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Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

Weekly Round-Up

In Uncategorized on September 28, 2012 at 8:20 am

Here’s a little weekend reading for our favorite peeps. Did you read something noteworthy this week? Inquiring Giant-Liking Girls want to know — tell us about it in the comments.

Splitsider gathered a roundtable of 14 African-American comedians to discuss “‘Post-Racial’ Comedy in the Age of Obama”

Emily Nussbaum sees some revolutionary possibilities in Switched at Birth‘s representations of disability.

GLG and friends were not too pleased with Ian Parker’s focus on J.K. Rowling’s “heavy foundation” and fake eyelashes in his New Yorker profile of the author of Harry Potter. Nor did we enjoy his apparent desire to diminish the challenges she faced as a single working mother. But what did you think?

Kate Bolick asks why Vogue‘s Edith Wharton spread featured male writers like Junot Diaz and Jeffrey Eugenides, while all the female parts were played by actresses and models.

And in other writing and gender-related news, Linda Holmes at NPR uses Jeffrey Eugenides’ Salon interview as an example of “How Not to Answer Hard Questions” about gender bias.

Wish your dissertation could get the same kind of sympathetic-yet-honest attention as  Project Runway‘s designers do? Academic Tim Gunn is here to help. (Via Sarah S.)

Also via Sarah S: Alyssa Rosenberg has beef with the Hollywood practice of choosing skinnier, less talented starlets to play legendary musicians.


They Are Never Ever Getting Back Together: Movies and Breakups

In Film on September 25, 2012 at 11:44 am

Sarah T.

Love means never having to say you’re sorry you turned the Ikea dresser into an art robot.

Love is weird. Yet in romantic comedies, the hurdles to happiness are simple. Bets, bad guys, misunderstandings, and cases of mistaken identity stand in the way of romantic bliss, rather than more mundane issues like hoarding, fear of commitment, addiction, depression, and people suddenly deciding to move to Germany.

This is meant to be comforting. Since romantic comedy obstacles are straightforward, you can usually count on the couple ending up together before the lights come on. Sometimes these happy endings feel deserved (When Harry Met Sally, While You Were Sleeping, Definitely, Maybe). Sometimes they’re so formulaic and clichéd they’re actually cynical. Like a grumpy gangster forced to play Barbies with his granddaughter, movies like New Year’s Eve are just smashing their dolls’ faces together to get things over with.

And every once in a while, romantic comedies refuse traditional happy endings altogether. Woody Allen’s perfect Annie Hall is a valentine to a neurotic, warm-hearted girlfriend he’s bound to lose. The Jennifer Aniston-Vince Vaughn vehicle The Breakup stays true to its title. In My Best Friend’s Wedding, Julia Roberts plays a selfish, scheming, secretly vulnerable restaurant critic who ultimately doesn’t get the guy. Instead, she ends the movie cutting a rug on the dance floor with her other best friend, played by a scene-stealing Rupert Everett. Fittingly, he gets the last word. “What the hell,” he says. “Life goes on. Maybe there won’t be marriage, maybe there won’t be sex. But, by God, there’ll be dancing.”

Two new movies, Sleepwalk with Me and Celeste and Jesse Forever, cut their romantic stories from this same heartache cloth. The relationships at the center of these films are doomed from the start, which makes for some melancholy laughs. Both movies try to say something harder, and truer, about love than Hollywood’s usual celluloid song-and-dance routine allows.

[Spoilers after the jump!] Read the rest of this entry »

The Emmys Play It Safe

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Well friends, another Modern Family Emmys awards ceremony has come and gone. In a TV-scape saturated with quality shows, this year’s Emmys dealt with its wealth of riches by sticking to the familiar. Modern Family was awarded for its consistently adequate portraits of wealthy suburbia with a near-sweep in the comedy category (it’s good but not THAT good!). Meanwhile, Homeland broke up Mad Men‘s four-year winning streak for best drama with prizes in three major categories (for best lead actor, best lead actress, and best series). Safe to say, the show’s awards were starting to get stale before the night was even over.

