Saturday, February 28, 2015

Amy Poehler's 20 year old pilot is even more weirdly awesome than I would have thought

She plays a straight-laced government employee on Parks and Recreation, but in this amazing little ten minute 90s time capsule, Amy Poehler is a liberal feminist TV hacker.  Her and her comrades take over the airwaves in their makeshift office/RV, hence the title of the pilot, RVTV.  

Amy also breaks down some pretty awesome feminist raps in the clips, talking directly to the camera, breaking the forth wall, just like Parks and Rec! Maybe she was ahead of her time by utilizing this mockumentary-style filming. Or maybe just inspired by the early 90s Real World era. 

Amy Poehler is one of my favorite comedy actresses these days.  And to show you why, and get you in the Amy Poehler mood, the following is a list of 7 reasons why she is one of my favorites right now, and then you can watch the video in all its crude from.

1. Her and Tina Fey were the first women to co-news anchor on SNL. They were hilarious, smart and were unafraid to push the boundaries and take a stand.

2. I think they were the first two women to co-host the Oscars. I could be wrong, but either way they're hilarious when they do.

3. She was iconic in Mean Girls.

4. She hosts a youtube show called The Smart Girls at the Party, where she interviews girls and women who do cool shit, then hijinks ensue.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Breaking it Down: Jem and the Holograms - the TV show, the film and the comic

Film still from Jem and the Holograms

Most people are not impressed with the first still from the Jem and the Holograms remake, but it's not that bad to me.  Sure, Jem doesn't have her signature pink dress, and the hair is not nearly big enough for the classic 80s fluff they all had going on, but it has the "feel" of it so far.  

Here's the original: 

At least they have the right color pallet. 

From what I understand, the film was at first written, directed and produced by all men, but they have since added a female director of photography and at least one woman producer. Jessica Hall, the producer who has joined the film's team, says "Don't worry girls I won't let him screw it up." 

Let's hope. Jem was a role model for a lot of girls. She was in charge, magical, powerful and used sci-fi Synergy

I'm trying to reserve judgement, but the plot has suffered from some some questionable adjustments. Originally, Jerrica Benton, aka Jem, was a music company owner who is secretly a rock star, but that was changed to make her an orphan who becomes "an online recording sensation, and she and her sisters embark on a music-driven scavenger hunt--one that sends them on an adventure to Los Angeles -- in an attempt to unlock a final message left by her father."  I like the modern take, but the father-daughter story line doesn't sound very Jem-like. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Marisa Tomei cast as Gloria Steinem in HBO miniseries

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off."
- Gloria Steinem
Is this real? The great Marisa Tomei to play the legendary journalist and activist Gloria Steinem in an HBO miniseries? Yes it is!  I feel like I've been waiting my whole life for something like this.

When I was 14 I went to my school's library and looked up "women's rights" and "Gloria Steinem." Her name was the only name I knew to associate with the movement, so that's what I looked up.  This search lead me to discover the book "Sisterhood is Powerful," which was basically my foray into feminism and when I really began learning my history.

According to Deadline the miniseries will depict "the creation of Ms. Magazine in 1971 through the eyes of the woman who co-founded and ran it, Steinem and her best friend, member of the House of Representatives Bella Abzug." Abzug will be played by Kathy Najimy, who I always remember most from Sister Act and Hocus Pocus.

The 1970s were a era of change for women, as Jane Curtain has pointed out, and Gloria Steinem and Ms magazine were a big part of ushering that in.  No other details on the miniseries yet, but I can't wait for it!

Marisa Tomei and Gloria Steinem
Ms. was  the first feminist-themed magazine and was maybe even the first women's magazine that wasn't just about fashion, beauty and boys. The concept of the magazine was brand new, as was the term "Ms." "Ms", pronounced Miz, is a term meant to neutralize the way women are addressed and identified. Miss and Mrs reflect a woman's marital status, whereas Mr stays the same regardless of marriage. Ms is the counterpart to that.

I've always argued we should have a gender neutral title, something that's a combination of both male and female. A long time ago a friend and I came up with "mamster," as in ma'am + mister = mamster. 

Could that catch on? Just call me Mamster Taylor.

Steinem just recently showcased a documentary called In Her Own Words on HBO, which I have not seen, but will soon if I can find it.  It must have done well, since this new film is coming. I love her description of feminism. She says, "When [feminism] starts out, it's very simple, but it ends up being a worldview that questions hierarchy all together."

