Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Role Model: Yvette Nicole Brown

"Female friends that are in my tribe, black girls, we all have stories about that. We find interesting ways to make [directors] tell us to be sassy because they know that it’s racist. I say, “Can you show me how to do that?” They don’t want to do a black version of sassy, so then they move on."
-Yvette Nicole Brown, on avoiding the "sassy black woman" trope in Hollywood.

Read an interview with Davis and her co-stars Gillian Jacobs and Allison Brie here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Unite For Sight!

Belated, but one of the things I did while in Honduras was take video because Unite For Sight's video materials on Honduras are severely lacking. Unsatisfied with merely commenting on it, I offered to fix this by making my own video. It took awhile to edit since I used iMovie and don't know how to use iMovie... and had to subtitle and iMovie used to be good for that, but not the version I have. Anyway, it took so long to make because I'd subtitle and edit for a couple hours... and have edited like 30-45 seconds of footage. I don't know how film majors do it. Anyway, here it is, this is the final version that has been approved by Unite For Sight and now I'm working on transferring this big ole file to them.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Re: Lately

I realize that lately a lot of my posts have been kind of, as my friend Val from Long Island would say, "aggressive." This is not something that I'm doing intentionally per say, but is probably a result of horrible people everywhere and also the fact that I am graduating soon and am scared of my future (I don't want to be like Lena Dunham. Please let me be normal and have a normal job.), and also that I spend a lot of time in the library and read 200-500 pages of theory every week so I'm a little high strung. So when things start to annoy me... I just post about them. Perhaps soon I will post some things a little more related to this blog. But for now... goodnight.

Things You're Not Allowed to Say Anymore... Part 1

The internet allows for all kind of expression, unique, funny, important and relevant.
Unfortunately it also allows for the kind of stuff that makes us want to die.
Here are some things I never want to see or hear again.

1. "Justin Bieber destroyed music."
Some Canadian teenage popstar has offended your delicate and cultured musical tastes? I am so sorry. Let me wipe the tears off your velvet seat cushion of cliché.
Okay, so unless you're a girl between the ages of 5 and 20, I'm not really expecting you to like Justin Bieber.
And if you're a girl between those ages who owns more than 5 articles of black clothing, I don't expect you to like Justin Bieber anyway.
But do you know what you complaining about Justin Bieber tells me? You're probably not fun to hang out with because you're constantly judging everyone's musical taste. Maybe you're into Skrillex. Or perhaps jazz. Or Bon Iver. I don't really care. If you were a real person you wouldn't be so concerned with comparing what's popular to what you like. Justin Bieber's music isn't objectively bad the way that Creed or Maroon 5 is. It's commercial. Commercial pop music has existed for decades. No one is saying it's pushing boundaries or changing the world, but it's fairly innocuous. People wrote a whole musical about a popular male singer who made girls fall in love with him and boys jealous. It was called Bye Bye Birdie. This phenomena of indignant pop culture judgment is not new. Stop thinking you're special because you have good taste. You probably don't.
You're also probably the type of person who comments on Björk music videos, "THIS IS WHAT REAL CREATIVITY AND TALENT LOOKS LIKE, GAGA!"
So... basically, you're a tool. Allow the rest of us to more or less ignore Justin Bieber in peace, or perhaps just casually read about his relationship with Selena Gomez and hum along to "Baby" without your unnecessary pretension.

2. [Facebook status] It's a 4.0 semester, baby!
Am I your mother? Did I ask to know your GPA? Is this suddenly going to make me think you're intelligent?
When I was 14, one of my teachers said that grades and money are two things that should always be kept private. I agree. There are occasions when divulging this information is relevant, but it is never ever relevant as a facebook status update for your 300-900 friends to see. A while ago I had a roommate who was dating this horrible, horrible guy, so I would tell him my GPA because he was a huge tool and actually cared that I had a higher GPA than he did. He also was a massive tool because he thought he was better than my roommate/his girlfriend for not having as high a GPA as he did. This is called assholery. Don't do it. I only did it to make him stop talking. Occasionally, it worked, so I say the ends justified the means.
If you update your status with something like this, I probably already think you're lame, so it will just make me de-friend you faster, so thanks for that. Please just save this update for bragging to your boring friends in person and when you make your daily phone call to your mom/dad.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Open Letter to the Atheist Community: Stop Sucking.

Dear Atheist Community,

As a fellow atheist, I find you alienating. I'm not really speaking to individual atheists, but it seems like the atheist community kind of majorly sucks.

