Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

E.E. Cummings Month: “‘kitty’. sixteen,5’1″,white,prostitute.”

August 12, 2010

— Sorry for the sparseness and lateness of posts today, dudes, but my grandmother is having a really Bad Day. The human brain can be such a bastard. —

“kitty”. sixteen,5’1″,white,prostitute.

ducking always the touch of must and shall,
whose slippery body is Death’s littlest pal,

skilled in quick softness. Unspontaneous. cute.

the signal perfume of whose unrepute
focusses in the sweet slow animal
bottomless eyes importantly banal,

Kitty. a whore. Sixteen
                                                   you corking brute
amused from time to time by clever drolls
fearsomely who do keep their sunday flower.
The babybreasted broad “kitty” twice eight

— beer nothing,the lady’ll have a whiskey-sour —
whose least amazing smile is the most great
common divisor of unequal souls.

(E.E. Cummings, “‘kitty’. sixteen,5’1″,white,prostitute.” 1923.)

“Whose slippery body is death’s littlest pal.” God.

The poem is designed to shock and it is shocking — not so much her age of 16, which was consenting in most states at that time, and there is no harm in a consenting human exploring their own sexuality, but the idea that Kitty is such an old and careful but hopeless hand at the sex trade that it is her sole living and she has abandoned her childhood likely earlier than she would have liked, implying her experiences began at a far more tender age — as well as containing a moral without being overly pedantic about it: my interpretation is that Mr. Cummings finds the youth of this prostitute, Kitty, sad and abhorrent, and is taking to task the entire trade, together with its purveyors, its proponents, and its “banal” and wicked pervasiveness, which can crush the spirit of a child and that can drive the spark and spontaneity out of the eyes of a “cute,” young girl. He is disgusted that a young woman’s agency has been foreclosed to a system that allows her no real freedom. That is my take and I stand by it staunchly. If you take the poem to mean that Mr. Cummings is fine with teen prostitutes, I’m interested to hear your argument.

Girl sold by her family in Thailand. Please only follow this link if you are not the weepy kind. (I am.)

In a lot of Eastern European and developing Asian countries, this problem is so nauseatingly endemic that its only solution is harsh, swift, Actually ENFORCED sanctions from other countries.

For those in more “developed” nations (raise your pinky, okay, cause we are sooo evolved with our computers and cell phones), I think the greatest way to prevent a sad poem like this from becoming the reality for that sullen girl-woman you see with her arms folded in front of the cosmetics display at the grocery while her mother fills the cart with gin and baby formula is to start coaching early and hard in strategies for self-esteem and success the likely victims of the child prostitution trade. I take no such high road as Mr. Cummings about obliquely non-pedantic “you should stop this,” methods: he is far more subtle and poetic than I, obviously. With protection of those vulnerable targets in mind, here is a short and very hastily-assembled list of groups that I think do that. If you have any to add, please, please do.

Organizations for child advocacy

— In the U.S. (all of these non-profits have been rated A or higher by; do not leave home without it … wish they would start tackling and rating more international non-profits) —

  • National Alliance to End Homelessness. Common factors in teen prostitution: runaways; homelessness. Donate time or money.
  • Save the Children. Mainly focused on the United States, but also offers opportunities to better the lives of children in other countries
  • — In the U.K./Europe —

  • STOP (Trafficking UK). In support of the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 and the sanctions established against the trafficking of humans, espeically women and children, by the U.N. in Palermo in 2000, STOP (Trafficking UK) is an advocacy group for helping those who have come to the U.K. via the channels of the illegal sex trade — women and children — to find jobs, parents as need be, literacy coaches, counseling, and any other support they need. A new but excellent group.
  • UN.GIFT (the United Nations Global Initiative to Stop Human Trafficking). “UN.GIFT works with all stakeholders – governments, business, academia, civil society and the media – to support each other’s work, create new partnerships and develop effective tools to fight human trafficking.” UN.GIFT is a great jumping-off point for finding ways to help in your specific country.
  • — Other efforts abroad to advocate for disadvantaged youth and stem child prostitution —

  • Pearl S. Buck International: founded by the author of The Good Earth. Through PSBI you can arrange an inter-racial adoption via Welcome House or you may choose to sponsor a child. Special program for children in Asia, where many countries’ lax laws governing prostitution make it a viable and thriving trade, via Opportunity House.
  • The Global Fund for Children. Well-rated, takes your money and spreads it around well-researched country-based special needs groups.
  • And of course, UNICEF, the United Nations International Childrens’ Emergency Fund. I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but it’s what Audrey would want.

  • Photo credits, top to bottom: Jodie Foster as Iris “Easy” Steensman, Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976); Brooke Shields as Violet in Pretty Baby (Lois Malle, 1978); Iris and Travis Bickle dine out in Taxi Driver — Jodie again with Robert De Niro; I credited the center one below the picture itself and I again find it flabbergasting and horrifying; Brooke on the cover of People in May 1978; Jodie again from TD, heartbreakingly young in the green sunglasses — to me this has become an iconic outfit, summing up totally her character and Iris’s backstory and motivations; Brooke again out of costume on set for Pretty Baby, a surprising addition to the so-called “Raider Nation.” I assume the Raiders were still in their brief stationing at Los Angeles at this point.

