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Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In election, election 2012, gender, music videos, race on October 26, 2012 at 11:51 am

Nico Lang breaks down why The New Normal’s ironic racism is neither funny nor progressive in “‘Gaycism’ and The New Normal“, at The HuffPo:

“Remember hipster racism? This is that turned up to 11, like Murphy throwing a big blackface party on TV and saying its okay because it’s “ironic.” However, the biggest problem with pointing this out is that people often don’t realize that ironic racism is still just racism. And what actually makes the show’s racism so doubly troubling is that the act of being systemically oppressed should make people more aware of the ways in which they have the ability to marginalize others, because they have experienced the same thing themselves. The New Normal is even ABOUT that marginalization, specifically the discrimination Bryan and David (or “Bravid”) face for being two men who want to raise a child.”

Check out “An Open Letter to Abigail Fisher,” via Clutch Magazine.

“You are insisting that the University of Texas at Austin denied your application for undergraduate admission because they were required to fulfill a federal diversity quota, which subjected you to bias. In blaming affirmative action for that denial letter, you are disregarding your responsibility as a college applicant. It is much easier to fault affirmative action than to hold up a mirror and see that you just weren’t qualified.”

Scott Nagakagawa talks race and voting rights over at Race Files:

“I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, back when that La Choy commercial was considered about as offensive as selling water softener as an “ancient Chinese secret.” That was a much more naive time for whites. That naivete was rooted in the unquestioned dominance of whiteness. In fact, so dominant were whites that American was synonymous with Caucasian. But the racial equity movements of my childhood would soon shatter that naivete, pulling whites into a struggle to maintain their cultural dominance that made the contours and vulnerabilities of whiteness visible to whites, perhaps for the first time. Until then, being the assumed racial and cultural norm of America was fundamental to white identity and to the ethos of American exceptionalism.”

Lastly, a few fun videos from this week:

Watch Tina Fey’s excellent, rousing speech about how sick she is of “grey-faced men with $2 haircuts” telling women what to think about rape.

Check out Lena Dunham for Obama. And Slate talks about the conservative response to her video.

And if you are missing summer and “Call Me Maybe” then check out Carly Rae Jepsen’s new, perfect pop song: “Your Heart Is a Muscle.”

Pretty Little Liars Halloween Recap, “This Is a Dark Ride”

In ABC Soaps, Pretty Little Liars on October 26, 2012 at 8:47 am

All aboard the ghost train: Pretty Little Liars is back, Halloween style, in one of the craziest episodes yet.  Flashbacks reveal that Ali was murdered at least three different times on the same night. Aria gets drugged and trapped in a crate alongside Garrett’s fresh corpse (!!), and she’s about to be pushed off board a moving train when a combination of her killer screwdriver aim and her fellow Liars’ good timing saves her life. Meanwhile, Hanna’s mom and Pastor Ted encounter what appears to be an actual ghost — one of the twins from last year’s Halloween special. And in the TWISTIEST TWIST since we saw Toby in A’s trademark hoodie, Ezra. Fitz. Has. A. Bandage. On. His. Hand. Read on for more of the spooky twists and turns of this year’s Halloween special.

The Liars’ Halloween costumes were, as usual, flawless. Hanna was Marilyn Monroe in her iconic white dress, Aria was Daisy from The Great Gatsby (“the book,” she clarifies, although really what difference it makes with respect to her costume is unclear), Spencer was Lauren Bacall circa To Have and Have Not, and Emily was Barbarella. Which was your favorite look? And any other notable costumes from the rest of the cast?

Sarah T: Hmm I can’t choose a favorite, they all looked great — and of course the choices were perfectly tailored to their personalities. (As Spencer tells Hanna, “How could you have been worried that we’d pick the same costume?”) But in terms of other noteworthy costumes: Jenna showed some dry wit with her pirate eye-patch costume and admirable commitment with her dreadlock-and-curls hairstyle. I couldn’t tell what Noel was supposed to be. (A prince?) It’s fun that Mona wore a costume under her costume. You KNOW our girl was probably wearing a costume under the paper mache mask too. She’s turtles all the way down.

