Tuesday, February 28, 2006


1.) Why is myspace so ugly?

2.) Why is Rory so annoying?

3.) Why only one Project Jay?

4.) Why can't Lisa Loeb find a decent man? Did you see that last episode? Chumps!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Punk Rock Poetry Monday

for poems with grrr

by Margaret Atwood

My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
how to make spells.

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.

Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.

A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.

This is a metaphor.

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.

more about M.A. here

The Fluffy Dollars Diet

How many days can one go consuming only imported beer and imported chocolate?

I'll let you know.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Cutie Crack

Friday Things

*Those of you in Austin should come out to the Katherine Anne Porter House to hear Abe Verghese read tonight. He is *amazing.* The reading is at 7:30. Details here.

* Has anyone else noticed the new "gangsta rap" ads for Avis? They are f-ed up, turning on the idea that white guys in suits listening to gangsta rap is ironic, or old white people in sweat suits driving a yellow hummer and listening to hip-hop is ironic. This "irony" troubles me. Actually, I find it pretty offensive.

* I wanna know how "stars" of reality tv are compensated. According to a tidbit at
Oh No They Didn't!, the Laguna Beach kids made around 2k a season; less if they aren't in the opening credits. After musing on Assley Parker Angel and Project Jay -- how both the "stars" of these shows struggle with their poverty -- I'm curious as to how they are compensated. I mean, they gotta be given a living allowance, right?

* Finding a good podcast is actually really hard. We love Revello's Buffycast, Ricky Gervais, and Tim Gunn's Project Runway Podcast, but we've listened to all of those several times. So we've been looking around for new ones, but we haven't found anything really good yet. Any recs? We are pretty picky. We don't like podcasts that have any of the following: drama improv geeks trying to be funny, people who talk about eating stuffing instead of the topic at hand, people who have mic problems or seem to enjoy having lots of background noise and / or music behind their voices.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Project Baby Dee

I was going to entitle this post "Originals," indexing a terrible show that was briefly on the Toronto TV station City-TV. It was hosted by City's CEO, Moses Znaimer, who is like a much more pockmarked but equally be-ponytailed Montreal Jewish version of Karl Lagerfeld. Znaimer's sub-Shatner beatnik delivery meant that the portentous intros to the week's "Original" would take up like 20 minutes of the show, and then finally we would be introduced to an "Original" like Philip Roth or something, and then he and Moses would have a creepy older Jewish guy-off until the credits rolled. In truth, it was a brilliant show.

But not nearly as brilliant as the sublime "Project Jay" on Bravo last night. I am a huge fan of this shit. First of all, Jay is a completely new species of TV star. A true eccentric, but lacking totally in affectation, Jay seems to genuinely struggle with the idiocy of the entertainment world in which he is immersed. Lacking the ego of a jackass like Ashley Parker Angel, and gifted with about 500 more IQ points, Jay is totally believable as a couch-surfing art guy who may be a few weeks away from returning to his parents' house in rural Pennsylvania. Jay reminds me of all the art-school kids I hung out with in freshman year, listening to Ozzy's "Randy Rhoads Tribute" album, drinking 40s of Fin Du Monde and making paintings of Bruce Lee... but without the slide into Prada eyeglass frames, stretch fabric buttondowns, and gym memberships. My hero! Jay is the anti-Jonathan Antin, who, Bravo commericals sadistically remind us, is coming back for a third season of brain poison... which I will compulsively watch and re-watch.

We only saw three-quarters of the show, because we were out last night and the tape fritzed out. Where were we out at, you ask, pausing to question your own grammaticality? At the Baby Dee/Weird Weeds show at the Cactus Cafe, of course! I hadn't seen the Weird Weeds since I stopped being a member over a year ago, and lemme tell you, they are fucking amazing. The best power trio since Triumph. An extra shout out must go to Nick Hennies, who has no doubt benefited from his enrollment in the Long Telegram dojo of open-fist praying mantis style shredding. (He is now a blue belt). This guy is seriously like the best drummer in rock right now.
A quality he demonstrated not only with the WWz, but also doing some of the most heartbreaking press rollz I ever heard while the headliner, Baby Dee, sat at the piano and played one in a series of beguiling, moving, and utterly haunting songs of pain and hope.

