thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Author Archive

Violently Inclined: On TV’s Obsession with White Male Violence

In race, Television, violence on August 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Phoebe B.

It turns out the more televised violence you watch, the more fear of crime you develop—even if that fear is not specific to your life, family, neighborhood. Recently, the Annenberg School (USC) released the results of a study on TV violence. The study, as reported by Deadline Hollywood, “confirm[s] the effects of TV on people’s fear, but do not support the idea that people think there is actually more crime in their neighborhood.”

The study’s release was perfectly timed with Emily Nussbaum’s wonderful essay on FX’s television adaptation of Fargo. “How good does a violent drama need to be to make the pain of watching worth it?” Nussbam asks. She concludes, ultimately, that Fargo is not quite good enough to endure the violence it showcases. In a TV landscape where depictions of violence are replicating like zombies on The Walking Dead, Nussbaum’s question and the Annenberg study results are particularly pressing.

The problem is not, though, just the prevalence of violence on TV. Rather, it is the kinds of violence and victimhood that are emphasized: programming revels in white male violence, exploring it in excruciating detail, while other forms of violence and their consequences are dismissed or ignored. I wonder, not about the cause and effect of violent white male TV depictions, but rather about the culture revealed in contemporary violent shows and in our fascination with fantasies of white masculinist violence propped up, too often, by both the protection and murder of white women.

It is not, then, simply that viewers experience increased levels of fear, but the ways in which that fear is framed, narrated, and told is of particular importance. The first time I remember the effect of violent media narratives was during the child abduction scare of the 1990s, initiated at least where I lived by the gruesome disappearance and murder of Polly Klaas.

Klaas’ abduction out of her Bay Area bedroom window and subsequent murder made national headlines and evoked terror in then-pre-teen me. Her abduction incited a media circus and a nationwide hunt; ultimately, her murder played a role in the passing of California’s controversial three-strikes law.

The media narrative surrounding Klaas’ abduction drew on age-old scripts of the white “Dead Girl,” whose murder usually both incites a narrative and serves as the justification for violence. The dead girl plot is not, however, inherently a bad thing, Sady Doyle suggests, because when the dead girls talk back, when they are allowed their own voice, they become complex and active characters rather than ghostly projections of male fantasy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cults of Mortality: Selfies and Vampire Diaries’ investment in Aging

In Memories, teen soaps, Television on August 1, 2014 at 7:14 am

Screenshot 2014-07-31 16.48.16

Phoebe B.

**Spoiler alert (only for season 4)

For a show populated almost entirely by young, firm-bodied, and beautiful characters, The Vampire Diaries (TVD) is obsessed with mortality. Nobody in Mystic Falls appears to live past the age of 50, either killed off or sentenced to a premature afterlife as a vampire or ghost. As a result, nobody ever truly leaves Mystic Falls, even in death. Vampires stick around, drawn to this magical epicenter, and ghosts continue to haunt characters, appearing every so often to provide advice and wax philosophical.

Despite the predominance of immortality in TVD, many of its characters remain (at least during season 4) committed to ditching eternal youth in favor of a fixed life span. While one might live forever as a vigorous (not to mention gorgeous) vampire, vampirism also means no kids and no growing up. Season four of the TV show is dedicated entirely to this obsession with aging, as the troop of supernatural characters go in search of a cure for immortality.

Rather than feel nostalgia for days of yore and youth, many TVD characters actively long for their lost mortality and the potential of aging. Their fixation with living out a “natural” life seems strangely at odds with a culture that regularly champions youth and beauty above all else. To them, living forever in a youthful body is a curse rather than a gift. Even so, the show glorifies its young and beautiful vampires: by the end of season four, almost everyone remains forever young.

Early in Season 4, after Elena transitions from a human to a vampire, the show’s three girlfriends—Elena, Bonnie (witch) and Caroline (vampire)—get together for a good old-fashioned girls’ night. There’s alcohol, blood bags, loud music, dancing, and lots of selfies. The girls even agree, in a seeming nod to the Bechdel test, that on this girl-centric night they will stay away from discussions about men. Instead, they focus on being happy in these moments together and escaping the violence that has heretofore overtaken their young lives.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Get Older!” Women, Aging, and Adventure

In Aging, detectives, feminism, TV on May 30, 2014 at 5:42 am

Jessica FletcherPhoebe B.

“You silly old woman,” a murderer mutters as Miss Marple reveals him to be a killer. His dismissive words signal his assumption that because of Miss Marple’s age and gender, she should not be taken seriously.

This prejudice is not unique to freshly unmasked murderers. Men of many stripes frequently insult and dismiss women they perceive as threats in much the same way–particularly when age is added to the equation. As women age, at least in the U.S., our power and visibility in pop culture decreases, even as men’s status grows: older women are often constructed and perceived as useless; men only become more distinguished in the eyes of our culture.

My grandma Elsa spent part of her retirement volunteering at a wildlife habitat on Long Island, where she handled snakes and other seemingly scary reptiles. During the summer, she’d walk with me down dirt roads in rural Massachusetts pointing out beaver dams and teaching me to make plaster casts of deer hooves. After she and my grandfather moved to the West Coast, she took jewelry-making classes and dance lessons. A crossword wiz, she was unbeatable at all word games from Scrabble to Boggle.

Both of my grandparents made aging look active, interesting, and engaging. They also had pensions from the New York school system, so that helped. Growing up, this was what getting older looked like to me. She was fun, silly, always smart, and for her, being old seemed nothing more than a circumstance of aging. Certainly, aging was nothing to be ashamed of or hidden away. As I got older, however, I realized that this image was not one often reflected in pop culture.

But women don’t always age out of the pop culture imagination. There are a few wonderful exceptions within the murder mystery genre that feature elderly lady detectives: Murder She Wrote and Miss Marple (both available on Netflix).

missmarple-1

Against prevailing notions that women become less socially useful as we age, these shows model an active and exciting version of older women. Jane Marple and Jessica Fletcher are not bitter spinsters, old maids, or caregivers (in fact, neither has children). Rather, they are heroines who use their brains to solve problems that no one else can.

Read the rest of this entry »

Marriage Woes: “House of Cards” and Critiquing Marriage

In gender, House of Cards, Marriage, TV on April 14, 2014 at 7:00 am

Phoebe B.

house-of-cards-season-2-full-trailer-poster-revealed

I got engaged about a month ago. Around the same time, we started watching House of Cards. This is perhaps not the most romantic of gestures, since the relationship between Frank and Claire is hardly the most fairytale-like of marriages. Their connection is one forged on the battleground of politics and power. The show offers up their partnership as a testament to what two people so committed to each other can accomplish. On the flip side–and here is what I’m most interested in–it is also a truly dystopic portrait of marriage.

As individuals, Claire and Frank are powerful; they are equals in intelligence, strength, and determination and most importantly, here, mostly equal partners in their relationship. Thus, each of them is quite possibly the only character who could ruin the other. Together they are vicious, ruthless even, and seemingly unstoppable.

Frank and Claire accept each other in their most savage forms. Is that perhaps what marriage is really about? To find love and be loved even in darkness and in the most unlikely of places, when our makeup and protective gear are off.

But their complete acceptance of and devotion to one another creates an us-against-the-world mentality that allows them to hurt others who get in their way. Everyone else–from the President of the United States to political aides, journalists and many others–winds up as collateral damage in their meteoric rise to power.

For instance, Frank helps a congressman, Peter Russo, get sober, mount a semi-successful governor’s race, only to orchestrate his downfall, help Peter return to drinking, and ultimately Frank kills him, staging his death as a suicide. This pattern of manipulation repeats itself throughout the series, as Frank and Claire help their marks rise in the ranks and then, inevitably crush their hopes and dreams, rendering each victim desperate and dependent on the Underwoods.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Try This Instead:” Interview with Cameron Johnson

In race, social media, web series on March 26, 2014 at 8:45 am

Phoebe B.

About a month ago I was searching for web shows to teach in my class on comedy, race, gender, and sexuality. Then I happened upon “Try This Instead,” a series of short, satirical videos on how well-meaning white people can avoid racial microaggressions. Not only is the web series totally hilarious, it proved a great way to frame discussions about race.

