Friday, July 31, 2009

The only reason I would see Funny People:

The video above is Not Suitable for Work, or for children, or for anyone with sensitive sensibilities.

For some reason, Aziz Ansari/Raaaaaaaandy has not been visible in any of the posters, billboards, commercials or cardboard cutouts promoting Funny People. However, before the movie premiered, he was already "set to be [the] breakout star of 'Funny People'".

I guess Mr. Ansari doesn't quite fit in with the other funny people. More precisely, he does not fit in with the homogeneous image that the rest of the cast portrays to audience that the studio hopes to attract. Or maybe his role in the movie was not big enough to warrant mentioning him in any of the promotional material. But he is funny, too!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm shocked that Kevin Federline has fans.

Was PopoZão a big hit in some country I've never heard of?

Kevin Federline Shocks Fans Over New Size, US Magazine via omg!.

Kevin Federline turned heads at a California sporting event Monday.

But it wasn't over his golfing skills; it was over his size.

At one point at Ryan Sheckler X Games Celebrity Classic, an employee on the grounds saw Federline and remarked, "Man, that's a belly on him! That's K-Fed?!?"

[ . . . ]

His ex Shar Jackson laughed off criticism.

"It's daddy weight!" she told at the time. "When you are a full time parent, sometimes you can't focus on you. If gaining a few pounds is your only problem, life's not too bad!"

Some of us have a little extra chunk, and that's okay. Yet "gaining a few pounds" is not even close to Mr. Federline's "only problem". I, for one, don't have four different kids with two different people, while displaying no discernible source of steady income.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Manic Pixie Dream Girl

or, more on my discontent with Summer (see what I did there?).

For the titular reference, you can read Wild things: 16 films featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, by Amelie Gillette, Donna Bowman, et al, at the A.V. Club.

Onto the articles about the movie:

Indie Movies Can Be Sexist, Too, by Sarah Seltzer, RH RealityCheck.

Indie Dream Girls, by Doree Shafrir, The Daily Beast.

Manic Pixie Dream Girls, the Santa Claus of romantic comedies, by Amanda Marcotte,

500 Days of He's Just Not That Into You, by Willa Paskin, Double X.

Previews: "500 Days of Summer" and "Paper Heart", by Alyx Vesey, Feminist Music Geek.

(500) Days of Summer, by Marc Webb,

From the comment section under information addict's post:

I am so sick of things written from a guy’s perspective that don’t acknolwedge that maybe the girl has her own desires, and they don’t include being with the guy, and that doesn’t make her a bitch or unfeeling or cold. It just makes her a person.

From the comment section under An Open Letter to Zooey Deschanel’s Male Admirers, by Pilgrim Soul, The Pursuit of Harpyness:

The idolizing of the quirky girl grates on me–Zoe and her ilk seem so intentionally precious and affected–but overall it fails to ignite my howling feminist rage the way the worship cute-but-dumb girls does (Jessica Simpson, Kendra, Paris, Daisy, LC, Heidi, etc).

If dudes pick Zoe and her ilk over the dumb blondes, well, that’s the lesser of the two evils, IMO. The real problem is that our media/film culture doesn’t offer them anything better or more realistic.

See. I'm not the only one involved in the hateration. Other people let that hate (or, constructive criticism) out, too, as we all should.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Liked it?

I went to see 500 Days of Summer today, and I took notes during my experience. Here is a transcript:

I would like to see Whip It with Ellen Page and Eve!

Kristin Wiig is in two movies.

What American woman is average at 121 pounds?

It's convenient that Summer is so attractive to every man who sees her.

So Summer doesn't like you. And?

Does Summer have any aspirations? Tom doesn't care

This movie is written by men and for men who obsess over women without caring about what they want. It is all about them.

The men disparage women who deign not to be into them, unattainable women like Jordan Catalano.

I like the dance sequence! Bird!

Too much twee.

I've already seen these scenes in the commercials.

Tom wants to conquer new territory as Summer breaks down her walls.

Who needs labels, Tom? People in functional relationships, that's who.

Precocious kid.

French song and movie.

