My Weekend in Pop Culture

Another busy weekend, but I managed to get in some time with pop culture goodness.  Here’s the pop culture I consumed this weekend.

parenthoodParenthood Season 2: I don’t know what to tell you.  I’m a masochist, I guess.  But this show is so good, and I wanted some comfort TV after finishing Gilmore Girls.  So this is it.  I love Lauren Graham, and I love Mae Whitman especially, but I think the entire cast is pretty solid.  I’m loving watching the show from the beginning and crying at every episode.  Haters to the left.

About Alex: I was really excited to watch this little indie movie about alex(which has been described as The Big Chill for Gen Y), but it was actually kind of terrible?  Like, really boring and full of characters who were both underdeveloped and completely unsympathetic.  Which wasn’t the point, I don’t think?  At any rate, it was a bummer of a film.

woman in blackThe Woman in Black: I’m not sure why it took me so long to see this one, but it was a pretty smart horror movie that’s less about horror and more about a super weird small town in England.  It was one of the first movies Daniel Radcliffe did after Harry Potter, and while he’s very good in it, I feel like he was too young to play the character he does?  I don’t know. The ending is a total bummer, too.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Here are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  The topics range from the silly to the serious.

On Reading Your Book Club Book When You’re Not Interested in Your Book Club Book (Book Riot)

I think there are some universal experiences of being in a book club, and this piece from Book Riot hits on many of those things.  There are many reasons people join a book club.  For me, it was to read more broadly outside of my preferred genres and drink wine with other ladies.  But that doesn’t mean that everyone in our book club shares those same values.  This piece hits that:

But what happens when you have people in a book club for different reasons? This, in my opinion, is where the real strife of book clubs is. Not when some love the book and others hate it, but when some read the books religiously and others never finish a book, or even worse: when someone flat out decrees that they aren’t going to read a book club pick because it doesn’t interest them.

Like the author of this piece, I agree that the whole point of a book club is to read the book and discuss it.  You don’t have to love the book, and the discussion doesn’t have to take up the entirety of book club, but the implication of attending book club is that you have at least familiarized yourself with the book and are prepared to discuss it.  You are going to read things you don’t like.  That’s part of life.  And book clubs:

I’m not trying to say you should kick members out of your book club if they neglect to finish a book or two (or that you are a bad book club member if you’re that person—we’ve all been there). Just that being in a book club does come with responsibilities to your fellow members, and even if you aren’t interested in a book, QUIT YOUR WHINING AND AT LEAST TRY IT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

Words to live by.

On Ferguson and the Privilege of Looking Away (Amy Dieg)

I certainly hope that you all are following the news of what’s happening in Ferguson, Missouri.  I realize that not everyone is following it with the obsessiveness that I am, but I came across this piece and found it well-written, thoughtful, and resonant.  In it, Dieg talks about her reaction to the news out of Ferguson and her decision to look away when she felt uncomfortable from following the news too closely:

What I suddenly understand, much later than I am proud of, is that looking away is a privilege, one that many of us participate in with overwhelming regularity without even realizing it. I see the proof clearly on my Facebook. My feed has been almost devoid of news or discussion of Ferguson, despite the vast majority of my Facebook friends being people from and in Missouri.

I’ve talked about this in real life, but I also noticed the dearth of information about it on my Facebook.  This is sharply different from my Twitter feed, and it is interesting to think about what that means.  But also to realize that there is a privilege in being able to disengage, and what that means for me.

A Critical Review of Taylor Swift’s New Video for ‘Shake it Off’ (Pajiba)

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Taylor Swift’s new video for the catchy (totally frothy) single “Shake it Off,” and some of it is negative, which I’m sure Swift was expecting (and probably hoping for, in all honesty).  The big question seems to be: is the video racist?

Let me answer that for you: yes.

This article quotes heavily from Angelina Burnett, who posted this about the new video:

Try to imagine the surface evidence of your cultural identity – your clothes, your physical vernacular, your slang, your music – all things that are in no way indicative of what’s in your heart, despite having been used by those in power frequently and repeatedly, for centuries, to justify your harassment and murder…

Imagine those things being co-opted by a rich, powerful, pop princess on a day when the national guard has been called in to your small, working class suburb to restrict your right to protest that centuries old injustice. Try, just for a second, to imagine how that might make you feel — the double standard shoved so baldly and brazenly in your face. The very same things that get you called a thug or a ho, gets her called “adorable” and “staying true to herself”. Then times that feeling by infinity because it NEVER STOPS.

Cultural gatekeepers make billions of dollars co-opting black culture and then use that same culture against black men and women to prove they’re thugs who deserve to die.