I will not detail Baby Dee's personal history here, since I don't know much about it, but I will try to describe the music. Alternating between accordions, concert harp, and piano, Baby Dee sings in a voice somewhere between the tramp on Gavin Bryars's "Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet" and an extremely farklempt Blossom Dearie. The music all sounds like it could have been cribbed from a 19th-century hymnal, and the lyrics are rife with Blakean nature imagery and hints of a life of unspeakable pain. Wowza. A true original

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Camille Paglia is Smart, But She Sure is Nutty

Break, Blow, Burn is written with clarity and zip, and though I have a sort of unconditional admiration for criticism this tangy and confrontational, it's hard not to feel fatigued and bullied after spending more than thirty minutes with this book. Paglia is a polemicist. She's a pot stirrer. And thanks to pot stirrers all sorts of interesting questions can bubble up to the surface. But pot stirrers, at their best, do work that is preliminary. And pot stirrers, at their worst, get hung up making points that seem, y'know, nutty. Take this, the penultimate paragraph of Paglia's introduction:

At this time of foreboding about the future of Western Culture, it is crucial to identify and preserve our finest artifacts. Canons are always in flux, but cannon formation is a critic's obligation. What lasts, and why? Custodianship, not deconstruction, should be the mission and goal of the humanities. As a student of ancient empires, I am uncertain about whether the West's chaotic personalism can prevail against the totalizing creeds that menace it. Hence it is critical that we reinforce the spiritual values of Western art, however we define them. In the Greco-Roman line, beauty and aesthetic pleasure are spiritual too. Poetry does not simply reconfirm gender of group identity; it develops the imagination and feeds the soul. (xviii)

Since when is "Western Culture" in danger? I mean, I think I know what she's talking about, but I find it totally offensive. And who on earth would argue that poetry doesn't "develop the imagination and feed the soul"? Is this really what she thinks critics interested in deconstruction are ultimately saying?

Despite the very obvious and distracting and sometimes disturbing polemics of the introduction, the book does offer up some very pleasurable word by word and line by line readings of poems that many readers are not likely to have visited recently. Although there are -- I think -- noticeable omissions in her selection of contemporary poets , her readings of Donne, Herbert, and Shakespeare are spirited and interesting. It's lovely to linger in the poems -- to savor their diction and music. And re-reading the poem from which Paglia gets her title -- John Donne's Holy Sonnet XIV -- is quite a thrill. And though one could of course just go read John Donne, I have to give Paglia props for her daring reading of the poem, concluding that "We will never be pure until we are abducted and raped by God." Yeah, she's a pot stirrer.

I haven't finished reading the book, and if my habits these days are any indication, I tend more to "read around" in several books at once and never finish any of them. But I'm gonna go and see what Paglia is like in person. She's reading @ Bookpeople here in Austin on March 14 (in between AWP and SXSW -- March is busy in these parts).

If you're interested, you can also check out Camille Paglia's website, which (I think) looks like an astrologer's website. Weird.


Dear Friends,

Yeah, posting has been light lately. I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome, or tennis elbow, or something that is making typing less than comfy. Also, I've been writing poems again (which feels like drinking perfectly temperatured water) so less of my brain is in post world. And then there is the looking for jobs thing. Soon, like this summer and next year, femme feral will need a job. But more words are coming, served up in heaps and topped with sparkle, so don't forget about us.

Snuggles and hugs and all things fluffy,


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Monday, February 20, 2006


Have you seen the bear videos at Rickygervais.com? They are sweet.

Also, good news: more podcasts are "in the pipeline." Word.

Wonderful Things

wasps' nests
baby teeth
antique lace

Friday, February 17, 2006

I would have used animal dung

but that's just me.

link to article and image source.