“Try This Instead” has already been featured on HuffPo; Shadow and ActClutch Magazine; and even Upworthy (among other places)! Thus, I was super excited when creator and star, Cameron Johnson, agreed to answer a few questions for GLG.  Read on for Cameron’s thoughts on the project, what he’s up to next, and his favorite non-work activities like hanging out with his pup and watching lots of awesome TV.

How did you come up with the project “Try This Instead?” Can you talk a bit about what this project means to you?

There are so many stories of microaggression from my life, but what inspired this show was an evening in November. I was sitting at the Standard Hotel Downtown when a group of white guys with an ethnically ambiguous friend came in and started throwing around the n-word with reckless abandon and making us all really, really uncomfortable.

It is a daily struggle for me to keep my mouth shut, so after about five minutes of this, I turned and said  “are any of you black? If not, did your black friend co-sign on your ability to say the n-word? Because I don’t.” They were really uncomfortable. Apparently, the ambiguous one was biracial and had, in fact, led them to believe that it was okay for them to say the N-word. It occurred to me though that one person saying you can do something that is offensive to a large group of people really isn’t enough, so I went home and started writing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Veronica Mars: The Movie!

In Veronica Mars Movie on March 23, 2014 at 9:46 am

Phoebe B. and Melissa S.

MV5BMTQ4MDc0Mjg4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk3NjYyMTE@._V1_SX214_Since lady sleuths are the coolest and both of us have been waiting for the Veronica Mars movie with serious anticipation, we thought we would take a moment–or a post–to reflect on the revival of the most badass lady sleuth. We find Veronica, nine years later, living with Piz (who works at This American Life! And there was a special guest appearance by Ira Glass) in New York on the verge of becoming a high payed corporate attorney. As Veronica’s new boss (Jamie Lee Curtiss) suggests that Veronica’s job will be to defend powerful corporations against frivolous lawsuits, we get the impression that this is perhaps a bad fit. Even though Veronica has made it to the realms of the wealthy, it’s hard to imagine her sifting through papers behind a desk and defending the likes of Kane Software. After all, in Veronica’s words: she is addicted to mystery-solving and helping out those in need. And so it begins as she swoops into a still-corrupt Neptune to save Logan from a murder charge, attend a high school reunion, and find her true (job) calling.

Alert! some spoilers ahead …

What is your favorite part of the Veronica Mars movie?

Melissa S: I had too many. I had to make a list. My top 3 favorite parts included: 1) the fact that there is a club in Neptune called “the 09er,” introduced thus: “When you’re too old the exclude the undesirables from your lunch table, open a club, charge $22 for a vodka tonic, and put up a velvet rope. Make ‘em think this must  be heaven.” That right there perfectly captured the inelegant slide from high school dreams of making it to adult lies to yourself. 2) Mr. Clemens’s brief appearance!!! 3) The moment where Veronica calls Wallace (now a basketball coach at Neptune High!) and asks him to get a student’s permanent file.

Phoebe B: I think you nailed it. The description of the “09er” club was perfect and amazing. I also loved every scene with Dick … and especially his flask belt.

Read the rest of this entry »

True-er Detectives: “The Bletchley Circle,” Lady Sleuths, and Friendship

In feminism, gender, girl culture, TV on March 11, 2014 at 9:06 am

Phoebe B.

THE BLETCHLEY CIRCLE S1

I sit on the floor with my legs crossed, just a foot from the television, enraptured. I watch The Bletchley Circle alone, almost as if sharing the show with anyone else will change the way I feel when I’m watching it, interrupt my complete and utter devotion to the mystery.

Susan utters, “When this is over, we’ll have to be ordinary.” What she means is, We will have to pretend that we’re not brilliant. We will have to pretend we’re ordinary because we are women and smile politely at others’ accomplishments. It’s only been two minutes, but I am already devoted. I fear ordinary too. I fear boredom and expectations of marriage, children, home-owning. A life that is not your own.

I can feel my mouth forming a smile as Ted walks into the room to ask what I’m up to. I don’t want to answer and I don’t want to pause the show, because I’m worried that I might lose this feeling. But I do, and I do. Luckily, I don’t.

***

The Bletchley Circle tells the story of four former World War II code-breakers who happen to be women. The mystery at the center of the show is amazing; the characters who solve it, even more so. The series is about power in the face of powerlessness, determination and solidarity and what four brilliant women can do together. Read the rest of this entry »

Ditching Live TV

In Streaming, TV, Viewing Habits on February 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Phoebe B.

When I ditched cable–just a short six months ago–I was nervous. After all, I study TV. What would I miss? How would I keep up with conversations about contemporary TV? What if I couldn’t get access to my favorite shows? What would life be like without Tuesday night Pretty Little Liars dates or Monday nights with Castle? Sure, maybe this all sounds overly dramatic, but I was seriously anxious.

Nonetheless, after a big cross-country drive and a move from Portland to Atlanta, it felt like a good time to give streaming television a shot. After all, cable was and is super expensive and we were aiming to save money. Moving cross-country is by no means cheap and I have a deep and abiding love for British murder mysteries like Midsomer Murders and Inspector Lewis and the fantastic Canadian Murdoch Mysteries, so streaming seemed liked a win-win. I mean, I already had a Netflix subscription and Amazon Prime and I could get Hulu Plus. Surely, I figured, I wouldn’t miss too much.

After six months without cable or any live television, it is safe to say there is something lost in watching certain television shows the day, or sometimes week, after they air. However, there are very few shows that meet this criteria for me: ScandalPretty Little Liars, and perhaps Drop Dead Diva are truly the only shows I watch that fall into this category. When I had cable, I made appointments with these shows each week, sometimes with friends and wine and sometimes with just me, myself, and I (and usually wine).

I miss the sense of real-time community that unfolds as viewers discuss the latest twists and turns via Facebook and Twitter. Plus, the knowledge that people across the country (or at least in my time zone) are all tuning in at the same time to do the same thing has long intrigued me. Even if I couldn’t see them, I knew they were there, and there is something comforting about that sensibility. Read the rest of this entry »

An Open Letter to Amber Riley

In body politics, Dancing With the Stars, gender on September 26, 2013 at 11:13 am

Dear Amber Riley,

I have loved you since the first episode of Glee. Your talent, your presence, and your charisma–and Mercedes’ compassion–have long made Mercedes one of my favorite characters on Glee. Then, I watched the opening episode of Dancing With the Stars, Season 17 and realized that you are more amazing that I even knew (and check out the Langston Hughes reference in the video. The best.).

Firstly, your dance. Hot. I aspire to move with that kind of agility, presence, and general panache. You looked like you have been dancing your whole life. You are, it turns out, a triple threat–even though Mercedes needed dance boot camp on Glee, you clearly do not.

Secondly–and really most importantly–thank you for not telling America that you were dancing to lose weight. When plus-size ladies from Kirstie Alley to Ricki Lake have gone on Dancing With the Stars, their narratives have primarily centered on weight loss. Winning the mirrorball trophy often seems secondary to slimming down. Losing weight, according to the show, is key to feeling sexy again, reminding people watching at home that only people who look a certain way are supposed to feel attractive.

That’s why it was so refreshing when you looked into the camera and said you were here to show girls like you how to move and be healthy and beautiful just as you are.

You’ve said something similar before in Marie Claire, talking about your character on Glee: “I also never had her insecurities about weight [...] but I love that now I get to show girls how to be comfortable with their bodies.” Thanks for saying it then and saying it now.

Thirdly, your victory dance after you got your scores during week one. Do it all the time. I am rooting for you.

A huge fan!

Phoebe B.

PS I loved your jive and your chemistry with Derek is amazing.

Quiet Times: Ladies, Friendship, and “The Good Wife”

In CBS, gender, The Good Wife on September 18, 2013 at 5:42 am

Phoebe B.