It's hard to write in the dark.

More hating on women and their clothes.

As if people have or use house phones.

Tom and Summer dress like they got their wardrobe out of Looking Indie for Dummies.

Self-consciously, self-referentially indie. And French.

Who does Tom think he is with those 1960s suits and those skinny ties? James Coburn in Charade?

I like the split screen.

With the bags full of Twinkies and orange juice, how can Tom process all that sugar?


What if that guy hadn't seen Summer reading Dorian Gray? Then another guy would have come along. Duh. This is the man-mesmerizing Summer we're talking about.

Autumn? Oy vey.

As the title of this post suggests, I liked the movie, yet I had fundamental problems with the writing, and thus with the characters. In particular, the character of Summer. I understand that the character of Tom was actually in love with love and with the idea of Summer, instead of being in love with the actual woman Summer. However, I never figured out who Summer was, and I don't think the writers bothered to figure out who she was either. Her existence in the movie was wholly defined by her past, present and future relationships. Besides the fact that she had three relationships before she connected with Tom, and one relationship after that, all I know about Summer is the following:

  • She is of "average height" (5 feet, 5 inches) and "average weight" (121 pounds)
  • She is from Michigan
  • She likes The Smiths and Ringo Starr
  • She bewitches every heterosexual male she passes and subsequently generates an economic stimulus wherever she goes (yeah, I don't know)
  • She has never been in love

The entire movie, which had a white male director, and two white male writers, seemed to be based on the premise of obsessing over unattainable women. Women who, if they don't return unwanted advances by men inside or outside of the workplace, are bitches. For example, before Tom and Summer get together, Tom hears from his friend McKenzie that one of their male coworkers was hitting on Summer in the copy room. Summer declined the offer, so McKenzie calls her a bitch. As if Summer existed solely to satisfy the fantasies of her male coworkers, regardless of what she wants. Conveniently, we never discover what or who Summer wants, because the writers don't bother to tell or show us.

An equally poignant moment occurs during the opening frame, which was a black screen with the following statement in white letters:

Author's Note: The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Especially you Jenny Beckman.


The movie was created by (white American heterosexual) men, for (white American heterosexual) men about (white American heterosexual) men and their misogynistic delusions about (white American) women. This is despite the fact that the movie has been marketed to pretty much everyone in the United States, and--based on my observations in the theater I was sitting in--whose audience will probably skew female. :|

After examining the evidence, I didn't like 500 Days of Summer as much as I wish I had. But the acting was all good!


Saturday, July 25, 2009

"A writer writing a book about how writers should write books."

"Must have been a huge seller."

As some of you readers may know, I have been working on the sequel toSteve the Penguin, entitled Hot Penguin Action. Writing a 200-page novel has taken over much of my mind grapes. Hence, the slow down of posts on this blog.

For you readers, I do have an excerpt, which will probably be amended prior to the final edit. Enjoy!

"I'm having my ex-husband's baby."

There I sat, bemused by Liesl's statement. I wondered how my usually coherent best friend could sound like a guest on Maury. That show always made my life look good.

"It's Scott's. Of course. If I am actually pregnant. I'm a month late, and the test I took came out green, instead of pink or blue. I haven't told anyone else yet."

I was shocked. Liesl called her family for advice on everything. I once witnessed Liesl moderating a conference call with her mother, father, sister and brother to confirm whether her pink dress should be washed with the white laundry or with the darks.

"Then there's nothing to tell."

"I'm always on time, Bianca."

"You're only a month late. I have been late, early, long, short. Although, I'm not the one who has been engaging in unprotected sex with her husband for over a year."

"Exactly. You're not having sex."

"Yes, I know." Like I needed another voice in my head telling me my vajayjay was never going to get any action. Honestly, I could have put it storage. No one else was using it.

"You don't have to worry about getting pregnant, since you're not with anybody."

"That's nice, Liesl. You still want me to be sympathetic, right?"

"Sorry." She paced back and forth across my room. "How did this happen? I was on the pill."

"It is 95% effective. Although, with the stress of the divorce, your hormones are probably . . . "

"Whacked out? Yeah. I haven't felt normal for a while. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm not sure I want to have it."

