Movie Matinee: A Series of Unfortunate Admissions

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.

Pretty-Woman-rude-shop
Julia’s pre-madeover look: Underwear as outerwear, held together with safety pins.

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.

shes all that
Self-referential romcom mocking: Achievement unlocked. 

[*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-cumPretty 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.

Including our undead hero: Continue reading “Movie Matinee: A Series of Unfortunate Admissions”

Fcuk Pretty

 

Coming out to my 91yo grandmother, that spring I first broke the news to her about dating a woman, did not proceed according to plan.

My mother’s mother took a long moment, squinting at me intently, before she spoke.

FP_madeup-eyes

“So…when are you going to lose the weight?”

I sputtered back incoherently, shifting quickly into defensive mode while still trying to confirm if she had heard and understood what I had said. But once begun, Gram was not to be dissuaded. From critiquing my body, she moved on to my brother’s, and then my brother’s wife. When her litany of complaints reached the circumference of my preschool niece’s thighs, I stood up to leave the room.

“I don’t understand what happened,” my grandmother’s querulous lament followed me. “You used to be so young and thin.

“You used to be pretty.” 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is not a story about living in a fat body, though I do and I could tell it. Nothing has felt so loud as flesh pressing out against my clothes, belly spreading across my seated thighs.

This is not a story about living in a thin body, either, though I have and I could tell it. Nothing has felt so fragile as bones emerging from flesh, the butterfly wing of my collarbone arching delicately below my throat.

This is a story about sight.

About the reclamation of seeing.

Continue reading “Fcuk Pretty”

Have you watched this yet? You should really watch this.

 

Screenshot LadygagaOscars

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.

For more background on the song, the performance, and the survivors.

 

 

 

the (un)funny feminist falls in love: Man who has it all

I laugh because I love.
What to get, this holiday season, for the feminist in your life who already has it all? BELLY LAUGHS.

[Music plays softly, then rises in a swell. A voice begins to sing.]

Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger.
You may see a stranger across a crowded roomerm, Twitter feed. 

And somehow you know, you know even then,
That somewhere you’ll see him again and again.

On Tumblr, perhaps…

manwhohasitall.tumblr.com
manwhohasitall.tumblr.com

…or on Facebook.

(via)
(via Facebook)

Yes, Man who has it all — it’s true. Some of us actually do!

Not all of us, though.

Pick carefully.

Or expect to be playing dumb alot.

Some enchanted evening, someone may be laughing.
You may hear him laughing across a crowded room Twitter feed. 

Or, yknow, that could just be me you hear laughing.

Yup.

You’re probably hearing me.  Continue reading “the (un)funny feminist falls in love: Man who has it all”

Dear Fellow White People: Please start seeing color.

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.'”

Swoon.

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.

Please.

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.

You're SURE I can't scare you off?
You’re SURE I can’t scare you off?

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.

[And if it were? I suspect my buddy Gutenburg would still be waiting around for his invention to catch on. Have you tried a Kickstarter yet, Johannes? I bet some of those movable types would make for a popular reward!] 
Continue reading “Dear Fellow White People: Please start seeing color.”

the (un)funny feminist gets her Regency on: Manfeels Park

I laugh because I love.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a feminist in possession of a news feed, must be in want of a laugh.

Lemme get right to it — I struggle when it comes to understanding funny.

EVIDENCE:

My all-time favorite movie to quote from is this one. I once gave a college boyfriend one of these for Valentine’s Day. (Shoulda known he wasn’t The One when he was too confused to even manage a smirk.) As a kid, my favorite comic books weren’t written in English; and no, I didn’t read French at the time. Nothing has ever made me laugh harder — NOR WILL IT — than Greek gynecology.

My favorite joke goes like this:

Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb? 

A:

Q:

A:

Q: …?

A: That’s not funny. 

HIIIII-LARIOUS, no??

[Also has a side benefit of outing undesirables, as in: people who hear that joke and immediately jump in with their own “feminists are just THE WORST, amirite?!!”-brand of humor. Pro-Tip, for that old high school chum I defriended faster than one can say Lucretia Mott: if I’m the one telling a joke on Facebook, it’s unlikely that the punchline actually means “liberated women are stooopid,” mmmkay?]

Back in the Dark Ages of my blogging career, otherwise known as “12½ months ago,” I briefly tried out a recurring feature called the (un)funny feminist: posts wherein I introduced you lovely people to my favorite feminist funnies. And today — finding myself in need of a giggle — I’m bringing it back!

So without further ado, allow me to present: MANFEELS PARK

manfeels_park

Brainchild of Mo and Erin — who describe their creation as “an exercise in flogging a pun for all it’s worth” — Manfeels Park combines line-drawn portraits from Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (as adapted by the BBC and starring Colin Firth as the Darciest Darcy who ever Darcy’ed) with “web commentary by hurt and confused men with Very Important Things To Explain, usually to women.”

Continue reading “the (un)funny feminist gets her Regency on: Manfeels Park”