Punk Rock Poetry Friday


by Adrienne Rich

Living    in    the earth-deposits    of our history

Today a backhoe   divulged   out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle    amber    perfect    a hundred-year-old
cure    for fever    or melancholy    a tonic
for living    on this earth    in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered    from    radiation sickness   
her body bombarded for years    by    the element   
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end   
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating    skin    of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold    a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman    denying
her wounds
her wounds    came from the same source    as her power


Read about Adrienne Rich here.
Read about Marie Curie here.


* Things that annoy me about blogger: why wont it preserve the spacing in the lines above? This is a poem that uses both blank space at the ends and within the lines. Why won't it show it to you that way? To see what I mean, go look at the poem here.
[EDIT: thanks to reader JB I have fixed this problem.}

* When I was in fifth grade I read a biography of Marie Curie. She kept radium in a drawer. It exposed film. That's how she found out about radiation.

* Here in central texas, the temperature has dropped 40 degrees in a 1/4 as many hours. Dramatic sweep and change.

* In the 90's we went to hear Adrienne Rich read; was it in a church? I can't remember. It was sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC. The have a bible that belonged to Queen Elizabeth, a copy of Chaucer that belonged to Ben Johnson, and a First Folio that belonged to a monk who not only inked out the lines in the plays that he deemed inappropiate, but excised the entirety of Measure for Measure. They also had a song/ hymn book that opened to reveal the songs' scores printed in four directions -- two pages opened as if they were many -- like a flower. This is so that one book could be shared by a circle of singers.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pill of Rights

This is the best use of rhetorical role reversal / inversion since Gloria Steinem's If Men Could Menstruate.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Be My Icon


Wild Nights – Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!
Might I moor – Tonight –
In thee!

-Emily Dickinson

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cutie Crack

fluffy shih tzus AND fluffy hens. Watch it here.

And watch two fluffkins with another bird here.

I'm Not the Only One

who doesn't find the Gilmore Girls so convincing these days. Check out what Lauren Graham herself has to say:

"I struggled with the idea that this character, being the parent, would go so far as to stop speaking to her daughter and not make more of an effort," said Graham, taking a break in her trailer on the Warner Bros. lot during a slow day of filming. "We had it in bits and pieces, but it was hard for me to justify — that I wouldn't try harder, that I wouldn't reach out more, that I could stand to be away from her for that long."

She questioned co-creators Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino more this year than ever, "and I'm sure they enjoyed it not at all," Graham said.

Some critics took her side. Ted Cox of the Chicago Daily Herald said "it seemed suddenly as if the characters were being manipulated to create drama, rather than allowing the drama to flow naturally out of the characters."

read the rest here.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Separated at Birth; Celebrity Sound-a-likes

Is it just me or do Tim Gunn of
Project Runway and loveable Hanna Barbera cartoon character Snagglepuss not sound like they share exactly the same voicebox?

watch / listen to snagglepuss
listen to Tim Gunn discuss Santino's impersonation here

Don't MissThis

The Radical Women of Color Carnival up at Reappropriate.

Friday, February 10, 2006

This Charming Man

Turns out
Morrissey is gonna be at SXSW. And look, he likes dogs too!

Othe peeps on my list: Talib Kweli, Lady Sovereign, Ladytron, Midori Umi, Portastatic, Princess Superstar, Weird Weeds, Xiu Xiu.

Mardi Gross

The ever-essential writing of Michael Steinberg at Monthly Review's online blog, mrzine.org, alerted us here at FDHQ to an interesting film we hadn't previously heard about: David Redmon's "Mardi Gras: Made in China."

Redmon apparently began his film project with the intention of tracking a single consumer perishable from production to sale on the market. He chose a very symbolically charged commodity: the ubiquitous mardi gras bead. Who knew that this postmodern wampum, the mystical powers of which, within Fat Tuesday's economy of desire and titillation, buys predatory men temporary visual access to the exposed breasts of fellow revellers on the various Bourbon Streets of the USA, is produced by exploited teens in the dark satanic mills of China?

According to the promo lit for Mardi Gras: Made in China":

"Redmon followed his bead-trail of curiosity to the rural region of Fuzhou, China where the bead factory is located in a tax-free Special Economic Zone. After staying with the workers and documenting their everyday life inside a factory compound for two months, government officials in China requested that Redmon immediately leave the factory. Redmon left China and continued his bead-journey to New Orleans during Carnival. Redmon’s purpose was to invite others to be part of a constructive debate about globalization by showing how the beads are transported, consumed, and disposed during their global journey.