I patted Liesl's arm. "If you want to end your pregnancy, it's your decision."

"I don't want to have an abortion. If this is really happening, I'm having the baby, and I'm keeping it. The problem is raising a baby. I never planned to be a single mother. A baby needs two parents."

"When I was growing up, half of my friends had single parents. And for the most part, they turned out great. Conversely, the people who lived with both biological parents are the ones who turned out a bit off." Case in point, Liesl: a product of a two-parent household who ended up divorced before 30, with a child on the way.

Liesl frowned. "Why couldn't this have happened to you?"

Because I don't have sexual relations with the insane?


Uppity colored people

For the rest of the Fresh Prince episode, "Mistaken Identity," click here, here and here.

Having Barack Obama as president doesn't make America colour-blind, by Patricia Williams, The Observer. Emphases mine.

During a major policy speech on healthcare, even President Obama found time to weigh in: "… I think it's fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry. Number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home. And number three – what I think we know separate and apart from this incident – is that there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately…" Needless to say, the next morning's papers talked about Obama calling Cambridge police "stupid".

The arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates has been officially swallowed by the larger narrative of race in America. Now I love a good racial escapade as much as the next person, but this one strikes me as uniquely unfortunate both in its timing and its capacity for becoming a flashpoint for unrelated resentments.

The facts not in dispute are straightforward. Gates came home from a trip and found his front door jammed. With the help of his driver, he tried to push the door open, unsuccessfully. He then went to the back door, opened it with his key, turned off the alarm system and called Harvard's property management company to report the sticky door. Meanwhile, a passerby called the police to report that "two black males" were breaking into a house. When the police arrived, they encountered Gates in his living room. Gates provided his driving licence and his Harvard ID.

Here the stories diverge. Gates says he asked the officer to identify himself and the officer refused. The officer says that Gates was unco-operative, called him a racist and began shouting so loudly – "Your momma!" and: "You don't know who you're messing with!" according to the police report – that the noise constituted "tumultuous behaviour" and "public disorder". Gates was handcuffed and hauled off to jail for a few hours. A day later, a judge dismissed the charges, saying both sides had acted badly. Gates demanded that the arresting officer apologise; the officer demanded that Gates apologise. The Cambridge police department demanded that President Obama apologise, which he did, quite eloquently as usual. Gates took to national television to set the record straight. Al Sharpton announced his intention to march in protest. And Michael Jackson, pushed from the front pages for a hot minute, was finally able to rest in peace.

Hee. I like how any recent news story can work in a Michael Jackson reference.

But the larger backlash has quickly moved from the individual incident itself to condemnations in the stereotyped plural, concentrating on a very tight set of recurring themes: Gates is "uppity", arrogant, pseudo-educated. He should have been grateful that the police came to his house at all. Harvard was stupid for hiring him. African-American studies, the department Gates chairs, is a non-subject, only on the curriculum to keep black students from rioting. The Ivy League is run by politically correct "wusses" who don't have the courage to get rid of "undeserving" "whiners". Who could blame police officers for refusing to come to black homes or neighbourhoods if this is what they get? "Those people" have jobs a "more qualified" white person should be holding.

(Where, oh where, our fleeting "post-racial" moment of Kumbaya?)

I mentioned that timing was also a probable factor in this brouhaha. The entire week before Gates's arrest was consumed with reports of the congressional hearings for Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. She would be the first Hispanic and only the third woman sitting in our highest court. Hence, racial resentment had already been simmering on the shock-jock media burners. Three ultra-conservative senators in particular grilled her, day after day, using some of the most prejudiced, stereotype-laden language we've heard publicly in many a year. Despite the fact that Sotomayor graduated at the top of her class from Princeton and Yale Law School, she has been attacked as not qualified, chosen not for merit but because she's a woman or Latina. Pundits such as Pat Buchanan railed that "affirmative action is to increase diversity by discriminating against white males". Furthermore, said Buchanan, there could be nothing wrong with a court of all white men, because, after all "white men were 100% of the people who wrote the constitution, 100% of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg…"

