Sunday, August 23, 2009

"That toaster's a power bottom."

"But sometimes companies make ads just for gays that air on Logo, and occasionally the other Logo, where, let's face it, no straight person will see that ad."


"Separate but equal jeans. A concept that's always worked well in America. Because God forbid people see a gay puppet on any of these shows."

Ha ha!


Like Hello Kitty,

no Asian or Asian-American women were allowed to speak on camera in The Slanted Screen. (Thanks, Margaret Cho!)

Other than actively not acknowledging half of the population, I enjoyed the film. It featured Asian and Asian-American actors talking about how Asian men have been portrayed in American media. I do understand that the film was about Asian men. However, at the end of the film, the actors talked about how change is on the horizon, and how (at the time shooting) Bobby Lee, John Cho and Margaret Cho had studio deals, so things would get better. Considering I can count five Asian characters of any gender on the upcoming fall primetime lineup, and maybe five more on cable, I do not agree that things will get better quickly at all. But if things were to get better, it would help if the film had mentioned the stereotypes that actresses of Asian descent face in television and movies. Their struggles are related and come from similar sources of prejudice and discrimination. So it would have been nice to include the women, too.

I would have been content if the film had even one Asian or Asian-American actress sitting on camera talking about anything. But the three women that were allowed to speak on camera in the film were all white, and not actors. The three women did share insightful studies of how media affects children and the problems surrounding casting and writing. One study showed that children want to see representations of themselves in their media so that they can have role models. In another study, the children expected that white people in television and movies would have roles of authority, black people and Latino people would have subservient roles, and Asian people would not be on the screen at all.

In the film, Bobby Lee told the camera, "My nickname was 'Long Duk Dong' in high school because of that character, and I think every Asian guy that ever went to an American school earned the nickname Long Duk Dong because of that character." I never thought about that when I was growing up, because I didn't have any Asian classmates until seventh grade. And then he left after eighth grade. But now, that is what I think about when some of my contemporaries laud the accomplishments of the recently departed John Hughes. They make statements like "Sixteen Candles changed my life. That's my story. I love Jake Ryan!" I don't know what a racist Asian stereotype, Molly Ringwald's panties and some naked teenage girl taking a shower had to do with your empowerment as a woman, but to each her own.

In conclusion, watch The Slanted Screen, available on Netflix. It might change your life. Probably not, but it's still good.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Whenever I hear the words "Thomas Jefferson",

this is what comes to my mind, too:

Thomas Jefferson: The Face of a Rapist, by Renee, Feministe. Emphases mine.

Americans look at Thomas Jefferson and see the one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, a statesman, a former president and one of the founding fathers,’ however; when I look at him, I see the face of a rapist. When Jefferson first met Sally Hemings, his slave through inheritance, she would have been no more than 15 or 16 years old. It is rumoured that when she returned from France with him, that she was already pregnant with his child.

[ . . . ]

No matter how many times Black women have angrily contested the use of the term love affair between Hemings and Jefferson, it continues to be the most common descriptor by those who believe the DNA evidence. This assumes that Hemings actually had the power to deny Jefferson sexual access, or that Jefferson had a right to Sally’s body for the purposes of sexual gratification. Both suppositions are erroneous. Due to the patriarchal nature of gender relations, many men believe that they exist with the right to access women’s bodies and that is specifically grounded in the power imbalance between the genders. If we can acknowledge in a modern context that a power imbalance exists between men and women, how much more likely is it that this same imbalance existed between Jefferson and Hemings?

Some may look back at Jefferson and simply claim that he was a man of his time and that he should not be judged outside of historical context, however; in my mind a rapist is a rapist. What he did at the time may not have been considered a violation due to current race and gender relations, however; today we can correctly name his actions. Sally did not have the power to consent to his advances even if she was so inclined; this simple fact must be affirmed not only to honour the memory of Hemings but to change the social understanding that Black women’s bodies are unrapeable. We are not naturally licentious whores who exist to fulfill the sexual fantasies of depraved racist men. We are women that must be accorded the right to control over our bodies without punishment for any decisions we make in that regard.

