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Archive for the ‘Sheer Entertainment’ Category

mmmm, Feist

This makes me a very, very happy girl.

Thanks Angel!

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Hi all –

well, finally finished that final paper. boy, it was really kicking my ass. I got two – count ’em, two – extensions on it. part of the problem was that I already felt like I was finished for the term, since this was my last assignment. anyway, I finally turned it in today, and I feel much better now.

However, I’m not really up to any heavy mental lifting right now. I know, I should be blogging about Don Imus, or the Duke lacrosse case, or about the ridiculousity of the Indian government asking women to detail their menstrual cycles.  But I just can’t right now.

I also realize it’s my first FF post for a few weeks now. which makes me feel guilty – although others have started participating, which totally rocks my world.(Check them out on the sidebar under FF Participants – great posts up this week at Rainbow Girl’s, Unapologetically Female, RiotGrrrl’s, and Canace.) I love it, and I hope others continue to participate. Maybe someone could design a sidebar button or something. That would be great. It can’t be me of course, but if someone else did it I would be totally supportive.

So, instead of the usual kinds of FF posts I write, I thought this week I would write a kind of fluffy post. I watch a lot of TV – when I can – and I have certain shows that I totally can’t miss for anything. Right now, those are Lost, Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy, and 24. I love them. So anyway, being the denizen of pop culture that I am, I thought I’d write about some of the strong women characters on TV, and ask you to share the women characters you find inspiring.

OK, so number one, although she’s not really a character, is Oprah. I can’t help it, no matter the criticism I hear about her, I still think Oprah’s great. She’s so generous – I wish I could be so giving in my own life.

onto the fictional characters…

Sydney Bristow of ALIAS (played by the lovely Jennifer Garner, who I love in everything she’s in) – kicks ass and looks awesome in every weird costume they put her in. I want her muscles!

Brenda Johnson of The Closer (played by Kyra Sedgwick) – she gets what she wants by being the perfect southern belle, which I think is actually rather subversive. Good manners never hurt anyone.

Karen Hayes of 24 (played by Jayne Atkinson) – she plays the National SecurityAdvisor to the president. One of the most powerful women in the fictional version of america, and  she actually has a conscience!

Catherine Willows of CSI (played by Marg Helgenberger) – yes, she’s got a troubled past, it’s true. Coke habit, exotic dancer, abusive ex. But, she pulled herself out of all that and made a life for herself and her daughter. She’s tough, and smart, and good at her job. (although I do admit I don’t watch the show anymore…)

Kate Austin of Lost (played by Evangeline Lilly) – she rolls with the guys, does everything they do, no matter how physical. She’s one tough woman!

Cristina Yang of Grey’s Anatomy (played by Sandra Oh) – tough, stubborn, smart, competitive, driven, dedicated. Yup. And she cracks me up.

Miranda Bailey of Grey’s Anatomy (played by Chandra Wilson) – “the nazi” is her nickname. Bailey’s a total control freak with her interns, pushes them to their limits and teaches them with tough love. But, the love is there – she’s like a mother hen to them too.

Addison Sheppard of Grey’s Anatomy (played by Kate Walsh) – she’s the only female doctor in the running for Chief of Surgery at the hospital. She’s smart and sexy and beautiful and caring and good at her job. I love that!

Neela Rasgotra of ER (played by Parminder Nagra) – she’s my favourite character on ER by far. She’s been a bit lost, trying to find her niche, and now that she’s in the surgery program, she’s kicking ass. She’s a good friend, smart and beautiful, and she was a good wife to her husband.

Kerry Weaver of ER (played by Laura Innes) – I always liked Kerry. She’s really smart, dedicated, hard-working, and she doesn’t back down. Also, I LOVE that she’s an out lesbian on the show, and that she and her partner had a little son together, and that when her partner died she fought and won custody against her partner’s homophobic parents.

Claire Bennett of Heroes (played by Hayden Panettiere) -SAVE THE CHEERLEADER, SAVE THE WORLD! Claire is the practically indestructable cheerleader, and she’s awesome. She’s smart and sensitive and super brave. and totally cute as a button!

Anita van Buren of Law and Order (played by the amazing S. Epatha Merkerson) – the “Lieu” is awesome. She’s good at her job, she’s been there a long time, she’s a strong black woman. I think she’s actually the longest-running black woman character on TV – meaning Merkerson is the longest-employed black woman actor in TV history. That’s pretty fucking cool.

Olivia Benson of Law and Order: SVU (played by Mariska Hargitay) – well, I don’t watch this one anymore either, but Olivia is one of the strongest female characters on TV, for sure. She’s a good cop, and she shows a lot of caring in her work. Strong doesn’t have to mean uncaring.

