In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

A Simple Saturday Post: Leave Me Out of Your “Everyone,” Mr. Apatow.

I just wanted to quickly mention the trailer for the new Judd Apatow movie, “This is 40.”

Of course, we all know that Hollywood is guilty of all sorts of offenses all of the time, but it seems rare even today to find one that is quite so up front with its surface-level exclusion. The tagline at the end of the trailer reads: “This is not just their story. This is everyone’s story.”

Please, watch, if you’re so inclined:

(Trigger warnings regarding this trailer: man on a toilet, Megan Fox in underwear, humor about spousal death, anti-aging, inherent anti-lotsa-stuff…)

The trouble, of course, is with the assumption that “everyone” will see some aspect of themselves in this story… a story which appears to be about a wildly wealthy (do you KNOW how much a house like that costs in LA?), white, American-born, middle-aged, thin, conventionally attractive, cissexual, child-rearing, married couple. I’m going to give Mr. Apatow and his corporate marketeers the benefit of the doubt and assume they know not “everyone” will conform to all of those attributes at once, and are trying to make a more general point about the basic similarity of human experience, but even I—a white, cissexual, American-born woman raising a daughter—feel thoroughly alienated and offended by this at just a core level. My heart and stomach clench to wonder how other “everyones” must feel when watching this trailer and getting smacked by that tagline.

It’s obviously impossible to cast aspersions on Mr. Apatow’s film itself– at least until the movie premieres, this will remain a marketing problem– but he is a hugely powerful filmmaker in this town, and I believe it’s fair to say that the tagline came down to him. It represents at the very least a myopic and embarrassing perspective on the world. At worst, it suggests that those with the most privilege in this country are unwilling to even bother extending an invitation to see their new movie to those that aren’t adequately “like them.”

And frankly, in order to chalk up a box office success, they will presumably need more than middle-aged rich white people (traditionally not the most movie-friendly audience out there) to go see their film… So couldn’t they have come up with a slightly less exclusionary pitch?? (I’m kind of seriously asking this, and also leaving the comments section wide open here for complaints, suggestions and heavy-duty snark.)

I am very lenient about humor, and I know what Judd Apatow’s movies are like. Some of his stuff has made me laugh, some has made me cringe, some has made me cringe through laughter or laugh through cringing. In addition, I believe he has every right to tell this story—clearly a personal one—if he chooses to do so. But if his marketing is going to display a level of ignorance this enormous, and work to exclude us so egregiously, then “everyone” can certainly choose not to see it.

On Simone Weil

In 2004, I read this line: “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” It so intrigued me that I decided to learn more about the woman who wrote it. Her name was Simone Weil and she was a French philosopher, activist, and mystic, from the 1930s. I was amazed by what I discovered.

Okay, seriously.

Come on, Peter Jackson. You’re the guy who condensed a thousand-plus-page epic into three briskly-paced films, and now you’re stretching The freakin’ HOBBIT into three movies?

Blahblah Erebor blahblah Dol Guldur blahblah Necromancer.

Dude. The Hobbit is a simple story, a kids’ story, really. Three hundred pages. If you want complex, make a film of The Silmarilion.

There better be a fuckload of Smokin’ Hot Thorin Oakenshield in these films, is what I’m sayin’.

In defense of the Black Widow

After the underutilization and literal objectification (Tony Stark: “I want one”) of the Black Widow in Iron Man 2, I was looking forward to seeing what would happen with her character in The Avengers under the directorial lens of Joss Whedon. I was not disappointed. Twice (once in IMAX). What did disappoint me? The same things that pissed off Fempop’s Kickpuncher, who found that no amount of badassery on the part of the Black Widow could direct men’s attention away from her (minimal) cleavage.

The Hunger Games is not a love triangle (and why that matters)

(And then I promise I’ll let the whole thing go [probably (probably not)].)

A lot of reports accompanying the release of The Hunger Games (movie) have made reference to a “love triangle” between Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. And I get what they’re trying to do there: The top-grossing YA movies of late have involved at least some kind of three-sided romantic entanglement. But The Hunger Games isn’t a love triangle–not by the traditional definition, at least. And identifying the book as such and pushing the movie to serve as such does both the book and the fans a disservice, and that makes me sad.

Note: This post is bustin’ with SPOILERS for the book, although not so much for the movie (except to the extent that it’s, y’know, based on the book).

Best Films About Female Friendship

Last week I went to a screening of This Is My Life with Feministe friend Nona Willis Aronowitz. It was just lovely, and got me thinking about other films that center female friendship and relationships. My personal favorites: Steel Magnolias; Clueless; Now and Then; Romy and Michelle and Thelma and Louise (duh). But what am I missing? And why do all of these female friendship movies have reputations as mindless chick-flicks, while dude-friend movies are either universally hilarious or Oscar-worthy? Mysterious.

Hunger Games: What do you mean, the black girl was black?

After The Hunger Games was released in the U.S. on Friday, “fans” who hadn’t seen a lot of advance materials got the shock of their lives to see a black character depicted by a black actress. Rue, played by the adorable Amandla Sternberg, was described as having “dark brown skin and eyes”–thus the ruination of the film at the hands of a dark-skinned, dark-eyed actress. And where else would enraged moviegoers turn but Twitter?