real assholes

I admit it. I am prejudiced. Not against any religion, ethnic origin, gender or even political leaning. I am prejudiced against assholes.

They come in all colours and socio-economic statuses and run the gamut of beliefs, lifestyle habits and places of origin. There are a few things they all have in common: a desire for power, a willingness to do harm to any random person to either preserve or attain that power and a lust for physical violence.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some situations where violence is okay and, in fact, the only option. I’m talking about self-defense, defense of a loved one or retribution, but only when it is warranted retribution for physical violence and applied directly (please note that I am at best a glorified blogger and am in no way a court of law, me being okay with something does not mean you won’t go to jail).

Physical violence is also fine in UFC, boxing, pro wrestling and BDSM. Why? Because there is consent from both or all parties involved. More on that later.

Violence committed against random, unwilling targets is never acceptable and if you’re doing it, you’re either an asshole or anbeing led and duped by an asshole. Yes, I’m talking about you, terrorists who carried out the attacks in Brussels, Ankara, Paris, yesterday in Pakistan and other places.

While I’m not exactly stepping out on a limb by calling ISIS (or Daesh) members, supporters or leaders assholes, it feels good doing it nonetheless. If you can think blowing up random travelers in an airport or spectators in a concert hall that you don’t know will in any way stop the oppression wrought by the world’s imperial powers, you have been drastically misinformed and probably don’t care.

In fact, terror attacks only embolden other assholes: the privileged few running the show and those who very much want to be. While the Obamas of this world quietly drone strike anyone they can, the Trumps and Le Pens stir the cauldron of ethnic and religious hatred and preach that the way to fight terror is to label all Muslims as terrorists.

Some assholes blow random things and people up because they associate them with the violence another group of assholes has inflicted on the part of the world they are tied to through ethnicity and religion. Then the other assholes use that as an excuse to blow more things and people up in that same part of the world and blame the religion that the first group of assholes claims to follow.

It seems to me that the problem here isn’t religion, it’s assholes. If we need to be watching out for some group, profiling a group and discriminating against them, then the assholes in the world should be the prime candidates.

If we were all prejudiced against assholes, someone like Jian Ghomeshi would have been identified as one a long time ago. And if, by some artful trickery on his part, he still managed to get to where he got and do what he did, then the stories of his multiple survivors would have been enough to convince us.

Plus, the fact that he tried to plead that he was engaging in BDSM, something which requires clear consent (I told you I would come back to that), when the fact that clearly there was no consent would further make it clear that he was, in fact, an asshole. And don’t get me started on assholes like Roosh V and Bill Cosby.

Now, let’s be clear. I am aware that Ghomeshi’s sexual assault, the bombers’ murders and ethnic or religious scapegoating by politicians are all much more serious and specific charges than simply being an asshole and that is how these serious and specific cases should be treated. But this is about prejudice and profiling.

If we need to profile and be prejudiced against any particular group, let that group be assholes.

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Over a recent convo with my friend, and as if experiencing some sort of outer body experience, I heard myself say: “Nah man, I just don’t feel insecure compared to other women anymore. I’m not being narcissistic or self-centered – I’ve just come to a point where I know I’m the shit. And if someone doesn’t feel that way about me, that’s fine. I haven’t lost anything… Why bother with someone who’d prefer I was someone else? It’s just a waste of my time to give my energy to a person who doesn’t think I’m the bee’s knees – or who don’t treat me that way, for that matter.”

After twenty-four years… Finally. Fucking. Nailed it.

And it’s no secret how.

I have to rewind a bit, to gain some perspective into the source of this newly discovered pool of self-confidence. In the past few months (after traumatizing breakup number umpteen, eugh) I just haven’t had the time or the emotional space to let anyone new into my life – not even for a fling.

I’ve been busy looking for a job with a viable salary, which could also allow me to fulfill creative potential, looking for an apartment, starting side projects and, after one hell of a hectic year, simply taking a deep breath and coming back to me. Start laughing again, Christ.

