Tag Archives: sexism

Things That Confuse and Anger Me About the Harry Potter Series: Goblet of Fire Part 1

By Ashley

Well, folks, at the halfway mark! And this one is a doozy. It’s so large, in fact, that I’ve decided to split it up over two posts. The first part today, second next Wednesday! Please enjoy!

Things That Confuse and Anger Me About the Harry Potter Series: Goblet of Fire

1. In this book we learn about the Weasley’s nifty little clock: it tells whether each member of the family is “home,” “work,” “traveling,” “prison,” etc. One of the options is “mortal peril.” This got me wondering: wouldn’t Mr. and Mrs. Weasley know immediately all the times any of their children went on dangerous excursions with Harry? Ron going after the Philospher’s Stone; Ron and Ginny being in the Chamber of Secrets; Ron being attacked by Sirius?

2. This is something that has always bothered me since I first read the book, but even more so now as an adult who is a feminist and activist: Hermione’s activism for House Elf rights and how it’s treated in the book. Hermione becomes a well-meaning, though misled and self-righteous, activist for the welfare of House Elves after she discovers how badly they’re treated and how the law disregards them. She has some truly feminist-licious lines like: “It’s people like you, Ron, who prop up rotten and unjust systems…” With Hermione’s activism we have two sides of the feminist coin. It’s so cool to see a main character in a popular book being unapologetically an activist, lobbying for the rights, welfare and enfranchisement of a non-privileged class. However, Hermione’s activism is at times very reminiscent of the typical Western, white, middle-class feminism, in that it’s so self-righteous and she is completely unwilling to recognize the voice of the very people she’s trying to end oppression against. It’s basically like every white feminist who speaks about how horribly oppressed women of other cultures are while ignoring the stories and experiences of those women.

Read more about SPEW, the Yule Ball, and J.K. Rowling’s hilarious problems with spatial perception after the jump…

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Link Dump: #37

It’s been a slow, hot, lazy summer, but the Link Dump is finally back! We’ve got a kitty, plucked from the clothing of Margo Prey, Troll 2 star and Best Worst Movie interview subject. We’ve also got a host of links from the past few weeks:

Either the weird search terms have been dropping off lately, or my sense of “weirdness” has become warped since starting this blog. A few choice, recent items: “vagina convulsing good?”, “witch transforms man into goat,” and possibly my favorite (least favorite?), “hunter mccracken masturbation.” Keep in mind that Hunter McCracken is the preadolescent star of Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life, and have a good weekend.

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Feminist Film Smackdown: Zombieland

By Ashley

[Note: this article is written under the assumption that those who read it have already seen it. Spoilers.]

On a whim, Andreas and I decided to watch Ruben Fleischer’s Zombieland; we love zombies, we love parody, so it seems logical. After coming to the sobering conclusion that zombies have been so parodied and so ingrained into our pop culture that there’s no way they can be scary again (barring some intense, 28 Days Later-esque film coming out and completely rejuvenating the genre) we hunkered down for what we thought would be a relatively good, funny zombie parody. Overall it delivered on the funny (and the blaahhhh when it wasn’t funny) but it also delivered on a few other things: plot holes, sexism, and gender stereotypes.

Hit the jump to see me unload the snark…

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Link Dump: #30

I don’t want to be buried in a pet sematary. I don’t want to live my life again. Especially if living my life again involved being attacked by Church, the scary-as-fuck kitty cat from Mary Lambert’s Pet Sematary. (I’ve never seen it, but Ashley assures me that it’s terrifying.) Whether or not you’re fond of zombie cats, you’ll probably love these links, which include the funny, the sad, and the just plain ridiculous:

  • Sometimes kids’ books are actually more for adults. Brain Pickings documents a few of those times, including the great Matilda and The Phantom Tollbooth.
  • Nathaniel was out of town this past week, so I helped run the “First and Last” game over at The Film Experience. It was an amazing experience; go over and see if you can guess my and Dave‘s picks!
  • In case you need more evidence that the legislators in Arizona are completely off their rockers check out this birther bill: got a foreskin? YOU AIN’T AMERICAN!
  • In “Ashley totally called this” news: Nic Cage was arrested early Saturday morning for drunkenly yelling at and pushing his wife.
  • Rick “Frothy Mix” Santorum is distancing himself from his campaign of “Fighting to Make America America Again”. Why, you may ask? Because he found out a similar phrase was already used by Langston Hughes. Dickbag.
  • If you have a lot of time to spare, then check out these 15 hugely entertaining movie cliché montages.
  • In New Zealand, a new billboard campaign is attempting to lower motor accident fatalities by raising “maximum awareness through unease”. What exactly does this mean? Bleeding billboards.
  • After a Tumblr user speculated that most women “probably find catcalling flattering” (cause what’s more flattering than men feeling entitled to yelling shit at you on the streets?), the Tumblr How Many Women was born; if you want to see just how many ladies love the street harassment go there (spoiler: none of them do).
  • If you want to see some beautiful swan songs, look at Flavorwire’s “Famous Artists’ Last Works,” which starts off with Duchamp, Klimt, Van Gogh, and more. (Yay, paintings!)
  • Guy Maddin was recently given free rein to grab some DVDs and Blu-Rays at Criterion Collection headquarters. Watch the video here. I really want “BAG!” to become an Internet meme. On a related note, I realized that I am disturbingly similar to Guy Maddin.

