thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

GLG Weekly Roundup

In Weekly Round-Up on November 23, 2011 at 10:43 pm

This week, an early/mini roundup in preparation for a weekend off … Some great posts from the Crunk Feminist Collective, xoJane, The Hairpin, and Fembot (newly launched!). And a follow-up from Jezebel on last week’s police violence at UC Davis.

A Report from Crunk Feminist Collective: Feminism 101 for Girls.

A great post from xoJane: on boobs and body politics by Marianne Kirby.

From the The Hairpin: A love letter to Paul Newman by Annie Peterson.

From Fembot, a thoughtful and thought provoking response to the ongoings at Penn State.

Continuing coverage of UC Davis police violence against students and Fox News’ crazy response, at Jezebel

Lastly, this really is all I want for Christmas, or rather Hannukah: J.Lo at AMAs


I’m Going to See Breaking Dawn OR How A Smart, Independent, Educated Woman Learned to Love Twilight

In gender, girl culture on November 23, 2011 at 12:48 am

Melissa Sexton

The first time I went to visit my sister in her new home in Seattle, I needed something to occupy my time during the long days she spent working. I was a 2nd year PhD student in a literature department, so the last thing I wanted to do on my downtime days was read anything serious. Still, my sister made a full disclaimer when she handed me her roommate’s copy of Twilight. “It’s not great literature,” she said with a shrug. “But I bet you’ll be entertained.”

Such a disclaimer was more than warranted given my lit snob past. I had spent my teenage years aspiring to an elite aestheticism, sneering at my younger sisters for their fantasy novels and their mainstream movies. Like many a wanna-be intellectual before me, I wanted to like the right things. I wanted to read philosophy and great literature; I watched old movies, not blockbusters, with my boyfriend. I didn’t watch TV; I backpacked, hello. Before I ever even thought about drinking, I started going to “shows.”  I was relentlessly and, to be honest, baselessly opposed to anything that could be construed as popular. Luckily for me, I was already outgrowing what I still think should never be more than an an adolescent phase: the conviction that, just because we don’t like something, this makes the object of our disdain inherently and objectively bad; that there are good and bad things to like, and your aesthetic preferences say something meaningful about your character; that there were things not just that I hadn’t read but that I wouldn’t read, that I shouldn’t watch. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Be Awesome Like… Tami Taylor

In Uncategorized on November 20, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Sarah Todd
Friday Night Lights was a rare and beautiful ensemble show, and it is difficult to pick favorites within it. Nonetheless, I have a favorite, and her name is Tami Frickin’ Taylor.

The reason Tami Taylor is my favorite is this: the woman does not give up. As a guidance counselor and high school principal, she doesn’t give up on the lost, angry, confused teens dealing with not only the ordinary trials and tribulations of adolescence but also with serious socioeconomic and familial issues over which they have no control. She doesn’t give up on her husband Coach Eric Taylor, who is incredibly kind and upstanding in his own right, and adores Tami as he should, but who can be a bit stubborn when he’s in the wrong. She doesn’t give up on her perceptive but sometimes bratty daughter Julie. And she doesn’t give up on fighting the local powers-that-be who prioritize football over academics, money over education, old-boys networks over actual merit, and white privilege over equal opportunity. Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Uncategorized on November 19, 2011 at 8:51 pm

This week in pop culture: Awkward Black Girl and Twilight. But most of this week’s links give space to the recent unrest of college campuses (unrest is perhaps an understatement): a couple on Penn State & rape culture and then a myriad of links on the violence on UC Berkeley and the UC Davis campuses.

Great post on Awkward Black Girl from Francie Latour:

In honor of the premier of Breaking Dawn (the second to last installment in the Twilight series), a post from the Hairpin on Bella and weepy, frustrating, and not terribly powerful heroines: Read the rest of this entry »

The Secret Circle Double-Header: “Beneath” and “Balcoin”

In Secret Circle, teen soaps on November 17, 2011 at 6:53 pm

This week, we take a look at dark magic and secret siblings.

What is afoot with Charles? He seems more evil than normal. And are you worried about him having the crystal? 

