The ambitious, and successful, documentary Going on 13 will begin broadcasting on Public Television this September. The 73 minute film (which is in English, Spanish and Hindi, with English subtitles) takes place over a period of four years and reveals the interior lives, family commitments and school days of Ariana, an African American, Esmeralda, a Mexican American, Isha, an immigrant from India, and Rosie, a mixed race Latina, as they navigate crossing the threshold from childhood to adolescence.
Directors Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and Dawn Valadez's award winning project is an intimate look at a difficult transitional period for any child; their compassionate study is landmark not only in its ambition but that in it addresses the concerns of a diverse group of pre-teen and urban girls of color.
Moments we get to share include Ariana crying at her mother's wedding, Rosie discovering Allen Ginsberg at a local bookstore, Esme's sister's Quinceañera, and Isha's trip to India. We see them questioning the changes their bodies are making – or what they've heard those changes will be. One schoolmate asks, "Have your parent's talked to you about pube-er-tee? Do you have internal or external bleeding – or something like that?" Another friend says about a boy crush, "They are in love, even though they don't know what love is." A later scene featuring a woefully unqualified male schoolteacher conducting a sex education class makes it all the more painfully clear that our children receive mixed and confusing messages at a critical time, and that girls in particular are in need of female role models and support systems.
But they grow up anyway –with or without it. As Esme wisely puts it, "I'm turning into a young person and I'm supposed to change. I can't stay little all my life. I would if I could, but I can't so I shouldn't."
Co-directors, Guevara-Flanagan and Valadez graciously took the time to answer interview questions by email on their filmmaking careers, finding the girls (and where they are now), the logistics of such an ambitious project, and what they're currently working on. The first part follows; part two will be posted on Friday!
Those of us who watch HBO's True Blood would have a hard time denying the show's sex appeal (or at least, sex). After all, Bon Temps, Lousiana (the fictional setting for the show) is one seeexxxy town. Vampires banging humans? Check. Humans banging shape-shifting farm animals? Check. A racy sex website hosted by a main character? Check. A crazed ancient goddess who makes everyone around her bang each other? Check. But female rape fantasies realized by gentlemanly Civil War-era vampires? Um, no, actually.
The current issue of Nylon Magazine features an interview with Anna Paquin (main character Sookie Stackhouse), Stephen Moyer (her boyfriend Vampire Bill), and the show's creator Alan Ball. Much of the interview revolves around Anna Paquin's nipples and hair color (thanks, Nylon! I guess blondes really do have more fun!) but this final quote from Stephen Moyer has me sharpening my stakes (and not just because I think Vampire Bill is kind of a douche):
Epilogue: Stephen Moyer, on Vampire Sex:
The thing about vampirism is that it taps into a female point of view – you have an old-fashioned gentleman with manners who is a fucking killer… it's an interesting duality, because in our present society it would be an odd thing for a woman to say, 'I want my man to be physical with me.' How, as a modern man, can you fucking work that? It's one thing to be polite and gentle… But when do you know it's OK to crawl out of the mud and rape her [as Bill does in one scene]?... It's difficult stuff for a bloke, but a vampire gets away with it…. I think that's the attraction of the show – it's looking back at a romantic time when men were men, but they were still charming."
Behold, Sookie Stackhouse living out every modern woman's fantasy (or... not). Image via Icons of Fright
WTF, Vampire Bill? Was raping women a "gentlemanly" activity when you were growing up during the Civil War? (Yes, he grew up during the Civil War.) Do you think that forcing yourself on a woman and sucking her blood is the "romantic" realization of every frigid, non-Vampire-dating woman's fantasy? And am I the only one who read that coming-out-of-the-grave scene as completely consensual (if a bit unhygienic)? Let's discuss.
On their 2006 release Zombie Terrorist, Partyline declared, "we're scared of zombies, not terrorists" and "yeah I had a mother, she taught me to want more than that". Yes please. Formed in Washington DC in 2004 by Allison Wolfe of the iconic Bratmobile, Angela Melkisethian and Crystal Bradley, Partyline has a sound reminiscent of riot-grrrl era call and response lady punk. Party, apparently, is tied to the actual act of partying and also to the political connotations of the word, which sums up the aesthetic of the music. You will dance while being educated, end of story. The ladies literally just finished up a tour with Portland, OR rockers Shebeast and just around the corner is an East Coast Tour with Noisy Pig. Watch a video and become a fan after the jump!
