Tag Archives: media

Smurfette the Superhero

First of all, I loved the movie! The Avengers is delicious sci-fi candy for a dork like me. As always, Joss Whedon delivers.

I especially liked Scarlett Johansen’s character “Black Widow”. She is tough and smart and she saves the day just as often as her male counterparts. I walked out of the movie excited that they had included a female superhero in the line up – a very rare thing.

By the time I reached my car, I was annoyed at myself, for being so pathetically grateful to be represented at all. The sixth movie in this series and the first one with a female hero, well, one of six heroes anyway.

I had been explaining the “Smurfette Principle” to my daughters just last week. Essentially, it describes the tendency in media to assemble a cast of male characters with one token female, usually the love interest or sexy sidekick.

If outsiders were to look to Hollywood to understand our society, they would be unlikely to believe that women make up MORE than 50% of the population. That’s right men, we outnumber you. But a trip to the theatre does not reflect that.

I recently heard about something called the Bechdel test. In order to pass, a movie must have:

  • 2 female characters
  • with names
  • who speak to each other for at least 30 seconds
  • about something other than a man

Honestly, this is not asking much; half a minute of dialogue in an entire movie. Hardly the framework for a raging feminist flick. But the puny number of movies which actually pass this will BLOW YOUR MIND!

It doesn’t mean much in and of itself; it doesn’t measure whether it is a good movie, or even respectful of women. But it does make you think about the representation of women in media.

In movie world, it seems that women’s lives often revolve entirely around men. We exist only as the prize; the prop for smarter, more interesting and more important characters. You know, the men.

They say media reflects real life, but it also influences it. I fear that all of us, men and women, may come to believe that it is true.

That women play the bit parts in life. That we aren’t crucial to the plot. That we are merely decorative. That the size of our boobs (or our size, period) and not the strength of our intellect is what matters most. That how we look is more important than what we have to say.

I don’t think women need to butch it up and take over the “world of men”. More women playing soldiers and assassins and action heroes is missing the point. We shouldn’t need to act macho to be the protagonists for a change.

We are daughters, and sisters, and wives, and mothers. We are friends, and co-workers, and artists, and thinkers. We are interesting. We are smart. We are funny. We are not scenery. And our stories matter too.

So here’s me, and this is my feminist rant for the day. In case you were wondering, more than 50% of movies fail the Bechdel test.

What is the last movie you saw? Does it pass the test? The answer may surprise you.

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Friday Favourites 13

This week I’m passing on a few things I found through FaceBook. Which reminds me, Canada is now phasing out the penny (thanks for the scoop Eric). What did we do without FB?

FaceBook is a complicated issue. I love it. I hate it. I connect with my friends and family where I used to drift apart. It sucks away my time. It makes me laugh and inspires me. It reminds me of the quote below.

Quote

“One reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with other people’s highlight reel.” Grace Marshall

Blog

King David is one of my favourite bible characters. Not because of his great triumphs, but because he is so messy and brilliant and screwed up and REAL. I love writers who embody that earthy realness, yet inspire me to rise above it. Tamara Out Loud is one the best examples of this. I used to be jealous of this lady I’d never met, because my husband raved about her brilliant writing, insight and humour. Then I started reading myself and was hooked.

This may not be for everyone, so heed the advice on her “Be Warned” page:

“If any of the words in the following sentence  offend you,

consider turning back now:

This blog sometimes gets all Jesus-y and shit.”

YouTube Clip

I’m a sucker for a “don’t judge the book by its cover” story. It’s cliché. It’s been done. And it gets me every time.

Jonathan and Charlotte

TV Show

I wasn’t going to watch this. I mean, the movie was okay, but it didn’t really seem like a great set up for an ongoing show. But as I was sitting on the couch with my sexy roommate (aka hubby) I couldn’t help but overhear. And now I’m hooked. The ongoing plot is twist-y and complex, but each episode can stand alone. Do-gooder lawyer who goes above and beyond the system to make things right.

Eat your heart out Tom Cruise!

Book

My kindle broke on the final page of this book during our holiday. Game of Thrones has become a huge hit – the book, the graphic novel, the t.v. series… I talked to a few people who liked it. Knights and ladies, strange creatures and ancient kingdoms, plus there’s a map at the beginning. I love books that start with a map. I’m kind of a nerd that way.

It drew me in. It is well written and interesting, but brutal. If you are looking for something sweet and romantic, read something else. The characters here are complex and often disturbing. There are no good guys and bad guys, only bad and less bad; which makes the moments of nobility shine brighter.

The real downside – I uploaded all 4 books onto my kindle, so I’m left hanging. Grrrr.

So here’s me, with a blank kindle and a dead microwave. Technology, you’ve really let me down this week!