Although the film is an invitation to globalization, the significance of the project addresses the vast economic, leisure, and pleasurable inequalities between workers of objects and consumers of objects. It also highlights the differing ways in which gender in the factory and during Carnival is contrasted: young women in China make beads under stringent conditions for young women in the United States to 'go wild.'"

This film seems to really dovetail with a lot of the themes that Femme Feral has been probing over the last few months. We're totally psyched to see it, but are of course prepared for the rage and sadness it will no doubt stir up. Check out the "Mardi Gras: Made in China" website here.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Robots, Dopes, Chumps, and Fools

It was just a hunch before, but now I'm convinced: Ryan Seacrest is indeed a robot. His main function is to turn sincere, humble comments into banalities. At least that is what he did to just about everyone on the red (er, green) carpet at the Grammys last night.

Poor Fiona Apple. She looked so uncomfortable (probably afraid of getting some of the robot's self-tanner on her dress). But she seemed really nice and sincere. Anyway, she appeared flummoxed by Seacrest's inane questions, and when asked what kind of man she liked, she said she something along the lines of "I don't have a type. I don't believe in that. But I can say that I like strong personalities and people who are 1000% themselves." And then the robot computed, "so you like 'em genuine."

But DJ A.M. was an even worse red (er, green) carpet personality. Mostly because he doesn't have any personality, but also because he kept asking grammy winners from past years if this was their first time being nominated. What a dope.

And former annoying boy of the week Adam Levine gets the #1 chump award. He spit his gum out and put it in Ryan Seacrest's hand. Then he tried to kick it with Mary J. Blige, who shoulda punched him for being so chumptastic. But she was gracious and tolerated their schtick even though she's like 5000% cooler than they are.

And Michael Buble, who I think bragged about already winning a grammy, is -- according to the SB -- a fool. I didn't actually see this part of the pre-awards show, but the SB is rarely wrong about these things.

above: Ryan Seacrest kisses his own ass

Best. Record. Art. Ever.

So I was doing a little bit of research on the phenomenon of "talking" musical instruments, from steel guitarist Pete Drake's chatty glissandi to Peter Frampton's talk box vowel formanting and of course Steve Vai's nattering "Yankee Rose" intro (not to mention Vai's talking guitar masterpieces on "Flex-Able" and "Flex-Able Leftovers," but we need not speak of these) to my old friends the mouth-speaker-happy Reveries, and I came across evidence of this Little People's Band record, which I must share with you. If the art is not enough to send you skipping through the daisies, the music samples should. Incroyable!

PS-- Should you ever notice me stealing this artwork for my own music releases, well, don't tell the authorities.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


The 8th Carnival of Feminists is up at Gendergeek.

Like us, possums love the nighttime.

Monday, February 06, 2006

It Does the Female Body Bad ?

PETA's "Milk Gone Wild" Superbowl Ad -- banned from airing during the game by ABC -- is not for the faint of heart. It's a grossly disturbing and eerie spoof on "Girls Gone Wild," the enterprise that perhaps best reflects the rise of so-called "raunch culture." Anyway, PETA's spoof is so convincing, that the throngs of women wearing expressions of coy hesitation and belly-button rings might lead one to believe that she actually IS watching GGW. That is until the women flash their udders.

The commercial itself is rather cryptic in its critique of the dairy industry. The udders (which eventually explode and leak milk all over men's faces) and the tall glasses of white stuff are the only overt references to milk. In fact, the real critique of milk drinking is entirely dependent on the establishment of an analogy between the exploitation of women in GGW and the exploitation of cows by the dairy industry. How well the PETA ad establishes this connection is open to debate.