And, as it turns out, for first time ever, I have no man drama. And I only realized this because I’ve been listening to my friend’s romantic/unromantic drama and now I have question marks appear on my forehead. Totally removed. For the first time in my LIFE, I haven’t been looking for anyone, bothered by a dysfunctional relationship, or pining over confusing signals. And this is coming from the woman who always has at least one prospect in sight, or her radar on, ready to pick up a signal. Maybe it’s a side effect of recovering from an overdose, or maybe that last hammer finally nailed it in.

I’m not thinking about sex. The sex I’m not having, or the sex I wish I was having. I’m not thinking about getting close to someone, or wishing they would see and get to know me. Come to think of it, it might have something to do with spending the past year falling asleep in the arms of someone who revealed themselves to be a total stranger to me in the end.

And I’m not giving up, nor am I choosing to become skeptical, I think I actually just lost my man boner. And I have no idea where it went. Heck, I found myself flirting with a woman at New Year’s, just to take a break from bloody testosterone.

I know my knight in shining armor is out there, and he’ll come trotting along eventually, but in the meantime, I think I’ve just given up the drama. No more Miss Nice Girl. Sure, men say women are dramatic, and sure, we are, but that’s only because they’re so good at making us feel fucking crazy.

Being turned-off men also incidentally propelled me into a state of complete lack of insecurity and complete self-confidence – well, not in life, or for everything – but at least concerning who I am. I’m not looking to please anyone anymore. Just myself. I’m not currently trying to prove my worth through a man’s approval. Just proving it through my own. My integrity. I mean, I know I’m a good person, always have been, always will be. And after giving the best of me (and what I had) and having it slapped back in my face for the millionth-time, I’ve also come to the very liberating conclusion that… it’s not me. I’m not the problem. It’s not that I’m not nice enough, understanding enough, tolerant enough, forgiving enough, it’s bloody them! Assholes just all wear nice guy disguises.

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I don’t mean to sound cynical, but I’ve spent my life giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, looking to see the good in others instead of the bad, and my conclusion after living the experiences is that there are, in fact, few truly good, honest and whole people alive today. I mean, I knew there were assholes our there. But I just happened to know how to pick the good ones. That is, until they turned out not to be so great. Right?

I’d usually have thoughts like: No no, it’s just him, he’s troubled by his childhood… our relationship is different. I’m different than all the other women he’s been with. He sees me. I’m special. If I had a penny for every time I’ve thought I could be the one who made the real difference. I’d have a lot of useless currency.

So it took some time to realize just how fucked up people actually are. And here’s my idea: can we develop a CHEATER/LIAR/MANIPULATOR FaceBook button, so ex’s can leave their cliff notes? If this shit could be detected in plain sight, we might all save each other the heartache.

I know not everyone else is to blame. I was so eager to please and to be loved that I’d just let men treat me in ways that kept me in a state of perpetual misery. I’d always be hanging on to just enough love or communication to get me by. To keep up the illusion that if someone said “I love you” it meant the same thing as when I said it to them. But just enough isn’t enough, people.

Apparently, the key to getting over insecurity about who you are is to stop looking for someone to love you, to value you, to make you feel special. Hell, if you don’t feel special on your own, you’re always going to compare yourself to others. It’s going to be a hell of a long life if you can only stand to see your reflection in the eyes of another.

And see, our common sickness, or ironically, our common insecurities, keep us perpetually on the prowl. Most of the time, if we’re not in a relationship, we’re looking for one. Or if we’re not having sex, we’re looking for sex. And in some cases, even if we’re in a relationship and having sex, we’re still looking for sex or a relationship elsewhere. No wonder we’re all so fucked up and emotionally drained by fifty. Hell, by twenty-five!

