I was built without the switch for strong negative emotions. Not for me the roiling resentments, the jealousies that eat at the soul, the burning hatreds. The best I can muster is a mild sense of annoyance, and usually even that dissipates over time.
I thought about this today when a news article made me want to write a post about the people I dislike. I didn’t want to mention Hitler-types because there’s not much one can say beyond Eeeeevvvilll! Nor did I want to delve into politics, because that’s not what Majaama is about (yet).
Today’s post, then, is dedicated to the two public figures I disapprove of for no earthly reason. Neither politician nor bureaucrat nor Hitler – there’s perfectly sensible reasons to resent them – this is about irrational annoyances, ones I can’t even explain.
All I know about Emmy Rossum is that she played Christine Daaé in the 2004 movie adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera. She did a reasonable job of portraying an ingénue, mincing her way across the screen soggily when required.
Thing is, Christine is the most vapid, insipid heroine ever. If you combined the personality of a sheep with the charisma of a cow, and then gave it singing lessons, that’s Christine Daaé. Every step of the story, you want to smack the silly bint and tell her to get a grip for goodness’ sake.
And that’s what I felt like doing whenever Emmy Rossum was on screen. Logically then, Ms Rossum is a very competent actress and should be lauded. She has clearly realised the character’s psyche beautifully.
Now she annoys me even outside the Christine role. Whenever she appears in a newspaper I’m reading, I feel the need to turn to my husband and declare, Look, it’s her again. In that tone of voice. He naturally doesn’t get it at all.
I wish I did.
Mr Ai is a Chinese artist. He does very contemporary, avant garde stuff, lots of sculpture and film.
I first came across his oeuvre at the Tate Modern in London. He had an exhibit called Sunflower Seeds, a cavernous room carpeted with 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds. Each seed was hand-crafted and painted in Jingdezhen in China. About 1600 people worked for 2 and a half years to create the lot.
As a viewer of the exhibit, you enter the stark expanse and walk around on the seeds. They crunch underfoot, making that shoof–shoof gravelly noise. It’s art – engaging, experiential, different art on a massive yet minuscule scale. If you’re a connoisseur, it’ll no doubt challenge your notions of something or the other. If you’re a philistine, you’ll just have a good time shoof-ing around with your companions.
I didn’t actually get to experience the piece, because they had packed up everything the very day I hit the museum. All I saw was a multitude of gigantic sacks bursting with porcelain seeds, a sign that said “This exhibit has been closed”, and a looping video about the whole thing. I suppose my notions about my competence at checking exhibition dates online were challenged.
Based on just this video, I’ve decided Ai Weiwei annoys me. At around the 6 minute mark, someone asks a lady in the porcelain factory,
“Do you like working here?”
Did you just ask someone living in a shack whether they like being employed by you? What did you expect them to say when their employer and a camera crew are staring at them? If the question was meant seriously, it’s moronic. If it was meant as some sort of meta-commentary about the local economic conditions, then it was demeaning because it puts the respondent in a position where they feel obliged to give you a positive answer. I don’t even know if Ai Weiwei is the one who asked the question, but I still hold him responsible. Am I projecting? For sure.
Here’s a man who has brought employment to over 1600 people in a depressed area for nearly 3 years, who has stood up to and exposed government corruption, who has continued his activism despite being arrested and beaten up. And I’m grudging him his fame because a 15 minute introductory video to one artwork made him sound slightly self-aggrandizing. I mean, I don’t even grudge the Kardashians their fame and money, because who gives a fiddler’s fart? But Ai Weiwei? I roll my eyes whenever I see him in the news.
So Emmy Rossum and Ai Weiwei. Two upstanding and blameless individuals who’ve incurred the mild disapproval of some random lady in Singapore for no rhyme or reason. They could be saving babies from burning buildings all day and I’d probably still look at a news report about them and think, Oh them again.
Got anyone like that on your list?