On the (Rest of the) Net.

Happy New Year, Early Birds! To kick off the new year here are some of the links I found interesting over the Christmas break.

The progression of The Addams Family films. [The Soapboxing Geek]

Bret Easton Ellis is “really sorry” about that Kathryn Bigelow tweet. [Daily Beast]

The similarities between My Little Pony and Plato. [Overthinking It]

2012, politics and feminism. [Women’s Agenda]

Another year in review piece: pop music in 2012. [Gawker]

On that note, what will 2013 (hopefully) bring in pop culture? [TheVine]

Sweden’s gender-neutral toy trend. [Deadspin]

Where are all the women in The Hobbit’s Middle-earth? [Jezebel]

Could you live on $35 a day? The government expects single parents to. [TheVine]

Is Wearing Makeup a Choice? [Jezebel]

Loving… Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window.

Can’t say I’ve really gotten into much Hitchcock in my lifetime (that’s more my mum’s forte), however I loved Rear Window from the moment I inserted into the DVD player.

However, after a second watching this Christmas, I realised the power of Grace Kelly’s character, Lisa Fremont, as the girlfriend of central protagonist L.B. Jeffries (played by James Stewart).

Sure, she comes across as a vapid socialite on first glance, but when she opens her mouth, it is revealed that she has a job (astonishing for that period in time!), albeit as a gossip columnist, and is very self-sufficient.

Jeffries goes on about how she is somewhat pampered (being a socialite) and could never hack it on one of his photography missions.( Evidently it is he who could not hack it on his own photography assignment, managing to get his leg broken whilst documenting a car race.)

When Lisa volunteers to snoop in Jeffries’ neighbours’ apartment whilst he is out, on one hand she is proving herself to him; proving that she can get her hands dirty and is up for some adventure. But, as Lizz Yeh points out in her comment in response to Gender Goggles“Hitchcock & Feminist Theory in Suspicion & Rear Window, “we have to remember that a lot of the plot is driven by Lisa and L.B. It is only after Lisa concurs with L.B. that L.B. decides to take any sort of action.” In addition, she’s the one who points out that a woman doesn’t leave her favourite handbag and wedding ring when she goes on a trip, and doesn’t leave her jewellery jumbled up in a bag. On Yeh’s comments, it does seem that Jeffries often strives for Lisa’s approval. Whilst I wouldn’t say he’s a “weak” male character by any means, Lisa is certainly his “better half”.

On that, Lisa proves that women can be multifaceted. She can read fashion magazines and attend balls in gorgeous couture gowns, but she can also investigate a murder and accompany her man on adventurous trips. Her attitude also flies in the face of feminism’s detractors: she can please her man by reading the kinds of books he thinks she should (but swapping back to her glossy du jour when he falls asleep!) and helping him in his time of need, but she also does what she thinks and feels is right. Ultimately, Jeffries and Lisa are equals in a Hitchcockian world.

 [Gender Goggles] Hitchcock & Feminist Theory in Suspicion & Rear Window.

[Overthinking It] Why Weak Male Characters Are Bad for Women.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Female Characters Actually “Strong”, Or Stereotypes?

 [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

On the Net: Britney Spears—Not That Innocent.

From “Desperately Seeking Amy” by a guest writer on Overthinking It:

“The first time Spears delved into the fascinating world of singing about yourself through an alter ego, she was eighteen and singing about ‘a girl named Lucky’ back in the days when she was still being marketed as the sweet, virginal, girl-next-door, and before she became, ‘Mrs “Oh my God, that Britney’s shameless”’ . Though Amy and Lucky were born in different eras, they both suggest a deep-seated dissatisfaction with the fast-paced, highly-scrutinized, celebrity way of life. And that can hardly come as a surprise; Britney Spears is forever being criticized in the media for being slutty, or a bad mother, or without integrity, or crazy or stupid-or-blond[e]-or-Southern-or-Sagittarius…

“Lucky ‘cry, cry, cries’ but Amy is stronger. Amy is wiser. Amy is pissed off that if you seek Amy in the club, or smoking outside, or in her home while she’s playing with her kids, Britney Spears gets fucked. That’s what’s really obscene here: her message that says, ‘if you seek Amy’ = ‘F-U-C-K me‘. You might as well. You already have.”

[Overthinking It] Desperately Seeking Amy.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Feminist-Bot.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] This is a Story About a Girl Named Britney… I Mean Lucky! Britney Spears Cabaret Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Underlying Messages of Glee’s “Britney/Brittany” Episode.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] It’s All About Britney, Bitch!

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Glee Against the Music.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

How to “cure” a feminist.

Zoe Foster at her absolute best in her ode to “second day spaghetti”. Perhaps she should consider penning a food column in addition to relationship and beauty advice?

Overthinking It on the differences, but more so, similarities, of “California Gurls and California Girls”. One choice titbit: “The popsicle melting part means that California girls are sufficiently attractive that, under the right circumstances, they will cause men to ejaculate. Just in case Katy Perry didn’t make it obvious enough with her coy and artful wordplay, ‘popsicle’ means penis.”