I briefly was involved with organized atheists, which often was really interesting, but probably equally as often uncomfortable and frustrating. For almost a semester, I was the only woman involved in the specific organization, and contrary to popular belief, I can take a joke. But I know when things are inappropriate, and atheist men have a problem with this.

There are a great many reasons that I no longer have any interest in belonging to the atheist community, but one of the most persistent and grating problems I see is that atheists kind of hate women. WHY?!

At my time of posting, 232 people had "liked" this picture, including one of my friends on facebook, which is why I had this incredibly offensive and stupid picture in my newsfeed.

This has not always been true, but I'm pretty much at a point in my life where I don't give a rat's ass what your religion is, as long as it's not being imposed on other people. And while there's a debate over whether atheism is a "religious belief" or the complete lack thereof of belief, this picture sort of characterizes atheism as a belief system that is antagonistic, mean, and sexist. Isn't the point of being an atheist that we (royal we) have evolved past this shit? So when atheists use slut shaming as a tactic of proving a point... I am so mad!

-It doesn't matter if your favorite book is the bible and you're a sex worker. Lots of people watch Blood Diamond and cry and then go out and buy unethically procured luxury goods. Lots of people believe in sustainability and human rights and have Apple products. Just because you like something doesn't really mean anything for the rest of you.

-If some girls like the bible and want to have sex... I don't care. You shouldn't care either. You should say, "I hope you are being safe and getting regular gynecological examinations," as you would to any sexually active adult.

-And if some assholes think that pointing out religious hypocrisy in a way that is alienating to women, people who are sexually active, and anyone who believes in good taste and arguing for atheism on a logical level is on some level okay, you should say to them, "Take a look at your life, take a look at your choices."

If you're feeling particularly suicidal today, take a look at the comments to that picture. And these are the people who are supposedly smarter than religious people?

No thanks.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Misguided Idiots Pretend to be Experts, Offend Everyone, Ruin America

What the freaking fuck?

It's probably shouldn't, but I continue to be shocked at how dumb some people in the United States are. The only religious persecution that is happening here, is that a few religious people are persecuting the uteruses of many.

John Stewart: "You confuse religious persecution with not getting everything you want."

If you are offended by birth control... don't take it! Fortunately for many of the people who are personally offended by the pill, they never have to take it. Because they lack the reproductive organs that process the pill.

There are plenty of things that offend me that I don't chalk up to religious persecution. Under the Affordability Care Act, employers provide coverage for birth control unless they are religious institutions. I.e. ... there is no problem, go home, pray for something more important.

Perhaps the more accurate application of "religious persecution" in reference to the debates about the pill is that some (not all, lots of religious people have no problem with this) religious people are trying to enforce their religious beliefs on people of different religions.

To which I would just like to say:

TO: overzealous republicans, religious people, and supreme whiners of the world:
RE: birth control

Please allow me to exercise my constitutional rights--the same rights you are always complaining about being violated but actually aren't--and allow me free speech. I know how you hate it when liberal people talk, but we're allowed to do it. While we're at constitution-loving, please allow the state to function without religious influence. In fact, while you claim that the US is a Christian nation and whine about how we need more Christian influence, more often you complain about societies that actually do have a mix of religion and government, for example, your extreme dislike of Sharia law. Bascuse me if I'm a little wary of Biblical laws that involve stuff like stoning, sacrifice, cutting off hands, etc.

Furthermore, I believe I have the freedom of religion in this country, which also means freedom from religion. Oh, that doesn't mean that I'm nonreligious necessarily, I have a Christmas tree, I know the Nicene Creed by heart, etc. etc., but I certainly want freedom from your religion, because people like you bum me out.

And while we're at it, I ask that if you want to speak about birth control, learn what it is. I recommend How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America, because besides debunking the myth that abortion and birth control access = baby holocaust, it also explains how the birth control pill and Plan B work. Are either one of those "the abortion pill?" No, and I'm going to go crazy on you if you call it that because it's like if I decided to call the GOP the "Great Oppressor Party." It's untrue, mean, and a term rooted in emotionalism.

(Besides, if you hate liberals so much, doesn't liberal women limiting the number of children they have mean less liberal babies for you to antagonize when they're older? Think about it. I always try to find the silver lining.)