Do I still enjoy Swift’s music?  Yes, but I also recognize things about her I find fundamentally fucked up.  This is one in a log list of problems.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

My Weekend in Pop Culture

These are the pop culture items I consumed this weekend.  Without further ado:

gg7Gilmore Girls Season 7: Surprise, surprise, right?  I’m well into the 7th season of the show, and while I was busy this weekend because my sister is in town and she trumps a re-watch of one of my favorite shows, I still had time to fit in a few episodes.  I don’t love this season, though–it’s not the same when Amy Sherman-Palladino isn’t writing for the show.  But I’ll still feel like there’s a hole in my heart when I finish my re-watch.

Tabloid: My sister, mom and I watched this weird, completely crazy documentary on Sunday.  I highly tabloidrecommend it–it is absolutely one of the most bizarre stories I’ve ever seen put to film–and I can’t believe I waited this long to watch it.  It’s this crazy story of a 1970s former beauty queen (with a genius IQ) who falls in love with a Mormon and then kidnaps him from what she believes is the cult of Mormon.  The rest of the story gets weirder from there.  Seriously.  Go watch it–it’s on Netflix.

What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

These are the things I’ve been reading and thinking about this week.  Without further ado:

Apologia (The Hairpin)

This is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (not the Pantene commercial that this writer uses to broach the subject, but the actual content of her essay, natch).  Because this essay is me:

It’s the worst type of un-feminist stereotype: the woman who feels ashamed of existing, ashamed of taking up space, ashamed of asking for what she wants or needs. I apologize even when I absolutely don’t feel that I’m in the wrong. I apologize when I’m furious. In fact, the more strongly I feel like someone should be apologizing to me, the faster “sorry” falls from my lips.

Yeah, it’s definitely a problem.  And it’s definitely depressing as hell:

The tragic thing about apologizing is that it works. It makes you seem less aggressive, less threatening, less obnoxious. A woman crying because you did something that hurt her feelings is scary, she’s demanding, she’s raw. A woman crying while saying “Sorry, I don’t mean to be so emotional, I know this isn’t really a big deal”–well, that’s much less uncomfortable. That’s someone you can continue having a conversation with, because she’s acknowledged that her emotions are entirely her own fault and she’s asking you to take no responsibility. That girl is likable. She’s easy. She’s low-maintenance.

This entire piece is incredible and tackles so much of what frustrates me about the bullshit pseudo-feminism ads like the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty” and the stupid Pantene ad perpetuate.  Go read it.  It’s really brilliant.

Saying “women should stop apologizing” without even trying to address the root cause of the behavior–which, again, is misogyny, not “women being crazy”–is, well, about the level of feminist discourse I would expect from a shampoo commercial. This is advertising, not empowerment. Just like the Dove “Real Beauty” ads that went viral a while back, it exists to sell a product, not kickstart the revolution. And that’s fine. But it really rubs me the wrong way when people start talking about it as though it’s genuinely transformative.

Perfect.

Girls Ruin Everything: Stephenie Meyer, Lois Duncan, and Childhood Nostalgia (Book Riot)

It’s no secret that I love Kelly Jensen’s writing, and this piece over at Book Riot is an excellent example of why.  By taking a piece of pop culture news that’s gotten the internet up in arm this week (Stephenie Meyer adapting a Lois Duncan book into a movie), Jensen is able to more fully explore the concept of women’s success and what it means.  And it is, unsurprisingly, quite brilliant:

In 2014, there are still people who are fine with women’s success as long as it’s not too successful. But once they hit a certain level of success, they should step back and allow others to move forward. While women can be successful within established constraints, they better not reach beyond that. Success must be met with grace – being thankful for what one has rather than striving for more – as well as the understanding that it was luck rather than hard work, drive, dedication, or, god forbid, ambition, that drove their success.

What’s so fucked about the outcry over Meyer’s adaptation of this is that it flies in the face of what the internet has been clamoring for all this time: more female-centric stories being told in movies and TV.  Meyer is taking her own success (and she is successful, no matter what your thoughts on Twilight are) and using it to support and promote other females.  If anything, she’ll bring a new audience to an author that another generation loved.  Whatever, internet.  You can’t have it both ways.

All The Crazy Ones (Tomato Nation)

I think Sarah D. Bunting is completely amazing for many reasons, but this piece at her blog is really quite moving.  It’s kind of about the loss of a personality like Robin Williams, but it’s mostly about other things:

This is pretty much every funny person you know, and most of the writers. The actors, too, a lot of them, and the people who sing, and the late-night Al-Anon meeting. What if nobody is laughing or humming along? What if we try even harder? What if I drink this thing, and it still hurts but I don’t care as much, so I’ll drink and drink and drink it, do something human, and remember: I am a shame. A terrified, frantic, desperate, annoying, ugly, boring shame, unique in my unsuitability for love.

