Apparently God is a major movie buff.
Chances are pretty good that if you...*checks news*...live literally anywhere in the world, you're probably quarantined and maybe dying from COVID-19 right now.
I probably am right now. Sure, some psychologists are saying, "Don't let coronavirus tip society into panic," but panic is a natural response to unseen threats that make us question our survival and why we even exist. So if you're going to be stuck in your bedroom during what very well might be your last two weeks on earth, you might as well catch up on all the movies that God quizzes you on when you get into heaven.
Wait, what? That's right, dear reader, God is a major movie buff, according to a prophetic vision I had last night while quarantined, and let me assure you that I immediately and accurately jotted His favorite titles down so you can ace the test and not be cast into the fiery pits of Eternal Damnation. Remember, if you don't die as a seasoned movie buff, God will not let you in. Look it up in The Bible.
According to God, high-budget Hollywood retellings of biblical stories are His favorite form of worship. So it almost goes without saying that Darren Aronofsky's Noah epic, starring Russell Crowe, made the list. While many of the other Hollywood bible epics take too many liberties for God's liking, God assured me that Noah is a spot-on interpretation, and that Noah's real adopted daughter actually did look a little bit like Emma Watson. God also mentioned that flooding the world was one of the coolest things He ever did, so it was pretty fun to watch on the big screen.
The Passion of the Christ
Mel Gibson's poorly received Jesus Christ biopic may be a slog to get through, but honestly, we should have seen this coming. After all, when a guy who vocally hates Jews decides to direct a movie about God's son, you better believe God's going to take notice. The funny part is that God didn't like it either. God made it crystal clear that Mel Gibson failed to capture Jesus' mannerisms and that the main point in having us watch is so we can all make fun of it together from an informed perspective.
God's Not Dead
With a paltry budget of only two million dollars, and a very silly cameo appearance from Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, God informed me that even though He hates to use the term, He couldn't help feeling like God's Not Dead took His name in vain. The movie's premise that God actually cares whether or not some dumb college students believe in Him was deeply offensive, especially when the only thing He actually cares about is whether or not we can pass his cinematic litmus test. He hopes that we can use take this movie as a lesson in what not to do.
Gods of Egypt
Straight up, God would not stop praising Gods of Egypt. This is a direct quote from God during my quarantined vision: "Dude, Gods of Egypt is so underrated. Realizing there wasn't going to be a sequel was the exact thing that made me start coronavirus." God clarified that while it's technically a good-bad movie, it's so good-bad that it might actually just be amazing. He's really into good-bad movies, so that's probably a useful thing to keep in mind when you kick the bucket. Also, if you happen to be Tommy Wiseau, he's going to talk your ear off. Like, he loves you, man.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Okay, this was a surprise. It turns out that God's favorite movie, in the history of the medium, is Paul Blart: Mall Cop. He doesn't even like it ironically; he actually thinks it's good. I asked him if he had ever seen the comparisons between Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Neon Genesis Evangelion and, I kid you not, God says, "Who do you think came up with that first?" Admittedly, when God first said that Paul Blart: Mall Cop was his favorite movie, I doubted his taste in film for the briefest moment, but oh God, did God prove me wrong. The dude is absorbing cinema at a whole different level. I mean, this is the same guy who came up with mountains and diamonds and fish, of course He knows what He's talking about. I should never have doubted God, and now I know that when I die from COVID-19, God will be gaining another little film bro in heaven.
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Try being cynical during this movie. We dare you.
When asked by well-meaning older relatives—with faith in capitalism still shining in their eyes—if I want to have children someday, I usually respond with something like, "With fascism on the rise and an inevitable resource war on the horizon? With each day of inaction marching humanity closer to utter annihilation at the hands of climate change? I don't want to ruin my t*ts, Grandma."
Needless to say, I am a cynic by nature and circumstance and definitely an insufferable smartass.
2019 only further exacerbated my tendency to look on the dark side. Afterall, how can anyone truly believe that humanity has any fundamental goodness left with Donald Trump as president, cross-body fanny packs gaining in popularity, and CATS the movie existing? It's been a long year of absurdity in popular culture and politics; so dark and absurd, in fact, that my usual go-to feel-good flicks no longer do much to assuage my sorrow. I watched Love Actually on Christmas Eve and felt as empty as Kira Knightly's sallow, wan cheeks. Not even the precious ghost dog in Coco could touch my existential dread this holiday season. I was beginning to feel that there was nothing that could make the horror of 2019 feel distant, until, hungover and full of Sunday chilli, I accompanied my immediate family on an outing to see Greta Gerwig's Little Women.