Additionally, the Affordability Care Act is not socialism. (If you call it "Obamacare," Imma go crazy on you again, it just makes you sound like you get the majority of your news from your elderly neighbor.) It will not collapse the system. In fact, the majority of developed nations have some sort of government funded or mandated public health system. We pay two to three times as much for our health care in the US than in other countries, and it's pretty bad. Actually, the government currently spends more on health care than any other country and it's still not good. No, really, pretty much everywhere else in the world, as far as developed nations go, people live longer, don't pay as much for their health care, and have been health care in general. They have lower infant mortality rates (which by the way, have nothing to do with abortion, in case you're wondering, IMR is calculated by live births only), lower maternal mortality rates, and better health conditions for children, among other things. By the way, all those western and northern European countries that have government-mandated health care--including Germany, whose plan was put into place by Otto Von Bismarck--are capitalist countries.

Finally, just shut up about birth control. I think viagra is mad dumb, and I'm not raising a ruckus about the fact that insurance will cover old-man boners no problem. Thing is, I don't have to take viagra, so it's not really any of my business which of you old dudes is getting your insurance to cover your pleasure time. Trust me, I will not be inviting you to a party with my vagina, so you need not concern yourself about what I'm doing with it.


Liz Pride
Woman, Awesome US Citizen, and defender of the Constitution.

PS: Mull over this picture

Monday, February 13, 2012

Happy Galentines Day!

It's Galentine's Day!

Galentine's Day is the 13th of February! It's a day for ladies to celebrate ladies! NBC has their own "guide" to Galentine's Day (which only works if you are on cocaine or actually are Leslie Knope), and lots of other blogs have recommendations on how to celebrate. My friends and I are actually celebrating Galetine's Day on the 16th (Thursday is a lot better for a get-together than Monday) and we will be celebrating "female friendships! We're making pancakes and waffles, listening to lady music, and watching movies about empowered women!" Sounds awesome, RIGHT? Let's just make it a week-long event!

On a related note, and not exactly specifically related to Galentine's Day... but sort of, my friend Mary of Mary Quite Contrary Bakes brought me a piece of friendship cake this morning!

The best way to begin any day is receive cake at your door. I swear.
This isn't even all of it, this is half. Girl goes all out.
It was really good, I'm staring at the crumbs of that piece right now.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RIP Whitney

I've literally been unable to post about this until now... too sad. No, I'm serious. As soon as I read the headline that Whitney Houston had died, I just burst out crying. Like, as much as I love that adorably insane video of Kristen Bell flipping her shit over a sloth, that is not how I function on a normal basis. My emotional states are pretty regular, and crying is a rare occurrence for me. But as soon as I read about Whitney... oh yeah, my afternoon was gone. It was all about blasting her songs and singing along sadly, alone in my apartment. It was a weird Saturday.

Anyway, I just wanted to honor Whit because she was an amazing but troubled singer, who inspired so many people and has tragically gone too soon. We miss you, Whitney.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Link Central

I'm tired. Here's what I've been reading.

A reminder of what good family values are...

Speaking of the the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex, Santorum says he's concerned for the delicate constitutions of women and wants our emotional lady brains away from taxing military work, because... you know, clearly, only men can triumph in war.

Washington decides to marry some gays! Watch this one republican representative give a moving speech in favor of legalizing gay marriage... break out your tissues. It's a good one.

Finally, some good news about an airline. Delta makes history in a really nice way!

Are you annoyed with the Susan G. Komen foundation's big dramatic PR blunder? On the bright side, they have retracted their idiocy and will continue to fund Planned Parenthood--PLUS angry donors shifted their hard-earned dollars back to PP, resulting in over $400,000 donated toward affordable women's healthcare. Well, if you're still miffed about Komen, check out the trailer for Pink Ribbons, which is about the dark side of the commercialization of breast cancer.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Happy Freaking Friday

Monica and Brandy!! Singing!! Together!!

This is what I have been listening to on repeat for the past week!!

It is the best!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"My Haters are My Motivators"

Why Ellen Degeneres rocks:

Blood, Screams, and Sex: Female Bodies in the Slasher Film

[Adapted from a paper I wrote for a class on violence in Fall 2011]

Paul Wells once wrote that the analysis of horror films offers a particularly interesting insight into a society—that of its fears and anxieties. Horror films are one such way that audiences’ fascination with graphic violence is capitalized upon. The genre constantly goes through reinvention, becoming more graphic, shocking, and violent to respond not only to boredom with a certain type of depiction, but to the lucrative power of truly horrifying and controversial images.

Slasher movies in particular have been analyzed as one such catalyst for constantly escalating violence in modern horror films. The first commercially successful slasher film, 1978’s Halloween, set the stage for similar films to try to replicate its violence and commercial success throughout the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. One of the most characteristic features of slasher films is the use of graphic violence against women, and Carol Clover's idea of the "Final Girl". Although many slasher films feature the Final Girl trope, who can be for many reasons interpreted as empowering, she is often left after friends and/or numerous other women have been murdered.