Ruth Fisher of Six Feet Under (played by the absolutely incredible Frances Conroy) – I can’t tell you how much the characters on this show affected me. I bawled like a child when the series ended, I was devastated. I so loved Ruth, because she was searching. She had spent her life making a family, and she had a hard time when it came time for her to make a life for herself. I think that is really real for a lot of women. I just loved that about her.

Samantha Jones of Sex and the City (played by the super-sexy Kim Cattrall) – I know, a bit controversial. I admit, Sam was over the top. But her approach to sexuality was definitely sex-positive feminist, I think.

Ok, that’s my list of women TV characters that I think rock it. Agree? Disagree? Which characters do you think are particularly strong?

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yep. So I’m sitting here watching the TV show “Identity,” in which a contestant has a group of people in front of him and a list of identities and he has to match ’em up based entirely on their appearance. I know, right? I mean, all the stuff we talk about here, about identity, not wanting to be boxed into socially constructed qualifiers on identity, and here is this whole TV show based on judging a book by its cover.

what does it say that I TOTALLY ROCK AT GUESSING THESE IDENTITIES??!?

I mean, I AM NEVER WRONG!!!!

I feel guilty.

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well, most of the time, I try not to really care what people think of me. what I think about myself is what’s most important.

However, someone sent me a link to this page where you can find out how people view you. I thought it was a neat idea. It’s called a Johari window. By asking people to fill it out, you can sometimes identify things that are a blind spot for you (that others think you are but that you don’t think you are), or you can find out what you think you are that others don’t at all agree with!

So, here’s my Johari window. If you like, go and pick out 5 or 6 words that you think describe me. It’s your one chance to let me know what you really think of me!

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new in my ear

yep, another video post. Sorry, I’m in the middle of end-of-term stuff. Just thought I’d post something that was making me happy lately.

Patrick Watson – The Great Escape

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Personally, I think every song by those idiot pop groups should be performed with solo piano and a slower tempo and haunting vocals in order to expose the absolute inanity and misogyny of the lyrics, particulalry when combined with a parodic video performance outlining how disempowering and confusing the mixed message is.

No wonder I listen to so much Joni Mitchell.

May the discussion ensue.

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So, I watched both of these movies today, for the second time. I saw both in theatres when they first came out, but not again since. I was left with very different impressions the second time around.

Brokeback Mountain – so, check it out. What I think I missed about this movie before was the complexity of the sexual identities of the two characters. I was kind of hung up on thinking of the story as one about two gay men who couldn’t really be out because of time and place, beautiful unrequited love! (I am such a sappy romantic!) And, after Jack and Ennis’ first sexual encounter, I thought to myself, well, now they’re gay! It seemed to me that was what the filmmakers wanted me to think, anyway.

But that isn’t really the entirety of what was going on. Both men went on to hetero marriages, had children, and continued their affair. Jack was unsatisfied with their arrangement, and sought out other same-sex affairs, and also mentioned an affair with another woman. but, it seemed like the emphasis in the film was on Jack as being “more” homosexual than Ennis, based on the facts that he initiated the affair with Ennis, and that Jack had more same-sex partners than Ennis, who only had Jack, and that Jack was the bottom in their relationship, a classic move in determining which partner is “gayer” than the other (the one doing the penetrating has historically not been seen as necessarily gay; the one being penetrated is usually seen as the one that is “truly” gay). I dunno – seems like too simplistic an analysis. Seems like Jack just got around more than ol’ Ennis did – with both men and women.

And, what’s up with that initial moment, the “they turned gay” moment? I felt so weirded out with that whole thing – like that initial sexual encounter was enough to negate their entire previous lives as heterosexuals? That it revealed the “truth” about them, that was lying dormant all those years until then? How do we define sexuality – by acts, by desires, by identifications? By acts, both men were bisexual. By desires, Jack seems more bi than gay, but Ennis seems more gay than bi. By identifications, well, Ennis explicitly told Jack, “I’m not queer” and Jack said, “Neither am I,” so I guess both identified as hetero (seeing as that’s the only other option presented) – but that seemed like the line was there for the audience to go, “yeah, right!” and it was early on, not after 20 years or so of fishing trips together. nevertheless, they both still led lives that were largely presented to the world as het.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting to see it now, because I tended at the time I saw it first to think about sexuality in more rigidly defined terms. Now, I think of sexuality as something that’s more fluid, and not necessarily innately determined but also socially determined in lots of ways. The film seemed to me to be presenting the sexuality of the characters in harsh juxtaposition with their social and historical context – and I can’t help but wonder, if the story was told in the historical context of this decade, would things have ended up the same? I think not – more support for and within the gay community might have led to the two of them shacking up or getting married, and identifying themselves as gay, and having very different lives.

