Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Much belated critique of the indie film "In a World"

Thanks to the miracle of discount DVD's, I was finally able to watch Bell Lake's film  In A World, supposedly about the Hollywood voice over industryI say supposedly because very little of it was actually about the industry and more seemed to descend into rom com vapidity--a bad habit I expect feminist actors/directors not to fall into yet they so often do.
Throughout most of the movie I kept shouting at my TV; who cares about her sister's intimate relationships?!
Unlike many of my fellow online amateur film critics (who seemed to be bored by the premise) I was actually interested in the world of voice over acting and wanted the movie to be about that. Sadly, Ms. Bell disappointed me.
The film shows a couple snippets of her protagonist, Carol--played by Bell-- a voice coach and voice-over actor, trying to encourage women to speak with their real voices--a wonderfully refreshing concept! Yet as the designer and director of this world, Bell goes counter to her core beliefs and seems to lose her own voice in the process of telling women to find theirs.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Misogyny Night Live

I am so pleased that comedian Pete Davidson of SNL was able to get his voice heard, the other night on Weekend Update, about how women should feel regarding trans-women (men who have become women thru surgery or who identify as women) using women’s restrooms.
It is so important for a young man to be able to speak out, un-disputed, on a subject about which he has no lived experience; growing up female in a misogynistic world.

I am fascinated by men, particularly in the entertainment industry, who seem to have more empathy for the rights of trans women, or men who identify as women, than they do for those of us who were born female. I am happy when guys are able to show empathy to anyone, though I suspect that what appears to be empathy is really a veiled excuse---as if another was needed ---to dismiss women's genuine concerns as trivial, self-centered and needless and jump on the "trans women are more oppressed than you" bandwagon.
Where was the women's point of view? Isn't it possible that women might have good reason to be wary of sharing our restrooms with human beings who are usually larger and possess a celebrated amount of upper body strength?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Do you ever watch Talk shows and yell at the vapid people on morning TV and say, "No!You are missing the point!" I do it constantly, yet I still watch, like the proverbial train wreck, I am there daily, witnessing the obliteration of subject matter that I hold dear; topics that could benefit from the mass outreach of the mainstream media. If only those entrusted to impart "the facts" were able to do so in an intelligent and informed way.

It seems that the minute a celebrity guest dares to go a little deeper into a topic, the Today Show hosts will quickly change the subject. Such as what happened the other day when Lucy Lawless guested and the subject of her stint as Xena, Warrior Princess came upLawless spoke thoughtfully about how the show was not misogynist in it's portrayal of the female characters. Immediately, the hosts turned on a dime and Tamron brought up the pressing subject of hair styles. Crisis averted.

The same thing happens whenever racial injustice comes up in the conversation; such as when Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is in the news once a year on his birthday. No real, in depth discussions about racism happen in these venues and just as it is with misogyny/sexism, we never get to the heart of the matter. Instead, the audience is left with feelings of hopelessness mixed with the obligatory calls for racial healing which is often code for changing the subject.

I have witnessed many of these transgressions throughout the years, in various forms of pop cultural infotainment, so I cannot put all the blame on the AM set. Still, they do have quite a forum in which to either educate or perpetrate misinformation. I believe that our intrepid hosts are instructed, by those in authority, that their job is not to educate but to entertain. Anything more than that is seen as too boring for the public or too dangerous and controversial for the network.

Most importantly, these talk show hosts are considered journalists. Some of them, award winning journalists which gives them a certain amount of gravitas in the eyes of many of their viewers. It means that what they say matters and has meaning and truth attached.

If only there were such a thing as mere entertainment but we don't live in that kind of a world. Humans, whether we like to admit it or not, absorb information, true or false, on a regular basis and at an extremely high rate. We are no longer able to simply turn off our TV's and close our lap tops when we are inundated with ads and posts vying for our attention. They catch up with us on our phones, our tablets; they are in our faces on the subway, on the radio, at the mall.

Let us, please, face facts and admit that we cannot possibly choose or control every thought that comes into our heads. We are creatures of habit and human psychology is something with which ad agencies are well acquainted. Billions of dollars are spent yearly producing seemingly innocuous commercials that on the surface seem annoying at worst; silly, yet entertaining at best. Who would expend company dollars and time on creations that can be blocked out by the sheer will power of prospective customers?
Admitting we have a problem is the first step to recovery.

Sisterhood, She Wrote

"Often when we see derogatory images of women, we disassociate ourselves from them—we’re not like that. We’re the bright exceptions that prove the rules, right? We’ve grown familiar with that refrain, but it’s simply untrue. We have to learn to realign ourselves with ourselves—with women in general.”
Regina Barreca, They Used to Call Me Snow White...But I drifted; Women's Strategic Use of Humor

I have never voted for a republican and I am in no danger of doing so in 2016.
Nor do I relish giving any right wing politician credit for saying something uncharacteristically intelligent, but republican presidential candidate Carli Fiorina got one thing right with her comeback to Donald Trump’s opinion of her appearance, “…women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.” Instead of taking the slight personally, she chose to align herself with women as a group. Even if her reasons for the retort were purely political, it was one of the most astute, and dare I say, feminist sentences I have heard any political candidate on the right or the left utter in a long time. If only her other actions and policies reflected such an insightful connecting of the dots.

