Writer-director Spike Lee is a contentious figure, especially regarding gender politics. His debut feature, She's Gotta Have It, established this reputation by depicting rape as consensual between the polyamorist female lead and her vindictive partner, resulting in bell hooks' seminal essay, "Whose Pussy Is This?" In subsequent releases, Lee has been criticized as sexist, misogynistic, and homophobic in his constructions of relatively unformed, castrating women and the limited narrative arcs they traverse. Thus, many detractors may not think a movie of his could pass the Bechdel Test, much less have a complex black girl character at its center.
But the dancefloor has always done it for me. Doesn't matter much what kind of music. In my days as a spookyweird kid in New Orleans it was goth night and punk shows, doing the cobweb-pull (goth inside joke) or slamming into other bodies in the pit, wearing my bruises as a badge of honor. I'm mostly too old (or fragile!) for that at punk shows now but at age 30 still got myself a tattoo as a reminder, paraphrasing Emma Goldman's famous, possibly-apocryphal line "It's not my revolution if I can't dance to it."
During the campaign season we took a look at a few campaigns that actively used race and ethnic stereotypes as part of their strategy on the road to Washington, DC. There were undocumented workers slipping across poorly guarded borders to steal American jobs and infect the country with drug-related crime. We faced Islamic terrorists who flaunted their hatred of the US right in the face of Ground Zero. The President himself was often a target, being caricatured as everyone from Che Guevara to Adolf Hitler to a turban-wearing Muslim, to an extra from Amos and Andy. One week out from Election Day, how did they do? And does anyone out there think that using these tactics had any effect on who showed up to cast votes?
I'll tell you right off the bat that this post will focus at least a little on how much I like to look at pictures of the women who make up Warpaint. I have huge crushes on all of them. They wear pretty hats and dresses and scarves. PLUS they create dreamy rock music and they'll probably get really popular in the next year or two. Lovely women musicians on the brink of great renown? A whole bunch of the best traits for a band to have.
Are you tired of reality TV stereotypes like the Desperate Bachelorette, the Angry Black Woman, and the Douchebag Dude? If you said yes, then here's another question: Have you been watching Jenn Pozner's new web series Reality Rehab with Dr. Jenn? If not, you're missing out on some great media criticism (and some entertaining videos). Each episode of Reality Rehab interrogates a different reality television stereotype (good thing there are lots to choose from). Check out the trailer:
In Two Friends, leads Emma Coles and Kris Bidenko deliver nuanced, ingenuous performances as polar opposites Louise and Kelly. The movie documents the dissolution of their childhood friendship following Louise's acceptance into an elite girls' academy that Kelly's stepfather refuses to let her attend. I chose 1986's Two Friends for a few reasons. Its status as an Australian TV movie is exceptional, though it screened at the Cannes Film Festival as well. Helen Garner's script unfolds in reverse chronology. Though she only wrote a few screenplays, Garner has since enjoyed a long career in her native Australia as a novelist and journalist. Finally, as a follow-up to Campion's breakthrough short film, A Girl's Own Story, Two Friends is one of Campion's few films to foreground the fragile nature of adolescence and female homosocial bonding. Typical of her output, it does so with nary a hint of condescension.
Not long ago, I got into a conversation on Twitter about why feminists love Bruce Springsteen. Of course I can't speak for all feminists or even most feminists, but I can certainly discuss my love for Springsteen. And it seems only right to follow talk about Johnny Cash and U.S. politics with discussion of the other oft-misappropriated American blue-collar icon who's a major influence in my life.
The 2010 midterm elections are over. Well, for the most part. It may be a while before all of the ballots are sorted out in the Alaska Senate race, and there's a recount in North Carolina for a House seat, making nine as yet undecided races in that legislative body. And while Washington, DC may be getting prepared to do the staffer's office shuffle, there is still a lame duck session or two for Congress, a host of court cases coming to the Supreme Court, from which new Justice Kagan will frequently have to recuse herself, and some unfinished business on the Don't Ask Don't Tell front, otherwise known as the Clinton legacy that won't go away. I mean, the other unforgettable legacy of his.
In Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills, Raleigh Briggs writes about how DIY activities that take place in the domestic sphere don't seem as legitimate as, say, bike repair. But after teaching a class on herbal first aid and natural housekeeping, she came to realize how important it is that natural housekeeping is taken seriously within the DIY community.