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Archive for the ‘Evil Media’ Category

It turns out that the Federal District Court Judge who will be deciding the Prop 8 case, Judge Vaughn Walker, is gay.  Unfortunately I worry that if he decides that Prop 8 is in fact unconstitutional, conservatives will be quick to blame it on his sexuality – suggesting that he’s biased.  The fact that his sexuality is even making news headlines worries me, especially because there are people questioning whether he can be impartial in deciding this case. (Walker, as it turns out, is fairly conservative as politics go – his decisions have angered the gay community in the past.) I wish this didn’t have to be an issue, but it reminds me that people who are part of any kind of majority, be it sexual, racial, or gender, always forget that they too have a sexual orientation, a race, and a gender. Just because you are a straight, white male does not mean that you are free from bias. Unfortunately, however, if a straight judge was deciding this case we would not see article after article questioning whether he be able to remain unbiased. We do not question whether he will decide in favor of the Prop 8 supporters because he is straight. We assume that being straight (or white, or male) is the neutral center, and we don’t look any deeper. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that when the decision comes out, the media will focus on the legal reasoning and not Judge Walker’s sexuality.

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Perhaps it is worthless to blog about the inherent sexism in commercials, but when I’m actually watching the commercials, it just becomes so much more apparent.  This year the commercials seem to be all about men and what it means to be a man.I was shocked to see a Dove commercial, a company who I’m usually impressed by, put out a commercial celebrating some kind of inherent masculinity.

The Dodge Charger commercial proved once again that women like to deprive men of their masculinity, and they need gadgets and cars to regain it:

Men also seem to have a venue to get their aggression out on women, by, what else, tackling them:

Of course  there was the Focus on the Family – Tim Tebow commercial, which has received tons of attention already. The message here, if you’re irresponsible and get pregnant, then you may as well do the right thing and keep the baby.

The majority of these commercials seem to suggest that American men are in trouble – their masculinity is being threatened, mainly by women, and they need to get it back in any way possible. I worry what these commercials mean for women. Will we see more depictions of aggression toward women in the media? Will women be even more demonized than they already are? It’s sad that these stereotypical images of what a man should be continue to persist, and that we haven’t moved beyond it at all.

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I have been so bad about blogging lately, which is in part due to the fact that I have a big paper due soon, and I’ve been desperately trying not to procrastinate. The procrastination has won over, however, especially after I saw this article.  Written by Manohla Dargis, one of the NY Times film critics (and, I admit, my least favorite NY Times critic), this article discusses the lack of opportunities for female directors in Hollywood.  She cites to some pretty depressing statistics, not the least of which is that in the 81 years of the Academy Awards, only 3 women have been nominated for best director. (!!) None of them won. Organizations like The Women’s Media Center and the blog Women and Hollywood are vigilant about tracking these statistics.

It’s hard to know why women have fared so badly in Hollywood in the last few decades, though any business that refers to its creations as product cannot, by definition, have much imagination. The vogue for comics and superheroes has generally forced women to sigh and squeal on the sidelines. Even the so-called independent sector, with its ostensibly different players and values, hasn’t been much better, as we know from all the female directors who have made a splash at the Sundance Film Festival only to disappear. New digital technologies and the Internet have leveled the field — though usually it seems as if it’s sheer grit that pushes filmmakers like Kelly Reichardt (“Wendy and Lucy”) along the hard road from idea to distribution.

I recently wrote a law review article that discusses the idea of digital technology and its democratizing potential. (Soon to be published…) I think there’s a lot to be said for the fact that more women are starting to use new (cheaper) digital technologies to create their own films without the backing of a studio. These films always tend to be more interesting anyway. But, I think it’s insane that the studios haven’t caught on to the fact that women go see movies. And, many women are interested in more than cheesy romantic comedies. I enjoy rom-coms as much as the next girl, but I personally feel so refreshed when I go see a movie like Whip It! or Bright Star. Not to mention that it would be nice for younger girls to see role models on the screen, rather than just Bella and her dysfunctional relationship with Edward. (Sorry, at this point I feel like a Twilight reference is obligatory).  I could go on and on about the blatant discrimination that happens in Hollywood, but I’ll spare you.

What I would like to say, however, is that this year there has been a whole slew of films that are directed by women and are starring women. And, many of these movies are not your typical rom-coms (see Bright Star, Coco Avant Chanel, An Education, The Hurt Locker, Julie & Julia). Many of these movies and directors are getting Oscar buzz, but predictably, male-driven films like Up in the Air and Avatar threaten to pull ahead and woo the Academy with quirky style or crazy special effects (respectively).  Bright Star, Coco Avant Chanel, and Julie & Julia, I think, are the best three movies that I have seen all year. I am not advocating for the Academy to give the best director award to a woman, just because she’s a woman, but I think they should at least take it into account. And, this year seems to be the perfect year to do it. I also hope that the studios will get their heads out of the ground (to be kind) and look at how many both financially and critically successful films came out this year that were led by women. Next year, I hope to see even more…

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On October 2nd, the Claire Booth Luce Policy Institute will unveil it’s 2010 Great American Conservative Women Calendar. Oh yes, you can now have women like Carrie Prejean, Phyllis Schlafly, and Ann Coulter staring at you from your wall every month. And if that isn’t enough, you can watch a behind the scenes photo-shoot here.

