What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

I don’t have a lot to say these days, but I’m still reading a lot. These are the things that got me reading and thinking this week.  Without further ado:

Barbie’s Got a New Body (Time)

An interesting look at not only the latest iteration of Barbie, but also of the history of the doll (which I loved playing with when I was growing up).  At any rate, Mattel is releasing different body types as well as dolls with more diverse types of hair and skin tones, and it’s an interesting look at the “gamble” the company is taking by doing so:

But the initiative could also backfire—if it’s not too late altogether. Adding three new body types now is sure to irritate someone: just picking out the terms petite, tall and curvy, and translating them into dozens of languages without causing offense, took months. And like me, girls will strip curvy Barbie and try to put original Barbie’s clothes on her or swap the skirts of petite and tall. Not everything will Velcro shut. Fits will be thrown, exasperated moms will call Mattel. The company is setting up a separate help line just to deal with Project Dawn complaints.

There’s also some interesting tidbits about the history of the doll:

Still, Barbie’s sales took off, but by 1963 women were protesting the same body men had ridiculed. That year, a teen Barbie was sold with a diet book that recommended simply, “Don’t eat.” When a Barbie with pre-programmed phrases uttered, “Math class is tough,” a group called the Barbie Liberation Organization said the doll taught girls that it was more important to be pretty than smart. They switched out Barbie’s voice box with that of GI Joe so that the blonde cried, “Vengeance is mine,” while the macho warrior enthused, “Let’s plan our dream wedding.”

Where is the Diversity in Publishing? (Lee & Low)

Lee & Low did a baseline study on diversity in publishing last year, and the results are in.  The results are not surprising, and definitely alarming:

While all racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented when compared to the general US population, the numbers show that some groups, such as Black/African Americans, are more severely underrepresented. This mirrors trends among children’s book authors. In 2014, just 2 percent of the books tracked by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center were by black authors. Latinos were similarly underrepresented in both places.

There’s a lot of stuff to parse here, and this is helpful to consider:

Does the lack of diverse books closely correlate to the lack of diverse staff? The percentages, while not exact, are proportional to how the majority of books look nowadays—predominately white. Cultural fit would seem to be relevant here. Or at least in publishing’s case, what is at work is the tendency—conscious or unconscious—for executives, editors, marketers, sales people, and reviewers to work with, develop, and recommend books by and about people who are like them.

Powerlifter (The Morning News)

This is obviously more of a niche piece, but if you’re interested in the world of fitness and weight lifting and women, this is an excellent, thought-provoking piece about the experience of women gaining strength in a traditionally male-dominated world.

Toned yet tiny fitness models likeJen Selter and Kayla Itsines are considered athletic and beautiful, while larger—and stronger—professional athletes like Serena Williams and Karyn Marshall, a prominent figure in female lifting in the US, are mocked for looking masculine.

Part history lesson, part personal musings about weightlifting, this is an excellent piece that tackles eating disorders, exercise addiction, body acceptance, and more:

But, like most things if you look closely, it turns out it wasn’t quite a choice so much as an internalized cultural restriction. I felt I didn’t belong because I was supposed to feel like I didn’t belong. You’ll be unattractive if you lift. Weights are for boys. Muscles aren’t sexy on girls. And so on.

It’s totally worth a read.

What are you reading and thinking about this week?

Waiting on Wednesday: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

25184383Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

Expected Release Date: February 23, 2016

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn’t mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he’s tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it’s Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn’t be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn’t mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn’t. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that’s what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

(summary via Goodreads)

This looks pretty silly but also pretty fun.  I love the concept of fans losing control, and I love the darker aspect of obsession and fandom that’s clearly being played around with here.  It looks like a lot of fun.

What are you waiting on this week?

