obviously a mean, bad guy. When the insane people  – Susanna and Lisa – could guess there was something wrong in the relationship, how come the guys with the Ph.Ds in psychology didn’t guess there was something terribly wrong? Why is Daisy allowed to go to this man’s apartment in the first place? And obviously society considered Mr Rathbone, a sane guy or they would have him put in a padded cell along with his daughter. So is being sane really all about showing your best face in society and doing all the horrible, insane things in private? All these questions and more Susanna brings up to break our own comfort zones.girl-interrupted4

When Angelina confronts Daisy, she tells the truth, unsparingly:

Daisy Rathbone:My father loves me.
Lisa Rowe: I bet. With every inch of his manhood.

Daisy Rathbone: You’re just jealous, Lisa… because I got better… because I was released… because I have a chance… at a life.
Lisa Rowe: They didn’t release you ’cause you’re better, Daisy, they just gave up. You call this a life, hmm? Taking Daddy’s money, buying your dollies and your knickknacks. And eating his fuckin’ chicken, fattening up like a prize fuckin’ heifer. You changed the scenery, but not the fuckin’ situation, and the warden makes housecalls. And everybody knows, everbody knows that he fucks you. What they don’t know is that you like it, hmm? You like it.
Susanna Kaysen: [to Lisa] Shut the fuck up!
Lisa Rowe: Hey, man, it’s cool, it’s okay. It’s fine, it’s fucking fine! A man is a dick is a man is a dick is a chicken… is a dad… a Valium, a speculum, whatever, whatever. [to Daisy] You like being Mrs. Rathbone. Probably all you’ve ever known.
Daisy Rathbone: Have fun in Florida. [goes upstairs to her room]

girl_interrupted5Angelina or Lisa Rowe is diagnosed or in the girls own words “diag”-nonsense d ” as a sociopath. In a way, Susanna seems to blame Daisy’s death on Lisa, because she commits suicide the morning after the showdown with Lisa. But Lisa was just a trigger, Daisy would have any committed suicide or died within; pretty tough to try liking and living with abuse.

At some point, Susanna gets enchanted with Lisa and is almost shown in love with her (witness the kissing scene in the car during the break out). But then, Susanna gets to know who Lisa really is at Daisy’s apartment. Not only does Lisa show no remorse for her earlier comments or for the dead body hanging in front of her, she goes on to steal cash from the dead Daisy.

Susanna Kaysen: What the fuck are you doing, Lisa?
Lisa Rowe: I’m playing the villain, baby, just like you want. I try to give you everything you want.
Susanna Kaysen: No you don’t.
Lisa Rowe: You wanted your file, I found you your file. You wanted out, I got you out. You needed money, I found you some. I’m fucking consistent. I told you the truth. I didn’t write it down in a fucking book! I told you to your face. And I told Daisy to her face – what everybody knew and wouldn’t say, and she killed herself. And I played the fucking villain, just like you wanted.
Susanna Kaysen: Why would I want that?girl-interrupted6
Lisa Rowe: Because it makes you the good guy, sweet pea. You come back here, all sweetness and light, and sad and contrite, and everybody congratulating you on your bravery. And meanwhile, I’m blowing the guys at the bus station for the money that was in her fucking robe!

I suddenly realised this is the first time I’m posting adult content and I still haven’t even started out saying everything that I wanted to say…But that will have to wait…as its 2 am and I have work tomorrow….Its fascinating the movie and I have lots of insights to share!

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scarlett2Gone with the Wind, both the novel and the book have won wide-spread appreciation and acclaim. But the danger lies, because of its popularity. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean its right. Birth of a Nation was popular. Does that mean it was morally right?

Margaret Mitchell might be the best story-teller ever and Scarlett O’ Hara the most adorable heroine of all times, but that doesn’t in any way justify the book’s racist and sexist attitudes.

Malcolm X once said, “The white Southerner, you can say one thing – he is honest. He bares his teeth to the black man; he tells the black man, to his face, that Southern whites never will accept phony ‘integration.’ The Southern white goes further, to tell the black man that he means to fight him every inch of the way – against even the so-called ‘tokenism.’ The advantage of this is the Southern gonewiththewindblack man never has been under any illusions about the opposition he is dealing with.

