Fabulous New Zealand

gaynzYesterday I sat down at my computer with my cornflakes as I usually do at breakfast time and read a news (I use the term loosely) Website from New Zealand. This little ritual has been going on for years and helps me feel connected to those two long islands down in the South Pacific.

One headline caught my eye (Young Nelson doctor pays tribute to late partner through exhibition) and I clicked. As the accompanying photo is of a man, I assumed his deceased partner was a woman. But as is revealed in the first paragraph, his partner was male. Nothing too shocking there. This is, after all, the country that was fifteenth in the world to allow same-sex marriage (and incidentally was the first country in the world to allow women to vote). But what I read next surprised me. The ‘young doctor’ is 24 while his partner was, oh, a bit older – 85. I nearly choked on my cornflakes – that’s almost a sixty year age gap. While I try not to be too judgy in matters of the heart, I did look twice.

The article goes on to show a photo of the couple (who had been together for six years) and talk about their shared love of landscape photography, which took them on international adventures (Wong’s partner, Barry Woods, was a professional photographer). It also mentioned that the hospice in which Wong’s exhibition is a fundraiser for gave the couple of a lot of support during Woods’ battle with lung cancer.

Reading this from my little perch in Seoul, in what has to be one of the most conservative, sexist, racist, classist, conformist, ageist, patriarchal, closed-minded and homophobic countries in the developed world, I felt a surge of pride for my homeland. While New Zealand has its fair share of social problems (child abuse and poverty, rising inequality, erosion of indigenous rights, covert racism, an embarrassing prime minster etc.) it is awesome that such an article can be graciously published on one of the country’s most popular and mainstream news Websites.

While I don’t have the mobility of someone with say, an EU passport, I’m so happy that I was born in New Zealand and have grown up in a progressive, accepting and free-thinking society. I’m grateful for the world-class education I received which fostered the growth of a social conscience and open mind which underpins the person I am today. I heart you NZ!

Why Dirty Dancing Will Always Rule

dirtydancingMy friend brought to my attention this brilliant article exploring the ways in which the classic ’80’s chickflick, Dirty Dancing, is a ‘subversive masterpiece.’ In case you’re too lazy or just not interested enough to read the article for yourself, here are the author’s four main reasons:

#1: “Dirty Dancing” Is About Abortion

#2: “Dirty Dancing” Is Rife With Class Politics

#3: “Dirty Dancing” Gives The Sheltered 17-Year-Old All The Sexual Agency

#4: “I carried a watermelon.” (You really need to read the article to get this one).

This movie was all the rage when I was at primary school. I saw it with my cousin, who just two years older than me, was like my sister. She got the cassette tape of the soundtrack for her birthday and I was insanely jealous. We listened to it on our Walkmans incessantly and knew all the lyrics by heart. That was when I was about seven. Cut to when I’m 17. Dirty Dancing was still a favorite among my female peers. In fact, there was one night in particular that I remember a group of my friends and I watched it at a sleepover. Of course, being so young and stupid, we thought it would be a good idea to also drink (and by drink, I mean binge drink) cheap, nasty gin (sans the tonic) while we watched it. Anyway, to digress, I remember spending the next day at work (at McDonald’s) cowering in the bathroom, vomiting out of my nose…but still Dirty Dancing remains one of my favorite films.

Of course, the first time I saw it, the film was just a simple story about a plain-Jane girl (Baby) who falls in love with a seemingly bad guy (Johnny), who turns out to be good – an ugly duckling transformed into a swan when the alpha-male falls in love with her. All of the subversion and plot intricacies went well over my head. As I matured and developed, I began to identify with the lead character, and probably most girls did – an averagely attractive, awkward yet intelligent girl overcomes barriers to live happily ever after with her diamond-in-the-rough prince.

As the author writes:

Although Baby is definitely fascinated by Johnny [played by the sadly deceased Patrick Swayze] early on in the film, by this point she is just being herself, and to a younger version of me, the notion of a boy just liking you for who you were was kind of mindblowing. And yet here it was! On film!

Also Johnny Castle was so very hot. I mean I don’t even really like romancey movies as a rule, but Johnny Castle’s impact on my adolescent sexual development cannot be overstated. I mean, those pants. And how could it be that the searingly hot guy liked the slightly awkward, opinionated, boundary-crushing girl? How did that even WORK?

(Also, let’s not forget David Bowie in the Labyrinth – my all-time favorite film. Just to remind everyone of his hotness in this film, I have plucked a few quotes from a fan website: Everyone found David Bowie in the Labyrinth sexy – I’m a straight male and I was still attracted to him…I would personally become his slave and do anything for him. And wreck him horribly…“KILF.” (Like MILF, but with a King)…The moment that David Bowie appeared in those tights, he devirginized the whole world).

Before I get too carried away, the point I’m trying to make is that as we grow and mature, as our brains develop, we can see things in a different light and recognize complexities that our seven year old self never could’ve dreamed of. It is seeing the same landscape with new eyes, or peeling another layer off an onion. So, next time I watch Dirty Dancing (and there WILL be a next time), it will blow my mind. In the meantime, there are some Youtube clips involving puppets that urgently require my attention.