 

 

Movie News and Randomness

These are the movie-news related things that got me all worked up this week.  Without further ado:

1. Cloverfield Lane Trailer

J.J. Abrams has described this as a “blood relative” of Cloverfield, and I’m not entirely sure what that means.  But it has a fairly impressive cast and looks pretty impressively dumb, so I’ll probably see it.  I like Mary Elizabeth Winstead a lot, and from what I can tell, the movie will be suspenseful at least for a while.  Which is sort of Abrams’ thing.

2. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is maybe going to be a movie?

Guillermo Del Toro has signed on to adapt the popular children’s book (series), and let me tell you this: I am 100% down for whatever results. (Deadline)

3. The Witch Trailer

Who doesn’t love a good story about a Puritan family convinced evil is afoot when their child goes missing?  It’s definitely in the horror genre, and I am definitely down to watch this and snark and be scared.

4. World War Z sequel not doing well

Shocking absolutely no one, there seems to be more trouble afoot on the World War Z sequel.  The film has lost its director and there’s not a replacement yet lined up.  What a total waste of time and money. (Deadline)

5. Tumbledown trailer

Remember when Rebecca Hall was going to be the next big thing?  It still hasn’t happened, but bless the movie execs for continuing to try.  Here she stars alongside Jason Sudeikis, as a widow who’s trying to avoid a writer who wants to write a book about her late husband.  I mean, they’re going to fall in love and it’s going to be totally obvious, but whatever.  I will probably watch these pretty white people fall in love.

Did you hear any movie news lately that caught your attention?

Waiting on Wednesday: Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

25582820Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange

Expected Release Date: February 16, 2016

The Breakfast Club gets a modern, high-stakes reboot in this story of four very different teens and a night that changes them forever.

The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.
The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother.
The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college.
The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight.

When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive.

(summary via Goodreads)

These novels that take place over the course of a single night can go a number of ways.  They can be intensely plotted and super excellent, or completely boring and strain credulity.  I’m hoping that this one is the former and has a lot to offer.  The Breakfast Club is one of my favorite movies, and I’m interested to see a fresh take on the topic.

What are you waiting on this week?

 

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Bill Cosby and His Enablers (The Atlantic)

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written an amazing piece about Bill Cosby, Black Lives Matter, rape culture, and the enduring insidiousness of white supremacy:

But the narrative of cunning “bitches” arriving at the hotel room of a married man has a kind of resonance that drugging women on the set of a family-friendly television show does not. Similarly, the narrative of thuggish black boys in hoodies has a kind of resonance that child-murder does not. In fact, there is no real difference in claiming that a woman in a married man’s hotel room forgoes the right to her body, and asserting that a black boy wearing a hoodie forgoes the right to his. Brutality is brutality, and it always rests on a bed of lies.

He lays it out for readers in the most accessible, smart way possible:

Much like it is impossible to understand the killing of Tamir Rice as murder without some study of racism, it is impossible to imagine Bill Cosby as a rapist without understanding the larger framework. (For instance, it took until 1993 for all 50 states to criminalize marital rape.) Rape is systemic. And like all systems of brutality it does not exist merely at the pleasure of its most direct actors. It depends on a healthy host-body of people willing to look away.

If you read one thing on the internet this week, read this.

Do I Look Funny? (Racked)

A super fascinating, pretty upsetting look at how women comedians have dressed onstage versus how men have, this deep-dive is well worth your time and offers both some personal insight as well as a history lesson:

Men aren’t expected to dress a certain way onstage —€” or offstage, for that matter. They can wear a button-down or a T-shirt and jeans, as Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K. have done on both the stage and their eponymous TV shows. Women haven’t gotten off as easily. From the time women took the stage during the days of vaudeville in the early 20th century, their wardrobe choices have shaped their public personae.

In the article, Yuko interviews a number of people to talk about the modern implications for women in comedy, too:

On the perception front, what a performer wears onstage is also a cue for the audience, whether she wants it to be or not. “A costume designer considers how clothing can be a shorthand to the viewer to convey status, occupation, and self-image. I try to think of dressing for stand-up the same way,” explained Anna Lucero, a Chicago-based comedian who produces The Gogo Show. When selecting an outfit for a performance, she considers her comedic point of view, and whether it’s funnier to support or contrast that with her appearance.

