In Defense of Rory Gilmore

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Alexis Bledel as ‘Rory Gilmore’ in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life”; photo taken from Hypable 

I wrote the following after seeing multiple posts on blogs, Tumblr, and legitimate news sites basically slut shaming Rory Gilmore in “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” for decisions she makes regarding men.  Some of it isn’t actually slut shaming, some of it is simply die-hard fans who, like me, have probably watched the original series many times and have a romanticized idea of what Rory is like and how she should behave; they are disappointed, these fans, that thirty year old Rory isn’t making the same decisions as twenty year old Rory.

I think there are many factors to consider before judging Rory too harshly.

First of all: it’s been ten years.  No one dates exactly the same way they did ten years ago.  She’s in her thirties now, she’s less inhibited, less shy, more open to experiences.  As humans grow, we change, see things differently.  Rory is going to have a different mindset at 32 than she did when she was nineteen.

Secondly: We don’t know what her dating experience has been since leaving college.  Previous relationships have a great affect on how a person treats future romantic partners.  It’s possible she’s had one too many terrible boyfriends since Logan.  Also: Rory’s a bit of a nomad, it’s difficult to maintain exclusive relationships when you’re constantly moving.  Believe me, I know.

Thirdly: As a person ages, she becomes less idealistic.  Young people often have a rigid sense of morality, Rory certainly did.  This is why kids will often (foolishly) write off friends for not meeting a certain moral standard (see Veronica Mars).  But as we age and mature, we realize there’s a lot of gray in the world, and we are not the ultimate voice of right and wrong in the universe.  So we sleep with that guy we met at that party, and we drink the tequila, and drive to NYC to watch an SNL rehearsal and get a hot dog just to turn around and drive home again the same day.

Fourth: People also become less optimistic.  Which seems strange considering people become less cynical (unless you’re Louis C.K., or a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker) as they get older, but when it comes to relationships and dating, single, straight, American women seem to become more pessimistic about relationships.  Consider this Garfunkel and Oates song.

Fifth: We don’t know what sort of relationship Logan has with this French woman.  Maybe it’s an open relationship?  Maybe he has the same deal with her as he has with Rory?  The French are way less puritanical about sex than Americans.

We, especially those of us who grew up alongside Rory, want her to be a sort of moral beacon since she’s just like us only better, but really she’s not.  Rory is just as flaky as we are, she’s just as confused, just as meandering, just as flawed.  She is searching for her place in the world the same way we are.

And, as with all things, the viewer brings his or her own experience to the story.  All my girlfriends who are married, engaged, or in long term relationships had the same reaction: “Rory has had ample time to find someone new, loving, and stable, why is she back with old boyfriends and making these decisions?”  While all my fellow single girlfriends in their early thirties looked at Rory and said: “Yeah, nope, that’s exactly right!”

This post is edited slightly from the original post on Tumblr.

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This Holiday Season I am Grateful for: Library Book Club

Or, that time I crashed the Library Book Club Social Hour.

My sister loves reading.  She loves reading in the nicest, purest, most normal way possible.  People of my generation, you, me, lovely book bloggers on the Internet, we love to read in this weird, exhibitionist sort of way: we take pictures of our bookshelves and post them online, we Instagram the books we’re reading, we write essays and post them on our blogs about the books we’ve read, we keep digital lists of the books we’ve read this year, we buy tee shirts with book covers on them, and artistic prints made from the entire text of a beloved novel.  Let’s face it, we are a lovely group of weirdos.  We are over the top in our expression of love for reading, our love for books, storyline, and plot.

My sister, however, is the Unexpected Reader.  Just by looking at her, talking to her, following her social media one wouldn’t think she devours stories, it certainly might surprise some people who know her very well, but she loves books.  And she recently chanced her arm at the public library’s Book Club.  I was flooded with texts about how much fun it was discussing a book with a group of people, how someone told her they were glad she came, that the group needs more “young people”, she saw people there she hasn’t seen in years!  She went back the next month.  I was super proud of her.