Gone with the Wind is racist, but since its language is more subtle, we tend to gloss over it. We love pretty women in luxuriant ball gowns, huge mansions, the fight for a so-called “noble cause,” dancing and music. Its unrealistic portrayal of the South and its many historical inaccuracies has not affected its popularity; or maybe it’s popular because it has successfully glamorized the slave era.

Everyone is familiar with the great success of the movie and the film. What was surprising is that most reviewers praised Gone with the Wind and lamented the passing away of the “glorious South.” A South, which never existed except in the white man’s mind.

Black Loyalty:

Why should Afro-Americans be loyal to the whites who have enslaved them? Beats all logic! But this is the premise on which Gone with the Wind and Uncle Tom’s Cabin operate. In both salenovels, you have Afro-Americans – Uncle Tom and Mammy – being extremely loyal to the whites, who repay them for their loyalty by selling their kids and spouses, branding them as property, and chaining them to unremitting labour.

Uncle Tom and Mammy are also the “happy slaves.” What are they trying to do? Condone slavery? Were they trying to establish that the Afro-American was happy under the white man’s rule?

Malcolm X is dead against these “Uncle Tom characters or integration black fools.” I can so empathize with his views.

None of the white people in the book, including Rhett and Ahsley (the only two men who don’t follow the common herd), give Afro-Americans any credit for intelligence.

Scarlett own words are: “How stupid negroes were! They never thought of anything unless they were told.” “How dared they laugh, the black apes! She’d like to have them all whipped until the blood ran down. What devils the Yankees were to set them free!”

The author herself, in a narrative portion says, “The blacks were like monkeys. Destroying everything they black-slaves-1500could lay their hands on….A menace to white women.” What a horrible insinuation! That the Afro-American cannot appreciate his freedom? “Blacks are like monkeys?”

Mitchell even compares their mentality to that of little children, “who must be fed, clothed and protected.” So many characters in the book, say what Mitchell feels, that Afro-Americans don’t and can’t do anything unless they are ordered to do so.

Characters like Pork and Uncle Peter embody the silent loyalty and faithfulness expected of the white man, after denying the Afro-American his freedom, his dignity and life.

Slaves can only have minor roles and must be happy with their lot. Selznick’s Gone with the Wind is in many gonemammy1ways worse than the book. Prissy, who is shown as a lazy girl in the book, is turned into a really stupid person in the film.

Gone with the Wind also sends out the message: “Nice blacks stay with their masters. Nice blacks don’t want freedom. Nice blacks hate Abraham Lincoln. Wicked blacks run riot, desert their masters and desire white women.”

Even in Uncle Tom’s cabin, the nice Afro-Americans are the ones who chose loyalty to their masters over freedom.

Strong Female White characters

One of the positive aspects is the strong female white characters it portrays. Scarlett is in a way legendary. vivien-leigh-postersHer survival instincts are high. Where men have failed, she not only succeeds but triumphs. She cares a naught for social approval, whether it comes to marrying three men in a row or sharp, cut-throat business dealings.

Though the book tries to portray Ellen and Melanie as noble women with the “right” values, I don’t find them half as appealing as Scarlett. Scarlett thinks for herself. Her desires are independent of her husband’s desires. She doesn’t act like a goody, goody. If Ellen and Melanie were really all that good, they would have opposed slavery, not turned a blind eye to the sufferings of black people (I know I’m beginning to sound like a Methodist preacher, but I can’t help the vehemence).

In one of the lines, Scarlett says that Uncle Tom’s cabin is nonsense. She claims Southerners always treated their “darkies well.” She denies the existence of bloodhounds or arms to keep slaves from escaping. Lines like these are absolute rubbish! What person, in his right mind, would prefer slavery to freedom? And vivien-leigh-and-clark-gable1Margaret Mitchell is also asking us to believe that the whites did not use force to keep the blacks from revolting. Too much, I say! So lynchings never happened?

Even Rhett Butler, who has not inherited many of the prejudices of the white Southern (ironically) “gentleman,” feels justified in killing a black man, all because he has the termity to get “uppity with a white woman.”

