Roman Polanski raped a child. Let's just start right there, because that's the detail that tends to get neglected when we start discussing whether it was fair for the bail-jumping director to be arrested at age 76, after 32 years in "exile" (which in this case means owning multiple homes in Europe, continuing to work as a director, marrying and fathering two children, even winning an Oscar, but never -- poor baby -- being able to return to the U.S.).
Though I appreciated and enjoyed "Wall-E," I took issue with the baffling insistence of the filmmakers to gender the robots. A love story between machines is an interesting prospect with very queer implications, but clearly signaling gender seems like a counterintuitive safeguarding against an overly-sensitive and ultimately homophobic population.
Here's my transparent attempt to segue into an untimely essay about Lost (which won't premiere until January but my guestblogging stint ends next week): the promos for Flashforward were so ubiquitous - I first remember seeing one after the Lost finale in May - that I found myself watching it Thursday night with a sense of obligation rather than pleasure. It was, in fact, so terrible that I turned it off after fifteen minutes of wordy expository dialogue that leapfrogged over any compelling sense of dramatic tension the show might have possessed. Which is funny, because this is the show that's supposed to replace Lost for us, when Lost airs its final episode this spring. And yet, Flashforward is thus almost the mirror opposite of Lost.Lost's watchwords are mystify, obfuscate, contradict. Flashforward's are explain, tell, lecture. And so, other than observing to yourself how much Joseph Fiennes is, as he ages, resembling Ralph ever more, particularly in profile... well, there's very little to get interested or invested in in Flashforward. (Oh, and spotting the Oceanic Airlines billboard.)
In fact the only thing that Flashforward and Lost really have in common is that they both belong to this new generation of mainstream fantasy/science fiction - the kind that has better production values than Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica combined - that has finally made its way into network television in primetime slots. These shows have come up with the mainstreaming of ComicCon and the sudden retroactive chic of comic book culture, which, it seems to me, started emerging around the time Michael Chabon's Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay came out. It's not that we haven't had sci-fi and fantasy in primetime before; it's just that these shows aspire to a sort of network television legitimacy we haven't seen before. They don't just want to be invited to the Emmys; they expect to receive one. And actually, we, the audience, tend to expect that too, on their behalf. And being an obsessive reader of, say, Lostpedia, just doesn't have that stigma attached to Trekkieism, does it? The mainstreaming of fantasy may be good for formerly underdog geek culture, and certainly it seems some people have felt their inner nerd liberated by the trend. But it is still very much the kind of thing that plays out with men, among men, by men and about men. I'm not trying to be dismissive here; I can see that writers of this genre are struggling to find a place for women within it. But they haven't made much headway.
It's finally here, the moment you've been waiting for all week long. No, we're not talking about tonight's episode of Mad Men (but omg what is going to happen to Joan?), we're talking about FEMINIZT LOLZ!!! Why? Because LOLz are watching even when we aren't. Check out what their sharp eyes caught on television this week!
In this case, that seems like a good thing. Way to go, Sonia!
And what about television this week? From the disappointing premiere of The Good Wife to the stereotype-laden The Witches of Eastwick, this hasn't been a great television season for women so far. Will things get any better?
Hmm . . . She must be talking about Cougar Town.
Sigh. What would we do without LOLz? Be a lot sadder, that's what. So if you've got some feminizt LOLz hiding up your sleeve, send them our way! Have a grate weekend.
I'll admit that I only really tuned into Eastwick out of a sense of national duty - Paul Gross, like me, is Canadian, and I feel he is owed some serious cash for his talents, wasted though they might be on American network television. (Canadian television has no such riches on offer.) Gross was always a tall drink of water of an actor (he may be known to you as a Mountie), and yet he has what I would call a genuine edge, with a wonderful sense of humor, and there's something about him that for me just feels like home. So whatever he's in, I watch, and so, I watched Eastwick.
To give you an idea of what kind of objections the mere presence of Paul Gross can overcome for me, Eastwick is a loose adaptation of a movie that was a loose adaptation of a John Updike novel. And Updike, regardless of the adulation he sparks in male undergraduate English majors everywhere, hated women. There's really no way to say that gently. He just did. To wit, Eastwick (like the novel itself) is about three outcast women who are brought together by - who else - a dark, mysterious man who understands these women better than they do themselves. The women are, ostensibly, witches, in the sense that they have various powers available to them. These powers are nonetheless heavily rooted in what Updike understands as the bewitching nature of female sexuality - their ability to control men, to make men do as they want. In fact, in the novel, Gross' character, Darryl Van Horne, is the women's own conjuring of the perfect man - and which, apparently, they envision in more or less pure sexual terms.
Gwen and her mother Janine fell on hard times when her father lost his job; they later lost the house as they were unable to keep up payments. Soon after, Gwen's father left them and they became homeless...
Job loss? Homeownership kaput? Sounds like what a sizeable chunk of America experienced this past year! Looks like American Girl is very up to date with contemporary issues that girls (and their parents) can relate to, or at least recognize (see also: Chrissa vs. the cyber-bullies!). Color me cynical, but I can't help but feel this is just a marketing strategy by the Mattel-owned company.
A brilliant and counter-intuitive comment from reader jordanb in the "Rear Ended by Porn" comment thread is the inspiration for today's post. Check it out:
Becky I'm interested to know if you've ever thought about abstinence from a sex positive feminist type of perspective. I mean, in some ways it seems like "not having sex" is an option that has been completely co-opted by the abstinence only sex ed types, and exists only as a purely moral decision. I'm struck by the absence of discussion of abstinence from a sex positive feminist perspective. But isn't it also important to reframe not having sex in sex positive terms? In strange way,though, in all of these discussions you've started (at least on Bitch) about sex, it seems like you've revealed the most taboo option in the minds of many sex positive folks is not to have sex.
Can you be sex-positive and still choose or advocate celibacy? Or are the two things mutually exclusive?
Oh, hey, look at that! It's the weekend! THE WEEKEND, you guys! And, since it is the weekend, I am going to assume that a fair number of you will be drinking. Me, I like drinking; I can mix a decent cocktail, I'm not averse to beer, and I am nowhere near sophisticated enough to tell good wine from just-OK wine, so THAT usually works out pretty well for everyone involved. In fact, I am just going to go on the record, here, and say that I am a fan of drinking. Here's what I'm NOT a fan of, however: this video from Ke$ha.
Since my last Bitch Mix was all about country's feminine side, I decided to give punk the same treatment this time around. I tried to cover the spectrum of old to new, dance-y to hardcore, and personal to political. Enjoy!