December, there was no book.  Instead the book clubbers had a social gathering scheduled.  Even though I’d never been before, my sister invited me and I’m so glad I went.  The woman who runs the book club brought snacks, coffee, tea, and had a fun (nerdy) activity planned for the book clubbers.  She selected newly acquired books from this year, wrapped them in fun paper and wrote their genre on the paper.  She had us each select a couple of books and we went around the circle unwrapping and sharing the book description.  We got a little silly, well, a reserved silly since we didn’t all know each other, and had fun discussing what we thought of the book based on the description.  We chatted a little bit about the ones we knew more about (I had just read about Welcome to Night Vale and what book did I pull?).  Overall, it was a lot of fun.

My sister checked out the book club book for January and we’re planning on both reading it so we can both attend the January meeting (assuming I’m still in the area then).  I am ever so grateful that a) the library has a book club, b) my sister was brave enough to go on her own, and c) she invited me to the party and got me interested.  I’m always complaining that since I left college I have no one to talk books with, and, yet, every month there’s a group of people gathering across town talking books!

The Buccaneers

The Buccaneers is the unfinished final novel by Edith Wharton that was finished for her after her death by Marion Mainwaring.  I’ve never read it.  Edith Wharton, I have no problem telling you, is not one of my favorite authors.  I struggled with The House of Mirth and had a film adaptation of The Age of Innocence forced upon me by the same college professor who made us read the other one.  There’s just something about Edith Wharton, and her male counterpart Henry James, that makes me heave a sigh and roll my eyes.

I think it’s because no one ever finds happiness in their novels.  Which leaves me to believe the early 1900s in New York society was fucking dreadful.  Everyone was marrying for money, but no one had any, or they didn’t have as much as they were meant to have, and, holy hell, when their spouse finds out it’s all “you lied to me!” when they did no such thing.  And since people are in loveless marriages there’s always a friend or a cousin who comes along and is exciting and worldly and good in the sack.  Marriages fall apart and children are burdened with their parents’ selfishness and foolishness.  The slightest suggestion of impropriety on a woman’s part was enough for her to be ostracized forever.  A man, it seems, might be able to regain some favor with the community after engaging in inappropriate behavior, but only if he behaves himself very well indeed.

The BBC adaptation of The Buccaneers was oddly different from your typical Edith Wharton novel.  Mostly because of the ending.  It had a very E.M. Forster/Jane Austen feel to it.  It was very satisfying.  But surprising and shocking, because it was not Wharton-like.  I looked up the novel once I’d finished the miniseries, that’s when I learned about it being finished by someone else.  All the true and ardent Wharton fans on the Internet were horribly disappointed.  They all seemed to agree that the first three quarters of the novel are delightful, but the last bit is bad.  “Like falling off a cliff”, it was described.  I’m already disinclined to read it since it is a Wharton novel, but those reviews have me questioning many things about it both in favor of reading it and in favor of not reading it.  We shall see.

Things I Really Like:

  • Rainy days, when I don’t have to go anywhere
  • Coffee, always
  • Taylor Swift’s latest album
  • Paintings by Vincent Van Gogh
  • Snuggling
  • Comic book movies, esp Marvel
  • Pirates, Ninjas, Witches, Robots
  • 19th Century European Literature, primarily British
  • Colorful flowers
  • Baking sweets for others
  • Writing
  • Mysteries of most descriptions: books, movies, TV shows
  • Ocean beaches
  • Being silly
  • Kittens
  • Reading really captivating books
  • Loving; Being in love
  • Vodka, Honey Whiskey, Red Wine
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Bringing joy to other people
  • Experimenting
  • Jane Austen

“Coffee Stains”, an artist’s statement

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My submission for this year’s Sketchbook Project with the Brooklyn Art Library: “Coffee Stains”.

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The following is my Artist’s Statement as written on the Sketchbook Project website:

My lifestyle causes me to move every few months.  Sometimes I’m returning somewhere familiar, sometimes I’m lucky enough to stay with friends and family, sometimes I go somewhere completely new.  Everywhere I go: I drink coffee.  When I chose the “Wanderer” theme I had the idea to chronicle my travels through drawings of cups of coffee in each location.  Then, I couldn’t find my sketchbook.

