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Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “The Lady Killer” (Season 3 Summer Finale)

In Pretty Little Liars, Recaps on August 31, 2012 at 7:54 pm

This week’s PLL was SO scary and filled with many creepy twists and turns. Plus we got a reveAl, and Paige was cleared of all A-related business. Read on for our thoughts on the PLL summer finale.

Toby?! No! Wait really, do you think he is part of the A-team? Or is he playing Mona?

Sarah T: This reveal made me cackle out loud. And THAT is how you do a twist. I think it’s definitely possible that he’s a double agent who’s crossed over in order to bring down the A-team. He basically threatened to do as much earlier in the season when Spencer was stonewalling him. However, I hope that he’s in the Axis of Black Hoodie Evil for real — not because I want to see Spencer get hurt, but because that is so interesting if it’s true. It’s a total game-changer not just for his character and his relationship with Spencer, but for the entire series. It impacts what we think about his relationship with Jenna: What if she’s the innocent in this scenario? Or what if they’ve both been on the same side the whole time? It also has implications for what we know about the night Jenna got blinded and Ali’s argument with Toby in its aftermath. What if Toby really WAS spying on the PLLs the night of the Jenna Thing? What if Ali had something on him that was bigger than the step-incest intel? I like this plot development for the way it breaks the show open, so I hope it sticks.

Phoebe B: Oh my goodness so many good questions ST! Oh man I actually really hope that Toby is a double Agent and not part of the Axis of Black Hoodie Evil … Mostly I don’t want him to be evil and playing Spencer because they just slept together for the first time (right?) and I feel like it would be super messed up if he was then evil. I feel like if he was evil, then the show would be somehow punishing Spencer for sex and that would make me sad. BUT also, if Toby is indeed evil that would be an insane turn of events since then maybe he really was guilty back when he was accused. And Toby does randomly disappear a lot. Although remember when A-knocked him off that ladder/scaffolding situation at the Hastings? That seemed real and he seemed surprised. But maybe he was playing Jenna or was horrible to her? Rather than the other way around. Oh I don’t know anymore, I’m just so confused!

Read the rest of this entry »

How to be Awesome Like Mindy Lahiri

In fashion, How to be Awesome Like, Television on August 31, 2012 at 9:28 am

Comedian and writer Mindy Kaling just launched her own television series, The Mindy Project, and you can watch the first episode free on Hulu. Based on this pilot, Kaling has created a charmingly dysfunctional character who feels like 4/7 Bridget Jones and 3/7 Liz Lemon with a sparkly topping of Sex and the City. Kaling herself is demonstrably awesome so, without further ado, here’s a handful of reasons why “Mindy Lahiri” is awesome and you should feel free to draw from this list in your project of ever-increasing awesomeness:

 

1-She’s a smart, educated, professional woman—an OB-GYN doing her residency—who, nevertheless, shows viewers that even smart, educated, professional women have flaws and foibles, including making dubious decisions in the “love and sex” category.

 

 

2-She’s obsessed with romantic comedies (including my favorite, When Harry Met Sally) and remains ever on the lookout for her “meet cute” with the perfect guy. I certainly don’t suggest that real ladies try to live as if life is a romantic comedy but it’s a funny quirk in a television character, one that both the show and Mindy recognize as ridiculous and charming in equal measure. (Great line from the pilot to her annoyingly overbearing colleague: “Never presume to speak for Meg Ryan again.”)

 

3-She lets her heart get in the way of what looks good “on paper.” When confronted with patients in need who have no insurance, Mindy tries to tell them she’s overbooked or cannot take on uninsured patients but her basic humanity and desire to provide medical care to women overthrows the dictates of the market and professional ambition.

 

4-Mindy is beautiful and confident but (praise the heavens!) she doesn’t look like everyone else on television. She’s not a petite size 0 and she’s Indian-American. She may strut like Carrie Bradshaw but she could break SJP over her knee.

 

 

5-She understands the happy-making powers of sparkly clothes and fabulous shoes.

 

6-She’s direct. This often leads to embarrassing gaffes or foot-in-mouth scenarios but it also makes her honest and real.

