12 Posts of Christmas: I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Feminism.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

When Scream 4 came out earlier this year, it immediately solidified its spot in my heart as one of my favourite movies and franchises, and not just because of its feminist nature, discussed below, and in the original post.

Scream 4 marked the most recent installment of the horror franchise, which ended in much the same similar way as the past three chapters.

The killer comes back from the dead, gun-wielding Gale Weathers fires a bullet and central scream queen Sidney Prescott gets the last laugh, with fellow original Woodsboro survivor Dewey fumbling around on the sidelines.

Fifteen years after the original, it is still unbelievable as to how Dewey is on the police force, Gale is still a ball-busting rogue sleuth, albeit with a lot more Botox than the last time we saw her, and Sidney has finally wiped that weepy-eyed look off her face and is kicking ass and taking names.

In the first instalment, Sidney is an ineffectual twit who berates horror movie starlets for “running up the stairs when they should be going out the front door” when, only moments later, she does exactly the same thing!

But as I watched each movie, I slowly started to root for Sid. Not only was she dealing with the fallout of her mother’s death and the wrongful allegation against Cotton Weary for the crime in the first film, but she was also dealing with a rat of a boyfriend, Billy, friends, high school and trying not to crumble under the pressure of it all. So I’ll cut her a break.

In the second film, Sidney undergoes remarkable growth due, in part, to going off to college, but the audience can see in the way Sidney carries herself that she believes the murders are over. Oh, how wrong she was! I especially love the final scene in Scream 2, with Sidney outsmarting (one of) the killer(s), Mrs. Loomis, with the help of Cotton. Gale’s there, too, holding on til the bitter end.

The Scream franchise, after all, is about the women. It could be argued that most horror movies are about the women; female victims make for easy targets and garner more of a reaction from the audience. But Scream was one of the first mainstream horrors to advocate for equal-opportunity killing: where the men are as fair game as the girls, and two out of the seven killers have been women. More than that, they’ve been the masterminds of the whole operation; using the clueless and fame-hungry men as pawns in their bloody chess game.

Traditional horror operates on the premise that “she alone looks death in the face”. Not Scream, though.

Ashley Smith in “Final Girl(s) Power: Scream, writes of not only Sidney, but Gale and Dewey, staring death in the face:

“The success of the narrative is predicated now on not an individual woman, extraordinary and significantly boyish, but on the cooperation of two women who together stab, shoot and electrocute the two killers into oblivion. This moment is also notable because it is one of the many instances in Scream that utilises very self-referential language, not only does it rework the figure of the Final Girl, it talks about itself reworking the figure of the Final Girl. This moment is an example of how the film explicitly works on behalf of the female spectator. Sydney/Campbell is speaking for and speaking as one of the girls in the horror audience who want to see active female characters fighting for each other, and significantly not even bound by a sentimentalised friendship.”

Sidney and Gale start out as sworn enemies (as murdered bestie Tatum Riley says after Sidney punches Gale: “‘I’ll send you a copy.’ Bam! Bitch went down! Sid: super bitch! You’re so cool!”), but I suppose bonding over the murders of pretty much everyone you know will solidify your connection, whether or not it’s one of mutual affection for each other, or mutual hatred for the killer(s).

And then there’s Dewey. He’s a funny character and David Arquette plays him to perfection, but the sum of his survival involves him always arriving to the party 10 seconds late and missing all the action. Sure, he’s been stabbed a few times, but he’s more of the token surviving male than a fully well-rounded character. As Smith writes, “the text allows for powerful and active female figures [that] it compensates [for] with weak, ineffective male ones”.

Before Scream, to survive as a “final girl” you had to be a virgin. This works well for high school victims, as a lot of high school students are virgins. And hey, this is the movies, so so what if it doesn’t reflect real life?

The first Scream begins with Sidney as a virgin, but in the height of the killings, she throws caution her virginity to the wind and has sex with Billy. In any other horror film, this would mean she dies. (Casey Becker, Drew Barrymore’s character, and her boyfriend, Steve, die in the opening scene, as does Tatum, girlfriend of Stu, later on in the movie in the doggy-door scene. You might imagine these kids to be non-virgins, as they’re in seemingly committed, loving relationships, but this is never directly addressed.) But Scream, being the “meta-text” that it is, takes a page out of Buffy’s book, and the non-virgin fights to live another day.

But the exemplar of a strong female character in Scream is Gale. She’s not only a ball-busting, high-powered tabloid journalist who fights to see an innocent man go free but, as I mentioned above, she’s always the last one standing, alongside reluctant partner-in-crime Sidney.

In Scream 4, she’s a struggling stay-at-home novelist with writer’s block, so when Sidney—and the subsequent murders—return to Woodsboro, she jumps at the chance to help with the investigations. Dewey, and his lovesick underling Deputy Judy, don’t want her interfering with the case, so Gale goes rogue.