Ever since my mother's death in 2013, I have taken to watching what used to be one of her favorite shows "Murder She Wrote". The very first episode of MSW our intrepid mystery writer/crime solver Jessica Fletcher,  actually has women friends. This quickly changes throughout the rest of the series as we see Jessica surrounded by male regulars.
One of the few episodes, other than a women's prison, that features a crowd of women around Jess, was set in a beauty salon. Not only did the salon look like it was dipped in Pepto Bismol but so did the stylists. There was also the obligatory audio of several women rapidly talking over each other while a man, in this case Tom Bosley as  sheriff Tupper, rolls his eyes.
At another point during the episode the sheriff lets out a frustrated harrumph, "Women!" which elicits a disapproving glare from Jessica. The chief corrects himself slightly and says, "present company excepted" to which our less than feminist star nods approvingly. I was thinking how great it would have been if Jessica kept that disapproving look even while the sheriff clumsily tried to take some of it back. She could have said, "sheriff, when you insult all women you insult me too!" It makes me sad that even an actor of Angela Lansbury's stature would not, or could not, insist that female stereotypes and misogynist epithets had no place on her show.


Friday, June 5, 2015

Thanks to Hoda and Kathy Lee for wearing pants and long sleeves on this "Casual Friday". It was refreshing to see at least two female hosts eschewing their cap sleeved tight knee length dresses for one whole hour. Now if they could just give up the 6 inch heels. 

I care about such a seemingly trivial issue not just because I despise showing my own upper arms but because I get the distinct impression that women are we say.. keenly encouraged to show some part of their body. 
Navigating racks of women's clothing is kind of like playing fashion whack-a-mole; if I want longer sleeves I have to settle for a plunging neck line. If I choose short sleeves they won't come down past my bicep. If I find a round neckline, there will invariably be a sexy hole in the middle exposing my cleavage. 

While clothes shopping, I often compare myself to a female celebrity sitting cross legged on Conan O'Brian's couch in a short skirt; self consciously tugging at the scant material barely covering my legs while another part of me comes dangerously close to exposure. 

Critiques of female fashion, like pretty much everything involving women, are often tinged with blame; well if they would just stop "choosing" clothes with flimsy fabric and dress more simply like men, act like men, ask for raises like men and get paid as much as men, all would be fine. Other than being.. a tad too masculine.

Less political arguments say that designers prefer sleeveless bridal gowns* because they are easier to alter. Interesting point but please explain men's fitted dress shirts? Once again we are lead to believe that women's needs are far more complex than our seemingly easy going brothers.

*I once saw an episode of Beverly Hills Bridal, where a woman in her 60's tried on a gown with cap sleeves. She glowed while friends, family and shop owner cooed over how "amazing" she looked even though her upper arm skin was puckered and flabby. The dress was clearly not flattering as far as her arms were concerned. I thought they were all blind and I was the brat kid yelling "the Emperor has no clothes"! Then I felt like the worst feminist ever, for judging this poor woman's arms.

My personal clothing needs are quite direct; give me a longed sleeved T-shirt with a round neck, fitted slightly at the bust but A-lined at the bottom. The material should be mostly cotton with nylon for stretch. I have 7 of these (by Style & Co.) in my closet that are about three years old. I have not been able to find any more like them since and I cling to these 7 with my life. 

Maybe it's where I shop--I steer clear of high end stores. Maybe it's where I live, a Toronto suburb where I am convinced gets rejects from the US. Maybe I'm not feminine or masculine enough, though sometimes I am a little of both. I do know what I want and I know what looks good on me. I too like being fashionable but I can tell when the-fashion-powers-that-be or the morning show moguls are manipulating me (through female hosts) into wearing what they consider proper feminine attire. 

Please join me. Fight the powers. Take your caps off and take a stand for casual Friday all week long.
Just be sure to wear your low healed shoes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

If the stereotype of women not being able to work together is true, then how is it that 27 or so women from different races and economic backgrounds were supposedly able to form a cohesive unit, conspire against Bill Cosby and accuse him of drugging and raping them?
I also wonder how many rich powerful white guys in show biz have committed similar crimes against women but have gotten away with it because they and powerful white guys?
I often fantasize that all of the female actors and comics will get together, pool their resources and become a force to be reckoned with so they can produce TV shows that not only have a woman as it's star, but that she can be surrounded by other females now and then, instead of just a constant slew of guys who have been put there to somehow legitimize her existence as a comedian on television. I dream that women in show biz will tell the guys, who think that their female colleagues can't be funny without barf scenes and fart jokes, to piss off and let women be funny on their own terms (which may on occasion include but will not be limited to anal humor)and get their giant frat humor clown feet off these women's necks.