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.
This domination of narratives with one narrative, one story, one set of concerns, is an incredibly destructive dynamic in feminism. And it plays out in discussions about pop culture in a major way.
When people in nondominant groups challenge much-beloved popular culture, they encounter a lot of opposition. They are told that the good messages in the pop culture outweigh the bad, that people can't be expected to get everything perfect, that they are just looking for something to be offended by, that they are dragging in side issues, that they are being buzzkills. Bringing in new perspectives can be a dangerous and loaded act when it comes to discussing things that people hold near and dear.
I... don't really understand the fuss about True Blood.
I understand that the show employs very attractive people, and that those people have very attractive sex quite often. I also understand that it involves stories about vampires and werewolves, which increasingly seems to be the only growth industry left in the American economy. I also understand that we are going through a time in the culture where escapism is an increasingly attractive alternative to everyday life. I further have not read the books that form the basis for the show; I admit they may be better than the televised version.
But this is a show which features dialogue that is George-Lucas levels of terrible, horrible, no-good and very bad, delivered by actors whose amusement with the campy material they are being offered appears to have been exhausted by the time they've appeared in more than three episodes.
Anyone who caught last week's episode of Jersey Shore likely noticed a rather interesting conversation between Jenni "JWoww" Farley and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi on the topic of race. At one point in the show, the two women discuss the possibility of going to a nude beach, then move on to the topic of wacky things they have their respective bucket lists, like Snooki's desire to try bungee jumping. JWoww, philosopher and gentlelady, calls this a "white person thing," which prompts a seemingly annoyed Snooki to respond, "I'm not white... I'm tan."
Sylvia Plath is the most famous woman poet of the 1950s. She's probably one of the most famous poets of the 20th century. And she was a pretty good poet. Her work is honest, heartwrenching, and chock-full of angst and guilt and daddy issues. But she's also famous for her bummer life story (anybody who's read The Bell Jar knows the extent of the bummer factor), and frankly, I'm a little tired of her. That's why this week's Adventures in Feministory is not about Plath. I want to profile another '50s-era poet who is sometimes overlooked and whose story is
filled with a lot of sassy, smart letter-writing and a prolonged Brazilian
vacation: Elizabeth Bishop.
We've spent time discussing the media's portrayals of fat people and society at large's reactions to such portrayals, now let's get meta and talk about your reactions to portrayals of fat people in the media. Specifically the reaction to my last post about Donna Simpson and her fantasy of gaining 300-odd pounds. It appears there's still a question as to what fat acceptance means and how we apply it. I'm not the spokesperson for fat acceptance, so what I say isn't gospel, but this is the FA I practice and since I'm the writer of this here blog, it's the FA that is applied to this space.
It's impossible to escape the appropriative aspects of the Gaga persona, though. The feminist aspects of her work are deeply tangled with the anti-feminist parts. We probably wouldn't be seeing Gaga's work at all if she didn't meet certain beauty standards applied to pop stars, if her work wasn't appropriative—the crispy feminist interior is wrapped up in a shit sandwich.
It isn't Lady Gaga's fault that appropriation and conventionally attractive women are popular in pop culture and that both of these things are pretty much necessary if you want to be a pop star. And I don't blame Germanotta for creating a character like Lady Gaga to break into the pop scene, because who doesn't want to be a star?
The official site for Tyler Perry's film adaptation of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf is up. Rose at Feministing writes on the signfiicance on cutting the title down to just "For Colored Girls."
Everyone's been talking about Jonathan Franzen's new book, Freedom. While book reviewers raved and readers waited with great anticipation for the August 31st release date, authors Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner both saw all the hype as a platform from which to start asking questions about why books written by women don't get this kind of attention.