International Frozen – “Let It Go” (Film Version) Top 10

It cannot be debated, that “Frozen” is one of the biggest Disney hits ever since the company’s golden 90s, where they landed smash hits with “Aladdin”, “The Lion Kind” and “The Little Mermaid”. And, for the first time in forever (forgive the pun), they have finally managed to include a title theme song again that is not only worthy of numerous award nominations, but also played to no end by radio stations and television boardcasts.

flickr-Jorge Figueroa

cc by flickr / Jorge Figueroa

Whoever has not head the song “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel (or at least in the version of Demi Lovato) really has not lived on Earth for the past five months. What most of you have not heard yet, though, are the numerous wonderful international versions.

I myself am a passionate song collector. Even in 1990s, when I was still in my teens, I collected Disney records from all the coutnries that I visited (which weren’t many, but I managed to aquire some French, Italian, Polish and even Danish music tapes for the 1990s movies). Ever since the rise of the internet, Youtube, iTunes and of course amazon, it has become increasingly easy to buy Walt Disney cds from differen countries.

So here is my personal selection of the top 10 international film versions:

#1 – Japanese

This one I love because of the fresh, young voice (as much as I love Idina’s version, she does sound rather old for a girl around 18-20 years of age). But more importantly, I love the Japanese translation of the lyrics! It seems to fit the dilemma of Elsa so much better than the English one does, and the metaphors are simply used beautifully!

#2 – French

The lyrics in the French version are just wonderful. I love the use of the word libertated (‘liberée’), because that’s essentially what the movie is about. Elsa’s curse is that she is imprisoned by her own fears, and she needs to liverate herself from them.

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Traci Hines… better than the Walt Disney Company itself?

There shouldn’t be any discussion about the fact that the Walt Disney company has the reputation to produce only the highest-quality animation and entertainment programs. And even though in recent years the quality seemed to have declined a bit when it came to afternoon cartoon shows, Disney was still at the top when it came to the marketing of their movies and products.

But what now if an amateur, a fan does a better job at making a musicvideo for their flagship “The Little Mermaid”. And not just better… but rocks it all the way.

Traci Hines has managed to the the nearly impossible. In her freetime, she and three friends managed to create a musicvideo for “Part of Your World” that has no equal – not even among Disney’s own creations.

While one might disagree with the (rather fast, and sometimes full of beats) musical arrangement, the visual effects are simply stunning, and Hines does an excellent job at portraying the little mermaid. Have a look…

And as a comparison, here is the official Disney music video for the song – which was released in August 2013 in celebration of the Blu-Ray release of The Little Mermaid. I can’t believe the difference… maybe Disney should consider putting Hines under contract. She certainly manages to convey the old Disney magic that the new Disney productions and merchandise lack…

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An Open Letter to the Governments

Dear governments,

in the light of most recent events, I want to address this open letter to you.

It seems, during the past weeks, a lot of disturbing occurrences have happened throughout the Western world: first the media (and FBI) attack on KYAnonymous (otherwise known as Deric Lostutter), who, as you might remember was responsible for uncovering (or at least bringing it into the consciousness of the people) the rape culture that is present throughout the United States, and now the scandal about the NSA surveillance, that is being followed by a number of similar scandals from different countries. In other countries, like Germany, discussions about government overreach and privacy protection have been going on for a while.
To top it all, the person who leaked the information about the illegal activities of the U.S. government, Edward Snowden, now has to fear for his life and is hiding out in Hong Kong in order not to follow in the footsteps of people like Bradley Manning, who got arrested and severely mistreated for similar reasons.

As a citizen of Western civilization – more so, a citizen of the world – I have been deeply disturbed by not just the occurrences, but even more by the handling of them.