    PSA: Movie Moment — Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever

    May 20, 2010

    All right, that’s it. I’ve positively had it with all the growing sass and scuttlebutt I’ve been hearing over the last several years that the action flick Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is “the worst” movie of all time or even, according to justly venerated Rotten Tomatoes, the worst movie in recent memory.

    First of all, no one bashes a Lucy Liu movie on my watch — Freckles, would you please call a bitch? I got plans! — and second, there are way worse recent movies out there than Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (and, yes, you may look forward to me referring to the title in full throughout this entry).

    As two examples off the top of my head, I consider the recent film adaptation of comic legend Will Eisner’s The Spirit to be legless, personally devastating schlock with virtually unwatchable “acting,” while Shrek the 3rd was so shrill and crassly commercial that I believe my heart has been better warmed by Dr. Pepper ads.

    There is a misconception that Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever was based on a videogame of the same name. Scratch that, reverse it. The videogame was based on the original script for the movie, but ended up being released ahead of the film, which had changed considerably over the course of production. A second, sequel videogame was based on the movie, with the events of the game more closely following the movie’s plot. So you can also take Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever off the “worst adaptation” lists.

    A point in the film’s defense: Originally, the character of Agent Sever was male. Antonio Banderas, having been cast as Ecks, suggested during the Search for Sever that the studio consider reworking the character as a female. The part went to Lucy Liu. (Out of the park grand slam in my book — gracias, Sr. Banderas.) But here’s the thing: Ecks and Sever do not at any point have sex with each other. Oh, snap! A guns-blazing testerone-filled movie about professional cool-as-shit-spy-people where one of them is a girl and she actually does not get tumbled by the male! Amazing! And they said it could not be done. Booya! I find that fact impressive and surprisingly integritous, considering the cheese that oozes from most of the plotholes in Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (I will never get tired of writing that full title out).

    I will grant you, the dialogue can be bad, although I could say the same for the recent remake of Clash of the Titans, during which Special K and I began predicting, accurately, the next sullen thing Perseus would grumble to whoever he was arguing with at the time.* Particularly galling is a supposedly pensive “learning” moment near the end of the picture when someone says, accurately, of Sever, “She’s a killer,” and Agent Jeremiah Ecks responds severely, “No. She’s a mother.” Hope the families of the some fifty police officers that former-Agent Sever killed in the — surprise, surprise — gratuitously violent opening sequence agree that mom trumps cop.

    And yes, it is pretty much shocking that it somehow got past everyone involved in this film’s production that the screenplay has placed operatives for the United States government, fully staffed with offices and everything, in Vancouver, Canada.

    The cast is rounded out by some familiar faces, including Ray Park and Miguel Sandoval, pictured above, who do their best with the aforementioned holey script. Although I think even in that screencap Mr. Sandoval (Medium, Bottle Shock) looks kind of embarassed to be there. Talisa Soto is also on the screen, the best I can say for her presence. I would analogize her “performance” to the picture itself: great to look at, as long as you are not of a mood to go digging too deep, which why should you? So relax and enjoy All The Prettiness.

    I remember struggling to make sense of this movie while watching it on the big screen (a difficulty I’ve acutely repeated several times over with each of the Pirates of the Caribbean pictures, but they make money so no one bashes them) and, at one point, being surprised it was still on and checking my watch to make sure I hadn’t lost time or something. But I have still reacted far, far more badly to other films, and in the end, having rewatched it here and there (never in toto, I don’t think), I find myself a Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever apologist. I don’t believe the movie tried to be more than what it was — 90 minutes of pretty people with big guns and bigger explosions — and so I don’t think it ought be judged too harshly.

    As a final note, the director of this big-budget, technically-demanding action film was only around 27 at the time of its production and had only one other movie to his name. That name is Wych Kaosayananda. In 1998, he’d directed Fah, the most expensive Thai movie of all time, a gory, violent epic which bombed terribly. But it got Hollywood’s attention and in the halcyon days of 2002, he styled himself “Kaos” while shooting this film. Now that you know all that, can you see why it’s really no good to act like this movie was ever intended to be coherent? Just make an amused sad face and slide along!

    Lastly, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. I just wanted to write it one more time. Thank you!

    *e.g.: “Only a god could do what you’ve done.” “I’m not a god. I’m a man,” or some variation of exactly those words. He talked like that to everyone, for two hours. Perseus in the Clash of the Titans remake is a disrespectful and largely ungrateful shit with a chip the size of Crete on his shoulder.

    The only person in that script worth a damn is Andromeda, played excellently by Alexa Davalos; when the Kraken was right up in her face and she went limp in the chains I honest-to-god swooned and almost fainted, myself. Good, I might even actually say unmissable, stuff. For those couple minutes. The rest was pretty much filler and garbage. Also, it was not shot in 3-D despite being shown in 3-D in a lot of locales so here’s a tip from E: see C o T in regular projection as its director intended and spare yourself the studio’s shoddy rookery. You’re welcome!