Links of Great Interest: Happy New Year!

NBC sends a cease and desist letter to a Latina single mother interested in protecting her intelluctual property. KEEP IT CLASSY, NBC. Or should I say… keep it RACIST? Because that’s what the re-writes to Dirty Girls are. And yeah, I capped and bolded that shit, because guess what? It’s fucked up that this is happening so close to the defeat of the DREAM Act, and when illegal immigration has been such a big deal in the US. Seriously? REWRITING A STORY SO THE LATINAS ARE MORE FOREIGN, less complex, and less “normal?” What the shit is this shit? Particularly because Lauren, Elizabeth, AND Usnavys are some crazy chicks who have their own sexcapades without needing to be drastically rewritten as caricatures. And now she’s lost her agent. And why move the action to SF? What, no one believes Boston has POC? My Masshole ass begs to differ. Plus, part of what’s awesome about Latinos… in… BOSTON is that it’s a US-historic location, and in the story works to locate Latinos as part of an extended American history. She’s trying to use the power of social media in her defense.

People of color, particularly women, were disproportionately effected by DADT.

Victoria’s Secret features its models of color as Wild Things.

LayeringVogue: BOOM there’s a ghost.

The most intriguing author that you’ve never heard of.

Step out of the man box, men!

Let’s all collectively get over Tolkien.

Blood purist apologists defend Draco Malfoy’s racism.

Cherokee is now the first American Indian language  supported by the iPhone!

From MC:

Most of the stuff on this site is quite depresssing. So for a change here are two awesome dads, who wrote feminist tv-shows/novels to give their daughters empowered female role models.

Feminists of the world, RELAX! We have Sweden as a new homeland.


From The Other Patrick:

Skeptic Benjamin Radford says media representations of women don’t effect eating disorders. Skepchick Rebecca Watson looks at his sources and discovers the shocking truth – he’s wrong.

From Joss:

They don’t really come right out and call it sexist, but this article notes that shows starring women seem to be categorised as comedies even when similar shows starring men are categorised as drama.

A judge returns a teenage girl to a fucked up cult where kids don’t read, and are in physical and psychological danger. Y’all know this is a thing for me. :narrowed eyes:

…I want an “It Gets Better” Campaign for survivors of sexual assault and child abuse.

I needed a pick me up. Check out this 2004 short story from Strange Horizons. Come back when you’re done. It’s okay. I’ll wait.

Chris Rock insults Oprah at her award show.


  1. Patrick McGraw says

    The Hobbit casting thing is ridiculous. Actors playing hobbits have to be light-skinned, because they have to “look like hobbits?”

    “The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter . . . They were the most normal and representative variety of Hobbits…” – The Lord of the Rings, Prologue, “Concerning Hobbits”

    • Patrick McGraw says

      Regarding the article on Tolkein’s place in modern fantasy: While The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book (I’m currently re-reading it for the umpteenth time), I agree almost completely with the writer. My main issue is that some of her main argument isn’t clear:

      As a result, rather than growing up, fantasy has remained in a state of perpetual adolescent nostalgia – best represented by The Hobbit and LOTR.

      She seems mainly to be talking about how much the fantasy genre refuses to get over Tolkeinesque fantasy. That behavior is definitely rooted in adolescent nostalgia, in exactly the same manner that mainstream superhero comics have been steadily wrecked.

      But if she’s lumping Tolkein’s work in with those who uncritically worship and ape it, I’m going to disagree with that specific criticism. LOTR is a fantasy for grown-ups, right through its central themes. One need only look at the difference between how LOTR ends, and how so many works that refuse to go beyond Tolkein (The Sword of Shannara, anyone>) to see the difference.

      I’m not addressing her detailed critism of Tolkein, because while I disagree in points and degrees, I agree with her essential argument: LOTR is essentially a fantasy for straight, white, cis-gendered men. A refusal to acknowledge this fact, and the problems that arise when one uncritically lets it define an entire genre, has hurt the fantasy genre immensely.

      (A minor note: She’s totally right about the movies thing too. I can think of a number of R-rated fantasy movies, but they were all made before 1990.)

  2. The Other Patrick says

    I can’t get riled up at the oh-so disrespectful jokes about Oprah. I think partly it’s because answering a bad, but harmless joke about her having sex with “how dare you” in bold letters seems like overreaction. But partly it’s because I hate Oprah and all the bad she does.

    • Maria says

      But even women whose politics you don’t like shouldn’t have crude jokes made about them at events where they’re being honored.

      • The Other Patrick says

        Well, isn’t there this tradition of people getting roasted at events in their honor? Rock, as far as I read, made two jokes about Oprah being very, very rich. Which she is. I didn’t find it that disrespectful. I mean, the audience seems to have gone with the *idea* of joking about her wealth, too, since they echoed the question (“how rich is she”).

        So why is the McCartney-joke that disrespectful? Rock just picked some other rich guy – or does Oprah have a particular backstory with him?

        • Maria says

          Then they’re called roasts, not award shows.

          Also, it’s still a gendered insult because he wouldnt’ve made that joke if she was a man.

          • Casey says

            Unless of course he wanted to make a homophobic joke (Rule 63!Oprah is SO RICH, he could have sex with Paul McCartney and blah-blah-blah).