[ . . . ]

In short, the Sotomayor hearing and the New Haven firefighters case have reignited the general American debate about affirmative action. So when the extremely distinguished Harvard university professor Henry Louis Gates was carted off in handcuffs, allegedly calling out: "This is what happens to black men in America!", there was a distinct shimmer of schadenfreude in some parts of the national psyche. The reactionary themes that had been percolating during the last few weeks came bursting to the fore: minorities are taking over! Obama is only appointing non-whites! White people are the truly oppressed! People of colour, particularly ones who went to Harvard, Yale or Princeton, are reverse racists.

The arrest itself is hardly the best example of either racial profiling or police-state oppression. But the discourse that has welled up in its wake reveals a public inclination that is marred by that and more.


Also, an article from 2000:

How to Hide Police Brutality: Just Call It a 'Black Thing', by Margo Hammond, The New York Observer. Emphases mine again.

When police at California's John Wayne Airport identified themselves as "members of the Airport Narcotics Security or something or other" and demanded to see his ticket, Ishmael Reed, a senior lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley, complied, even though he knew he had the right to refuse. He was afraid he would be arrested and the police would plant narcotics in his briefcase so that they could make a charge. Mr. Reed explains: "Many whites believe that blacks are crazy when they accuse the police of planting evidence, yet they're the ones who are crazy, bewitched by the media, which too often serve as a kind of public relations annex for the police, creating and reinforcing the belief that American crime is black or brown, even though over 70 percent of arrests in both cities and rural areas are of whites. In fact, according to recent F.B.I. statistics, it is white adult crime that's on the increase."

[ . . . ]

Katheryn Russell puts her finger on the reason the problem of police brutality isn't a top attention-getter in this country: It's seen as a "black thing," she argues. Although more whites are arrested than blacks, there is no "white poster child of police brutality," no "white Rodney King." Most likely, she argues, that's not because there are no white victims of police assault, but rather because whites are less likely to think of an assault as a manifestation of brutality. As a result, for both blacks and whites, police brutality is considered a black problem. Even the shooting of the hammer-wielding Gidone Busch by four New York City police officers in August 1999 did not arouse much public outrage nationwide. News reports, after all, cast him as another outsider, centering on his mental illness and his religion, Orthodox Judaism, and not on his "whiteness." Minorities who complain about police abuse are treated like next-door neighbors who are having a fight, Ms. Russell believes: The rest of us don't want to get involved, and so we tell ourselves that we don't know the facts and that it's none of our business anyway. Ms. Russell argues, "These types of rationales allow us to diminish the collective harm of police brutality." Meanwhile, as Ms. Williams points out, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris-"after professing their love for Hitler, declaring their hatred for blacks, Asians and Latinos (on a public Web site no less), downloading instructions for making bombs, accumulating ingredients, assembling them under the protectively indifferent gaze (or perhaps with the assistance) of parents and neighbors, stockpiling guns and ammunition, procuring hand grenades and flak jackets, threatening the lives of classmates, killing 13 and themselves [and] wounding numerous others"-prompt a national conversation about "What went wrong?" Black males carry the stigma of "suspect," but the police are not the only ones to blame. The brutality in the term "police brutality" begins with a society willing to suspect the members of an entire race, to brand them criminals with a single look. Whereas white males are given the benefit of the doubt-victims, as Patricia Williams puts it, of "innocent profiling."


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"I don't always feel anything. Sometimes I feel, like, numb, or something."

"Maybe you just haven't found the right person yet."

"I've tried every type of person. No big deal. You don't have to look all worried or anything."

I was reminded of this My So-Called Life clip during a conversation I had today. I was speaking with a gentleman who had recently discovered that most female sex workers in San Francisco view their professions as strictly business transactions, not as remotely enjoyable experiences. After learning this, he no longer has any latent desire to engage in this industry.

I found this to be both sad and amusing. Amusing because I figured most people, regardless of their industries, approached their jobs as work, not fun. As if baristas at Starbucks get a thrill from serving Frappuccinos for eight hours a day.

