Ah, marriage. It's a preoccupation with Republicans: the destruction of it, sex outside of it, the redefinition of it. Promoting marriage was a significant part of the Bush administration's domestic-policy agenda, presumably in an attempt to protect women from the horrors of birth control, single motherhood, abortion, and illicit sexual activity. Whether it's correlating single motherhood with gun violence or railing against the destruction of the sacred institution by the gays, the right wing has a deep-seated jones for getting (straight) couples to the church on time.
This weekend will see the takeoff of Robert Zemeckis's new movie, Flight, which stars Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and John Goodman. Washington plays a pretty conflicted character: Whip, a star pilot who also happens to be an alcoholic with a cocaine problem. He parties hard with one of his flight attendants before going up in the air one morning, and of course, shit gets unfortunately real with a crash landing. He's a hero for a minute, but that all changes wtih the investigation into the emergency landing.
It's a great performance from Washington, but, as with nearly all Hollywood products, it toes the line on negative racial stereotypes: in this case, the black substance abuser and absent father. In the name of Sydney Poitier, these challenging roles have got to be out there for people of color. But how do we determine if a movie is actually doing justice to its representation of members of a marginalized group? I'm going to share a few rules I've developed to help explain whether or not a character is more than just a stereotype.
This week on Call the Midwife, there were only two births, and one of them was a piglet. The plot has veered away from focusing exclusively on pregnancy and birth, offering viewers the opportunity to think more broadly about reproductive health.
Last night's episode of Call the Midwife veered away from the familiar topics of abortion and birth control and provided a reminder of something that often gets lost in policy discussions about reproductive health: In so many ways, these issues have to do with love. Reproductive health is about sexual relationships, the emotional turmoil of motherhood, and the promise of the future. It's about the relationship women have to themselves, their spouses, and their families of origin. It has to do with economics, education, gender norms, and heteronormativity.
We know how the current Republicans party feels about abortion and free contraception. But what about the myriad of other reproductive health issues? Here are three questions for Republicans about women's health that don't have to do with preventing or terminating pregnancy.
The hour-long PBS drama follows a group of young midwives in London's East End in the 1950s, led by a convent of Anglican nursing nuns, the Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus. The show's premise offers an opportunity to examine reproductive health on television without having to contend with contemporary political quandaries, and provides an excellent teachable moment for the anti-choice among us. Plus, it's just good TV.
So I was watching Glee the other night, waiting desperately to see if Brittany and Santana would show some sign that they were still together. As I tried to peer into the minds of Glee's creators and discover their subversive intent in having the lesbian character Santana dance to a song with romantic lyrics about boy/girl love with the gay-in-real-life Ricky Martin, it hit me: TV is not activism. I mean, critiquing TV can be activism, but TV programming itself exists, by and large, in the service of profit, not activism. In recognition of TV's persuasive powers over "impressionable youth," there is a long history of the "after school special" and the "very special episode" of family sitcoms. But the structural inequalities and relations of rule responsible for the most urgent cultural problems of our time run way deeper than the politics of media representation.
We all know Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and others. Disney latched on to these classic fairy tales starting in the mid-20th century, and they began churning out princess after princess—treating these traditional stories as a marketers' wet dream, resting on the faith that people will continue to not only buy into these stories, but also into the massive amount of marketing and branding that surround them. But just because these stories remain popular doesn't mean they're any less unsettling when you start to pick them apart. Even with the multitude of remakes (television, movies, Broadway, etc...), very rarely do writers and producers seek to infuse a little imagination and creativity, absolving these stories from the tired tropes they've come to push. So it was with a bit of trepidation and some skepticism that I chose to watch ABC's new drama, Once Upon A Time. While the show hasn't worked out all the issues with "Disneyfied" fairy tales, it certainly is a step in the right direction.
I realize that I'm the umpteenthbloggerto toss ina couple pennies on the gender dynamics of the fall TV lineup, but I couldn't resist. Since "Isn't He Lovely" is examining social attitudes like "What Men Should Like Look Like" and "How to Perform the Tap Dance of Masculinity with Aplomb," the handful of male-in-crisis sitcoms debuting this season fit right into the narrative. For all the words that I've spilled on how men are tending to their pubic hair and pumping iron and generally not liking what they're seeing in the mirror—and also not wanting to talk about it due to the feminine associations of expressing dissatisfaction with their looks—these shows are out to grab heterosexual male America and shake his softened shoulders into action. One is even called Man Up! for heaven's sake.