Let us face it, the rumor that governments are spying on us is an old one, and my generation, which grew up mostly in the 1990s, is probably especially familiar with it, due to television shows like “The X-Files” which (fictionally) portrayed just this version of the government that you are now proving to be real: democratically elected governments acting as the enemies of the people, spying on them and gathering information, secretly.  Granted, the internet was not even an issue yet in the 1990s unless you were a nerd – like I was. But back then it portrayed to us that one ray of hope, that positive potential, that humankind might actually live up to in the new millennium. An infinite database of knowledge, and unrestrained sharing of information, regardless of who you were, where you were, what your social status was and how wealthy you were. Projects like Khan Academy still work tirelessly to fulfill that promise that was inspired in millions in the 1970s and 1980s through shows like Star Trek.

But you governments are more and more trying to turn that positive potential of the internet into a negative one by transforming the device into a spy-machine of a size that even George Orwell did not come up with in his worst nightmares.

The German government is tirelessly working on a project known in Germany as the “Bundestrojaner” (federal Trojan), which would allow them to spy out all the stored data, passwords and cache of infected computer – even more, enabling the federal government of Germany to copy any file onto your computer, or vice versa, delete any file they please. The use of this program has been approved by the federal government – despite of the protest of millions.

The NSA’s spy program so eloquently named PRISM truly presents a prism of information about billions of people all over the world: connection data, caller IDs, call durations  and email content only scratch the surface of what PRISM is capable of. The so-called “gläserne Bürger” (see-through/glassy citizen) has long stopped to be the delusion of paranoid-ridden conspiracy theorists, and become real: Thank you, governments of the world.

Efforts like ACTA, CETA and IPRED hit the news (not the general news of course, because it would be too dangerous to inform the general public now, wouldn’t it?) on an almost weekly basis: efforts to limit the internet (evil tongues might call it “censor” – not officially, after all we are the FREE world, and not China, although at this point this is mere semantics) for the average user in order to protect corporate and government interests.

It is making me sick. And I am not the only one. And there is a very distinct reason for that.

Dear governments. You have been democratically elected by US, THE PEOPLE! You are no tyrants. You are no dictators. You are no people with interests. You are elected as representatives of US THE PEOPLE. You are not elected representatives of corporations, or of your party, or of your own schemes and interests.

You are in power for but one reason: WE THE PEOPLE elected you and entrusted you to represent us and govern us with our wishes and interests in mind.

That does not include spying on us and treating us like your worst enemy. That does not include threatening us with drones. That does not include imprisoning the people who uncover wrongdoings in your midst.

We are not your enemy. WE ARE YOU! YOU ARE US! As representatives of the majority of the people, you have but one agenda: TO FOLLOW THE WISH OF THE MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN YOUR COUNTRY.

You are not in power to protect corporations – or their financial interests. You are not in power to protect your own position, or work tirelessly to stay in power. Money is not your foremost purpose. Power is not your foremost purpose. WE, THE PEOPLE, ARE.

On the afternoon of 9/11, when I was watching the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on live television, and saw both of the twin towers collapse, I was merely 19 years old.

I was always a rather naïve child, who believed in the good of all people, and that life would turn out to be like a Walt Disney fairy-tale for me, and the second star to the right would make all my dreams come true. It was not that I hadn’t experienced darkness in my life – but the world out there to which the door was only just opening to me, seemed like a vast field of explorations and possibilities – and endless positive potential.

Despite of being that person, the instant I saw the twin tower collapse on September 11, 2001, I intuitively knew that the world as I knew it had ended. I couldn’t pinpoint just what was different, but there was the distinct feeling that nothing would ever be as it had been before.

Now, 12 years later, I know that the rather childish intuition from back than was nothing less than an accurate vision of the future. I was born a free citizen, a free thinker, and I have turned into the prisoner of a media largely influenced by government interests; a suspect under constant surveillance of our governments.

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were a success. Not because of the horrible attacks which demanded thousands of victims of all races, religions and nations. Not because of the terrorist cells (supposedly) hiding out in all kinds of different Middle-Eastern countries.