Now, the perspective of going home to paint with a glass of wine is far more appealing than the idea of a date. Is that sad? I don’t know. Isn’t it sad to keep dating someone who treats you sort-of-nicely?

So, in this new mind-set, which, so far, has proven to be quite restful, empowering, liberating, and time saving, it apparently boils down to this: If you don’t like who I am, as I am, without the games and bullshit, (waves arms like flight attendant) there are exits here, here, here and here. I am an opinionated, real, honest, stubborn, loyal, no-nonsense kind of woman. You don’t like it? Well I don’t like you either. Show up to my party and you don’t like the music? Want to make some sort of passive aggressive comment about it? There’s the door. Right there. Ta-tah! You think I’d look sexier if I wore red nail polish instead of multi-colored sparkles? Well, maybe I’d prefer to dye your hair red in your sleep, or put Nair in your shampoo.

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Now, on another tangent, have I missed a chapter or has cheating suddenly become a socially accepted trend or something? Last week, my good friend found out (or had it confirmed) that her ex was seeing someone else while they were still together (I will gladly go dump a pile of poo at his doorstep. Still debating on whether it should be human or dog feces though…) and I also recently heard a guy say: “My girlfriend’s in Toronto, time to cheat!” when he stepped into a bar. I almost spat out my Guinness. And that shit is pricey.

Need a punch in the face, much? Or am I the one that seems too intense? And if so, what does that say about where we’re all at on that topic? I mean, I know that not everyone is programmed for monogamy – but your relationship rules are the one’s you’ve established together. The binding unsigned contract of your fucking integrity as a person. And usually “cheat” means: you’d done a bad bad thing. Then again, if you still think it’s cool to be bad then maybe you should put your James Dean poster away.

It’s pretty easy not to cheat, yo. You just don’t put your dick in a vagina that does not belong to your girlfriend. Or lend your vagina to a penis that is not your boyfriend’s. (*no discrimination to the LGBT community, please interpret as personal to your sexual preferences.) Or accidentally lock lips with person who is not your significant other. Or send secret messages to someone else. Oh and “I was drunk”? Tsk tsk. No one buys that as a legit excuse anymore.

Now, since women are apparently confusing and complicated, a guy friend recently asked me this: So, what is it that women want, exactly?

Ok, so tall, dark and handsome… blablabla. Not but seriously, we’ll cut the “have things in common” speech because – duh. Let’s talk realistically:

Given that I can’t speak for my entire gender, I told him what I want. Based on years of trial and error, both in and outside the bedroom. And obviously, will be put back into application when the emotional Viagra kicks in…

First, if you’re cheap, I lose my boner. There is no such thing as being a gentleman for the first couple dates and then going half-zies. If you’re going to be cheap, at least be upfront about it. Now, I don’t need to be taken out for fancy dinners all the time, or to be surprised with diamond bracelets (although flowers are nice). A 3AM St-Viateur bagel pit stop after a pint of beer is fine by me, especially if I like your smile. But if you’re expecting me to split the bill, you can forget the za-za-zoo.

Besides, if a guy is cheap with money, he usually isn’t that generous in bed.

Second, I now want to be someone’s National Anthem. If someone doesn’t think I’m the shit, or treat me like I’m the shit, instead of treating me like shit, it’s no longer my problem, because I don’t need to spend another minute entertaining the illusion that I’m happy with them. It’s about time we start being a little more unapologetic about who we choose to spend our time with and energy on.