Gerald O Hara, who is generally portrayed as a kind-hearted shrewd Irish Southerner, also feels “blacks are inferiors.” Scarlett’s mom exhorts her to treat “inferiors kindly, but firmly.”

Problems with the film

The film, glosses over war, death, disease, racist slurs, brothels, adultery and miscarriages. The film also rhettgreatly alters the original script. Scarlett O Hara obviously cannot be portrayed a virgin waiting to be ravished by Rhett Butler, so they do the next best thing. She doesn’t have any children till Rhett comes along. Since a mother of two on her third attempt at marriage might not sound glamorous, the film tried to make her first two marriages almost non-existent in the minds of the viewer and highlight only the glorious romance with Rhett.

But even here, the night of the showdown, when Rhett forcibly takes her to his bed…there is something too distasteful and insidious, because Scarlett is shown to have enjoyed the semi-rape; dangerous conclusions can be drawn. And both in the movie and book, there is the autant en emporte le ventconstant refrain that Scarlett needs someone to boss over her or she would bully them.

There is also the suggestion that a marriage can be happy only if the wife submits to her husband or at least pretends to submit to him.

Hattie McDaniel became the first Afro-American to win an Academy Award for her role in Gone with the Wind. But then again, this cannot be taken as a real step forward. The very same Hattie Mc Daniel was unable to attend the Georgia premier of the movie, because Georgia was a segregated state. Clark Gable, to his credit, protested, but in the end McDaniel solved the problem for the racists by not appearing for the show.

The Ku Klux Klan

It is a shame that racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan are still allowed to function in the US. Both theku_klux_klan film and the book justify the actions of this despicable organization. According to Mitchell, respectable white men join this organization to protect the honour of their white women. The Ku Klux Klan has used violence to suppress Afro-Americans, Jews, Roman Catholics and labour unions.

There is also strong evidence to suggest that Margaret Mitchell was influenced by D W Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. Birth of a Nation, is the archetypical white supremacy film, which justifies lynchings of black men. I can only end by quoting Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird: “you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption, the evil assumption, that all negroes lie; all negroes are basically immoral beings; all negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption that one associates with minds of their caliber, and which is in itself, gentlemen, a lie.”

(Justification for this long diatribe: I read Gone with the Wind when I was 10 and loved it. The references to Afro-Americans made me uncomfortable. But it was only after I became 14 did I come to fully realise the depth of racism in the book. I have for long wanted to write this, and I still haven’t written everything I want to say…but that will have to wait)

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Toll Free Numbers

Airlines
Indian Airlines – 1800 180 1407
Jet Airways – 1800 22 5522
SpiceJet – 1800 180 3333
Air India — 1800 22 7722
KingFisher – 1800 180 0101

Banks
ABN AMRO – 1800 11 2224
Canara Bank – 1800 44 6000
Citibank – 1800 44 2265
Corporatin Bank – 1800 443 555
Development Credit Bank – 1800 22 5769
HDFC Bank – 1800 227 227
ICICI Bank – 1800 333 499
ICICI Bank NRI – 1800 22 4848
IDBI Bank – 1800 11 6999
Indian Bank – 1800 425 1400
ING Vysya – 1800 44 9900
Kotak Mahindra Bank – 1800 22 6022
Lord Krishna Bank – 1800 11 2300
Punjab National Bank – 1800 122 222
State Bank of India – 1800 44 1955
Syndicate Bank – 1800 44 6655

Automobiles
Mahindra Scorpio – 1800 22 6006
Maruti – 1800 111 515
Tata Motors – 1800 22 5552
Windshield Experts – 1800 11 3636

Computers

Adrenalin – 1800 444 445
AMD – 1800 425 6664
Apple Computers – 1800 444 683
Canon – 1800 333 366
Cisco Systems – 1800 221 777
Compaq – HP – 1800 444 999
Data One Broadband – 1800 424 1800
Dell – 1800 444 026
Epson – 1800 44 0011
eSys – 3970 0011
Genesis Tally Academy – 1800 444 888
HCL – 1800 180 8080
IBM – 1800 443 333
Lexmark – 1800 22 4477
Marshal’s Point – 1800 33 4488
Microsoft – 1800 111 100
Microsoft Virus Update – 1901 333 334
Seagate – 1800 180 1104
Symantec – 1800 44 5533
TVS Electronics – 1800 444 566
WeP Peripherals – 1800 44 6446
Wipro – 1800 333 312
xerox – 1800 180 1225
Zenith – 1800 222 004