It was a success, because it was meant to be an attack on Western democracy and Western freedom – an effort which you, governments, have worked tirelessly towards ever since. Since 9/11, numerous different laws have been put in place in almost all Western countries, which limit the freedoms of its citizens in order to secure their ‘freedom’. Even 10 years after the terrorist attacks, the patriot act in the U.S. was extended for another term – even more, it was expanded to allow the US government to even apply it to US citizens (albeit accompanied by a (non-binding) promise of the current president that he would never make use of it).

The terrorists dreamed of destroying our freedom and attacking our democracy. But you, dear governments, made their dreams come true.

It was Henry David Thoreau in his essay “Civil Disobedience” who stated that “under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.” That was in the 19th century when American democracy was still young and actually largely fulfilling its promise to be a government for the people by the people.

For the longest time, the act of civil disobedience was considered to be one of the most American acts possible. And the right – no, the duty – of civil disobedience is just what people like KYAnonymous and Edward Snowden are exerting. In government systems, where you hear phrases like “what he was doing was morally right, but illegal” or “it was a good cause, but we must arrest him”, something has gone horribly wrong. In a system, which essentially opposes good vs. laws so openly, what is there that can still be trusted?

If people like Edward Snowden and Deric Lostutter have to be sent to prison – should we not be right there next to them? In a government, in which breaking the law is morally right – does that not inevitably lead to the conclusion that following the law is morally wrong? When was the point, where a citizen started to be forced to decide between following the law and doing the right thing? In systems, where doing the right thing, and following the law has ceased to be one and the same thing, serious reconsideration needs to take place.

In a democratically elected government, that can no longer be trusted to act in the best interest of the people, an act of CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE is the most democratic measure, that any truly democratic citizen can – no, has to – use in order to remind the government of its purpose.

In times, where our freedom, our privacy and our security are under attack – not by terrorists, but by our own governments, whom we entrusted with our most important matters – it is the duty of any upstanding citizen to face its government, protest on the streets, and resist any measure which is targeted against them.

For every attack, that a democratically elected government launches against its people (be it their privacy, their rights, or their life) is an attack against democracy itself.

And as a free citizen of a democratic country who believes in democratic values, I don’t want to accept any attack on this system of government which started out so promisingly – because democracy means government for the people by the people.

Our voices matter.

Sincerely,

- a citizen who still believes in democracy

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Thoughts on the War on Terror

Only a fool thinks that violence and war are the right means to prevent violence and war. 

And that’s not just theory – let’s recapitulate what the past 12 years have brought: billions of debt and millions of lives later, there are still terrorist attacks happening (despite Bin Laden being dead), and you are still living in fear – ergo: nothing! If anything the situation got worse: democracy and civil rights fall more and more victim to “security measures”.

Terrorism is a concept, an idea if you will – as the term itself suggests – that aims on producing fear. How can you fight something as abstract as terrorism (ergo fear) in a war? 
I do in no way defend the terrorist attacks. They were horrible crimes. But waging wars because a few nutjobs commited a horrible crime? Where is it ever going to end?

You cannot fight fear in a war! You can only fight it within yourself, for, as several presidents in the past have accurately stated “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

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Thou Shalt Not Kill!

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a rule in every religion that forbid its followers to kill others?

Oh wait… there is… but apparently humankind constantly finds ways around that. “Oh, but it is because he’s a non-believer!”, “Oh, but he has something that I want!”, “Oh, but it is government-spproved killing a.k.a. death penalty!”
I bet you, if he is real, Allah/God/Jesus/creator is sitting somewhere, shaking his head and yelling “Which part of “You shall not kill” did you not understand?”.

And if there’s constantly sneaky ways around that, why can’t there be sneaky ways around to justify gay marriage, women’s rights and so on?

In essence, what it comes down to, is, that humankind puts a lot more effort into finding loopholes in order to be allowed to kill, than they would in order to be allowed to love. And we really still think that any one of us qualifies to go to heaven/paradise???