A common theme among the deaths of characters in slasher movies of the 1980s to mid-1990s, especially for women, is their explicit sexualization immediately preceding being brutally murdered. This eroticization is used to arouse the viewers, and directly porns the audience’s understanding of violence. Whether used as a tactic to punish deviant sexuality or as simply a technique of arousal, the eroticization of violence in horror films demonstrates a trend in which domination, violence, humiliation, and terror are popularly portrayed through a lens of porn.

Second Wave Feminism reached its height in the 1960s and 70s, but the 1980s and 90s are characterized as periods of great backlash against women. As the religious right gained prominence in politics, depictions of women in film and the media began to much more frequently punish sexuality and push women into supporting and disempowered roles. Within this context, the slasher film of the 1980s and 90s often punish deviant femininity, while lingering on its sexualized aspects. This contradiction of depiction, in conjunction with horrific violence, has succeeded in strengthening a genre that relies on the combination of sex and violence for entertainment.

Some porn makes use of violence and horror movie conventions, while many horror movies make use of porn. The release of Halloween in 1978 heralded a new era of horror movies: the slasher film. Characterized by bloody, gratuitous violence, the slasher generally featured long, drawn-out sequences of female characters being terrorized and murdered. Although Laurie Strode, Halloween’s “final girl,” survives to the end of the film, her friends are not so lucky.

Eighteen years later, Scream revisited the slasher, and made it a little punchier by satirizing horror movie conventions. The self-referential feel of Scream sets it apart from serious slasher films, as the characters frequently complain about slasher film characters not knowing when the killer is about to sneak up on them—right as the audiences are watching this very convention unfold on screen. One scene from Scream stands out in particular.

Unable to fit her hips through the dog-door, Tatum is stuck half-in, half-out, with her face, arms and breasts (with inexplicably erect nipples) sticking out one end and legs out the other, sectioning off her body into very typically sexualized regions. Tatum hangs limply from the dog-door, with only her butt and legs showing.

While many of the mainstream slasher films from the 1980s do not use humor the same way Scream did and could, the violence unfolds in similar scenes. Laurie’s friends in Halloween are unceremoniously knocked off one after another, with much longer sequences for the deaths of female characters than male ones. Emphasizing a female character’s sexuality during a death scene for audience members sets up some severe psychological consequences for audience members. If male spectators are ostensibly expected to identify with male characters, their identification process during a scene in which a female character is sexualized and then brutally murdered brings them to identifying with the killer. According to Laura Mulvey's work on visual pleasure, female spectators are forced to identify with the female characters, which at best have one “final girl,” or with the male characters. The lesson taught by slashers is, for women, too much sex foreshadows death. Sexy death.

Following Halloween, Friday the 13th was released in 1980. Although the killer is a woman (at least in the first film of the series), Friday the 13th is more conspicuously punishing of deviant sexuality and emphasizing the castigation of young adults who do not listen to their elders than most slasher films.

The generational divide in Friday the 13th is key. The young camp counselors are portrayed as foolhardy for not listening to the older locals warn them about “Camp Blood” and are disrespectful to a police officer who visits early in the day to check out the situation. As they fall prey to the mysterious killer, it is implied that all this could have been avoided if they had known to listen to their elders. In a twist on the generational conflict, the killer turns out to be an older woman. When Mrs. Voorhees is finally shown, she is first anticipated as a savior by the film’s final girl, Alice. However, as Mrs. Voorhees surveys the damage in the cabin and the dead bodies of Alice’s friends, her monologue reveals that something is wrong:

Partial transcript: Oh my lord. So young. So pretty. What monster could have done this? Oh, god this place. Steve should never have opened this place again. There’s been too much trouble here. Did you know that a young boy drowned? The year before the two others were killed? The counselors weren’t paying any attention. They were making love while that young boy drowned! His name was Jason. I was working the day that it happened, preparing meals here. I was the cook. Jason should have been watched! [Mrs. Voorhees grabs Alice and shakes her] Every minute! He was—[pause] He wasn’t a very good swimmer. We can go now… dear.

Although Mrs. Voorhees is killed at the end of the film, her reason to kill extends from an empathetic place—revenge for her son—while other slasher villains are simply understood to be psychopaths. Michael Myers of Halloween is described as soulless, and someone who lacked humanity from his earliest murder as a five year old. Freddy Kruger, of Nightmare on Elm Street, is a child-murderer who inhabits the dream world. Both Myers and Kruger have tenuously explained psyches, while Mrs. Voorhees has a much clearer motive for her actions. Although she is clearly in the wrong for committing murder, her actions for killing teenagers who are out doing the dirty deed have some narrative justification in the film.