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On my travels went, though, and I found myself outside Portland, OR for two months, wherein I inadvertently found myself making what I called the “coffeehouse tour of Portland”.  I visited a different coffeehouse nearly every visit into the city, I sat there with my drink and wrote, or drew, and soaked in the culture of the coffeehouse.  At each establishment I took pictures and posted them to Facebook.

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I believe in “coffeehouse culture”, that it is good for a community.  It doesn’t have to be a coffeehouse, it could be a tea-house, or a bar, or a bookstore.  I believe every community ought to have a place where people can visit, and pass the time, preferably with caffeine.  The places I have enjoyed living the most have all had something like this.  In Cazenovia, NY it was a coffeeshop, in Canterbury, England it was a pub, in Andover, CT it was a Chinese restaurant, and in Wakefield, RI it is a bar.  In each of these places I would feel as comfortable reading a book as I would talking to a stranger.

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When I returned to New England and found my sketchbook, I was glad I took so many hipsterish pictures.  I was able to draw some of my favorite Portland coffeehouses.  The idea to actually use coffee to paint stemmed from meeting a man in Seattle who uses a coffee/bleach solution to make tee shirts, and a blog about a woman who uses coffee in lieu of watercolors.  Using actual coffee to paint drawings of coffee was too meta to pass up.  I also used tea and hot cocoa mix, don’t be alarmed if the book smells like chocolate.  

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So much of my life can be counted in cups of coffee, as can, I think, many other’s; it is so ubiquitous that we rarely think about the coffee itself, where it comes from, how it’s made, which method we prefer.  How a region feels about their coffee or tea and how they make it is an interesting reflection of both the culture and the individual.  Is it a quick Dunkins drive-thru, or are the beans ground with each cupful?  What time of day is it drunk?  Cream?  Sugar?  Black?

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I am fascinated by coffee.  I love learning about new ways to make it.  I love watching experts make coffee.  I love talking with a friend over a steaming cup.  I believe coffee, and tea, have the power to bring people together if we let it.  So if we ever meet, show me how you make yours and I’ll tell you how I make mine.  <3 <3 <3

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Side effect of wandering around Portland for two months straight:

If I start watching Grimm I’m going to be so distracted by all the locations I recognize.  I’m two minutes into the pilot and I can tell you they’re on NW 10th and Flanders.  Which happens to be where my sister currently works which is how I spotted it immediately.

I’m from New England, where little filming occurs.  I’m not used to recognizing locations because I’ve been there.  I can tell you Dean and Sam go to a motel where Juliette and Lassie staked out some parolees who kidnapped Shawn and Gus.  And I can tell you the Rosewood Grill is really Luke’s Diner.  And the Royal Diner is down the street from MacLaren’s Pub.  (Because I’ve got a little Rainman going on.)  But almost never can I tell you on sight where a location is.  (Scenes in both The Box and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past where filmed at the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Mass.)

Therefore if I watch Grimm, I will be insufferable with all my newly gained Portland knowledge.

Maybe only if I watch it with other people… because I sort of really want to test my memory!

Continue reading

#LegoFriends: For Boys and Girls.

Someone gave my niece a Lego Friends kit for Valentine’s Day.  Lego Friends, for those of you who don’t know, is the “girl” line from Lego.  The Lego people are all girls and the kits are all geared toward “girls’ interests”.  Now, I, personally, have never had any desire to climb up onto a large quadruped or build a hotel, but Lego must know what they’re doing, right?

The kits aren’t really any different from the rest of Lego’s kits.  Buildings, cars, boats, etc.

There’s really nothing offensive about Lego Friends, not in actuality.  The line actually opens up options for people inclined to build Lego kits.  Friends provides builders with swimming pools, horse stables, hair salons, and veterinarian offices.  After all, not everyone wants to build Police stations, Fire stations, speedboats, and construction sites.  Lego Friends works to reach a certain demographic heretofore not included by the toymakers.