The Razzie Nominations are (Mostly) 50 Shades of Grey (A.V. Club)

Kind of fun to read through the list of nominees.  Perhaps most upsetting is that I’ve seen a whopping 3 of the 5 worst movie nominees, which is…embarrassing.  My favorite part is the actors nominated for more than one movie in the same category.

Extra Hot Great: The Podcast for TV Addicts That’s Created its Own Community (The Guardian)

My favorite podcast got a feature in The Guardian, and it’s pretty great:

Making a podcast that is all about the minutia of television not only requires passion, but also a lot of TV watching. “Just for stuff that I cover, when everything is airing, I probably watch 20 hours a week,” said Bunting, that’s not including the auxiliary shows she watches when they are covered on the podcast, her true crime TV beat, nor the number of Beverly Hills 90210 episodes she watches for a spin-off website and podcast. “Tara probably watches twice as much as I do, ’cause she’s a supervillain, I guess?” said Bunting.

If you’re looking for a new podcast and like, smart, funny talk about TV, this is one I recommend.  There’s something here for everyone.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

Book Review: Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

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Jackson is 12 and his family has just taken in a new foster child.  Joseph is 14 and has already been to prison and fathered a child.  He wants nothing more than to find his daughter, named Jupiter, whom he has never met before.  As Joseph starts to visualize a future with Jackson’s loving family, his past catches up with him in the most cataclysmic–and tragic–way imaginable.

Schmidt’s writing takes a serious turn in this sparse, beautifully haunting novel that will have readers glued to the page until the book’s upsetting end.  Jackson’s no-nonsense narration helps keep the novel grounded, even when Joseph’s story threatens to veer into melodrama.  Although the novel begins as a redemption tale, Schmidt offers readers no pat, happy endings here.  The result is a gut-punch of a novel with just a tinge of hope for the future.

Like Schmidt’s other books, the characterization is wonderful in this one.  Both boys develop throughout the course of the novel, with Jackson’s ideas about his own morals developing as he gets to know Joseph.  Although Jackson seems like an old soul for a 12-year-old, the narration is sparse enough to seem authentic.  The result is a knockout of a novel, engrossing and emotionally resonant even as it’s unbearably sad.

Lovely, haunting, and one that readers will want to talk about as soon as they finish.  Give this one to savvy middle-grade readers and YA fanatics alike.  It’s got broad appeal for a wide range of readers and will spark great conversation.  Highly recommended.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion Books: 2015. Library copy.

Waiting on Wednesday: Little White Lies by Brianna Baker

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.  Its purpose is to spotlight eagerly-anticipated upcoming releases.

This week I’m eagerly awaiting:

25614196Little White Lies by Brianna Baker and F. Bowman Hastie III

Expected Release Date: February 9, 2016

Seventeen-year-old honors student Coretta White’s Tumblr, Little White Lies—her witty thoughts on pretty much . . . everything—has gone viral. She’s got hundreds of thousands of followers; she’s even been offered a TV deal. But Coretta has a secret. She hasn’t been writing all her own posts. Stressed from the demands of the sudden attention, she hired an expert ghostwriter, forty-one-year-old Karl Ristoff, to keep the Tumblr going. Now consumed with guilt, she confesses.

Almost instantly, she suffers a public humiliation. The TV deal disappears. Her boyfriend breaks up with her. Then Karl is thrust into the limelight, only to suffer a dramatic fall himself. Together, they vow to find out who is responsible for ruining both of their lives, and why. But in order to exact justice and a wicked revenge, they must first come clean with each other.

(summary via Goodreads)

Everything about this one looks like a lot of fun.  I love that it features a black girl on the cover.  I love that it’s about a ghostwriter and Tumblr and lies.  I love the idea of exploring what happens after a social media disaster.  It’s going to be a fun read for sure, and it’s perfect mid-winter reading.

What are you waiting on this week?