thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

GLG Weekly Round-up

In race, Weekly Round-Up on January 27, 2012 at 2:12 pm

A gathering of great links from around the interwebs this week. Enjoy & have a great weekend!

Ten black style icons before Michelle Obama:

Interesting article on the difficulties faced by black women in Hollywood and the privilege that can blind others to the problem:

White female rage & Jan Brewer:

Mapping autism onto Mattie Ross in True Grit:

How fashion, feminism, and academics fit together:

Let’s all cry. Absolutely beautiful:


Pretty Little Liars Recap, “The Blond Leading the Blind” (Season 2, Episode 17)

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on January 25, 2012 at 6:28 pm

This week the PLLs wear some great clothes (especially Aria!); make new alliances; lose a boyfriend; gain some lost and creepy footage; and discover new and scary truths about A. Read on for more PLL news and opinions! Read the rest of this entry »

A Rock Explains the 2012 Oscar Nominations

In Uncategorized on January 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Sarah Todd and Rock

Like many humans, I live under a rock. But it’s a small rock with spotty but nonetheless existent wi-fi. I saw 2 of the 9 movies nominated for best picture this year. By hardcore rock-living standards, that is 2 too many. For an authentically stone-faced appraisal of this year’s Oscar nominations, I turned to an actual rock to help explain what these movies are all about, based strictly on their titles and geological intuition. Ladies and gentleman, Rose Byrne.

(No, I’m kidding! I love Rose Byrne forever because of Bridesmaids, I’m just still thinking about Damages and how she doesn’t have any facial expressions on that show. But you know what, that’s her acting choice to make and her hair is so shiny.)

Here is just a regular rock to tell you what’s what. Rock is a million years old and it likes sitting and it’s scared of chisels. Read the rest of this entry »

“Call Me Doctor”: Rachel Bilson Raps, Girls Like Giants Scratch Our Heads.

In gender, race on January 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Rachel Bilson plays a doctor on Hart of Dixie. Some critics have a hard time buying it.  Last week, Bilson shot back with a Funny or Die video that features her throwing down by… rapping.

Chelsea B. was on the case, writing to some fellow Girls Like Giant-ers:

I feel so conflicted. I mean, it’s a fame thing and I get that Hollywood is weird, but also, watching this and not acknowledging or critiquing the inherent privilege and appropriation is a problem.

Since the rest of us were equally puzzled, we decided to try and sort things out with a good old-fashioned roundtable. Let us know what your take on Dr. Dolce Labcoats is in the comments.

Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-up

In race, Weekly Round-Up on January 22, 2012 at 9:10 am

Just a few links from around the interwebs …

Sady Doyle on the gifts insomnia bears:

TV and its eerie raceless world, from Salon:

Feminist Philosophers on “Push Girls,” a new reality TV show about four young women who use wheelchairs:

And this is the show Feminist Philosophers are talking about:

Under Her Wing: Fraught Female Mentorship in “Damages”

In gender, Uncategorized on January 21, 2012 at 7:15 am

Sarah Todd

Onscreen, female mentors are few and far between. As this article from Jezebel observed a few months ago, there are plenty of film and television examples of male mentors helping develop the talents of both men and women–Giles, Haymitch, Gandalf, Robin Williams as the over-involved psychologist in Good Will Hunting, Jack Donaghy, Ron Swanson, Coach Taylor, Mr. Schue, Obi-Wan Kanobi I guess (I’ve only seen Star Wars once and I fell asleep).

By contrast, I can’t think of any examples of a female character in charge of showing a younger male character the ropes. And while I can think of a few female characters who mentor other women, it’s probably no coincidence that the first two who spring to mind are at least a little evil. Read the rest of this entry »

Television, Class, and the American Consciousness: Downton Abbey

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2012 at 10:31 am

Sarah S.

I put off watching Downton Abbey because I knew I would get hooked as soon as I began. But I did put season one on my “instant” queue and knew the day would soon come. It has. Downton features a rather basic “upstairs, downstairs” premise and, aside from great acting and some unique characterizations, the plots of the first season break no new territory. Things get more interesting in the second season because they get more (soap) operatic with the advent of the Great War and its erosion of the stable worldview of the decades before.