            Besides, I don’t think this was supposed to be the time nor the place for a comedian to REALLY tear into someone, it’s not the VMAs where Russel Brand can afford to be a “cheeky monkey”.

          • The Other Patrick says

            Well, we’re not going to agree on this one. I can see criticizing the joke because it’s crass, but I still think the reaction is overblown.

        • Casey says

          RE: Criticizing the joke

          I thought it was kinda douche-chilly, but I’m not feeling TOO much righteous indignation about it like that Twitter-Blog-Post thing, although I enjoyed the author unloading about it. 😀

    • Casey says

      Yeah, I’m with Maria. Just because I hate someone like Sarah Palin or Anne Coulter doesn’t mean I’m going to use misogynist slurs as insults or just sit idly by as someone makes a raunchy sex joke about them.
      Also, I’m really disappoint in Chris Rock*, mostly because he was one of the few people with some COMMON FUCKING SENSE/DECENCY to recognize that rape is wrong/barbaric during the Polanski kerfuffle and how he SHOULDN’T get a free pass just because Chinatown was awesome.

      I’d like it if you maybe did a guest post about why you hate Oprah, though. 😀
      (*Although his stand-up act bugs the shit out of me since he has overlong bits that just smash black women for no reason)

      • Maria says

        I’d be curious too — I honestly haven’t heard a justification for not liking Oprah that wasn’t classist (towards her or her audience) or based on problematic racial politics (IE I don’t like her show because she’s America’s new mammy = her show would be okay if she were white). I’ve also heard her get criticized by misogynistic men because she “teaches women to hate men,” IE talks about what it looks and feels like to be in a healthy relationship, and from insecure religious people (like here: who criticize her for having a more expansive view on faith. She’s not my favorite, by any stretch, but honestly, it’s from Oprah that I’ve learned some helpful relationship advice (like the first fight you have sets the tone for all the other fights you have — can your partner be angry with you and still respect your space/body/etc? can they use the words they’re saying to explore underlying issues in the relationship? are they willing to listen to you? etc).

        I understand a lot of ppl don’t like Dr. Phil. I try to ignore him, myself. I do like Iyanla Vanzant tho.

        • The Other Patrick says

          Basically, it’s because Oprah uses her power for Evil. She promotes so much dangerous nonsense on her show that I find it to be wholly irresponsible. She is a woo-merchant with a tremendous power base, and when she, for example, features Jenny McCarthy, who has an actual body count in people dying because of her and her ilk, she exacerbates the problem.

          Oprah could be a force for good, but sadly, she has chosen to use her power for darkness.

          • Casey says

            Jenny McCarthy and her ilk~? I don’t get it…unless you mean those Autism-research people who think vaccinations are what make kids “sick” and they want to ERADICATE Autism because heaven fucking forfend someone who’s non-neurologically “normal” should be able to live in peace?
            Also…saying Evil with a capitol letter (and speaking semi-cryptically) doesn’t really make a good case for you…did someone hack your account and this isn’t REALLY TOP? 😐

            (I had Jenny McCarthy confused with Jenna Jameson for a second and thought maybe you were saying that porn stars were killing people with STDs or something)

          • Maria says

            We’re not going to agree on this. 😀

            My feeling is, Oprah isn’t doing anything more harmful than other American talk shows (who also feature batshit guests with ill-informed opinions on medical issues) and consciously works to do less harm (featuring authors of color, working class authors, holistic spirituality, etc). She’s the author who helped make Toni Morrison and Alice Walker household names, as well as Maya Angelou. I think it’s easy to blame her for a lot because Americans, at least, are used to blaming kindly black women for not being PERFECT black women, but that doesn’t mean that’s acceptable.

            And in either case, it doesn’t make it okay for someone to make a joke about fucking at an awards show honoring a sexual assault survivor retiring from the empire she’s created. Particularly when this survivor has been public about her experiences with abuse, and has done a lot to call out rape culture.

            ETA: And who are you comparing her to? Like, Springer, Donahue, Ricki Lake…? Schwarzenegger? Because I’m racking my brain to figure out who’s career is comparable to hers and who you feel like she should be more similar to.

          • says


            What Chris Rock said wouldn’t be okay if he’d said it about someone who never did anything but evil (I’m thinking Polanski, except NO sex joke about him could ever be funny, for an entirely different and obvious reason). So, whatever Oprah’s done that you disagree with, and believe me, I hear you (I have many fierce issues with many things I’ve seen on her shows and so on), it doesn’t matter.

            On a side note, she HAS done all the good stuff Maria mentioned, and she’s managed to rise sky-high in an occupation where both gender and race were against her, coming off a background of sexual abuse and poverty. And she’s done MORE good and certainly no more harm than any of her white male competitors who grew up with fewer obstacles to overcome.

            Believe me, I do agree that some of the stuff she’s given press to was harmful, and I don’t agree with a lot of her worldview. But if we’re going to judge people for what they’ve done to get where they are, let’s also contrast where they came from.

            But again, if Rock made a similar joke about some white male politico I consider vile, I would still find it offensive. It’s just not cool.

          • The Other Patrick says

            Yeah, sorry, but I mean evil.

            Oprah is a very unique television personality. She has a great story, and I’m happy for anything good she does and has done. But at the same time, simply by featuring people on her show, she has the power to make celebrity. She has the power to influence millions by putting them in her magazine.

