Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling Review

Well, I officially suck at consistency. It’s been almost two months since my last post, and the only thing I can say is: blame it on the holiday season? Please?

Today I’m going to give you a little bit of insight into my actual human life and not just my blog life: I am a person with a lot of anxieties. Unfortunately, I’m also the type of person who will have a panic attack and think, you know what I should do? Watch a serial killer documentary. Probably not the best idea, but how else am I supposed to know how to get away with murder?

My family and my boyfriend are always so helpful, though. In December my boyfriend told me I should stop reading Holocaust memoirs and read something a little more uplifting. Good job, boyfriend. Good job.

So I put down the book and we went to Barnes and Noble to pick out books together. I bought a few books including Yes Please by Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? I remember talking to you guys about Mindy Kaling’s first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and telling you how awesome it was. So when I found out (way too late in the game, I might add) that Mindy had written a new book, I was stoked and could not wait to get home to read it.

I have to say, I was a little disappointed. Not because it wasn’t a funny book, or an entertaining book, but because I thought that now that Mindy Kaling is a little more famous than before, she tried to pander a bit to her audience, but ended up doing it in a bad way.

I’ll explain:

Since her first book was released she has been a role model to women and girls of all ages, of all sizes and shapes, and of all colors. Kaling openly admits to being a size 10 in both of her books, and in the first one she makes a big deal about being content with how you look. Personally, I thought that was an incredible message to send out to people. As a woman who is bigger, myself, I see and feel the pressure every day for women to look a certain way. There isn’t just pressure towards bigger, curvier women to be smaller, there’s also pressure towards skinny and less curvy women to be slightly bigger – to be a Victoria’s Secret Model. Everyone wants to make the perfect potion to make themselves look a certain way: add a pinch of C-cup boobs, a sprinkle of the perfect tan, a dash of a toned and flat stomach, a half a cup of flawless skin, and an eye of newt.

But to be frank, all of that is complete bullshit. There’s so much pressure in everything you do: jobs, relationships with other people, goals, there’s even pressure when you drive (screw you guy behind me – I’m going 5 miles over the speed limit, get off my butt). The only thing you can do to help yourself is tune them out. Do what you think is right. Be proud of how you look. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t do. Every BODY is different, and there’s a reason for that. It’s not because we need to be the same, it’s because we’re SUPPOSED to be different.

But I digress… In Mindy Kaling’s second book she kind of does a 180 from her original opinions. I don’t think she means to, I actually think she’s trying to convey a better message. But here’s what happened:

Kaling tries to say that she’s a real person too and sometimes doesn’t love the way she looks. That’s an awesome message, I agree. It’s important for people to understand that those thoughts and feelings are completely normal. But then she goes on to tell a story: A magazine or website or something of that nature put her on a list of the most beautiful curvy and bigger women in Hollywood. Again, that’s awesome. Except that Kaling then says that she looked through the list and saw people twice her size and thought, “why am I on a list with these heifers?” What a horrible thing to say.

I understand that she’s a comedian and was just making a joke. But why would you spend your career trying to be a role model for plus size women and then bad mouth them at the same time? That’s not right. And while I love Mindy, I think she’s hilarious, a phenomenal writer, and a really great role model, I also think she should’ve left that part out of the book.

We all say things we don’t necessarily mean, or say things that might sound a little bit cruel without meaning it to, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to tell people to love their body and stop shaming each other for how they look and then call them a “heifer” – that’s just mean.

I feel like the majority of the book was written to get people to look at her as a regular human, but she just went about it the wrong way. I completely understand telling your audience that even the most confident person will still look in the mirror and want to change something. What I don’t understand is giving your audience that message, and then adding to their insecurities by telling them that if they’re bigger than a size ten it’s okay to make fun of other people and call them fat.

And look, as I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE Mindy. I think she’s awesome. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll always agree with what she says.

SOOO, after that long rant, I would like to point out some things I thought were awesome in the book:

  • Kaling talking about her anxieties. This was helpful since, as I mentioned before, I’ve been having a lot of panic attacks recently.
  • Kaling discussing her thoughts on marriage, love, sex, and friendship. A lot of celebrities don’t delve into their personal relationships as much as she did and I thought that was an amazing way to feel closer to your audience and for the audience to feel closer to her.
  • Learning her keys to success.
  • How to make it in Hollywood! (Spoiler: no one knows the answer. It’s all about luck)
  • Her time with President Obama.

I very much recommend reading this book, I just suggest you take what she says at face value and not idolize her and take what she says as gospel. Because everyone is different, and no one should feel like they’re being made fun of for how they look.

Hopefully I’ll be writing more soon. I have about 10 different blog ideas that I’m super excited to write about. So stay tuned!

Until next time,

Rachel

e-mail: rachel@booksandcleverness.com

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Book vs Movie: The 33/Deep Down Dark

Back in September I read a very interesting book that I had wanted to read since last fall. Back in 2014, my boyfriend and I went into a book store during a day trip to New Hope, PA, (quick note: my mom and I were in New Hope the day the miners were rescued and I remember eating my lunch and watching the miners come out of the mine in a tiny capsule with glasses on) and I found a book that I thought was super interesting. It was called Deep Down Dark by Héctor Tobar and it was about the 33 Chilean miners that were trapped in the San Jose Mine for 69 days (hahaha, I said 69… Oh, not the time for a sex joke? Sorry!)

