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Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

Every year its the same story: a small group of bleeding-heart liberals declare war on (terrible) Christmas (songs). For example, last year Funny or Die created a video revealing how rapey “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is. This year, a couple has re-written some of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” to emphasize the importance of consent. Based on this short list, you would be forgiven for thinking that the primary objective in this war is to take down “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Other songs are also targeted, however.

For example, A.V. Club has a regular feature called “HateSong,” in which people talk about songs they hate (I know, it is a difficult concept to grasp). Last year, Dan Finnerty, who is in a band called Dan Band (that, as far as I can tell, performs primarily in movies) discussed his hatred for “The Christmas Shoes.” As you may know, “The Christmas Shoes” was named “The World’s Most Offensive Christmas Song” in 2010, so Dan’s hatred is well-deserved. Dan’s band also recorded a song called “The Christmas Flip-Flop” to make fun of it, which I suppose demonstrates more commitment to hatred than simply writing a blog post.

Whether you’re full of Christmas spirit or need a 500-reindeer-powered Kringle 3000 to help you get out of bed this time of year, here are some additional posts from the past about Christmas:

2015: Life after murder for Kevin Mcallister

2015: ELF ON THE SHELF!

2015: Preferred pronouns on the shelf

2014: Christmas as social control

2013: Christmas at Fox News

2012: Kevin McCallister, murderer?

2012: Toys for rich and poor

2012: Toys for boys and girls

2012: Thoughts on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2011: Holiday advertising gone wrong (a.k.a. the Folgers commercial)

2009: Christmas spells relief


“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links about spreading Christmas cheer via your news feed.

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For your viewing pleasure, and in light of the response to her video for “Formation” and Super Bowl appearance (backlash to which, according to one Fox News writer, “continues to grow”), here is Saturday Night Live’s brilliant response, “The Day Beyoncé Turned Black”:

 

Keep in mind that if your workplace is freaking out over the realization that Beyoncé is, and has always been, black, you might need to put on some Adele to sooth them:

 

Update: Here is a more detailed discussion from Doug Hartmann.


“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links about people who are not white via your news feed.

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A long time ago in the Milky Way galaxy, Star Wars came out and prominently featured one woman with a lot of lines and… basically no other notable women. In December, Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens came out and prominently featured another woman with a lot of lines and… a few other women. There was a crucial difference between the prominent women in each of these movies, though. While Leia in Star Wars was undoubtedly a main character, the movie was centered on her brother, Luke, to the extent that at one point Leia is rescued by men like another princess would be (repeatedly) starting a few years later. The Force Awakens, however, undoubtedly centers on Rey.

That Rey was a major (if not the major) character was not surprising to anybody who followed the early rumors about the movie, but it might have been surprising to anybody who purchased some of the toys that came out before the movie was released. In response to her absence from a Star Wars Monopoly game, Hasbro claimed that it was intended to “avoid spoilers.” Even J. J. Abrams, the movie’s director, called her absence “preposterous,” noting sarcastically that “It doesn’t quite make sense why she wouldn’t be there. She’s somewhat important in the story.” An updated version of the game will feature Rey, but the situation also prompted some to wonder what toys for other movies would look like with their starring women removed. (Saturday Night Live‘s recent sketch about whites receiving awards in movies about blacks is also reminiscent of this.)

Why is this important? Many have praised Rey for being a feminist hero but not a “female hero,” meaning that she gets to do the same things that a male hero would do. (Not surprisingly, there have also been some complaints.) Rey is obviously important to young girls but I also like Mike Adamick’s argument that Rey is the hero that young boys need. As Adamick states, “She’s a role model for the boys in front of me — and the millions like them — who continue to grow up under a steady drip drip drip of societal sexism that says even fictionalized female heroes are unbelievable, let alone that our real life heroes shouldn’t be paid as much as their male counterparts or be in control of their own bodies.” Rey contradicts these ideas and we need more characters like her.

I should note that although Hasbro doesn’t seem to get this, at least the creators of a few commercials for Disney (the company that now owns the Star Wars franchise) and Toys ‘R Us do:

 

I guess that companies hear us most loudly when we speak up for women’s representation with our wallets.


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Late December is not only the time for grading and holidays, it is also the time to repost things that were written long ago as an alternative to writing something new when busy with grading and holidays. (Alternatively, one might also post old things by others!) In keeping with this tradition and the approach of Christmas, here are some Christmas-themed posts from the past:

2015: Life after murder for Kevin Mcallister

2015: ELF ON THE SHELF!