Anyway, I got the distinct impression that the idea was we were supposed to think of these men as sexually homosexual, and that “truth” about them was interacting at odds with their social contexts. But the more subtle message, I think, is that historical and social contexts actually work to shape and produce sexuality in significant and meaningful ways, and that placing sexuality at the centre of one’s identity does not make for a stable and homogenous “truth” about a person or his/her experiences. This time, I didn’t miss that message. (thanks, Foucault!)

Best Line: Jack, to Ennis: “I wish I knew how to quit you!”

Crash – the first time I saw this, I liked it. I thought it was an important kind of movie to make, to examine racial tension among various communities. This time, I felt differently. It made me mad.

Make TG Mad #1: the scene where Thandi Newton got felt up by Matt Dillon the cop while her husband Terrence Howard watched helplessly and Ryan Phillippe the other cop did nothing. White cop molests woman of colour while man of colour is powerless to stop it and other white cop watches uncomfortably but yet doesn’t question the power hierarchy.

I was so mad about this scene. Then, the next scene where Thandi Newton and Terrence Howard are at home arguing about what happened, and then when she went to see him at work the next day. Thandi kept saying things like, “why didn’t you do anything?” and Terrence kept saying things like “what was I supposed to do, he’s a cop?” So frustrating. Thandi’s character, in addition to being victimized by white male supremacy in the embodiment of Matt Dillon, was vascillating between blaming her husband for not taking better care of his stuff (her) and feeling bad for Terrence for being so emasculated. Traditional Gender Stereotpye 1: Woman Needs Man to Defend Her and Traditional Gender Stereotype 2: Man Must Defend Woman Or He Isn’t Really a Man were definitely upheld here.

What I thought they did a good job of was treating gender and race coherently. Matt Dillon felt Thandi Newton up not just because she was a woman, but because she was a woman of colour and because her husband was a man of colour. He wasn’t aiming just to hurt her, but also to hurt him through his objectification and subsequent use of her.

Made TG Mad #2: Thandi Newton is trapped in her truck after it flips and she can’t get out. Matt Dillon the cop who molested her the night before comes to her rescue and pulls her out.

Fuck this scene made me MAD! Now, this woman of colour who has been abused and victimized by this very same white cop has to rely on him to help her, to save her life. And he has the nerve to say to her, “I’m not going to fucking hurt you!” NEWSFLASH: he already did! And so, the woman of colour has to put her trust back in the very same white man who just finished molesting her, telling her what her value and worth and place was, and not just for her own knowledge, but for the emasculation of her husband, so he also could know his value and worth and place: look how powerful I am, I can finger your pretty black wife and you can’t do a damn thing about it but offer her up and apologize for taking too long doing it. And isn’t this pretty much how our social systems treat women of colour everyday? Let me show you how little you’re valued, and how mighty we are, and exactly how much you need and require and rely on us for the very air you breathe. You exist within our framework, our hierarchy of power, but you can’t participate in it.

Made TG Mad #3: Don Cheadle goes to see the DA about a case he’s working on where a white cop shot and killed a black cop (neither knew the other was undercover, I think). Anyway, the guy he talked to, who is the creepy guy who was on that show about the aliens and now he’s on Prison Break with the icy blue creepy eyes and the kind of blondish hair, kept on about “fucking black people” and how they can’t keep from robbing and killing each other and whatnot, in order to extract from Don Cheadle what he wants, which is something to do with the case but he brings up his little deliquent brother and throws him into the mix for further extortionary purposes.

So, what pissed me off here, aside from the references by a white man to a black man about “fucking black people” was the damn system, putting Don Cheadle in the middle of white men’s manipulations. That’s about all I can say about that, it was a really kind of general feeling of anger that scene generated, I’d have to go back and watch it again to get the full feeling.

There are a hundred other little and big moments in the film that pissed me off. But what kind of pissed me off the most was that this is a movie that is ultimately supposed to make white people feel good about opposing racism. Like identifying and opposing obvious cases of racism makes a white person not racist. Such a surface analysis of racism.

Best Dialogue (paraphrased):

Don Cheadle, on the phone with his mother, which he answered while in the middle of sex with Jennifer Esposito: “Mom, I can’t talk right now, I’m having sex with a white woman.” To JE: “Where were we?”

JE: “I was white, and you were jerking off in the shower,” pushes him off and proceeds to get dressed.

DC: “I’m sorry, I would have told her I was fucking a Mexican woman, but it wouldn’t have made her as mad.”

JE: “Here’s a geography lesson – my father is from Puerto Rico, my mother is from El Salvador. Neither of which is Mexico.”

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