A little personal history: I didn’t know Lego made kits until I was about ten years old.  I knew Legos, I played with them often.  We had a Tupperware container (a large one meant for cakes) filled with bricks and five or six Lego people in various states of disarray.  I built all sorts of things throughout my childhood, both with my sisters and alone.  Our Lego people were a little sad; some were missing hands, some of them had their faces rubbed off, one was even missing an entire leg.  All of their hats were broken, the ones we still had.  They were the 1980s Space Adventure Guys, the one The Lego Movie portrayed as an excitable fool.  The space ship building kits were long since incorporated into the general Lego brick collection, their instructions lost to the annuls of familial history.  Sometimes we still built flying machines with the wing pieces, but never once in my memory did I see the pieces assembled as intended in the kit.

Mostly my sisters and I built houses.

Really.  We had  a large, green baseplate that we would line with multicolored one by whatever sized pieces, We’d make doorways and section off rooms to create bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms.  Red slanty pieces and flat four by eight pieces became beds, sometimes bunk beds.  Often there was a room that was built up with two by four and two by two rectangle and square bricks, the bed would pull up revealing a hole underneath it for storing treasure and secrets.  Once we’d built the houses, we’d play with them.  The Lego Space People being boys or girls as needed, doing whatever whimsy popped into our childish minds.  (We did the same things with our blocks.)

By the time I realized Legos sometimes came in kits with instructions to make specific things, I was already phasing out of Legos (which, unfortunately weren’t replaced by robotics kits or other more sophisticated building toys).  I was in middle school, and it was dawning on me: other kids had Lego sets.  What a concept!  Youngest kid, it never occurred to me to ask for more Legos.  As far as I was concerned we had exactly the right amount as I was always able to make whatever I thought up.

Fast forward twenty years, my nieces and nephews are discovering the world of Legos.  My six year old niece is happy to sit in her play area and build tall Lego cars complete with bathrooms, but she will also, Emmet-style, flip through the instructions and build exact replicas of what Lego intended those 250 pieces to make.  Both are admirable and I commend my small friend for her ability to do both open-ended play and structured play (is that the right term?).

That being said, I think Lego Friends is stupid.

Reason 1: It’s specifically marketed toward girls.  I’ve already mentioned I was never a horse girl.  In fact, I only knew of two girls growing up who had a deep interest in riding horses.  Two out of the dozens of girls I knew from school, church, Girl Scouts, and summer camp.  It’s possible some of the others were interested, but their families were too poor to support such an activity (we were a mixed community, socio-economically speaking).  But only two girls in my memory took horseback riding lessons and/or rode regularly.  Neither was I all that interested in Princesses or shopping or malls or hair salons or horse shows (there’s a lot of horse related Lego Friends stuff).  I wasn’t that kind of Girl, and I’m no original: there must be plenty of girls turned off of Lego because of what Lego is telling them their interests should be.

And what about the boys?  The boys who would love a Lego hair salon set, but feel like they aren’t “supposed to” want the hair salon Lego set because it’s a girls toy and therefore “unmanly”?  Because it’s one thing for a girl to want to build the Lego Millennium Falcon (who doesn’t want to build the Lego Millennium Falcon?), but for a boy to want pink riding stables would be a bit…. queer.

Reason 2 (somewhat related to Reason 1): Pink, pink, pink, pink, pink!  I like pink.  I did not like pink when I was nine years old.  I put up with it… because I was a girl… but I preferred purple: the color of royalty (yeah, I was that girl*).  When I was Lego building age, marketing things in pink would have made me wrinkle my little nose and heave the sigh of a thirty year old spinster who’s seen it all.  My cousin’s daughter, a charming young woman, began her pink-hate at the tender age of three.  My lovely, well-meaning mother gave the child a casual pink summer dress for her birthday that year.  The kid took one look at it, wrinkled her little nose, and dropped it on the ground.  This pink marketing crap is equally lost on her.  A boy one of my sisters used to babysit, however, loved him some pink.  In fact, his most treasured toy was a Barbie hair styling head.  Had the Lego Friends line been a thing when he was little, he might have been attracted to their bright colors and “fun” things to build.