As my mother's favorite childhood book, Little Women has always held a special place in my family's collective consciousness. Despite this, admittedly, my expectations were low. I knew the story well, and while I loved its relentless optimism in previous eras of my life, I struggled to believe the endearing March family and their romantic, simple adventures could possibly shine any light on the complicated darkness of 2019. I expected it to only make me feel worse, like a person in a depressive episode seeing Christmas lights.
Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen
Based on Louisa May-Alcott's 1868 novel, the 2019 remake of Little Women stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper, and Meryl Streep. As the movie began, I was immediately arrested by the piercing blue of Ronan's eyes and the adorableness of Pugh's button nose, and things only got better from there. First of all, there was something so deeply appealing about Laura Dern as Marmie, the mother of the titular little women, that I questioned whether I wanted her to give me a bath or to take a bath with her. Anyway, Freud aside, the tears began to flow around minute 11 of the movie. I touched my damp face with shock. Since the night of the 2016 election, the tears of rage and sorrow have come with less and less frequency as numbness quietly set in. And yet, here I was...feeling? In 2019? Unheard of.
Matters only worsened as my cold, dead heart was warmed by the selflessness of Beth (Eliza Scanlen), only to be broken by her illness, revived by Emma Watson's dreaminess in a pink dress, sent soaring by Jo's (Saorise Ronan) insistence on following her dreams, and stirred again by Timothee Chalamet's ass in a pair of high-waisted trousers. Suddenly, my cares seemed to melt away. As Father finally returned from war, Donald Trump's Twitter account seemed like a distant dream. When Jo cried, "My sister!" as she pulled Amy from the frigid water, in my heart, the United Kingdom was still firmly a part of the European Union. As Frederic turned to see Jo clasping her heart during the opera and a slow smile spread across his face, it was as if low rise jeans had never come back in style.
Saoirse Ronan and Timothee Chalamet
Indeed, there is something so consciously optimistic about Greta Gerwig's movie, so rebelliously pure, that even I—infamous for lamenting the scientific improbability of balloons lifting a whole house during a screening of Up at 12 years old—couldn't find any foothold for cynicism. It almost made me want to give in to my biological drive to reproduce and justify it with "maybe my kid will cure cancer!" or, more accurately in that moment, "maybe my children will put on adorable plays for the other neighborhood children like the little women!" Essentially, the movie dares to exist outside our collective exhaustion and despair, insistent on coaxing us into a kind of childhood delight, but it's also not without political, impactful moments that are presented so cleverly amidst the earnestness that they don't feel part of the monotonous drone of "political" cinema. Of course, part of the credit for the brilliance of Little Women must be given to Louisa May-Alcott, who managed to craft a comforting salve for heartache out of a story that, on the surface, is often devastating. But it was a stroke of genius by Greta Gerwig to make this movie now, in the midst of a time of international tumult, to offer audiences two hours of genuine relief from the brutality of 2019.
If you feel yourself (like me) retreating into your cave of sarcastic jokes, existential dread, and black turtlenecks, go see Little Women and let yourself enjoy it without guilt. It serves as a vital reminder that as long as we have each other, good stories, and deeply-needed respite from the real world, we may be able to gather just enough strength to make 2020 better than 2019. Maybe it'll even be great.
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Maybe it's time to reevaluate why we view romantic relationships as more important than all our other relationships.
Emma Watson has referred to herself as "self-partnered" instead of "single," thus effectively shattering stigma for single women everywhere—and making headlines across the globe.
For the record, she wasn't exactly trying to redefine what it means to be single by calling herself "self-partnered." She said it in an offhand way in her interview with Vogue, as part of a much larger statement about the anxieties she's facing about turning 30. "I was like, 'Why does everyone make such a big fuss about turning 30? This is not a big deal…'" she said. "Cut to 29, and I'm like, 'Oh my God, I feel so stressed and anxious. And I realise it's because there is suddenly this bloody influx of subliminal messaging around. If you have not built a home, if you do not have a husband, if you do not have a baby, and you are turning 30, and you're not in some incredibly secure, stable place in your career, or you're still figuring things out… There's just this incredible amount of anxiety."
She added that it's taken her a while to get to a place where she can be content on her own. "I never believed the whole 'I'm happy single' spiel," she said. "I was like, 'This is totally spiel.' It took me a long time, but I'm very happy [being single]. I call it being self-partnered."
Emma Watson for British Vogue, 2019 https://t.co/UvMasc0hYl— DAILY CELEBZ (@DAILY CELEBZ)1572968608.0
Since Watson first made this statement, the Internet has latched onto the term "self-partnered," viewing it as an alternative to the negative implications that come with the word "single." It's true that society can make things quite hard for single people. We live in a romance-obsessed world, one that feeds us Disney-movie weddings from an early age and tells us we have to shape ourselves around our romantic relationships.