On The Good Wife, female friendships–especially Alicia and Kalinda’s–and relationships between women are, I think, the driving force of the show. Yet, these relationships are inevitably strained, often silent, and above all else complicated. Near the middle of the show’s fourth season, Alicia and Kalinda sit quietly in a hotel room, drinking red wine. Each woman is atop a separate bed, so that they face out toward the camera. When they speak, their conversations are stilted–filled with one-word answers, long pauses, and minimal eye contact. Adding to the strangeness of the scene is the hunting-themed wood lodge where they’re spending the night, a setting where they are both–with their very nice clothes and red wine–out of place.

Watching Alicia and Kalinda interact this way is an uncomfortable experience for me as a viewer. In fact, seemingly strained silences often make me uncomfortable. Yet the discomfort is wholly my own. The characters themselves are actually quite comfortable; this image of the two of them–together yet distinctly separate–perhaps defines their friendship. And that’s one of the things I love most about The Good Wife: the show challenges my expectations of how female characters are supposed to behave and interact with one another on television.

kalinda-and-alicia

***

The first time I watched Pretty Little Liars was on Super Bowl Sunday about three years ago. At the time, I was living in a cute, though small, house in Eugene, Oregon, which conveniently had a lofted attic. While my boyfriend and two of his guy friends gathered downstairs to watch the football festivities, I holed myself away in the attic with an air mattress, a space heater, and some blankets.

I wandered downstairs midway through binge-watching the show, hungry and hoping to catch the Super Bowl halftime show—truly the only part I ever want to watch. (One word: Beyonce). Sitting on the couch, watching television together but barely speaking or making eye contact, were the three guys. On instinct, I began to talk to fill the space. Their silence made me nervous. The Jewish grandmother in me worried that they weren’t happy, or that they were hungry, or needed more beer. The list, as any goes on. Mostly, I just worried that their silence indicated they were having no fun at all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why We Should All Be Making a Fuss about Miley’s VMA Moves

In activism, gender, race on August 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Phoebe B.

Since the infamous Miley twerking incident at the VMAs, I’ve spent the last couple days following Facebook conversations—mostly by white liberals, of which I am one myself—on Miley’s performance. For the most part, white liberals have spent these threads arguing over whether or not to pay attention to this particular media event and if it really even matters. A few comments have suggested that “well-intentioned white liberals” are overreacting to Miley’s appropriation of black ratchet culture. This brand of dismissal is not only wrong on many counts, but also, I think, a big part of the problem.

Many of the conversations I have been following miss several truly important points about the history of white appropriation of black culture—and erase the participation of black voices from the discussion to boot.

UGH.

UGH.

As Dodai Stewart writes on Jezebel,

“basically, she, as a rich white woman, is “playing” at being a minority specifically from a lower socio-economic level. Along with the gold grill and some hand gestures, Miley straight-up appropriates the accoutrements associated with certain black people on the fringes of society.”

Miley is just one in a long line of stars who have appropriated parts of black culture for their own financial and image-remaking advantage. Indeed, Miley adopts this persona for power and profit, both of which are her reward for said appropriation. In her re-making of herself from Hannah Montana to … well, something else, she unapologetically uses black culture—and a specific vision and part of black culture—as a way to make her appear cool, hard-core, and badass. This brand of appropriation reinforces problematic and harmful stereotypes about black culture and reiterates that it is a-okay for a rich white girl to steal, use, and abuse any part of black culture that she sees fit (as she also de-historicizes and de-politicizes ratchet culture).

Read the rest of this entry »

On “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film”

In hip hop, Jay Z, Marina Abramovic on August 5, 2013 at 4:48 am

Emily Arden

Re-posted (with permission) from The Daily Creative Project.

I wish I could embed this VIDEO right here in this post. (You can also view a great ARTICLE, with the video embedded.)

I’ll have to settle for posting this photo instead:

jaymarina

In my deepest heart I believe the intersection of artists – being purely themselves – while surrounded by other creative folks, is the key to creating peace and sustainability.

I don’t have words or a way to quantify this type of energy and inspiration. I’ve been searching for them. The words. Obviously this is a very utopian, simplified view. But the essence is what I’m getting at; creating creativity together sparks greatness.

It’s why I created ReSourceArts and am working to figure out how to create a physical space that can offer this kind of organic and magical interaction on the regular.

I believe we are all creative in our own right and all have something to offer. Given the right tools and circumstances, and permission – from ourselves and each other – to let go of fears and stereotypes and an out-for-myself mentality, magical things can happen. We all grow stronger – individually and as a community – for it. We can then go out into the world and continue to multiply this type of positive energy.

Jay Z’s video for “Picasso Baby: A Performance Art Film,” in my opinion, is a really wonderful reminder of this. I totally smiled the entire time. I loved Marina Abramovic’s PERFORMANCE PIECE, and I love that Jay Z reshaped the idea into his own performance art.

Artists and musicians are usually told they’re different. They don’t fit in. They’re crazy. They’re too much. But people who don’t see the world the way they’re told the world is recognize that quality in other people.” – Cedric Shine for the record: NPR’s music news

That sentiment is why, totally why, we all need to be working together and creating other kinds of communities. Cause we haven’t ever fit in. Sometimes it makes us more likely to go and continue to work in a vacuum. I see this all the time. I get frustrated by artists who operate this way. I get it. The self-preservation mechanism that sets in because we haven’t ever felt cared for, so we do everything we can to take care of only ourselves, as if there isn’t anyone else out there who can be trusted to do so. But there is another way. A kind of space that allows us all to be free to be us and within that amazingness, to connect with others and spark new kinds of amazingness. No need to be fighting for our little piece of the pie. Instead, to keep working to make the pie even bigger for us all to enjoy.

I’m glad for the reminder today, and excited to keep building, in my own small way, on this idea of creating connections and community.

Here’s to another day of creativity…

Emily Arden Eakland, Director, ReSourceArts
Emily is a Creative Soul, Dancer, Educator, and Idealist who has a passion for all things slightly off the beaten path. Her wanderings have allowed her to work with a multitude of artists – from dancers and DJs to graffiti artists and musicians – in order to create entertaining and thought-provoking events and opportunities. She has also worked with young people in both traditional educational settings as well as in arts-related programming. She received her degree in arts management and education from Goddard College and continues to blend her artistic and management skills in order to create opportunities for artists to create and connect. For more on Emily and the organization she founded, please check out her websites: ResourceArts and The Daily Creative Project.

Masks, Melissa, and Mischief: Pretty Little Liars Recap, 4.3

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm

The BEST:

Phoebe B: The super creepy mask guy who is obsessed with Emily as Medusa: Aria, “What do you want?” Mask guy to Emily, “Your face.” Love it. Hanna being bad ass and awesome and taking initiative, both getting the PLLs to go see the mask guy and then snooping when they are there. Go Hanna! (Aside: I would be so incredibly terrified at that mask place by all the creepy masks. I really don’t like masks.)

Aria and Ella. I love Ella and I so want her to go on an adventure with the hot baker guy: “I was giving my mother permission to go off and join the circus.”

Melissa is back! And her face is in a mask. Creepy. But also, I am pleased to see the return of one of my favorite PLL possibly-villains.

Sarah T: YES that mask scene was so classic PLL. I was really worried that it was going to start burning Emily’s face horribly or something but no. I also like that Ali hid a mask of her own face inside another mask, that’s a cool teen girl hobby.

I am thrilled for Ella that she is off to Vienna to make pastries in a castle with the Von Trapp Family Singers, but sad for us, her fans and loyal viewers! She can’t go, can she? Let her not go the way of Invisible Mikey Montgomery.

The WORST:

Phoebe B: Toby! AAAAAH. I cannot stand him right now and also I do not trust him. Not one ounce. But he is so weepy and annoying. And where is Mona? No Mona = the worst. But, I agree with the PLLs: not knowing where Mona is, is pretty much as scary as when she is around all the time. I also miss Jenna. Where are all the amazing femme fatales of PLL? I must admit too that I’m not completely sure what happened in this week’s episode of PLL.

It’s possible I was distracted by watching the Wendy Davis (#standwithwendy) fillibuster and other big news events like SCOTUS’ bad decision on the Voting Rights Act and good decision on striking down DOMA. Thus, it’s highly likely I missed key PLL plot points. But, ST do you know what was happening this week?