Not surprisingly, some speculation as to the cause of the "banning" has bubbled up in the blogosphere. Is it because milk lovers will be offended by the rather obscure message that the consumption of said beverage is being criticized, or is it rather that mainsteam america will be made uncomfortable by the very clear message that the whole enterprise of operations like GGW are dependent on coercing women (usually under the influence of the other beverages pedaled during the superbowl) into doing something salacious? (Check out the comment thread on this point to see what I mean).

Of course feminism and vegetarianism have been paired before. Carol J. Adams, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat: Feminist Vegetarian Critical Theory asserts that there is a link between the eating of meat and the exploitation / objectification of women. And artists like Meret Oppenheim play with this idea in pieces like the compelling My Nurse. I personally find Adams's analysis of the cultural attitudes toward the two convincing, but I know lots of feminists who eat meat and drink milk and I do not think that doing so contradicts their feminism. That said, their pairing is both worrying and effective, as is evidenced by the PETA ad.

There are other things that make the ad troubling, notably the distress caused by seeing an udder where breasts should be. Also, even though the ad is essentially a diss of GGW, one can't help wondering why we're being subjected to this imagery again. Coupled with the "I Would Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign, one has to wonder if PETA has considered getting their message across without the use of naked and semi-naked women.

Of course one also has to consider the context for the ad. The commercials that did air during the superbowl include Jessica Simpson’s weird and unnerving “These Bites Were Made for Poppin’” Pizza Hut commercial. In this ad, an adolescent boy has a vision of Jessica Simpson – clad in a skimpy red dress and red cowboy boots – float-strutting toward him with a big pie. When she arrives at the table, the boy – awestruck by her “beauty” – dumbly opens his mouth. JS then pops a cheese-stuffed ball of crust into the boy’s mouth, which causes him to fall out of his chair with – I dunno – a cheese-gasm??? The commercial is so ugly and the music is so bad and the sexual fantasy meets pizza eating so stupid, that one can barely watch it without wanting to throw her sneaker at the screen.

I don't know what to make of the fact that both the PETA and the Pizza Hut ad involve men/boys getting some whitish dairy substance squirted/ poped into them by women. Though one can easily say PETA goes too far -- that its images are too disturbing and shocking, the J.S. Pizza commercial suggests that most tv viewers can stomach a fat slice of disturbing images. At the end of the day, there are basically two ways to look at ads like the one PETA made. On one hand, sometimes the shock and jolt, renegade ad-meets-activism aesthetic and methods are really effective. On the other, one worries that these tactics sometimes alienate people who might otherwise be sympathetic to the cause.

image source

Sunday, February 05, 2006

We Like Art

What can I say? Art is good.

I keep up with the art scene in a most desultory fashion... I sneek a peak at some high art mags now and again at the bookstore, and very occasionally when FF and I are in a town that has a decent array of museums, we like to hit the galleries. Nevertheless, we get art on the brain all the time. That's why it gets my goat when contempo art is alleged to have an audience of zero, save for insidious insiders and Enron CEO wives.

So I thought I would share some of the art pieces that have generated the most thoughtage around this particular noggin. Here are five:

1) Tom Friedman's 1000 Hours of Staring (1992-1997), a blank sheet of paper at which Friedman allegedly stared for one thousand hours over a five-year period;

2) Maurizio Cattelan's Untitled, (2001), a teeny-tiny working elevator installed in a corner of the LACMA contemporary art wing. This is FF and SB's all-time fave!

3) Tim Hawkinson's Eggs (1997), little dinosaur eggs made from the artist's collected nail clippings:

4) Charles Ray's Puzzle Bottle (1995); and

5) John Baldessari's I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art (1971). Word!

I Wrote My Thesis on You

If you like BTVS, you'll probably get a kick out of this.

Bye Bye Betty

Betty Friedan, Who Ignited Cause in 'Feminine Mystique', Dies at 85

Friday, February 03, 2006

Celebrity Gossip and Feminism: An Abstract and Link-a-thon

This is a huge and sprawling topic -- one that I've sort of been working on all along here at FD -- but I think it's time to try to map out the contours of a gossip/ feminism map. It goes without saying that the major forums for celeb gossip -- print tabloids, gossip blogs, and cable channels like E! and VH1 -- are loaded with potent, hyper-graphic images of women. It's a visual field in which the female body is both plastic and multiple -- like a chain of paper dolls or a form infinitely reflected in a set of mirrors.