So through this lens, in true #HeforShe fashion, the fact that Emma Watson has said that she's learning to be happy while single is inspiring, if unsurprising. Watson's been a proponent of various forms of self-love for a while (she was an ambassador for female pleasure website OMGYes) and has always been a proud feminist leader.
It's true that "self-partnership" shouldn't be our end-all, be-all gospel. After all, we all need relationships, love, and support from others. But so often, the world we live in doesn't encourage us to value the love we share with family and friends as much as we value romantic love. It doesn't encourage us to value our spiritual communities or our relationships with our artwork and our own bodies and minds half as much as it tells us to value our partners. It doesn't tell us to truly value ourselves.
What if there was a paradigm shift? So many of us grew up in homes where we bore witness to negative relationships, watching parents stay with each other unhappily because they were wedded (literally and figuratively) to the idea of their partnership. Particularly for women, many of us still struggle to find the strength to leave abusive relationships, instead staying with people who don't treat us right because we're too scared to be alone.
But what if we started valuing activism in the same way that we value and idealize romantic love? What if we valued everyday acts of kindness like we value relationships? These statements might seem incredibly idealistic, but the power of cultural expectations shouldn't be underestimated.
In general, we're in need of a shift in terms of how we view and understand relationships, both to others and ourselves. In some ways, the change has begun. So much has been written about the importance of developing one's relationship with ourselves before loving others, and the "love yourself" mentality has been peddled with increasing frequency.
Self-care is great. Going on dates with yourself, taking care of your space, recharging, exercising, focusing your energy on your health or craft, political organizing, or literally anything else besides dating are all perks of being single (or I guess "self-partnered" is the proper term). Watson's statement has inspired many women to share their own stories of why they love dating themselves.
Still, too often, the "love yourself" mantra is painted through the lens of neoliberal capitalism. Just paint your nails and take some selfies! the Internet yells at us. Love yourself and if you don't love yourself, you're failing! While self-care is important, it's rooted in an isolationist, black-and-white, selfish mentality that can often just make us feel worse in the end.
also important to remember that heteronormative relationships are the lifeblood of capitalism & a message like tun… https://t.co/0sXy4Sv6oE— lyndsay tk 🕷 (@lyndsay tk 🕷)1543768414.0
But what if instead of focusing on shallow self-love based in loving our appearances and parading our happiness around, we focused on long-term healing, deep connection, and growth within ourselves and our communities? In her book All About Love, bell hooks defines love as "the will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth." What if we used this definition of love instead of the traditional one?
hooks' definition is pliable, just like love itself. Love is amorphous and alive and it happens on a different timeline for us all. Of course we don't just find our one true love at 29 and sail off into the sunset. (The sunset is and was always an illusion created by Walt Disney and Coca Cola). Another extremely desirable bachelor, Keanu Reeves, 55, just started dating for the first time in years—and his girlfriend, 46-year-old Alexandra Grant, has some relevant advice for everyone, whether in a relationship or self-partnered. "I don't think we can help other people until we work on our own healing, or else we are going to keep promoting inherited or naturalized belief systems that aren't useful within the work we do," she said. "I think that we really are in a time where we need to love those who are different than we are, and take action and responsibility towards that."
Emma Watson's and Grant's philosophies don't imply that they want to be single forever or that they're anti-love, but they do imply that both of them feel it's important to focus on their growth, starting with what's on the inside. This is an important distinction, as there's a big difference between being happy being single in the moment and being totally closed off to the possibility of love; and there's a difference between feeling unworthy of love and committing yourself to growing, so you can be a better partner and person.
You don't have to be euphoric about being single, just like you don't have to be miserable about it, their statements imply. Whether you're in a relationship or not, you don't have to be anything. Regardless of how you feel about it, if you don't have a partner right now, you're not alone in that. The number of singles around the world has never been higher—and we've never been healthier. Some are worried about this trend, but others feel it could be a good thing, a step towards deconstructing the unsustainable and isolating structure that is the nuclear family.
These are just a few of the many reasons to embrace being "self-partnered." Plus, some of us just really, really enjoy being alone.
I personally love that Emma Watson calls being single "self-partnered". We really need to overhaul the way we think… https://t.co/utagHy9rm6— Rachel Thompson (@Rachel Thompson)1572951235.0
The fact that ACTUAL EMMA WATSON felt pressure to have her shit together by 30 is pretty telling. But surely using… https://t.co/ogYcy1CCFX— Hazel Hayes (@Hazel Hayes)1572951024.0
Although maybe it’s because when you tell someone you’re single, the automatic assumption is that you’re actively l… https://t.co/R7v6NMLZk2— Hazel Hayes (@Hazel Hayes)1572951216.0
What Emma Watson said is rad. Society paints single women as "sad, spinster cat ladies" + it's a fear tactic to for… https://t.co/3mGq5t8qc2— Selena Coppock (@Selena Coppock)1572982385.0
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