Archive for March, 2011


Initial observations

I arrived in Korea, just in time for what appears to be growing nuclear fall-out concerns. Luckily I brought a hat.

I arrived early morning into Incheon so I was able to make the most of my first day. The first thing I did was get into a car accident. Well a bus versus motorbike accident when the Incheon airport bus knocked a crazy old ajosshi off his trailer/motorbike on the highway into Seoul. Luckily nobody was hurt and my computer didn’t smash when my bag fell onto the floor in the crash. We all had on our seatbelts and ajosshi had a helmet. The ajosshi was surprisingly calm while the bus driver kept wandering around repeating to himself “he just came out of nowhere”. Eventually we had to get off the bus and wait for another bus to come by to take us the rest of the way.

I then had time to wander around a little. A few initial observations:

– South Korea was hi-tech when I left and is even more impressive now

– all the ticket machines in the subway have English translation – how wonderfully conveninet

– T card – also wonderfully convenient. It can be used for transport and at convenient stores.

– more public spaces and generally cleaner (but maybe I just went to nice parts town)

– What is with the donut obsession?

– Kyobo bookstore has been rearranged – it took me long enough to figure my way around there the first time

Due to jet lag and it being a Monday I didn’t bother to stay up and check out any night life. I went to the office today and will be diving into work from now so I’ll have to wait for the weekends to check out some more.



Spending time in Korea

A trip to Korea has long been in the planning. Its hard to believe that its actually happening and that I’ll be in Korea in less than a week, staying until June. Since leaving in 2003 I’ve only been back 2-3 times and only for a week or so… this time, instead of just being confused by how much has changed, I’ll hopefully have a chance to regain my bearings. I checked the weather and it still looks a little cold right now, ugh.


Black Swan movie – a feminist review

*Spoiler Alert*

Many people have noted that Black Swan is a feminist movie. However, somewhat surprisingly, many saw it was a degrading and negative about women. I too saw this as a feminist movie but I saw it as more positive than negative.  My interpretation of this movie is very much based on The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer, which I was reading at the time of seeing this movie.

This isn’t a movie about a neurotic ballerina struggling to keep her sanity. This is the story of the power within women and the opportunity for women to transform into something other than what society tells us we should be.

This is a movie showing the battle of the “Feminine” and the “Female.”

–       Within all women the Female is dormant and suppressed

–       The Female must battle to come out and it isn’t always clear which will win (the feminine or the Female)

–       Even if the Female emerges society will not allow her to live?

The Roles

Nina/white swan – The feminine/child/The Stereotype

The Feminine

–       The Feminine strives to be good, she is obedient, passive, subservient, eager to please

–       As the Feminine Nina lacks that which would make her a truly great ballerina – passion, desire, confidence, and ability to add an extra something to the Black Swan that goes beyond technique

–       Conclusion: the Female is completely suppressed within Nina and she exists only as a product of a male-dominated society. She is not even aware of this herself

The Child

–       The Feminine embodies the traits of a child, she is passive, obedient, subservient and sexless

–       Nina’s lifestyle is similar to a child; she lives in a child’s room surrounded by pink, dolls and pretty things. Nina’s room is unchanged from her real childhood

–       The child is wholly dependent on her “Mother”; her Mother dominates and controls Nina’s life

–       Conclusion: Nina is the Feminine, which means she is essentially a child

The Stereotype

–       The feminine is driven to perfection to the extent of mastering technique and wanting to obey and please her teacher. Satisfaction comes from pleasing others and drive is distorted to that end

–       The Stereotype is ‘good’ but lacks personality/passion

–       Conclusion: Nina is the Feminine/Child and as such she embodies the complete Stereotype – “Eternal Feminine”

Nina as the Feminism movement today – is it time for the Female to come forth?

The Mother – dependency/love and altruism

When children are falsely presented to women as their only significant contribution, the proper expression of their creativity and life’s work, the children and their Mother must suffer for it” (The Female Eunuch, page 74).

–       The Mother dominates Nina’s life and ensures that she remains a child

–       There is no privacy for a child and she must rely on Mother to do all things.

