I just sent my sister off back to New York after a weekend of shopping and fooding including a particular night where I put way too much chili oil in my pho and basically sweated out the soup as I was eating it. Mm, delicious I know. Pho is great. It's my favorite. Spicy noodle soup with scallions, onions, and beef. I mean, it's nothing earth-shattering but I could probably have it for a week straight and not be sick of it. To think I never used to have it because it had cilantro. Cilantro is godawful. Don't you argue with me, you know it's true. But pho! You can make it spicy, you can make it all hoisin plum-y, you can switch up the meats or the noodles. It's just goodness. My favorite is really spicy with good beef and lots of noodles, easy on the onions.
So I'm just sitting here eating my lunch and Robin Hood: Men In Tights is on and of course I have to watch it because like that's even a question. The first time I saw it, I was in 4th grade and it was the movie the class voted on to watch as part of the year-end , "Yaaaay we don't have to do work but still have to be in school," times. I loved it. And I loved Cary Elwes. I didn't grow up with Princess Bride which is when every other girl fell in love with him but funnily enough, I kind of get a loophole with that. You see, when I was in elementary school, we had a horrible snowstorm one winter. One other older girl and I were the only kids who actually made it there on time. I remember a particular teacher, one I never had but who had a reputation for being "cool," took us both to the main building (this was on my old campus where the school was spread out in a variety of former apartments and trailers. Yes trailers. Big, tin metal trailers. We froze in the winter and got heat-stroke in the summer but it was still infinitely better than the shit hole we moved to when I was in 9th grade. You could fucking see Bulgaria from where that campus was. We used to dream of making a break for it and escaping through the fields on cows and sheep.) and sat us down and put a movie on. All I remembered from that movie was that there was a girl and boy walking through some swampy land and her dress caught on fire. Years later, I realized it was Princess Bride so I kind of did have it in my childhood like everyone else.
But anyway, Cary. Oh Cary.
He's what older, classy women in Turkey (and probably France, as that's where we got the word) would describe as a jeune. He was just such a leading man. Charming, eloquent, and a star. In movies that were hilarious, wonderful classics no less. Then I saw him in Saw and in Liar Liar and he was chubby and angry and, well, there went that fantasy but for a while, Cary Elwes ruled the world of comedic period pieces.
Last night, a bunch of us watched Aladdin. There's no shame in that, quit judging me. All I know, I've gleaned through Disney movies. But thinking about the star of that film, Jafar (duh), made me realize my, "ideal," celluloid men might be a little different than other normal, little girls'.
My dad raised us on action movies. I remember clearly watching Die Hard with a Vengeance on a plane and shrieking in anger when they cut it off because the stupid plane had the audacity to prepare for landing. More than action movies though, we loved the world of "action" and the actors. My dad took me to the Naked Gun movies in theaters. When he found out Arnold Schwarzenegger was in a kiddie movie, Kindergarden Cop, he didn't even think twice about taking me and my cousin. My cousin got scared and wanted to leave. I shrugged and said no, I was fine when my dad asked me. My cousin is a boy and a month older than I am. When we were on a cruise with fourteen members of my family, we found out that the ship's movie theater was showing XXX: State of the Union, and all trooped in to watch it. It sucked. No one holds a candle to Vin Diesel when he's in the Xander zone. The first person I sent a message to after watching The Expendables was not my dad, but it was to my mom to tell her to tell my dad to see it. We love action movies. And movies with excessvie violence. My dad took me and my sister to Inglourious Basterds. In a full theater, we were the only ones to come out with broad smiles and warm, fuzzy feelings in our bellies. Everyone else just looked kind of green. Don't even get me started on Christoph Waltz. I won't stop. No I really won't.
Aw, look at his happy Nazi face.
As I got older, I was introduced to Mafia movies and shows. My dad loves The Sopranos and can quote Scarface at length. And will do it, even though it's mostly to piss off my mom. She always makes faces at our "manly" tastes but I think it's all an act. Her favorite scene in Pulp Fiction is when Marvin's head gets blown off as they're driving over a pothole. She will laugh until she cries at the mention of it.
Then came martial arts movies, which my boyfriend also loves with a hearty passion. I remember going to The Protector and coming out feeling so exhausted because we were so engrossed in it, it felt like we kicked and fought our way through film too..
The Protector; The loving story of what a man will do to get his elephant back.
We will watch, or try to watch, anything that has Jackie Chan in it. Especially if it's Around the World in 80 Days with Steve Coogan and ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER AS AN OTTOMAN SULTAN.
We love our action movies and action stars. Except Jean-Claude. He's just not as worthy. But that high kick is pretty impressive. Oh JCVD, you try so hard.