Just a little background:

  • The Claire Booth Luce Policy Institute “has been a strong voice for modern American women who want fair treatment and equal opportunities, but are offended by the radical liberal agenda.”
  • Phyllis Schlafly has made statements such as: “I submit to you that the feminist movement is the most dangerous, destructive force in our society today. […] My analysis is that the gays are about 5% of the attack on marriage in this country, and the feminists are about 95%. […] I’m talking about drugs, sex, illegitimacy, drop outs, poor grades, run away, suicide, you name it, every social ill comes out of the fatherless home.” (via Jezebel)

Buy one now (or if you’re a student, order one for free!), and every month, you’ll have a new reason to continue fighting for women’s rights and justice.

copyright Claire Booth Luce Policy Institute

copyright Claire Booth Luce Policy Institute

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barbie340x300

Barbie is a copyright of Mattel.

No joke. Mattel and Universal have reached an agreement to create a live-action Barbie, feature length film. No casting or plot details have been released.

Why can’t Barbie just disappear? As the writers at The Frisky point out, how can you create a live-action character of a doll who would not be able to stand upright because of her proportions? And what on earth is the plot going to consist of? Did she ever actually have a story beyond being a blonde, beach loving bimbo? I’m sorry, but my idea of creating a larger market of movies for women and girls does not involved contrived movies based on a totally regressive, sexist doll. Oh, and not surprisingly, everyone involved so far is a man.

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Great post on Jezebel about Tucker Max. A few of my favorite quotes:

It really is refreshing that someone has the courage to call a girl a “slut” for once in this repressive climate where women’s sexual behavior goes un-judged and un-commented upon. And that someone’s finally speaking up for all the silenced frat boys of the world.

Frankly, if Max is able to make money by putting misogyny on film as well on his blog, it’ll be about as surprising as dudes drinking beer out of both bottles and cans.

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Sexism Abounds

As many law students and lawyers probably do, I have a love/hate relationship with the “legal tabloid” Above the Law. However, the way they decided to describe the new phenomenon of law firms giving no-offers to their summer associates just pushed me way towards the hate side of this relationship:

Times have changed, kids. In 2006, bright law students were hot and desirable; all the firms wanted to get into bed with them. Law students today, however, are like single women over 35. They’re desperate — and firms are warier of committing to them.

I really resent this comment. First of all, not all single women over 35 are desperate. Second of all, why did the authors feel that they needed to use this metaphor to begin with? Aren’t there other symbols of desperation they could have used without being overtly sexist? After everything with Tucker Max, and now this, I’m starting to think that men should not blog unless they receive a crash course in sexism/feminism. 

 

Thanks AS for the heads up on this post.

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Okay, so 2009 is not over yet, but I’m pretty sure that there is no movie set to come out in the next 3 months that will disgust me more than “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” I saw a preview for this movie recently, and I had no idea what to think. Was it a comedy, a horror film, a stupid response to “The Hangover”? I didn’t spend much time thinking about it, assuming that it would be released and disappear unnoticed, until I read this article.

Tucker Max thinks that “all women are whores” and that “fat girls aren’t real people” — and those are some of his family-friendlier observations. So why do so many women love him?

If you’re not 19 and don’t regularly scan the best-seller list, you may need an introduction to the Max oeuvre. Max, a hedonistic folk hero to his fans, got his start in 2002 when, egged on by a friend, he started a blog detailing what he calls his “life as a self-involved, drunken womanizer.” The site now gets more than a million unique visitors every month. It has spawned a book, “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell” — more than 100 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list — and his exploits have been adapted for the big screen in a movie opening this week.

Max and his growing audience share an unabashed focus on three basic adolescent obsessions: bodily functions, drinking toxic amounts of booze and “scoring.” The women in his stories are insulted, tricked, coerced, traded and discarded. One conquest is vomited on and videotaped without her consent.

 

The homepage on Tucker Max’s own website reads:

My name is Tucker Max, and I am an asshole.

I get excessively drunk at inappropriate times, disregard social norms, indulge every whim, ignore the consequences of my actions, mock idiots and posers, sleep with more women than is safe or reasonable, and just generally act like a raging dickhead.

But, I do contribute to humanity in one very important way. I share my adventures with the world.

Apparently, and to my utter disbelief, women LOVE Tucker Max. Is there any woman out there who can coherently explain this love to me? Jaclyn Friedman, at The Washington Post, that we shouldn’t be too surprised because “[w]e’ve already, after all, replaced the fiercely independent vampire slayer Buffy with the helpless vampire lover Bella. The cult of Tucker Max is just a photo negative of the “Twilight” phenomenon: Both cultures view women as irresistible objects that tempt men into doing dangerous, uncontrollable things.” This is certainly true. This new vampire craze seems to suggest that women love the idea of seducing and being objectified by powerful men.