Phoebe B: Aaah Mona, what a wonderful evil genius. Her costume was SO scary! But I think Aria’s Daisy was actually my favorite since it seemed an homage to the one book we can be certain the PLLs read and Ezra’s former career as a high school teacher. Remember when they read The Great Gatsby forever?! After that, I thought Emily was rocking her Barberella costume too! Also, I kind of missed Spencer’s ridiculous queen costume from last year’s Halloween flashback.

If Garrett’s version of events is true, the night Ali died he saw her arguing with Byron. Then he threatened her with a hockey stick, making the then-blind Jenna believe he had killed her when in fact he was hacking away at a poor old tree. Do you buy Garrett’s story? And if so, what might Ali and Byron have been fighting about?

Sarah T: I think I do believe Garrett. For one thing, he’s dead now, and I feel like on PLL people usually get axed right after they tell the truth about something. Also because we saw a flashback, and thus far none of the flashbacks have been disproven, which makes me think they’re a truthiness-indicator. I think Ali may have been blackmailing Byron about his dalliances with Meredith the College Student, which makes him a new member in the ever-growing lineup of people who had motive to want Ali dead. I am thrilled about this development, because Byron has always seemed like a creeper and this seals the deal.

Phoebe B: Good questions! And I agree. That was a crazy revelation and I am inclined to believe Garrett now that he is very dead. I have always suspected Byron of something as he just seems so creepy and suspicious all the time. I agree about Ali blackmailing Byron but I also thought perhaps Byron made the grave mistake of sleeping with Ali. I realize that’s extra creepy, but there seemed to be something more afoot than blackmail. But the story too about Garrett fake killing Ali was so weird! What were her and Jenna fighting about? Why were they going after each other? I thought Jenna and Ali reconciled when Jenna was in the hospital. I’m so confused.

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Tina Fey’s Nerd Rage Burns “Women Aren’t Funny” to the Ground

In Television on October 23, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Sarah T.

“NERD RAGE!” Tina Fey bellowed on Thursday’s episode of 30 Rock, and just like that, my heart grew a thousand sizes. I love Fey and 30 Rock. But as I’ve complained before, I sometimes have problems with her show on the gender-femiladyism front. I agree with Laura Bennett that Fey’s self-deprecation, both in and out of character, sometimes seems like a ploy to make her ambition, intelligence, sexuality, and razor-sharp wit less threatening.  I like Fey best when she’s all about threats and throwing serious fire. Which is why “Stride of Pride,” a hilarious response to the ridiculous, insulting, I-can’t-believe-we’re-even-talking-about-this question of whether women are funny, was the triumphant throw-down of my dreams.

Liz’s nerd rage kicks off in response to Tracy Jordan and Stephen Hawking’s faux Twitter exchange. “Women aren’t funny, never have been and never will be,” the world’s most famous theoretical physicist announces (hashtag: #plotpoint). Tracy retweets that he agrees.  Over the course of the episode, Liz faces an internal struggle familiar to anyone who’s faced an overtly sexist question: to engage or not to engage?

“Do something funny right now!” Tracy demands when Liz confronts him, and Liz automatically starts to oblige before she remembers that she doesn’t have to prove anything. She refuses to list funny women for the same reason. She tries to make the argument that perhaps men and women like different things (monkeys and “really daaaark superhero movies” aren’t everyone’s cup of tea). But Tracy doesn’t buy it, and the cheap laughs he successfully provokes while showing off a monkey in a tiny suit finally get Liz to take a stand.

“Engaging!” she announces, swinging forward like a terminator whose destroy button has finally been activated. She mounts an impromptu comedy show with Jenna to prove, once and for all, that women are funny—and succeeds! But sexism can sour any victory: Tracy thinks the show is funny because she plays a woman doctor, not because of her actual jokes.

“Stride of Pride” is packed with pointed retorts to the shoddy constructs of arguments against women in comedy.  “Some things just aren’t funny, like females and listing only two things,” Tracy says. And while I’m not on board with the idea that women and men necessarily like different things  (there are plenty of women who dig monkeys and The Dark Knight), I think it’s very true that our culture has a lot invested in persuading us that men have dibs on humor. Take, for example, the preposterous reporting about a recent study that showed that men’s jokes got far more laughs than women. Most articles assumed that men got more laughs because their jokes were objectively funnier–rather than considering the fact that we’re all socialized to chortle when men crack wise and to expect women to serve as decorative affirmation-machines rather than as independent beings with their own stock of puns and barbs and rubber chickens and silly walks.