It is Gale who uncovers most of the developments in the case, including who the killer is. And, according to Melissa Lafsky at The Awl, she’s breaking a lot of other ground, too :

“She [Courteney Cox] slashes her way out of the 40-something female stereotype, and takes over this movie with a flick of her scorn-ready… brow. Let’s face it: Few film archetypes are more brutal than the ‘older woman in a horror movie’—either you’re the psycho nutcase… or you’re the pathetic victim… And no matter what, you’re ALWAYS an obsessive mother.

“Cox pulls off a pretty impressive coup, upstaging not only the cute flouncing teens, but also her 15-years-younger self. Her character—now successful, childless(!), and utterly bored with the ‘middle-aged wife’ role—shrugs off all orders to ‘stay out of it’ and leaps back into the murderous fray, husbands, younger blondes and kitchen knives be damned. She takes nothing for granted, and thinks not a second about sneaking into dark corners to catch homicidal fruitcakes (and bitch is 47!!!). While Arquette and Campbell slide into their ’90s cliché groove, Cox reinvents and one-ups, kicking this meta-fest to life and providing the only sexy thing onscreen, gelatinous lips and all. Gale Weathers is shrewd, aggressive, cunning, but never heartless; despite it all, she still loves that stupefied ass clown Dewey. And she does it all while sporting a better ass than the 20-somethings. And… she doesn’t even have to die for it!”

You go, Gale!

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Feminism.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Scream 4 Review.

Elsewhere: [Girl Power: Feminism, Girlculture & The Popular Media] Final Girl(s) Power: Scream.

[Wikipedia] Scream Queen.

[Wikipedia] Final Girl.

[The Awl] Scream 4: The First Mainstream Feminist Horror Film.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“The Case for Dry Humping: Why Being Prude is a Feminist Statement.” [HuffPo]

Alone time is my siren call. Here, Jezebel’s Social Minefield tells you how to get more “me time” without offended those who want to have “we time” with you.

One woman goes mirror-free for a year. [Jezebel]

Lady Gaga’s run out of people to plagiarise, so she’s turned to herself for inspiration in her latest video for “Yoü & I”. [Fashionista]

Nipple slips from Khloe Kardashian, Nicki Minaj and Kelly Rowland in quick succession: shock, horror! [The Washington Post] (SFW)

Camilla Peffer on Beyonce as the anti-feminist. [Girls Are Made From Pepsi]

The gender politics of Justin Bieber. [FBomb]

Is there a need for women to have their periods?:

“… I do want to raise the question that while we do the work of destigmatising menstruation and teach young girls to be proud and excited about their menarche don’t we also have a responsibility to question its necessity? We tell women they don’t have to have sex to have children, that breast cancer can be beaten, that they can have their tubes tied and then re-connected and their faces lifted and de-wrinkled. We live in a modern world with modern solutions, isn’t it time we started seriously thinking and talking about the need to bleed?” [Feminaust]

Porn star and new mum displays picture of her breastfeeding her newborn daughter in an exhibition challenging the Madonna/whore dichotomy of motherhood, controversy ensues:

“The idea that there is something inherently prurient about a porn star breast-feeding plays right into that classic either-or thinking: Her breasts are erotic in one venue, so they can’t be wholesome in another. It’s a wonder anyone lets her breast-feed at all! On the one hand, it’s surprising to see this attitude coming from a pornographer; on… [yet an]other hand, it’s perfectly appropriate given the way motherhood is fetishised in porn.

“…We don’t like to think of moms as sexual beings—except for in the taboo-busting world of porn (paging Dr. Freud). It’s fitting for a porn star mama, the rare industry ‘MILF’ who is actually a mom, to remind folks that, generally speaking, one has to have sex in order to become a mom.” [Salon]

Anne Hathaway’s new effort, One Day, has a “bleak worldview of co-dependence where men need women to improve them, and women need to improve themselves to deserve men’s notice and achieve their purpose,” with The Film Stage dubbing it “the most toxic romance of the year”.

Also at The Film Stage, a breakdown of Katherine Heigl’s stereotype-reinforcing rom-coms, from the career-making Knocked Up, which she subsequently dissed for being sexist, to the just-as-sexist Killers and Life as We Know It.