More disturbing than this, however, is that Max is apparently extremely popular on college campuses, where rape and sexual assault continue to be a problem. Max seems to be doing everything to subvert the message that women should be empowered to take control of their own sexuality and not become sexual objects for men to use and abuse.

Meanwhile, Friedman’s stories about what women do to gain Max’s attention (see excerpt below) remind me of the novel “Geek Love” by Katherine Dunn, which is a fabulous novel that in part contains an excellent commentary on the dangers of extreme and obssessive fan-dom of an idol who takes pleasure in others’ pain.

Another female fan sought out Max, slept with him, and then tattooed an explicit sentence commemorating the event just below her hip bone, thus earning the Holy Grail of any Maxite: an original Tucker Max blog entry featuring her.

 

Just in case all of this hasn’t disturbed/disgusted you enough, here’s a nice post from the FAQs on his webpage about why he’s not sexist/misogynistic:

 

This always confuses me. For fucks sake, I originally put up a page dedicated to getting a date; how is that sexist? How in hell does that imply I hate women? I hate a lot of things, (stupid people and Duke basketball, for instance) but nowhere on that list is women. I LOVE women. Now, do I treat some women like shit? Yes, sometimes, but I treat EVERYONE like shit, not just women. Sexism is treating one sex differently from the other(s). I treat people as individuals.

Don’t misunderstand, there are times when women just annoy the shit out of me. Of course, I am sure I annoy them also. It’s part of the curse of having a high sexual dimorphism within a species: the differences cause friction. And let me be clear about this: I do not believe that women’s studies is a legitimate academic discipline. Of course, I don’t think many of the majors available are legitimate academic disciplines (see e.g. “Marxist studies,” or “Recreation.”). And I obviously believe that there are natural, inherent differences between the sexes, differences that go beyond the purely reproductive, and that examination of those differences is fertile ground for humor. If you are one of those who reject the idea of inborn differences between the sexes and claim that all differences are socially constructed, I can offer you nothing but a biology primer and my sympathies, because you are stupid.

Oh how I would love to put him in a room with bell hooks or Gloria Steinem or even better, Catharine MacKinnon, and watch them tear him apart.

I will certainly be encouraging everyone I know to boycott this movie and to spread awareness about Tucker Max’s dangerous message. I hope you will do the same.

For more of the feminist response to Tucker Max click here and here.

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gossip-girl20In not-so-shocking news, the senior girls at a high school in Millburn, NJ apparently, for years, have created a “slut-list,” where they list the names of “pretty and popular incoming freshman with crass descriptions on loose-leaf paper.” These girls are then subjected to what the NY Times is calling “hazing.” I tend to agree more with the writers over at The Frisky who say it sounds much more like bullying than mere hazing. The pattern of mean-ness among high school girls is not so surprising anymore after the barrage of books about this phenomenon and the movie “Mean Girls.” What’s shocking to me is that the principal at the high school has apparently known about this tradition for years and the school is only addressing it in a big way now. It’s time that we start paying more attention to teenage girls and giving them the support they need to cooperate rather than compete with each other. I must admit that I love the movie “Mean Girls” and shows like “Gossip Girl,” but we should be teaching young girls that these movies and TV shows are entertainment and satire, not models of behavior that they should be emulating or striving for.

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Just a quick post, even though I know I’ve been particularly bad about posting lately. I’m heading back to CA today, and once I get there I promise I’ll start blogging more regularly.

I questioned the NY Times’ motto this morning (“All the news that’s fit to print”) when I read this article about how potbellies are the new hip fashion statement among the Brooklyn hipster set.  The article explains that many of these Brooklyn hipsters are sporting potbellies with their v-neck t-shirts, fedoras, and ray-bans.  The article suggests that this new devil-may-care attitude about body image might be a reaction to Obama’s passion for exercise and health, as hipsters, according to the article, like to be contrarian.

Personally, I could care less what the hipsters are wearing these days, but what bothered me about this article was how quickly the author dismissed the fact that men don’t have to care nearly as much about their body image as women do:

Women have almost never gotten a pass on the need to maintain their bodies, while men always have, said Robert Morea, a personal fitness trainer. (Full disclosure: my own.) It would be too much, he added, to suggest that “potbellies are suddenly O.K.,” but as lean muscle and functionality become the new gym mantras, hypertrophied He-Men with grapefruit biceps and blister-pack abs have come to resemble specimens from a diorama of “A Vanished World.”

The Times could have at least taken a moment to explore this phenomenon, or at least taken a moment to suggest that maybe potbellies aren’t the new fashion accessory to strive for. Not to mention that Obama’s emphasis on physical health is something that everyone in this country should be emulating rather than rebelling against.

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