Sad because I responded, "that is also true in many relationships. Pretending to enjoy yourself for the benefit of the other person." What is worse is that clearly many spectators honestly believe the fantasy. The fantasy that women who act sexy for the benefit of the male are always enjoying themselves. Even worse is that many women define what makes them feel sexy by how attractive they are to men, not by how they inherently, naturally feel about themselves.

This also reminds me of a discussion that I had two years ago on a comment thread on a site which shall not be named, for reasons previously explained. The discussion was about Maggie Gyllenhaal's decision to be the new face of Agent Provocateur lingerie. I was against it, while other commenters were for it.

The core of my argument remains the same as my feelings today: it is disappointing that so much of women's sexuality is defined by what is appealing to the (white American heterosexual) male gaze, and that so many women and men eagerly consume and believe these unnatural ideas and ideals.

Back to Rayanne. If you are not enjoying yourself with someone, then you should not be having sex with them. Men have sex to have orgasms. Women should do the same. If you are having sex for other reasons, like you want to stay warm, then buy a blanket. It's cheaper, it will be there in the morning, and you won't catch crabs from it.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

"How would you describe your sexual experience in terms of tomatoes?"

"Spaghetti sauce."

I wonder why there aren't any dating advice books called Think Like a Woman for men. Maybe publishers think men can't read. Like Jordan Catalano.


90% white people + 10% black people = 1 United States of America

Rachel Maddow: Why do you think is that of the 110 Supreme Court justices we've had in this country, 108 of them have been white?

Pat Buchanan: Well, I think white men were 100 percent of the people that wrote the Constitution, 100 percent of the people that signed the Declaration of Independence, 100 percent of people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Probably close to 100 percent of the people who died at Normandy.

This has been a country built basically by white folks in this country who are 90 percent of the entire nation-in 1960, when I was growing up, Rachel-and the other 10 percent were African-American who had been discriminated against. That's why.

That's why. Except that, if in 1960, there were only white people and black people in the United States, and nonwhite, nonblack Sonia Sotomayor was born in 1954, then where did she come from?

For further perusal, you can read "Rachel Maddow Takes On Pat Buchanan (VIDEO): "You're Playing With Fire... You're Living In The 1950s" by Jason Likins at The Huffington Post. You can also read "A history lesson for Pat Buchanan" by ttujoe at Daily Kos.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Stephen Colbert is an it-getter.

The Colbert Report: The Word - Neutral Man's Burden
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorJeff Goldblum

He gets it.

"In America, white is neutral. Now, for years, Band-Aids [sic] came in only one color: white person. It's standard person color. In fact, it is so standard, that when I was a kid, in Crayola boxes, it was the color called 'flesh.' Now most Americans accept this [Stephen points to the back of his white person colored hand] as neutral without thinking about it. And that is why the decisions made by all those white Justices were not affected by their experiences. Because their life experiences were neutral . . .

Now I'm sure Asians are neutral in Asia. And Africans are neutral in Africa. And Hispanics are neutral in Hispanica. But folks, it doesn't work here."


Sunday, July 12, 2009

When they show you who they are,

believe them:

Bullying Behind GOP "Racist" Win, by John Avlon, The Daily Beast.

Young Republican Leader Audra Shay Is Crazy, Illiterate, Racist, by Pareene, Gawker.

The New Ice Age of the Young Republicans, by Michael Rowe, The Huffington Post.

The election of 38-year old Audra Shay of Louisiana to the chairmanship of the Young Republican National Federation on Saturday in Indianapolis might have gone practically unnoticed, had it not been for revelations by John Avlon, writing in The Daily Beast, that Shay had tacitly endorsed a virulently racist post about U.S. President Barack Obama on her Facebook page.

In response to one of her Facebook friends, Eric S. Piker asserting

"Obama Bin Lauden [sic] is the new terrorist...Muslim is on there [side]...need to take this country back from all these mad coons...and illegals,"

Shay posted back,

"You tell em Eric! lol."