Sarah T: No I do not! But plot isn’t very important to me when I watch PLL; I just let the show float over me like an insanely dark summer breeze. The worst for me was seeing poor Ashley sadly contemplating the faucet in the bathroom. Whatever happened with her that night, it is something very miserable. I hate seeing my favorite PLL mom so torn up! Drinking wine evilly in the dark is one thing, but this lonesome hiding-in-the-bathroom routine is quite another.

A Real Shoe-Dunnit: Pretty Little Liars Recap 4.2

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, Recaps on June 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm

The BEST

Phoebe B: Mona, of course. I loved her eavesdropping at the police station and if she is playing the PLLs, she is doing a mighty scary and good job.

Also, I love Spencer so much and how she was so badass in this episode what with her realizing the bird was singing a dial tone. Amazing. I’m really not sure how she figured it out, but yeah pretty impressive. In other Spencer news, do you think that she didn’t get into Penn because of A? And was Ezra’s advice reasonable, because I kind of think Spencer had a point?

I loved that Aria was taking self-defense classes, but her kiss goes in my worst column this week. Why Aria?! I just wanted to see her be tough and defend herself.

The Ali flashback was, as always, awesome. It was helpful to see Ali’s super-manipulative relationship with her mother but now we know that Ali was also keeping her mom’s secrets (bloody mary for lunch), lying to her mother about the beach house, talking to a parrot, and holding her breath for super long. I wonder, does this mean Mrs. D becomes a suspect in Ali’s murder? Or, is she really hiding Ali?

Sarah T: The Ali flashback was my favorite part too. Sasha Pieterse is one talented queen bee. And seeing Ali’s messed-up, icy, manipulative relationship with her mom helps explain the dark clock that made our girl tick.

I think Spence had a point about being real in her college applications, but I also think that people (teens in particular) can be too eager to play up the super-dramatic, heart-wrenching narratives of their lives in college application essays, as if to be a worthy person you have to be damaged. You know what I mean? Like YES Spencer has been through so much. But there’s the issue of exploiting yourself, too. I think it’s tricky. I wouldn’t judge her at all if she wrote about A, but I think Ezra’s advice has some truth in it too.

The WORST

Phoebe B: What is happening with Ashley Marin? I’m NOT pumped about her as the next evil murderer. I love Ashley and her giant glasses of wine so much. But also, I guess she is probably not Wilden’s murderer since PLL is pointing us so hard in that direction. Other worsts for me in this episode were the bird (I really don’t like birds), A feeding bird to the bird (gross! and evil.), and also Toby. I am NOT loving Toby right now. He just keeps lying and being weird and dramatic. Also, why must Aria only be interested in inappropriate older men and teachers?

Emily hitting her head and losing her scholarship. The worst. Her telling Paige what is afoot = heartbreaking (Paige is totally the best).

Sarah T: Ahh I am actually super pumped about Ashley’s murderess prowess. I like how she drinks wine in the dark now and stares at dirty pumps, that’s how I like to unwind after work too. BUT I don’t think she’s the murderer, I think Shayna’s the murder, because what’s the point of Shayna.

“A” is for I MISSED U GUYS: Pretty Little Liars 4.1

In Pretty Little Liars on June 13, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Our beloved little liars are back in all their lying and being pretty glory. Safe to say, things are getting wackier than ever now: Ali might be alive, Melissa is certainly evil, Wilden is dead, and a hot new cop is on the case. Also, Mona is back and more marvelous than ever.

We are trying out a new recap style, picking apart the best and worst of each week’s episode. Let us know your favorite and least favorite moments in the comments.

The Best!

Phoebe B:

1) Obviously, Mona. But, I think we might agree that Mona is almost always the best? I like this new turn wherein she is part of the liars group. I did feel bad for her though at Wilden’s funeral when they didn’t save her a seat. Also, I have no idea if I can trust her in this new seemingly nice incarnation.

2) Mrs. D is back and scary. How terrifying was that shot of her in the window staring blankly at Spencer?! It also reminded me of some other similar shot from some time ago, but I can’t place it.

3) The new handsome cop. I was just so over Wilden and feel glad he is gone (although I still don’t understand the pig in the trunk situation). This new cop seems more interesting and more fun to look at.

Sarah T:

Ohh yeah let’s talk about that handsome cop. I liked his mumbly Jimmy Stewart ways and his cheekbones. I feel that I can trust him. (I probably should not trust him.) I’d say that there has to be at least one non-crooked cop in Rosewood, but why should that be, really? All the men in Rosewood over age 18 are psychopaths, so why shouldn’t the same rule apply to law enforcement officials?

My favorites were: Read the rest of this entry »

Why I love the Tonys (and You Should Too!)

In Award shows, musicals, Tonys on June 11, 2013 at 7:22 am

Phoebe B.

I watch the Tonys every year. In fact, it is the only award show I really even watch and I love it a lot. Unlike most awards shows, the Tonys–or at least about sunday night’s ceremony–don’t leave me feeling gross or mad or bad or furious when I’m watching (I’m looking at you, Oscars). In fact, I feel good–and sunday night I felt great. I think  the Feminist Spectator pretty much sums up why I think the Tonys are so awesome in general and why this year was particularly grand:

“Was it my imagination that the show also seemed politically and socially progressive and might point to a hopeful moment in Broadway theatre?  Each of the musical numbers seemed strikingly multiracial, from the cheerleaders of Bring it On to the fearful but feisty students of Matilda, and from the factory workers of Kinky Boots to the singers of Motown, in which the one or two white people in the chorus nicely reversed the typical demographic balance.  Even Annie’s orphans included African- and Asian-American girls.

Four people of color won major awards for acting:  Courtney B. Vance for Lucky Guy (sorry for leaving him out in my first posting of this blog!); Patina Miller for Pippin (whose gown, when she accepted, showed off her gorgeous, strong arms); Billy Porter for Kinky Boots (who thanked his mother for her graceful acceptance of things she doesn’t understand which, he suggested, could be a model for us all); and the elegant elder stateswoman, Cicely Tyson for Trip to Bountiful (who deserved more than the 30 seconds of speaking time she received).

Women, queer people, and drag queens stood out in the winners’ category all evening.  Diana Paulus won early for directing Pippin, eloquently urging people watching to “do what you love.”  Pam McKinnon won shortly after for directing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.  She, too, spoke beautifully and sincerely about her long relationship with Edward Albee and the importance of the arts.  My Facebook feed exploded with shock and delight that two women took home this year’s directing honors, but Playwrights Horizon’s Beth Nathanson’s remark—“It’s about fucking time!”—seemed most astute.”

From Cicely Tyson’s beautiful acceptance speech and incredible dress to a plethora of drag performers and gay male winners thanking their husbands, Courtney B. Vance’s win,  and the many women who won, the Tonys were a major win. Also, NPH kissed the dog from Annie and it was delightful. The Oscars (and the Emmys) should seriously take note.

For the awesome full article, go to the Feminist Spectator. Seriously, read the whole thing, it’s great.

Here are some of the winners:

Cicely Tyson accepting her Tony for best female performance in a play

Cicely Tyson accepting her Tony for best female performance in a play

Petina Miller looking divine and overjoyed as she accepts Best Actress in a Musical (Pippin). Her performance earlier in the night was also amazing!
Patina Miller looking divine and overjoyed as she accepts Best Actress in a Musical (Pippin). Her performance earlier in the night was also amazing!

Rebound: On Steubenville, Rape Culture, and Anger

In violence on March 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

On Sunday, two Steubenville, Ohio high school students accused of raping a 16-year-old girl were found guilty and sentenced to juvenile detention. News of the verdict brought a fresh wave of discussion about the Steubenville case, as well as meta-conversations about how the defendants and victim were portrayed in the media and in the public sphere.

CNN’s controversial coverage of the verdict, which seemed to empathize with the young men convicted of rape, was roundly protested in the blogosphere. Among the most popular responses was Mia McKenzie’s  “On Rape, Cages, and the Steubenville Verdict,” which offers a critique of both the prison system and rape culture. McKenzie argues,

What happened to this girl is horrible. Her life has been affected in serious ways by the unbelievably terrible actions of these boys. And CNN should not be talking as if her pain, her experience, and her life do not exist. It is unconscionable for them to do so and they need to be held to account for it. Elevating the experience of these boys above the experience of their victim is not okay.

But, you know what is okay?​ Also feeling sorry for these boys.

Not in the way that CNN did it. Not at the expense of the girl who was raped by these boys. ​But including these boys in our feelings of sadness is okay.

As McKenzie’s post made waves across Twitter and Facebook, Girls Like Giants’ Sarah T. and Phoebe B. sat down for a quick response.

Sarah T: Although I think McKenzie’s post makes some valuable points, I’m not so comfortable with its overall argument–or why it’s drawn so much support across social media. I’m with her on her critique of our current incarceration system. It’s corrupt and inhumane. BUT. What else are we supposed to do with rapists if not send them to prison? I feel frustrated that McKenzie argues that sending the boys to prison solves nothing but fails to offer viable alternatives. If we all agree that the girl who was raped deserves justice, and that the boys who raped her deserve to face the repercussions of their crime, then I need to know what other legal recourse we have beyond sending them to juvenile detention.

I also don’t feel sorry for Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richmond, not even in the ways that McKenzie describes. They committed a brutal crime against an incapacitated young woman, and their remorse seems to stem from the fact that they got caught–not from what they did.

This isn’t at all a statement of support for the American prison system. But I don’t think rapists should be tried instead in civil court and faced with a large fee. I don’t think rapists should just get counseling. I think rape is a crime that should be punished. When I learned that they had been found guilty, I just thought, good. And in the absence of workable alternatives that incorporate justice and rehabilitation and deterrence and accountability, I don’t know how else I’m supposed to feel.

But what are your thoughts, Phoebe?

Phoebe B: I definitely agree with you but also think she perhaps suffers from the same frustration, which I sympathize with. Like you say, what are we do with these boys if not send them to prison? We have no clear recourse to punish and rehabilitate them, to instill in them–or even re-train them–the horror of what they did and to see and combat the problems with rape culture generally (that is, to prevent such violence from happening again). I think what I like about the Black Girl Dangerous critique though is that she suggests that the prison system is so very broken and that it most likely won’t rehabilitate them. I do find that sad and more than that I find it super sad that men and boys are trained (in our culture) to de-value women and to see women as theirs rather than as people, humans, deserving of ethical treatment. Time Wise says this better than I can in his most recent post on Steubenville: “At the heart of our national dialogue on rape — to the extent we can even be said to have one, in the true sense of what dialogue implies — stands a persistent and rather transparent contempt for women, indeed a hatred so complete as to call into question just how many of us actually accept the idea that women are full human beings at all.”

I feel devastated for the girl and feel sorry for, anger, at and horror about the boys and all those who have participated in the victim blaming and shaming on all the social media platforms available … in part, that such young kids could be horrifying is truly upsetting to me and what’s even worse (I think) is the sense that they have supporters and that other kids not only looked on but actively participated (social media wise). I guess really the whole things just makes me super sad, angry, and frustrated for the culture we live in and that trains (and even allows) people to be so cruel and terrible to another person, and that the cruelty is excused (and made light of) by figuring men as just being men, unable to help themselves. Again, Tim Wise says this best perhaps:

“The bottom line is this: women will never be safe, so long as we continue to treat them as the inevitable victims of men who not only cannot control their sexual urges and desires for domination, but who also cannot change or be changed, and so must simply be locked away and perhaps brutalized themselves. That isn’t to say that no one should ever be put away in such a fashion. I am certain there are some for whom separation from society, and for very long periods of time, may be the only way to protect the rest of us from their predatory behaviors. But I am just as sure that such a system — for it is the one we live with now, as incarceration continues to spiral out of control and as we continue to lock up more people than any nation on Earth — is not, on the whole, working. And so we have to think bigger.”

Some of the best reading on rape culture and what is going on in Steubenville:

So you’re tired of hearing about rape culture.

“Rape culture is when you’re tired of hearing about “rape culture” because it makes you uncomfortable, as your attempt to silence discourse on the subject means we never raise enough awareness to combat it – and that’s part of why it sticks around.

And for more on rape culture generally and Steubenville specifically: Yes Means Yes.

“The Americans” & the Personal Politics of the Cold War

In F/X, Spies, Television, The Americans on March 18, 2013 at 8:03 am

Phoebe B.

Alert: Quite a few spoilers ahead

My mom still tells stories about desk drills during elementary school. She remembers how students were told to hide under their desks in order to protect them from nuclear war. These drills were part of living with the ever-present (yet invisible) threat of communism and in a nation seemingly always—and perhaps already—on the verge of the nuclear war.

I was born in the early 1980s, as Reagan considered programs like “Star Wars,” but my memories of the Cold War, communism, and nuclear terror are few and far between. Mostly, all I remember is the thaw, the end, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. I even had a former classmate who had a piece of the wall, something she got when she visited the place where it once stood.

*****

F/X’s new period drama The Americans, which premiered a few weeks ago, begins in 1981 shortly before Reagan is shot. The series follows the lives of two married Soviet spies, Philip (Matthew Rhys) and Elizabeth (Kerri Russell), living in the suburbs of D.C. and working as travel agents by day and spies by night. The series opens as an attempt to kidnap a defected spy goes awry. After Philip and Elizabeth miss dropping the spy on a boat set for Russia, the duo must keep him in their car in their garage with two kids at home. To make matters worse an FBI agent moves in across the street.

imgres

From the outset of the series, the personal and political are inextricably and terrifyingly intertwined. Indeed, even though Philip prefers to keep the defected spy alive, once he learns that the spy raped Elizabeth when she was in training, Philip immediately kills him. It is the first moment in their marriage where Elizabeth seems to sense that he loves her. It is also a telling moment for their relationship: Philip will betray his country to protect her. However, this moment also foreshadows Philip’s desire to be Elizabeth’s knight in shining armor, to fight her battles, and it seems a quality Philip picked up in America–a vision of marriage designed by decades of film and television. However, their marriage, at least for her, has always been political: a cover and Elizabeth, as the more ruthless of the two, certainly does not need any knight-like protection. But for Philip, it is and has been more than just another job. As the drama unfolds, so too does the marriage between the two spies become increasingly complicated, confused, and real.

Few representations of spy craft—especially on television, save perhaps for the short-lived Rubicon—have embraced the small details, discomfort, and daily life of spies and the tolls of living a lie. Safe to say, Philip and Elizabeth’s marriage is not a typical one. Yet it feels amazingly real in its complications and confusions (perhaps without the murderous bent). For instance, Philip’s sense of betrayal at Elizabeth’s long-term affair with Gregory or his desire to protect her, even though she is beyond capable of protecting herself. Even their decision to take the day off and have sex in a hotel, rather than at home, seems like a long-term couple maintaining adventure in their romance and relationship.

But unlike a typical married couple, Philip and Elizabeth’s differences have potentially dire consequences for themselves, the Soviet Union, and the United States. From the outset of the show, the key difference between the two has been their relationship towards America: Philip “likes it too much” whereas Elizabeth holds on to her communist values. She witnesses him becoming American, whereas she is merely playing the part. This division is most apparent is Elizabeth’s dislike of the mall as emblem of 1980s capitalism, while Philip revels in taking his daughter shopping; in the pilot Philip even considers a pair of cowboy boots. This distinction proves dangerous as Elizabeth’s remark to a superior about Philip’s American proclivities gets him tortured by his own people, as their handler attempts to root out a Soviet mole. Elizabeth’s betrayal of Philip is tremendous, not just because of the physical consequences, but because it reveals that he mistook their partnership for a marriage, a strange brand of office romance. Last week’s betrayal was heartbreaking both for Philip but also because of Elizabeth’s changing feelings towards her husband, which are transitioning from job and cover to romance.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Little Liars Recap Times Two: Season 3, Episodes 20 (“Hot Water”) and 21 (“Out of Sight, Out of Mind”)

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Things literally heAted up on Pretty Little Liars last week: Spencer got steamed in the shower (that looked awful!) but also got steamy with Wren; Fitz is back and baby drama is definitely afoot; Emily and Paige had a heart to heart; and Ashley was tormented by Wilden. Importantly too, Spencer has risen from her dark phoenix phase and is back (I think) with a smart-as-a-whip vengeance. Then this week, Toby mAybe is dead and Spencer is heartbroken; Aria is not ready to be a parent; and Emily was badass. But until then, here are our thoughts on this week’s PLL revelations.

