thinking big: feminism, media, and pop culture

Posts Tagged ‘Best of 2011’

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 »

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences (Melissa Part 2 – Music Video Redux)

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 7:52 am

Melissa Sexton

My spare evenings are spent making people watch music videos that I love. My rewards for work assignments are revisiting old videos that are good friends. And songs that I love deeply often become even dearer to me if they’re attached to a great video. The following videos were ones by women that shaped my 2011 year. (Hilariously, many of the songs I picked also appear in Rolling Stone’s 2011 In Review list of Top Singles. Great list – check it out).

(in no particular order)

1. Adele, “Rolling in the Deep”

Rolling Stone called this song the “Single of the Year,” and the video is certainly its equal in terms of artistic awesomeness. The song eats into your bones with its relentless bass line, its soul-ly echoing chorus, and the heart-tearing breaks at the edge of Adele’s raw-like-honey voice. The video gnaws similarly with its evocative, unclearly metaphorical house.  Yes.  Heartbreak does feel like a whole floor full of trembling water glasses. Like a faceless dancer swirling through smoky clouds of debris. Like dishes smashing against a wall in time to a constant beat. Like a half-finished room full of sheeted furniture. Like a perfect paper city that goes up in beautiful, heartbreaking flames. Just watching the swirling motions of the dancer could speak to my heartbreak for years. An amazing video that is symbolic without going over-the-top-arthouse and that beautifully showcases Adele’s physical, evocative singing.

(The video came out November 2010, but its 2011 reign made it seem like fair game). Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences (Melissa Part 1 – Film Characters)

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 7:51 am

Melissa Sexton

I like lists.  Perhaps far too much, as my expansive contributions below demonstrate. I’ve even split these posts up – this one will just be my film lists, and I have a whole extra one for music videos.  What can I say?  Enjoy?

Top Five Girl Heroes

Without getting too middle-school Honors English on you, I want to reflect on what makes a hero: confronting incredible odds and conflicts; demonstrating courage, determination, and strength; having to make sacrifices and hard decisions. In the 2011 pop cultural universe, there have been a surprising number of admirable girl heroes – not just females that do battle, but specifically young girls that face complex ethical and moral struggles that demand as much fortitude and ferocity as Frodo Baggins or Harry Potter ever had to show.  I specifically call them heroes because I think “heroine” can have certain quasi-romantic overtones…These five girls (and yes, I say girls deliberately, because all of them were teenagers!) were my favorites:

1. Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss!

Me as Katniss!

In the post-apocalyptic world of Panem, starvation is a constant threat and survival is the only goal. Even before the narrative of The Hunger Games starts, Katniss is a hero for learning to hunt (illegally) and thereby rescuing her mother and sister from death in District 12. And when Katniss replaces her younger sister as District 12 tribute in the Hunger Games – a gladiatorial wilderness battle between adolescents from across the nation – her heroism grows. In the Games, Katniss weighs loyalty against survival; her emergence as one of the strongest contestants in the Games, armed with her remarkable capacity as an archer, is a breathtaking portrayal of a woman for whom physical prowess and an incredible capacity for empathy emerge simultaneously. Women in this world can fight for themselves, their friends, and their family all at once, and Katniss does. While the books have been out for a while, 2011 saw the release of the film trailer and Katniss’s emergence into wider pop-cultural discussion. Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences (Sarah T)

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 7:48 am

Sarah Todd

I’m not very hip. For that reason, I’m a huge fan of year-end lists: in one shot, I get to find out about all kinds of albums and writers and films that were off my cultural radar. Otherwise I generally find out about cool new music on about a six-month-to-a-year delay, and I don’t see that many movies either. I watch a fair amount of TV, but truthfully like half that amount is just Parks and Recreation on repeat in the background while I’m paying bills and writing emails.

What, you might reasonably wonder, am I doing with my time? Heaven knows. Making a bunch of hard-boiled eggs and moving to different places, if the last year is any indication.

Would you like an egg?

Unfortunately, I can’t give you one. I’m far away, or you are, depending on the perspective we’re talking about. But consider the lists below little baskets of pop-culture eggs, painted with stars and gold medals and exclamation points. These lists are by no means comprehensive, because I don’t hear about a lot of things. But of the things I did hear about this year, here are the ones I liked best.

Presented in no particular order:

Best Songs By New-to-Me Lady Musicians

Azealia Banks, “212”

Rapper Azealia Banks has got swagger to burn and an unpredictable delivery that keeps your ears perked. Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences (Phoebe)

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 7:45 am
Phoebe Bronstein

My 2011 top 5 media hodgepodge:

1) My #1 spot is devoted to some of my favorite things written by women bloggers this year about the media. So including:

This wonderful piece from theadbared by minh-ha t. pham.

This post from Heart, Mind, and Seoul on talking about race.

Also, perhaps at my number one for sheer ridiculousness = Lady Gaga’s Thanksgiving Special.

2) Beyonce at the VMAs and her pregnancy reveal after an amazing performance of “Love on Top.” Plus Jay Z’s amazing and awesome reaction. Need I say more?

3) Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” video AND Glee‘s “Rumor Has It” mash-up. I just love the “Rolling in the Deep” video as I think she is beautiful and the video is also beautiful and heart-breaking but also the hard beat makes it so powerful. And the recent Glee mash-up of “Rumor Has It/Someone Like You” featuring Mercedes and Santana just blew my mind. They are just so good!

4) Pretty Little Liars (season 2). I just love this show and it keeps me on the edge of my seat, which is one of my favorite things in a TV show. And CW’s new teen show, Secret Circle, might come in second for the my number 4 slot. I just can’t get enough of supernatural and mystery teen shows.

5) The bad-ass ladies of the last Harry Potter. I was pleasantly surprised in the last Harry Potter as I watched Hermione and Luna and Molly Weasley and McGonagall and Ginny be amazing and empowered and forces to be reckoned with. And now I await the lady-powered Hunger Games with baited breath.

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences (Chelsea H.)

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 7:42 am

Chelsea H.

In dissertation-land, I don’t even have enough free time or brain power to blog regularly, much less remember all of 2011 enough to make this list truly comprehensive.  So what you’re getting here is my favorite in each of five random girl/pop culture related categories.  It’s a bit of “me on a plate,” if you will.  Enjoy!

1.)   Best album: “Ceremonials” – Florence and the Machine 

I love a strong female vocalist, and Florence Welch is no exception.  The soaring vocals and the addictive rhythms of this album give me chills and make me want to sing, even though I don’t know all the words yet.  This is music for a road trip, for a dance party, for a steamy encounter, for a manic writing session.  It pounds, it thrills, it aches, and I move in and out of wanting to cry at the beauty of Florence’s rich, deep voice and raspy throaty warblings.  Also, Florence herself is (in my opinion) numbingly beautiful and has a really interesting fashion sense (she has appeared as both a fug and a fab on  But okay, to be honest, mostly as a fug).

2.)   Best novel: The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

This series has received a lot of hype this year, but I must admit I think most of it is well deserved.  Collins has a wonderful, disturbing, dark and brilliant imagination, and her character Katniss is like my sister, my daughter, my best friend, and that wonder-girl I want to hate but just can’t.  She is admirable, she is clever, she is selfish, she is frustrating, she is glorious.  She’s a real person but marks the reasonable physical limits of what human beings can endure.  While I found the whole series entertaining, the first book is my favorite.  I sucked this book down with a desperation I couldn’t believe.  The book began with my husband reading a chapter aloud each night before bed.  That worked for approximately a week.  Then I couldn’t stand it anymore: reading aloud meant reading slowly enough for the mouth to pronounce the words.  My brain needed it faster.  I swiped the book away like a naughty child and chewed through the rest of it in the space of an hour or two.  From me, that’s a high recommendation. Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences (Sarah S.)

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 7:41 am

Sarah S.

My tops of 2011:

TV Shows
Mad Men

Season four of Mad Men really brought the show into the 1960s, seeing the newly-established Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Pryce established in a new, modern office and struggling to make their business survive in the midst of ongoing existential crises. Amongst my favorite developments was seeing one Ms. Peggy Olson come into her own. In this clip, she calls a lazy, porn-obsessed artist out on his claims that he’s a free spirit and she’s repressed.

True Blood

The smartest trash on TV. Season 3 brought us the long awaited hook-up of Sookie and Eric Northman and made Bill much more interesting by making him much more ambiguous morally. In this clip, the ever malevolent Pam, Eric’s “progeny,” completely loses it as she faces losing Eric. Read the rest of this entry »

Girls Like Giants Presents: Our 2011 Preferences (Chelsea B.)

In Uncategorized on December 19, 2011 at 7:39 am

Chelsea’s 2011 Favorites 



The Hairpin

The Frenemy


The Crunk Feminist Collective

Into the Gloss

Swagger: New York

Fashion for Writers

Mimi Smartypants


New-to-me band with a lady lead: The Alabama Shakes

Lady extraordinarie: Rye-Rye

Album most frequently on repeat: Watch the Throne

Today’s favorite Christmas album: Snow Angels

Favorite (non-Watch the Throne) single: Martin Solveig & Dragonettes, “Hello”

Most fun self-produced single: Dai Burger’s “Wild Thing”


Jersey Shore

Real Housewives of Atlanta


Gossip Girl

30 Rock (I’m like a million years late, I know, but still.)


Keeping Up with the Kardashians Read the rest of this entry »