I like action movies and action stars. But I absolutely love the villains. Hans Gruber, Jeremy Irons as Jeremy Irons in everything Jeremy Irons has ever done, Prince John. I mean, you could probably explain this away with oh, I'm a girl I like the bad boys. I mean, I like rock stars too. However, it goes beyond that because well frankly, I'm not some bimbo who chases bad seeds because I feel I can "change." Piss on that, I have better things to do with my time. I think it's because although we like to cheer the hero on, the villain is just so much more interesting to watch. And that's what I want from my characters; some unique thing that separates them from the herd. In this way, it's not just a the bad boys or whatever. I will sit and yell for the good guys too if they give me something to yell about. Take for instance Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I was raised on that series.
My cousin and I had all the collectibles, we got the tapes, and we had themed sleepovers. I had to be Donatello because he wore purple which is girly but I liked Michelangelo best. That show toyed with my emotions like no other because as much as I loved each of my turtle boys whether they were the party dude or the one who, "did," machines, I couldn't help but love Shredder too, even if they didn't cut him no slack.
Why don't they make shows like that anymore? I grew up in Turkey but I lucked out because every single family member would tape episodes and buy stuff for me and my cousin whenever they travelled. We were not denied any American pop culture especially when they were heroes in a half-shell. Ugh, the British version was Teenage Mutant HERO Turtles. Yuck. How stupid. Everyone knows ninjas are just cooler and more bad-ass than simple-minded heroes. Way to go Britain, you ruin everything.
There's also Disney and all my male figures therein. Unlike the other girls (except my friends who were just as smart as I was), I turn my nose up at the princes. Come on. The one in Snow White says and does NOTHING. He kisses some hot girl who might as well be dead for all he knows. Sorry, not good enough. If he drop-kicked the evil stepmother after foiling her plans to take over the kingdom with help of German terrorists, that would've been a different story. Cinderella's prince has a more interesting father (don't you love bumbling kings? The sultan is another great one) but at least has one funny saving grace; he yawns at the gawking females during the ball (my cousin and I always thought this was hilarious). Prince Phillip in Sleeping Beauty, kind of had personality, actually. It was just boring. Beast from Beauty and the Beast was only awesome when he was a beast. I'm serious. He was so scary and intimidating and you couldn't avert your eyes every time he was on-screen. When he turned back into a human, he became a Ken doll. Literally, like all the sexual tension and attraction was gone. Between him and Belle I mean. Of course.
I liked Jafar. He was so cold, so calculating, so devilish, and his beard was so... twisted.
I liked Scar. Because he was Jeremy Irons as Jeremy Irons in everything Jeremy Irons has ever done.
And his song, "Be Prepared?" WITH MARCHING NAZI HYENAS? I was terrified and thrilled to the point where had I wet myself, I wouldn't know for what reason.
Again, it's not that they're bad boys. No, if that was the whole truth I'd like Frollo from Notre Dame who sings that song about wanting to rape Esmerelda (listen to it again, it's beyond disturbing). This is just further proof that we, mostly I, need characters, not bland cut-outs because I liked the good guys as well. But only if they had some great characteristic going for them. I liked Disney's Robin Hood. He was a fox, (hur, hur). He was charming and daring and cute, and man, don't look at me like that, I was not the only one admiring a two dimensional animal. I liked Zazu and Iago because I like self-righteous angry bird-men with crabby attitudes (one is a good guy the other is Gilbert Gottfried). I liked Stitch because he was a psychotic super smart alien hell-bent on destruction who had moves like Elvis. He was "bad," but then he was, "good," and he's still my favorite Disney character.
I liked Gaston because even though he was a pompous peacock and used antlers in all of his decorating, he wasn't just freakin' wall-paper like Prince Valiant or Prince Charming. God, they even had dumb names.
Hang on, they're doing the eponymous song on Men in Tights.
Sure, there are girls who like the bad boys and the rocks stars and the rebels. You like them because they command attention and are sure of themselves. They have character. They don't fade out. That's what it comes down to. As long as you're not something bland like, I don't know, terrible lo mein from Nan Ling, I will admire and like you. But you can be a "nice guy," and still have that. Half the action stars usually do, I mean, have you seen True Lies? Best Arnold movie ever and he's just a nice, normal family guy (Harry, who're you kidding with that accent?) and then it turns out he's like Superman with a secret identity and has to save everyone. He's amazing to watch. Take for another example, my boyfriend. He's a nice guy and I love him for it. But he's the best kind of nice guy, he has a motorcycle, loves metal, and thinks I'm the bees knees. He's like Pho Hoa's pho, familiar and tasty.
THAT'S IT. I like men, movie and otherwise, like I like my pho; delicious with that certain kick that makes you sweat.