Last week, Spencer was back! But now, after finding Toby’s dead body in the woods, Spencer is a mess–and institutionalized at Radley. Discuss.

Phoebe B: I was so excited last week to see Spencer back and on fire. But then, the scary steamy shower and her confession to the PLLs about Toby (why doesn’t Emily believe her??) and the downward spiral begins again. It was so sad to see her break down and then be picked up in the morning by the park rangers, and that last scene of her sitting in the bed staring off into space. I wonder if the nurse’s feet we saw were the lady in red/A-leader? Also, do you think just maybe that Spencer is faking it to get close to the truth? I really hope this is all part of her big plan (even though I would quite surprised I suppose if that was indeed the case).

Sarah T: I do think it’s possible that Spencer is faking–perhaps as a way to lure in Mona–but I think she’s probably grieving too much to be plotting simultaneously.

Detective Wilden is Rosewood’s number 1 creep and this week he had it out for Hanna and Ashley. What do you make of his encounters with the Marin ladies? And where did he go after Ashley ran him over?

Phoebe B: He is! But I do think he is perhaps dead in the woods OR potentially in the car. I thought he was horrible to Hanna and Ashley, but I thought it was good that there was proof he was threatening both the Marin ladies (ie the video feed in his car). I think two things are possible post-accident … one, that his body is in fact the one Spencer found in the woods (thinking it was Toby), or two, his body was in the car that Hanna and Aria pushed into the lake (I feel distinctly that pushing the car in was a very bad idea).

Sarah T: Hahahaha don’t you think pushing the police car into the lake was totally the large-scale version of Hanna and her mom’s general approach to problem-solving? Small incriminating evidence they throw in sinks and blenders, large ones they push into bodies of water. Also sometimes embezzled money goes in lasagna boxes. A place for everything and everything in its place. MARINS I LOVE YOU. But yes, I do think that Wilden is probably dead and either taking Toby’s posthumous place or in the trunk of the police car. My money’s on the former, because I don’t think Toby’s really a goner.

Also, I’m confused by the video in the police car. It totally exonerates Ashley, right? You can hear Wilden threatening Hanna and see him getting rough with her. You can’t see him pull the gun, but it’s pretty clear he is not acting in official above-board cop capacity. This makes me think she’s going to trial but that she’ll be cleared by the video down the line. Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Round-Up: The Oscars, Racism, Sexism, and Quvenzhané Wallis

In Oscars, race on March 2, 2013 at 1:30 pm

I will admit that I didn’t watch the Oscars as I don’t really like awards shows, I kind of really dislike Seth McFarlane, and last year’s Oscars were horrible (as were the years before). I expect the show to be simultaneously offensive and boring, but I did not expect the overt sexism and racism–and sheer disrespect even from red carpet reporters–directed at the incredibly talented and adorable (puppy purse!) star of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Quvenzhané Wallis. There’s been a lot of great (and not so great) stuff written about the Onion‘s unacceptable and racist tweet and McFarlane’s inappropriate joke about the nine-year old actress. We wanted to provide a space on GLG to showcase and highlight the conversation.

Crunk Feminist Collective’s Moya writes an awesome “Love Letter to Quvenzhané Wallis.

“He wasn’t nice. Some of the people who have interviewed you and are talking about you have been really disrespectful. You’ve done such a great job telling people how to say your name. It makes me mad that people still can’t get it. People think it’s funny to make fun of Black girls with names like ours. When I was little people would say my name wrong on purpose.”

Jessica Luther’s “On Quvenzhané Wallis,” at Shakesville, provides not only a great overview of the conversation, but also a really spot-on discussion (including the failings of white feminists this week).

She’s a young black girl in a country with a horrific history of racism and sexual exploitation of young black girls. Because – AND I CAN’T SAY THIS ENOUGH – black women’s bodies have been sexually exploited, used, disparaged FOR CENTURIES. That’s great for you if that history doesn’t mean anything to you but that doesn’t mean that history isn’t real and isn’t present now. The fact that you don’t have to engage with that history when MacFarlane or the Onion “jokes” just means you’re lucky.”

Tressi MC asks and answers (with empirical analysis) “Did White Feminists Ignore Attacks on Wallis?

“In the final analysis, the white out on Quvenzhané and The Onion is gradational. Some feminist outlets covered the issue, if only tangentially. The notable exceptions are the biggest brands and the most corporate outlets. What appears to be closest to the truth of what happened, and what feminists of color are arguing, is that white feminists ignored how race made Quvenzhané vulnerable to attack and that race muted the intensity of the response from white feminists.”

And Arturo Garcia wrote “Apparently, People Have Beef With Quvenzhané Wallis,” over at Racialicious.

Pretty Little Liars Recap: “Dead to Me” (Season 3, Episode 18)

In Pretty Little Liars, Recaps on February 8, 2013 at 2:21 pm

This week’s Pretty Little Liars was a little slow on the action, but it was high on the emotions.  Spencer raged against the A-team and found an empty room while Toby stayed under the radar. Caleb and Hanna cleaned out a garage with Caleb’s uncle, who is maybe really his father. Or maybe Caleb’s his own grandpa, we don’t know anything about this family for sure. Meanwhile, Emily remembered killing Ali, then she remembered she actually didn’t do that, and instead she remembered the lady in red. And in a chilling development, Mona delivered a plant to the therapist’s office. (It doesn’t sound scary. But Mona can make even an innocent orchid pretty darn menacing.)

I don’t care if it’s Santa Claus, considered me creeped.

This week was very Emily-focused. Thoughts on her graveside memories, Ali flashback, and the lady in red?

Sarah: My favorite Emily moment by far was the flashback to her and Ali dreaming about their life in Paris and running away together. I’ve said this before, but it’s really interesting to me how Ali was at her sweetest and most genuine with Emily. (Which isn’t to say she wasn’t awful to Emily sometimes too, i.e. by leading her on and then punishing her for having feelings for her.) Seeing Ali wistful and warm in the flashback makes me think she did reciprocate Emily’s feelings to some degree, even if she couldn’t acknowledge it. Also, I think she was able to let her guard down with Emily because it was so clear that Emily loved her, which made Ali feel safe. Whereas with the guys in her life there was always the edge of danger that comes from the whole older-guy power dynamic, and the other PLLs she couldn’t quite count on to love her unconditionally–Spencer fought back, Aria was a little too independent, Hanna a little too unpredictable.

Phoebe B: I too thought that was really sweet … although I must say I am much more suspicious of Ali, I think. I felt like that flashback was sweet and Emily clearly remembered it fondly, but I always feel like Ali has some additional and scary motive for being sweet. Like I wondered too why Ali was wanting to run away at that moment. Was someone A-type already threatening her? Ali always just feels like she has a scary agenda to me. But in other news, I am so excited about the return of the lady in red!

Sarah: MEANWHILE HEEY now we’re getting somewhere with the lady in the red coat! Yeah she’s in charge, Emily, you go. And heck yeah to Hanna for raising the question of whether the lady in the red coat could be Ali. Here’s the thing about Hanna: the show wants you to think she’s a dumb blonde (a funny, loyal, warm-hearted dumb blonde, but still), but I think she’s the smartest character on PLL. She’s the smartest because she asks the questions that other people are afraid to admit have even crossed their minds–because she’s not afraid to sound dumb as long as she’s getting closer to the truth. More on this to come, I’m going to write a whole thing about it.