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Also, it’s one thing to look for Mr. or Mrs. Right, but what about first making damn sure someone isn’t Mr. or Mrs. Wrong? Before we get into a whole courtship dance, why don’t we save ourselves some time and be upfront about how we’re both mad to see if we might just end up driving eachother crazy down the line. No little secrets, no “showing me the best of who you are” and letting me find out about the rest over time… Show me the best of your worst. Ok, I’ll go first: I’m not a morning person. I can’t stand it when people slurp hot beverages from a mug, or when they insist on playing “Guess what.” I’m generally pretty intense and will also test/challenge strangers if I suspect they’re playing peacock with me. I like for things to go back to their designated spot. I have a TERRIBLE memory. People who constantly complain about things over which they have no control (aka the weather) boggle my mind. I don’t do yelling. I’m a little OCD about making sure my gas stove is at off. Ok, a lot OCD about that. I can be bossy. But that’s because I’m pretty much always right. I don’t like to be teased in a “seems-innocent-but-is-actually-passive-aggressive” way. I won’t sugar coat it. I don’t watch or read the news (I know, I know, I’m a terrible person). And if you push my head down because you think that will make me go down, your face might just hurt from the giant slap coming your way. So if you’re cool with that, we’re set for life. Now, what are your oddities?

What else? Oh. If you’re not interested in a commitment? Ok, buh-bye! Also, I’m done playing nurse-mommy. Go find a younger less experienced model to trample on. If you want to be with a grown up, get your shit together, learn to wash your dishes and toilet, and learn how to listen. Don’t bunny hump; make love and mean it. And if you’re not that into me, tell me. Or better yet, don’t waste my time and yours. Go, please. You’re not doing anyone any favors by keeping up an act.

We all have enough shit to deal with in this life, without having someone we’re putting our faith in lie to our face.

Now ladies. We seem to have forgotten something fundamental: we get to choose. Not men. It’s the lioness that gets her pick of the crop. Women can walk into a bar and decide; hey, yeah, I want you, and usually, we’ll get it. So Own Your Shit. Up the standards. Expect more from yourself and others. Don’t settle or let the guy think he’s doing you a favor by sleeping with you. And guys, if there is a woman that you want; you better enjoy playing by her rules. I think the smart men have figured this one out.

So, maybe I’ll be single forever, or until someone who fits the ever-growing list comes along. And yes, I’m picky. But he’s gonna be a damn good son of a bitch. And I can’t wait to meet him. But I guess life will be saving the best for last. What can I say. I’m tired of cheap-ass grown-ass men, or tight-ass rich ass womanizers, dirty little secrets, addictions and emotional morons.

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And ladies, when you see a gentleman, for God’s sake, don’t chop off their balls. If someone is trying to be chivalrous with you, stop throwing feminism in their face. It’s OK to let a guy hold the door for you. It’s OK to let him be kind and courteous. And considerate. And nice. It’s NOT OK for a man to put his hand up your skirt without asking. Or to treat you as an inferior species. But can we stop emasculating them, please? It’s made them all confused. I know it’s cute, but then we collectively complain about how there are no more decent guys.

Here are some personal suggestions: Stop dating 8 people at once, to weigh out your options. Maybe, stop multitasking until someone who you actually give a shit about comes along – or better yet, someone who actually gives a shit about you. And if all you want or need at the moment is sex, be upfront about it. There is nothing wrong with one-night-stands, but don’t be all like “Oh baby, we’ve been seeing each other… in bed… for like four weeks, and I want your babies, etc… but I can’t commit to anyone right now, I’m just not in that place.” – On behalf of all that is sane and good in the world, put your junk back in your trunk, learn to control your sex drive and stop toying with other human beings.

If you want a woman, start acting like a man. If you want a man, start acting like a woman. And if you’re gay, I can’t help you. But throw integrity into the equation and we should all eventually come out all right.

Hold out for someone who deserves you, and if you don’t feel worthy, then work on becoming the person you want to attract into your life. And if you don’t think you’d be worth their time, then maybe start by learning to make yourself worth your own.