While Emmy voters really weren’t in the mood to spread the love around, this year’s broadcast did feature some noteworthy moments. Lena Dunham ate cake while wearing her birthday suit in a bathroom stall; Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert tackled Jon Stewart as he headed onstage to claim his bazillionth trophy; best actress winner Claire Danes gave a shout-out to her co-star Mandy Patinkin with a heartfelt “holla.” Read on as Phoebe B. and Sarah T. recap the highs and lows of TV’s night out, and tell us your own in the comments!

Favorite acceptance speech

Sarah T: I’m going to go with Aaron Paul because of the deeply felt man-hugs between him and fellow nominee Giancarlo Esposito and co-star Bryan Cranston. The men of Breaking Bad have so much love for each other. Also because I just finished watching Season 4 on Netflix and MAN how do you even choose between Paul’s Brando-style mega-emotionality and Esposito’s ruthless, gentlemanly gangster? I guess I wish Esposito would have won, since Paul’s already got a trophy. But you won’t catch me complaining about a chance to gaze into Jesse’s blue, blue eyes…

Phoebe B.: My favorite was definitely Kevin Costner’s random and odd acceptance (and his super bad tan) for Hatfield & McCoys. He seemed, I don’t know, drunk or just really really really relaxed and perhaps a little confused.  I think my second favorite was perhaps Claire Danes’ frantic acceptance including her Mandy Patinkin “holla,” mostly because I love Mandy Pantinkin (I mean he’s the six fingered man!).

Read the rest of this entry »

Re-visiting “The Hunger Games:” Beauty, Mourning, and Resistance

In girl culture, Hunger Games, violence on September 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

Phoebe B.

Much has already been written on GLG about The Hunger Games movie. (For example: here, here, here, here, and here. Also, here.) But re-watching The Hunger Games, I began thinking about how the film connects mourning, beauty, and resistance. I was particularly struck by the care both Katniss and the camera take in the scene of Rue’s death and subsequent funeral, which comes amidst the violence, fear, and speed with which the games happen. The close-ups of both Rue and Katniss’ faces showcase the tragedy of Rue’s death. And the mourning, which follows, creates space within the film to see the horrifying and devastating consequences of the games.

Up until the moment Rue is killed by the Careers, everything in the games is fast and fraught with anxiety, from the fireballs and crashing trees that lead Katniss directly into the path of the Careers to the moment she releases the tracker jackers onto her pursuers. But when Rue suffers a devastating death, everything slows down. The series of close-ups that alternate between Rue and Katniss let us in and move us from merely being objective viewers, like those in the Capitol, to caring participants. The silence that surrounds them further emphasizes the discomfort and sadness, as it suggests the very real consequences of these violently constructed games.

The care Katniss takes in arranging Rue’s funeral and the odd space given to her to mourn by the gamekeepers (potentially also entranced by her and Rue’s narrative) feels out of place amidst the violence of the games. The sequence is beautiful: the camera lingers on the small delicate white flowers that cover Rue’s body, cuts to different angles of Rue lying in the forest, and then stays for a while with them. In this moment, the speed and terror of the games is trumped by Katniss’s grief over Rue and her enacting a ritual of mourning. It is an act that defies the logic and narrative of the games in that it relays a human connection and relationship forged amidst terror. Their alliance, unlike the Careers or even Katniss’ romance with Peeta, is a real rather than strategic and so unexpected.

Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on September 21, 2012 at 5:05 pm

Just a few reads from around the web this week. Did you read anything awesome this week? If so, we would love to know in the comments section!  Have a great weekend.

Dr. Jason Eastman talks race and sports in “Nature, Nurture, and the Pro Athlete,” at Racialicious.

In solidarity with the Chicago Teachers’ Strike, from the Crunk Feminist Collective: “Striking Teachers Are Also Parents.

refresh_daemon takes on Asian stereotypes and PSY’s Gangnam style, “PSY the Acceptable Asian Man,” at Racialicious.

A Thursday Survey: What Gives, Girls?

In feminism, gender, girl culture, Girls, music videos on September 20, 2012 at 8:46 am

Chelsea H.

Yesterday as I drove into the parking lot at work, Pat Benatar’s growly, joyfully combative “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” was playing on my Subaru’s radio. I sang along, rejoicing in her toughness, knowing this comes out of a tiny, petite woman whose lungs must take up 45% of her insides, until I got to this line: “Before I put another notch in my lipstick case / You better make sure you put me in my place / Hit me with your best shot…” I stopped singing. Here I was, barely conscious of my feeling that this was a female emancipation kind of song, and then this line. And I know, she’s being facetious – she really thinks his best shot is going to miss, or deflect off of her amazing woman armor – but it still bothered me. “Try your best to make me act like the demure, fragile, modest little woman your interpretation of society demands I be.” What kind of message is that?!

Crimes of Passion Album Cover, courtesy of Wikipedia

I turned off the radio. Somehow, for all the years I’d been listening to that song, I hadn’t thought about the fact that it was about a woman’s relationship with a man. As I’d applied it to my own life, singing along, I had been sing/yelling to job interviews, to tough days looming before me, to challenging classes, to physical labor, but never to a man. It bothered me that this powerful voice was consumed by her relationship: not only “Hit Me,” but “Love is a Battlefield,” “Heartbreaker,” and “We Belong.”

As the day progressed, I found myself continually coming back to this dilemma: I can instantly call up dozens of songs sung by men which are NOT about their romantic relationships: songs by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Green Day, Michael Jackson, Boston, Chicago, Blitzen Trapper, Steve Miller Band, Audioslave, Nirvana, the Monkees, Journey, Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, Guns ‘N Roses, Billy Joel, even Neil Diamond, amidst “Sweet Caroline,” “Desiree” and “Cracklin’ Rosie,” has “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.”

But when I tried to do the same for women, I could only come up with a few (apologies for the ads that lead into some of these videos):

Amy Winehouse’s brilliant, stubborn throwback anthem “Rehab,”

Carole King’s “Smackwater Jack,”

maybe Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel” which, though it’s not about a romantic relationship, is a story of a woman dependent upon a male figure (no offense meant, of course, I’m certainly not critiquing having a relationship with God, only pointing out how prevalent this theme is).

Four Non Blonde’s “What’s Up,” which was always one of my favorites in high school, seems to fit this short list (also, how awesome and 90s are their outfits?!) .

Of course there are also the smaller number of songs by women about women, like Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” and, though it’s not terrifically explicit (and though it admittedly deals with deeper, more complex issues), Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” but these still fall into the theme of women singing about their relationships.

And I’m not saying this trope doesn’t appear in songs by men. There are plenty of male singers whose songs tell the story of relationships with women. It’s just that there are so many that don’t.

So here are my two questions:

  1. Ladies, why do we do this? Don’t we have other, equally important things to sing about? Why are we so focused, as musical artists, on the men in, out, and around our lives? Is it that women are singing songs written by men, or is it that women’s songs about men sell better? Is it that these are “safe” subject matter and therefore more playable? Why aren’t we singing about the other parts of our lives – the parts that are not longing for, begging for, dependent on, or grieving over men?
  2. I’m sure I’m missing some – after all, I’ve only thought about this for a day or two – and I want to be wrong about this. What other songs are out there sung by women (and not just covers of songs originally sung by men) that are not about their relationships with men? Let’s make a list. Let’s make a big list, if we can, and prove me wrong.

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In Weekly Round-Up on September 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm

As we head into the weekend, here just a few reads from around the web this week. Have a great weekend!

N+1 does a round-up of books by hip hop artists in “It Was Written.”

Lesley Kinzel takes on the USTA’s terrible treatment of the #1 Junior Tennis player in the U.S: “#1 Junior Tennis Player in the World Benched for Being Too Fat.”

Racilicious crushes on Kerry Washington this week in their crush of the week column (because she’s so awesome!!).

In “Not So Hot for Teacher,” Elizabeth Alsop wonders why popular TV shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Big C” are giving teachers a black eye.

And Sarah T. writes about losing things, friends, and floods for Billfold, “My Stuff Was Myself, But Then It Was Gone.

Weight Weight, Don’t Tell Me: Body Image in “The Mindy Project”

In Television on September 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Sarah T.

The first comment about weight in Mindy  Kaling’s new show comes at the six-minute mark. “My body mass index isn’t great,” Mindy Lahiri tells her well-coiffed BFF Gwen, “but I’m not like Precious or anything.”

Kaling’s comedic timing is impeccable, but the joke rests on unsteady territory. Sure, Mindy’s being self-deprecating — but the punchline is really about how big Precious is. It assumes that, like Mindy, the show’s target audience of college-educated, middle-class women in their twenties and thirties will laugh at Precious to make themselves feel better by comparison. Of course, there are plenty of viewers who are closer to Gabourey Sidibe’s weight than to Kaling’s — but the show doesn’t seem worried about alienating them.

“No, guys, a culture that tells women they always have more weight to lose is a culture that wants women to disappear,” is not what they are saying. Maybe next episode.

The Mindy Project, as Sarah S. wrote in a recent GLG post, is a funny show with a heroine who,  in the tradition of Bridget Jones, is both together (doctor!) and a lovable mess (drunk bicycle-pool incidents). And like Bridget Jones, Mindy L. is clearly a bit obsessed with her weight. “Do you know how hard it is for a chubby 31-year-old woman to go on a legit date with a guy who majored in economics at Duke?” she demands as a patient tries to drag her away from a promising restaurant rendezvous.

HOW HARD IS IT?” this late-twenties, probably roughly-Kaling-sized viewer thought in a panic. And then I thought, “Wait. ‘Chubby?’ Is this show calling me fat?”

The answer, I think, is: sort of. The pilot mentions Lahiri’s non-stick-figure-size an average of once every 7 minutes. I don’t think Kaling, or the show, is intentionally trying to make fun of bigger people or rile up the insecurities of its audience. But while Kaling is a talented comedian, her approach to the subject of weight sometimes makes me wince. In her book Is Everyone Hanging Out with Out Me, she writes about being a happy and confident size 8. Yet she seems stuck in the body binary she’s protesting:

“Since I am not model-skinny, but also not super-fat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall into that nebulous, “Normal American Woman Size” that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I’m a size 8 (this week, anyway). Many stylists hate that size because, I think, to them, I lack the self-discipline to be an aesthetic, or the sassy confidence to be a total fatty hedonist. They’re like ‘Pick a lane.’

While the language isn’t super-clear, I think Kaling means that the stylists, not her, see larger women as “total fatty hedonists.” But there still seems to be stereotyping of plus-size women at work in this passage, as if bigger physical size necessarily corresponds with an outsized personality.

What’s most revealing, though, is that Kaling describes herself as “Normal American Woman Size.” This is key to Kaling’s image as the ultimate gal-pal, the kind of witty, sparkly friend who’s always up for sleepovers and juicy gossip. “She’s become the contemporary Everywoman,” Jada Yuan’s New York Magazine profile of Kaling reports, “both a Mary and a Rhoda.” The central conceit of Kaling’s public persona — as well as of The Mindy Project — is that Mindy is relatable. And unfortunately, in our culture, one of the things women can relate to most is being self-conscious about weight. Read the rest of this entry »

GLG Weekly Round-Up

In DNC, election 2012, Weekly Round-Up on September 8, 2012 at 8:11 am

Like a few of you (perhaps) I spent much of my week watching the DNC. Thus, here are just a couple DNC-ish-themed links from around the web this week. Any great-election-related links? Share in the comments!

On the amazing Melissa Harris Perry and eloquent rage, “At the risk of sounding angry” from the Crunk Feminist Collective.

And MHP talks about that same rage, American politics, and more in “5 Questions for MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry,” from Raw Story.

Karen Cox talks about marketing Charlotte for and during the DNC in “DNC Watch: Charlotte Businesses Play the Southern Card” over at Pop South.

Two historically black fraternities create a super PAC to re-elect Obama and register a million voters: “Can a Super PAC of Black Fraternity Brothers Register a Million Voters for Obama?” over at Colorlines.