[EDITOR NOTE: It has been brought to this unfunny feminist’s attention that during an earlier attempt at sharing this story, the Interwebs themselves were so entertained that they completely snarfled the post. Our apologies for the technical snafu, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog entertainment!]
I realize it’s been quite awhile since my last (un)funny feminist post. But ever since I first watched Matthew Broussard’s recent stand-up performance on Conan I’ve been feeling terribly, terribly sad at the thought of anyone being deprived of this pleasure.
And so, without further ado:
[Please join me for a party in the comment section after viewing. Attendees are invited to share your favorite lines and/or your best digital representation of laughter! Adult beverages to be provided at no extra charge.]
I suppose this doesn’t qualify as much of an admission—seeing as how I’ve written on this subject before, albeit briefly—but I adore and despise the romantic comedy genre, in equal measure.
From the romanticization of stalker behavior to the gaslighting of every leading lady, romcoms are the adult version of “he only pulls your hair because he likes you.” They’re stories snatched straight from the playground, dressed up with schmaltzy soundtracks and marketing targeted to women under the snarky diminution of ‘chick flick’.
Cuz not only will Hollywood not make us decent movies, society’s gotta mock us for taking enjoyment in those scraps we are offered. [See also, for a book-centric analysis of this soft bigotry of the romance.]
My next also!not!shocking! admission?
I find hating romantic comedies part and parcel of enjoying them.
In fact, “Once you’ve mocked romantic comedy clichés, you are free to indulge in them” is itself a pervasive romantic comedy cliché, as Chloe Angyal once pointed out. (By the by, Dr. Angyal is both an active and vocal feminist critic…and herself so romanced by the romantic comedy that she wrote her dissertation on the genre, and its relationship to post-feminist Hollywood feminism.)
One of my favorite mock-worthy clichés is the obligatory makeover of the heroine.
The Ur-Romcom in this respect remains Pretty Woman, a flick my college roommates and I used to watch over and over in our dorm room—but only up through the shopping scene, after which we would each drag our sartorially-satiated selves back to our desks. Athough newer movies have done it differently, none has done it better.
1999’s She’s All That, which holds its own place in the makeover pantheon as Most Glasses-Removal That Were Ever Removed*, even paid homage to these roots.
[*I acknowledge this film’s status, even as I maintain my own soft-spot preference for the glasses-removal scene in the Australian delight Strictly Ballroom: where our heroine is enticed to remove her glasses—and apparently cure her own nearsightedness for the remainder of the movie??—not because she will look better with them off. But because she will dance better.
Nothing says “two left feet” quite like 20/20 vision, I guess.]
Now, to see a truly genius act of romcom makeover-cum-gentle self-mocking of its own tropes-cum–Pretty Woman shout-out—all served up with a side order of genre gender-bending, no less!—for my money, nothing comes even close to this scene from Warm Bodies, a Romeo-and-Juliet retelling in which the House of Montague is played by zombies.
Shame thrives in isolation and silence. Thank you for witnessing these stories, and for lessening my burden by doing so.
I invite all who would like — whether you typically comment on blogs or not — to share in the comments any part of this post that resonated for you, any memories it may have brought up, or any other thoughts you wish to convey.
“Body Lessons (Genealogy of an Orgasm)” is part of an ongoing memory project. The entire series can be found here.
When I received an email recently from an unknown sender and cryptically titled “from your least favorite writer,” I was intrigued.
Turns out, the author of a web essay published over a year ago had just located the excoriating critique of her work I posted at the time. By turns professional, embarrassed, and angry in tone, JD’s letter acknowledges some errors she wishes she’d avoided, defends some choices she made, and could be construed as an attempt at dialogue. Or, rather: could be so construed except for the final paragraph, in which she offers to write more carefully about rape in the future — “in return” for my taking down the post, or at least removing her name from my critical discussion of her still-available-online essay.
In a word: No.
I offered, instead, to include her rebuttal as an addendum to my initial post. I have no animus towards this writer personally, much as I disagreed with this one piece — and I am strongly committed to the idea that the only way any of us get better at honestly discussing hot-button social justice issues is by, yknow, honestly discussing hot-button social justice issues. Having gotten no response in over two weeks, I am instead going to talk with you all about what this exchange foregrounded for me: about mistakes, and how we talk about them; about blogging, and why I do it; about calling people out and calling people in; and about why asking for a call-out to be expunged strikes me as the wrongest of wrong approaches to take, especially when the topic under discussion is rape or abuse. Continue reading “Silence, Silencing, and Rape Culture: a meditation in three parts”→
Some of the survivors who joined Lady Gaga on stage that night (video at link) — Wagatwe Wanjucki and Zerlina Maxwell chief among them — are women whose work has long inspired me and whose fierce vulnerability continues to break me down and heal me up.
First, let’s all take a moment to appreciate the genius that was Viola Davis Sunday night, accepting her Emmy as the the first black woman to win an Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama, for her work in How to Get Away with Murder.
Davis’ speech, brief as it was, brims with power — from the imagery taken from Harriet Tubman to the naming of her black actress peers. Yet, as Caroline Framke points out,
“the lines that stand out are her indictments of systemic disenfranchisement: ‘The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.'”
Now, some of you may wish to stop reading right here. Watch Ms. Davis a few more times, maybe head over to Feministing to relish some of the evening’s other #blackgirlmagic moments.
The week’s barely half-over, after all. I want y’all to be good to yourselves.
And I’m about to venture into the muck of the Twitterverse on on awards night when a person of color gets recognized — and, well…that stuff can get rather not-so-pretty.
The brouhaha wreckage I stumbled upon while scrolling through Twitter on my phone early Monday morning (while lying in bed, cuz what’m I gonna do? get up before the alarm goes off? MADNESS) stemmed from an actress tweeting comments about Davis’ speech that — in addition to being dismissive, ignorant, and rude — were, in the grand scheme of White Entitlement, unfortunately nothing new. I mean, “middle-aged white woman and self-declared ‘I don’t see color’-type says something racially offensive, then reacts with defensive meltdown when called on it” is not generally Stop the presses!-level news.