More on Katy Perry and how she’s now claiming to be a gay icon. If you think back to her first song, before the success of “I Kissed a Girl” (“which panders to my least favourite cliché ever, that of the straight girls who make out at frat parties to turn on frat boys”), entitled “Ur So Gay”, it was insinuating that being gay “was the ultimate, be-all, end-all putdown to someone that treated her wrong.”

Matriarchy in Glee.

Also at Overthinking It, the likeability of male characters versus female characters is discussed. Hint: female characters aren’t likeable, even if the male characters they’re being compared to are sociopaths.

Jezebel on owning your sluthood:

“… Sluthood isn’t an action, it’s a state of mind.

“I’m telling you this because my sluthood saved me. Sluthood gave me the time and space to nurse a shattered heart. It gave me a place where I could exist in pieces, some of me craving touch, some of me still too tender to even expose to the light. Sluthood healed the part of me that felt my body and my desires were grotesque after two years in a libido-mismatched partnership. Now I felt hot, wanted, powerful. My desire and enthusiasm was an asset, not an unintended weapon.”

You go, girl!

Lifehacker offers up the “Top 10 Tips for Better Writing”.

Hugo Schwyzer on “The Problem With Being ‘Sexy But Not Sexual’”.

“The Televised Guide to Teen Girl Friendships”, featuring My So-Called Life, Full House and Popular.

Jezebel explains our (but not my) interest in the royal wedding by way of Disney:

“For me, an American pop-culture junkie, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s engagement means one thing: She gets to be a Princess. And seriously, some part of me, formed when I was three or four, believes that this means she will be dressed by birds, wear clothes sewn by tiny mice, and have woodland creatures as friends. Oh, sure, there’s a handsome Prince, but more important are the jewels! And the singing! And the castles! And the woodland creatures.”

Apparently positive people live longer. Good news for me, then!

“Do All of Us Need ‘The One’?” at The Ch!cktionary.

A rant on the annoyance of ignorance:

“… In our infoculture, it takes work not to expose yourself to interesting ideas, facts, news and points of view… the average person online spends seventy seconds a day reading online news. Ouch.”

New York, I Love Hate You:

“New York, I won’t miss your fierce morning halitosis exhaled from your subway grates along Third Avenue.

“I won’t miss you drooling on me from your high-rise air-conditioners in the burning heights of summer.

“I won’t miss how… to me you always smelled like Camel Lights, and warming urine, and the No. 14 busa perfume I never could quite embrace.

“New York, I’ll never forget how dating you made me so poor that when I wanted to read I had to unscrew a bulb from the bedroom and carry it to the living room.”

On the Net: “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.

[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.”

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, Or Stereotypes?

Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

I’ve been wanting to write a post on Overthinking It’s “Female Character Flowchart” since I saw it on both Jezebel and Musings of an Inappropriate Woman about two weeks ago, and the time has finally come I’ve finally gotten around to compiling a list of my favourite fictional female characters and whether they qualify as “strong” ones.

Without compromising the quality of the image, I wasn’t able to enlarge the chart, nor add my own annotations as per the below characters of my choosing. Instead, I’ve reproduced their equations below, as well as Mean Girls’ Regina George, who appears on the chart, and Blair Waldorf, whom Rachel Hills believes is a “girl Hitler”, but who I find to be much more of a genuine strong female character.

Regina George (Mean Girls): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? NO. Villain? YES. Sexualised? NO. (I would argue yes. Hello? Have you seen her Halloween getup?) Over 35? NO. Is the protagonist male or female? FEMALE. Is this a rom/com? NO=Mean Girl.

Blair Waldorf (Gossip Girl): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? NO. Does she have any flaws? YES. Is she killed before the third act? NO=Strong female character.

Belle (Beauty & the Beast): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? NO. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? YES. Do they get together? YES. Is she only interested in her man? NO. Is she in a committed relationship with a protagonist? NO. Changes her man or is changed? CHANGES. Are they from different cultures? YES=Nobel Squan, whatever the hell that is! (Looks like something out of Avatar, though.)

Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? LEADER. How does she feel about babies? NOT RIGHT NOW. Does she get pregnant? NO. Is she in a horror story? NO. Is she violent? NO. Is she nearly perfect? NO. What is her flaw?=sassmouth, which I guess is true, but Scout is so much more.

Elphaba (Wicked): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES, many. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? ROGUE=wildcard.

Elle Woods (Legally Blonde): Can she carry her own story? YES. Is she three dimensional? YES. Does she represent an idea? YES. Villain? NO. Is she mainly a love interest? NO. Is she part of a team/family? YES. What is her main role? LEADER. How does she feel about babies? NOT RIGHT NOW. Does she get pregnant? NO. Is she in a horror story? NO. Is she violent? NO. Is she nearly perfect? YES. Is she older? NO. Should the audience like her? YES. Who likes her more? WOMEN=Mary Sue.

[Overthinking It] The Female Character Flowchart.

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

[Jezebel] Flowchart: Know Your Female Character Stereotypes.

[Musings of an Inappropriate Woman] Flowchart: Know Your Female Character Stereotypes.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.