Reason 3, and probably the biggest peeve: No crossover.  Or limited crossover, at least.  I’ll start here: I don’t think Lego Friends is an entirely evil concept.  As already stated, I think the Friends line fills a gap previously unfilled.  The kids who don’t want to build Lego emergency vehicles, and space ships need something to build too.  And if a child is interested in Horse Shows and building Legos, then why shouldn’t he or she have a Lego Horse Show kit?  And if a kid needs their doll to come with a name and a vague backstory, why not have them come with names and have families and all that?  (Instead of, say, encouraging the child to make up their own — ok, maybe I’m not as cool with that aspect…)  Some kids need a larger story in order to have effective play (some big kids need that too ;).

But why do the Friends characters stand head and shoulders over the regular Lego people?

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These two are the epitome of a middle school dance!  One of his friends asked her to dance with him, she says sure, then proceeds to awkwardly pretend she’s about to make small talk while she stares over his head, and he pretends he’s about to make small talk while awkwardly stares as her developing breasts.

Why aren’t these characters the same size and shape?  There isn’t a chance the Friends character will fit in the Regular character’s spaceship, or airplane, or Batmobile.  She’ll have to sit awkwardly half out and the kid will probably spend most of the play session putting her back into the vehicle while she tries to swoop in and blast the oppressive Storm Trooper out of the sky and off the Rebel’s tail!  Making the Friends characters entirely different from the standard Lego person further removes the Friends line from the rest of Lego.  And, really, aren’t the two already segregated enough?

Why is the Lego Friends line only marketed to girls?  And why is acceptable for girls to have the other Lego kits, but “wrong” for a boy to have one of the Friends kits?  Why even make a distinction like that?  A Lego ad from the mid 80s has been getting a lot of attention lately, you know the one: adorable redhaired kid with her Legos and the tagline: What it is is beautiful.

Is that girl ever upset with the current marketing trends Lego has fallen into?  She’s so annoyed, grown person and practicing doctor, Rachel Giordano participated in this comparison advertisement:

Giordano’s ad was, in fact, one of many Lego produced in the 80s.  The others were equally neutral and non-gendered.  They even provided encouragement to build whatever the fuck you want to build.  Mazel Tov, children!  Build away!

What happened Lego?

Eventually, in the lives of the individual toys, none of this will matter.  Eventual the parental person will become sick of all the kits winding up loose and underfoot (little bastard pieces hide out in the carpet fibers just waiting for the unsuspecting barefoot adult to come ambling along, plotting little plastic fuckers…) and will toss all the Lego pieces into one bin (“There!  Doesn’t that make everything easier?”)  the Friends line pieces and the Regular Lego pieces become homogenized in the large Tupperware cake bin.  The youngest kid, unaware of “sets” and “kits”, will build houses and cars and spaceships that fit the people characters no matter their size and they’ll put the Friends hair on the Regular Lego person and the Regular Lego Person hat on the Friends character, never thinking there’s anything wrong about it until they’re thirty and they ask themselves: Yeah?  Why is the Friends Character a Lego-Foot taller than the other Lego People?  What the fuck, Lego?

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**My six year old niece put the Friend hair on the Regular Lego Person, showed it to me and snickered. Snickered. She thought it was so funny!  True Story.  I put the hat on the Friend character.

*If you do not know what sort of girl I mean, it’s this: I was the girl who didn’t want to be a Princess, I wanted to be a Queen.  It was my understanding of the hierarchy that princesses would maybe one day be queens, if they married the right prince, but most likely they’d remain just a princess with few duties but to look pretty and sing or weave tapestries or some shit.  But Queens, them bitches could make decisions and effect change.  Queens had power.  Why be a useless princess, I thought, when I could be a Queen.

Fifty Shades of What the Fracking Bull?

What with the upcoming release, I’ve been seeing a lot of commercials lately for  Fifty Shades of Grey.  My question is simple: What the fracking bull?

