No matter what those time/date sticklers who don't think it's over 'til 2011 believe, according to us, tomorrow marks the end of the '00s. And though we'd hate to say "Good riddance" to the decade that brought us a bunch of kickass feminist blogs, a bevy of thought-provoking books, and a multitude of female-focused movies, coming up with a list of positive feminist moments in '00s pop culture was no easy task. As it turns out, there were a lot more not-so-feminist moments this decade than feminist ones. (Too bad we'd already decided we wanted to keep the list positive – We're starting our New Year's resolutions early this year.)
Maybe we are better off saying "Sayonara" to the decade that came in like Britney Spears and went out like Bella Swan, but that doesn't mean the past ten years didn't give us anything to be happy about. So before you get gussied up and head out the door for New Year's Eve, take a minute to celebrate the good feminist times from this decade in pop culture.
Comics haven't always been a bastion of feminist values, but they have given readers some fairly positive examples of characters with disabilities over the years. I've pulled together a brief list of characters who are more than just tropes meant to teach a Very Special Lesson.
One of the things that drives me just a little bit up the wall about disability in pop culture is when creators want to have a disabled character, but don't want that character to have any of the actual consequences of being disabled. This plays out in one of two ways: Either the disability is just there, without any of the attending difficulties, or the disability has been turned into a Super Power. Sometimes, we get both.
I've never seen wheelchair-using Professor X have to actually deal with stairs. He uses his psychic powers to make his wheelchair float.
A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, has become a Christmas classic. Chances are high that most of us have read it, read adaptations, seen it performed on stage, or seen it on film. In some households, people make A Christmas Carol a family tradition, and it's supposed to be a feel-good, inspiring moral tale which brings the family together for the holidays.
Whenever someone starts talking about "crip-drag" - the slang term that basically means "currently non-disabled actor playing a disabled character" - the conversation tends to eventually (usually sooner, rather than later) turn to this:
But but but! We shouldn't accept a less-than-stellar actor just because they're disabled. That's, like, Affirmative Action GONE MAD!!!!!! No, you just have to accept that they always, totally, without fail, and without any influence by ablism or assumptions about what stories they can tell about disabilities, the casting directors chose the best person for the job. And it's just a wild coincidence that the best person for the job is almost always someone who doesn't have a disability.
Original Plumbing, a new magazine published and distributed out of San Francisco, is a fresh new publication dedicated to FTM sexuality and culture. Made for trans men by trans men, its first issue ("The Bedroom Issue") came out in October and features voices from five rooms and a couple different continents, with content ranging from interviews to fiction to a detailed summary of how Germany's health care system helps transitioning. They're off to a great start, and I asked editor-in-chief/photographer Amos Mac and assistant editor Rocco Kayiatos (who raps as Katastrophe) a few questions about future plans for ORIGINAL PLUMBING.
OK folks. You know how we feel about this year's Kay Jewelers ad and the holiday-themed pap smear PSAs, but which holiday ads are making you want to throw your remote/magazine/newspaper/laptop into an open fire this year? There's only one way to find out! It's time for OFFENSIVE COMMERCIALS: HOLIDAY SHOWDOWN!
I was one of those major theater nerds in high school; my nerd-dom, however, did not usually translate to reading many well-regarded Classics of Theater. I did not read Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie until college, and, looking back, I would have read it much earlier, had such a thing been possible. The Glass Menagerie, written in the early 1940s, is one of Williams' works that continues to get quite a bit of mileage out of the "faded Southern belle" archetype (if I may quote The Simpsons). It is notable also because of its depiction of disability in the character of young Laura Wingfield—who has a limp due to an adolescent bout of pleurisy. Though Laura, as a character, is problematic in some aspects, she is still worth a look because she does not totally conform to many dominant cultural narratives of disability.
"Wow, that is so inspiring!" "She has truly overcome her handicap." "You are so brave!"
Do any of these exclamations sound familiar? They might, if you are a person with a disability who has been on the receiving end of "good intentions" that mask an unfortunately pervasive Western trope about disability and people who live with disabilities: Supercrip.