And yet celebrity gossip is basically embroidered with it's own contradictions. Highly manufactured and illusory -- slick and disposable and redundant -- and yet seemingly connected to something deeper in it's tendency toward certain types of narratives and archetypes. As an organism, it's sprawl is dark and gothic. It's at once frivolous and disturbing, erratic and predictable, fawning and defamatory.

For all of its obsessions with surfaces and temporality, gossip tells the same stories about women and uses the same tropes and characters over and over -- from the "forbidden fruit" of the old testament to the "bad girl / good girl" morality tales of the 1950s (this list would also include tropes like the "other woman," "the scorned woman," and "the diva" to name a few). And yet gossip also tells us stories of women who do not fit this mold: Angelina pre-Brad, Madonna, Courtney Love, Mary-Kate . . . The thing is that these roles are also fluid. And for as much as certain celebrities may represent the ideal "all American" or "white picket fence family" in the movies, there is a sense that at any second their personal lives could begin to read like science fiction (sonogram machines, anyone?).

And gossip -- in it's cocktail of rumor, speculation, "secret sources," and facts -- is collectively authored. Like a game of telephone, the stories gossip lover's consume range from the incidental and hardly debatable ("Britney gives birth!," "Pairs shops at Kitson") to the hardly provable ("Britney was a man!"). How these stories reflect or absorb larger cultural trends, or how these stories can provide us with some barometer for mainstream attitudes toward women is a compelling question.

So I'm sort of curating a little on-line museum as a way to begin thinking about the ways celebrity gossip depicts and involves women. Here's what I've come up with so far.

Exhibit A: Anxiety about the female body and fascist standards of beauty

This type of story, devoted entirely to whether or not Tyra Banks armpit looks like a vagina. Or this type of story, in which speculation over whether or not Katie's baby bump is real enters Warholian territory. Or this type of story in which people are horrified by the idea that Mischa Barton might actually menstruate. Or this type of story in which rumors of K-Fed mocking Britney for her weight (WTF?), illustrate a tendency to continue to judge viciously those women who are rich and powerful but who no longer adhere to some media-code of beauty (interestingly, most readers side with Britney, and are quick to condemn K-Fed. So is there some radical potential in this last story?)

Exhibit B: Feminity and Propriety

And then there's this type of story in which Kirsten Dunst, described as "skanky," is purportedly mistaken for a stripper. Or this story of Lindsay scrawling in the ladies' room: "Scarlett is a bloody cunt"( I find it fascinating the way Lilo's potty-mouth proclamation also suggests menstruation). On the same night she and Kate Moss are reported to have made their own attempts at stripping, and of course this is no case of mistaken identity, but a trying on of the stripper's role. What are we to make of this?

Exhibit C: Women and Privacy / Women and Secrecy

This type of story about swiped diaries. The diary is indeed a associated with femininity and "secrets." And in the post-stolen sidekick era, almost seems quaint. Like the diary of Laura Palmer, these are the MacGuffin's of celebrity gossip. Though they are reportedly "stolen," they seem just as likely to have been strategically lost. (Tinkerbell, anyone?) Compare this to Britney's "desperate" fight for privacy following the weeks just after her son's birth. And check out these pictures of papparazi stalking Christina's wedding.

These following exhibits have no links (sorry, I'm getting tired. I may update though).

Exhibit D: Women and "wild" or "loose" or "naughty" behavior ("raunch culture"?) *related to women and propriety; the distinction I would make is mostly one of presentation. But there is more to flesh out here, and I invite you to pipe in if you have ideas.

The lady is a tramp: Tara Reid is drunk (again). Courtney Love is f-ed up (again). Any sex tape story. Any dancing on table story. Jessica Simpson's "walk of shame."

Exhibit E: Women and domesticity / Women and Monogamy / Women and Motherhood

I'm lumping these together because they often overlap: Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillipe, Jen Garner and Ben Affleck, Gwenyth Paltrow and Chris Martin, Angelina and Brad. Seem to act out "perfect family" fantasy. Interestingly, men are much more likely to be fawned over if they are seen spending time with their children, almost always eliciting an "awww, cute!" response from everyone. Double-standard.