Annnnnnyway… So I found this book in a teeny tiny bookstore and I really wanted to buy it, but it was about $25 dollars and I just didn’t have the money (mostly because I kept spending my paycheck on books). So I decided to pass it up, but I kept it on my list of books I wanted to read. It wasn’t until September 2015 that the paperback version came out and it was only like ten bucks. I preordered the book so it would be delivered to me the day it came out in paperback and I started reading immediately. It was such a good book.

The first probably 30 pages or so I didn’t find too interesting, it was more character development and the miners going into the mine during their regular working shift rather than being stuck in the mine. Nothing about being trapped yet. So I found it to be a little slow. But as the miners begin hearing some “weeping” sounds coming from above them high up in the mine, I started to get interested. And as the almost 800,000 ton slab of diorite collapses on the men, I was hooked. There’s nothing like reading a book that makes you so happy you stuck around to finish it. The joys of reading!

The book proceeds to explain what the miners went through: starvation, hopelessness, drinking water that was filled with oil and feces, literally having a specific spot where the men would shit every day, hearing the mountain of rock above you shift and fall as you slowly get even more entombed in the mine. It was an interesting read, to say the least, but I’ll get back to that.

Fast forward to a couple months later: I learned that they were going to be making the book into a movie when I finally finished reading the book. I was super excited but didn’t expect it to be out any time soon. Then last week I find out that it was coming out in theatres in a week. So of course I immediately texted my boyfriend with a round of I NEED TO SEE IT! LETS GO SEE IT! I WANT TO SEE IT! and here we are.

Just a few hours ago, I walked into the theatre with little expectations. I came out happy, but a little disappointed. Not because the movie was bad or because they didn’t stick to the original story, but because they glossed over certain parts of the original story.

I don’t think I have to say “spoilers” here because it’s something that actually happened, but just in case no one remembers when the Chilean miners were buried alive and rescued after 69 (ha!) days, *SPOILERS!* They get rescued.

What the movie attempts to do is turn this situation into something disheartening, but heroic. What I got out of it was similar, but not what was intended. I took the story as just that: a story. Rather than telling the audience the disgusting things they had to do, and about the physical fights the men had with each other, and the lasting PTSD, and so much more, they told the audience that the mine was not a pleasant place to be. They touched a little bit on the fights, and they touched a little bit on the grossness, but nothing in detail and nothing that would completely explain their rationale.

Now, when I think about it, I understand. A movie is a movie and no matter which way you turn it, it’s always going to be a movie. By that I mean that you’ll never be able to get inside someone’s head the way you would in a novel. You’ll never be told every single thing that happens in the book because a) a movie shows rather than tells, and b) there simply isn’t enough time.

If you think about it, a Harry Potter book is HUGE and they still couldn’t fit all of the details into it. Never once does anyone talk about Hermione’s struggle to prioritize and bring awareness to House Elf maltreatment by starting S.P.E.W. Never once did they mention in the Hunger Games movies that Katniss ran into two people fleeing their district and heading to District 13 in the woods. Why? Not because it wasn’t important, but because there isn’t enough time for everything. Sometimes you can still get your point across without showing everything you’ve read.

So yes, I understand. But what I don’t like is that they took the most human aspects of the ordeal and glossed it over. There’s nothing shiny and glamorous about survival. There’s nothing attractive about being emaciated for 30 days. There’s nothing sweet and sugar coated about drinking the water that you dump oil in, bathe in, and have feces and urine spread into. Nothing. And you know why? Because it’s survival.

For example, if someone were to tell you that they survived the Holocaust and said “yeah we starved, but other than that we learned a lot and all became good friends.” You’d be like, say what now?? So why should this be any different?

Maybe that was a drastic comparison, but it’s kind of true. Survival is not pretty, and forgiveness takes a lot for a person to do. I guess because I read the book I understand the struggles they went through to get to the point of forgiveness and of hope, but because of that I can’t really understand how the movie can go into so little detail about their troubles and helplessness.

That being said, I thought the movie was actually really good. Even though they didn’t go into too much detail, I thought they captured the essence of the situation as well as they could. I thought the director did a great job really putting into the light the different personalities of each miner and I thought the acting was really great. My boyfriend read a review that said they didn’t like the fact that they had white actors in the movie. I disagree. While I think they probably could’ve gone to Chile and said, “hey guys, wanna be in a movie?” and they would’ve gotten their non-white actors, I completely understand the desire for getting well known actors (white or hispanic) to be in a major motion picture.

Now back to the book. I thought it was great. My only complaints really were the beginning 30-40 pages and the end 30-40 pages. In the beginning it was too slow, and the end it mostly discussed their pact to only tell their story as a group, not individually (which is very commendable); but it also discussed their lasting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, their lasting drifts with fellow mine members and the lasting money-lessness even after fame. Basically, it was just a summary of what happened and how they are now. It touched on the fact that they were hoping for a movie, but otherwise it sort of just ended.

Final thoughts:

While the movie was extremely captivating and entertaining to watch, I didn’t find it to be as accurate as i think it should have been for such a traumatizing ordeal. The book I felt was great, but maybe a little slow at times. All that said, I still believe that the book wins this one. Hands down it was more honest, more heartfelt, and more detailed than the movie ever could have been.

Book: 6, Movie: 4

I hope you guys go see the movie and read the book and tell me your opinions. I would really love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Was I too harsh? Do I need re-watch the movie from a fresh perspective? Let me know in the comments or shoot me an e-mail at rachel@booksandcleverness.com.

Happy reading, guys! Until next time,

Rachel