I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey, or Fifty Shades Darker, or Fifty Shades of Pissed Off Writers Everywhere, or whatever the sequels are called.  “Mommy Porn” that originated as fan fiction of an already terrible series does not interest me.  Learning the notoriously naughty BDSM the story boasts is vanilla at best, and, at worst, secondhand, drove my interest even lower.  I have no issue with YA fiction, romance novels, or erotica, but something about E.L. James’s skyrocket into the “literary world” bothers the shit out of me.  How these books were published is beyond my understanding.

Even worse: they’ve made a movie out of it…

What the fish….

And here’s where American Capitalistic Opportunism wins out over Moral and Creative Integrity.  Not only has a publishing house republished a terrible story with a slight twist, now Hollywood has produced a movie they’ve already made.  Because we should, none of us, forget the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey is Twilight fan fiction.

When Hollywood made the Twilight movies they cast actors who actually, sort of, mostly resembled the images of the characters I had in my head while reading the insipid novels.  Cedric Diggory made a great Sparkly Vampire, and Never-Learned-to-Smile made for an exquisitely boring heroine.  A pretty English boy and a symmetrical American girl made us believe in vampires, if only for the one hundred twenty minutes each movie runs.

Now with Fifty Shades, a story that appears to be primarily porn about kinky sex, the casting director, who had her fucking job cut out for her, failed to deliver.  Or, if it wasn’t that person who dropped the ball, it was the makeup/costuming department that failed.

They took a pretty girl:

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and made her incredibly homely:

Anastasia Steele

Which, perhaps, is more true to the character (again: I have not read the books).  But if you’re going to put a book reported to be one big sexy, handcuffed romp on the big screen why not make her attractive?  (Especially when you’ve cast an already attractive woman?)

And the dude (because straight men are not this movie’s target audience):

Jamie Dornan

They cast one of Calvin Klein’s interchangeable parts (who looks way sexy with facial hair), shaved him down to his baby-face and made him look like he’s trying on daddy’s suit for the first time:

Christian Grey

Not attractive.  Not alluring.  Mostly creepy.  If a real, live dude looked and dressed and behaved how they portray Christian Grey in the clips and trailers any curious, sane, crazy, intelligent, or insecure woman would, hopefully, have a voice in her head telling her to run… run fast.  Dude is creepily aggressive half the time, and eerily emotionless the rest.  If he were a vampire his behavior might be acceptable.  As it stands, he’s got “sociopath” written all over him.  No one is going to let their friend date a person like this without either saying something, or at least watching them very, very carefully.

But, as far as I know, no one stops Anastasia from letting this jackwad bind her and assume control over her person in the name of Love.  And the audience is supposed to believe he cares for her more than he wants to control her.  We are supposed to buy into this illusion of romance so much that the fact it’s being released on Valentine’s Day (not February 14th, Valentine’s Day) shouldn’t creep out the American public.

It’s fucking twisted.  The trailer features an amazingly creepy clip of him feeling her up under the table at a dinner party with his voice over telling us that he “doesn’t do romance” leading this American, heterosexual woman to believe the Fifty Shades of Grey movie is not intended to be Romantic in any regard despite the movie’s release date.

I believe there are romantic, loving couples who enjoy a healthy, consensual bondage-based sex life.  And that they should celebrate!  To each, his own, I say!  I’m not about to get in your way or pass judgement.  None of my qualms about this work come from my puritanical beliefs about sex and love, but from my standpoint as a woman and a writer.  The story is about an insecure young woman being entirely enveloped by an aggressive alpha male.  She subsequently disappears entirely into his way of life, rather than growing and developing as her own person.  As a woman that makes me sad.  So many real life women are lost to other, stronger willed people as it is; sometimes it’s a partner, sometimes it’s family or friends.  No matter the situation, it’s unfortunate that women so easily disappear into someone else’s idea of who they should be.

As a writer, I’m pissed Twilight fan fiction is being hailed as anything other than what it is: poorly written porn.  These books, and subsequent movie, are a travesty of American literature.

It has, however, inspired some great sarcastic Internet memes*:

This query from Claire Standish:

As well as this brilliant advice from Ellen:

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And a comic of what the actual story should have been:

*I got most of these from typing “Fifty Shades of Bullshit” into a Google Image search.  Which, it turns out, is a pretty funny anti-Fifty Shades Tumblr: FiftyShadesofBullshit.