But while I appreciated all of 30 Rock‘s witty comebacks, my favorite part of the episode was seeing Tina Fey firing on all engines. I get why she might not want to engage in the are-women-funny debate: It is insulting to even talk about.  It’s the same reason why Jami Attenberg recently told Michelle Dean that she dreams of a world where she didn’t have to field questions about herself as a Woman Writer. The song that plays over Liz’s comedy show reveals her frustration at being drawn into a debate that’s un-winnable because the other side is just being dumb: “Women are funny we can all agree / Carol Burnett. Lucille Ball / No we’re not gonna do it / it’s beneath us all!” But Fey is one of the most visible and high-powered comedians out there, which can make staying silent on a controversial matter seem like a response in itself. With “Stride of Pride,” Fey found a way to engage without lending a stupid, outdated, sexist argument any legitimacy. By the time her thirty minutes were up, she’d poked more holes in Christopher Hitchen‘s article (and the ensuing yes-man chorus) than there are in the Swiss cheese on Liz’s beloved sandwiches. And that, friends, deserves a stride of pride for the ages.

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on October 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm

A few fun reads from around the web this week (and last week!). Have a great weekend!

Sayantani DasGupta talks imperialism, sexism, and Half the Sky over at Racialicious.  

“Despite the issues I have with militarism, or this country’s campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’m all for cheering for female pilots (yea, bada&& flying ladies!). What I can’t just can’t stand by and let slide is this “your women are oppressed, but ours are awesome” rhetoric, a rhetoric which only illuminates how–both actually and metaphorically–racism, xenophobia, and imperialism so often play out on women’s bodies around the world.”

Andrienne K. discusses Stanford, college mascots, and racism at Native Appropriations:

“So to the people I chatted with, Nick H., the students who ordered a Stanford Indian sweatshirt, the Cardinal Council, the Class of 1962, and anyone else who donned a Indian image without thinking twice. Just stop for a moment, and really listen. Push aside the defensive and dismissive feelings, and realize that it’s not totally your fault. You’ve been socialized in a system that has normalized racism against Native people. You’ve been raised in a society that sugar-coats its colonial and genocidal past, and ignores the modern presence of Native peoples. So maybe you weren’t personally responsible for any of that. But now, I’ve taken away your ignorance defense. You now know how hurtful and harmful these images are, you know how it feels for me, a Native person, to see them at my alma mater.”

Lindy West talks about women, weight, and Hollywood over at Jezebel:

“I’m grateful to have Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson on my screen, if only as an affirmation that women of all sizes can be funny and powerful and smart and successful. But I look forward to the day when they just get to be women.”

Also, this week: Arturo Garcia talks about how “Harvard’s Voice, puts its foot in its mouth,” via Racialicious and check out Actually.org. First up: Rosie Perez on Mitt Romney.

The Creative Economics of “Party Down”

In Television on October 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

Sarah T.

Officially speaking, the recession was already off the books by the time I saw it up close and personal.

I left my job at a magazine in New York and started graduate school in fall 2008. By the time I reentered the workforce in summer 2011, the employment landscape had morphed into a new, spooky, twisted-tree country. While I was cloistered away annotating bibliographies and torturing college freshmen with an argumentative essay tool called the enthymeme, the print and publishing industry was busy staging an epic death scene straight out of Hamlet. Plenty of businesses outside my field had shuttered their doors too.

I’d known all this in my reason-brain. But I had to be on the job market myself in order to really understand the economic realities that many people had been living with for years. I felt like bizarro Dorothy, leaving behind the Technicolor lollipops and toadstools of my pre-2008 Oz. In grim old Kansas, the unemployment rate was stuck above 8 percent, and witches only biked to work because they had to sell their cars.