Downton is a typical soap opera and a sweeping costume drama, and it’s decent in both modes. But the actors and the characters really keep the thing afloat. Amongst the standouts: Jim Carter as Mr. Carson, the butler, whose commitment to the reputation of Downton Abbey is silly and dignified in equal measure; Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley, the eldest daughter, who hides her tempestuous spirit in a cloak of cold disdain; Sophie McShera, the morally conflicted, much abused kitchen maid; and the ever-formidable Dame Maggie Smith essentially reviving her scene-stealing character from Gosford Park. As I recall hearing from one of the creators when the show first came out, these characters don’t know they’re living in history, just as we don’t. And the actors and writers do a marvelous job walking that tightrope. Read the rest of this entry »

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “Let the Water Hold Me Down” (Season 2, Episode 16)

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, Uncategorized on January 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm

This week the PLLs (and Lucas) survive last week’s almost drowning; use fake IDs; venture into the big city; go on fake dates; and then Rosewood has a creepy storm (like the one currently afoot in Eugene). Read on for more on our favorite little liars. Read the rest of this entry »

A link worth reading: women’s clothing

In gender on January 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Chelsea H.

Been shopping lately?  Feeling cranky about what’s available out there?  Are you (like me) still trying to vault the awkward distance between the junior section and the “missus” or whatever the “young semi-professional adult who isn’t petite, doesn’t want to be frumpy or provocative, and can’t afford designer labels” section is called?

This article from is a good read, I think, and addresses many of my cranky complaints.  I’m especially in agreement about #4: Arbitrary Clothing Sizes.  In pants alone, I wear a 10 in missus sizes from JC Penney’s, an 11 in juniors, a 6 at Ann Taylor, and at Old Navy, jeans advertised as the same size differ depending on the color.  What’s a girl to do?

Thoughts?  Similar issues?  Grievances to add?

How To Be Awesome Like Prospera

In Uncategorized on January 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Sarah S.

This post could also be titled, “How To Be Awesome Like Helen Mirren,” who’s inspiringly brilliant in almost every role. And it could be titled, “How To Be Awesome Like Julie Taymor,” who can claim no unabashed successes, and at least one spectacular failure (Spiderman: The Musical anyone?); Yet her vision always dazzles. In the realm of contemporary, Shakespearean film adaptation, Taymor acts as the unchained Id to Kenneth Branagh’s Superego. Her decision to alter the Great Bard’s The Tempest by changing his unhinged wizard Prospero into a woman, Prospera, is genius. And who else to cast in such a role than Mirren?

A quick perusal of Rotten Tomatoes reveals mostly disdain for the film (a mere 29% fresh!) with some strong endorsements. Much dislike, I imagine, stems from those who don’t like Taymor, who seems committed to the notion of the auteur to such a degree that one must appreciate her vision to enjoy anything she makes. However, The Tempest proves perfectly suited to her spectacular style. Unlike in Titus, where the arresting visuals undercut the believability of its ancient setting, Shakespeare’s rocky island exists outside the bounds of history, physics, and proper society (and always has, I might add). This makes it a perfect forum for Taymor’s schizophrenic costuming, flashy computer effects, unorthodox cast, and frenetic synth-jazz score. In the end, her version balances fairly traditional interpretations and performances with a modern, exciting screen rendition. Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on January 14, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Given that the presidential race is in full swing post Iowa and New Hampshire republican primaries. Here are some great articles on race, colorblindness, and republican rhetoric:

From Racialicious:

From the Crunk Feminist Collective:

And then some other fun links from around the Interwebs.

Annie Peterson on the legacy/stardom of Nathalie Wood:

From the Huffington Post, Janell Burley Hofmann on girls and body image:

An interesting response to last year’s “All the Single Ladies” from the Atlantic:

Another “watch list” for 2012 from Jennifer Williams’s blog:

And finally, yet another Breaking Dawn piece.

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “A Hot Piece of ‘A” (Season 2, Episode 15)

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on January 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm

This week on PLL, the liars attempt a birthday bash that ends in danger and drowning (maybe), bring Caleb into their super secret circle, and suspect Lucas of being A’s helper. Meanwhile, Mona returns and Jenna and Garrett fight. Read on for answers to our post-PLL questions. Read the rest of this entry »

What Do You Say to Sh*t [Group of People] Say?