 

Let’s all drink a cocktail (or three) as we welcome Mindy Lahiri to a world of television that desperately needs her and Mindy Kaling to the zeitgeist of awesome female comedians.

Choose Your Own Adventure: Talking “Treasure Island!!!” with Sara Levine

In books on August 28, 2012 at 6:00 am

Sarah T.

“When had I ever dreamed a scheme? When had I ever done a foolish, over-bold act? When had I ever, like Jim Hawkins, broke from my friends, raced for the beach, stolen a boat, killed a man, or eliminated an obstacle that stood in the way of my getting a hunk of gold?”

With those words, the unnamed 25-year-old protagonist of Sara Levine’s Treasure Island!!! decides to change course. Inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s timeless tale, she’s determined to shake off the shackles of her suburban life — though not by leaving the suburbs. Instead, she pursues the Core Values of BOLDNESS, RESOLUTION, INDEPENDENCE, and HORN-BLOWING while navigating her day job at The Pet Library and an assortment of friends and family confused by her single-minded passion for a classic of boy’s adventure fiction.

Of course, there are bound to be a few hiccups along the path of any grand adventure. In the narrator’s case, these include embezzlement, an extremely annoying parrot, moving back in with her parents, encounters with poison, and even a stabbing. No matter: she keeps her head up throughout Levine’s laugh-out-loud satire.

Filled with love for a coming-of-age novel that’s less about lessons learned than lessons–boldly!–refused, I asked Levine to talk about her acclaimed debut. Grab your nearest bottle of rum and read on for her thoughts on the Core Values of Little Women, how book reception seems to differ for male and female authors, and the American desire for self-reinvention.

The narrator wants so badly to learn capital-L Lessons from Treasure Island. Her take-aways are questionable and her execution of the Core Values is decidedly slapdash—embezzling, negligent parrot-parenting, etc. But I think a lot of bookworms can relate to the feeling of wanting the books we love to tell us how to live. Is that too much pressure to put on a paperback? And are there books that have inspired a Treasure Island level of devotion in you?

 No book has inspired that level of devotion in me. I can’t imagine committing to a single book with such fervor.  But I’m well aware of my tendency to hope that something—not necessarily a book, but an object, or a practice—will have the power to change my life. And I’m interested in the American obsession with re-inventing selfhood.  Remodel your living room, redo your wardrobe, make a new you!  Why do we always think it’s possible, even desirable, to start over? 

The Core Values the narrator decides to live her life by are boldness, resolution, independence, and horn-blowing. Does that last one mean tooting your own horn (something at which the narrator excels) or taking up the euphonium?

Yes, blowing your own horn means saying what you do well.  But let’s not rule out euphonium lessons for any of the ladies. I understand the solo euphonium repertoire has expanded dramatically in recent years.  It’s no longer necessary to be an ensemble player.

Several of the Treasure Island!!! reviews I read (all of which were very admiring!) praised the book for putting such an unsympathetic character at the center. But I kind of loved her. She’s selfish and oblivious and misguided, sure, and she hurts the people who care about her. But I also found her wild over-confidence and single-mindedness endearing, especially as the cracks in her armor start to show. Am I a patsy?

You are not a patsy.  You are a spiritually evolved human being. Do you know the Buddhist parable of the poisoned tree?  When we encounter a mean, selfish, off-kilter person, most of us want to get away as quickly as possible.  Others, like yourself, they can witness the mess and not run away screaming.  I commend you for approaching the dregs of humanity with compassion and amusement. I apologize if I sound as if I am speaking from a mountaintop.

Relatedly, your self-interview at The Nervous Breakdown brings up the specter of the autobiographical question. (“How much you have in common with your narrator?”) But nobody as un-self-aware as the narrator ever could have written her. Did it surprise you that people were asking that question?

Thanks.  It did surprise me, though probably it shouldn’t have.  People usually write first novels based on their own lives, and it would be ridiculous to expect people to do any homework on me. But I was taken aback by a number of people who failed to see the gap between me and the narrator.  They seemed ill equipped to read the voice. I keep hearing their morally indignant sputters: “She thinks she’s being bold, but really she’s being self-centered!”  Tell me something I don’t know, girlfriend.  And then there was the interviewer who asked me point-blank if I had ever worked in a pet store.      Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on August 24, 2012 at 7:11 am

Check out “Our Voices, Our Stories: Training African Women’s & LGBT Organizations to Use Social Media is Critical” over at Spektra Speaks (and this one too).

And here is the Crunk Feminist Collective on the color of terrorism: “American breeds terrorists. And they are white not brown.”

Rebecca Solnit explores the type of man who thinks he knows everything, and who expects women to be the grateful recipients of his condescending lectures.

Natasha Vargas-Cooper writes about literary criticism that doubles as self-help in “Hard Blows.”

GLG pal Tammy Oler examines Pinterest’s visible girliness over at Bitch.

When women speak about their experiences with violence, many people don’t want to hear them. Lidia Yuknavitch’s powerful essay “Explicit Violence” demands recognition.

Ta-Nehisi Coates considers race and Obama’s presidency in “Fear of a Black President”

Michelle Dean writes about class, race, and TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo at Slate.

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “Single Fright Female” (Season 3, Episode 11)

In Pretty Little Liars, Recaps on August 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

We are approaching the Pretty Little Liars summer finale and an upcoming betrAyal. This week there were asps afoot and secret children revealed. Meanwhile, we learned that Ali’s evil reach knew no bounds. Read on for our thoughts on this week’s rather scary episode.

Be still our hearts.

An asp! What do you make of the A-ttempt on Spencer in the dressing room?

Phoebe: Firstly, how Shakespeare of you PLL! And secondly, so scary! So clearly the snake is meant to signal that A (or Paige) overheard Spencer telling Emily about how Paige and Ali were rivals. Also, it made me super suspicious of Caleb when he snuck into the changing room that Hanna was in. How did he know to get in there? Also, how adorable was that scene? Lastly, do you think A was the driver of the truck (we never saw his face)? Or snuck into the dressing rooms the Caleb way?

Sarah T: I will never suspect Caleb of anything because he makes me swoon like Hanna. Those two have heat! But yes, the asp was hilarious and scary, full-on striking out at Spencer. I also loved the detail that Cece killed the snake with a mannequin leg in the background as Spencer gasps for breath after being released. Say what you will about her mean girl tactics, but she is fearless. You’ve got to give her that. Read the rest of this entry »

Hollywood Rape and the Foreclosure of Empathic Activism; or Musings on the Limits of “Body Genres”

In Film, Uncategorized on August 21, 2012 at 9:32 am

Sarah S.

Before we begin, I want to thank Phoebe and Sarah for their insightful comments on a first draft of this piece. Also, these are preliminary thoughts on a complicated, difficult subject. I welcome other comments and thoughts that expand the conversation.

***

Much has been said about the general bad-assness of Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo of the Millennium Trilogy. Larsson claimed that the novel reflected his feminist politics by drawing attention to institutional violence against women. In 2011, Rooney Mara received a “Best Actress” Oscar nomination for her performance as Lisbeth in the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Eight years earlier, critics praised the 2003 film Monster for its sympathetic portrayal of Aileen Wuornos, a working class woman, sex-worker, and lesbian. The story takes an overtly feminist perspective, showing how systemic patriarchal violence and disenfranchisement can drive a woman to murder and then to madness. However, it stops just short of claiming that serial murderer Wuornos was justified in her killing spree. Charlize Theron won a “Best Actress” Oscar for her portrayal.

The 1999 film Boys Don’t Cry also drew from real events, this time the life and death of Brandon Teena, a trans person. Following close upon the hate-based murder of Matthew Shepherd, the film was hailed for bringing attention to the rights, inequalities, and lives of GLBTQ people. Stars Hillary Swank and Chlöe Sevigny even appeared together on the cover of The Advocate magazine. The relatively unknown Swank seemingly came out of nowhere to win a “Best Actress” Oscar for her depiction of Brandon.

Each of these seemingly feminist films includes a graphic scene of violent rape. Viewers are not meant to find these scenes sexy, titillating, or pornographic. Rather, the films quite consciously depict rape as grotesque, unjust, and unequivocally unwelcome. Brandon is gang-raped by a group of “friends” when they discover he is anatomically female. Aileen is abducted and horribly abused by a trick who she ultimately kills in self-defense—her first murder. Lisbeth is first compelled to perform oral sex on her social worker in order to access her trust fund. Later, the same man convinces her to come over to his house where he ties her up and anally rapes her.

Bracketing the horror of these scenes for a moment, each movie led to an Oscar nomination or win for the lead actress. This pattern suggests that performing rape may be right up there with accents, period pieces, Holocaust pictures, and bodily transformations for tugging on the Academy’s voting heartstrings.1

Upon pondering these films, I began to see them as constituting an actual genre with recurring conventions and themes. But what to call it? Oscar-baiting rape films? Anti-violent Hollywood feminism? And what are its purposes—intended and unintended? I suspect that makers of these films, similarly to Larsson, believe they are drawing attention to violence against women and/or queer people and that, by showing rape as unequivocally horrible, they may elicit empathy and/or action on the part of the audience. However, given that components of these films—most notably their scenes of rape—fit what critics call “body genres,” I’m not sure they are successful anti-violence treatises.

Read the rest of this entry »

We’ll Eat Our Hats If Interviewers Keep Asking Hillary About Her Clothes

In news on August 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Recently, UniteWomen.org posted a picture of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her response to an interviewer asking what designers she wears. Here’s the text:

Hillary Clinton on what designers she wears:

Interviewer: Okay. Which designers do you prefer?

Hillary Clinton: What designers of clothes?

Interviewer: Yes.

Hillary Clinton: Would you ever ask a man that question?

Interviewer: Probably not. Probably not.

Probably not indeed. The Secretary of State is not the first woman to respond in this way to similarly dumb questions as of late. Anne Hathaway and Scarlett Johansson both recently made news when they called interviewers out for asking only about their pre-superheroine diets and costumes. And a few months back, Ashley Judd wrote a scathing op-ed wherein she slammed the Huffington Post for printing an article that discussed her puffy face. (She was sick! But that’s not the point). Judd pointed out the problematic reduction of female stars to their bodies and outfits, wherein their male counterparts are consistently asked to talk about character development, acting, and things actually pertinent to the film or TV show at hand.

Objectifying women is, of course, nothing new. The latest backlash, however, does seem to be new–and exciting.

Fashion is important to talk about: it’s political and meaningful. But why reporters ask about the Secretary of State’s clothing when it has no bearing on her job has everything to do with our society’s expectations about women, and the pre-set scripts we use to talk to and about powerful women.

Here are some of our thoughts on the recent trend of high-profile women calling out sexism during their interviews. Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments!

Sarah T: I love that the trend of women calling out their interviewers is drawing attention to the sexist underpinnings of seemingly innocuous questions.  On the surface, a question about your workout routine or who designed your blazer or whatever just seems so dumb it’s not even worth getting into. So I think in the past, women have tended to just gloss over the question, avoid conflict, and move on. And that’s a completely valid tactic. But I love the way Hillary asks the interviewer if he would ask a man that same question. She directly confronts the double standard of the topics the media expects men and women to talk about. Anne Hathaway takes a more sarcastic (and hilarious) approach when her interviewer starts prying about her diet and exercise, turning the tables on him and starting to interrogate him about why he’s so interested — “We need to talk about this. Are you trying to fit into a catsuit?” That makes me laugh so much. Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “What Lies Beneath” (Season 3, Episode 10)

In Recaps on August 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm

This week on PLL, lovers were scorned while Ella dated many men. Then Hanna got stabbed (by her own hand) and Wren sewed up her leg. Meanwhile, Aria and Ezra continued to squabble and Emily kissed Nate. Read on for our thoughts, musings, and suspicions regarding our favorite Pretty Little Liars.

These two don’t Clash.

Ella is having so much fun dating! What do you think of her choice in men?

Phoebe B: Oh man I’m so excited for her and the hot cafe owner! He is adorable and clearly so into her. Also, I thought his exchange with Aria was hilarious and awkward and I was pleased to find out that Ella was out and about dating up a storm. I really hope he isn’t terrible … the men on this show are so hard to trust! Interesting too that just as Aria and Fitz are starting to have trouble, Ella starts having a fun dating life. Lastly, there final wine filled date looked so fun and cute as did that amazing and delicious-looking picnic he brought her at school.

Sarah T: Aria’s protective warning to Zach—“If you hurt her, I’ll crush your scones”–is most definitely the line of the night. I don’t think Zach is going to be one of the bad apples (of which there are men aplenty on this show), but I do think that he was a little off his rocker bringing Prosecco to drink in the classroom in the middle of the school day! I guess maybe that’s proof that he’s been out of high school long enough to reasonably date Ella.

Good observation about Ella’s dating life picking up just as Aria and Ezra are hitting the rocks, Phoebes. I also think it’s interesting that the Montgomery clan seems to solely date outside their own age range: Aria’s parents date younger, Aria dates older. What will Mikey do? Does Mikey exist anymore? Only time will tell. (Where is Lucas, relatedly, and why isn’t anyone asking him why he had the pills that were used to drug Emily? My beloved show has more dropped plotlines than Bella Swan has dropped spaghetti sauce.)

So many scorned lovers this week. Are you worried about Paige and Wren betrAying the PLLs?

Phoebe B: I am so worried! I feel like Wren was being really nice and patient this episode, until that last moment plus awkward hand touch. But in fairness to him, Hanna is definitely sending some mixed signals. And where is Caleb? I’m super confused as I thought they got back together last episode rather than agreeing to avoid each other. And then Emily! NO! I pulled the blankets over my face when she and Nate started making out. What was she thinking?! Also, it was like the least sexy kiss ever as they have no chemistry. And I felt so bad for Paige … Do you think Emily is going to tell her? It seemed like perhaps that was afoot in pre-swim practice before they were called to go in the pool. But I feel like Paige is rightfully pissed (seriously!) and has been so awesome and supportive of Emily and she likes her so much. Thus, I most worried about her betrAying Emily. What do you think ST?

Sarah T: Yeah, I’m not super-enamored of Paige at this point (she’s just so intense!), but I did feel bad for her when she peeped Emily and Nate accidentally making out. I don’t think she or Wren will end up being the betrAyers, however. Neither seem very A-associated, although of course somebody could have a sudden memory relapse that reveals they were in Fashion Club with Ali the day before she went missing or what have you. On the Wren front, granted Hanna kissed him and there’s clearly an attraction there on both sides, because girl’s not blind. But she gave him two very reasonable reasons why they can’t date (his history with Spencer, her situation with Caleb), so he should listen to those reasons and not loom quite so pleadingly. And maybe try being attracted to girls his own age? Spencer and Hanna is seeming like an Ian-type pattern.

But speaking of betrAyals! My money’s on Toby. Here’s why: he’s super-frustrated with Spencer right now, he was sketchy at the end of the last season (remember how he seemed to be getting chummy with Jenna again and pretended to hate Spencer for confusing reasons? Maybe he’s pretending NOT to hate her!), and everyone keeps talking about how saintly he is (see also: the Dalai Lama comparison in today’s episode). My other top contenders are Lucas and Maya (post-humously).

What do you make of the video Noel sent Spencer? And Maya’s temporary accommodations at the creepy Kahn cabin?

Phoebe B: Scary all around! I can’t believe that Emily and Hanna went out there alone (and that Hanna stabbed herself) and got locked in the creepy cabin. Also, why was Maya staying there? So now we know this is where Maya was staying when she disappeared and that she never got on the bus (remember that episode where Em’s dad helped her look for Maya? Heartbreaking.). Perhaps she found the room when she was at one of Noel and his brother’s super creepy parties.

And that definitely seemed like A that took her near the end of the video, which we now know can’t be Jenna and/or Noel or at least they didn’t kill Maya. After all they might still be part of the A-team. Also, how did Noel know that was what Spencer was looking for? And also why haven’t they shown that video to the police? Is it because Jenna was trying to frame Garrett? Or rather A was trying to frame Garrett and they are part of the A-team? Also, what happened to Jenna’s short-lived terror abotu everyone finding out about her eyesight? I think she was faking it. But oh man, so many things were afoot this week!

Sarah T: First off, why does Noel think it’s hot that Spencer believes he’s capable of murder? I feel like only a murderer would think that! And I’m also not sure exactly why he sent her the video in the first place, except that perhaps he was getting annoyed by her sleuthing and locker-safe-cracking and thought the video would persuade her to bugger off. (Clearly he has no idea who he’s dealing with.) But moving beyond that, it seems like Noel was both Maya’s weed dealer (I buy that connection) and that perhaps he was also providing her with a place to crash whilst high, which would make sense since her parents had her on drug-related parole. Also, I guess Jenna was faking being blind with Noel in the video? I think, timeline-wise, that was after she’d gotten her vision back. Not sure what the significance there is, except that it makes me think they’re not both on the A-team. Unless perhaps the Red Queen keeps her A-team members unenlightened about the developments with the rest of the crew.

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on August 10, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Here are this week’s links. Have a great weekend!

Juan Cole discusses the Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others, at Informed Comment.

Check out Dr. Tanisha Ford’s awesome response to the NYT coverage of white fashion in the Ivory Tower in “Haute Couture in the Ivory Tower,” at Racialicious.

From Gawker, “Rapper Le1f is Very Good and Very Gay” (Get ready for his horn-driven single “Wut” to take over your brain.)

From New York Magazine, “Was the New York Times Too Mean to Lolo Jones?” If you by mean you mean sexist, yes.

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “The Kahn Game” (Season 3, Episode 9)

In Pretty Little Liars, Television on August 9, 2012 at 10:40 am

This week, our fab four split off for individual or pair-oriented adventures. Emily spent the entire episode watching videos from Maya’s vlog, and it was sad. Hanna made up/made out with Caleb, and he officially voiced his intentions to join Team A Take-Down. Spencer and Aria went to a post-collegiate-aged party and had a Noel/Jenna smack-down. A rented an apartment or something and it truthfully wasn’t as sinister as usual, which is maybe a nice break. Even murderer/stalker/blackmailer types need some downtime every once in a while. Read on for more ponderings on “The Kahn Game.”

Don’t mess with the (evil) best.

What was your take on the insanely high-stakes game of “Truth or Truth With a Stopwatch, Everybody Act Like This Is Intense Even Though There Are No Real Consequences”?

Sarah T: Here are my thoughts in numerical order. One, the Noel-Aria face-off was full of spite! Do you think he still resents Aria for kinda-dating him and then getting back together with Ezra? Two, the Jenna-Spencer face-off was full of simmering rage, but I was interested in that scene beforehand where Jenna’s telling Noel she won’t let Spencer bully her again. I’m curious about how true that reading of Spencer is, from Jenna’s perspective, and how much that comment was just damsel-in-distress misdirection. Three, what do you think Jenna and Noel talk about together? What kinds of activities do those two creepers get up to? Noel-Mona were about presenting the pretty polished surfaces, but Noel-Jenna seem to be about cobwebs and axes of evil and adopting pet snakes. They’re such a fun couple.

Phoebe B: Yes! Noel seems a tad bit pissed still about the Aria-Ezra situation. To Two: I was so intrigued by that exchange between Jenna and Noel and was trying really hard to remember whether Spencer had ever bullied Jenna. And then I thought perhaps Ali had told Jenna lies about Spencer or maybe there is a yet to be revealed moment of Spencer being mean to Jenna. Also, I imagine that Jenna and Noel talk about plotting evil A related things or just plotting evil in general. They are a great evil-power couple. Also, Truth with a stopwatch game. What is going on?! And what a contentious round between Spencer and Jenna? Oh my. And what is going on with Cece? I am so suspicious of her and I feel like she did not give Spencer’s application to the UPenn guy (I don’t even think he exists).

Is Caleb a brave white knight or a misguided one?

