thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

“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.

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.

“I Don’t Think We Owe Anyone A Second Chance”: Katie Heaney on Dating and the Single Life

In books, Interview on March 17, 2014 at 5:18 am

Sarah T.

To go by most books about dating, being single is kind of like walking around with a glob of macaroni in your hair: embarrassing, unsightly and a departure from the natural state of affairs. Katie Heaney’s Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date is a welcome antidote to these narratives. In her new memoir, Heaney chronicles spending the first 25 years of her life as a smart, funny, confident young woman who is at peace with her self-declared status as a “Bermuda Triangle” of romance.

“One of the great divides, I think, between people who date a lot and people who date never is that people who date never don’t understand putting up with ‘fine,’” Heaney writes. She’s had her share of crushes, make-outs and promising prospects that wind up fizzling, but in the end she’s holding out for way more than “fine”–and finding it in her relationships with her pals. Read on for Heaney’s thoughts on texting, wooing your friends, the most swoon-worthy Jane Austen character and why women shouldn’t feel obligated to go out with guys they don’t like that much.

I’ve been a fan of yours since you started writing for The Hairpin — “Reading Between the Texts” is not only hilarious but also super-cathartic as a reminder that dating is insane and so are people. Are those texts real? What about the conversations?

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