Above: A still from Kibwe Tavares' beautifully shot short film Jonah.
Curious about emerging indie film directors but don’t have a few thousand dollars lying around for plane tickets and festival passes to this year’s Sundance Film Festival? Then mark your calendar, rearrange a decimal point on the admissions price, and wait for Sundance to come to you: Selected shorts from last year’s festival are screening across the country at independent theatres through January and February.
Last Tuesday night, I caught a screening in New York at the IFC Center. The polar vortex had made Manhattan feel like an arctic ghost town all week, but still the theatre was packed. Why were people braving -8 degrees temperatures on a weeknight to see a collection of short films? Because shorts are where they’ll discover their new favorite director.
This week, I wrote about a new album of North Carolina musicians making songs inspired by that state's Moral Monday protests. Listening to their album made me hungry for a whole playlist of American protest music.
So, I spent way too long putting together this mixtape of great American protest songs. It's an eclectic mix of hip-hop, rap, dance, and folk—it includes no punk, because that's just my taste. My desire was to make a mix that's enjoyable to listen to, in addition to being all about politics. The songs address a wide range of issues in American history, including racism, sexism, police brutality, inequality, and war. I put some serious classics on there (like "Talkin' Bout a Revolution") and some songs that make me laugh (like Peggy Seeger's "I'm Gonna Be an Engineer.") I put Nina Simone on there twice because she's Nina Simone.
Ironically, when I bought Barbara Dane's song "I Hate Capitalism" on iTunes, there was a glitch and iTunes wouldn't let me listen to it. I had to buy the song off Amazon. What can I say? Capitalism is one tough glitch.
The cast of the new Flowers in the Attic remake are looking deadly serious.
Like many twelve-year-olds in the 1980s, I read the dirtiest book I could get my hands on: Flowers in the Attic. The V.C. Andrews title was published in 1979 and I read every paperback in the five-book series so many times, the covers fell off. And I wasn’t alone: Flowers in the Attic sold over 40 million books. V.C. Andrews went on to write a number of other series; when she died, a ghostwriter took over. To date, over 50 books bear the name V.C. Andrews.
One vintage ad warns women, “Don’t let them call you SKINNY!” while another promises that smoking cigarettes will keep one slender. If the task of morphing their bodies into the current desirable shape isn’t enough of a burden, women are also reminded that they stink.
The Do I Offend? blog chronicles such vintage body-shaming advertisements geared toward women, and the baffling shifts from one feminine ideal to the next.
• The Justice Department released new rules that aim to reduce unfair profiling among federal agents. Under the new rules, federal agents cannot consider religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations. [New York Times]
From Fast Times at Ridgemont High to Dirty Dancing, you can count the number of sympathetically-depicted cinematic abortions on one hand—leaving your other hand free to page through yet another one of those think-pieces about how filmmakers aren’tscared of showing abortions in movies, it’s just that abortions aren’t much of a plot line and audiences just don’t want to see abortions depicted on film. Oh, of course! Thanks for clearing that up, Hollywood masterminds! We’ll be sure to tell everyone who’s ever had an abortion that their experience has less cinematic merit than the 149thParanormal Activity sequel.
Two bearded ladies take a stroll at a Louisiana steampunk festival. Photo credit: infrogmation, via Creative Commons.
During the quarter century since novelist K.W. Jeter playfully invented the term “steampunk,” the neo-Victorian movement has grown into a full-blown literary genre and an energetic subculture. Steampunk is airships and corsets and bizarre glowing weapons. It’s gears and top hats and goggles and mechanical butlers. It’s no-nonsense pistol-toting female scientists and the oppressive cultural restraints that tries to shape them into proper ladies.
• Janelle Monae is going to sing a song on Sesame Street! I REPEAT: JANELLE MONAE IS GOING TO SING A SONG ON SESAME STREET! And, judging from this behind-the-scenes video, it will be great. [Colorlines]
Thousands of people attended weekly “Moral Monday” protests at the North Carolina state capital this year, speaking up against voter ID laws, for protecting abortion access, and for decreasing income inequality. Now they have a soundtrack: a group of North Carolina artists have put together an album inspired by the protests called We Are Not For Sale.