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bikini Kill re-release, Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah, has your new favorite riot grrrl song

Riot Grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill have re-released their second EP, Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah through their new label, Bikini Kill Records. The EP was originally a split with British riot grrrl band Huggy Bear.  

The album includes the 7 songs that appeared on the original release, and 7 songs recorded at practices and live shows during 1990-91.  It also includes an “Oral History” in the insert with some amusing insight from the band members themselves on their early formative years as a band.  

Drummer Tobi Vail says that Kathleen taught herself to play bass in less than a month and witnessed her make a “transformation into a songwriting machine.”  There is also an interview with former Bratmobile guitarist Erin Smith, photostrips of the band, and some commentary by David Charlie Feck.

The B side songs range from bouncy but mellow, to a slow and serious anthem, to more straight up punk. The stand out track/s on the B side is the live versions of “Not Right Now,” where Tobi takes the mic. Half way through the song though, they get off track and stop playing.  Quickly, they start over and play it again, this time all the way through.  It may seem strange to include a failed attempt at a song from a live show, but hearing the mistake first has the effect of demystifying the process of being in a band, especially one that's influential in some way.  

On another track, guitarist Billy Karren takes the mic in a rare moment in the spotlight for “George Bush is a Pig,” which Kathleen talks about in the Oral History.  “I Busted in Your Chevy Window,” delivers some memorable lines like “I can bust the plate of glass that protects you so all the other girls can throw stones.”  It's the kind of line I would have been doodling all over my teen angst riot grrrl notebook if I had heard this song back in the day.

However, "Fuck Twin Peaks" is the overall standout track on the new release.  With lyrics like “David Lynch is reaming me” and the chanting of “FUCK TWIN PEAKS” over an upbeat old school punk sound, Kathleen Hanna manages to sing about serious ideas and subjects in a way that’s funny.  I can’t help but giggle at the lyrics and dance a little when this song is blasting.  Whether you agree with Bikini Kill's assessment of the show Twin Peaks or not, this EP is worth buying for this song alone.

Here's one of my favorite BK songs from this original album:

My friends and I used to play this song in the Little Five Points courtyard in Atlanta when I was a teenager. Still one of my favorites to sing along to.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Music Producer Linda Perry interview with Larry King about the industry, her new show and American Idol

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Megan Fox talks about sexism and discrimination in Hollywood

I think most feminists can agree that Cosmo sucks.  They're more for beauty tips and guilt trips than they are for anything else.  But sometimes they surprise me and manage to push beyond the surface issues that women are interested in and engage their interview subjects in something with more substance.

Megan Fox, who I am a huge fangirl of, appears in the upcoming August issue of Cosmo as part of her promotion for her soon-to-be released comedy action flick, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  She talks about motherhood, sex and the usual Cosmo-esque subject matter, but they also ask her about sexism and female representation in film.

The interviewer says, "It's exciting that you're a woman headlining an action film.  Do you think Hollywood is coming around?"  

She answers bluntly, "I don't. Hollywood is still run by middle-aged men who are intimidated by an assertive woman. I would argue to do something you'd see Shia [Labeouf] do in Transformers and the men involved in the movie would say it seemed 'bitchy.'  Or if my interactions with my [Ninja Turtles] co-star Will Arnett were a little too direct, I would hear "why is your character being so mean to him?"

recently spoke with a producer  from Michael Douglas' company who admitted that they see women directors as a "risk".  So what she is saying sounds pretty accurate.  Hollywood is run by men who not only see assertive women as intimidating, but who are uncomfortable with women having any authority or power at all.  This is not the first time she has discussed sexism on set, as she did in an interview with Peter Travers.

I'd like to point out that it is not always just men who have a hard time with this. I've dealt with women who uphold this kind of sexist attitude as well.  It's usually men though.

In the interview Megan also discusses how she handles unwanted sexual attention on set.  She says "when I'm working I refuse to flirt.  If someone tries, it becomes an endless roast. I'll say, 'nice beard buddy' or 'you look fancy.' I know he spent an hour doing that specific thing to his hair, and the minute I point it out his game is shattered.  I like to have men off their guard.  Then you are in charge.  You don't ever have to feel like someone has power over you."

Sounds like good advice to me!