Sarah T: Misguided FTW! I mean, I totally get why he wants to help Hanna, and I get why he wants to go after A (especially given that he now knows A went after his mom). He should probably do those things, even though the more he gets involved in mystery-solving the more scared I get he’s going to get blown up. But what about the “You’re talking to a guy who just kidnapped his own girlfriend” line and the “I’m not asking for your permission” line? Both seem aimed at positioning him as the Take-Charge Guy, although he didn’t kidnap Hanna at all. He tricked her into meeting him outside a cafe and then she willingly got in the car with him. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with being take-charge guy, as long as he doesn’t think that means he is the ONLY person in charge or that he is in charge of anybody else. Hanna is in charge of herself. Ahh, feminism… Sometimes I just gaze off in the distance and think about how much I love it (not sarcasm).

Phoebe B: I think Caleb is perhaps a white knight but also maybe more like a equal partner white knight. I think it is great that he is on board! And not taking no for an answer. Mostly, because I think more people on the anti-A team, the better! And I feel like Caleb understands that he is not in charge of Hanna but that he wants to help and that he wants to be part of the team, rather than getting shut out. I think too, that for the PLLs, it might be an important lesson to ask for help or allow themselves to be helped.

Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on August 4, 2012 at 10:52 am

Have a great weekend!

This week’s links:

A beautiful personal essay about queerness and being transgender by Thomas Page McBee, at The Rumpus.

The New York Times covers sexual harassment in the online gaming community.

Autostraddle has a great and informative interview with queer feminist Texas Representative Mary Gonzalez.

Dodai Stewart responds to the commentary on Gabby Douglas’ hair, over at Jezebel. And check out awesome coverage of women’s gymnastics and the incredible Gabby Douglas over at the Crunk Feminist Collective.

And from the wonderful Sarah S:

Slate on race and casting calls

Do you agree with this list of the Top 10 Joss Whedon characters? (Sarah T. does not! Too many dudes, too little Faith/Zoe/Kaylee.)

Mythologizing Katrina in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

In environment, Film on August 3, 2012 at 10:18 am

Sarah T.

Sometimes loss feels like a stampede of aurochs storming at your back. That’s how it looks, too, in Benh Zeitlein’s lyrical Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Having survived a cataclysmic storm and a forced evacuation, the film’s six-year-old protagonist Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) is coming home to her Gulf Coast town, the Bathtub. Hushpuppy’s an innocent, but she knows what she’s coming back to: a sick father and a ravaged town. So when she wheels around to face the auroch, she’s not scared. There’s nothing it could do to hurt her. “I’ve gotta take care of mine,” she instructs the animal. Until she’s through, the apocalypse–whether it comes in the form of extinct beasts or the melting ice caps she also envisions–is going to have to wait.

Facing down the beast

That apocalypse is closely linked to Hurricane Katrina and the inequalities its devastating aftermath exposed. The Bathtub takes the brunt of the storm, thanks to a levee that divides the rural town from a city where a remote factory looms. Hushpuppy and her father Wink (Dwight Henry) ride out the battering rain and wind in their patched-together home, then spend the next few days in a boat, pulling neighbors from their rooftops. Official rescuers are nowhere to be seen. When the authorities finally do show up, it’s to force the citizens of the Bathtub into a sterile evacuation center that appears galaxies apart from their lush, shambling hometown.

The music and imagery in Beasts of the Southern Wild push Katrina into the realm of myth. A sweeping score plays over scenes of the town’s last festival before the storm, radiant with sparklers. When Wink and his friends decide to bomb the levee to save the Bathtub, they plant the explosives in an alligator’s corpse. An island brothel is transformed into an offering of temporary mothers. They slow dance with Hushpuppy and other young girls while “Until the Real Thing Comes Along” plays on loop.

But though the film often looks fantastical, it avoids idealizing the Bathtub. Wink is a volatile caretaker, alternately neglectful, angry, and protective. Many of the other adults in town seem to be alcoholics, with the exception of a soothing medicine woman. These problems are implicitly linked with the characters’ poverty, visible in their tumble-down homes. However, the adults are also resourceful, spirited, and determined to survive by staying together. Beasts encourages the audience to empathize with Hushpuppy and her neighbors, but it doesn’t romanticize them or the hardships they’ve endured–a problem common to well-intentioned representations of Katrina’s survivors.