In gender, race on January 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Sarah Todd

I was of three minds, like a meme in which there are a thousand Sh*t Girls Say videos on Youtube.*

– Walfred Meevens

Since the Sh*t Girls Say videos have taken over the internet in a tornado of cheaply made wigs, I’ve been struggling to formulate a coherent opinion. On one hand, are they offensive? On the other hand, are they social criticism? On a third hand, are they funny?

The answer to this hand trifecta, I think, is: sometimes. It depends on the video, and even the particular moment within the video.

In some ways, the Sh*t [Whoever] Say format is ideal for revealing the privilege and ignorance behind many supposedly offhand remarks. One of the best of the meme bunch is Franchesca Ramsey’s “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls.” Ramsey parodies the many racist remarks that often follow the preface of “Not to sound racist, but…” Her on-point delivery of offensive lines uttered with blasé attitude makes the video a legitimate, and witty, piece of social criticism. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Be Awesome Like Hanna Marin

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on January 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Phoebe B.

As any viewer of Pretty Little Liars knows, Spencer, Aria, Hanna and Emily are a force to be reckoned with. To celebrate the return of our mystery-solving teens to regular television programming, several of the Girls Like Giants crew teamed up to crack the awesomeness codes of the core four.

Hanna is one of my favorite PLLs (although I love them all for different and various reasons) in part because she is the funniest PLL, but also because just like the rest of them she is far from perfect. Part of what makes her so awesome is that she is both loyal and tricky at times; sometimes she gets hurt and makes crazy choices but other times she is the best of friends; I feel for her when A (and/or Ally) is mean to her (often more than for the other ladies) and I think her sense of humor often makes the show. So here are a few ways to be awesome like Hanna.

Hanna with some mighty fine shoplifted sunglasses

Most importantly, always cut tension between your friends with some humor and witty one-liners

Never use your powers for evil. Even when Hanna becomes the new “it” girl post-Ally, she is never mean (in the way that Mona is) and instead befriends Lucas (to whom Mona is quite cruel), joins the student paper briefly, and is an all around nice gal.

Be a super loyal and supportive friend to the other PLLS. For example, invite your best friend stay with you (Em) when her parents move out of town AND give your soon-to-be boyfriend a place to stay when he has no home (remember, Caleb briefly slept in the school library). Hanna is also seemingly always the first one to find out about the other PLLs secrets (for example, that Em is gay, about Aria and Fitz’s super secret romance, etc) and she is always 100% there for her friends. She even tries to intimidate a guy who is following Caleb in order to protect him (she thinks he is a police officer, although he is not). Hanna is just pretty much the best of friends. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Be Awesome Like Aria Montgomery

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on January 10, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Chelsea Bullock

As any viewer of Pretty Little Liars knows, Spencer, Aria, Hanna and Emily are a force to be reckoned with. To celebrate the return of our mystery-solving teens to regular television programming, several of the Girls Like Giants crew teamed up to crack the awesomeness codes of the core four.

It’s no secret that I, much more than most of my lady-friends here, adore Aria. She does dumb things, is super stubborn, is kind of sneaky, and is borderline boy-obsessed. However, there are also lots of great things about her. Want to channel awesome Aria?

Don’t be afraid to experiment with style. One of the things that I love most about Aria is her ever-changing, occasionally wacky-yet-dark sense of style. She isn’t afraid to be punk-rock chic on Monday and laced-up, prim and proper on Tuesday. Her style often reflects her mood rather than some lofty, solidified sense of self. She also embraces trends–even unfortunate ones (hello, dangly hair feather)–but is never apologetic about her choices because she simply doesn’t take herself too seriously. She’s too busy having fun trying out different versions of who she might be through her clothes.

Love your family really, really hard. Most of Aria’s biggest mistakes happen with her family. She keeps a secret for her dad and she tells an almost two-season-long lie to her parents and her brother. However, she never hesitates to make her devotion and affection for her family known. Her parents, even when they probably shouldn’t, depend on her and treat her with respect. This means that even when Aria is making big-time mistakes, she returns that respect to them and trusts that their mutual love for one another will make everything okay in the end. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Be Awesome Like Spencer Hastings

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on January 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Melissa Sexton

As any viewer of Pretty Little Liars knows, Spencer, Aria, Hanna and Emily are a force to be reckoned with. To celebrate the return of our mystery-solving teens to regular television programming, several of the Girls Like Giants crew teamed up to crack the awesomeness codes of the core four.

Spencer Hastings is my favorite Pretty Little Liar, because I see a little too much of myself in her: skeptical, aggressive, competitive, driven, and rabidly loyal to the people she loves. Nobody else is as likely to drag the girls into hair-brained schemes that are aimed at vengeance or vindication…but that result in further complication. Her stubbornness and bossiness often create tension with the group of girls; her affection for older boys, especially her sister’s boyfriends, gets her into all kinds of family conflict; and yet she is a fiercely awesome leader and friend. So how can you channel Spencer’s awesome qualities?

Stand up for yourself and for your friends: Spencer often gets into trouble because of her smart mouth and her lightening-fast temper. On the other hand, though, she is a girl who knows how to stand up to the petty manipulation of high school and of murderers. She is the one girl that Ali feared because she refused to be bullied by her and because she would openly fight with her. Whether it’s standing up to Ali in the midst of sleepover, standing up to her sister’s husband Ian when she thinks he’s a killer, or standing up to her father when he refuses to tell her why he seems to be involved in sneaky cover-ups around Ali’s murder and is mean to her boyfriend Tobey, Spencer sets boundaries and speaks to them loudly. Sometimes her protective nature makes her seem bossy and controlling towards her friends, like when she goes to talk to Ezra Fitz about Aria’s budding romance with possible killer Jason; but as their reconciliation scene suggests, even then Spencer has her friends’ best interests at heart and will risk danger and open conflict to help them. Her penchant for conflict also comes in handy as the basis of many a ruse, like the recent season-re-opening battle with Emily that she stages to throw A off their conspiring tracks. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Be Awesome Like Emily Fields

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on January 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Sarah Todd

As any viewer of Pretty Little Liars knows, Spencer, Aria, Hanna and Emily are a force to be reckoned with. To celebrate the return of our mystery-solving teens to regular television programming, several members of the Girls Like Giants crew teamed up to crack the awesomeness codes of the core four.

How to Be Awesome Like Emily Fields

Be the hardest worker who has ever worked so hard. Emily’s athleticism is a big part of her identity, and with good reason: sports reward daily dedication and a desire to push yourself harder. She’s the best athlete on the swim team because she puts in the time and effort. When another girl on the team, Paige, tries to upset Emily’s game with homophobic comments and assorted low blows, Emily’s response perfectly summarizes her philosophy: “If you want to beat me, work harder.” What a perfect comeback: not only does Emily strike at the root of Paige’s insecurity, it’s actually good advice she’s giving. To a mean girl who just made a homophobic comment about her. That’s our girl.

Have serious self-respect. As Emily begins dating girls, multiple people try to use her sexuality to manipulate her or make her feel like she should be ashamed. A blackmails Emily and sends pictures of her kissing her girlfriend Maya to both Emily’s mom and Hanna. Paige tries to use Emily’s sexuality as a weapon against her, and Paige’s father does the same to the nth degree. But even as people try to make Emily feel guilty and wrong about who she’s attracted to, Emily becomes increasingly comfortable with her sexuality. When Paige eventually confesses that she’d like to date Emily, but not in public, Emily wisely but gently breaks off their budding relationship. “I’m not ashamed of who I am,” she says. “But I used to be. And if we have to hide like this all the time, I’m going to start to feel that way again.” Emily’s integrity encompasses but is by no means limited to her sexual orientation. What it comes down to is that Emily is growing up, and part of that process is learning how to refuse to betray herself–no matter what anybody else says or wants. She can be the strongest person in the room just by standing her ground.

Read the rest of this entry »

Interlude: The Bachelor & Weeping Women

In Interlude, The Bachelor on January 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Phoebe B.

Last year, I watched The Bachelorette and it was my first foray into any Bachelor-related programming. Truth be told, I loved it and watched the Ashley season religiously. Sometimes I even yelled at the TV, as if I was watching football, when Ashley fell for that terrible Bentley dude or made other odd choices. Plus, Ben F. who proposed to Ashley only to be rejected in favor of J.P (which was seemingly the right choice for her) was totally my favorite: a winemaker from Sonoma, outdoorsy, funny, and adorable. In case you can’t tell, I had a bit of a TV crush on him (in good company with real people like Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman, and David Boreanaz; and characters like Smash Williams and Tim Riggins, and quite a few others). Thus, when I heard that he was the new Bachelor, I thought I would certainly watch his season. And then, I saw this ad.

And I thought maybe not. And then Sarah T. asked me this question: “is it possible that The Bachelor is super-sexist and misogynistic while The Bachelorette is relatively progressive?” And I thought, yes it does seem that way. Although I am not too quick to label The Bachelorette as progressive, in the wake of these ads, The Bachelorette looks more and more like a mini dash of not horribly regressive TV. The thing about The Bachelorette, for me at least, is that it fulfills a certain kind of fantasy in which a bunch of very attractive and reasonably interesting (not all the time) people vie for my, I mean The Bachelorette’s, attention. And at least in Ashley’s season, the drama surrounded the choices she made, rather than drama between the guys (perhaps save for the crazy masked Jeff, remember him?). The show did not rely on the men being mean to each other in order to create the primary drama, nor did the advertisements showcase a guy crying. This choice, it seems, is due to gendered expectations and notions of what The Bachelorette audience might find appealing. Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Uncategorized on January 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Just a few good posts from around the internet to kick off the new year.

Erica Chito Childs takes a critical look at interracial relationships on television on Flow TV.

From Racialicious, Franchesca Ramsey on shit white girls say to black girls.

And from xoJane, Lesley Kinsel on Boston and racism (and the comment section is particularly interesting and strange at times).

From Caramels on Maple Street (and a few weeks ago), Francie Latour on Hazel the Hedgehog, children’s books, and race.

And happy new years from GLG!

Pretty Little Liars Recap, “Through Many Dangers, Toils, and Snares” (Season 2, Episode 14)

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on January 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

This week we welcome back our favorite little liars in full force as they fake fights, sneak into scary greenhouses (alone!), tell parents their secrets, and much much more. Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences – Games Part 2

In gender on January 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Brian P. (aka Cyanotic)

5: Plants vs Zombies (everything)

There are too many games about zombies, but not enough games in which those zombies wear football helmets, attack from pogo stick, or cross suburban swimming pools on children’s inflatable duck innertubes. Clever, cute, addictive, cheap real time strategy and puzzle game with solid replay value. Get it for your iPhone/Pad/Pod/what you have/has you.

[P vs Z]

4: Bioshock 2 (360, PS3, Windows, Mac version January 2012)

The first Bioshock introduced us to Rapture, the sunken, failed 1950’s utopia of Andrew Ryan, (a figure inspired by the philosophy of Ayn Rand, because, hey, Aynagram). The game’s most clever conceit, revealed during its big plot twist/reveal, offered a fascinating commentary on the nature of games themselves: what is a ‘character’ in a medium in which control over (at least your) character is shared and conditional? What is the relationship between the ‘player’ and the ‘played’? How do games in which the player is given moral choices—indeed agency—coexist with the less cheerful reality that one’s character/avatar is nothing more than an automaton, to be used and abused as the player sees fit? Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences – Games Part 1

In gender on January 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm

Brian P. (aka Cyanotic)

Video games are the world’s most popular, most profitable artform, but they still lack the cultural cachet of books, film, and reality television. Despite a number of legitimately great titles, 2011 will probably not be remembered as the best in the medium’s history. But it will, I think, be remembered as the year when they went irrevocably mainstream: Angry Birds were featured on 30 Rock and worn by America’s Trick & Treaters, formerly nerdcore games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim were advertised during ESPN’s College Football Gameday, and even the editors of Forbes and The Wall Street Journal (even if begrudgingly) picked games of the year.

Commentary on the medium has become better and easier to find. Tom Bissell’s criticism on Grantland is quite good, Slate’s Year-end Gaming Club celebrated its fifth anniversary, and super-snarky Gawker Media’s own gaming site, Kotaku, published some compelling and frankly overdue pieces on gender, games, and the community; including one recently on the default male voice and female self-censoring and another on gaming/fan communities and male privilege. Read the rest of this entry »