If you haven't been watching America's Best Dance Crew this season, it's time to start. For those out of the loop, ABDC (as it is known in the in-crowd) is a dance competition show on MTV that combines crew battles and audience voting to determine, well, America's best dance crew. Sure, the show is a little corny, and the awesome Artistry in Motion crew was eliminated last week despite their body-positive message, but ABDC has a lot to offer the feminist television viewer. The show focuses on teamwork and togetherness as opposed to the abilities of certain individuals, and every week they give the teams a different challenge (the Beyoncé challenge was particularly kickass). The real reason to watch, though, is Vogue Evolution.
America's Best Queer/Gay/Trans/Vogue/Activist Dance Crew!
The trailer for The Moon Inside You begins like a bad Dan Brown-zombie flick: "A curse on half the planet...a secret kept too well....so...much...blood." Thankfully, the world's in for one less crap slasher and in for a humorous new approach to talking about what most of us hate talking about...periods.
From the looks of the rest of the trailer (available on the film's homepage), the movie will be a mix of personal stories (a group of women share histories of problematic periods), humor (two oblivious women walk around with comically-soaked crotches), irony (a professional man, completely straight-faced, states, "It's a phenomenon humans share with other apes...and old world monkeys"), and cultural analysis (clips from the Carrie, anyone?)...to say nothing of the belly-dancing classes and claymation scenes.
Caster Semenya is fast and strong and far from dainty. When it came to light last week that an athletic organization was secretly testing her sex, the sports world and mainstream media got a refresher course on an important reality: while our society tries to strictly divide people in male and female, the science of sex is far more murky.
South African Semenya is shaping up to be one of the fastest runners in the world, but if the International Association of Athletic Federations' (IAAF) forced battery of tests (including a gynecological exam) find she's too "male", she could be stripped of her medals. The IAAF stopped mandating the outdated sex tests for athletes back in 1992 and the reasons for testing Semenya range from fairness to racism, depending on who you ask.
Over at the Huffington Post, Jane Devin points out that males whose genetics make them sports stars are groomed and applauded, not subjected to embarrassing tests. You have to ask—if Semenya had thinner shoulders and a more delicate chin, would her competitor's allegations ("Just look at her," sniped a fifth-place finisher at a recent race) be given legitimacy for even a second? I think not.
Today I bring you another burning question from the mailbag:
From a reader who wished to remain nameless: Outdoor Sex: pro or con? as an outdoorsy-girl, I always fantasized about doing it in a big field, but each time I've tried it, I've been poked in weird places with odd plants and bumps (even through a blanket & sleeping pad), or stressed about potential hikers, or something else. It's just never been as good as I'd hoped. What about you? Good question! I like the outdoors, and I like sex. Are they two great tastes that taste great together?
A few days ago I was chatting with my dad about our various writing projects.
Dad: You know how you've been writing about Quentin Tarantino?
Dad: You know he used to work in a video store?
Dad: And you used to work in a video store?
Dad: Well there you go.
Well there I go. Once upon a time Quentin Tarantino worked in a video store – and so did I.
Today I write about pop culture, and Tarantino makes it.
There you go.
Tarantino's latest film also begins "Once upon a time . . ." and as to be expected, reactions to his "movie movie universe" movie, Inglourious Basterds, are once again as mixed as his genre conventions.
Though I didn't explicitly say so in my recent threepartpost here for Bitch exploring the question of feminism in Tarantino's work, I'm a fan – a cautious, conscientious fan, who recognizes that his work is problematic on many levels. For me, the combination of the issues in his work, and the visceral pleasure of the movie experiences he creates, presents a conflict that is worth exploring. Additionally, and I think this is crucial to my experience and interpretation of his work, he is a movie-maker of, and pop culture influence on, my generation. Pulp Fiction is as much a marker in my life as Star Wars, Goonies, or Trainspotting, Wonder Woman, 90210, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Tarantino and I may not have grown up watching the same movies, regardless of our once-upon-a-time employ, but his work has led me to his influences, which in turn have furthered and enriched my relationship to popular culture.
Sackville-West was a woman with 'high class' problems — but her story
is interesting nonetheless. Vita was, in addition to her default
socialite status, a writer of prose and poetry, an avid gardener,
Bloomsbury Group associate and lover to quite a few women — the most
famous being, of course, Virginia Woolf. (More after the jump!)