On the (Rest of the) Net.

tumblr_nik57zZrEc1u8i8jno1_500

I went to see Into the Woods this week and I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would having read some things on the interwebs about its race and gender problems.

While it certainly still had those (*spoiler alert* both The Witch and The Baker’s Wife die because they don’t subscribe to typical notions of femininity; The Wolf wears a zoot suit in a dodgy part of the woods) it’s probably the least problematic of all the Oscars bait in cinemas at the moment.

I found the politics of gender very interesting. I was surprised by how on the nose the rapeyness of The Prince was, and I thought Chris Pine played him to perfection. I was taken aback by the pedophilic undertones rife throughout the musical, exhibited by The Wolf and The Baker, amongst others. And for those unfamiliar with the stage version, in it the actor that plays The Prince also plays The Wolf! It gives a whole new meaning to the niceness/charm VS. goodness that reverberates throughout Into the Woods. If you like musicals and/or picking apart the underlying meaning of pop culture, go see it. [The Windowsill]

Why are some of our favourite TV shows given a “free pass” on their problematic content while others are expected to be all things to all people? I love that Sinead Stubbins threw in the gender card: Sex & the City, Girls and even Grey’s Anatomy are often held to a much higher standard than prestige TV’s other (read: male protagonist-based) vehicles. [Junkee]

Not knowing you’re beautiful is exactly what makes you beautiful. [Daily Life]

The history of the Lifetime movie. [WaPo]

Disney’s Agent Carter isn’t feminist: it’s about “Disney owning feminist entertainment, and thereby being able to set the terms for it.” [In These Times]

Just as relevant to the #Tay4Hottest100 controversy as it was when it was published last year, Brodie Lancaster writes about gender-based music elitism. [Rookie]

“Looking ‘Black’ is a Crime”:

“Authorities want to ban hoodies but not guns, sagging pants but not police murdering unarmed Black people, natural hair but not unnatural racist discrimination.” [Dame]

Nicki Minaj sacrificed love for career success on her latest album, The Pinkprint. [One Week One Band]

Looking at Pretty Woman‘s positive portrayal of sex work. [Bitch Flicks]

Why do all on-screen female journalists sleep with their subjects for a story? [NY Magazine]

The inevitability of being called fat for deigning to be a woman in public. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

“The Girls effect” on the Iowa Writers Workshop. [Vulture]

The effect menstruation has on professional sportswomen. [Birdee]

Glee flies in the face of character development, storyline continuity and sensitivity by making Coach Beiste a trans man. Would you expect anything more? [Autostraddle]

On being a fat bride-to-be. [The Guardian]

Image via Tumblr.

The Year of the Witch.

ahs coven

One could rightly argue that the witch renaissance began in 2013, with American Horror Story: Coven and The Witches of East End debuting last year.

But that revival has certainly carried on into the year of our Lord 2014, with both seasons (and series, in East End’s case) culminating at some stage this year. The ultimate witch movie, The Craft, came of age in May while The Blair Witch Project turned 15, and The New Inquiry, The Lifted Brow and even Teen Vogue all published stories about our fascination with magic and the women who perform it.

In the screen world, The Worst Witch is returning to TV; Sleepy Hollow continued its second season featuring the witch Katrina; WGN America broadcast the god awful Salem, their interpretation of the 1692 witch trials starring Shane West and Ashley Madekwe of Revenge fame; Frozen and Maleficent dominated the box office and Into the Woods, featuring Meryl Streep as The Witch, opens in the U.S. on Christmas Day (with a January 2015 premiere in Australia to follow).

And, of course, every year around Halloween time we get nostalgic for all things witchy. I continued this nostalgia by musing about Wicked for Junkee and writing a couple of things about Charmed for Bitch Flicks, and they also championed Practical Magic in a piece that made me giddy for the summer between primary and secondary school when I first saw it.

This is not to trivialise the still very real belief in witches in some developing countries. Recently, a woman was burned at the stake in Paraguay after being accused of witchcraft and this article about prevalence of the belief of witchcraft in Papua New Guinea published last year will stay with me for quite a while. In the first world, Wiccans took to social media to voice their outrage at their portrayal in a recent Time magazine article.

While witches hold a certain otherworldly charm (so to speak) from another time, the reality is that women are called witches (and many other choice descriptors) for deigning to exist outside of the narrowly and socially prescribed notions of how they should. The Salem witch trials began when young girls in the town began acting strangely in quick succession (also known as puberty), and we can hear echoes of a similar panic when modern girls and women act out of turn (see: the Slenderman attempted murder and Lena Dunham). While there’s still more room for movement for women than there ever was in Salem and medieval Europe, an appreciation of witches is one way in which we’re furthering the varied representations of women.

What other representations of witches come to mind this year? Sound off in the comments.

Related: Revenge Is a Dish Best Served by a Woman.

ElsewhereL [Jezebel] Spellbinding Witch Move The Craft Turns 18. Let’s Have a Gif Party!

[The New Enquiry] Vol. 21 Witches.

[The Lifted Brow] Witchin’ Ain’t Easy.

[Teen Vogue] Witches Are Real, And You Might Know One: An Inside Look at Girls Who Practice Paganism.

[Metro] The Worst Witch TV Series in Coming Back for the BBC.

[Junkee] The Musical Wicked is as Much About Feminism as it is About Witches.

[Bitch Flicks] The Power of Work/Life Balance in Charmed.

[Bitch Flicks] She’s Possessed, Baby, Possessed!

[Bitch Flicks] Practical Magic: Sisters As Friends, Mirrors.

[The Daily Mail] Paraguayan Woman Accused of Being a Witch Burned Alive.

[SMH] Witch-Hunt.

[International Business Times] Time Magazine Witches Article Outrages Wiccans, Pagan Community.

[Time] Why Witches on TV Spell Trouble in Real Life.

[Bitch Flicks] Lena Dunham, Slenderman & the Terror of GIRLS.

Image via American Horror Story Wikia.