In terms of search terms, we had some weird ones this past week. Someone asked the obvious question, “why did barbara stanwyck wear that ugly wig in double indemnity,” while someone else inquired incoherently, “which actrees expose there pusy during a flim souting, photo.” Another visitor was wondering “awkward with women is it because of porn”; that might be the case if you watch porn where “every woman in the room was systematically fucked.”

There was one question, though, that I can’t answer: “fucking to women during his pregnancy is safe or unsafe.” Because I don’t know what that means. Finally, we had some great, bizarre search terms, “video erotic beheading” (somebody likes Videodrome-style porn?) and of course, the inevitable “the digestive system theme song.” I wish I knew the tune to that.

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Perfectly Cromulent Analysis: Mr. Plow

Just in time for April, my “Perfectly Cromulent Analysis” series is back—in a new, bite-sized format! I’ve been looking for a way to keep writing about The Simpsons that’s a little less time-consuming than the more comprehensive essays, so I can do it with more regularity. Thus, I’ll be paring down my analysis and trying to focus more closely on the episodes’ satirical points and individual moments of comic genius. Since winter’s just now ending in the midwest, I’ve picked a snowbound classic from Season 4 to celebrate: “Mr. Plow.” (That’s the episode’s name. That name again is “Mr. Plow.”)

“Mr. Plow” follows a narrative arc that should be familiar to Simpsons fans: first, Homer tries to accomplish something so he’ll be respected by his family. He fails, here through the betrayal of his best friend. Finally, he achieves some modicum of redemption, though divine intervention guarantees that it’s no more than a modicum. It’s the typical sour-but-sweet satire of the American dream that the show is renowned for dishing up. “Mr. Plow,” though, is brought a cut above even The Simpsons’ high standards by its brilliant set-pieces, reversals, and character-based humor. For example, consider my favorite joke in the whole episode…

While visiting a big, flashy car show, Homer stops off at a booth to enter a “free car” contest. He fills out the  form and, while dropping it in the slot, asks the model, “Do you come with the car?” The model, voiced by Nancy Cartwright (aka Bart) offhandedly replies, “Ohh, you!” with a coy wave of her hand and a squeaky giggle. Homer leaves, and another man walks up, fills out the form, and asks the same question. She automatically responds in the exact same way. The whole joke takes about 11 seconds, it’s unobtrusively woven into the episode’s plot, but it’s still an incisive, self-contained critique of rampant institutionalized sexism.

I love how the show’s not afraid to mock its main character when he treats a woman like a sex object. (For a more in-depth exploration of this, see Season 1’s “Homer’s Night Out.”) Both he and the man who follow him think they’re so clever, like they’re the first visitors to this booth to crack that obvious joke. And of course the model can’t tell them off, because it’s her job to validate their delusions of wit and desirability. But in Cartwright’s performance, you can catch the slightest whiff of contempt, both in the ultra-calculated nature of her laugh and the mechanical way she repeats herself. It’s such a scathing, flawlessly executed indictment of male self-satisfaction.

Nothing else in the episode quite lives up to those 11 seconds, but there are still nuggets of genius deposited all over the place. Parts of “Mr. Plow” could function as a time capsule of global politics circa 1992: just look at “Crazy Vaclav,” the Slavic car salesman who tries to sell Homer a car made in a country that no longer exists (“Put it in H!”). Or the representative of the ethically suspect and ironically named “Fourth Reich Motors,” a model of post-Nazi German efficiency at any price. Both of these examples casually and hilariously postulate a world still struggling to figure itself out in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War.

Another one of the best jokes in “Mr. Plow” is rooted not in international politics, but in the inner workings of Homer’s mind. As he’s about to claim his insurance money for both of the family’s wrecked cars, the claims adjuster asks him to explain what “Moe’s” is. Internally, Homer panics and decides to lie. “But what else is open at night?” he ponders. Then, in extreme close-up, he answers while wearing the most blissful of smiles: “It’s a pornography store! I was buying pornography!” Dan Castellaneta’s delivery is so pitch-perfect that I can hardly think about that line without cracking up. The restrictive framing and the lack of a reaction shot from the (no doubt aghast) claims adjuster complete the moment, rendering it unforgettable.

So far, I’ve concentrated entirely on the episode’s first act. (That’s how substantive “Mr. Plow” is.) The rest of it is brimming with good jokes, mostly focused on Homer’s harebrained, initially successful scheme to make his snowplow pay for itself. But the best parts come after he encourages his perpetually drunk pal Barney to go out and make something of himself—and Barney instantly becomes an aggressive rival plowman. This conflict capitalizes on their ongoing, beer-soaked friendship, as Barney callously shoots out Homer’s tires, slanders him on TV (with the aid of Linda Ronstadt), beats a cardboard cut-out of him into oblivion, and steals his clientele, all under the guise of “healthy competition.”

