I think the best way to fight knee-jerk reactions to pop culture discussions, to resist the sense that one is being personally attacked, is to step outside the equation, and to step away from the keyboard to do some thinking. Remember that the writer probably doesn't know you, isn't thinking about you while writing the piece, and doesn't think that you are a bad person. The writer is just discussing something seen, an embedded message.
After all, you didn't create the piece of pop culture under discussion. You may be complicit in the social attitudes that it embodies, but that often happens on an unconscious level. You are not responsible for not seeing everything in all things, but you are responsible for seriously evaluating and considering critiques pointing out things you didn't see.
For ELLE magazine's 25th anniversary issue, they featured four different 25-year-old actresses on four different covers of the magazine. One of those actresses is Gabby Sidibe. This choice naturally brought out the fatphobes decrying her health and questioning her level of attractiveness before the cover even came out. Now that it's dropped, well, there's a lot for folks to talk about besides playing "guess her health status".
I've watched America's Next Top Model intermittently over the years. I can't really say why. I was never that interested in fashion magazines, which seemed to me to depict another planet altogether, accessible only to the very rich. I have, furthermore, never much understood the fascination with models. Understand that when I say that I am not trying to make any claims about the difficulty of the work they do - I don't "hate models" or anything so broad as that. It's just that they don't seem to hold for me the kind of visceral fascination they do for other people.
I admit I do have one philosophical objection to modeling. I simply do not know how we are going to build a world where everyone is valued if we keep insisting that no, really, some people are more valuable than others. Particularly if we do so on bases over which they have little individual control - such as being socially "attractive," meeting the critical mass of "pretty" that will get you on magazine covers and sigh-ingly acknowledged, by almost everyone, as "gorgeous." I don't see how that strain of the cultural conversation benefits anyone in the slightest.
Summer is ending but that doesn't mean we have to be down in the dumps. Fall is an exciting time of crisp air, crunchy leaves and that back-to-campus type of excitement. Things are in motion! This week's BitchTapes features some feel good songs to help embrace the autumn arrival. Track list after the jump!
As you might have heard, Mexican sports reporter Ines Sainz was harassed with cat-calls and "suggestive comments" this past week while at the New York Jets practice field. The Association of Women Sportscasters has called on the NFL for an investigation, and the Jets owner has apparently offered an apology. There are some really, really, douchey ways that the media is responding to this story.
There's an patronising narrative that happens with a lot of disabled characters. They don't act out of free will, but because they are disabled. They aren't allowed independence, because they are disabled and clearly incapable of acting on their own. Other characters do things 'for their own good' and this is depicted in a neutral or even positive way. These 'small details' that barely register with nondisabled viewers make me cringe and make me approach something that other people love from a completely different perspective.
This has real-world impacts on how nondisabled people interact with us. If you are a wheelchair user or you are in a relationship with one, people will ask you 'How do you have sex?' If you are a person with mental illness, you are going to be continually questioned about whether you are choosing relationships out of free will or because you're sick. If you have a cognitive or developmental disability, there will be concern trolling about whether you are able of making independent choices.
It's festival season here in Portland, and MFNW was just the beginning. Running now thru September 19th, the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art is putting on its 8th annual Time-Based Art (TBA) festival. Here's your Bitch guide to women-centric performances and exhibitions over the next few days.
Maybe it's because I've been watching too many episodes of Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch lately and therefore keep seeing the same online ads, but this Dove Clinical Strength commercial is everywhere I look and I want it to go away, and take its only-pretty-girls-are-strong-and-deserve-deodorant message with it. Behold:
To wrap-up our coverage of this year's Musicfest Northwest queer and female musicians, we just wanted to share a final wrap-up of some of the live shows we saw, from little kid audiences to confetti-throwing back-up dancers, starting with Seattle rappers THEEsatisfaction...
Celebrities who have the "misfortune" of gaining a few pounds usually find pictures of themselves looking "fat" on the cover of a tabloid rag at some point. Americans, at least, seem to derive pleasure from this, as if gaining weight is some kind of comeuppance for celebrities, knocking them off their pedestal and showing the world they aren't so perfect after all. The attitude is that getting fat is a punishment for vanity, or just something generally bad that we can wish on beautiful thin people we feel envious of or don't like for some reason. Getting fat ranks up there with botched plastic surgery as far as reasons to ridicule celebrities endlessly. We want them to be perfect, and when they're proven to be just like you and me, fat and all, our lives are turned upside down. Well, some people's lives.