Tuesday, August 17, 2010


So, I've been having a nice conversation in the comments on the last post. And I keep meaning to write something more about ladies in movies, but maybe I won't get around to it. Maybe I'll just post this awesome vid about the Bechdel Test and leave it at that . . .

I also keep meaning to do a giant catchup post with links about my weird new blog and my summer program and pictures of me wearing silly costumes and acting with two different types of produce -- as Evan says, one more makes a triptych! That will come, soon.

For now, though, I'll just say that I've been making a conscious effort to pursue a more sustainable way of earning a living while pushing myself to get my novel in shape to send out, and the coolest things keep happening.

They are little things . . . unexpected gigs, fortuitous conversations, but they add up to make me feel like I'm being supported in my efforts, like the universe is saying, "Oh, you're trying? Well, let me help you out." That doesn't always happen when we try, I know, so I feel lucky, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the support continues.

Some of that support has come from family and friends, so thank you! And let it be known that I am "gigging" as the rockstars say and looking for flexible work that pays well by the hour. Dirty jokes need not apply.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thank you for calling me out

Last night, I went to see Salt, a super fun action movie about Angelina Jolie kicking butt. And my friend pointed out that one of the coolest things about it is that she doesn't show any skin -- less than a male action hero would usually show. For a lot of the movie, she looks completely androgynous, and not in a sexy way. (Can't find any screen shots of her dressed that way to support my point -- no big surprise.)

The only time she shows her body is when she's covered in blood and being tortured, which is shot mostly at a distance and in low light -- it makes her vulnerable, and it's disturbing as it should be. There's no sense of the camera fetishizing her body -- contrast that with Daniel Craig's naked torture scene in his first Bond movie.

Then there's all this talk about how the role was originally written for a man, and kudos to Jolie for scooping up a script she liked. But when the guy next to me in the theater turned to his girlfriend and told her that fact, there was this glee in his voice, a kind of marvel . . . he was excited to be at an action movie starring a hot woman AND he got the added bonus of knowing that the story was fit for a man.


And then, upon leaving the theater, my friend and I are joking about how empowered we feel and how we're going to use all our new spy moves to beat up guys, and we see this giant ad for Eat, Pray, Love, and I've never read the book, but my immediate reaction is contempt. My friend called me out. She'd had the same knee-jerk contemptuous reaction, and someone showed her Melissa Silverstein's post on Women and Hollywood with the same title as Entertainment Weekly's interview with Elizabeth Gilbert: If Women Like It, It Must Be Stupid.

And I felt mad with myself -- not for failing to be excited about that movie. That movie's not made for me and my friend. Neither one of us is going to get super excited about a rich lady's spiritual holiday starring Julia Roberts -- although I've got friends who love that book, and I should maybe read it and see why.

I felt mad with myself because I had that built-in reaction that because this movie's popular with women, it deserves my contempt -- that it deserves it more than a similarly pop-hit movie starring oh-how-bout Hugh Grant? About a Boy is the story of a rich man on a journey of self-discovery. That book is loved by both men and women and is not hyper-literary, but there's not really a male equivalent to "chick lit," is there? And so it's popular fiction.

So where does this contempt come from? There's the widespread contempt for stories that fall into the "chick" category. But part of my contempt comes from something else that Silverstein's blog post touches on . . . for a movie about a woman to get made, it needs the built-in audience of an Eat, Pray, Love and a Julia Roberts. And so, part of my contempt comes from the fact that I don't see myself in the story of this woman, and yet, this is one of the few stories about women offered. I'm mad at it because it has to represent all women, and that's not a fair burden to place on any movie.

Two of my favorite movies are Garden State and Rushmore. I'd like to see more small, quirky movies starring women, and I don't doubt the stories are out there, but it's even harder for them to get made, and when they do get made they're almost always deemed "chick flicks." The lady characters in the man-movies aren't enough. I do like Olivia Williams' character in Rushmore -- she has some complexity and a larger share in the story than a lot of love objects get, but I don't love her or get her point of view the way I do with the guys. The teen girl in Rushmore has it all figured out, and Natalie Portman's just a manic pixie dream girl.

I have friends who fell all over themselves for 500 Days of Summer, and that one just makes me so angry. Zooey Deschanel's character is a mess. She works as an assistant in this retro-styled company in a much crappier job than what's-his-face's and yet, she gets to be the guiding light who tells him to follow his purpose? Her purpose is apparently getting married to someone hotter than him, making origami, and wearing lots of Anthropologie.

I'm not sure what the answer is -- it's not rushing out to see Eat, Pray, Love. And it's not forcing boyfriends to sit through it as the end of Silverstein's post seems to suggest -- yes, as one of my male friends pointed out, she gets a little ranty.

Recognizing and fighting the bias though, I think that is part of the answer. So, thank you, my friend, for calling me out on mine. I will try to pass it along.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It's been too long

I know.

There are things to share. I'll share them when it's not so late.

But the only thing on my mind tonight is that I just gave my apartment a deep cleaning. The hands are raw, the back is tired, and I feel pretty great about it. It's good to take care of my space, and myself, and all those good things. I should do more of that.