And yet, Mr. Jefferson has a memorial in my nation's capital. (So does his fellow slave-owner and noted tax-evader George Washington.) This is despite the fact that Meredith Simons at the controversial site Double XX does not think we in the United States live in a rape culture, mainly because she doesn't seem to know anyone who has been raped.

I have never owned anyone, assaulted anyone, or started a war with Great Britain. Yet where is my national monument?


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I thought I'd like Drop Dead Diva,

but it is no longer appealing to me. The obvious reason is that there is no one featured on the show who is darker than a brown paper bag. No, I'm generous. None of the main characters on the show is darker that a sugar cookie. That includes the only nonwhite main character, and the most famous actor on the show--Margaret Cho--who is relegated to being the assistant of the main character, Jane. It appears that the creators of Drop Dead Diva said to themselves, "we've got one character who is all subversive with her fatness, and one character who insists upon being Asian. Make sure that every other main character on the show is white, heterosexual, thin, American, predictable and conventionally attractive. This is Lifetime, people. We think we know what the audience wants, and we keep giving it to them."

Aside from the lack of diversity, I am disappointed that the show is uninspired. Most of the characters are either shallow or lack depth, which are two different things. Regarding the depth, two of the supporting characters do not seem well thought out by the writers. Regarding the shallow, four of the characters select their potential mates based mainly on their appearance. This is despite the fact that the premise of Drop Dead Diva is supposed to be about a young, thin girl trapped in an older, fat woman's body to teach her a lesson about being a better person. But even her guardian angel Fred, whom I adored in the pilot, has now fallen in love with and stalked a woman solely based on her societally acceptable appearance. A woman who has no discernible source of income, nor a desire to get a job.

Ergo, not watching the show anymore.

Surprisingly though, on the Fox Reality Channel, I do like Househusbands of Hollywood. The first episode got funny at the end, when that one husband was so proud of the man cave he had created in his garage, and then his wife drove her car inside, almost running over his five friends.

You can watch the trailer here:

I don't know what all the pixelation is for. Yes, that is Ron Johnson and Vanessa Huxtable. No, I didn't know they were together until I heard about the show. They don't have any kids, so I don't know why he doesn't have a job. Well, aside from being a Househusband on TV.


Monday, August 17, 2009

I would go to a movie with both of them.

Best YouTube comment, by star0shadows:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, you are officially invited to the party in my pants.

~ ~ ~

Meaning, I would watch a movie in a theater with each of them sitting next to me. However, I think that Mr. Wood would be more interested in Mr. G-L than he would be in me. (Yes, I did watch the Season 3 premiere of Mad Men last night. Did you?) Or maybe not. I am adorable and charming, as you readers know. :)


Sunday, August 16, 2009

"She wants her America back? Go tell that to the Indians."

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Meaning the Native Americans, not the people from South Asia.


"Don't make me bring the OG Claire McCaskill out here."

"Just act right."

Funny! And poignant. Who knew the GOP and the Wu Tang Clan were actually the same people? Have you ever seen them in the same room? There you go.


Part of the Problem

This week I was having a conversation with one of my new friends, which went something like this:

New friend: "Let's talk about your dating life."

Me: "Let's not. It's terrible."

New friend: "Really?"

Me: "Really. Guys aren't that into me."

New friend: "That's hard to believe. You're great!"

Me: "Yeah, I know. I am great. But . . ."

And then I never know exactly what to say after that, because the friend that I am talking to is rarely another black woman. So the friend does not fully comprehend the background of racism, sexism, colorism, sizeism, and general discrimination and bigotry that is involved when dating, specifically when dating in the United States. It is difficult to explain that, for many male people my age, the person I am on the outside--and sometimes on the inside--is unacceptable. I am not what they had in mind. I am not what they grew up with. Even if my packaging is what they grew up with, the image of me, to them, remains generally inferior; it is not an image which they aspire to have as a partner.

It is hard for me to encapsulate all that pain in one sentence. It would take weeks for my friend to exit their well-constructed comfort zone and learn about gender studies and the history of institutional racism in the US. Then that friend would also have to recognize and accept that those social phenomena continue to negatively affect people like me, despite the few exceptions to the many rules. Watching Killing Us Softly 3 by Jean Kilbourne would be a start. They could also read the posts below:

Tameka Raymond's HuffPo Op-Ed on Colorism Is A Must Read, by ActsofFaithBlog, Acts of Faith In Love and Life.

"She's Pretty for a Dark-Skinned Girl...", by Tameka J. Raymond, The Huffington Post. Emphases mine.

I am a dark-skinned African American woman with features that reflect my ancestry. Debates regarding Light vs. Dark and other biases have plagued our race for years and continues to impact millions of Black women. The deeply rooted intra-racial contempt that lies beneath this inane "compliment" is the reason I've chosen to spark dialogue surrounding the topic of self-hatred in our culture. It saturates every aspect of our lives, dominating the perspectives of our generation as a whole. We culturally are so influential, at times inadvertently, that we affect all with the words we utter and the images we portray. It lends to the theory of systemic racism. I'm authoring this piece because I'm miffed by this reality and would like to share my views on these subjects.

[ . . . ]

Often dark-skinned women are considered mean, domineering and standoffish and it was these very labels that followed Michelle Obama during the campaign for her husband's presidency and which she has had to work tirelessly to combat. I was appalled when I heard a Black woman refer to Michelle Obama as unattractive. The conversation turned into why President Obama picked her as his mate. No one in the witch-hunt made reference to the possibility that Michelle Obama was smart, funny, caring, a good person, highly accomplished or brilliant. Nor did they mention that she previously was President Obama's supervisor. If she were fair skinned, petite with long straight or wavy hair, would the same opinions be linked to her? I seriously doubt it. It is believed that for the dark skinned, dreams are less obtainable.

In fact, I have read similar comments about myself that I am "dark, aggressive, bossy and bitchy." It has been stated that my husband should have been with a "younger, more beautiful" woman. Astoundingly, the majority of the remarks come from African-American women and are mimicked by others. Sadly enough, I don't know nor have I met 99% of those making these assertions. Funny, how we can judge another without having personally seen, interacted with or experienced a person's character.

[ . . . ]

Reading magazines, social media sites, watching our music videos, and television shows feed our appetites for all things 'beauty". Rarely, however do I see depictions of grace and elegance in the form of dark complexioned women.

[ . . . ]

It is my hope that our First Lady and others who share in this effort will continue to be the beacon to shine a light for those who toil on America's beauty totem pole. Now don't get me wrong or take my words out of context. I truly believe that everyone has a right to delineate what they deem is attractive, but we must not confuse perceived "attractiveness" with authentic "beauty."


Saturday, August 15, 2009

I'm not old. Yet.

Thank goodness I have a few more years before I have to take all those pills. But what about Sally Field and her Boniva?


"It’s Been A Long, Been A Long Day"

Three chapters completed! An excerpt from Ch. 19:

A few hours later, we sat on the bed, paging through my senior yearbook. A Law & Order: Criminal Intent marathon played in the background.

“Things that make you smile,” He read from the Question Pages in the middle of the book.

“My nieces and my nephew.” Meaning Colby. The other nephews needed to learn how to behave. “Okay, next. If you could script the plot for your dream tonight, what would it be?”

“Me as Wolverine from X-Men. The movie.”

“The second one? Also known as, my favorite one.”

“No, the first one,” he replied with no hesistation. “Otherwise known as the best one.”

“My turn again. Things that make you go hmm . . . ”

“Duck-billed platypuses. Platypi? Mammals laying eggs.” He took a bit of the Croissant Hot Pocket in his hand, with the silver and white microwave sleeve still attached. “Now my turn. If you could have your SAT score be 1400 simply by having an ugly scar on your face, would you do so?”

“I had over a 1400, and I had scars. I think it would be 2100 now. And I still have scars.” I lean in to show him my cheek. But as I placed my finger on my face, I shrank away from him.

“What’s wrong? Are you having a flashback? You don’t really have to take another standardized test again. Sometimes I have nightmares that I have to retake the LSAT. Then I wake up shaking, all sweaty and scared.”

“I’m not Fancy Bianca.” I looked at my clean, pinkish fingertips, which had no cocoa-colored powder or concealer on them. “I’m Casual Bianca.”

“What are you talking about?”

“This morning I put on my GMAT outfit, so I would be as comfortable as possible. Then you called, and we went to Johnny Rockets. But I didn’t change my clothes, or deal with my,” I lowered my voice, “dermatological issues.”

“Okay . . . ?”

“So I’m still Casual Bianca.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“I wanted to be Fancy Bianca! I wanted to look nice.”

“You look fine. We got burgers, not filet mignon.” Mike furrowed his brow. “If I’m following what you’re saying, which is doubtful, you’d rather be fancy than casual? That doesn’t seem like you, though.”

“I like being casual. With my friends.”

“I’m not your friend?”

“You are, but,” I exhaled. “I want people to like me for who I am. So I show them Fancy Bianca first. By the time they see Casual Bianca, they already like me. So they won’t run away.”

“Why would they run—That’s insanity.”

“No, that’s LA. And the rest of American society. People judge you by an impossible standard of looks, which I could never measure up to. So I try to make the best of what I have. I try to look normal.”

He swallowed the last of the Hot Pocket. “You’re a piece of work.”

“So are you, kid.”


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Another chapter completed!

"Cake!" 19 more chapters to go. An excerpt:

If I had to choose between a burgeoning rock star whom I had spoken with for a total of less than ten minutes, and a Senator’s entry-level assistant whose light brown eyelashes had burned a permanent image in my brain . . . Someday I would learn to pick the hot, unstable guys over the adorkable, dependable ones. But that day was not today.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I finished one chapter!

Only 20 more chapters to go. An excerpt:

I woke up in the morning next to him. I was surprised. One, he was still there, and two, he was still asleep. I needed to go to the bathroom. I rolled out of bed quietly to go pee pee and brush my teeth.

I returned to my room. It was almost 6:00 am, but being the end of June, the sun was shining brightly through the blinds near his feet. He was rolled up against the wall, breathing deeply. How was I going to sneak back into bed?

I eased myself onto the mattress, one body part at a time, in hopes of not jostling him. I snuggled back into my space, and posed my arms and legs into savasana, which was not the first yoga position that came to mind when I thought about him.

He turned over and wrapped his left arm around me. “Hello,” he said into my left shoulder. His eyes remained closed.

“As you can tell, this is not a Tempur-Pedic bed.”

He opened his eyes. “Does that make me a spilled glass of red wine?”

I raised the blanket and pointed at his pants. “That doesn’t look like wine in your pocket.”

He placed his hand over his crotch. “I’ll be right back.” He scooched down the bottom edge of the bed and headed for the bathroom.

When he came back, he climbed around me to get back in the bed, in the exact same position. He draped his arm across my body again. “How could you possibly think you were going to sneak out of this tiny bed?”

“I had to go to the bathroom. You were completely passed out, snoring, so there was a chance you’d stay asleep.”

“I do not snore.”

“Dude. You totally snore.”

“No, I don’t.”

I lifted my head to pull out the braids stuck behind my back. “Yes, you do. It didn’t wake me up, but I heard it. It sounded like a cartoon snore, where the tissue blows up over your nose from the air shooting out.”


Sunday, August 02, 2009

My husband won't be doofy.

Well maybe doofy, but not functionally incompetent. And he will be cooking and cleaning, because he will be a grown adult. But if he ever forgets his own birthday, that means it is time to take him to the special doctor.


I'd have to see it to believe it,

Aubrey Plaza: Funny person, by Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times. Emphases mine.

"I wasn't just the love interest . . . the girl you fall in love with for no reason just because she's there," [Aubrey Plaza] said. "It wasn't like, 'All the jokes go to the men, you just stand there and look pretty.' I think allowing me to be funny and weird and on the same page as the guys hopefully made it more real."

[ . . . ]

In "Funny People," Plaza plays Daisy, an L.A. arriviste who is a neighbor to the competitive young comedians played by Rogen, Jason Schwartzman and Jonah Hill. Also an aspiring stand-up, she soon becomes enmeshed in a romantic triangle with Rogen, who just landed a job as assistant to a more established performer played by Adam Sandler, and Schwartzman, star of a cheese-ball sitcom called "Yo Teach . . . !"

[ . . . ]

"Her experience in Hollywood is supposed to be similar to Seth's character," Apatow said. "Seth wants to make it in the business, so he attaches himself to this more successful older comedian. And she just moved to town and makes the mistake of sleeping with the first semi-successful actor she meets. I wanted it be the worst, messy courtship you can imagine."

