A new set for an apocalypse movie?
The riots in Kiev. This is happening right now.
Those breathtaking pictures were taken by the young and usually happy tumblarian girl RedMisa during her volunteer work at Kiev.
"I never thought that I would cry for my native country. I’m not particularly patriotic, I do not like politics, large gatherings of people, meetings and inspirational slogans. but I still go to the central street of Kyiv almost every day, doing volunteer work, doing all I can to help. two months of no change for the better, things were getting worse and worse. but when the killings began, catching the protesters in the streets and beating them up…that was the last straw for me. I do not know what to expect next."
THIS KINDA NEEDS A SIGNAL BOOST RIGHT NOW
BIG TIME, GUYS.
well fuck what are we supposed to do???
I decided to ignore anything pertaining to the film ‘Frozen’ a long time ago - the misrepresentation of the Saami in it, or rather the combination of misinformation and problematic myth-making in it did not appeal to me at all, I had already explained why I disapproved of the bastardisation of our traditional clothes at length and with far more pressing issues at hand, such as the revival of my maternal language or the fight against fierce colonialism on our ancestral lands, I neither felt compelled to nor had the time to waste more time on a Disney film which contributes virtually nothing to the cultural wealth and knowledge of my people.
But then someone submitted a post to the blog “Unpopular Opinions” here on Tumblr, and ever since, my inbox has been filled with angry, anonymous messages about how I have no right to be dismissive of the film as this unnamed person presented themselves as Saami and claimed that the film was loved by most Saami, and any critique of it was hurting the Saami.
I heavily disagree, critical discussions about representations are always needed, especially when we’re talking about members of indigenous peoples and other minorities and everything I have said about the film with regards to its false claims to Saami-ness stands, but to perhaps stop my inbox from being filled with more trite from people I don’t know, I’ll spend the rest of this post talking about ‘Frozen’ one single, last time, rather than rolling my eyes at inane messages on a daily basis.
I do not pretend to be speaking for anyone but myself, nor do I hide my identity behind a veil of anonymity. I am for better and worse fairly well-known within my own community, so I’ll say this for the last time, when I state that I find the film problematic because of how it deals with the Saami, I am expressing my own opinions.
I do not speak for the entirety of my people, nor do I actually see a problem with some Saami liking the film or disliking it as I do.
But as for the film.
In short there are three main things that particularly bug me; the first concerns the opening song, the second deals with the way our traditional clothes have been re-imagined by Disney and the last beef I have with Disney has to do with the director’s claim that Kristoff is Saami without showing any non-fictional proof whatsoever of this throughout the entire film.
But let’s start with the opening song, seeing as comments made by the President of the Norwegian Saami Parliament with regards to it has been interpreted as her loving the film.
In her New Year’s Speech, the president stated that ‘
‘the yoik “Eatnamen Vuelie” and Fjellheim’s musical talent is now making a whole world listen - to yoik. We are seeing the same in other cultural expressions: the Saami culture is expanding to ever new audiences’
It may come as a surprise, but I do agree with Aili Keskitalo as far as her statement goes - it is a great thing that we’re seeing our culture gaining new grounds - but only insofar as it’s being read in connection with the following paragraphs of her speech which have conveniently been left out of the quote by the majority of people on Tumblr.
In her speech, Aili Keskitalo goes on to say that “but often we experience that stories about us are being told by others than ourselves”. In other words, while not criticising the film per se, she’s not endorsing it either as some people have been claiming - she’s merely applauding the fact that Saami music is getting world-wide attention, followed by a paragraph where she high-lights the problematic aspects of having outsiders tell our stories without our involvement in them.
Now, ‘Vuelie’, has indeed been written by a South Saami composer, this is something I personally like, especially as I as a yoiker admire Frode Fjellheim’s work as far as the revitalisation of South Saami yoiking goes, but the choir performing it is not Saami, and as such I do not see Vuelie as an inclusion of a Saami voice in the film, but rather as a way to include something which is evocative and exotic, in the same way as the opening song of Pocahontas.
My opinions with regards to Vuelie would have been completely different, had Disney employed e.g. the Saami youth choir Vaajmoe to record the song, but seeing as they chose to employ a non-Saami choir, despite having asked Frode Fjellheim to rewrite his tune Eatnemen Vuelie to better suit the magical atmosphere of the film, my opinions remain unaltered.
Furthermore, in an interview which has been circulated widely on Tumblr in the last couple of weeks the composer Frode Fjellheim clearly states that the tune itself is only inspired by yoiking, calling it ‘en jojke-inspirert ting’, i.e. a tune inspired by yoiking, rather than being an actual yoik per se. This is hardly surprising, as the tune was originally written as a choral piece, but as it is called Vuelie, which is the South Saami word for a yoik, people have automatically coded it as a yoik, despite what Frode is actually calling it.
I maintain that a tokenist use of a cultural practice that was punishable by death until the late 18th century does not in fact count as inclusion, no matter how many times people tell me to be happy about the tune, and as much as I’m indeed happy for Frode to be earning a shit-load of money from his song, I do find the way in which it has been recorded to be deeply problematic nonetheless.
I mean, if they wanted something exotic without employing a Saami choir, they could have just gone full-on with the use of Scandinavian herding calls, which can be heard more or less whenever when some magic shit is going down in the film.
Over to the clothes; I have already explained why and how the clothes have been inspired by our traditional clothes in another post which can be found here, so I won’t spend too much time examining every part of Kristoff’s clothes, but I will mention a couple of things, the first thing being his shoes.
Kristoff is seen wearing a type of reindeer hide boots called goelke-gaamegh, or novhtegh in South Saami, but despite the fact that the shape is authentic, the lack of either shoelaces or woven shoebands and shoelaces mean that they would be highly impractical as snow would get into the shoes as they’re worn without a way to keep them tied closely to the leg.
Sure, shoes and odd clothes are hardly things that warrant any longer discussions, but the way in which all of Kristoff’s clothes seem to be almost Saami and then they’re not, well it really does not sit well with me at all.
I was brought up in an area of Saepmie where donning a gapta (traditional dress) was seen as something bad by the majority, something which warranted fierce discrimination, and to this day there are a gazillion unspoken rules, generational traumas and basic tiny details surrounding the wearing of our traditional dresses that I find it annoying to see the dress being bastardised in the way it’s been by Disney. As much as I don’t think of Kristoff as a Saami, I’d much preferred that they had at least made his clothes authentic, or not bothered with the so-called Saami influence at all.
Because what we now get to deal with are cosplayers who do not understand the deep, cultural codes behind our traditional clothes donning a fake version of our clothes and being applauded for it, while Saami children especially in my part of Saepmie struggle with the very idea of daring to put on a gapta in public because it’ll earn them snide, racists comments from the majority for daring to be publicly Saami.
To mention just one story of what wearing a gapta can result in, here’s one example. Last week I was talking to a friend of mine who uses his gapta regularly, and he told me how he’d worn it at a council meeting a couple of years ago when a right-wing politician had walked up to him, casually telling him that they were discussing plans on putting up new signs in a village close to Liksjoe, only they weren’t sure if the hanged Saami they wanted to put on it should be North or South Saami and seeing as my friend was being Saami in public, maybe he could wage in.
But let’s all cosplay Kristoff, why don’t we.
Finally, I would like to address the extensive myth-making in the film. On one hand Disney has done a great job at creating something fairly vapid, light-hearted and full of singable musical numbers, with an annoying yet somehow endearing talking snowman, but on the other hand they’ve made the Saami seem even more exotic and fairy-tale like by making Kristoff an orphan raised by trolls.
I mean, nice touch on writing ‘trolls’ in runes on the map at the beginning of the film, but the fact that the only supposed Saami in the entire movie is orphaned, thus stripped of a community which is essential to a Saami identity as our indigeneity is primarily communal rather than individual, and then have him being raised by fucking trolls just contributes to the idea that we’re either mythical creatures or not even real in the first place.
But it’s a film aimed at children, the trolls were so cute.
I actually enjoyed the song Let it Go, I liked that Kristoff was asking for consent before kissing Anna, I particularly liked the true-love twist at the end - but felt it would have been much better if the entire romantic subplot between Kristoff and Anna had been scrapped entirely, but there were so many parts of the film that I disliked that I couldn’t fully enjoy it and just sit back and “relax because it’s a children’s movie”.
The misrepresentation and myth-making surrounding Kristoff, i.e. the so-called Saami boy continues throughout the entire film and regardless of how minor it seems, it does feed into an ongoing discourse about us in Saepmie where we’re either seen as exotic or considered to be worth less than dirt depending on where you enter it. The fact that Kristoff is somehow Saami because he has a reindeer is another thing which grinds me the wrong way as this type of misinformation is already running wild over here and has been doing so for decades, i.e. that real Saami have reindeer, and it is making life complicated for actual reindeer and non-reindeer herding Saami alike in Saepmie.
Finally, for a company which claims to have done extensive research on the Saami, they’re clearly not knowing enough about us or even reindeer to know that
Sven has the antlers of a female reindeer.
A full-grown man would not be able to ride a reindeer bull. Like ever. The belief that Saami used to ride their reindeer goes all the way back to 1540, when Olaus Magni, who had never actually seen a real-life Saami, claimed that we used reindeer as horses and published this picture in one of his books:
In other words, Disney is contributing to keeping yet another prejudice about my people alive and kicking.
Reindeer are wild animals, and even vuejeme-råantjoeh, i.e. bulls used to lead a herd of reindeer during reindeer migrations wouldn’t ever behave like a dog.
Kristoff’s sleigh is distinctly Norwegian, and it’s way too heavy to be pulled by a reindeer.
If Kristoff actually was Saami, his sleigh would probably look a lot more like this, and he’d have been using skis instead of walking.
Is Frozen the worst thing that has ever happened to us as a people? Well no, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t problematic anyway.
SIGNAL BOOST THIS. thank you for taking the time to write out your thoughts.
This is the kind of thing i mean when I said “listening” in this post.
“Your name is Tasbeeh. Don’t let them call you by anything else.”
My mother speaks to me in Arabic; the command sounds more forceful in her mother tongue, a Libyan dialect that is all sharp edges and hard, guttural sounds. I am seven years old and it has never occurred to me to disobey my mother. Until twelve years old, I would believe God gave her the supernatural ability to tell when I’m lying.
“Don’t let them give you an English nickname,” my mother insists once again, “I didn’t raise amreekan.”
My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth. Eight years in this country and she’s still not convinced she lives here. She wears her headscarf tightly around her neck, wades across the school lawn in long, floor-skimming skirts. Eight years in this country and her tongue refuses to bend and soften for the English language. It embarrasses me, her heavy Arab tongue, wrapping itself so forcefully around the clumsy syllables of English, strangling them out of their meaning.
But she is fierce and fearless. I have never heard her apologize to anyone. She will hold up long grocery lines checking and double-checking the receipt in case they’re trying to cheat us. My humiliation is heavy enough for the both of us. My English is not. Sometimes I step away, so people don’t know we’re together but my dark hair and skin betray me as a member of her tribe.
On my first day of school, my mother presses a kiss to my cheek.
“Your name is Tasbeeh,” she says again, like I’ve forgotten. “Tasbeeh.”
Roll call is the worst part of my day. After a long list of Brittanys, Jonathans, Ashleys, and Yen-but-call-me-Jens, the teacher rests on my name in silence. She squints. She has never seen this combination of letters strung together in this order before. They are incomprehensible. What is this h doing at the end? Maybe it is a typo.
“Tasbeeh,” I mutter, with my hand half up in the air. “Tasbeeh.”
“Do you go by anything else?”
“No,” I say. “Just Tasbeeh. Tas-beeh.”
“Tazbee. All right. Alex?”
She moves on before I can correct her. She said it wrong. She said it so wrong. I have never heard my name said so ugly before, like it’s a burden. Her entire face contorts as she says it, like she is expelling a distasteful thing from her mouth. She avoids saying it for the rest of the day, but she has already baptized me with this new name. It is the name everyone knows me by, now, for the next six years I am in elementary school. “Tazbee,” a name with no grace, no meaning, no history; it belongs in no language.
“Tazbee,” says one of the students on the playground, later. “Like Tazmanian Devil?” Everyone laughs. I laugh too. It is funny, if you think about it.
I do not correct anyone for years. One day, in third grade, a plane flies above our school.
“Your dad up there, Bin Laden?” The voice comes from behind. It is dripping in derision.
“My name is Tazbee,” I say. I said it in this heavy English accent, so he may know who I am. I am American. But when I turn around they are gone.
I go to middle school far, far away. It is a 30-minute drive from our house. It’s a beautiful set of buildings located a few blocks off the beach. I have never in my life seen so many blond people, so many colored irises. This is a school full of Ashtons and Penelopes, Patricks and Sophias. Beautiful names that belong to beautiful faces. The kind of names that promise a lifetime of social triumph.
I am one of two headscarved girls at this new school. We are assigned the same gym class. We are the only ones in sweatpants and long-sleeved undershirts. We are both dreading roll call. When the gym teacher pauses at my name, I am already red with humiliation.
“How do I say your name?” she asks.
“Tazbee,” I say.
“Can I just call you Tess?”