That summer was one of outright panic. I stayed up late into the night revising cover letters and woke myself up at 3:30 am, convinced I’d ruined my life at the ripe old age of 28. I was worried I wouldn’t find a job. But more than that, I was furious at myself for burning daylight. I’d known since I was 12 that I wanted to be a writer—and not the academic journal kind. So what had I been doing in academia for the past three years? Why had I abandoned the thing I really wanted for no good reason, and would I be able to claw my way back? Desperately in need of some laughs, and a way to pass the witching hours that did not involve singing mournful arias with a mouthful of cold pizza, I loaded up Netflix and started watching Party Down.

***

Starz’s cult series about entertainers-cum-caterers premiered in March 2009. It never explicitly mentions the economy—actors tend to be broke and out of work even when the general coffers are overflowing. But more than any other TV series, Party Down nails the strange despair felt by many a young person in the aftermath of the Great Recession. High rejection rates, minimum-wage jobs, stiff competition, plus the full-time job of stifling the fear that you’ll never succeed: we’re all aspiring actors now. Read the rest of this entry »

“Nashville”: This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Them. Or Is It?

In class, gender, Nashville, The South on October 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

Firstly, welcome back Tami Taylor! I mean, Connie Britton! You are the best. Secondly, Nashville premiered this week on ABC–a show we at GLG have been super-excited about since the upfronts came out. So we wanted to take a little time to ponder the new series, its leading ladies, and its representation of the South.

What did you think about the Nashville pilot?

Phoebe B: I enjoyed it in part because I sort of love country music and really adore Connie Britton. I am also intrigued by the politics side of things, which appear ridden with mystery and corruption and family drama. I also was intrigued by what seem to be a criticism of youth culture in the music industry and the ways in which female musicians, for example Rayna (Connie Britton), are pushed out in favor of autotune and youth. I also worry, however, about the women in competition with each other aspect but also the show seems to figure that competition as perpetuated by the men of the music industry. Basically, I am excited for more Nashville but also wary of certain aspects of it.

Sarah T: As a fellow lover of Connie Britton and of Nashville (pretty much my entire paternal side of the family lives there), I’m rooting for this show to knock my cowboy boots off. So far I like, but do not love it — but hey, it’s only one episode! The show’s original music is great, and I’m excited to see the relationship and rivalry between the two female leads develop. I am also somewhat confused about whether or not Nashville owes Country Strong a cut of its royalties, since it has the exact same plot minus the older star’s alcoholism. And there are no baby birds in boxes. YET.

Chelsea B: Like both of you, I mostly watched because I adore Connie Britton and had my fingers crossed that her Nashville character would just be Tami Taylor in sequins and with a slightly different drawl. Rayna wasn’t quite that, but she also wasn’t a total disappointment. I also am bummed that the central storyline revolves around building competition between two female leads. I comfort myself (as a long-professed Taylor Swift anti-fan) by imagining that Hayden Panettiere’s character, Juliette Barnes, is actually a direct portrayal of Taylor Swift, despite claims to the contrary. I’m also into the political intrigue, even though Rayna’s daddy issues driving a lot of that conflict are already a bit wearisome. And I’m totally with you on the Country Strong comparison, ST! Leighton Meester could only have improved this show.

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Corrupting Motherhood: The Women of Westeros

In Uncategorized on October 9, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Sarah S.

The acclaimed Song of Ice and Fire novels feature an diverse array of female characters. One could easily write a “How to Be Awesome Like” GLG post on the Women of Westeros. Much like Phoebe’s post on the women of Friday Night Lights, one would be hard-pressed to narrow down the number of impressive ladies under discussion. Yet despite the large number of female characters in the cycle (better known as the Game of Thrones books/television series) and their uniqueness—both from each other and from stereotypes of fantasy/medieval women—I noticed one thing that separates these women into two camps: motherhood. Not all of the characters in the medieval-esque world are mothers or destined for marriage and motherhood. But all those who are mothers reveal it to be a corrupting influence that alters the character for the worse.

Requisite disclaimer: This post is about the entire series of novels (and not the HBO series) up to the most recent, A Dance with Dragons, and contains serious spoilers! Proceed at your own risk.

Let’s divide this discussion into camps: Mothers, Non-Mothers, and the Ambigous Ones.