When two of her other friends--including Sean L. Conner, chairman of the D.C. Young Republicans--complained about the racist language on Shay's Facebook thread, Shay responded, not by unfriending the author of the "mad coon" comment, but by unfriending the two who complained. [ . . . ]

That looks bad. But it gets better:

Audra Shay Responds to Race Allegations
, by Gary Coats, The Conservationist. Emphases mine.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Yesterday on Facebook, an unfortunate incident occurred. An individual posted two comments on my Facebook wall, the first comment arguing against big government and the second filled with racially charged comments. I responded supporting the individual’s first post, to continue the fight against big government spending. I was not aware of the racial comments until sometime later, when a third individual brought it to my attention. I immediately deleted the derogatory and outright disgusting comments and subsequently posted a statement on my Facebook Status stating that in no way, shape or form are the comments posted by other individuals a reflection of me or my beliefs as an American, a Veteran, a Mother or a Candidate. I do not, nor would I ever, condone that type of language or behavior.

Unfortunately, my opponents have now spun a web of misconception and untruths, desperately trying to paint me as a racist. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, I have made it part of my Young Republican life to ensure that we did not just focus on outreach, but inclusion. Under my leadership as Chairman of the State of Louisiana’s Young Republicans, we were able to raise $90,000 for a minority outreach media campaign. Also under my leadership as Louisiana Chairman we brought the largest minority delegation to the YRNF Convention in 2007. [ . . . ]

See! Ms. Shay is not a racist. She is "an American, a Veteran" and "a Mother." She raised money for nameless minorities that one time, and she brought them to a convention. Case closed.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Fox News: Keeping it klassy with a KKK.

Joel McHale had no words either when he aired this on The Soup last night.

For additional perspectives:

Fox News' Kilmeade: We "marry other species," Finns "pure", by Alex Koppelman, Salon.

Brian Kilmeade Would Like Species and 'Ethnics' to Remain Pure, by Richard Lawson, Gawker.

FOX & Friends of Racism, by BackOfBusEleven, Feministing Community.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

That's right, Colin Powell!

Powell Whacks Limbaugh And Republicans For Calling Sotomayor Racist, by Sam Stein, The Huffington Post.

Powell expressed relief that the GOP senators who sit on the Judiciary Committee, "after a few days of this kind of nonsense," decided to drop the Sotomayor-as-racist frame. But he would go on to argue that the Republican Party still had a major problem when it came to reaching out to minority voters. In the process, Powell took what seemed clear to be a jab at radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for some of his more inflammatory rhetoric.

"If you look at the results of the election last fall, and make a judgment on the basis of how the party did with respect to the Hispanic vote and the African-American vote, realizing that President Obama, candidate Obama had a significant advantage with those constituencies, we haven't done well enough," he said. "And when you have non-elected officials, such as we have in our party, who immediately shout racism, or somebody who is quite prominent in the media says that the only basis upon which I could possibly have supported Obama was because he was black and I was black, even though I laid out my judgment on the candidates, then we still have a problem."

Now let's talk about the illegal invasion of Iraq that you got our country into . . .


Excitement! But not too much, because it's Daria.

Excuse me? Daria finally coming to DVD, by Annie Wu, TV Squad.

Thank the late-90s gods for the existence of Daria and praise be to the supernatural entities responsible for DVDs. For the first time ever, Daria will be available on DVD.

We feared it couldn't be done, but it's going to happen! I can hear sour-faced now-20-somethings celebrating now. Yes, they're quiet, but they're definitely excited. Keep it cool, guys, keep it cool.

MTV will soon release another highly anticipated DVD set for their sketch comedy show, The State, and it looks like one of the first things DVD owners will see is an ad for a 2010 Daria release. even has a little screencap and everything.

Hooray! I hope the music from the episodes stays in. Darn licensing laws and poor planning keeping me from my entertainment.


Thursday, July 02, 2009

"This is sand. It represents desert."

I'm so excited about the 4th of July Twilight Zone marathon on SciFi. This year, the network (which will become SyFy on July 7) is airing episodes from the 1985 series.

Below is my favorite episode from the third Twilight Zone incarnation, "A Message from Charity", starring James Cromwell, best known by me for his work in Babe: