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Posts Tagged ‘media’

I know I’ve been kind of binge-posting lately, but I thought y’all might find this article interesting.

detail.asp?page=1&id=26601

badass

I know not all of us are on the Lady Gaga fan train, but I think this article is a fine example of a positive quality of Lady Gaga: she sometimes picks  really rad people to work with. This article is about Heather Cassils, the person Lady Gaga makes out with in the prison yard, who speaks at length about her dislike of binaries, disappointment with The L Word as a queer T.V. show, and her personal performance art.

The interviewer, Noah Michelson, also shares a good point with Cassils about the implications of having such a new face making out with a pop star,

It really speaks to the idea of visibility. When you think about the way queer women are presented — even in 2010 — we never see images like you and Lady Gaga making out… Whenever I see truly queer representations, especially embedded in such a mainstream moment like “Telephone,” I think of kids in the middle of Kansas who maybe aren’t exposed to anything, and then they see this Lady Gaga video, and they start asking questions. Even something as fluffy as a pop music video can be hugely influential.

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The tagline is "Every rose has its thorns." eheh heh heh?

So I just watched the movie Teeth. This is one rich film for a feminist. I highly recommend watching it. If you want to watch it before I give away the plot, I know you can find it for free at Surfthechannel… or you could, like, pay to watch it. Not like I did, but I’m all for that. SO now, DON’T READ FURTHER.

Okay, spoilers commence here. And, another warning: I’m gonna be talking about rape and sexual assault so, TRIGGER WARNING. This is how I saw the movie.

Teeth is the story of girl in high school who is a teenage advocate for The Promise Ring and boils in her repressed sexuality. She meets a guy at one of her speeches about the values of abstinence and immediately they hit it off–they have that special something. This girl lives at home with her mom, dad, and step-brother (?) who is basically the most misogynistic, horrible, sexual-assault-y dude ever. Her parents seem to be, like, the sweetest people everrr. So, after a particularly disgusting encounter with her brother which ends with him saying something like “you know who you’ve been saving yourself for, all this abstinence bullshit… you want me” the girl storms out of her house and decides that she’s gonna risk her “purity” and go out to the swimming hole with cute guy she met at the abstinence meeting. They dive into the water and (arguably) it’s adorable and romantic and I couldn’t help but want them to get some cause hey, they’re both just so darn conflicted and repressed. They kiss and feel guilty… kiss and feel guilty… then the girl swims further down the swimming hole into the cave where it’s rumored that kids “…you know” (subtext: have the sex). She climbs up onto a ledge in the cave where someone had already laid down a sleeping bag. Oh dear. Boy swims after her but she tells him not to come up there. He says “I’m freezing” in the water and climbs up anyway. They sit together and it’s still cute cause they don’t want to make moves but they can’t seem to help themselves and they get to kissing and touching and mounting. Then the girl stops them and says, “let’s go back down.” The guy says okay. BUT SUDDENLY. He mounts her again and starts pulling off his underwear saying things like “let me just try this” and then shouting at her, “I haven’t jerked off since Easter!” and she repeatedly says “NO! I’m SAYING NO!” It is horrifying transition from cutesy first love to a full-on THIS IS RAPE scene. After about a minute of wrestling and violence, the boy ultimately penetrates her. Then we hear a slicing kind of noise. The boy screams and, with difficulty, pulls himself free, gushing blood. A large portion of his penis drops to the rocky ground. He continues crying/screaming and jumps back into the water. This girl has teeth in her vagina (“vagina dentata”) that are apparently activated by non-consensual penetration.

So if that gives you an idea of what the movie is like… I’m gonna skip around through the rest of the things that I found interesting/disturbing/questionable about the movie.

Every male character besides the rather sweet papa turns out to just want to rape our protagonist. After the incident at the water hole, the girl goes to the gynecologist, who, after examining her, gives a furtive glance and seemingly decides that, since she’s never been to the gyno before, she won’t mind if he lubes up his hand and starts fisting her. She is severely uncomfortable, says so, and after a few thrusts, we hear the slicing noise. The gyno shrieks, four fingers fall to the floor, and as the girl escapes the room, the gyno starts screaming “VAGINA DENTATA! VAGINA DENTATA!” After this, the girl approaches another “nice guy” from school who proceeds to drug her and coerce into having sex, but she’s too drugged to feel threatened (thus, no castration this time). She has sex with him and they both smile and they both orgasm and it almost seems nice if it wasn’t that HE RAPED HER. She wakes up the next morning, has more sex with him, but, mid-thrusting, this guy answers his phone and he says “Hey. Yeah, doing it riiiight now. She’s right here.” He looks at her and says, “Say something.” She is disgusted, says, “no.” and asks him what’s going on. He tells her he made a bet with his friends over whether he could fuck her. After a few more words exchanged, he shrieks and, once again, a penis is severed. There is one more instance of this. Then an implied one in the end of the film. I will say that, from my point of view (and as far as I could see on other reviews of the movie), every person dismembered by the vagina dentata seemed to really “deserve” what they got–the penetrators were rendered utterly detestable.

I wonder about the “female empowerment” of the vagina dentata concept, when obviously any woman put in those situations in our world does not have this power over the penetrator. However, is the fear and discomfort that this film provokes in (reportedly) many penetrators an empowerment in some way? That maybe more people will think twice before they just compulsively penetrate?

I wonder about the genre of this movie and how it excuses certain plot points. For example, as a horror movie, I could say something like, “well, in most horror movies, women are disgustingly shallow characters and are nearly always humiliated in a graphically sexual/violent way, so it’s cool that this one is turning the tables.” And thus I justify the feminist goal of this movie. BUT this is a movie about the oft-ignored topic of rape, and the even more ignored topic of female defense against rape. Are women, as targets of the rapes portrayed, supposed to take heart in that there’s one story about a girl who has the magical power to exact justice on her rapist? What is valuable about this story to feminists and/or rape victims? Is this movie really made for these people? Or is this another kind of band-aid movie… a movie that makes everyone feel good about rape because, in this case, justice was served? I’m torn. I hated the rape scenes, but I learned, through the movie, to start feeling okay about them because I knew those fuckers were about to get their dicks handed to them.

I’m starting to hate feel-good movies.

There is also the sort of subplot about abstinence education. This is perhaps the most intellectually stimulating part of the movie. Our protagonist goes to a school where the sex-ed teacher cannot even bear to say the word “vagina” and the school textbooks have huge stickers pasted over the anatomical drawings of vaginas. It is made very clear that this is a misogynist community. What is the value of having a rather campy horror movie with pretty clear implications that abstinence-only sex education is, at best, painfully ironic? Afterall, the protagonist starts out as a fairly confident spokesperson for The Promise Ring.

So, after this long-ass post, do y’all have any thoughts?

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Or, alternatively titled: “Making the Brown Sex Week 2010 Poster”

(This is a cross-post from the SHEEC blog/my blog)

My goals were that the poster:

  • Wouldn’t imply a certain relationship status
  • Wouldn’t be objectifying and just like any other ad on TV
  • Wouldn’t be heteronormative (and ideally not homonormative, either, which is…not easy to do–most images out there are very either/or)
  • Would simultaneously bring something “non-traditional” to the fore but NOT in a “LOOK HOW RADICAL I AM!” way or in a “LOOK HOW FREAKY THIS IS!” way
  • Would focus on sexuality and sensuality, but in a fun, not intimidating, fashion
  • Re: above, would also not be too explicit or obviously and “traditionally” sexual, so that it could have more interpretations (including “platonic” ones?)
  • Would reflect an air of inclusiveness
  • Would not represent people from just one ethnic group (and this was the hardest to achieve while still trying to keep to the other points; I resolved this issue by making the skin tones a rainbow)
  • Would not glorify a particular body type, especially one that corresponds to the dominant ideas of beauty in the media
  • Would be welcoming and attractive
  • Would hold all the text necessary!

The RESULT:

Thoughts?

Do you encounter similar situations when you have to do the promotional material for events? How do you feel about the world of advertising/promo in college and/or specifically at your institution of “higher learning”?

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Juicy. Lady Gaga. Juicy. Some things to ponder…

  • Lesbian prison scenes! Why in a prison?
  • Gaga’s sexually ambiguous relationship with Beyoncé!
  • Is it just me or did they make Beyoncé whiter???
  • Use of the Kill Bill “Pussy Wagon”: feminist reclamation or glorification of (faux) girl power movie?
  • Resemblance to Thelma & Louise
  • “To be continued…” SQUEE.

Hope you share my love for Gaga and my love for critiquing Gaga!

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Everyone seems to be talking about Crystal Renn these days. The New York Times claims she’s “The Triumph of the Size 12s.” Jezebel says she’s not. And commenters think that having Crystal Renn in 8 page photoshoots is encouraging obesity. So here’s my take.

Photographers and Designers told Crystal Renn she was too fat, now they tell her she’s too skinny. I don’t understand why we feel the need to regulate Crystal Renn’s weight. If they’re looking for a different look, why not find a different person? People are constantly surprised that Crystal Renn doesn’t look fat, but why are we so surprised? According to the measurements I’ve found on the internet it would appear Renn’s BMI puts her in the “normal range” not “overweight” and no not “obese” and no not “morbidly obese,” and we already know BMI is kinda bullshit. So what’s with this freak-out-she’s-encouraging-obesity bullshit?