Mothers

Queen Cersei Lannister: The most obvious example of corrupting motherhood, Cersei commits a series of horrendous acts—including murdering her husband—in her ambitions for her son, the loathsome Prince Joffrey, and then her second son, young Prince/King Tommen. Indeed, Cersei’s status as a mother is corrupt from the beginning as all three of her children come from her incestuous relationship with her brother, Jaime. In a feminist reading, we might applaud Cersei’s commitment to the one she considers her other half, and her deft avoidance of her “legitimate” husband, King Robert. Nevertheless, Cersei’s arrogance mingles with her ambition and stupidity to make her the most malevolent mother the series offers up.

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Weekly Round-Up

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2012 at 11:10 am

Lady Gaga, Beauty, Ugliness, and the Call for a Real Body Revolution:

The Crunk Feminist Collective considers how race, age, ability, gender and sex fit into Lady Gaga’s Body Revolution: “When ‘ugliness’ carries the threat of violence and disenfranchisement, what does it mean to embrace  ‘ugly?’ For a person whose body is dehumanized and positioned as the very definition of undesirable, is it possible to ‘redefine heinous?'”

The Kissing Sailor, or The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture:

We’ve all seen the iconic V-J Day picture of the sailor and the nurse a thousand times. But I’d never really seen it until I read this piece by Crates and Ribbons.

Men Who Rock!:

Emily Nokes and Bree McKenna skewer the sexism that runs rampant through music journalism in this very special feature from The Stranger. “With male-fronted bands, male solo acts, and even all-male bands becoming more and more commonplace, 2012 has definitely been the year of fierce men in music. They’re starting to rock all the genres, too: provocative punks, steamy rock ‘n’ rollers, dashing cowboy sweethearts, hiphop hunks—men are even making it in the complicated world of electronic music!”

Fun with Stereotypes:

Stereotypes aren’t all bad. Sady Doyle declares her love for Britta Perry, Janis Ian, and other cartoonishly lovable pop culture icons.

The Killer Crush: The Horror of Teen Girls, from Columbiners to Beliebers:

GLG pal Rachel Monroe on the subversive potential of celebrity crushes: “As every woman who pledged her teenage devotion to someone embarrassing (I’m sorry, Gavin) could tell you, a crush is more about the crusher than the crushee. Perhaps what’s so disturbing about the Columbiners is not who they’re crushing on, but how it’s actually not so difficult to imagine what it might be like to be one.”

Review: “Gotta Dance” and the New Jersey NETsationals

In dance, Documentary, Gotta Dance, Netflix on October 1, 2012 at 10:14 am

Phoebe B.

Last night, in need of a feel-good movie and desperately in the mood for some dance, I put on Gotta Dance. This documentary follows the evolution of the New Jersey Nets’ first seniors hip hop dance team, the NETsationals. It is amazing (and available on Netflix streaming)! Here’s why.

In a culture that highly values youth and normative beauty ideals, and in a profession (that is dance) that disregards those over a certain age, Gotta Dance argues that you can learn to dance and be sexy, fun, and generally badass at any age. As Audrey (a NETsationals dancer) says about turning 60: “Some people think it is all over; it’s not all over. Turning 60 is just the beginning.” After all, as many of the team members remind us, age is just a number. (And, as Deanna reminds viewers, 60 is definitely the new 50.) Everyone on the NETsationals team is over 60, and some team members are even in their 80s. Not everyone knows how to dance, but that doesn’t stop any of them.

Throughout the film, the cast (slash team) talks about aging, beauty, dance, and feeling valuable in a culture that is all about the young. Many feel like the team has given them the chance to show what they’re made of. When they’re performing in front of cheering crowds they feel inspired and valued and totally sexy. Audrey notes that the people she encounters on a daily basis are noticing a change her step: “Audrey you look great. Something’s going on Audrey. And it ain’t sex.” She laughs it off. Since it’s dance! And friends!

Throughout the course of the film, we see the women—and the one man on the team—form close relationships with each other. They go out to dinner and drinks and have pre-game fun times and get nervous together and they rely on each other. And through the team and the friendships they build there, the group gains confidence. This is especially true for Betty, who also goes by Betsy (Betty/Betsy).

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