#JaneDates is Coming!

Jane Confessional

I have been working diligently on my brain child, the shoddily put together webcomic about on-, and off-, line dating as told through the use of children’s toys and collector’s dolls.  The first #JaneDates (prequel) comic is set to hit the Internet the afternoon of the 17th of December, 2014 on Tumblr.

Whatever happens with this project, happens.  I’m just so excited for all of it’s amateurish glory!  And happy to have an outlet (other than bad poetry) for my frustrations surrounding dating in my late 20s/early 30s!

Feminism & Marvel Movies

I watched Thor recently for the first time.  Rented it on iTunes, of all fool things.  But the movie got me thinking.  First of all, it explained a bunch of random things from The Avengers (like how Thor knew Erik Selvig, why we give a shit about Natalie Portman, and Coulson’s prototype gun).  Second, it, and a Tumblr post, have me thinking about the Bechdel test and feminism in films.

In order to pass the Bechdel test the work must have at least two women in it who talk to each other about something other than a man.  Two chicks.  Actually speaking to one another.  About something not related to a man.  Sounds easy, yes?  You’d think.  Sometimes it’s more than Hollywood can handle.

Thor passes the Bechdel test.  Thor passes because Jane Foster’s grad student assistant is a woman.  In the first scene she asks if she can turn on the radio and Jane says “No.”  It’s simple, but it passes.  Otherwise Thor isn’t about the women at all.  Sure Jane rocks Thor’s world, or whatever, but it’s not a feminist flick.  It’s a story/movie about boys who don’t play well together and both want to rule the world(s).  But it passes.

You know what movie doesn’t pass the Bechdel test?  The Avengers.

There are three main female characters in The Avengers:

women of the avengers

Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow; Agent Maria Hill, played by Cobie Smulders; and Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson.  These women play key roles in the film: Potts gets Stark to accept the info from Coulson, Hill is a dedicated S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and well trusted by Nick Fury, and Romanoff is a key player in The Avengers team, as well as the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who convinces Dr. Banner to join up.  There are other women in the movie, other agents, Ashley Johnson as the diner waitress who feels she owes her life to Captain America, etc.  And not a single one of these women have a conversation about their own romantic relationship (Potts asks Coulson about his love life).  Not one.  (Unless there really is something between Black Widow and Hawkeye that I’m unaware of.)

Each of these women are badasses in their own way, and they are great feminist icons.  I love everything about these characters.  I want more of all of them in future Marvel movies.  I want them to be who my nieces look to when they need a female role model in their entertainment.  But the reason The Avengers doesn’t pass the Bechdel test despite having such amazing women characters in it is because the women never speak to one another.  Not once.  Even though Hill and Black Widow work for the same agency and are often in the same room.  They never speak to each other.

Despite this odd failing (seriously Joss Whedon?), from a feminist standpoint, I would still take The Avengers over Thor any day.  The women characters in Thor are absolute stereotypes.

women of thor

Jane Foster, the beautiful scientist who changes Thor’s entire mindset by being passionate and capricious and dedicated to her work, as well as kind, and caring, and compassionate; Frigga, Thor and Loki’s mother who has approximately twelve lines of dialogue; Darcy, who serves as Jane’s sidekick the Best Friend character there to make jokes and raunchy comments; and finallly Sif, Thor’s female friend, a raging badass there to fill the role of female-raging-badass.  None of the women have any character development and are only present to push male character development/comic relief.

But remember the story of Thor isn’t about the chicks.  It’s about two brothers.  Despite that, practically every male character has some sort of development no matter how small the role (Erik Selvig has a change of heart, even the Gatekeeper is a dynamic character), but not single woman undergoes any sort of change.

The movie is also directed by Kenneth Branagh, who has historically never given much to his female characters.

Joss Whedon, the poster boy of Male Feminism, co-wrote and directed The Avengers.  It might not pass the Bechdel test, but I’d still rank it higher on the feminist scale than pretty much every other comic book flick out there.