Exhibit F: The Woman Who Can Do No Wrong

Jennifer Aniston

Exhibit G: Women and Sexuality

Everything from Ellen and Portia, Angelina's ex-lesbian lover, and pictures of Paris making out with other girls. This last area seems to showcase a range of attitudes, from the vaguely progressive embrace of out, committed lesbian couples, to the vaguely conservative fascination with "hot girl on girl action."

As you can see, I've limited the scope to stories in which women are the subjects. No Collin Farell stories though those reveal interesting attitudes toward women as well. But I'm starting here. And as I said earlier, it's just a start. And of course there are other "problems" here -- the whole construction of "celebrity" and the "right to privacy." And that whole history of the Hollywood Babylon.

What do you think, reader? We want to know.

Relataed posts: Skellywood, Preggers Celebbers, Tracking the "it" Girl, Gossip Girl and James Frey, and "They Want a Baby!"

Punk Rock Poetry Fridays: For Poems With GRRR

Audre Lorde

The black unicorn is greedy.
The black unicorn is impatient.

'The black unicorn was mistaken
for a shadow or symbol

and taken

through a cold country
where mist painted mockeries

of my fury.

It is not on her lap where the horn rests
but deep in her moonpit
The black unicorn is restless

the black unicorn is unrelenting

the black unicorn is not


And here's this:

I see protest as a genuine means of encouraging someone to feel the inconsistencies, the horror of the lives we are living. Social protest is saying that we do not have to live this way. If we feel deeply, and we encourage ourselves and others to feel deeply, we will find the germ of our answers to bring about change. Because once we recognize what it is we are feeling, once we recognize we can feel deeply, love deeply, can feel joy, then we will demand that all parts of our lives produce that kind of joy. And when they do not, we will ask, "Why don't they?" And it is the asking that will lead us inevitably toward change.

So the question of social protest and art is inseparable for me. I can't say it is an either-or proposition. Art for art's sake doesn't really exist for me. What I saw was wrong, and I had to speak up. I loved poetry, and I loved words. But what was beautiful had to serve the purpose of changing my life, or I would have died. If I cannot air this pain and alter it, I will surely die of it. That's the beginning of social protest.

"Audre Lorde." Black Women Writers at Work. Ed. Claudia Tate. NY: Continuum, 1983. 100-16.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Pirates of Penance

Thanks in no small part to the pod-evangelism of Jenny, FF and me are hooked on podcasts! Our fave is the Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast (buffycast, for short) hosted by one Revello, whose mellifluous tones and wry humor are indeed very entertaining. This podcast straddles the worlds of pure fandom and the more rarified discourse of pop culture theorists, and as such is a really fascinating glimpse into how some fans watch and think about the shows they love.

Since my brother and sister-in-law are in the pop culture scholarhsip biz, I have had the good fortune to discuss with them some of the problems of fan discourse. For them, it seems , the most limiting aspect of fans' relationships with shows is the tendency to evaluate the quality of a given episode or season based on the behavior (or perceived misbehavior) or treatment (or perceived mistreatment) of cherished characters. So, Poncho and John becoming meth addicts or Mr. Belvedere strangling Wesley with a table runner should not, in theory, bother us so long as the narrative remains compelling and the writing and production values strong.

If television fans typically object to seeing their favorite characters behave badly or treated poorly, Buffy enthusiasts have more beefs with Joss Whedon and company than a Jack in the Box triple jack and cheese has, er, beefs. Whedon and friends love making good characters turn evil, crafting romantic couplings that make no sense, killing off beloved minor players, and introducing annoying new personalities for no reason. (NB: This may make me a rube, but when these sorts of things happen, I get totally irked. Super-irked. I hate you, Marti Noxon!)