This to me speaks a lot to the way we think about fat. We tend to think in extremely polarized terms. A person is either fat and thus lazy, ugly, gross, insert-negative-adjective-here, or they are not fat, and thus not those things. This to me is pretty apparent in how clothes are organized. I’m an in-betweenie of sorts on the fat spectrum of clothing sizes. I can range anywhere from a 12 to a 16, depending on the make and cut and what part of my body we are fitting. What’s interesting of course is that the 12s are sold in “normal stores” and the 16s are sold in “plus size stores.”  The clothes that are sold in a size 12 are still flattering, they’re “in,” but the second you get into the 16s you go to ponchos and moo-moos and weird drape-y things in horrible giant prints. I don’t really understand why designers seem to give up the second you get above a 14. Folks just need an inch here or there, and excuse me for being so blunt by why the hell is 14 the size in between “normal clothes” and “plus size clothes” when that is the size the average American woman wears? 14 should be the size we design all clothes around and should be the samples runway models wear–not supposed “plus size models.”

Another thing I’m sort of disturbed by is this whole sexualization and fetishization over the white skin of some “plus sized” models like in Renn’s 8 page spread in Glamour, “You’d Look Even Better Naked” or in the recent “plus size issue” of V magazine. I don’t claim to know why plus size models always have to have white skin and lose their clothes for their photoshoots, but it’s making me wonder. Jezebel tries to put a finger on it in their “So, Why Are Plus-Size Models So Often Naked, Anyway?

…This is as good a time as any to address the fact that a large number of plus-size shoots feature nudity. Of course, so do many fashion shoots with straight-size models: but because as a culture we associate larger women’s bodies with different meanings than smaller women’s bodies, photographing a plus-size model naked can have very different connotations. Eroticizing a plus-size model is a pretty easy, and in some ways predictable, choice. Do the images rely on the old trope of the voluptuous woman as sexually salacious? Is it just that the stylist couldn’t (or couldn’t be bothered) to pull clothes in the right sizes?

Personally, I’m guessing there are probably many reasons for this focus on naked white plus size models. One is that I don’t think there are enough awesome clothes made and sold for women of a certain size for which the models can model which I’ve already addressed. And secondly, I think when we add the fact that these women are larger than most models, I think photographers don’t know what to do. We’ve already polarized folks into fat and not fat, good and not good. So inorder to demonstrate that “hey she’s not all those bad things we associate with fat”, they rely more heavily on her female-ness, and her white-ness. Instead of showing actual diverse images of beauty, we just amp up old ideas of about Snow White being the fairest lady of them all who spends her life waiting for strange men in the woods.

If you’re looking for actual diversity in fashion, check out the fatshionista community which describes itself as ” a diverse fat-positive, anti-racist, disabled-friendly, multi-gendered, queer-flavored, politically-engaged community, open to everyone” They’re pretty rad and frankly more useful than any fashion mag I’ve ever seen since it’s real clothes worn by real folks.

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The racial politics of Avatar

If Jake’s attraction is primarily sexual, it has to be interpreted through the historical White fetishization of women of color. From the slave masters’ midnight visits to the contemporary exoticization of Asian and Black female sexuality, women of color have served as the leading figures of White sexual fantasies.  In this context, when Jake Sees Neytiri (undeniably, a woman of color), how do we know that he isn’t just seeing a hypersexual body that he can use for his own pleasure?

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Sixteen Candles

A few nights ago I sat down with my whole family to watch a movie: Sixteen Candles directed by John Hughes (who also gave us Home Alone and the Breakfast Club)

I don’t know what it was about this PG rated “sweet and funny” (Roger Ebert) teen classic; maybe it was the fact that when it came time for “the geek” to rape the beautiful, passed out prom queen, nobody gave it a second thought.  That when the “jock but actually a really nice guy” character says “I can get a piece of ass anytime I want. Shit, I’ve got Caroline in the bedroom right now, passed out cold. I could violate her ten different ways if I wanted to,” it’s taken as a sign of his great maturity and sweetness that he doesn’t in fact violate her “ten different ways”  …rather than a sign that he isn’t a rapist and a criminal. That aforementioned Carolina clearly deserves to be raped, after all, she’s a beautiful cheerleader, and it’s about time the tables turned!

I won’t even go into the racism; suffice to say there is a foreign exchange student from China named Long Duck Dong.

If this is a PG rated classic, the kind of movie we show to twelve year olds, the kind of movie a whole family watches together on thanksgiving, the kind of sweet nostalgic movie taken as the antithesis of the violent, misogynistic, torture porn and regular porn and all the other garbage my mom finds so offensive…and it’s blatantly endorsing sexual abuse.

Well, I guess I already knew we lived in a rape culture…

Thoughts?

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