Here’s an extended version of Erica Bartle’s debut piece for Sunday Life. While I don’t necessarily agree with her sentiments on faith most of the time, this is a great read. Better than the published piece, dare I say? [Girl with a Satchel]

Taylor Swift VS. feminism. [Autostraddle]

Is it “time for an abortion pride movement”?:

“… Women should not merely have the right to end unwanted pregnancies, they should have the right to be proud of having done so. Surely, there is enough suffering in this world already without adding infants with Tay-Sachs disease and Lesch-Nyhan syndrome to the mix. Women who step up to the ethical plate and have the strength to say, ‘This is the wrong time,’ or ‘This is the wrong fetus,’ should hold their heads high in the streets.” [Opposing Views]

Oh, the hilarity of Photoshop on this Glee/Vogue/Fashion’s Night Out advertisement. [Styleite]

It’s not just women who get the short end of the stick when it comes to Disney films: “Sexism, Strength & Dominance—Masculinity in Disney Films.” [FBomb]

The awesomeness that is Adam Lambert. [Autostraddle]

One from the vault: Buffy’s Willow Rosenberg destroys the world when her lesbian love is killed, calling into question the show’s support of the LGBT community. [Salon]

A mother’s perspective on the dysfunctional Twilight-saga relationship between Edward and Bella. [Persephone Magazine]

The politics of the SlutWalk. [New York Times]

Five of The Simpsons’ best recipes, including 64 slices of American cheese and Vaseline toast! [Warming Glow]

Image via Chubby Wubby Girl, Styleite, Salon.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Feminism!

 

Scream 4 marked the most recent installment of the horror franchise, which ended in much the same similar way as the past three chapters.

The killer comes back from the dead, gun-wielding Gale Weathers fires a bullet and central scream queen Sidney Prescott gets the last laugh, with fellow original Woodsboro survivor Dewey fumbling around on the sidelines.

Fifteen years after the original, it is still unbelievable as to how Dewey is on the police force, Gale is still a ball-busting rogue sleuth, albeit with a lot more Botox than the last time we saw her, and Sidney has finally wiped that weepy-eyed look off her face and is kicking ass and taking names.

In the first instalment, Sidney is an ineffectual twit who berates horror movie starlets for “running up the stairs when they should be going out the front door” when, only moments later, she does exactly the same thing!

But as I watched each movie, I slowly started to root for Sid. Not only was she dealing with the fallout of her mother’s death and the wrongful allegation against Cotton Weary for the crime in the first film, but she was also dealing with a rat of a boyfriend, Billy, friends, high school and trying not to crumble under the pressure of it all. So I’ll cut her a break.

In the second film, Sidney undergoes remarkable growth due, in part, to going off to college, but the audience can see in the way Sidney carries herself that she believes the murders are over. Oh, how wrong she was! I especially love the final scene in Scream 2, with Sidney outsmarting (one of) the killer(s), Mrs. Loomis, with the help of Cotton. Gale’s there, too, holding on til the bitter end.

The Scream franchise, after all, is about the women. It could be argued that most horror movies are about the women; female victims make for easy targets and garner more of a reaction from the audience. But Scream was one of the first mainstream horrors to advocate for equal-opportunity killing: where the men are as fair game as the girls, and two out of the seven killers have been women. More than that, they’ve been the masterminds of the whole operation; using the clueless and fame-hungry men as pawns in their bloody chess game.

Traditional horror operates on the premise that “she alone looks death in the face”. Not Scream, though.

Ashley Smith in “Final Girl(s) Power: Scream, writes of not only Sidney, but Gale and Dewey, staring death in the face:

“The success of the narrative is predicated now on not an individual woman, extraordinary and significantly boyish, but on the cooperation of two women who together stab, shoot and electrocute the two killers into oblivion. This moment is also notable because it is one of the many instances in Scream that utilizes very self-referential language, not only does it rework the figure of the Final Girl, it talks about itself reworking the figure of the Final Girl. This moment is an example of how the film explicitly works on behalf of the female spectator. Sydney/Campbell is speaking for and speaking as one of the girls in the horror audience who want to see active female characters fighting for each other, and significantly not even bound by a sentimentalised friendship.”

Sidney and Gale start out as sworn enemies (as murdered bestie Tatum Riley says after Sidney punches Gale: “‘I’ll send you a copy.’ Bam! Bitch went down! Sid: super bitch! You’re so cool!”), but I suppose bonding over the murders of pretty much everyone you know will solidify your connection, whether or not it’s one of mutual affection for each other, or mutual hatred for the killer(s).

And then there’s Dewey. He’s a funny character and David Arquette plays him to perfection, but the sum of his survival involves him always arriving to the party 10 seconds late and missing all the action. Sure, he’s been stabbed a few times, but he’s more of the token surviving male than a fully well-rounded character. As Smith writes, “the text allows for powerful and active female figures [that] it compensates [for] with weak, ineffective male ones”.

Before Scream, to survive as a “final girl” you had to be a virgin. This works well for high school victims, as a lot of high school students are virgins. And hey, this is the movies, so so what if it doesn’t reflect real life?

The first Scream begins with Sidney as a virgin, but in the height of the killings, she throws caution her virginity to the wind and has sex with Billy. In any other horror film, this would mean she dies. (Casey Becker, Drew Barrymore’s character, and her boyfriend, Steve, die in the opening scene, as does Tatum, girlfriend of Stu, later on in the movie in the doggy-door scene, above. You might imagine these kids to be non-virgins, as they’re in seemingly committed, loving relationships, but this is never directly addressed.) But Scream, being the “meta-text” that it is, takes a page out of Buffy’s book, and the non-virgin fights to live another day.