Phoebe: I am so worried! I feel like killing Nick has turned him evil or changed him (of course, rightly so). I was hoping it would make him more sympathetic. But seemingly it has only brought out some sort of darkness (to use the show’s word) in him. For this reason, him having the crystal seems like a lot of trouble. But also, I am sad in that it reverses the gender dynamic that was at play between him and Dawn, wherein now he is the more powerful (in terms of magic) which just switches things back to regular heteronormative understandings of straight male/female relationships. Also, I was a little confused this week when Dawn blamed Charles for not doing a good job killing Henry (Faye’s grandpa), as didn’t Dawn kill him? And then Charles just clean up the mess …

Sarah: Interesting point about the power dynamic between Dawn and Charles—I have a feeling Dawn will come out on top again, though, as she seems to be running circles around Charles in the brains department. I think Charles with the crystal is probably bad news but not as bad news as Dawn having it, as Charles seems more limited in his imagination… Read the rest of this entry »

“Melancholia”: Depression and Going Big

In Uncategorized on November 15, 2011 at 8:20 pm

Sarah Todd

Birds drifting down from the sky. Small bolts of lightning emerging from a woman’s fingertips. A mother carrying her child across a darkened golf course, sinking further into the green with each step. Wagner, of course.

In Lars von Trier’s stunning new movie “Melancholia,” this is one strangely beautiful way the world could end.

I never would have guessed that I would call any von Trier movie stunning, except in the bludgeoned sense. I hate the way his movies victimize women, the way the camera and director seem to revel in their suffering and assume that audiences will do the same. I hate that his movies suggest everyone is either weak or evil at the core. I hate his films’ violence and coldness. It’s more than disagreeing with his worldview: in the past, his world has not been a place that I recognized. Read the rest of this entry »

Hopelessly Real: Anticipating Katniss’s Transition to the Big Screen

In gender, girl culture, race on November 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Melissa Sexton

A couple of weeks ago, following my Halloween debut as Katniss Everdeen, I posted about the awesomeness of The Hunger Games‘s main heroine.  Today, the Hunger Games hype has kicked up again as Lionsgate released the official full-length trailer for the March 2012 film. From the chatter I’ve seen on the Internet and heard amongst friends, a lot of speculation has centered on exactly how the film will depict Katniss – a matter that has been of particular concern given the novels’ self-conscious reflection on the repeated manipulation of beauty and sex appeal as part of the televised spectacle of the Games. Concern has also been high because Katniss is an unusual heroine, self-consciously rejecting beauty and romance, constantly conscious of her class situation, admired for what she does rather than how she looks. I think many girls, like me, are rooting for a female heroine that isn’t supposed to be ugly but also isn’t way prettier than her role necessitates (there’s been quite a range of these, from Zooey Deschanel in New Girl to Hermione Granger in The Past 4 Harry Potter Movies). While I might have indulged in some extra eyeliner for my Halloween costume, I like many others fear a sexed-up Katniss – an ass-kicking heroine in the Tomb Raider tradition. All I really want is a girl whose toughness, independence, and anger isn’t made more palatable for polite (male) consumption by disguising it with pursed lips and big boobs: Don’t be afraid of Katniss! She might brutally slay you, but she looks so good doing it; she might look angry, but that’s just disguised passionate lust. Can’t a girl be fearsome and not a sex machine? There was also plentiful reaction to the Katniss casting  calls for a Caucasian actress (a narrow set of parameters given Katniss’s ambiguous racial identification, marked by dark hair and olive-toned skin). Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on November 12, 2011 at 8:26 am

This week, really interesting articles on Penn State riots (and Sandusky firing); two from Lesley Kinzel; a few responses to the really offensive Ashley Madison ads (including one amazing interview with Juicy Jaqui herself); one from Lynda Barry in the NYT; and one on race, beauty, and modeling; and a nicer take on the Kim Kardashian situation. Enjoy!