–       The child is dependent on the Mother for everything

–       When the Female in Nina battles against dependency/Mother, she slams that hand (that feeds) in the door and crushes the hold over her

–       The Female bars the door and throws out the toys; the Female is not a child

Thomas Leroy – Male as the non-Feminine/Men reinforcing the Feminine in society

–       The Male character is a guide that triggers the initial steps which will lead to the battle of the Feminine and Female within Nina

–       The Male, who is not constricted in society identifies elements that are not characteristic of the Feminine (but are of the Female) that are necessary for the role of Black Swan

–       The Male advises the first step to discovering the role of the Black Swan is sexual exploration – masturbation and dominating in the role of seduction

–       Reinforcing the Feminine – use of ‘little princess’ and putting women on a pedestal to be admired for beauty but not as human beings/Female.

–       Princesses are little girls, beautiful, obedient, fragile, fearful, dependent and not to be touched by anyone

–       Conclusion: as the Male, his role is only to explain the battle a bit more clearly for the audience – the battle of the Feminine and the Female has nothing to do with men

–       Conclusion: men are active/complicit in supporting the Feminine and preventing the Female from emerging


–       Acting like a man in a man’s world does not bring out the Female

–       The wing tattoo on her back in Nina’s room – she is sexually liberated but has she discovered her own sexuality – unclear?

–       Nina/the Feminine sees in Lily some glimpses of the Female, Nina is both fearful of and fascinated by Lily

–       The Female/(Nina) doesn’t want to become like Lily

–       The Female finally emerges in whole after the Female kills Lily. The Mother has already been rendered powerless, the Feminine in Nina is in retreat, Lily who would take Nina away/down the wrong path is destroyed by the Female

Lily as feminism – acting like a man in a man’s world gets you no closer to the Female

Beth – the battle of the Feminine and the Female in which the Feminine won (and the consequences)

–       The Female in Beth had potential to emerge but Beth was seduced by flattery (‘little princess’) and was put on a pedestal

–       The Female lost the battle and the Feminine took control

–       When knocked off the pedestal Beth’s Energy (see below) is channelled to brutality and self-destruction

–       Nina recognises the battle that Beth has waged. Nina sees within herself the same battle now raging – the stabbing scene

Nina – The Female/black swan

–       The Female exists within all the women characters, the Mother, Lily, Beth and Nina

–       The Female exists within Nina from the beginning – itching to come out

–       As Nina struggles to find within herself those characteristics that are needed to portray the Black Swan, the Female sees its chance to emerge and the battle begins within Nina

–       Nina’s skin ripples as the Female gets closer and closer to the surface and is racing within her, looking for a way out

–       Nina’s skin is breaking and itching, her nails are breaking off as the Female claws and looks for a way out

–       The Female appears in the mirrors to Nina, the Female has taken physical shape but does not yet have control

–       The Female in the mirror is strong and confident, and disgusted with what she sees in Nina (the Feminine)

–       Nina, the Feminine is awed and frightened by what she sees; she never knew the Female existed within her

–       The Female defeats the Mother and Lily, destroying them, the Female is in complete control of her destiny with no outside influences making her dependant and/or fearful – the Female was won

–       The Female/Black Swan on stage – at the end the Swan spans her wings showing herself in all her glory. The Female on stage is a spectacle but can she exist off stage/in the real word?


When [energy] meets with an obstacle, it turns to destructive force and shakes it source to pieces” (The Female Eunuch, page 73)

What happens to the female is that her energy is deflected …into a continuous and eventually irreversible system of repression. (The Female Eunuch, page 77)

–       Women being self-destructive is a visible theme – creativity frustrated and turning into a destructive force against the self.

–       The Mother’s Energy is directed at the Child and in return seeks dependency that must be ensured by keeping Nina in a child-like state

–       Beth’s Energy, once focused on her dancing, is violently redirected at the self when knocked from her pedestal

–       Nina’s (the Feminine) Energy also focuses on her dancing and her perfectionism and desire to please

Ending – two variations

Variation one: Nina/white swan dies on the mattress.

–       In real life, there is no place in society for the Female to exist so the body dies

–       Denial of the Female – society can only live with the Feminine – The Male refers to Nina as “little princess”

–       Once discovering the Female, a women can never live again as the Feminine  – Nina’s final words, It [the Female] was perfection

Variation two: Nina does not die, but the White swan does (optimistic?)

–       The White Swan/the Feminine, has been completely overcome and is now dead within Nina – once Nina recovers it will be as Nina/the Female

March 2011
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