The commonality of really problematic depictions in Hollywood and other aspects of pop culture is, to my eye, a pretty compelling argument for improving representation on the creative teams behind the media we consume. However, it's clear that better representations aren't necessarily something that people are interested in. Indeed, Silverstein notes that in the world of television, shows created by women about women are among the least likely to get picked up, which suggests that the networks don't care about accurate depictions.
Meet Barbara Gordon, librarian at the Gotham City Public Library by day, and crime-fightin' wonder Batgirl by night. Gordon was first introduced to the Batman comics and TV show in 1966, as an attempt to bring in female readers and viewers. While previous female characters (Batwoman and Bat-girl) were introduced in an attempt to dodge accusations of homosexuality between Batman and Robin, Batgirl wasn't there for romance as much as she was for ass-kicking. And did I mention that she was a librarian?
We're back again! We're rounding up some of the most interesting things we read this week on another edition of On Our Radar.
On Salon, Tracy Clark-Flory highlights the Menstruation Machine, an art project designed by Japanese artist Hiromi Ozaki. The machine is "fitted with a blood dispensing mechanism and lower-abdomen-stimulating electrodes" to mimic the effects of menstruation. Woah.
On Transgriot, Monica Roberts compares the fate of flight attendant/folk hero Steven Slater to a flight attendant that made headlines in 2008. Brown, a black woman, "was according to her attorney thrown against a first class lavatory door and elbowed in her breast" by Victoria Osteen, co-paster of Texas-based evangelical megachurch Lakewood Church.
I, for one, am pretty bummed about Cathy ending. Alan Gardner interviews the creator of the comic strip, Cathy Guisewite, on The Daily Cartoonist.
Ralph Blumenthal investigates the disturbing rise in untested rape kits for the September issue of Marie Claire. The story is available online here.
Lesley Kinzel dissects Nikki Blonsky's recent announcement of a scholarship in her name to "'the longest running' fat camp in the US" and obligatory the blow-up on the Huge Facebook page on Fatshionista.
After years of speculation surrounding her sexual orientation, photographs of Queen Latifah embracing her personal trainer and purported partner surfaced this weekend. On Colorlines, Jamilah King writes on why we shouldn't force her to come out publicly.
On Threadbared, Minh-Ha T. Pham interviews Thuy Linh N. Tu, the author of The Beautiful Generation: Asian Americans and the Cultural Economy of Fashion.
Sociological Images' Gwen Sharp looks at the curious history of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer.
Holly Ord delves into the mixed representations of Jessica Simpson in popular culture on Women's Eye on Media.
Find something that piqued your interest this week? Leave it in the comments section!
Since the end of summer is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd suggest a selection of books on fat acceptance and fat bodies in general for you to finish the season with. Some of these I've read, others I'm in the process of reading. If I have any personal insights on the book I'll share them with you.
Now, let's get to reading. Or at least thinking about reading.
This music mix is dedicated to all things colorful.
Red is covered by St. Vincent, amongst others; Blue (for which I probably could have included about 1000 other songs) is handled by the likes of Leonard Cohen and Joanna Newsom; Pink is handled by the Mountain Goats; Green by the National; and Grey by Josephine Foster. The lack of color is covered by the Dresden Dolls.
Any suggestions for good purples (besides Purple Haze please) or browns? Perhaps some lavender? Mauve? Other favorite color tunes?
I decided to share some of my favorite "don't sweat it, you got it" anthems with you.
Bag Lady - Erykah Badu
One day, all them bags gon' get in your way. I shook my booty to this song many a time before I realized that it is actually an anti-consumerist anthem packaged in the most compassionate older-sister-pep-talk-lecture I've ever heard.
I think the differences in the way people engage with Mad Men are a reflection of the different ways that people like to interact with pop culture. For some of us, it's pure entertainment. For others, it's something deeper and darker. I like pop culture I can sink my teeth into, I like things that challenge me and leave me thinking, and I adore things that challenge oppression and provide historical context, even if this show doesn't always do a pitch-perfect job of confronting oppression—what show does?
Ashley Anne Kirilow, a 23-year-old Burlington native, admits she faked cancer, ran a bogus charity and collected thousands of dollars from hundreds of people. She shaved her head and eyebrows, plucked her eyelashes and starved herself to look like a chemotherapy patient.
... When I first saw this news case, I thought to myself (yes, rather cynically): there is no way that anyone other than a young, attractive, normative person could have pulled this off. If Kirilow had been—for example—fat, in her 30s, plain-looking and homeless, few would've given her the time of day. Much of Kirilow's success seems attributed to the fact that she easily roused pity with her little lost girl story and her brave smile. Kirilow embodied a version of white womanhood that we want to believe in (or at least we've been socially conditioned to embrace it): pretty, plucky, determined, and in need of rescue.
Kirilow is a prime example of a sympathy grifter: a grifter who uses racist/sexist/classist/etc beliefs in their favour, to get money, affection and attention, or to (literally) get away with murder.
When it comes to roles on television and in movies, fat actresses have few options. Instead of portraying diverse, multifaceted characters, they are usually relegated to either sassy fat sidekick or supportive fat best friend. Of course, as Marissa Audia-Raymo illustrates in her BUST Magazine article "The Fat Friend" (August/September Issue), these stereotypes ring true in real life as well.