For her part, Plaza has no reservations about being "the girl" in a Judd Apatow movie, and feels she was given equal footing to her male co-stars, down to the scene in which she expresses to Rogen her second thoughts about her dalliance with Schwartzman's character.


Musings from a black woman: Me too!

Not looking for things to get pissed off about, by nails at skeptifem. Emphases mine.

I have been trying pretty hard to avoid finding day ruining sexism and racsim, but it just isn’t working out. I don’t have as much time these days to go venting my emotions via blogulation, though I hope I will have more next semester. Nothing is more dismissive of the experiences of women and minorities than the accusation that extreme offense only comes out of ‘looking for something to get pissed off about’. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is a template for my days:

So, I go to work and stuff like this happens:

*patients aggresively tell me or my coworker “SMILE” because we do not display unending cheer at being in the presence of dudes

[ . . . ]

Note to readers: I despise that "Smile" one, particularly when it comes from my (female) gym class instructors towards our mostly female class. Who feels like smiling while doing lunges and squats? No one, that's who. So back up, people! I smile when I am happy. If you're not happy, you should feel no obligation to smile for the benefit of others. No wonder so many women fake orgasms. Heaven forbid women admit that they are not enjoying themselves.

*people ask my coworker if I am a lesbian, or sometimes they ask her if I am a dude if they only get a quick look at me. I can’t imagine them needing that information unless it would funadmentally change our interaction somehow.

[ . . . ]

*the breast scar capsules of women who have had their implants go horribly wrong arrive in the lab in a tub of blood and formalin. A pathologist will look into it.

*my boss asks me if I have had any ‘cat fights’ with my coworker, and tells everyone how I didn’t laugh about it and how weird is that.

*a guy who just got promoted to oversee our whole department sends out an email called “why I am afraid to exercise”, the joke is literally nothing but pictures of women who are body builders. I have to fill out some sexual harassment form thingy which is supposed to shield me from retaliation but I am not counting on it.

[ . . . ]

So I watch some tv instead, and an ad for the ugly truth comes on. It’s a movie where the writers bust out that popular template of a lady, the one with a good career and an empty life because she isn’t impregnanted or married. So, she needs help from someone to change her personality or otherwise decieve a man into loving/impregnating her. A review informs me that this movie was written by three women who have apparently internalized the message that they are worthless when not maintaining pornulational compliance. In this case gerard butler is the misogynist savior, who plays a shock jock who tells her that she needs to take off her clothes and quit having opinions before guys will like her. It works when she does it, and instead of being angry about it she accepts it as the nature of things. She eventually falls for the radio douche, who pets the dog to convince us all he is a good person (the dog in this case is his orphaned nephew, aww).

I totally did not see that fakakte ending coming. Ha! No, I did.

Horrible movies get made all the time, but this kind of shit is akin to the already offensive black cop/white cop comedies ending with the black one realizing that whitey’s advice that he uses his savage jungle nature to scare suspects into compliance really was the right way to do things, and thank goodness he found his place in the world through his oppressor. The awfully racist old style cartoons have for the most part been banned from airing on tv these days, but I can still hear a babysitter go “hehehe, math is hard” on the phone during an episode of tom and jerry. Movies like the ugly truth are being put out constantly, they make it through marketing meetings and production and people buy into it. There are tons of movies every year with outright woman hatred as the main spectacle that people just love, usually between saying that there isn't a need for feminism anymore.

Again, not just me. I don't want to complain about movies and TV shows that I expected to love. But I get disappointed because it's 2009 and writers can't conceive that rampant sexism and general bigotry is not acceptable in our media.


Saturday, August 01, 2009

"Do you think this is a teachable fart?"

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Yes I do, Stephen.


"I can never go to the library and take out books again. No longer. Because they banned me from the library."

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Reading is fundamental. As long as you pay your taxes in the correct district. Don't give me any excuses about being "a 7-year-old child." Books aren't free!


"You can't take 'fathers' out of 'founding fathers'. There's nothing more fatherly than wigs and capri pants."

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Hee hee, Tucker Carlson. He never gets better.