The politics of representation lie at the heart of Beasts, particularly for Hushpuppy. Because she’s aware of the instability and impermanence of her world, she frames her life in terms of its historical and anthropological importance. “I’m recording my story for the scientists of the future,” she announces, drawing a picture of herself and her father on the side of a cardboard box. Later, she says, “Millions of years from now when kids go to school, they’ll know that once there was a girl called Hushpuppy and she lived with her daddy in the Bathtub.” Hushpuppy knows that a day will come when the Bathtub, which lies below sea level, won’t be around any longer. She’s seen firsthand how easily her community can be ignored or displaced. And she’s experienced loss that’s less preventable, though no less tragic. So she balances her desire to be remembered with an awareness of a large and unknowable world beyond the Bathtub. “When it all goes quiet behind my eyes, I see everything that made me flying around in invisible pieces,” she says. “I see that I am a little piece of a big, big universe, and that makes it right.”

Everybody’s a little piece of a big universe, of course. But some people live as if they’re much bigger, all while trying to make the rest of the world small enough to control or dismiss. Hushpuppy’s destiny is largely influenced by such types: the brute officials who barrel into her home, the distant doctors and snappish workers at the evacuation center, the government that approved a levee that appears designed to protect the privileged at the expense of the poor.

That’s why mythologizing Hushpuppy’s story is a political move. Aurochs, ice caps, and magical islands give her narrative the shape of a hero’s journey. She gets the legendary scope and largeness she hungers for–though not, despite the soaring soundtrack and her own resolute optimism, the happy ending she deserves.

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “Stolen Kisses” (Season 3, Episode 8)

In Pretty Little Liars on August 2, 2012 at 10:49 am

This week on Pretty Little Liars, everybody kissed everybody, which was fun, or else they flirted about dry-cleaning, which was very wrong. In other news, Maya had a vlog full of secrets, Ezra has Old Money and a vengeful mom, and A has a pocketful of sunshine. (Pocketful of sunshine = mad cash.) Read on for more on “Stolen Kisses.”

Yay!

Emily was with Paige on the night of the flask-driven wanderings that ended at Ali’s grave! Discuss.

Phoebe B: Oh my goodness! This was SUCH an interesting development and their KISS! SO amazing and such a long time coming. I felt like their conversation, including Emily’s reaction, about the night Emily was drugged was really interesting and seemed reasonable to me too. And then Paige’s apology to Emily was so heartfelt and sad and heartbreaking including her comment about how mad she was at whomever drugged Em. It became so clear to me in this episode how much Paige just adores Emily and is protective of her too. Then their kiss! And then the synchronized swimming!

Sarah T: I was also excited about their kiss and the metaphorical synchronized swimming, and I thought this plotline was often pretty hilarious. Like how Emily and Paige went on a run but really it looked like Emily was chasing Paige through the woods to try to get her to slow down and talk to her about That Night. It’s funny to me when people on TV set up a conversation explicitly to talk about something and then they don’t talk about it until, like, midway through the activity. Emily’s tiny hat was funny as well. She still looked amazing obviously because she’s Emily, but tiny hats are never not silly. Oh and then Paige’s speech to Emily was definitely heartfelt, but also so melodramatic (“It was like a dream… and then you were gone”). That’s just the way Paige rolls I think.

What are your thoughts on Fitz’s family? And his mean (yet super wealthy) mom?

Phoebe B: Ezra is secretly wealthy! And clearly the product of like serious East Coast prep school life! Madness. I did not see this coming at all but maybe it helps explain his random sock drawer full of rolled up bills in a giant ziplock bag. His mom also seems horrible and I couldn’t (and yet could) believe that she tried to buy Aria off. I did love Aria’s storming out (and her dress was SO beautiful) and her breakdown with her dad was also heartbreaking (so much emotion in this week’s episode). It was nice in some ways to see Byron be more supportive and present although I missed Ella and really wanted to know how her hot date with the cafe owner went!

Sarah T: This revelation about Ezra’s old money past makes soooo much sense, actually. That’s why he’s kind of generally dapper and uptight, and why he buys Aria expensive pinhole cameras, and why his version of struggling writer looks so elegantly scruffy — microbrews, Westerns, manly yet bohemian apartment decor. He practically has lightly worn elbow patches. Read the rest of this entry »

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