I blame Douglas Coupland. Before he coined the term Gen X and set it loose into the cultural lexicon, we didn't care about analyzing and compiling character profiles of generations.
I was reminded of how damn I annoying I find these caricatures while reading A. O. Scott's NYT piece on Gen X's mid-life crisis, or more actually A. O. Scott's piece about 40 year-old men feeling dissatisfied with their lives (gasp! really!) that he attempts to cast as a generational phenomenon by name-checking Ben Stiller's latest movie, John Cusack's Hot Tub Time Machine and a novel no one has read. I'd like to believe he was spoofing the ennui-associated traits that Gen X gets tagged with, but, unfortunately, I think Scott has actually swallowed the stereotypes attached to his peers (especially male peers) hook, line and sinker and has chosen to regurgitate them on the pages of the New York Times.
Iranian lesbian activist Kiana Firouz is currently seeking asylum in the United Kingdom after a controversy over the upcoming release of Cul de Sac. The film, which stars Firouz and includes explicit lesbian sex scenes, is based heavily on Firouz's life and struggles as a lesbian in Iran. Directors Ramin Goudarzi-Nejad and Mahshad Torkan posted the trailer on YouTube in December 2009 (below, NSFW) and since then, the Iranian government has attempted to deport Firouz back to Iran to be tried and punished for her crime of homosexuality. Firouz applied for refugee status in the UK, but was rejected.
If she is not granted asylum in the UK, she will be sent back to Iran, where the minimum punishment for homosexuality is 100 lashes. The punishment for "unrepentant" homosexuality, which Firouz's LGBTQ activism clearly demonstrates, is public execution by hanging.
I have always kind of liked Katherine Heigl. Maybe it's because I think she has pretty good comedic chops, maybe it's because she is (a little bit) curvier than many of her counterparts, maybe it's because I spent an inordinate amount of time watching Grey's Anatomy on DVD whilst trying to distract myself from a breakup. Whatever the reason, my fondness for her has led me to give her decidedly douche-y taste in film roles a pass for some time now. No longer.
Comedy is a prime weapon for devaluing and belittling marginalized bodies. Laughter aimed at an oppressed person because of their oppression intensifies and isolates the victim, and emphasizes their status as an outsider. I don't have to tell you this – if you're interested in feminism, you've probably had these jokes aimed at you and your body. Oppression is a serious topic, and jokes about it must be carefully thought out.
In analyzing comedy shows, how do I differentiate between actions that reinforce the ism at hand, and actions that superficially reinforce but actually subvert or critique the cultural assumptions the characters live with? When is a show making fun of oppression, and when is it making fun of oppressed bodies? Is there a difference? How do you tell?
Now, Ludacris is doing his part to spread more of the large latex love by teaming up with the company for its very first ad campaign, a contest where people can create their own paeans to the brand. The winner gets $5,000 and a trip to the hip-hop festival Birthday Bash, to be held in Atlanta in June, and personal congrats from the rapper/actor himself.
A photograph from Shadi Ghadirian's "Qajar" series.
I planned to write only about Sara Rahbar today, but in researching her and her work I found a few more amazing Iranian artists highlighted in the Saatchi Gallery's 2009 exhibition "Unveiled: New Art From the Middle East". This post will only feature Rahbar and Shadi Ghadirian, but I urge you to check out the work of Shirin Fakhim, Tala Madani, Laleh Khorramian and the other very talented artists from that exhibit.
The other night, I found myself sitting in a concert hall with a thousand other people having an absolutely A+ time at one of the few North American dates on the farewell tour for Euro pop icons a-ha. Yes, a-ha. No matter that I'm not old enough to have fully appreciated their short-lived American heyday (although they've never ceased to be a presence on the other side of the Atlantic) in the mid-80s. I learned about them via the Pop-up Video treatment ( I'm sure there are even readers who are too young to appreciate that show) of "Take on Me" and more seriously, their concert participation in Live 8.
As I sang along with "The Living Daylights" and "The Sun Always Shines on TV," I started thinking about nostalgia. Specifically, Gen Y's relationship to nostalgia. I can't be the only one to see that the proximity of what counts as bygone days has been increasing dramatically in recent years.