Indian Railway General Enquiry 131
Indian Railway Central Enquiry 131
Indian Railway Reservation 131
Indian Railway Railway Reservation Enquiry 1345,1335,1330
Indian Railway Centralised Railway Enquiry 1330/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9

Couriers/Packers & Movers
ABT Courier – 1800 44 8585
AFL Wizz – 1800 22 9696
Agarwal Packers & Movers – 1800 11 4321
Associated Packers P Ltd – 1800 21 4560
DHL – 1800 111 345
FedEx – 1800 22 6161
Goel Packers & Movers – 1800 11 3456
UPS – 1800 22 7171

Home Appliances
Aiwa/Sony – 1800 11 1188
Anchor Switches – 1800 22 7979
Blue Star – 1800 22 2200
Bose Audio – 1800 11 2673
Bru Coffee Vending Machines – 1800 44 7171
Daikin Air Conditioners – 1800 444 222
DishTV – 1800 12 3474
Faber Chimneys – 1800 21 4595
Godrej – 1800 22 5511
Grundfos Pumps – 1800 33 4555
LG – 1901 180 9999
Philips – 1800 22 4422
Samsung – 1800 113 444
Sanyo – 1800 11 0101
Voltas – 1800 33 4546
WorldSpace Satellite Radio – 1800 44 5432

Investments/ Finance
CAMS – 1800 44 2267
Chola Mutual Fund – 1800 22 2300
Easy IPO’s – 3030 5757
Fidelity Investments – 1800 180 8000
Franklin Templeton Fund – 1800 425 4255
J M Morgan Stanley – 1800 22 0004
Kotak Mutual Fund – 1800 222 626
LIC Housing Finance – 1800 44 0005
SBI Mutual Fund – 1800 22 3040
Sharekhan – 1800 22 7500
Tata Mutual Fund – 1800 22 0101

Travel
Club Mahindra Holidays – 1800 33 4539
Cox & Kings – 1800 22 1235
God TV Tours – 1800 442 777
Kerala Tourism – 1800 444 747
Kumarakom Lake Resort – 1800 44 5030
Raj Travels & Tours – 1800 22 9900
Sita Tours – 1800 111 911
SOTC Tours – 1800 22 3344 Healthcare
Best on Health – 1800 11 8899
Dr Batras – 1800 11 6767
GlaxoSmithKline – 1800 22 8797
Johnson & Johnson – 1800 22 8111
Kaya Skin Clinic – 1800 22 5292
LifeCell – 1800 44 5323
Manmar Technologies – 1800 33 4420
Pfizer – 1800 442 442
Roche Accu-Chek – 1800 11 45 46
Rudraksha – 1800 21 4708
Varilux Lenses – 1800 44 8383
VLCC – 1800 33 1262

Insurance
AMP Sanmar – 1800 44 2200
Aviva – 1800 33 2244
Bajaj Allianz – 1800 22 5858
Chola MS General Insurance – 1800 44 5544
HDFC Standard Life – 1800 227 227
LIC – 1800 33 4433
Max New York Life – 1800 33 5577
Royal Sundaram – 1800 33 8899
SBI Life Insurance – 1800 22 9090

Hotel Reservations
GRT Grand – 1800 44 5500
InterContinental Hotels Group – 1800 111 000
Marriott – 1800 22 0044
Sarovar Park Plaza – 1800 111 222
Taj Holidays – 1800 111 825

Tele Shopping
Asian Sky Shop – 1800 22 1800
Jaipan Teleshoppe – 1800 11 5225
Tele Brands – 1800 11 8000
VMI Teleshopping – 1800 447 777
WWS Teleshopping – 1800 220 777

Others
Domino’s Pizza – 1800 111 123

Cell Phones
BenQ – 1800 22 08 08
Bird CellPhones – 1800 11 7700
Motorola MotoAssist – 1800 11 1211
Nokia – 3030 3838
Sony Ericsson – 3901 1111

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