But the exemplar of a strong female character in Scream is Gale. She’s not only a ball-busting, high-powered tabloid journalist who fights to see an innocent man go free but, as I mentioned above, she’s always the last one standing, alongside reluctant partner-in-crime Sidney.

In Scream 4, she’s a struggling stay-at-home novelist with writer’s block, so when Sidney—and the subsequent murders—return to Woodsboro, she jumps at the chance to help with the investigations. Dewey, and his lovesick underling Deputy Judy, don’t want her interfering with the case, so Gale goes rogue.

It is Gale who uncovers most of the developments in the case, including who the killer is. And, according to Melissa Lafsky at The Awl, she’s breaking a lot of other ground, too :

“She [Courteney Cox] slashes her way out of the 40-something female stereotype, and takes over this movie with a flick of her scorn-ready… brow. Let’s face it: Few film archetypes are more brutal than the ‘older woman in a horror movie’—either you’re the psycho nutcase… or you’re the pathetic victim… And no matter what, you’re ALWAYS an obsessive mother.

“Cox pulls off a pretty impressive coup, upstaging not only the cute flouncing teens, but also her 15-years-younger self. Her character—now successful, childless(!), and utterly bored with the ‘middle-aged wife’ role—shrugs off all orders to ‘stay out of it’ and leaps back into the murderous fray, husbands, younger blondes and kitchen knives be damned. She takes nothing for granted, and thinks not a second about sneaking into dark corners to catch homicidal fruitcakes (and bitch is 47!!!). While Arquette and Campbell slide into their ’90s cliché groove, Cox reinvents and one-ups, kicking this meta-fest to life and providing the only sexy thing onscreen, gelatinous lips and all. Gale Weathers is shrewd, aggressive, cunning, but never heartless; despite it all, she still loves that stupefied ass clown Dewey. And she does it all while sporting a better ass than the 20-somethings. And… she doesn’t even have to die for it!”

You go, Gale!

Related: Scream 4 Review.

Elsewhere: [Girl Power: Feminism, Girlculture & The Popular Media] Final Girl(s) Power: Scream.

[Wikipedia] Scream Queen.

[Wikipedia] Final Girl.

[The Awl] Scream 4: The First Mainstream Feminist Horror Film.

Images via The Mary Sue, Dinoray, IMDb.

Sookie as Feminist? Hear Her Roar.

Ever since I started watching True Blood, I’ve had a hard time believing Sookie Stackhouse as a feminist icon. Sure, she kicks a lot of butt, sometimes seeking danger out herself (taking down the Rattrays when they milk blood from Bill in the car park of Merlottes), is in charge of her sexuality, if that means staying a virgin until the right man comes along, and doesn’t take shit from anybody. But… she’s just so damn annoying!

So is Glee’s Rachel Berry and most of the Gossip Girl cast, and they could be seen as icons of feminism for the texting set. However, instead of whining to her teacher, withholding sex from her boyfriend or plotting revenge against her nemeses, Sookie is just the opposite. She may be blonde, virginal and innocent in every sense, but she is also very much like Buffy Summers, who was created with bucking the horror movie victim stereotype in mind.

As one commenter on True Blood’s Nest points out, “Sookie is brave to the point of being stupid at times…”. While this can be an admirable quality sometimes, it does contribute to her annoyingness.

Speaking of characters who act before they speak, Tara Thornton comes to mind.

True Blood is all about juxtaposing discrimination against the blacks and the gays against the discrimination of vampires. The book True Blood & Philosophy, which I reviewed last week, mentions that Sookie and Tara were both raised—for the most part—by Sookie’s grandmother, yet Sookie is “admired, protected and coeveted by every heterosexual male main character and loved by a sweet, nurturing grandmother” while “Tara is blunt, sarcastic, morose, love-starved and goes home each night to an alcoholic mother” and gets caught up in Maryann’s spiral of lies and magic. Racist stereotypes or social criticism?

And while we’re on Maryann, she seems to embody “certain stereotypes of late-1970s feminism”, both in the clothes she wears (floaty, feminine and ethereal maxi dresses) and the hedonistic, maenadic lifestyle she espouses. Given her obsession with taking down Sam, using Eggs as her partner in crime and erecting the meat-statue in Sookie’s yard (not to mention her “hunter’s soufflé”!), she really embodies the “feminist as man-eater” ideal.

While these are good examples of other, non-blonde/innocent/virginal heroines in True Blood (and while we’re at it, let’s not forget Pam, Lorena and Sophie-Ann), I would also like to examine Sookie in relation to the men of Bon Tempts. Let’s look at True Blood’s Nest again:

“… Bill and various other hot men are always rescuing Sookie from certain death, or so it seems. But remember y’all, it was her that tried to find the town serial killer, not the useless cops. It was her that killed Rene the Killer with a shovel to the neck while the menfolk bumbled around the graveyard uselessly. It was her that decided to go to Dallas in order to get Lafayette out of Eric’s icky dungeon, AND she wanted money and a driveway as part of the deal. Once again the menfolk spluttered and marvelled at her bravery and sauciness, and lusted after her even more for it. She is the mistress of her own kick ass destiny while Bill, Sam and even Eric can only follow in her wake, hoping to be of some use.”

The original title for this post was “What is it With Sookie”, and seriously, what is it with Sookie?! By the end of season three, we have found out that Sookie’s appeal to the “menfolk” may be because of her fairy heritage, not because of her physical attributes or personality traits.

This is unfortunate for Bill, because it is plain to see that he does love Sookie for who she is, not what she can do for him. But I will say that the fairy blood storyline is an intriguing one; did Sookie’s blood allow Bill to crawl, albeit with his flesh charring with each movement he made, to her rescue in the graveyard at the end of season one? Is that also why Eric wants her?

But when you take away their supernatural abilities, Bill and Sookie’s relationship is one with issues that I’m sure a lot of modern day couples face: Bill has old-fashioned sensibilities in wanting to protect his lover, while Sookie struggles with the concept of maintaining “independence in sexual relationships”, which second- and third-wave feminism have told us we must do. Nothing illustrates this conflict (and metaphorical backlash?) than the second episode of season two, when Sookie storms out of Bill’s car after a fight about said independence and protection only to be attacked by a mythical creature for her efforts!

Elsewhere: [True Blood’s Nest] Fangirls Speak Out: Sookie—Feminist Icon?

[Racialicious] True Blood. Tired Stereotypes.

[Feminist Frequency] Beyond True Blood’s Sensationalism.

Related: True Blood & Philosophy by George A. Dunn & Rebecca Housel Review.

Has Feminism Failed?

Top 10 TV Moments of the Year.

Gossip Girl Proves There’s No Such Thing as Wonder Woman.

Surfing the Third Wave: Second Wave VS. Third Wave Feminism on Gossip Girl.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

Mia Freedman on Elle’s “weird, weird choice of cover model” in Miley Cyrus for their August 2009 issue:

“Who’s next? Bindi Irwin for Harper’s Bazaar? Stop it, someone is probably organising that right now as I type. Anyway, so while I was still tut-tutting over the fact that she was ON the magazine, I came to the story inside and nearly lost my lunch. Not only did I find the clothes grotesquely inappropriate (nanna-alert!), I was disturbed by the poses. In one shot, she’s got her vagina thrust up to the camera with her stomach exposed.

“In a couple of others, she’s lying back as if waiting for… well, you know what she’s waiting for.”

Girl with a Satchel on Lara Bingle, Kristy Fraser-Kirk and “sexism in the Australian Media”, while Nicole Richie’s Who wedding cover story (out today) is a “fairytale story” of “redemption”.

Why “we need more vampire slayersjust not more Buffy”:

Buffy made a bold statement in the context of 1990s pop culture: What if this tiny blonde girl, who looks like the victim in every horror movie ever, is actually the monster-killer? What if she’s badder and tougher than everyone else? What if she’s secretly grappling with the weight of the world because she’s the only one who can save us all?

“Whedon often talks about the idea for the original Buffy movie coming from the image of a girl running from a monster, like in every other horror film—but then it turns out she’s actually hunting the monster, and she catches it by surprise. Because she’s not just your typical sacrificial cheerleader.

“That was a radical idea in 1992, and even in 1997. I would be very sad to think it would still be radical in 2012, or whenever this film comes out.”

Questionable scenes in Disney films.

Let’s Drink Tea and Get Laid references last week’s skinny-shaming post in her thoughts on body image, “property” and ownership.

Rachel Hills has some insightful notes on introversion versus extroversion, stemming from The Atlantic’s “Caring for Your Introvert”, which was featured on last week’s “On The (Rest of the) Net”.

Tiger Beatdown on the gender double standards on Glee:

“… Being attacked for being an effeminate man is terrible, and we’ll talk about it and come to a resolution, but being a masculine woman means you should just get used to being everyone’s punching bag.”

Jezebel uncovers “The Surprising Facts About Who’s Hot”, according to scientific studies in David Perrett’s book, In Your Face. So it’s totes, like, factual and shit.

“With a Gun Between Her Legs”—Why “Strong” (AKA “Sexy” Whilst Being “Strong”) Female Characters Are Bad For Women.

 

There has been a bit of talk throughout the blogosphere recently (and not so recently) about how “strong” (ie. butt-kicking but looking hot whilst doing it) female characters are detrimental to women.

From Overthinking It:

“… The trouble is, although these characters were marginally better than the original Damsels in Distress, they still ended up having to be saved in the final act by the male hero. There would usually be a scene (or three) where the ‘Strong Female Character’ would be trapped by the villain and put into sexy clothing.”

Here are a few examples: Drew Barrymore in Charlie’s Angels (in a satirical hyper-sexualised way), Rose McGowan and Alyssa Milano in Charmed, and Megan Fox in Transformers, which Overthinking It explicitly references.

Furthermore:

“And even when she was being strong, she was always doing it in the sexiest way possible. She’d never, say, get a black eye or a broken nose in a fight. Her ability to fix cars (a powerful, masculine trait) would basically allow her to get sexy grease all over her slippery body. Her ability to shoot a gun was so the film’s advertisers could put her on a poster wearing a skimpy outfit with a big gun between her legs. All in all, the ‘strength’ of her character was just to make her a better prize for the hero at the endand for the horny male audience throughout.”

Again, Fox in Transformers with the grease, but also Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and even Strong Female Character Buffy, who always looks good kicking vampire butt.

Related: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, Or Stereotypes?

Elsewhere: [Overthinking It] Why Strong Female Characters Are Bad for Women.

[Overthinking It] The Female Character Flowchart.

[Overthinking It] “Her Ability to Shoot a Gun Was So the Film’s Advertisers Could Put Her On a Poster Wearing a Skimpy Outfit With a Big Gun Between Her Legs.”

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

After my Mick Foley rant last week, I’ve started reading his blog, Countdown to Lockdown, and I’m loving it. Here are some choice articles:

Remembering female pro-wrestling pioneer, Luna Vachon, who passed away on August 27 this year.

“That Time I Met… Tina Fey… and Alec Baldwin!”

“That Time I Met… President William Jefferson Clinton!” (I really love this one; some heart-warming stuff.)

“Mick’s Favourite Things: Top Ten Matches”, three of whichCactus Jack VS. Randy Orton at Backlash 2004 (above), Mankind VS. The Undertaker in Hell in a Cell in June, 1998, and Mick Foley VS. Edge in a Hardcore Match at WrestleMania XXII (that’s WrestleMania 22 in 2006 for you wrestling laymen)I 100% agree with.

In defence of Buffy’s whining.

“To the Teenage Boy in Your Life”:

“An important thing to remember is that girls are not from a different planet, nor are they even a different species. They’re just people, they’re just like boys, except with vulvas instead of penises.

“Mainly you need to remember this when you’re trying to figure out what a girl is thinking. See, if you didn’t know what a BOY was thinking, how would you go about finding out? You might ask him, right? The same goes for girls.”

I’m a bit behind the eight-ball on this one, as No Make-Up Week was a month ago, but Alle Malice’s guest post on Rabbit Write goes over the reasons “Why We Wear Make-Up”. I especially like this one:

“It makes me look good in photos. Almost everything we do now is documented by someone and posted in Facebook albums for the world to see, because if you aren’t having fun on Facebook, you aren’t really having fun. And if you aren’t pretty on the internet, you aren’t pretty in real life. Enter makeup.”

Nick Sylvester, on Riff City, discusses “How Kanye West’s Online Triumphs Have Eclipsed Kanye West”:

“Maybe there are people working with him… but I get the sense that Kanye is generating the [sic] lot of these ideas. I imagine he likes being in control of every aspect of the production, the medium being the message and so on. Online he is a wise fool, first playing into people’s perceptions of ‘Kanye West’, then off those very perceptions, sending himself up, pulling back his own veil… Despite many attempts, Kanye West is incapable of being parodied, largely because Kanye West has already figured out a way to be a parody of Kanye West.”

Much like Megan Fox in this New York Times Magazine article. Could I even go as far as to say that blonde bombshell Pamela Anderson has employed this strategy? I believe I could. And for that matter, Lindsay Lohan sending herself up on Funny or Die and promos for the MTV VMAs are along the same lines.

Sylvester goes on to say that “artists like Kanye West have to be ‘good at Twitter’ in order to put a dent in the zeitgeist.”

Furthermore,

“‘Nowadays rappers, they like bloggers,’ is what Swizz Beatz says… Slowly the work itself becomes secondary, less ambitious; slowly people becomes ‘really proud of their tweets’.”

Is it “The End of Men”?

Disney’s latest offering, Tangled, based on the story of Rapunzel, takes us back to a time when the Disney Princess reigned supreme, according to io9.

Feminist Themes examines Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” clip:

“… the objectification, glamorising of lesbian fetishism, and excessive girl-on-girl violence… [are aspects of the video that] feminist Gaga fans can try to justify… as another example of how she subversively turns what we usually find hot into something that leaves a nasty taste in our mouths and therefore makes a statement, but if any other artist (particularly any male artist) incorporated this much objectification and violence against women we would be outraged. Is it any different just because it’s a woman, or because it’s specifically Gaga?