It’s not a long piece, but it is riveting and well worth your time.

The Power of 29: An Ode to Being Almost 30 (NY Mag)

As a 29-year-old, this article obviously hits my sweet spot of playing right into my narcissism while also making me feel better about the course my life has taken thus far:

But even for women who realize they still have a lot of things to figure out, around age 30 a sense of acceptance begins to settle in. It’s when many of us experience our first big career payoffs, and allow ourselves to exhale a little because for once it doesn’t feel like we’re building our lives from scratch. On the cusp of 30 — in stark contrast with prior milestones like college graduation — you’re set up to finally start living your best life, or at least a realistic approximation of it. You realize you’ll never be a wunderkind, and you’re okay with that. In general, you give way fewer fucks.

It’s a pretty short, fairly interesting look at what it means to be entering your third decade.

For Women on the Internet, It Doesn’t Get Better (Daily Dot)

I’ve linked to posts about this before, but this is a really thoughtful piece about the completely wrong idea that things will just continue to get better.  This myth is perpetuated by our society, but it’s not actually a thing, and historians have been talking about it for years.  This piece chooses to focus on the idea that as a woman on the internet, just by opening your mouth, you subject yourself to harassment:

Most worrying of all is the fact that many female content creators leave YouTube after their very first video because of the sorts of comments they receive. These women learn all too quickly that the price they have to pay to be a YouTube personality is a sense of security and emotional wellbeing. If you’re a man, imagine walking into a store only to be greeted by waves of employees throwing dog shit at you. You’d leave, too.

The push-back on this, of course, is that it’s “just the internet” or that women need to grow a thicker skin.  This is, of course, bullshit.

 The Internet didn’t make men into sexist assholes; they were sexists assholes to begin with. The Internet just provides them with easier and more public ways to display their terribleness at the expense of women’s health and well-being…YouTube comments aren’t “just the Internet.” They’re not the product of a group of otherwise nice guys who suddenly become evil when they wear a veil of anonymity. YouTube comments are actually a nightmarish glimpse into the sexist attitudes that define the fabric of our own existence in the “real world,” a world that, like YouTube, is owned and dominated by men.

Word of advice: don’t read the comments, because obviously.

What got you reading and thinking this week?

 

My Weekend in Pop Culture

This is the pop culture I consumed this past weekend:

bestmandownBest Man Down: I’ve had this one on my radar for a while. I like Jess Weixler and Justin Long a lot, and I remember the trailer for this super low-budget indie comedy(?) looked pretty good.  I finally got around to watching it this weekend, and it wasn’t at all what I expected.  It wasn’t a comedy so much as a drama, and the plot was uneven at best.  There were some good moments in it, and I thought that Addison Timlin in particular was pretty good.  But…I don’t know.   I’m still thinking about it, which is the mark of something that is at least thoughtful in some way, but it wasn’t at all what I was expecting to get.  It was fun to see all the Minnesota landmarks, though.

Gilmore Girls Season 6: You aren’t surprised togg6 see this one on here, are you?  Of course not.  I’m tearing through the series.  I’m still not sure what to do to taper the feeling of loss I’ll have when I complete it (though J.’s celebration at having the living room back will probably distract, at least a little).

906429 - The Amazing Spider-Man 2The Amazing Spider-Man 2: AWFUL.  Like, literally a pile of shit.  I really enjoyed the first one of the reboot, but this one was TERRIBLE.  The script was heaped with cliche after cliche after clunky piece of dialogue, and there wasn’t nearly enough Emma Stone to make up for how overstuffed it was with villains, a convoluted message, and sub-par special effects.  J. and I finished it and were like, “That’s it?! Two and a half hours, and that’s it?!” UGH.  RAGE.

On top of that, we went to two different barbeques/bonfires, had a dinner out, tried some new local beers, and hung out with our puppy.  What pop culture did you consume this weekend?

What I’m Reading and Thinking About This Week

Got some links for you today, like most Fridays.  These are the things that got me reading and thinking this week.  Enjoy!

Running into My 12-Year-Old Self Online (Buzzfeed)

This sweet, pensive piece about the detritus that we leave on the internet is really surprising in that it doesn’t go at all where I thought it would.  The author talks about finding an Amazon wish list she made at the end of her seventh-grade year, and how it still relates to her now, some 14 years later.  It’s a smart, quick read, and it’s full of the kind of nostalgia stuff that Buzzfeed readers love, but it’s also got some things to think about:

On the other hand I experience a joy that there is a continuity between the girl who wrote this list and whoever I am now….