2015: Preferred pronouns on the shelf

2014: Christmas as social control

2013: Christmas at Fox News

2012: Kevin McCallister, murderer?

2012: Toys for rich and poor

2012: Toys for boys and girls

2012: Thoughts on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

2011: Holiday advertising gone wrong (a.k.a. the Folgers commercial)

2010: The world’s most offensive Christmas song

2009: Christmas spells relief

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook for links to holiday-themed posts a few times a year and non-holiday-themed posts the rest of the year.

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While doing my capitalist duty this weekend, I noticed that there actually is a benefit to those annoying Elf on the Shelf dolls (aside, of course, from social control):

Elf on the Shelf

They can be used to introduce your children to the idea of preferred pronouns (note the upper right corner of the box) and the fact that not everybody is cisgender! Not a bad “new family tradition” to adopt!

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Last year, Target stopped me from making a huge mistake by labeling which Halloween cards were for boys and which were for girls. This year, though, Target has stated it will move away from gender-based signs for toys and children’s bedding. Because gender differences in Target have been completely obliterated for kids, I worried that adults shopping at Target would have a hard time deciding which Halloween costumes to buy for themselves. What if this year’s “sexy” costumes were gender neutral?! What if there were no “sexy” costumes at all?!

Given these legitimate concerns, you can imagine how relieved I was to see that Target had not failed me after all. Although fans have apparently been concerned for years about the fact that there may not be any female stormtroopers, this confusion was caused by the fact that they wore the same armor as their male counterparts. Target has eliminated the need for confusion by revealing a new stormtrooper uniform that does away with those pesky masks and pants that led people to conclude that they were all men:(Female) StormtrooperGender equality in the Star Wars universe doesn’t stop at the lowly stormtroopers, though. Even the leaders of the Empire have the possibility of being women once we remove all the clothing they’ve been wearing. Darth Vader, for example, might not be a crusty old white man. Maybe Darth Vader is a woman. To find out all we have to do is remove that pesky mask and those damn pants. Ta da! Darth Vader is a sassy woman and she will force choke you (if you’re into that sort of thing)!

(Female) Darth VaderWith stormtroopers and Darth Vader upping the sexiness ante this year, I was disappointed to see that sexiness appears to be reserved for those on the dark side of the force (though I guess it makes sense, since Yoda warned: Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to sexiness). Those who want to dress as Princess Leia’s are stuck with this full-length gown, even though she unleashed her sexiness all over Jabba the Hutt’s palace in the movies:(Female, apparently) Princess LeiaHow are we supposed to know she has legs under there? Her lack of sexiness is surely the reason that nobody trusted her with a “sold separately” blaster or lightsaber like the women in the other costumes. Target knows that a hand on your hip doesn’t cut it. You need to show some skin if you want to be taken seriously as a sexy badass!

Keep your head up, Leia. Maybe next year you’ll be able to take on sexy stormtroopers and sexy Darth Vaders in your sexy slave girl costume and they’ll give you more than a finger gun to do it. Until then, use the force, I guess.

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Much has been written about the feminism of Mad Max: Fury Road, but in light of my recent post noting that we still expect female musical artists to be all things to all people, the importance of seeing women onscreen in a wide variety of roles cannot be overstated. Young women, old women, pregnant women, women without arms, women who kill, women who die. When there is more than one woman with a speaking part in a movie, all of these representations are possible. Unlike movies where women die in order to provide motivation for men to become heroes, in Fury Road, women die because they are fighting for themselves.

As important as the numerous women in the movie is the way that they are framed. I am referring to the literal framing of each scene in the camera. In order to allow audiences to follow the action during fast cuts, director George Miller employed the use of “center framing,” in which the main focal point is in the center of each frame. Equally important was what he perceived the main focal point to be. This post compares the focal points of trailers for Fury Road to those of San Andreas and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The latter focuses on women’s bodies while the others focus on their faces. No amount of women will make a movie “feminist” if they are just there as objects for the male gaze.

To return to the title of this post, I should note that the actual future depicted in Fury Road is terrible, but Fury Road itself shows that an action movie centered on female characters can be successful on both cinematic and financial levels if they are treated as characters rather than objects. It is true that there is more room for racial diversity in Fury Road‘s cast, but on that front at least the “bad guys” are pale white instead of dark-skinned.

Maybe the real lesson of Fury Road is that the best big-budget action directors are those who have been making movies focused on animals for the past fifteen years. (Something about staring at penguins and pigs all day must wash away the need for objectification.) Until this is true, at least we have the miracle that is Mad Max: Fury Road.

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