It’s pretty astonishing that Barney gets away with all this, yet the episode never feels mean-spirited or unnecessarily vicious. I suspect it’s because Barney retains the same soused, happy-go-lucky personality throughout, burping and mumbling even when he’s hobnobbing with Ronstadt and mercilessly sabotaging his best friend. He still feels good (or maybe drunkenly innocent?) at heart even when his actions say otherwise, and he even gets a moment of wickedly funny pathos toward the end, as he remarks that at least dying will reunite him with dead family members “and that plant I never watered.” It’s impressive that the Simpsons writers created a character whose audience sympathies could withstand his borderline-sociopathic behavior in this episode.

I’ll close with another of my favorite jokes from this episode. (That is, aside from the sublime visual gag with the bridges.) It’s when Homer complains to Flanders, who’s just had his driveway plowed by Barney, “I thought I was your plowman!” Flanders pauses, then offers to let Homer plow his pristine driveway, but to a self-motivated go-getter like Homer, this is tantamount to an insult. He cries, “I don’t need your phony-baloney job!” before quickly adding, “I’ll take your money. But I’m not gonna plow your driveway!”

I just love the understanding of commerce that this exchange betrays: he’s willing to put on the facade of earning the money when need be, but ultimately it’s all about getting the money, especially since the job’s prestige has run dry. Flanders, naturally, is too gracious to ask for the money back. Considering all these bitter, bleak, and brutal jokes, it’s surprising that “Mr. Plow” still has time left for scenes of adorable lovemaking, advertising parodies, nail-biting suspense, and even an extended Adam West cameo that single-handedly outdoes his entire recurring role on Family Guy. But what else would you expect? This is prime Simpsons, so of course they turn a 20-minute cartoon about buying a snowplow into a work of art.

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Talkin’ Feminism with Men Folk: Real Life Conversation

This is an excerpt from an actual IM conversation that I had with a male who I am friends with. The conversation was all normal and whatnot until it took a hard left turn into Feministville. I would like it to be known that I am not posting this to be malicious towards male friend; I just think it’s a shining example of how ingrained sexism is in our culture. Behold:

Dood: she’s not very nice

Tired Feminist: I’m sorry that she’s not nice

Dood: eh..girls will be girls

(Cocks Spock-esque eyebrow; I smell danger already.)

Tired Feminist: In what way?

Dood: petty and conspiratorial and subtly vicious

(Ah, shit.)

Tired Feminist: I’m not like that and I have a vagina

Dood: that is true but you are a woman not a girl

(…There are so many ways my dood friend could have responded that would have been worlds less offensive than this. fucking. response.)

This is just the beginning; you can dive deep into a morass of fruitless argument, privilege denial, and mansplanation after the jump…

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Link Dump: #11

Between the post-Halloween blues and the imminent end of classes, I’ve been feeling a lot like our old pal Stimpy lately. If all goes well, I should return to blogging in the near future. In the meantime, I’ve assembled a pretty half-assed list of recommended readings and assorted linkage. Maybe this can help us all survive the deadening onslaught of early November.

  • Jenni Miller of Cinematical writes about whether we should drop the term “torture porn.”
  • This is very, very awesome. It’s a post entitled “My son is gay” from Nerdy Apple Bottom that’s been traveling all over the Internet. You should read it, if you haven’t already!
  • OK, it’s confirmed: George Takei is the most awesome surviving member of the original Star Trek cast. Watch him tell that virulently homophobic school board member, “You are a douchebag.” (To be fair, though, Leonard Nimoy is also awesome.)
  • Through the magic of Tumblr, we have “4 Reasons Hermaphrodite Is A Derogatory Word.” Seriously, everyone: it’s intersexed.
  • Can you believe Alain Delon is 75 years old? Well, he’ll always be that fresh-faced Tom Ripley or Jef Costello to me.
  • References to The Tempest plus a review of He Ran All the Way starring John Garfield? Count me in, Acidemic!
  • Here’s a bitingly clever but depressing comic about sexism on the Internet, from Gabby’s Playhouse.
  • I love Edgar G. Ulmer, so of course I love learning about his later obscure movies like The Cavern (1965). MUBI fills us in.
  • Oregon Trail + zombies = Organ Trail, aka “YES.”
  • Here’s an article about Twitter’s “#ihadanabortion” hashtag.

We haven’t had much activity recently in the realm of weird search terms; all I could turn up for the past week was the nastily anti-Semitic “jews are animals,” the icky and not really answerable “do grown ups materbate to barbie dolls,” and finally the delightfully baffling “crishmas pussie.” I want to imagine that “crishmas pussie” is an annual tradition in some distant, insular community. Merry Crishmas Pussie, everyone!

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