In Defense of Rory Gilmore

gilmore-girls-netflix-revival-rory

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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Perspective is a funny thing: Mo’ne Davis shows Good Sportsmanship.

Huff Post Women picked up an article, written by a man, condemning the dude who used Twitter to call Mo’ne Davis a “slut”.  The writer commends Davis for being gracious enough to forgive the dude and speak up on his behalf.  But even though she’s forgiven him, the writer cannot.

I agree with the writer, it’s sad how often a child is the bigger person, forgiving an adult for their wrongs.  My hope is that anyone who thought it might be ok to call a 13 year old girl a “slut [or to make jokes that sexualize little girls (Seth MacFarlane)] will rethink their point of view when said thirteen year old girl comes forward and says, ‘You did wrong, dude, but “everyone makes mistakes”; I’m going to forgive you.’  And then help you get reinstated on your sports team.

“Lolita” photo from Styling Dutchman

This girl did not have to respond to that dude.  She could have responded with hate and condemnation.  But she responded with love and compassion.  She took the high road.  She showed Good Sportsmanship.

The writer of the article agrees, Davis acted appropriately, but is still outraged a) (and rightly so) that she was even in this situation and b) that her reaction (and everyone’s praise of her actions) is some sort of Uncle Tom nonsense.  He cites her forgiveness as another example of a black person “turning the other cheek” for a white person’s foolish mistakes.  Ah, perspective!  I saw it as yet another female “turning the other cheek” for a male’s boneheaded comments.  That is my perspective.  Way too often I’ve heard my young, male coworkers make comments about our female students dress, calling them “skanks” for wearing spaghetti strap tanks and using crude hyperbole to say “her shorts are too short”.

Women of all races, ages, and colors are expected to simply “accept” comments about their appearance, dress, and body whether it makes them uncomfortable or not.  Once, in a bar, I wore my father’s old naval shirt complete with patches and our name stenciled across the front.  A man I did not know, upon hearing the shirt’s history, commented “Wow, he must have been barrel-chested in his youth!”  I turned away, done with him.  He thought my reaction was extreme and tried to assure me it was a joke.  I said, “Yeah, I know; I’m not talking to you.”  There is possibly a version of this story out there where he is the innocent party and I am a stuck-up bitch.  I will not, however, apologize for not talking to what was probably a perfectly normal dude who happened to make a creepy comment.  This bonehead who called Mo’ne Davis a “slut” is probably a normal dude.  Normal Dudes don’t realize what they think are acceptable comments aren’t until someone tells them, and even then they don’t always get it.

Mo’ne Davis; photo via Black Celeb Kids

I think Mo’ne Davis is genuinely classy.  She is an inspiring young person.  But I also agree with the writer of the article, whether it’s institutionalized racism, or institutionalized sexism no one should be automatically expected to forgive and forget.  It is those that do who are truly exceptional.

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:

Dakota Johnson

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:

Ellen Ellen1 Ellen2

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.

Twitter

I find Twitter very interesting because I follow people who lead me to very interesting articles and pieces about things I’m interested in.  But, also, I follow a lot of people who are friends with each other and follow each other and work with each other and talk to each other: It’s interesting, in a very voyeuristic way, to be privy to their conversations.  I get so much enjoyment and entertainment out of other people talking about things I would talk about with my own, real-life versions of them if I saw those people more often.

The Internet is weird.  But Twitter is very interesting.

It’s the Internet equivalent of eavesdropping on other’s conversations during homeroom.

Glee. Oh yeah…

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Glee.  Oh yeah...

I wouldn’t say I watched Glee religiously, but some friends and I did stay up late to torrent the final episode of the first season the night it aired so we could watch it.

Recently, however, I sort of completely forgot about Glee. I haven’t watched it in over a year and sort of feel like it jumped the shark when they all started dating each other.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the premise of the show: misfit kids finding confidence through show choir. And highlighting the fact that even the most composed and seemingly sure of themselves person can still feel horribly out of place. But I got tired of the after-school-special feel that had crept into the episodes. (Again, even though they fit and worked within the context of the show.)

Needless to say I have no idea what is going on with the program now. Are we following Berry and Colfer in NYC (did they even make it?); are she and jock-boy still an item; is Brittany still dating the Lebanese; is Sue Sylvester still the villain; does the teacher ever actually go to any of his Spanish classes; is he still with Charlie from Heroes who dated Harrison from Popular on Ugly Betty but slept with Julie Bowen’s gay brother in that other show or is she back with Uncle Jesse?

Do I care enough to watch any episodes from the past year? Probably not. Only reason I am talking about this is because I was startled when all the actors from this show were promoting the new episode on Twitter…. and I had forgotten about the show… right.

I think I need to stop “Following” some Tumblr book blogs.*

Maybe because I’m currently a little grouchy, maybe because many of the writers I read are already dead, maybe because I’m years older than some of these bloggers: I’m getting a little tired of the sentiment of wanting to be best friends with beloved authors.

In this age of global communication, we can read author’s blogs, we can follow their activities on Facebook, we can send them tweets (twats? twits?) given they are on Twitter, and they have the option to respond to us.  If the author does respond, the person is likely to remember this event for years to come, but the author?  Unlikely.  (This gives the semblance of communication.)