“… What sets Gaga apart from other sexpot pop stars for me is that I just can’t imagine men being honestly turned on by hernot because she isn’t gorgeous (she is), but because she is so avant-garde, aggressive and self-driven which takes that arousal and turns it into something atypical, uncomfortable, and threatening.”

Also at Feminist Themes, the cause of the she-blogger in “Why I Blog”.

In other Gaga news, The Cavalier Daily reports that the University of Virginia is now running Lady Gaga classes! This sooo makes me want to re-enrol in university in a post-grad, transfer to UV, and take this kick-ass class!

The Daily Beast puts forth two differing opinions on Glee’s stereotypes: Andy Dehnart discusses the show’s “Harmful Simplicity”, while Thaddeus Russell applauds the walking stereotype that is Kurt Hummel, as “history tells us that those unafraid to be ‘too gay’ won far more freedomsfor all of usthan those who dressed the part of straights.”

Beautifully satiric The Frenemy reveals the recipe to “The Teen Romantic Comedy”, which “does not work for Mean Girls, 10 Things I Hate About You, or John Hughes films”, unfortunately. The truth about Disney Princes is also profiled, in which Eric from The Little Mermaid “wanted to kiss a girl who doesn’t speak words and doesn’t know how to use a fork. What the hell are you, caveman?”, while Mulan’s Captain Shang is in truth, a “gay liar” who made young, susceptible viewers the girls who have “crushes on a lot of her gay friends. [A] big Will & Grace fan.” Hey, that’s me!

Rachel Hills discusses intersectionality in feminism:

“For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, ‘intersectionality’ is a way of talking about power and privilege that recognises that recognises that these things operate on multiple axes. People aren’t just female, or Black, or Asian, or straight, or working class, or trans, or a parent, or prone to depressioneveryone falls into a number of different categories that colours their experience of the world in specific ways. In the feminist context, it serves as a useful reminder that not all women have the same experiences, and calls into question the still dominant notion that the neutral ‘female’ experience is one that is white, heterosexual and middle-class.

“I’m also a fan because it just makes feminism a whole lot more interesting.”

Girl with a Satchel profiles Melissa Hoyer’s media career, which is a must-read for any budding wordsmith.

I am staunchly pro-choice when it comes to the abortion debate. In fact, I lean so far to the left that I’m borderline pro-abortion. (I’m sure that’ll ruffle some feathers!) But no matter what your feelings on the subject, MamaMia’s post, “The Couple Facing Jail Because They Tried To ‘Procure an Abortion’. Hello, Queensland? It’s 2010” is worth checking out.

Jezebel’s “5 Worst Mean (Little) Girls of All Time” includes Willy Wonka’s Veruca Salt and, from one of the most heart wrenching films of all time, A Little Princess, Lavinia, who looks a lot like modern-day mean girl, Angelina Pivarnick, from Jersey Shore.

“Why Strawberry Shortcake Was a Progressive Pioneer.”

Book Review: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.

 

When I heard Bret Easton Ellis was coming to Melbourne for the Writers Festival, I was intrigued to hear him speak in person, to say the least.

My first, and only, exposure to Easton Ellis prior to reading American Psycho was his 1998 release, Glamorama. I had high expectations for that book, and I was sorely disappointed. I found it too fast paced and celebrity-obsessed which, granted, was the point of the story. However, the graphic depictions of violence (a plane crash with flying pieces of sheet metal decapitating whole rows of passengers, anyone? Or how about a massive miscarriage followed by internal haemorrhaging and subsequent death of the main character’s, Victor Ward, girlfriend?) and sex were far too much.

So needless to say, I was very apprehensive about entering into a literary relationship with American Psycho, but I wanted to at least have read Easton Ellis’ most famous work before seeing him live. (Alas, this is not meant to be, as tickets to his talk sold out within minutes of going on sale! As he, and Buffy creator Joss Whedon, whose talk also sold out, are the only writers I’m interested in seeing at this years surprisingly uninspiring Melbourne Writers Festival, I guess I’ll be giving it a miss this year.)

This time around, however, I was pleasantly surprised.

Again, American Psycho is hard to get into initially, as it jumps straight into a boys night out with protagonist Patrick Bateman and his equally materialistic and über-boring posse of yuppie acquaintances (Bateman is too narcissistic to have actual “friends”). But after persevering up to the first kill, I liked what I read.

Even squirming along Struggle Street during the gory descriptions of the murderson public transport, no less!was still a fairly enjoyable literary journey. To give you a taste of just how well Easton Ellis does horrific homicide in print, here’s a description of Bateman’s first kill:

“… I reach out and touch his [the bum’s] face gently once more with compassion and whisper, “Do you know what a fucking loser you are?” He starts nodding helplessly and I pull out a long, thin knife with a serrated edge and , being very careful not to kill him, push maybe half an inch of the blade into his right eye, flicking the handle up, instantly popping the retina.