Visuals by Jacquie Boyd, Creative Commons.

programmers rant

Ezra Winton is the program director of Cinema Politica. This rant originally appeared on his blog at EzraWinton.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

I’ve watched over 50 documentaries in the last two weeks (and many more over 14 years of programming), and here’s what I’m thinking:

The first point is so crucial that I’d like to just put it up front and center, then get on with the lesser evils of contemporary documentary filmmaking: If white people, who are usually or always cis-gendered males, are featured in your film as the only subjects, protagonists or voices of authority, then you have either made a film about a small remote sect in some distant corner of the world where only white people live or you have failed Representation 101. Have you been told there are no women geologists who are working on the issue you’re highlighting? Look a little harder – guaranteed there are women who can speak to the issue. No people of colour (POC) in your purview? Then step out a little further – they’re there. And now, on to my rant list.

1) I’m altogether done with pretty images observational filmmaking – it’s great for mainstream festivals and yes that light refraction is splendid, and at this point we all understand that the equipment is sooooo nice that’s irresistible, but how about some perspective/POV? Which brings me to point number two…

2) Making a film about injustice? What are the root causes and what are the names of the people/companies who work the levers perpetuating those root causes? If I’m still asking that when the credits roll, then your film is of little use to me and the scores of activists who want to use your film as a platform for radical progressive change. Yes we can all Google the issue and find out the name of the mining/oil/gas company sowing destruction and misery and yes some of us probably know it’s got to do with colonialism/capitalism/racism/sexism, but why didn’t you say so?

3. Stop with the wall-to-wall music in your films. Please, for the love of god, use it sparingly and remember just because they do it in Hollywood, doesn’t mean the rest of the goddamned film-world has to too. Especially during interviews. As a programmer friend recently said of an otherwise good documentary: “They scored that within an inch of its life.”

4. Make your subtitles readable. That means NOT WHITE you bastards. Please note white is fine if you use the shocking new technique of drop shadow or outline on your font…

5. What is with the resurgence of Voice of God narration? Europe and North American white-guy-with-a-camera I’m talking to you. Yeah yeah it’s personal, it is to all of us, so stop making it about YOU. Let your protagonists, the front-liners, do the talking. Please note if your film is really about you or someone so close to you it is really also about you, then I am not, at this moment, talking to you.

6. Set your interviews up before capturing them: take time to get the lighting and sound just so before speaking with awesome people doing awesome work or having awesome insight before plunking your camera on a tripod and sticking a mic on their collar or above their head. This one adjustment will immensely improve about half of all the documentaries I see. And please note academics can and will be filmed away from bookshelves full of books.

7. Please stop filming hands in interviews. It’s gone too far. For the love of all that is docu-holy, please stop.

8. If your “B-roll” sucks, it means you didn’t think it out and spend enough time preparing. Which means, think it through and prepare. If I see another kayaker representing human-nature equilibrium or another goddamned windmill representing alternative energy I’m going to barf in goddamned b-roll agony. Please note I hate the term “B-roll” and know that all roll is A-list in the eye of the creator, but filmmakers, you know what I’m talking about.

9. If you can’t keep the camera steady then get a steady-cam device or tie a goddamned rope with a barbell to your wrist and stop making us feel nauseous — it’s uncomfortable and distracting. Unless of course you’re chasing a criminal or running from a rhino.

10. If you haven’t watched at least 100 documentaries before making your own, then don’t make your goddamned documentary until you have. Please note that some are and will be an exception to this rule, but they are so few that I see no reason to amend this point to say anything than other that which it suggests: do your homework.

PS: If your trailer is better than your film, you probably should have made a shorter film.

*If I sound like the Winnebago Man it’s because I’ve just come off a major programming bender and I needed to let off some steam. It’s programmers burnout. I’ll be OK again soon. And I wouldn’t want anyone to think that this list is some kind of manifesto for how to make some fantastical perfect doc. In fact, in the past few days I’ve programmed docs with kayakers, shaky cameras and too much music – all of them great films with minor flaws. I’m just saying that these are things to keep in mind, at least when circumstances allow.

And on a last note, some folks responding to my rant seem to think my above tone is too serious, cocky or stern, but it’s meant to be playful, an effort that might be a goddamned failure in and of its goddamned self.