            And she uses this power carelessly. She uses it to feature Rhonda Byrne and turn “The Secret” into a success, one of the more anti-human books I can remember hearing about. She promotes McCarthy’s “Mommy Instinct” antivaccinationists. She promotes “John of God”, a fraud with simple tricks who claims to be able to pull your cancer out of your body. She promotes Christiane Northrup, who not only wants to cure your “vajajay” of feminine ills, but denies germ theory of disease.

            Whom am I supposed to compare her to? She has the “Oprah Effect”. She is singular, and she is possibly the most powerful media person on the planet. And she does not act responsibly with that power.

            Which, you are right, doesn’t make any kind of joke or disrespect by the hired comedian and (I guess) friend alright – these are separate issues, I just can’t say this might not influence that I don’t find these jokes so bad.

            To me, instead of jokes, I would have liked if someone had had a sign outside saying, “Since 2007, there have been 622 deaths that would have been precentable by vaccination, and 72,000 preventable illnesses. Please don’t invite Jenny McCarthy again.” Or, “Kim Tinkham used The Secret to treat her breast cancer. Now, she is dying.”

            And no, I don’t expect Rock to say stuff like this – that’s beside the point. I’m just writing here because people asked.

          • The Other Patrick says

            Jennifer: As I said above, I only said something about my feelings regarding her because it might influence my perception. It wasn’t meant as “that’s a bad joke, but good for her”.

            I don’t see the joke to be so bad. It seems like a typical joke Rock would make, and which I would not find funny.

          • The Other Patrick says

            Oh, also, Oprah did do a lot of good, and I agree that her personal story is hell of inspiring. But I also think she’s tarnishing herself, and I’m not one for hero worship either way – I’m more the one to point to the flaws. But she has given people a voice and a face who didn’t use to have that (and rarely have that, now), which is wonderful. Still; I’m also not a fan of Ghandi or Mother Theresa.

          • Maria says

            TOP —

            I’m gonna throw out that this is an instance of male privilege. You have two women (Casey, IDK your gender, but Jen and I are both cis women) saying that this was a sexist joke at an awards show meant to honor someone’s legacy and that that is not okay. I’m especially aware of how not okay it is because as a woman of color, I know that my professionalism is constantly assailed by both white men and men of color. Jokes that imply that you fuck carelessly but that you’re protected from the consequences of that fucking because of your position are misogynistic and meant to shame you. Further, check out Derailing for Dummies. Here’s the link.


            Why am I overreacting for naming something as sexist?

            Why is Oprah, who’s a media force for sure, but so is JK Rowling, so is Angelina Jolie, so is Madonna, under this much scrutiny? Why is she obligated to do a particular kind of good? Plus, when these women get awards, the MC’s don’t make comments about their sex lives.

            Again, I’m not Oprah’s biggest fan. But I will say that she’s tried to use her position for as much good as possible, in a society where what it means to do good can be incredibly fucked up.

            Mo’ gin, It doesn’t even matter what her track record is — people still shouldn’t try to humble her using violent language at a show meant to honor her. I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that feminism only worked to protect (white) women you liked.

          • The Other Patrick says

            Maria, I have stated above, and I will gladly state again, that my opinion of Oprah I brought in because I did not – and do not – see that joke to be as bad as you see it to be, and that I thought it might be a reason why.

            Specifically, I see neither where this joke uses violent language, nor where it insinuates that Oprah was fucking carelessly and was protected from it by her status. To me, this joke simply referenced that when two powerful corporations get together, the SEC gets involved, and how McCartney (sitting next to Oprah) and Oprah were their own corporations. To me, it read like Rock saw those two and riffed. And maybe in bad taste, but that’s the kind of comedian I see Rock as being, and the kind of jokes I think people expect when Rock does any kind of public address.

            Which yes, can very well be an issue of privilege.

            I also didn’t mean to say you overreacted; sorry, if that was understood that way. I meant specifically the “how dare you” reaction in the linked post because again, from the Oscars and other big awards shows, I am more used to the presenters doing jokes than not doing that. That’s why I felt the “how dare you” was an overreaction because I didn’t think Rock was setting out to disrespect Oprah on purpose there. Though again, I accept that *does* sound similar to the Derailing link you posted.

            My beef with Oprah I simply brought up because I was asked to. And Oprah *does* have a unique position: she has the power to make anything into a success, and that power is tied to her person, which means she personally involves herself with the books and people she features. And clearly, she is not obligated to act either way; however, I am not obligated to cheer her on whatever she features. I wouldn’t storm the swards show in protest, either; most of the time me and Oprah do very well apart.

            • says

              Specifically, I see neither where this joke uses violent language, nor where it insinuates that Oprah was fucking carelessly and was protected from it by her status.

              I felt the threat of the joke in this way: if I’m ever as successful as Oprah, I will STILL be in danger of having it all come tumbling down because of something I allegedly did or did not do with my vagina. The context that makes it play that way for me is the one in which ANYTHING men do sexually, including in some cases raping, is all cool and studly, but EVERYTHING women do (or don’t do! being an uppity bitch who doesn’t point out is also bad!) sexually is reason to deny them social status.

              That’s violent.

              And I think race makes it even worse, because there’s an additional layer of objectification.

          • The Other Patrick says

            Finally, I think I’ll better not post anything else on that topic. Rest assured:

            1) I do not think not liking a person makes it okay to mistreat them
            2) I specifically don’t think any kind of equality was just for white women I like, and I find it insulting that you claim otherwise

            • says

              I don’t think Maria WAS suggesting you think #2 – I believe she was challenging you to explore the possibility that that is where your logic was leading (that’s something many of us struggle with, given the way societies are structured). I do appreciate your clarification that you don’t think disliking someone makes mistreating them okay. But you do realize your initial comment was “I can’t get riled up at the oh-so disrespectful jokes about Oprah. I think partly it’s because answering a bad, but harmless joke about her having sex with “how dare you” in bold letters seems like overreaction. But partly it’s because I hate Oprah and all the bad she does.”

              It’s a fine line between “can’t get riled up” because you hate her and “think it’s okay to make that joke” because you hate her – especially when it’s tied to considering the whole thing overreactive. I myself found the “how dare you” slightly florid, but my only issue with it was style. The joke was not okay by me, for reasons I described in my other comment. Every DAY I have to live not only with the possibility of being raped and all that stuff people talk about, but the more subtle aspects of life for a “bitch” in the patriarchy: that everything I’ve worked for can be toppled so easily, because so many people are just looking for an excuse to dismiss me as nothing.

              Also that Maria mentioned you have 3 (we now know) cis-gender women, one of color, telling you the joke is misogynistic, and your response to that was that the joke doesn’t use violent language. I think that proves there’s a bit of male privilege going on here – you’re refusing to consider that the lack of violent language and your own perception do NOT trump the point we’re making. I have to admit, I don’t completely and intuitively understand all of the issues Maria’s raising about the joke, and I think that’s because I am white. But she knows what it’s like to be a WoC in the US and I don’t. How could I assume I’m better equipped to judge the situation than she is?

          • The Other Patrick says

            you’re right, of course (all of you); I should be able to step back from and re-evaluate my opinion in favor of others, especially opinions of those with more direct and relevant experiences.

  3. M.C. says

    I don’t think Weeds was categorized as comedy because it stars a woman but rather because every episode lasts about 30 min. The same with Nurse Jackie. People are so used to US comedies running for half an hour and dramas running for an hour that it would seem a bit weird to have a 30 min drama series.

    It’s different with shows from other countries. For example the BBC marketed the first series of ‘Being Human’ as comedy, even though every episode has a running time of 1 hour. But that marketing was just as ridiculous because BH is a very thinly metaphor for drug addiction, HIV and abusive relationships. Well, actually it’s not even pretending to be a metaphor. Aiden Turner openly stated that he’s playing a drug adict, not a vampire. And Annie’s whole story line was about learning that her boyfriend doesn’t love her if he hits her.
    But since BH features 2 male and 1 female main characters, the wrong categorisation can’t be attributed to being woman-centered. Yes, there are 3 to 5 very important female supporting characters, but the show is still focused on George&Annie&Mitchell.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is that most networks are just lazy and probably don’t even watch the whole pilot before categorising a show.

    • says

      Actually, the categorization happens before the pilot is produced. It’s either a most curious coincidence that all women-led pilots are for 30-minute comedies… or else producers know nothing featuring a woman will fly as an hour drama, so they only ever consider women-led shows as 30-minute comedies. I believe the latter.

      • M.C. says

        You mean that the producers pitch their idea to the network which then decides whether an episode should run for 30 or 60 minutes? And if it’s woman-led they automatically choose the shorter format?

        • says

          Well, yes. Except it can happen at either point. I understand a well-researched pitch usually includes the genre and length format, because the producer knows what time slot the exec is struggling to fill, and matching the show to that makes it more tempting for the exec. Since EVERYONE working in film knows the audience won’t accept women-led shows that aren’t comedies, very few people would bother suggesting one. And if they did, they’d be requested to re-tool it into a sitcom.

          Worth noting: Buffy, Xena, Felicity, Gilmore Girls (though it’s considered comedy-drama, a la Northern Exposure), Alias, Dollhouse… but only 1 of them on a major network. That’s extremely important: what happens on networks outside the Big 3 (ABC, NBC and CBS) is not considered very important or indicative of trends, so the success of ALL these shows other than Alias just gets written off within the industry. And my bet is they find a way to rationalize Alias as a “non-recurring phenomenon.” After all, Nikita – Alias’ predecessor re-made – is stuffed onto CW, not one of the Big 3.

          • Robin says

            I hadn’t thought about it in terms of network divisions, but you’re right. Add in Veronica Mars – another hour-long drama with a female lead on the WB/CW – for good measure.

            The only American half-hour drama I can think of is Doogie Howser, and even that had elements of the standard family sitcom creep in from time to time.

            I think it could be argued that Glee is an hour-long comedy, as was the late, great Pushing Daisies.

            [/random musings]

  4. says

    On the link about female shows/comedies…I have only really watched two of those shows simultaneously: Weeds and Breaking Bad. And I have to say a lot more separates them besides just dialogue.