Also, Megan recently sat in at a round table talk with a group of mom bloggers. They each wrote an article about her and to she elaborated on the nature of being a woman in Hollywood:
"In Hollywood, you don't want to show weakness as a woman because it is such a misogynistic industry. To ever go to work and be like, 'I have debilitating cramps,' you can't do that. You can't be like, 'Can I have a hot water bottle for my stomach?' You have to act like you're a superhero in order to be taken seriously or put on an equal playing field as the men. As soon as you like have a woman's body and have women's issues, it's like, 'Oh, you're a hazard for us," basically. So you just have to pretend that you're a lot stronger than you are a lot of the time."
I agree with her and hope that other industry people see this kind of unevenness and take a stance against it when they work on sets.

Cosmo interview source
Mom blog interview source

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kim Kardashian calls for an end to the boycott against the tyrannical homophobic owner of the Beverly Hills Hotel so she can have a convenient place for lunch

For those of you who don't know, the popular Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles is currently being boycotted by LA locals because the new billionaire owner, who is the Sultan of Brunei, supports sharia law.  Sharia law is a religious law that limits the freedom of women and criminalizes gay people, among other issues.  The harsh laws that the Sultan is creating for the country of Brunei currently includes jail time for those who do not go to weekly religious ceremonies or any woman who gets pregnant outside of marriage.  The laws will eventually include severing limbs for anyone who commits property crime and stoning people to death for adultery, gay sex and anyone who insults the Koran.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has spoken out against the "draconian" law. According to the LA Times, a spokes person for the U.N. group stated that "the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law."  Even the Beverly Hills mayor and council have pushed for the owner to sell the property.  Many other groups have canceled events at the hotel as well.

However, some celebrities who live in LA and enjoy the hotel, including actor Russell Crowe and reality TV star Kim Kardashian, have criticized the boycott saying that it hurts the workers more than the billionaire sultan.  While they may have a point that this gives them jobs, has anyone actually been laid off due to this?  As the global press secretary for the HRC pointed out the company is "shamefully using their own employees as human shields to deflect criticism of the Sultan...Profits front he Sultan's hotels belong to a regime that could start stoning women and LGBT people as soon as next year, and those profits need to stop."

Should human rights advocates look the other way when a man whose values radically contradict the values of the community becomes an influential presence?  Matthew Fleischer wrote in his LA Times article, "America has made tremendous progress on LGBT rights in the last several decades, but those gains will be hollow if the rest of the world descends into a homophobic pit on our watch. It's time for those who believe in equality to make their impact felt not just at home but around the world because....anti-LGBT religious forces in America and around the world are doing all they can to export their homophobic views...".

He could not be more right.  Throwing your hands up and saying "oh well what can we do" will only further propagate hurtful homophobic, human rights violating ideas, ideas that turn into laws that will cause the death of innocent people.  According to reports the boycott has caused a 2 million dollar loss for the hotel after a month of protests.  It might not mean much for a billionaire, but it shows that boycotts are effective. (Also, a comment left on KK's essay claims that the owner is compensating the workers with extra money during the protests, so maybe it's not even affecting them at all.  Can anyone corroborate this?)

Kim Kardashian's defense of the hotel makes the same claim that Russell Crowe made: we should end the boycott for the sake of the workers. However, the issue for Kim Kardashian seems to be a more self-centered one: it's one of the few places she can go without being harassed by paps.  Her essay is filled with stories about how great the hotel is for her life.  She says it's one of the few places where she can go "because they respect not having any paparazzi drive onto their property" and "when I was a little girl, I would ride my bike to the Beverly Hills Hotel on the weekends to eat downstairs in the coffee shop with my dad," and "the hotel is a piece of LA's history as well as many of our own personal memories."

Yeah...forget the gay people and the women who will be MURDERED to due this tyrants power trip.  Kim Kardashian needs a peaceful place to have lunch!

Kim says she did switch the location of her bridal shower "due to the actions of the Sultan of Brunei," but was it because she cared or was it because of the social pressure that was created around this issue and the likely backlash she would have received if she had a big event there?  My guess is if there had been no protest this woman would have had her bridal shower there without a second thought.

Boycotts work.  They might not cause a billionaire to lose a fortune, but they put a social pressure on people to take a stand against what's right instead of just giving in because you don't think you can win.  In the last paragraph of her essay Kim says "there must be another solution".  Here's a solution for you Kim: if you want a pleasant place to have lunch away from the paps and you care about the workers as you claim, then why don't you and your rich friends and family go open your own hotel and offer jobs to every single person who works at the Beverly Hills Hotel?  That would be truly powerful.
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