On Penn State (from Racialicious):

From the wonderful LESLEY KINZEL, “the impostor syndrome:” Read the rest of this entry »

Two All-too-Similar Tales of White Womanhood in Once Upon a TimeGrimm

In gender, race on November 6, 2011 at 9:01 pm

Phoebe Bronstein

A few weeks ago, I watched the pilot episode of Once Upon a Time (ABC), one of the two new fall fairytale shows (the other Grimm (NBC), premiered on Friday of the same week). The basic plot goes like this: Snow White and Prince Charming and all of their fantastical kingdom replete with a myriad of magical characters—from Rumplestiltskin and the Seven Dwarves to Red Riding Hood and her gran—are cursed by the Evil Queen. The terrible curse sends the whole magical world to Storybrook, Maine on the very day that Snow White and the Prince’s child is born. But not to worry, the child is saved! Which is a good thing, as she (named Emma) seems to be the only cure for the terrible curse. In present day Storybrook (dubbed by the Evil Queen to be the worst place on earth, which seems a little unfair to Maine), the residents of the fairytale world forget who they are while remaining trapped in a world and town with no happy endings.

Once Upon a Time Cast (Snow White in White, Emma in Red, and Henry in the front)

Then on Friday of that same week, I came home from happy hour with high hopes (that I was fairly sure would be dashed) and turned on the new fairytale mystery Grimm, set in Portland, OR. This show maps Grimm’s fairtyales like “Red Riding Hood” (the topic of the pilot) and “Goldilocks” onto modern day Portland, with a crime drama twist. The main character, Nick, is the last of the “Grimms,” an ancient bloodline it seems bread to hunt down the evil creatures of the Grimm’s fairytales. So it turns out, that in this fantastical world, all the gruesome Grimm’s tales are true. Eek!

The Grimm Detective Duo

Okay so they are both modern day TV adaptations of fairytales, but what are they doing in the same post? Fair question. But here is why: They both participate in the cultural politics of elevating the white female body as both victim and martyr. Both shows, at least in their early episodes, rely on the presumed power of the white female body to enact sympathy, but also as the last hope of civilization. Put another way, she is the body that is most in need of protection, as she is the most productive body and thereby the hope of the future.

Read the rest of this entry »

Daughters of Anarchy

In gender on November 6, 2011 at 11:43 am

by Sarah S.


Tattoos. Harleys. Illegal gun running. And…awesome female characters? You’d better believe it. Sons of Anarchy (SOA) relies on updating older narrative tropes that, much like Deadwood, veer towards the Shakespearean. It’s no surprise, then, that the Prince (in the form of Charlie Hunnum’s Jax Teller) loves a woman from outside the club (Maggie Siff as Dr. Tara Knowles) or that the Queen (Katey Sagal’s amazing Gemma Teller) owns her Lady Macbethian role from episode one. But in their roles, Gemma and Tara also received the updated treatment, and in the process turned a TV series about bad ass bikers and the girls that service them into one about family, community, and the different kinds of strength women carry. That is until this season, season four, which has so far (9 episodes in) declawed, defanged, and de-interested the women of SAMCRO. Read the rest of this entry »

Mrs. and Manners: Social Policing in The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

In Real Housewives on November 5, 2011 at 6:36 am

Sarah Todd

On The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, there are no heroes. Kyle, Kim, Camille, Taylor, Lisa, and Adrienne each have their individual strong points: Kim is hilarious on the phone, Lisa endearingly forces her punk-rock son to help her with hair extensions, Adrienne hosts excellent spa day parties (so many frozen yogurt toppings)! But they have all been rude, conceited, greedy, or flat-out mean too many times to count. Yet despite—or rather, because of—the cast’s constant breaches of etiquette, RHOBH is a show about manners. Read the rest of this entry »

GLG 1st Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on November 4, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Taking a cue from other blogs we love, like The Hairpin, Racialicious, and many more, this week we are going to start compiling and sharing our favorite news and writing from around the web. Look out for GLG round-ups at the end of each week. So here we go …

“What’s in a Name?” on Urban Outfitters and Native American appropriation, by MINH-HA PHAM:

This discussion has also been reminding me a bit of the commodification of the keffiyeh, the Palestinian scarves, a few years ago (also, and not coincidentally, sold by Urban Outfitters):


“Infographic: Who is Occupy Wallstreet?”

“Why ‘Misadventures of An Awkward Black Girl’ Won’t Be Coming To Television Anytime Soon:”

And what I was listening to (a little 1990s flashback) as I compiled these various and very interesting links: