Tag Archives: pop culture

Sexual Agency on Titanic

Titanic PosterI am a failure as a child of the nineties, because until a few days ago, I had never seen James Cameron’s 1997 classic, Titanic. (You know James Cameron, the one who directed Avatar? Anyone who thinks that directionality of recognition is odd is officially old.) I liked the movie quite a lot. There’s something about Cameron’s willingness to push film-making further than it has ever been pushed that allows the 3 hour length, the oh-so-perfect love story that also manages to be a commentary on class and the saccharine lines of adoration that the romantic leads speak to each other to work within this context of overindulgence on every level. Much has been said about almost every aspect of this movie, from the enormity of the budget, to the selection of the cast, and even to various social issues, such as class and wealth. A feminist analysis, however, has been much lacking. The only vaguely related pieces I could find were written by disgruntled Men’s Rights Activists looking for any reason to hate women and finding, of all things, “women and children first” to be the most egregious example of feminism run amok they had ever seen. Now, the movie takes place in 1912, before the modern feminist movement had really taken hold, but I guess those suffragists (no, I don’t call them suffragettes) were just going crazy, demanding to be saved from boats and all.

Anyway, what I see nothing of at all, despite the fact that in one viewing, it smacked me in the face with its obviousness, is a treatment of Rose Dewitt Bukater, later Rose Dawson’s, incredible sexual agency. Like, seriously. Lady has some game.

(Note: there are clips from the movie preceding every sub-point of analysis, and some of them are NSFW/generally graphic. To be perfectly honest, much of the writing is graphic as well. You have been warned)

On to the sex! (That is, a discussion of sexual agency)

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Never Forget

We Jews are known for our excellent memories — we haven’t let a single thing go since we became a nation.

Andy Levy and I might not agree on the morality of his employer, but at least we both agree that domestic violence is never acceptable, and that if you’re Team Breezy, you’re Team Criminal.

I will not blog about Mr. Brown here (or tag him) because he doesn’t deserve it.  If you partner with him, you are a sell-out and you have no integrity.  You will have to do some pretty serious grovelling to get my respect back.   The fact that he is talented and famous makes it all the worse.  I will blog about Rihanna in the future.

I’ll be offline until Sunday due to Rosh Hashanah.   May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life, have a happy/healthy/successful New Year, and most importantly, never be afraid to face down misogynists, abusers, and criminals, no matter how popular they are.

If you’d like an unabashedly positive video for RH, please click here or here.  😉

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Why I’m Boycotting Season 3: Confessions of an Ex-Gleek

The following post contains all of my relevant feelings about Glee.  As of September 2011, I do not anticipate blogging about this show again.  Ryan Murphy done me wrong one time too many.   I would never command anyone to stop watching a show, but I don’t think it deserves any more of my energy.   I have been known to get literally upset during in-person Glee arguments before, and it was time for me to call it quits for my own sanity.   I welcome your comments, but you are not going to change my mind. 

Friends, Romans, countrymen, I must get this off my chest:

I am an ex-Gleek.

Given my unabashed love for all things Broadway, you shouldn’t be surprised.  I also love high school dramedies, goofy pop covers, and Darren Criss.   Really, it’s no wonder it took me until “Rumors”  (Season 2 Episode 19, The One Where That Blonde Guy Is Poor) to give up in a huff.  I actually haven’t even seen the return of Jesse St. James (Jonathan Groff) except for the “Rolling In The Deep” clip.   And I don’t even care.

Those of you who have always been feminists or annoyed by this show are no doubt wondering what took me so long.  Those of you who are obsessed with this show are no doubt wondering why I’m a humorless, self-righteous witch.   That’s fine.   I’m pretty used to straddling that divide.  :-p

The thing is, Glee had so much potential.   The first half of Season One was witty, irreverent, campy, and GOOD.  It was deliberately making fun of not just High School Musical but all the teen dramas that had come before it as well as all those Inspirational Teacher films like Freedom Writers.  (BTW, I hear that’s a decent movie, but the book was boring. Stand and Deliver is 1000 times more interesting.)   It seems pretty clear it was originally intended for adults, not high schoolers.   Back then it didn’t matter that half the cast looked 25 or there were too many people to keep track of.  Glee was like that sarcastic gay dude you skipped classes senior year with, the one who taught you how to smoke cigarettes and hold your liquor and could do a flawless Barbra impersonation at the drop of a hat.*

*My sarcastic gay friend was straightedge, and so was I.

Thing is, Glee got popular and Ryan Murphy got self-involved.   Reportedly that’s happened on his previous shows as well.   It stopped being about clever cruelty and cute covers and started being about BEING GLEE.   The writing got schizophrenic and the guest stars started rolling In.  Also, they started doing After School Specials that were neither clever nor properly moral-ed.  I maintain that the only two guest stars who were worth it are Kristin Chenoweth as April Rhodes and John Stamos as Emma’s Hot Dentist Husband.   And you’ll notice both of them had actual character arcs.   Gwyneth Paltrow doesn’t count because she’s awful.  Actually awful.  What’s the point of singing Cee-Lo Green if you’re going to do the radio edit?

Basically, when the show started really sucking I started noticing all of the -isms going on.  They’d always been there under the surface (or maybe openly in the name of satire), but Fox is the channel that has the Simpsons and Family Guy, so for a while I accepted it as part of the package with my primetime Broadway entertainment.

Then, “Blame It On The Alcohol” (Season 2 Episode 14) happened.

It is actually surprising how long it took me to find a full version of this scene:

Fangirl Reponses

Yes, he is.

-In Which I Talk About This At Length, With Video, For The Last Time

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Collected Thoughts on The Hunger Games, Book 1: Team Katniss All The Way

first written 8/4/11,  edited a bunch of times.  technically beta-ed by Alice.

There is so much to talk about regarding The Hunger Games trilogy that this post is no more than a list of several themes that interest me in the first book.  Because July turned into the month of Easy A and I don’t want that to happen again, I am currently planning ONLY ONE other post on this series, at least for now*.  I won’t internet-publish it until I’ve finished rereading the remaining two books, which will take a while.   When the first movie comes out in March 2012 I will absolutely review it here, in sha’allah.

*Or perhaps one review post per book?  Vote in the comments.

This post only focuses on Book 1 because that’s the one I reread most recently, in 4 hours with almost no breaks.  I was really gratified to realize that it’s still an amazing read.  By no means is it the best YA novel out there (for 2009 or of all time), but it’s still really, really good.   Yes, Suzanne Collins jumped aboard the Dystopia bandwagon, but she did it better than most people — arguably, even better than Cormac McCarthy in The Road.   (COME AT ME, BRO.)    Book 1 (also called The Hunger Games, which is annoying) is definitely the best of the three, no question.

I’ll do my best to avoid huge spoilers, but just take a weekend afternoon to read it already. This post will be waiting when you get back.

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OMG The VMAS: Rock It, Beyonce

SO MANY FEELINGS.

  • BEYONCE IS BOTH FABULOUS AND PREGNANT.
  • Nicki Minaj needs a new stylist but the same damn management team 4 LYFE.
  • Kreayshawn is doing exactly what she ought to do for her career/image.
  • I haven’t seen the performance videos yet.

If you care remotely about style, you need to read Tom & Lorenzo.   If you care remotely about funny things or the artists listed you need to read their VMA style recaps.   Sample quotes:

  • Kreayshawn: “The look could have been cute and quirky, but since she looks like Lovey Howell from the neck up, the effect has been downgraded to “mental patient with a Gold Card.””
  • Some Blonde Chick:  “She looks like Tinkerbell out on the town, looking to get laid.”
  • Miley Cyrus: “Why does this chick only have two settings: Trailer Park Party Girl and Lifetime Achievement Award?”
  • But THE BEST comment is regarding the Biebs.  They deserve ALL the hits for the line, so go read it.   (Runner Up: comment on Slimy Jonas.)

ETA: Joe Calderone, if you quit smoking I might commit to raising all your babies, no matter who the momma(s) is/are.  A++++

ETA2:  Emmy rightfully pointed out many things about the Joe Calderone performance that are problematic.  I wrote the above comment not having seen “Joe’s” harassment of Britney, so I am no longer interested in raising “his” babies.   I still really enjoyed the musical number though.

Pls comment if you want to hear all of my feelings; otherwise I’ll keep them to myself.   yes, this is a threat/demand for attention.

ahhhhhhhhh

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WATCH THIS SPACE

non-Hunger-Games post coming soon.  (i need another week at least, as i’m rereading Book I.)

probably a response to the feedback/criticism/support i got on the ‘blueballing’ and ‘slut-shaming’ remarks for Easy A.

probably also a comment on eating disorders — Demi Lovato just skyrocketed to the top of my blog-about-this list, with her latest music video:

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Pop Quiz! Teacher Needs A Smoke Break*

*disclaimer: i never have and never will smoke cigarettes, bli neder

As my FB friends already know, my apartment was burglarized last Thursday night while I was downtown.   All of my electronic valuables are gone, which includes some 25 links I had saved to blog about.  As I need to spend this week dealing with the aftermath of the Apartment Incident, I will not be able to blog at my usual standards this Wednesday.    I sincerely hope to have my electronic life functional by next Wednesday, but I make no promises.   Please enjoy this amuse-bouche while I sort Things out.

 

  • INTERVIEWER: When a comedy is this raunchy, is there such a thing as going too far?
  • JESSE EISENBERG: There is stuff in this movie that I’m uncomfortable with. I don’t like to use the “R” word, for example. Rape, for example. I’m very uncomfortable with that word, personally because I do work with domestic violence organisations and I’m very aware of the alarming statistics of women who are abused. So I’m very uncomfortable with that. I’m not uncomfortable with the sexual jokes. Sometimes I think they’re less funny than others, I don’t care about that, cos it doesn’t harm anybody. I’m uncomfortable with saying “rape,” I don’t like saying that, I never say it in my life. If somebody says it, I cringe. I don’t like it when people make jokes about that word. I’m a little bit uncomfortable with it, but I was hired to do a job. I thought most of the movie was good and kind of respectful to people in general. The movies that really bother me are rich white people lamenting their lives when they have, like, a million dollars. That to me is more offensive than sexual humour. A rich, white person lamenting their million-dollar kitchen and the audience is supposed to sympathise with that character, to me, that’s pathetic. Whereas, in this movie I thought the characters were real and my job was to take my character seriously.
(Citation sticklers will notice that the “interview” link will take you to a feminist fan tumblr that I approve of, not the actual interview.   If you want to track the original down, i’d appreciate it.)
I have italicized the parts that I think are most interesting.   I haven’t seen enough of JEisenberg’s work to make a comment about his talent, skills, or public persona.
What do you think of his statement?  What about the choice of the word “uncomfortable”? What sort of responsibilities do young actors have regarding their characters?   Does that change when you are as prominent as JEisenberg?  Does the fact that he is less offensive on Womyn’s Issues than Charlie Sheen or Donald Glover (I’ll blog about him later) absolve him from moral or logical lapses in judgment?   Do you even think there’s a lapse in judgment here?
Discuss!  (I will probably not comment on this discussion, but after I’ve seen Zombieland when Alice comes to visit, maybe I will.)
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Surviving High School Sexual Politics: Slut-Shaming and Reputation Management in Easy A (2/2)

This post uses Easy A as a jumping off point. The movie is relevant to frame the discussion, but if you haven’t seen the movie, I still encourage you to participate. In addition, I am going to spoil the plot of Juno for you right now: a teenage girl gets pregnant by accident and has the baby. Also, Snape killed Dumbledore.

I am hereby restricting this discussion to American public high schools. If you can make a case that private/charter schools* are different/the same, please do so! But also leave all religious/parochial schools off the table: unless you were raised Catholic, I probably have more friends who went to Catholic school than you do. And Jewish day schools are an entirely separate can of taboo worms.

*If you’re interested in prep school as reflected in pop culture, check out the new music video for T-Swizzle’s single “Story of Us.” It might as well be subtitled “Taylor Swift Goes To Hogwarts”. The production value is amazing and everyone is beautiful, no matter what you think of the song.

If you are interested in adult sexual politics and etiquette, Marie Claire has an interesting article this month asking six five women, “what’s your number?” Because it is actually well edited, thoughtful, and diverse, I am including the link here. Ask me later what I think about their responses, especially the Asian chick’s.

Continue reading

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The Troubling Feminism of Teen Fantasy Films: Exploring the Erotic Empowerment of Easy A (1/2)

Due to (positive) personal life circumstances, I am very behind on my blogging for the week – I still owe Laz and CD comments on both of their eloquent posts, not to mention responding to the Beyoncé comments. I have a lot to say about the feminist issues this movie raises, so I will definitely be returning to this topic at a later date. Please consider this part 1 of at least 2 posts on Easy A.

I was excited about this movie from the minute I first heard about it last year. As a female, heteronormative pop-culture-consumer only three years out of adolescence, how could I not be? Plus, quite separately from the feminist glee, I appreciate a good literary joke, especially about something as boring as The Scarlet Letter. (Note: I do not consider all high school assigned novels boring.)

I am glad to report that Easy A lived up to my moderately high expectations. This movie could not have succeeded without Emma Stone’s charisma and endearingly clumsy grace, and they were very, very lucky to cast her. I hope she has a long, successfully feminist career in movies. Lord knows the industry needs more like her.

I would also like to compare Easy A to Juno, another well-made feminist teenage fantasy. Many reviewers before me have no doubt connected the two, but probably not in the way that I do. The movies are alike in tone – the irreverent, self-aware attitude of the 21st-century teenager – and in female empowerment – exploring and encouraging the sexuality of young women. The moral and social conclusions the feminist viewer can draw from them, however, are very different. More on this will have to go in the next post. Extra credit if you can figure out what conclusions I draw from Juno before I write them.

LINK TO SOURCE: YOUTUBE TRAILER


 

-HERE BE RELATIVE SPOILERS, FOLKS

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Breaking Down the Battle of the Genders: Beyoncé’s “Run The World (Girls)”

Administrative Note:  I am honored to post the first “real content” on AWF.  As art criticism is one of my passions, I hope to use my Wednesday posts to refine my technique as critic, theorist, and fan.  Because I can talk forever about this stuff, I try to break it up into sections below.  I would love feedback, particularly if you think I’m missing a crucial section in my analysis.

 When we were reviewing all the endless papers for college admission four years ago, my father told me that he would know I’d earned my degree when I could successfully explain to him the difference between “sex” and “gender”.  (Our college cannot legally discriminate on the basis of either one; I cannot find a good link, because the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is for disabilities.)  Daddy, I knew the difference then, but I couldn’t figure out how to tell you. 

 Would you mind if I let Beyoncé take over?
LINK TO SOURCE:  YOUTUBE VIDEO

I am not even going to touch on the music video here, although I encourage you to watch it on your own. That fascinating piece of sociological art absolutely merits its own post, which will probably go on my personal feminism blog when I get it up and running.   

 

ONWARD WITH THE ANALYSIS

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