Tag Archives: feminism

Humor as Discomfort

A couple of years ago I picked apart Seth MacFarlane’s performance as emcee of the Academy Awards for his blatant and frequent sexist and racist comments. I wondered openly why anyone expected he’d do anything different, given his history as the “offend everyone” writer behind Family Guy and other television shows. Late last year I was somewhat surprised and ultimately disappointed when Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson came to Walla Walla to deliver an uninteresting and Islamaphobic lecture, and I remembered that Seth MacFarlane was the executive producer of the Cosmos: A Space Odyssey series on Fox that featured Tyson. For in the Hollywood universe, there are a few individuals who drive cultural production under the guise of many studios, production companies, agenting firms, and talent. It’s the old boys’ club of popular culture at work.

Last weekend we saw something a little different. I wouldn’t climb up on the soapbox with Maggie Gyllenhaal and proclaim it “revolutionary” (and evolutionary) as she did, but it was a crack in the edifice that Hollywood normally supports. At the Golden Globes, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Margaret Cho, Lily Tomlin, and even Jane Fonda (in a brief turnabout from her foray into conservative political stances) poked fun at this boys’ club and made those boys decidedly uncomfortable. Here is the Fry-Poehler opening monologue:

Tina’s very first line, calling everyone in the audience a bunch of “minimally talented brats” signaled a critique of Hollywood culture and production. The line about Joaquin Phoenix calling award shows a bunch of bullsh*t and then the well timed, “Oh, hi, Joaquin!” was a direct calling out of his hypocrisy (and pointed at a performer who once pretended to not care about Hollywood anymore, all for the publicity). From here they made a segue way into the North Korea threats around The Interview which would form the frame of a running joke in the form of Margaret Cho as a North Korean dictator and culture aficionado. From the mention of North Korea there were more jabs at the film and fellow actors that looked at first like the usual stuff of celebrity roasts: Read More…

The Poverty of Consent

Dominique Strauss-Kahn

TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post is about sexual assault.

A friend asked me to write something up about the debacle that was the case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and presumed future candidate for the French Presidency. And then I sat in front of a blank screen, staring and staring and feeling more than one wave of frustration crash over me. Something bothered me about this case—the way it intersected with power, race, and gender hierarchies, its resurrection of the threadbare narrative of “she asked for/deserved it,” and finally, the hopelessness many of us felt because of the outcome of the case that never made it to trial. For if such a preponderance of evidence as was gathered against Mr. Strauss-Kahn still fails to be taken seriously, what possibility remains that any case will actually be heard on its merits? Read More…

Plots I Need Never Watch Again

This originally ran over at I Fry Mine in Butter.

Dear Detective Show Writers:

I appreciate all that you do, and I know it’s hard work coming up with new ideas and concepts and story lines for police shows. Hence, the rise of the “ripped from the headline” plots we all saw on Law & Order. But that pressure aside, can we please put a few stories on the very backmost burner? They’re not interesting anymore, and they’re one version or another of offensive. Read More…

Thinking without borders

I was once on the steering committee of the Syracuse University Women’s Studies Department, so sure, I hestitatingly crashed the afternoon plenary given by Chandra Mohanty (who is now the chair of that same department) and M. Jacqui Alexander. They spoke about pedagogy and collaborative writing, but this was a front, really, for reframing global-wide heteronormative, misogynist, xenophobic neocolonialism. For it has been a few epochs now since a sizable portion of the world’s population lived free from borders. Mohanty and Alexander would like to push back against the conservative movement that has created a whiplash since the tragedy of 9/11, capturing “immigrants,” “terrorists,” and “citizens,” and redefining America in a way that is too narrow to sustain itself. Read More…

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