    Now, I don’t want to say she’s wrong–I haven’t seen the rest of her examples. But I disagree with her on that one, at least. Because, well, there’s not just the difference in dialogue. There’s the difference between meth and weed. The difference between the way those effect people, the difference in the kind of person that would use, produce, and sell either. Maybe it’s just that I’ve lived my whole life in a state that recently legalized MJ, grew up around potheads, have lived in grow houses and went to college in Boulder, but there is absolutely nothing scary to me about weed. The morally questionable actions with drugs in Weeds are not the same as those with Breaking Bad. For one thing, after the first couple of episodes of Breaking Bad White is no longer really sympathetic. He’s the protagonist, but at least for me the fun in watching is to see what’ll happen to the characters I actually like. Not so for Weeds (and me).

    I could go into it more, and I don’t necessarily agree that Weeds is a straight up comedy or that it should’ve been labeled one from the get go, but I guess I would’ve wanted some like, actual evidence-based arguments from the piece from the shows. Calling the only difference from the dialogue makes me feel like she doesn’t really know what goes into creating the feel of a show….

    Haven’t read the others yet. Going now. Thanks so much!

    • says

      I think I have to clarify because a lot of this kind of sounds like I went and missed the point. Because, well, OF COURSE a show starring a woman would be about her selling the not-so-scary drug while teh mens’ show is all about teh serious business. And THAT’S where I think the strong argument is for that case. Because imagining a gender-flopping of the shows…is so weird. And I think a lot of that is my own ingrained “well of course the man show is about cooking serious drugs and the woman show is about pot.” And that’s me being stupid.

      Thinking about this also made me compare Supernatural to Buffy, because when a girl battles monsters is a statement and a satire, and when boys battle monsters they’re super serial and dramatic. It made me realize how deep this sort of thing goes–in order for women to fight monsters, there has to be a play on the trope (the blond, female teenager victim) but with Supernatural, fighting monsters in played straight. Because obviously it’s men that fight monsters.

      • Casey says

        Wow, I don’t know SHIT about Supernatural, because despite hearing a bunch of fucked-up shit about the show (both regarding the canon, i.e., the characters dying and re-dying gory and gruesome deaths and the meta-concepts, like all the women and POC characters always getting killed off for some reason), I wrote it off as a farce because:
        A.) Your parent’s can’t sell your soul to the devil without your permission (according to a friend of mine ;)) and
        B.) DAT WINCEST

        Also, this is a bit of a drabble but my parents LOVE Breaking Bad and STILL see Walter as a sympathetic main character because them/we still just see him as Hal from Malcom in the Middle. 😛

        • says

          Supernatural is…such a weird show to me. I started out loving it as much or more as I loved Buffy–for different reasons. Then after the second season it just went and got stupid. I’d been hoping for it to become more ensemble, for them to add girls, which it seemed like they were doing, but then those girls would get forgotten and killed. There were like three PoC characters (all black, all men) who were on the show longer than a single episode. 2/3 definitely died, both of them evil or antagonists, and the third…I can’t remember if he’s still canonically alive or not but he’s not really ever around. The four main cast who always come back after they die are white men, all shown to be cis gendered. It has gotten SO ANNOYING.

          To the point where I WISH wincest was canon because then at least it would be morally and socially interesting. But it’s not. Blah. It takes itself SO SERIOUSLY in all the parts it shouldn’t and then in the humor episodes they make fun of that, but it’s still played straight all the other times and it pisses me of. URGH.

          And BB for me has gotten to the point where I watch Malcom reruns and just can’t stand Hal because he’s cooking meth and oh wait…XD

          • SunlessNick says

            I’d been hoping for it to become more ensemble, for them to add girls, which it seemed like they were doing, but then those girls would get forgotten and killed.

            Don’t forget trashed. I’d stopped watching by the time they got round to Anna’s end, but what a “lovely” way to get rid of a character who’s only crime was to be way ahead of golden-boy Castiel on the learning-to-love-humans curve.

            And in the first season, there were some really great women (I spent three years hoping to see Hailey or Sarah again, but the way the series is now, I’d rather they stayed firmly in its past).

          • says

            Agreed! I adored pretty much EVERY female character they introduced as supporting cast, from Jessica til the current season, and yet they all just disappear in one way or another–and those who stay long enough tend to be destroyed so utterly that it just feels like the show hates women. Ugh. Anna was so spectacular in her beginning on the show…as much as I love Castiel I loved her more right away.

            (And agreed about them staying in the past…where at the very least I can pretend they’re still alive and being awesome. Same goes for Amber Benson’s vamp character in the second season. She was awesome.)

          • sbg says

            SPN, unfortunately, falls in that “it’s better if they DON’T include women” category for me, because for a show that has writers capable of creating complex characters, they always suck and suck HARD when it comes to gender (and race) issues.

            I cheered when the Lisa/Dean thing ended, because finally SHE was more than a cardboard insta-family cutout character. So, like many of the women, she only got good moments before she got gone. :(

            The only woman left at this point is Meg, and she is, naturally, an evil bitch who will eventually get dead.

      • SunlessNick says

        It made me realize how deep this sort of thing goes–in order for women to fight monsters, there has to be a play on the trope (the blond, female teenager victim) but with Supernatural, fighting monsters in played straight. Because obviously it’s men that fight monsters.

        Well put, and probably accounts for a lot of why I used to love Buffy, but it’s palled on me in the years since.

        • says

          Remember Buffy was a movie first – Whedon wanted it to be a DRAMA in which, ironically, the typical slasher-movie victim was the hero and lead. Fox wasn’t okay with that, but if he could make it a comedy, then that was all right. He did.

          It was only when the WB network came along, connected to Fox and desperate for shows, that he got a chance to tell the story the way he’d intended: a dark, serious, angst-ridden show about about fighting monsters, which just happened to feature a girl. I still consider it highly significant for showing that a girl could plausibly fight, suffer psychological damage, grow and change, become a leader. It… had a lot of flaws alongside those which I’m not thrilled by, but those were all things I had never seen my genre doing.. I mean, hell, Joan of Arc was just a mentally ill dingbat, poor deluded thing. The fact that she became a fucking GENERAL is lost in the mists of history.

          I wished Buffy had been on 10 years earlier, when I was in high school fighting monsters, too.

          • says

            That’s actually a big reason why I really liked the Buffy movie when I saw it, but never could get into the TV show. It was overly sarcastic, cute-and-clever, “Look how out of the box I am!” to me, and while I recognize the show’s plot did have substance beyond that built-in-compensation to dull the edges of its subversive nature, I really couldn’t get past it. And I am a person who likes poop jokes, ridiculous humor, dark sarcasm, and puns. I think it’s also why I was better able to handle Angel when my mom marathon-watched the DVDs several years back and enjoyed Firefly much more than either of the other shows, because I think Whedon has issues striking a balance with how he wants to (has to?) portray female characters in his female driven stories.

            I’ve never seen Supernatural, but I’m also not interested, because it’s like a million seasons long and seems über-predictably formulaic (which particularly for mainstream western SF/F is exclusively or mainly white and heteronormative male) while taking itself ULTRA SRSLY. You really can’t do both and keep my interest. *shrugs*

  5. Casey says

    I think I read about Anthony Porter on Shakesville, and I read a big transcript of what he had to say about how women’s liberation will lead to men’s liberation and I cried after finishing it…the comments on CNN, as usual ARE DREADFUL!!!

    Barbara Follet is AWESOME and I not only want all her books re-published, but I also want a movie made about her AND a biographical graphic novel made, just because. :)

    UGH, BLARGH and WHARFFF in regards to the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. After lurking on Sociological Images for a while, nothing raises my hackles quite like WOC being portrayed as animals/exotic creatures/wearing animal skins/prints…ELBOW DROP THAT MESS!!!

    I’m really hoping more American Indian languages get apps eventually. 😀

  6. says

    I am so incredibly done with Julian Assange and his rape apologism, I really and truly am. I can’t even talk about it with anyone IRL because I’ve already gotten into a few conversations that had me seriously reconsidering my relationships with and character judgments on the people in question due to them siding with him. Do I think that if Assange is detained/jailed that will give various governments, specifically the US gov’t., time to come up with charges against him related to Wikileaks? Yes. But I don’t think that means he shouldn’t be jailed for the rape charges against him, and I don’t think that legal action against Wikileaks will kill it. He’s being accused of rape– which is what sex without consent to the act or the circumstances under which it occurs is— and it’s a big deal, no matter who he is or what he does for a living. Saying, “But this will hurt me professionally!!” is not a fucking valid response to that. Bitching that you might have to do jail time for, I don’t know, breaking other laws, so you just shouldn’t even be put on trial for fucking assault, and if found guilty, it’s all a goddamn conspiracy hatched by the Vagina Dentata League? Because men are such a persecuted minority in Scandinavian matriarchal society, which clearly has a cultural history of women preying on and attacking men, not with violence, but with rape allegations? I am playing a sad, sad song for you the world’s tiniest, most sarcastic violin right now, Julian Assange. It’s called “DIAF.” Three guesses what it stands for.

    Barbara Newhall Follett’s life is amazing and sad and, tragically, far too common a story. Alisa Valdes’s dedication to fighting for her own property and story is inspiring. Tony Robinson and Jim Hines are fantastic. I am (hopefully!) going to be checking out all of their work sometime soon. :)

    The defense of use of racial slurs as equivalent to accusing someone of cheating/buying their way into a position from their position of privilege? Which, in the story, was true?? Makes me want to punch Harry Potter fans in the face. I get Draco as the sort-of-hesitant-to-be-a-bad-bad-murderer-bad-guy raised in a toxic environment with support in his life from toxic people. I get that. He’s a cliched redeemable villain, and even his noxious parents get a little bit of a Rowling-pass for caring deeply about their son in their own warped way. Whatever. It’s been done better elsewhere, I’ve seen it before, I’m following along– but isn’t the point of being a redeemable villain that there are actions the character in question has done that need to be redeemed? You had a chance to check yourself when asked if real-world calling someone a nigger is an acceptable response from a 12-year-old accused of cheating. You lost me at “It depends.” Especially when Rowling herself went to great lengths to craft a racial metaphor with muggles, witches/wizards, mudbloods, half-/partial-bloods, and squibs each being covered in her books. Mad props for that, JKR! FAIL TO THE READERS WHO SAY THAT MUGGLES ARE GENETICALLY INFERIOR TO MAGIC-PRACTICERS AND THEREFORE VIEWING THEM AS SUBHUMAN IS NOT A SLUR. NO FUCKING ENTIENDO. I just don’t even.