Phoebe: Yay Hanna! She spoke to my heart when she asked if the lady in the red coat could be Ali. I have long been on the what if it is Ali or Ali’s twin train. I too think Hanna is the best!

Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Little Liars Recap: “Out of the Frying Pan Into the Inferno” (Season 3, Episode 17)

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars on February 1, 2013 at 6:01 pm

This week on Pretty Little Liars, Spencer was brittle as recently betrAyed glass. She’s not telling her friends that Toby is a member of the A-team, and in the meantime she is out for blood. Detective Wilden showed up to announce that he once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die (or “self defense,” he claims).  Ezra found out about his secret son, and left Aria standing out in the cold. Emily discovered a clue that led her back to CeCe Drake, who revealed that Ali thought she was pregnant right before she died–and then stumbled upon a photograph that suggests the beach hottie who knocked her up was none other than Wilden himself. Also, Hanna had a fun night out, and her mom wondered–not unsympathetically–whether “pink drink” was code for something gay.

pretty-little-liars-season-3-cast-pics

Spencer is heartbroken, but she seems–rightly so–out for revenge. What do you make of her hiring a P.I. and not telling the PLLs anything? What is she up to?

Sarah T: First of all, that long sequence of Spencer sobbing in the car while applying her makeup killed me. The way she kept pulling it together long enough to daub on mascara or ruffle her hair, then breaking down again–I was having flashbacks to every breakup ever. Not just mine, all the betrayals and heartbreak in the world. The whole episode, actually, Troian completely nailed that scary, empty, PTSD, Dark Phoenix version of Spence that’s emerging since she found out that Toby was A. I think she’s not telling the PLLs about it because she’s still in shock herself, and also (maybe) because Toby’s betrayal has made her trust no one at all, at least for now.

Phoebe B: Me too! Aaah it was so sad! And agreed on all counts. Also, I must admit that I thought (perhaps wished) that she was off to meet Toby (rather than the P.I.). I do like this dark and vengeful version of Spencer … I feel like she might be unstoppable now (she has always been badass) in the hell hath no fury like a woman’s scorn way. But I am still sad about the Toby situation as I really had held out hope that Spencer wouldn’t love her virginity to someone so evil.

Detective Wilden is back (and still creepy). Was he Ali’s secret lover/beach hottie? Is he evil or just icky?

Sarah T: Totally he was Ali’s secret lover and beach hottie! One, he’s always been way too personally invested in the murder case. Two, he’s  shady and manipulative and without morals, which three, makes him Ali’s type to a T. On a different note, not to nitpick with Show of My Heart and Soul, but why would the police station have a picture of Wilden with his buddies on a fishing trip in the lobby? That… is not something police stations do, I don’t think. It would be another matter if it was in his office. But whatever, I’m thrilled that a new suspect is now in play, because with Garrett dead and Jenna and Melissa MIA we needed some new blood, and also I will not be satisfied until each and every citizen of Rosewood is a potential murderer.

Oh, which reminds me–looks like next week Emily becomes a potential murderer upon entering a deep hypnotic state! Wonderful.

Phoebe B: I too think he was Ali’s lover/beach hottie! And it does make sense now why he has always been WAY too invested in the murder case and extra weird with the girls. Do you think he knew Ali’s secrets about the PLLs? I too think Wilden will be an intriguing suspect but also I am hoping for some Emily’s mom double agent in the police stuff. Also, I want Melissa to come back! I also want to know exactly what she was up to talking on the phone on that porch the night Ali died.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Little Liars Recap: “Mona-Mania” (Season 3, Episode 15)

In Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps, Television on January 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm

This week on Pretty Little Liars, Spencer and Mona went head-to-head in the Ultimate Combination Quiz-Off and Bun-Off (Updo versus Half-Up). Lucas told Hanna that he’s been an A-team middle man ever since Mona caught him selling off test answers. Among his A-team duties: visiting Mona back when she was in Radley to pass on secret envelopes from Jason DiLaurentis. Meanwhile, Aria and Meredith teamed up to investigate the unsavory dealings of Lord Byron, and Emily and Paige dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder with a soothing trip to the woods in the middle of the night. Read on to parse the details of this week’s episode.

I think she means a bildingsroman.

What do you make of Lucas’s blackmail story and his new plan to get homeschooled as a way of avoiding Mona’s wrath? He seemed legit terrified.

Sarah T: I believe him–I never bought Lucas as the dastardly type–but I hope he doesn’t go through with homeschooling, because I don’t want any more of my favorite second-tier characters getting sidelined! (Miss u, Jenna-Thing.) Also, why did Hanna not seem to care about that Lucas was delivering messages from Jason to Mona in Radley?? That seems like a big deal to me.

Phoebe B: Agreed on ALL counts. I totally believe him but I also always thought he was a lovely character. I also didn’t buy the whole gambling debt and I’m going to hit Hanna with an oar then disappear situation. Also, I am super confused that Lucas A) did not say more about the letters he was delivering to Mona and B) annoyed that Hanna didn’t ask. Then again, it is a classic PLL mystery move just to keep us all entangled!

Why is Mona suddenly so interested in the academic decathalon? So much academic sporting! Is she just doing it to mess with Spencer, or does she have another motive up her sleeve?

Sarah T: I definitely think she did it partly to throw Spencer off her game, and partly because she really doesn’t want to play dumb anymore, and partly for image-reform purposes. I think the trick with Mona is that the hurt-puppy act isn’t really an act at all: She really does feel persecuted at school and ashamed of her past and in need of emotional support. She really did go crazy when she thought she lost Hanna, and she really does want Hanna’s friendship back now. But all that doesn’t mean she’s not also a scheming super-villain. Like Che Guevera with bling on, she’s complex.

Phoebe B: She is so very complex and I’m so glad she is back on the show … And I do agree that she was trying to throw Spencer off her game while also doing a little image makeover. Also, now we know why that poor guy with the bike had to have an accident last week…

Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “She’s Better Now” (Season 3, Episode 14)

In 2012 election, gender, race on January 11, 2013 at 6:27 am

In “She’s Better Now,” Mona adopted a fun retro-preppy look for her return to Rosewood High, Meredith taught Civics not-so-civilly and then got exploded (probably by Mona), and Jason and Mona are Rosewood’s newest Nefarious Power Couple. In non-Mona news… practically nothing. This was an all Mona all the time episode! Just giving the people what they want, ay show.

Pretty Little Liars 3x14 She's Better Now

Why is Aria’s dad so horrible and creepy?

Sarah T: I know! He sleeps with his students, he has under-handed psycho dealings with Aria’s teenage friends, he stares insanely at his daughter while she stares intently at necklaces and then accuses her and her friends of blowing up Meredith based on nothing. (Except, granted, a history of blowing up Jenna. BUT THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO.) The man makes Spencer’s dad look like Father of the Year.

Phoebe B: So true … By comparison, Spencer’s dad is looking amazing. Also, Emily’s dad is the BEST of all the dads by far (that security system on the house was crazy!). But Aria’s dad is freaking me out so much. That moment when he stares creepily at Aria plus him eavesdropping outside her door when she’s on the phone were SO scary and why on earth does he think the PLLs blew up Meredith. Why would he not suspect Mona, who just got back from being extra evil? And the Jenna thing was totally Ali (right?!). Also, Ali was scary in this episode … scarier than normal I thought as she blackmailed Aria’s dad.

Mona is back. What’s she got up her sleeve this time–was she behind the brain in the locker incident and/or blowing up Meredith?

Sarah T: I’m gonna guess that she was the mastermind behind both incidents. She put the brain in her own locker as part one of the Mona: Sympathy for the Devil campaign, and she blew up Meredith either because warped logic led her to believe that it would help her prove herself to the Liars or because of A team reasons, which are always mysterious.

Phoebe B: I will second you on all counts. I definitely think Mona is working in cahoots with the janitor (who is now on the A team?) and definitely running an intense Sympathy for the Devil campaign. Also, Mona walking down the hall with that knife. Amazing. And scary too. I agreed with Hanna’s grandma wholeheartedly (also, I was so glad she was back! But where was Hanna’s mom?), who said that Mona was trying way too hard. Lastly, speaking of Hanna’s grandma, do you think there was a reason she sang so much at the beginning of the race? Like was she trying to distract folks from something? Or was it just for comic value?

Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Uncategorized on December 28, 2012 at 3:38 pm

At least 27 students and teachers were gunned down two weeks ago in Newtown, CT. It is time–perhaps past time–to talk about gun control. It is time to understand that this incident was not an isolated one. Much has already been written so here are just a few links in honor of those who died in Newtown, in the drone strikes in Pakistan, and as the result of gun violence.

Jezebel says “Fuck you” to guns:

“It’s delusional to think that guns can help stop massacres like the one that happened today. Of course, people do think that; yesterday, the Michigan State Senate passed a law allowing concealed weapons in schools and daycares. No no no no no. Let’s stop pretending the “if everyone had a gun, everyone could protect themselves!” argument is worth considering.”

Looking back on the Aurora Dark Knight Shooting, via Gawker:

“You cannot “politicize” a tragedy because the tragedy is already political. When you talk about the tragedy you’re already talking about politics.”

Vijay Prasad on the deaths of children that don’t make the news:

“When a singular mass killing occurs in mainly affluent suburbs, it shocks the nation — and rightly so. But it might be a shock to some to know that this year alone 117 children died from handgun violence in Chicago. These deaths do not get discussed, let alone memorialized in the national conversation of tragedy.”

And let us not forget Kassandra Michelle Perkins who tragically lost her life to gun violence just a couple weeks ago.

Sady Doyle writes about the pitfalls of conflating mental illness and violence.

Slate is trying to track every gun-related death per day in America.

A petition to the White House to start talking about gun control now.

GLG Year-End Picks: Phoebe’s Top 5 TV Shows

In ABC Soaps, Dance Academy, Pretty Little Liars, Scandal, Television on December 19, 2012 at 11:31 am

I watch a lot of TV. Like a lot. Thus, I was excited to put together this list, which did prove quite hard as there is a lot of fun TV out there right now. Anyway, as I made this list, I realized that all my favorite shows feature amazing leading ladies (both on and off-screen). This top five (perhaps save for PLL) is in no order in particular.

1) Pretty Little Liars

Pretty-Little-Liars-Aria-Spencer-Emily-Hanna

PLL continues its reign in my top spot. I realize this is not a 2012 show BUT last season was so good. It included such gems as a Psycho-esque season finale, a Rear Window reference, and Jenna regaining her sight in the best femme fatale scene ever. Oh and then there is Mona … the best villainess ever.

2) The Mindy Project

mindy-project__oPt

I was sold by the preview and the pilot. There is something so hilarious and charming about the Mindy Project and its hilarious and pretty awesome (and very pretty) heroine. I love Mindy’s spacey and craziness, but also that she has this super successful and amazing career. Most recently, we saw sadly that her new boyfriend turned out to be a jerk, but the highlight of the episode was how great her friends were afterwards. Basically, The Mindy Project is delightful and snarky simultaneously.

Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In #Kasandra Michelle Perkins, gender, race on December 7, 2012 at 10:13 am

On remembering Kassandra Michelle Perkins, from the Feminist Wire:

“Each time we say her name we remember her life and her tragic murder.  Each time we say Kasandra Michelle Perkins, we remember her 4-month old daughter who lost her mom and her dad on December 2, 2012.  Each time we say her name we push back at the privileging of celebrity-life  over her death.  Each time we say her name we are hopefully reminded of the ubiquity of domestic/partner murder.  Each time we say her name, we refuse the silence and erasure of domestic violence and intimate partner murder, particularly when the victims are women of color.  Each time we say her name we refuse the racism and sexism that obscures the humanity of those lives lost.  We challenge the discomfort that compels silence and erasure.”

Jada Pinkett Smith on Willow’s new hair, from the Feminist Griote:

” I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit and her mind are HER domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair. It’s also a statement that claims that even little girls have the RIGHT to own themselves and should not be a slave to even their mother’s deepest insecurities, hopes and desires. Even little girls should not be a slave to the preconceived ideas of what a culture believes a little girl should be.”

Fit and Feminist tackles a crazy kickstarter campaign and body size:

“Respect is not a zero-sum game, y’all.  Recognizing the humanity of one group of people and treating them with respect and dignity does not suddenly mean we have to treat another group of people like shit.  There’s plenty of respect and dignity to go around.”

Lit mag The Destroyer let GLG’s Sarah T.  talk about Lana Del Rey, Santigold, race, and American nostalgia:

“Nostalgia lays present-day fantasies over the past like an automatic filter. It’s also a luxury available mostly to the privileged: the people who get moony-eyed about the past while ignoring its injustices tend to be the ones who have it pretty easy in the present.”

Rookie magazine hosts an honest, open, and very multifaceted roundtable on cultural appropriation:

“I’m not saying, ‘Burn all of your turbans/bindis/feathered headdresses/face paint/kimonos/etc.!’ I’m just saying learn about why, even if you don’t feel like you are oppressing someone, you may be participating in an act that has played an important part in oppressing/silencing/shaming other cultures.”

Sady Doyle questions why she uses theory in non-academic contexts and wonders who she’s writing for; Kara Jesella responds.

“As much as I would love to have a specific sort of audience, the sort of people who are just dazzlingly literate and cool and have a lot of feelings about Big Star and would dissolve into bubbling goo like the Wicked Witch of the West if Coors Light passed through their lips, I’m not sure that I write for them any more.”

AND

“to reiterate: i love theory, i have always loved theory, except for when i hate it, but, like, i can avoid zizek. and it probably hasn’t really gotten me much except a lot of debt.”

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on November 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm

After a long weekend and some time away from the internet, here are just few reads from the last couple weeks.

Sarah McCarry on watching violence against women at the movies.

A Racialicious Thanksgiving Special: The Native American Vote in New Mexico and Beyond.

Lastly: a cool conversation in the NYT on narrative in contemporary films.

 

GLG Weekly Round-Up: Hurricane Sandy

In 2012 election, class, Sandy on November 11, 2012 at 9:08 am

This week, President Obama won four more years in the White HouseDonald Trump was horrible (again), four states legalized gay marriage (woohoo!), and efforts to clean up New York after Hurricane Sandy continued. This week’s round-up is dedicated to media coverage of Hurricane Sandy. You’ll also find links with information on volunteering or donating to relief efforts below.

Check out “Everybody Gets Wet” about news coverage of Sandy, by Julia Leyda and Diane Negra, over at Antenna:

“Reporting of the disaster’s impact in places like Breezy Point in the Rockaways is colored by a strong element of mourning for obsolescent, geographically fixed communities, in contrast to the more affluent, gentrified, and relatively transient residents of the areas of lower Manhattan that were also affected.”

An interesting discussion of the role of Twitter during Sandy, via the New York Times Media Decoder Blog

“Manhattan is the epicenter of a number of big blogs, including Gawker, BuzzFeed and Huffington Post, but each had to pivot to Twitter, among other platforms, as their servers succumbed to encroaching waters. (At a conference last year, Andrew Fitzgerald of Twitter wondered about the utility of the platform if the end of the world arrived in the form of an alien attack.”

The Atlantic on how Sandy laid bare income inequality in NYC:

“Those with a car could flee. Those with wealth could move into a hotel. Those with steady jobs could decline to come into work. But the city’s cooks, doormen, maintenance men, taxi drivers and maids left their loved ones at home.”

Many people who live in NYC’s public housing projects still don’t have electricity or water, The New York Times reports:

“On Thursday, Mr. Bloomberg expressed the hope that private contractors would be able to restore electricity by the weekend and heat “sometime early next week” to affected buildings. This is hardly comforting news to people huddled in blankets as temperatures drop. There seems to be no clear answer for why it has taken so long to send out temporary generators and boilers to help these residents.”

To volunteer or donate to Sandy relief efforts, here are a couple links with information:

A guide for donating and volunteering, from CBS.

Check out information on relief efforts on the American Red Cross website.

Volunteer opportunities, via New York Cares.

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.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 170 other followers