What society finds frightening, horror films capitalize on. In the 1980s, expanding teen culture and fear of safety in the suburbs influenced the creation of many horror films. While many horror films in past decades were set in faraway castles or rural and isolated areas, terror began creeping into the normal, suddenly turning an orderly world into one filled with serial killers and the potential for violence. The financial success of Halloween was unexpected as the film was, at its core, so very conservative in its values and castigating toward the behavior of adolescents—who made up most of the audience.

The specific codes used in horror movies help form audiences’ ideologies on fear and horror. As the world has become more violent, so have our scary movies. Slasher movies in particular commodify violent death by packing in as many bloody murder scenes as possible into one movie (or perhaps, its series of sequels). While dramatic film may use aspects of life that are horrifying and violent, slasher films capitalize on the potential for entertainment through the repeated demonstration of gruesome death scenes.

Repeatedly showing images where certain people are devalued and brutally cut down will not inspire any sort of positive social change. While many audience members can connect the absurdity of directors’ choices to show women in ridiculous situations, where they are naked or partially unclothed or impeded by formal dress, with the irrationality of cutting down main characters for the purpose of entertainment, visual narratives are incredibly powerful and influential.

Repeatedly showing “slutty” characters meeting bloody ends has a direct correlation to society’s treatment of women’s sexuality, which is overall hostile. Additionally, sexualizing a body before, during and after a violent scene has the potential to arouse the audience, connecting the pornographic voyeurism of sexualized women’s bodies with the pornographic voyeurism of graphic and gratuitous violence.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

This is What Gender Equality Looks Like!

Axe has sexytime body spray for men AND women! Patriarchy has been defeated!


This is horrible. Now that Axe is peddling its poison-smelling body spray to women that doesn't erase the fact that they've been creating some of the dumbest, most sexist advertisements for a really long time. No, this is not what gender equality looks like, this is what capitalism looks like when it buys some cheapass body spray and tortures everyone it comes into contact with by way of exposure to nasty fumes. No really, if any of you has ever been a teenager or in contact with teenage boys who think that spraying on mad amounts of Axe makes them smell good and/or sexy, you know what I'm talking about. It's gross-town. So, as Axe tries to promote its capitalist version of anarchy, be on the look out for more of their dumb-dumb advertising.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

India Bans the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, doesn't want Rape Entertainment

A couple days ago I heard that India has decided to not let The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo screen in the country. Anyone who is somewhat familiar with Indian culture and film may know that they're a much more conservative type. Although there is violence and occasionally sex in Indian movies, it's not often shown. Kissing in public is taboo, so it's pretty rare for even that to be shown. So... you know... this news isn't really out of left field. I can understand the desire not to want to pay to watch graphic depictions of rape on screen.

This got me to thinking. What is it that makes movies and television portraying rape so entertaining? I have seen all the Swedish movies, read the first book and saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo... it's rough. It is not easy to watch or read. But the process of reading the book I still really enjoyed for some reason. Maybe "enjoyed" is not the right word. I had seen the movies prior to reading the book and I was still reading large portions with my jaw dropped. But it's not like sexual violence is "so shocking" (unfortunately). I don't know how many episodes of Law & Order: SVU I've seen, but it's a lot. It's not even something that if I turn it on and it's on I'll watch it, but I actively seek SVU out. Why??

I have very little theories on why people--women especially--are interested in watching portrayals of sexual violence or violence against women. I think part of it has to do with the "final girl" theory--that we derive some sort of education from watching these things, like, if I see how Laurie survives Michael Myers, then I will know what to do the next time my serial-killer-psychopath-brother tries to kill me. It can't be all that though, right? I mean, it's not like I came out of Dragon Tattoo HAPPY. I don't watch SVU and then skip around making cupcakes. It's sad! Why is this!??

So I'm opening this up to you, internet-world:

Whatever your gender, do you watch media that depicts sexual violence? Why? What do you get from it? If you don't why not?

You're Welcome for Your New Favorite Artist: Nneka

Nneka was raised in Nigeria, moved to Germany, and found popularity on youtube. I came across her by chance because someone had posted her video on facebook, and I am hardcore loving her music. Her songs are emotionally and politically charged and beautiful. I'm always elated to find new music, especially from female artists.

Starting in March, she's going on tour in the US, so I'm excited that I have almost two months to convince at least one of my friends to come with me to her show in Philly... I don't think it will be that hard... she's really cool. Check out more of her music!