    While I really liked Black Swan, I’ve also seen a metric crap-ton of thinspo blogs using images from it in their posts– lots of thinspo blogs use images of ballerinas, and where I think the movie missed a really great opportunity to go further in depth into Nina’s neuroses was with her diet. I recognized the disordered eating behavior immediately in her restrictive breakfast, her hesitance to eat cake, her frequent trips to the bathroom (though she only vomited once, and if I recall it was portrayed as her genuinely being sick), and even in her inhibitions with Lily when she orders a cheeseburger at the restaurant– and Nina wasn’t really eating until she begins to “cut loose.” But then, I knew what signs to look for. I think I would have enjoyed the movie a lot more if it was more “documentary-esque,” like The Wrestler was, and, honestly, to balance that with the psychological horror aspects of the film wouldn’t have made it much longer since “normal” things in the dance world were already portrayed in a really chilling way (the splitting toenail, the obsessive nail clipping, the stretching/chiropractor scene, etc.). Ballet is incredibly hardcore and damn competitive, and that message didn’t come through quite as strongly as that Nina was incredibly hardcore in a damn competitive setting. Even a scene with Portman and Kunis’s characters chatting and talking shop, again, similarly to scenes with wrestlers in “The Wrestler,” would be something that was creepy and alien to the general viewing audience, seeing how blase people can be about their health in pursuit of their art. I’m very satisfied with the film, don’t get me wrong, it just could have been perfect, in Nina’s words, with a bit more edge.

    • says

      ALSO ADDING because this has been stewing in my head since I read it re: blood purists & Draco Malfoy: one commenter was saying that since Hermione had never heard “mudblood” before in wizarding society, it was clearly an impolite term that Draco had to be sort-of-startled into using.

      1. That’s not how slurs work. Just as in 21st century America, where calling someone a nigger or a nigger-lover is really not widely considered socially acceptable (and is, in fact, widely considered socially unacceptable), calling someone a mudblood in Harry Potter was/is considered impolite and racist. However, when people agree with those sentiments and engage in the use of that language, even mentally, if put in a social situation where the implications associated with using that language dissolve or are lessened, said people will feel at minimum more comfortable using a slur, and may feel they are entitled to its use.

      2. Since slurs are a way of talking about someone instead of to someone, especially since they also tend to be used to reduce the subject’s humanity, awareness of the slur by the party being referred to can be limited to contextual and historical knowledge until such time as that party finds themselves in a situation where the person using the slur will either suffer little-to-no consequences for its use due to their own increased privilege/the particular setting/the people around/etc., lack of sympathetic people around to defend the person being disrespected, or some combination thereof.

      3. Because prejudice is something that must be fought and is counteracted slowly, marginalized or persecuted groups often transition into slightly less marginalized and persecuted groups as time goes on. This means that there will still be a disparity in representation of those groups in popular media as well as in academia. This includes the examination, criticism, and identification of hate speech.

      4a. From the events in the Harry Potter books, including that, 12 years prior to the incident in which Draco refers to Hermione as a mudblood, Voldemort had a significant number of followers and was presumably attempting to or already in full swing of a war and genocide, and that many of Voldemort’s followers (specifically the ones who position themselves around Harry Potter) managed to evade imprisonment, one can see that Harry and his friends would be in a particularly muggle-hostile environment, whether or not that was the social norm in the grand scheme of the UK wizarding world. Significant evidence is given that that kind of bigotry isn’t the standard by the “good” supporting characters, though that may be Rowling’s way of portraying the “bad” characters, who engage in that bigotry, as more “deviant” and easily identifiable as “bad.” Either could be true, since Harry Potter is children’s literature, but in either case, the message is clear that among some (bad) people, racist terminology is considered acceptable, when among everybody who is good, use of such language is not considered acceptable.

      4b. This is especially interesting in that muggle-wizard relations are portrayed as somewhat confused in the books, with muggle culture being virtually alien to non-muggleborn witches and wizards, and may be calling into play colonialist themes of “savage” minorities in the perception of muggles/muggleborns/squibs as “inferior” by bigoted purebloods. Also interesting is Ron’s automatic defense of Hermione, as a member of a low-class pureblood family with ties to muggle relations. I haven’t read Chamber of Secrets recently, but I know he jumps to her defense solo in the movie, and I believe other characters also help out in the book, but I can’t be sure.

      4c. I’ve said before that Rowling deserves mad props for bringing heavy race/racism/genocide themes into children’s literature, especially fantasy literature, and handling them so deftly, and, again, you know, props. So while I wish that some of the stuff I mentioned was explained in more detail, and while the books were published over the course of my young childhood into my older adolescence/adulthood, they aren’t adult fantasy novels and thrusting my adult expectations onto them can be problematic. I still stand by all my issues with gender treatment in the HP books, and would have enjoyed more world-building in the books, because I was that kind of kid, but Rowling’s handling of race metaphor is fucking exquisite, and the haters lack reading comprehension and/or are willfully ignorant and attempting to bend the literature to their own warped worldview.

      5. Hermione is 12 years old when the altercation between Draco and her happens, and is only 2 years into her experience with wizarding culture. Those two years were spent in school, and her outside research was largely literature-based vs. hands-on, since she isn’t solely immersed in the wizarding world, but splits her time between that and the muggle world. For the reasons stated above, it’s very likely that neither she nor Harry would be familiar with the term mudblood until it was thrown in either of their faces.


      • SunlessNick says


        Inamidst all the fail, there was one point that interested me (I don’t recall if it was made by a POC or not, or their handle, since my brain was glazing over by then). But one person found the racial metaphor offensive in principle – specifically using a population with definite metaphysical differences, as the setting’s magical people have, as a metaphor for groups whose differences are illusory.

        It reminded me of how I’ve said in the past – though I’m not sure if I’ve said it here – how much I hate the “vampire as metaphor for gay and/or black” element of True Blood. (Or any other supernatural creature as metaphor for minority group; I guess the point hits me in the case of Harry Potter because I do get a “witch species” vibe from it).

        But then again:

        I’ve said before that Rowling deserves mad props for bringing heavy race/racism/genocide themes into children’s literature, especially fantasy literature, and handling them so deftly, and, again, you know, props.

        I know you’re a better judge of its execution than I am (and I don’t know that the person I paraphrased is), and making metaphors out of witches and wizards is a tad less offensive than making them out of vampires. And racism doesn’t work on evidence – its proponents tend to take it as self-evident – so maybe a blatent difference like magical talent makes a better metaphor rather than a worse one. But that’s hitting the end of my right to an opinion, I think.

        (Not that that would make me like the True Blood metaphor any better).

        • Patrick McGraw says

          So what are your feelings about X-Men, where being a mutant can be used as a metaphor for any type of Other?

          • Maria says

            I’m not the hugest fan of Xmen — mostly because the racists in-world re: mutants are generally right. Like, hello, the super villain mutants really are trying to destroy all the apple pie in America and really don’t respect regular humans and really are politicking with their mutanty agenda.

            I really liked how psipower is portrayed in the Darkover series, where it’s an asset the state wants to exploit and where what makes you different makes you a valuable thing. Really interesting critique of productive ideology from an author who didn’t always identify as a feminist.

            Octavia Butler also does some interesting stuff in the Patternmaster series.

          • Patrick McGraw says

            he super villain mutants really are trying to destroy all the apple pie in America

            I love this so much.

            I think the main problem that X-Men has is that it is part of the larger Marvel Universe. Mutants are a lot less unique and different when there are super-powered mutates like the Fantastic Four, gods like Thor, and aliens like the Skrulls running around. So why are mutants singled out?

            (Civil War tried to address this and failed miserably in that respect, just as it failed in every other respect.)

      • says

        5. Hermione is 12 years old when the altercation between Draco and her happens, and is only 2 years into her experience with wizarding culture. Those two years were spent in school

        Exactly! I’ve been a Jew my whole life, and it took me until I was 13 to hear the word “kike”. That has no bearing on whether it’s a viciously bigoted anti-Semitic epithet or not. It just means I was lucky.

        What kills me is how many fanfic writers will go out and make up a pureblood linage for Hermione. *headdesk* point missed much?


        Magic is I think, especially in arguments like this, much more applicable to discussions of ablism than race, because we with disabilities really do have an intrinsic barrier to doing “normal” things the way Muggles do with magic. This argument is the same one used to say “well, there really is something wrong with people with disabilities, therefore they are worth less than everyone else, so it’s okay to call them cripples and retards and spazzes, and the words aren’t offensive, they’re the truth, be a good cripple and shut up.”

        And this makes me want to reexamine squibs in the series.

          • says

            See, stuff like the further examination of squibs is why I mentioned that for being children’s literature, Harry Potter is good at a lot of the things JKR intended to do, but I would have preferred more in-world world building (as in, not a supplementary book, or a comment after the fact about a dead character’s sexuality ::cough::). It’s the sort of issue that I think would have been interesting to cover from a cultural standpoint and as an example of muggles and wizards truly not being exclusive/separate and inherently unequal, as the bigoted characters in HP believe.

            It’s also why I really dislike how Hermione’s pursuit of House Elf rights and her interest in Muggle Studies from a wizarding perspective were portrayed as irritating and eccentric in-book and not portrayed at all in-movie, and how the scene in the hospital with Neville’s parents was cut from the movieverse as well. Those are the kind of conversations that the characters needed to be having, especially when the blatant witch/wizard purity, superiority, and Nazi imagery are kept intact, and the examination of them that was present is either removed or played down by the movie adapters and the fandom.

            Also, I know I became aware of racial discrimination when I was very young only because my sisters’, mother’s, and my looks vary dramatically from each other’s, and while I was very pale-featured and got a certain amount of colorist privilege due to that, I would turn around and see my relatives treated poorly by the same people who were downright kind to me under exactly the same circumstances. To date, no one has called me any kind of racial slur publicly to my face, and that may be because they don’t know my business like that, and they assume I’m whatever’s easiest for them to peg me as. If I hadn’t been taught, read, observed, and learned for myself how prejudice manifests itself in very specific ways, I would have been just as dumbfounded as Hermione if someone called me a word I’d never heard before, that I had no context to interpret. Especially since, without my keen observational skills coupled with situations in which my links to my family were/are called into question (every year our family doctor asks if my sisters and I all have the same father), when the hell would that come up? What, do people think all minorities are given a freakin’ handbook of words people might call you, or what? Even the ones who aren’t minorities where they come from, and are unaware of their acquired minority status? When the language used is considered taboo or otherwise ineffable and is therefore not formally taught to children/the general public/etc.? Really, some folks. We can’t all be wise Magical Negroes, some of us got shit to do.

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