…Spending whole days on Twitter, refreshing Facebook, watching a website like BuzzFeed turn over with the new, with the new, I often forget that most of the internet isn’t being looked at by anyone. The internet is not just the white water of the breaking wave. It’s all the crap, some of it lovely and meaningful to only you, that sits at the ocean’s bottom.

What’s horrifying to me is that I still have a Diaryland from grades 11-12 on the internet, and I can’t get rid of it.  UGH.

Internet Piracy Isn’t Killing Hollywood–Hollywood is Killing Hollywood (Daily Dot)

The hat tip for this one goes to J., who loves me and knows me well.  He sent this to me knowing I would love it because it hits many of my sweet spots: a think piece about piracy, a think piece about how terrible Hollywood movies are, etc.  It’s not a very long piece, and while I don’t think it’s earth-shattering information for anyone who keeps an ear to the ground when it comes to download sharing and the flagging movie business, it offers support for the fact that Hollywood is at fault for their worst summer (ever?):

In regards to Hollywood’s current summer slate, customers voted with their wallets. They don’t want what Hollywood is offering, in part because its continuously catering to a demographic losing interest in the movies…Women are not interested in seeing movies so generically masculine they’re tantamount to a two-hour Dr. Pepper Ten commercial. Summer 2014 was so brutal because Hollywood ignored the most profitable demographic—not because of The Pirate Bay.

I would add that part of the reason I see less movies in the theater is because fellow theater goers are so awful–I don’t want to hear you respond to every line spoken onscreen, and I certainly don’t want to listen to you make calls to multiple girls asking “what’s up” in a blatant attempt to get laid later.  THIS HAS HAPPENED MORE THAN ONCE.

Israel Has Broken My Heart: I’m a Rabbi in Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel (Slate)

This is an incredibly long piece, and I certainly don’t expect many people to read the whole thing, but I think it’s pretty important.  While I definitely don’t agree with everything the Rabbi says (he comes from a place of faith that I don’t possess, and that colors both of our interpretations), he makes some important, pitch-perfect points:

The worship of the state makes it necessary for Jews to turn Judaism into an auxiliary of ultra-nationalist blindness. Every act of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people is seen as sanctioned by God. Each Sabbath Jews in synagogues around the world are offered prayers for the well-being of the State of Israel but not for our Arab cousins.  The very suggestion that we should be praying for the Palestinian people’s welfare is seen as heresy and proof of being “self-hating Jews.”

He tends to get a little sermon-y throughout it, but he reaches out to both Jews and non-Jews alike:

For our non-Jewish allies, the following plea: Do not let the organized Jewish community intimidate you with charges that any criticism of Israel’s brutality toward the Palestinian people proves that you are anti-Semites. Stop allowing your very justified guilt at the history of oppression your ancestors enacted on Jews to be the reason you fail to speak out vigorously against the current immoral policies of the State of Israel.

The comments, of course, are kind of a shitshow.  Because people cannot (still) accept any criticism of Israel.  For whatever insane reason.  Despite the fact that THEY ARE COMMITTING WAR CRIMES.

What got you thinking this week?

July 2014 Recap

Summer is more than halfway over.  Too weird.  We’re into August, which means it’s time for a look back at July.

Reading:

Best Book of the Month: The Fever by Megan Abbott

Books Read: 19
Adult: 8
YA:  11
MG: 0
Children’s: 0
Fiction: 18
Non-fiction/Memoir: 1
Graphic Novel: 3
# of Pages Read: 4204, plus 2 audiobooks

Thoughts on July’s Reading:

  • Only one non-fiction title this month, and I actually think it was more fiction than not.
  • I’m in a pretty serious reading slump right now, in that nothing I’m reading is catching me the way I want it to.  It’s disappointing, but usually the only way out of it is through it, so I’ll keep plugging away.

Watching:

TV:

Much as I’d like to, I’m not obsessively tracking what TV show episodes I watch and when.  So this will be mostly bullet points.

  • It’s pretty much all Gilmore Girls all the time right now.  A few episodes of House have slipped in, since J. is doing a rewatch of that..
  • Other weekly staples for me include my love-hate relationship with Switched at Birth and The Fosters.

Movies:

happy christmasBest Movie(s) of the Month: Happy Christmas

Movies Watched: 12
New: 3
Re-Watch: 9
Theater Trips: 0

  • No theater trips in July.  I’ll have to fix that this month.
  • Happy Christmas was the winner by far this month, but I also enjoyed some of my re-watches, most notably Whip It!

Goals for July:

  • Continue reading and watching diverse things.  Keep up with keeping track.  Try to squeeze in a few more movies.  Find a book I love this month, which didn’t really happen this past one.