When I read a book, a novel, a poem, and it moves me beyond words, I don’t hero worship the person who wrote it (unless its Agatha Christie); I don’t want this person to be my best friend.  We might be in agreement; their words might validate my own sentiments, beliefs, or feelings; they may have taught me something new about the world and myself, but I’m not going to talk about the author as something he or she isn’t.

And it’s weird and wearisome to read what these girls write about their lurve for J.K. Rowling and John Green and how they all seem to want Neil Gaiman to be their surrogate father.**  That being said: I think its wonderful to interact with authors, I think it’s great that Neil Gaiman takes time to respond to some of the questions he gets asked on Tumblr, but the over-the-top adoration is a mite trying to read so often.

And I’ve been tongue tied when speaking with an author; I’ve been to readings; I would love to have tea with David Sedaris, or a stiff drink with Chelsea Handler; and I think John Green and I could have some delightfully sarcastic conversations about things we both love or hate.***  And I don’t want to begrudge these readers their love for these authors, I just don’t want to read about their lurve for these authors quite so often.

*Sorry if this is bitchy.

**I have the utmost respect for everyone mentioned in this post.

***I would love to create a world with Neil Gaiman one day.

Things I Want To Write On Twitter, but am a little scared to:

#Not to be an ass, Suze Orman, but Hitler made people proud to be German.

In response to this tweet: “Now that was a great speech- he rose about all the hub bub- it was optimist doable and just fabulous Makes you PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Obama = Hitler.  I think very highly of Obama.  I agree slash hope for many of the things he said tonight.  I would love for him to have the opportunity to make these things happen (education, alternative energy, jobs).  I’m just saying that a good orator can make people feel whatever they want.

I’m also feeling way cynical tonight.

SOPA and PIPA

These bills are all about censorship.  Legislators want to censor the Internet.  They claim to want to stop “foreign criminals” from pirating movies and TV shows and putting them on the Internet.  The Motion Picture Association of America is all about supporting the bills.  Major American entertainment corporations have funneled money into lobbying politicians to back them.  They’re claiming that SOPA and PIPA won’t affect Americans.

But this isn’t true, is it?  Americans post other’s “intellectual property” all the time.  We put up pictures from TV shows and share songs from our favorite artists, we write quotations from novels and newspaper articles and magazines.  We share information and entertainment like never before: Publicly.  We didn’t have blogs or email twenty years ago, if we wanted to share something with a friend we either had to write it in a letter, or call them on the phone or physically bring the tape over to their house and put it in their tape player.  If you had two VCRs and a blank tape you could copy movies or record television and no one would know.

I agree with Google when they write that piracy wouldn’t stop with the passing of these bills: “Pirate sites would just change their addresses in order to continue their criminal activities”.  People would find ways around it and what is the government and The Motion Picture Association of America going to do then?  Crack down even more until the Internet becomes some sort of Utilitarian Dystopia?  Is it too Conspiracy Theorist-y to say that these bills are the slippery slope to America becoming a warped version of a Neal Stephenson, Ray Bradbury, or Suzanne Collins novel that will eventually push us into Soylen Green territory followed by Dune?  Seems extreme, yes, but it also seems plausible.

Besides, if we learned anything from the McCarthy Era and Blacklisting, the thing or person being censored doesn’t go away.  Dalton Trumbo continued to write screenplays, just under another name.  The books that were banned still existed and were distributed.  The Captain in Fahrenheit 451 owned a large collection of books he never read and rebel Book People lived on the fringes of society memorizing collections of works so they wouldn’t be forgotten.

Censorship has never been met well.  People will always protest being censored, whether its for personal reasons or on principle.  Stopping the free exchange of information is a travesty, its unjust, its dictatorship.  The protests happening today, 1/18/12, by Wikipedia, Tumblr, WordPress and other major sites, is not, as it’s been said, a “gimmick”, but more like Susan Brown Miller, it’s jarring on purpose.  It’s a little over the top so it will catch your attention.  Yes, SOPA and PIPA are not going to completely take away “free knowledge”, the abrasive language Wikipedia is using, but it is going to put a limit on free exchange.  And putting limits on free exchange is historically bad.  Limiting knowledge has led to things like Nazis, Communism and the French Revolution (it might not have changed anything, but I am convinced Louis and Marie Antoinette didn’t know a damn thing outside Versailles).  Limiting the public’s access to information is not generally considered a good thing.

In the BBC article by Leo Kelion about the Internet protest has many comments from Chris Dodd, the chairman of The Motion Picture Association of America, speaking against the protest and in favor of SOPA and PIPA.  The entertainment industry is estimated to lose hundreds of dollars every year because of Internet piracy and yet Disney’s Net Income in 2010 “increased 20% to $3.96 billion on a 5 percent rise in revenue to $38 billion.”  I don’t think Disney is really hurting all that much.  Also, let’s look at what the entertainment industry is charging us these days: 10, 12 dollars for a CD; 10 to 30 dollars for a DVD?  And they’re wondering why people are turning to other means in order to obtain their entertainment?  Maybe if they stopped putting money into buying politicians they could lower their prices and people would stop supporting piracy?  Just a thought….

The Things I Write on Twitter…

# If you #Google #JoshuaBlairDelaney I am the fifth and the tenth result. I wonder if he knows about me yet…

Where I will be writing about the book Pieces of Eight by Joshua Blair Delaney.  Go ahead, go read my review/essay and join in the discussion of this fabulous book.

You might have to call your Senator first 1/18/12.