Sylvia Plath is the most famous woman poet of the 1950s. She's probably one of the most famous poets of the 20th century. And she was a pretty good poet. Her work is honest, heartwrenching, and chock-full of angst and guilt and daddy issues. But she's also famous for her bummer life story (anybody who's read The Bell Jar knows the extent of the bummer factor), and frankly, I'm a little tired of her. That's why this week's Adventures in Feministory is not about Plath. I want to profile another '50s-era poet who is sometimes overlooked and whose story is
filled with a lot of sassy, smart letter-writing and a prolonged Brazilian
vacation: Elizabeth Bishop.
We've spent time discussing the media's portrayals of fat people and society at large's reactions to such portrayals, now let's get meta and talk about your reactions to portrayals of fat people in the media. Specifically the reaction to my last post about Donna Simpson and her fantasy of gaining 300-odd pounds. It appears there's still a question as to what fat acceptance means and how we apply it. I'm not the spokesperson for fat acceptance, so what I say isn't gospel, but this is the FA I practice and since I'm the writer of this here blog, it's the FA that is applied to this space.
It's impossible to escape the appropriative aspects of the Gaga persona, though. The feminist aspects of her work are deeply tangled with the anti-feminist parts. We probably wouldn't be seeing Gaga's work at all if she didn't meet certain beauty standards applied to pop stars, if her work wasn't appropriative—the crispy feminist interior is wrapped up in a shit sandwich.
It isn't Lady Gaga's fault that appropriation and conventionally attractive women are popular in pop culture and that both of these things are pretty much necessary if you want to be a pop star. And I don't blame Germanotta for creating a character like Lady Gaga to break into the pop scene, because who doesn't want to be a star?
The official site for Tyler Perry's film adaptation of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf is up. Rose at Feministing writes on the signfiicance on cutting the title down to just "For Colored Girls."
Everyone's been talking about Jonathan Franzen's new book, Freedom. While book reviewers raved and readers waited with great anticipation for the August 31st release date, authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner both saw all the hype as a platform from which to start asking questions about why books written by women don't get this kind of attention.
I think there's a great comic book to be made about Shonen Knife. The story would start in an Osaka office building in 1981, where twenty-somethings Michie Nakatani, Atsuko Yamano, and Naoko Yamano decided to start a band as an antidote to their dull clerkships. They started a power-chord pop band, but kept it mostly secret from their family and co-workers until 1982, when they played their first show and released their first album on cassette-only. Their American cross-over first really took hold when they were included on a 1986 Sub Pop compilation, and Olympia's K Records released a new version of their debut album Burning Farm to underground and alternative rock fans in the US. The major-label pique was with Capitol, with one of their best-known albums, Let's Knife, were on MTV rotation, and toured with Nirvana right before their release of Nevermind (Kurt Cobain said seeing Shonen Knife live transformed him "into a hysterical nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert.")
Did you Bounce a little too hard yesterday? Need a comedown for day two of your MFNW marathon? Look no further than Portland's own indie-folk outfit Y La Bamba. Their gorgeous, soaring harmonies and quirky, thoughtful lyrics (not to mention mega crush-worthy singer Luz Elena Mendoza) will be on display at Someday Lounge tonight at 11:15.
Ready for warm fuzzies? Check out this performance from Mississippi Studios last year.
For all the media flutter about Joan and Roger and Pete and Sal, I'm one of those people who feels she would be perfectly happy to watch a "Mad Men" composed exclusively of scenes between Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss). Hamm and Moss have, for one thing, an acting alchemy that's fairly unique on television right now, the kind of skillful play off each other than leads even underwritten scenes to be fraught with meaning. They are experts at filling in the blanks, for each other and for the script, so to speak. Which explains why it's taken me an entire week to work up the will to write about last Sunday's episode, "The Suitcase," basically a two-hander written specially for Hamm and Moss. It's just taken that long to come down from the high. I had resolved not to flood this space with Mad Men analysis, but it's just my luck that the week I start blogging here Mad Men runs what I suspect will be remembered as one of its greatest episodes.
The party line of the chattering classes on Mad Men this season seems to be that it's been slow-going, with little plot development and a lot of Don facedown: in his drink, in the boardroom, in his secretary. For my part, I find the focus on Don's failings refreshing. Last season, as his marriage disintegrated and he felt stifled by the oversight of the distant British firm that had bought Sterling Cooper, I detected in the writing a certain amount of sympathy for him that I couldn't quite countenance.
MTV's been having a good summer. In part, that's because the second season of its reality series Teen Mom has been generating huge ratings for the network—it is this summer's third-most-watched original cable series in the coveted 12-34 demographic. The show, which documents the lives of four young women after they gave birth to children as teenagers, along with its sister show and predecessor 16 and Pregnant, has already generated a fair amount of cultural chatter on the question of whether the show is a valuable educational tool or just, as most seem to have concluded, regular old exploitation of the young women in question. There's something to this argument, of course. MTV's ratings success makes for a strange contrast with the fact that Teen Mom's stars have been occupying the front pages of celebrity weeklies like US complaining that they are dead broke, doesn't it?
I'm of two minds about the argument. On the one hand I certainly don't have much faith in MTV's dedication to social messaging, at least not enough to believe it extends much further than what advertisers are comfortable with. I'm not the first, for example, to point out that abortion, as an option, is not something that's seriously discussed in the context of the show. You can spin that fact as having something to do with showrunners needing to have a more extended narrative arc than, "Now I'm pregnant, now I'm not." But Teen Mom does follow one young couple, Catelynn and Tyler, after they've given their child up for adoption, so sponsor queasiness seems a more likely explanation.