Dream on, folks… dream on.

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Cultural Differences, or The Irrelevance of the Superiority Complex

Whenever I go out of the house, I basically hear people talk about how “we” (whatever that means) are so much better than the rest. It starts with national identity and usually ends  with religion.

The easiest and most common example is the U.S.A, commonly referred to as America (which is ridiculous, as America is a lot bigger than the U.S., but let’s leave it at that for now). Americans usually are of the opinion, that their country is the best, and the rest of the world are basically third world countries. And because they are so great, of course, everybody wants to come and live there.

In Germany, you hear basically the same. France, England, Sweden, Japan… they are all proud of their country and praise it as the best. Same with religion: Christianity claims it is the only true religion. So does Islam. The only religion I know that precisely states every religion to be equally valid, is Buddhism (stated by the Dalai Lama), and occasionally even Buddhism is used as an argument in violent conflicts.

What I just wonder is: if everybody thinks they are the best – might we not all be losers in the end? For if you think you are perfect, what do you put effort into improving?

Instead of spreading the propaganda of “superiority”, shouldn’t we instead look at the others and by that find ways to improve ourselves? Humility is a value that is a lot more productive than a vain superiority complex.

In Germany, we have a saying, that (roughly translated) goes like this: Superiority/Arrogance comes before falling.

A statement, that a lot of governments and religions should take to heart. If you ask me, I am pretty fed up with everybody around telling me, that they are the best, that they are perfect, that they know the truth about the world and religion.

All I can say is: I am not perfect. The more I know, the more I see what I don’t know. And the more people and cultures I am faced with, the more I see what I can improve about myself.

We should remodel ourselves taking best out of all the worlds – instead, we always seem to take the worst of our own little world, wrap it up in gold, and the use it to bomb other worlds in order to show them that we are so much better than they are.

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Open-Mindedness, or The Willingness to Endorse Ideas Which Are the Opposite of What You Believe In

A lot of people think that accepting their neighbors weird habit, or not discriminating against the muslim next door makes them open minded. It always leaves me speechless when I am faced with people who claim to be open-minded, yet then shut everything out which is not how they believe without further consideration.

I spent many years contemplating open-mindedness and tolerance. And I have learned that, it’s always a good start to assume, that you are not tolerant and open-minded at all. I have learned that open-mindedness isn’t as much about other people as it is about constantly questioning and redefining your own ideas of morals and the world. And as that, open-mindedness basically goes hand in hand with many of the religious values attributed to Buddha, or Jesus – or God in general. Values that state that man can never achieve them, because man is imperfect. It is impossible to be completely open-minded. But we can work all day to broaden our horizon.

Aman John K. on Youtube once said something which made me think about open-mindedness – even though I completely rejected the thought at first. He said, open-mindedness means to be able to even consider rape, and find valid arguments for the neccessity of rape.

As a rather feminist woman, I was appalled by the idea – however, for some reason, I could not forget about that statement. So, without even wanting to, I tried it. I made a case for rape, how it was in a way neccessary for evolution, etc. And I realized something even more important. Being open-minded doesn’t mean that you have to share an opinion. It doesn’t mean that all of a sudden you are FOR legalizing rape. It simply means that you have considered all sides thoroughly before coming to a conclusion. And that is what an informed decision is all about.

Here’s a way to practice open-mindedness every day:
If you are faced with a friend, a news report or anything which seems to be biased towards one side – try to find information. Imagine you are a lawyer, and you are to defend the other side. You don’t have to go for the psychopathic killer in the news right away. Go for the recent news report about the war in Iraq for example. Browse the web for information and point of views from the other side.

You will be surprised how different the same story will be all of a sudden.

Again, being open-minded is not about suddenly supporting a crime. It is about critical thinking, and the possibility to broaden your horizon. For how can you say which side you support, if you don’t even know all of them?

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