I want to say yes. Call me Tess. But my mother will know, somehow. She will see it written in my eyes. God will whisper it in her ear. Her disappointment will overwhelm me.
“No,” I say, “Please call me Tazbee.”
I don’t hear her say it for the rest of the year.
My history teacher calls me Tashbah for the entire year. It does not matter how often I correct her, she reverts to that misshapen sneeze of a word. It is the ugliest conglomeration of sounds I have ever heard.
When my mother comes to parents’ night, she corrects her angrily, “Tasbeeh. Her name is Tasbeeh.” My history teacher grimaces. I want the world to swallow me up.
My college professors don’t even bother. I will only know them for a few months of the year. They smother my name in their mouths. It is a hindrance for their tongues. They hand me papers silently. One of them mumbles it unintelligibly whenever he calls on my hand. Another just calls me “T.”
My name is a burden. My name is a burden. My name is a burden. I am a burden.
On the radio I hear a story about a tribe in some remote, rural place that has no name for the color blue. They do not know what the color blue is. It has no name so it does not exist. It does not exist because it has no name.
At the start of a new semester, I walk into a math class. My teacher is blond and blue-eyed. I don’t remember his name. When he comes to mine on the roll call, he takes the requisite pause. I hold my breath.
“How do I pronounce your name?” he asks.
I say, “Just call me Tess.”
“Is that how it’s pronounced?”
I say, “No one’s ever been able to pronounce it.”
“That’s probably because they didn’t want to try,” he said. “What is your name?”
When I say my name, it feels like redemption. I have never said it this way before. Tasbeeh. He repeats it back to me several times until he’s got it. It is difficult for his American tongue. His has none of the strength, none of the force of my mother’s. But he gets it, eventually, and it sounds beautiful. I have never heard it sound so beautiful. I have never felt so deserving of a name. My name feels like a crown.
“Thank you for my name, mama.”
When the barista asks me my name, sharpie poised above the coffee cup, I tell him: “My name is Tasbeeh. It’s a tough t clinging to a soft a, which melts into a silky ssss, which loosely hugs the b, and the rest of my name is a hard whisper — eeh. Tasbeeh. My name is Tasbeeh. Hold it in your mouth until it becomes a prayer. My name is a valuable undertaking. My name requires your rapt attention. Say my name in one swift note – Tasbeeeeeeeh – sand let the h heat your throat like cinnamon. Tasbeeh. My name is an endeavor. My name is a song. Tasbeeh. It means giving glory to God. Tasbeeh. Wrap your tongue around my name, unravel it with the music of your voice, and give God what he is due.”
wow i wish i cared enough about the golden globes just so i can watch Amy Poehler crushing it but im too lazy to get up from this seat and ive stopped giving a fuck about award shows
The world is so infinitely large when we’re kids
HELLO. IT IS GALENTINES DAY.
on this momentous occasion i will take a break from netflix and i will make this post which is sure to be frustrating because of this new interface that my computer is allergic to
(that is the most romantic thing i will ever say to anyone, please cherish it)
i follow a ton of people and the overwhelming majority of those people are ladies, so i decided to attempt to categorize my love. which is not at all scientific.
some of you fall into multiple categories, and i haven’t eaten like all day so if you are not on here a) i forgot because i am a hungry spaced out idiot, or b) couldn’t think of your name immediately when i saw your URL which means i felt awkward putting you on here in case i screwed up, c) let’s chat more often!! i would like to say thank you to EVERYONE, mutual follows or not, for being my snarky little virtual family. thanks for putting the “ERNET” in “INTERNET FRIENDS”. no wait, that’s not right-
you are all ladies with one very special thing in common. that thing is me.
JUST KIDDING, THAT THING IS THAT YOU ARE ALL SO AWESOME I HAD TO SIFT THROUGH THE DAUNTINGLY DANK DREGS OF THE INTERNET (tumblr tracked tags) (too much alliteration i know i will cease and desist) TO FIND YOU AND LATCH ONTO YOUR TALL AND/OR SHORT FRAMES LIKE A HUMAN SUCTION CUP, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO
ladies who are rambly tagging neurotic balls of intellectual insanity (i promise that is a compliment) (think smart n nuts)
isabel ambre samwell beth ally peyton elyssa jessica natasha leah quiniva emma kayla asmaa sophia ljubica faith ash
ladies who are actual angels sent from above aka you are all so wonderful and kind i want to open palm slap you and watch a “go directly to hell” ticket drop from the heavens
ha kathleen taylor jenny caroline heath laura katrina lauren elena