“The bum is too surprised to say anything. He only opens his mouth in shock and moves a grubby, mittened hand slowly up to his face. I yank his pants down and in the passing headlights of a taxi can make out his flabby black thighs, rashed because of his constantly urinating in the pantsuit. The stench of shit rises quickly into my face and breathing through my mouth, down on my haunches, I start stabbing him in the stomach, lightly, above the dense matted patch of pubic hair. This sobers him up somewhat and instinctively he tries to cover himself with his hands and the dog starts yipping, really furiously, but it doesn’t attack, and I keep stabbing at the bum now between his fingers, stabbing the backs of his hands. His eye, burst open, hangs out of its socket and runs down his face and he keeps blinking which causes what’s left of it inside the wound to pour out like red, veiny egg yolk. I grab his head with one hand and push it back and then with my thumb and forefinger hold the other eye open and bring the knife up and push the tip of it into the socket, first breaking its protective film so the socket fills with blood, then slitting the eyeball open sideways, and he finally starts screaming once I slit his nose in two, lightly spraying me and the dog with blood, Gizmo blinking to get the blood out of his eyes. I quickly wipe the blade clean across the bum’s face, breaking open the muscle above his cheek. Still kneeling, I throw a quarter in his face, which is slick and shiny with blood, both sockets hollowed out and filled with gore, what’s left of his eye literally oozing over his screaming lips in thick, webby strands. Calmly, I whisper, “There’s a quarter. Go buy some gum, you crazy fucking nigger.” Then I turn to the barking dog and when I get up, stomp on its front legs while it’s crouched down ready to jump at me, its fangs bared, immediately shattering the bones in both its legs, and it falls on its side squealing in pain, front paws sticking up in the air at an obscene, satisfying angle. I can’t help but start laughing and I linger at the scene, amused by this tableau. When I spot an approaching taxi, I slowly walk away.”

Now if that didn’t make you wince and writhe vicariously, there’s also the attacks of several other dogs, the tortures of countless prostitutes, the dissolving of several friends’ bodies in lime, cannibalism, the murder of a child, the capture of a sewer rat to use in later tortures, and in a comical scene that illustrates just how sad and detached Bateman has become in his life of depravity, he feeds his girlfriend (just one of many he has on the go at any given time) a frozen urinal cake coated in chocolate and served in a decadent Godiva chocolate box.

If the reader needs more proof of Bateman’s derangement and obsessive compulsive consumerism, they need only to look at the chapters interspersed throughout the narrative on business cards, sound systems and musical artists of the time (1991), like Genesis, Whitney Houston and Huey Lewis & the News.

Here is another example:

“Another choir, on Lexington, sings ‘Hark the Herald Angels’ and I tap-dance, moaning, in front of them before I move like a zombie to Bloomingdale’s, where I rush over to the first tie rack I see and murmur to the young faggot working behind the counter, “Too, too fabulous,” while fondling a silk ascot. He flirts and asks if I’m a model. “I’ll see you in hell,” I tell him, and move on.

“… vases and felt fedoras with feather headbands and alligator toiletry cases with gilt-silver bottles and brushes and shoehorns that cost two hundred dollars and candlesticks and pillow covers and gloves and slippers and powder puffs and hand-knitted cotton snowflake sweaters and leather skates and Porsche-design ski goggles and antique apothecary bottles and diamond earrings and silk ties and boots and perfume bottles and diamond earrings and boots and vodka glasses and card cases and cameras and mahogany servers and scarves and aftershaves and photo albums and salt and pepper shakers and ceramic-toaster cookie jars and two-hundred-dollar shoehorns and backpacks and aluminium lunch pails and pillow covers…

“Some kind of existential chasm opens up before me while I’m browsing in Bloomingdale’s and causes me to first locate a phone and check my messages, then, near tears, after taking three Halcion (since my body has mutated and adapted to the drug it no longer causes sleepit just seems to ward off total madness), I head toward the Clinique counter where with my platinum American Express card I buy six tubes of shaving cream…”

This kind of stream-of-consciousness and disjointed conflict between the Patrick Bateman that is presented to the outside worldthe one that manages to convince a cop investigating the murder of one of Bateman’s lime victims that he has nothing to do with the disappearanceand the inner workings of his own mind, and even again with the superhuman he becomes when killing, continues and only becomes more frequent as the tale continues.

While there is no finite conclusion to the storyone might guess that Bateman was caught during the murder of a taxi driver, when the tone switches from first person to third person, however it is later revealed that he escaped, but is recognised by another cab driverthat only makes it all the more disturbing.

Easton Ellis is a very cleverthough slightly disturbed; you would have to be to write as graphically and as convincingly as he doesauthor, and I would have loved to hear him speak about his most prolific work.

However, while I rate this one highly, I probably won’t return to, nor enjoy, his other novels.