Now, Revello's podcast fits firmly within this fan conversation-- most installments center on a single character, and evaluate whether or not they act honorably... And for what it's worth, I find this very entertaining, especially because the whole enterprise of dissecting characters in this way is simultaneously engaging and pointless, my all-time favorite combo. But where I find myself losing patience is with Revello's discussion of morality and ethics. One podcast installment, concerning the theme of "penance" in Buffy, reveals the mismatch of the kind of legalistic, neo-Kantian liberal ethics favored by Revello and other Buffy students (the one "Buffy and philosophy"reader I picked up at Border's was nauseatingly stupid as a result of the preference for this kind of interpretation on the part of the jokers who submitted chapters) and the real questions raised by Buffy.

This "penance" podcast centered mainly on the character of Angel, played by David Boreanaz. Even those who haven't watched Buffy are probably familiar with the character of Angel, the demon with a soul, who is Buffy's true love, but who is cursed to turn evil if his and Buffy's love is consummated physically. Part of the Buffy backstory is that when Angel is given a soul as part of the same curse that puts the kibosh on hanky panky, he wanders for 100 years, wallowing in guilt. Revello asks whether Angel's guilt and penance trip are necessary-- since he was a vampire when he committed the heinous deeds he attempts to atone for, these deeds are not, strictly speaking, his to answer for. For me, the real point is this-- not that Angel should be left off the hook, but rather that we should put ourselves on the hook-- his story serves as an allegory for the rest of us, who, collectively must confront our burden of guilt, for actions that seem to have been committed by some demonic other, and that yet haunt us. Angel's story in fact brings us much closer to a proper ethics for a globalized, adavanced capitalist, post-genocide world.

Coincidentally, there is another "penitent" TV "Angel" who has been occupying our thoughts lately-- the heinous Ashley Parker Angel, star of the emetic disasterpiece "There & Back" on MTV. This show was promoted as a look into the efforts of a former made-for-TV boy-bander (APA, of O-Town) trying to recover from having sold his soul to the soulless corporate music machine and actually launch a legitimate music career. The ads featured APA busking for spare change on the street. I thought: finally... one of these fascist moppets acknowledging that their miserable sell-out prefab music past was traumatic and evil, and trying to engage in some hardcore "penance" in order to overcome this stigma. But once the shows started to air, it became obvious that APA: 1) is proud of O-Town and has his feelings hurt when his wife mocks them; 2) has no more musical vision than, say, Talan Torriero, but is simply looking for the next Svengali to use and abuse him; and 3) sincerely believes that the world owes him infinite attention, wealth, sailboats, and hit singles.

Repent, asswipe!

I'm Breaking Up With The Gilmore Girls

It's over.

Gilmore Girls: I loved it and watched it for years. I fell asleep to the dvds. I not only coveted Lorelei's hair and outfits, but I wanted to be her. And I believed Rory Gilmore to be one of the most interesting high school characters to ever grace the small screen. And because of these warm and fuzzy feelings, I was willing to stick with the show when it started to piss me off. I was willing to pretend it was okay that Rory went from being interesting to being annoying in season 4. And then I was willing to just not care about Rory and to focus solely on Lorelei and her story line when Rory became unwatchable in season 5. But now they're fucking with Lorelei, and well, I'm just plain fed up.

Granted last night's episode had some stellar moments. Or rather I should say -- the last ten minutes of last night's episode were fantastic. But I'm sick of watching fifty minutes of trash for a few good minutes at the end. I'm sick of watching the same conflicts we saw in seasons 2 and 3 (the whole Paris - Rory paper crisis is a much less interesting version of the Paris - Rory student government fallout we saw in season 3). And Rory falling for Logan again is just like Rory falling for Logan the first time. We get it -- she's spoiled and shallow and everybody still loves her. But now these people expect me to watch Lorelei eat shit??? Fuck that.

The whole Luke love child thing seems like a judgment or punishment. And Luke not telling her about it is inexcusable. The only thing I wanted to see last night was Lorelei dumping his sorry ass. I knew things were bad when I opted to continue my nap instead of waking up to watch the last episode when it aired two weeks ago. But now I'm done. Done. And no "welcome to the SH, bitch!" is gonna bring me back. No. It's going to take a lot more than that.

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