To iPod or Not To iPod

…that is the question!

Yesterday I came home to find my eldest offspring not only loading the dishwasher, but wiping the counters after cleaning the entire kitchen. She told me she was in there anyway doing her chores, so she might as well pitch in. There was hugging, possibly tears. I congratulated her on her consideration and responsible attitude. I congratulated myself on my kick-ass parenting skills.

Later that evening, she sat down primly and asked to speak with me. “I was hoping I could have some clarification on the iPod issue.” That is a direct quote. I have to give her props for waiting a while after the cleaning and for her oh-so-professional delivery. Also the repeated use of the word “responsible” in her subsequent speech.

In summary, “Can I get an iPod Touch please? I will save up my money and pay for it myself. I know you said you would discuss it with Dad, but it has been 13 hours since I last asked and a lot of things have changed since then. For instance, I am now very ‘considerate and responsible’ (this is my paraphrase). Please see the exhaustive list of reasons I have written on the blackboard explaining what a good idea this is.”

Can I please get an iPod Touch?

It is the only question that matters to our 9 and 11-year-old this week. Two of their best friends have them. Apparently so do “like, EVERYONE I know Mom.” Which I sincerely doubt – I know one family that doesn’t even have a home computer or *gasp* email. Technophobes aside, this is an issue for us already, no matter how much I want to pretend otherwise.

I think back fondly on the good old days when times were simpler. Community was face-to-face: “Gather round kinfolk, it’s time for ye old hymn sing.” And problems were straightforward. “Pa, them coons done et all our muffins agin. Git the shotgun!”

“Ma, Old Yeller’s done got bit by a rabid coon! NOOOOOOOO!”

Okay, so even pioneer days weren’t a fantasy of perfection. Life isn’t Little House on the Prairie, for which my husband is infintely grateful. Especially after an entire chapter about making candles and two on maple syrup.

I blame myself.

As I sit here writing my blog on my laptop, with my iPhone close at hand, I am keenly aware of why my children are geared toward technology. And I can’t blame them.

For those who do not have their very own walking catalogue of features to sing its praises, the iPod Touch is not a phone. It is everything else.

This weekend, they used their friends’ iPods to make an adorable movie (complete with soundtrack), take pictures, listen to christian music, play games (some educational, some silly), email a friend, and watch stupid animal movies on youtube.

Nothing evil, nothing scary – except for, maybe, the youtube videos. That talking dog is creepy.

We have a lot to discuss. Can net nanny be put on an iPod? Can we turn off the texting function? Or all internet? Are we ready for them to have their own e-mail address (with copies of everything sent to us)? How much screen time is too much? How closely should we moniter it? How long will it take them to save up the money? What if they start making talking dog videos?

Insert answer here.

I left space here for the thoughtful, balanced, wise answer. But I don’t have one. For now the answer is no, but I’m not completely against it. Perhaps I should let them know the cleaning helped?

We’ve talked to a number of other parents we respect and their advice ranges from:

“Yes, this is a reasonable purchase for your pre-teen. With the appropriate boundaries and monitering it can be a useful tool. Earning the money themselves will be a good experience. Plus, they will stop fighting over your iPhone (okay, that last part is from me).”

to

“Are you kidding me? Useful for training as obese couch potatoes and cyber bully fodder. Buy them a candle making kit instead. And the box set of Little House on the Prairie while you’re at it.”

And both sides sound reasonable to me. I’m not sure…

So here’s me, flummoxed.

What do you think? We respect every parent’s right to decide this for their own children, so use your nice words. Should children be allowed personal technology? What kind and at what ages?


The X Factor

It was the best of T.V. It was the worst of T.V.

Simon Cowell’s slick marketing has paid off in our house. Our family jumped right on the bandwagon last night – or at least pulled up a chair to watch the fallout. He’s a money-grubbing jerk and I really can’t stand him, so what am I doing here? What is the allure of reality T.V?

It appeals to our worst instincts….

You know, the one that taps on the brakes when you pass by an accident. The one that has you craning your neck to catch  a glimpse of the fashion faux-pas your children are snickering about. The one that perks up your ears when the couple in the booth behind you is having a heated argument. These are the instincts that make reality T.V. so appealing.

We’re amused when people play the fool. We enjoy a chance to heckle with impunity (or maybe that’s just me). And there is something interesting about seeing just HOW BAD it can get, whether it is dancing, singing, or contrived social situations.

In the grand tradition of She Bang there were many “What the WHAT?” contestants last night. The perennial question is: are these people actually trying or is it just a cheap ploy to get their 5 minutes of fame? For their sake, I hope it’s the latter. Although the shocked and outraged rants following can be rather convincing; perhaps a future in acting?

Note to parents: When watching reality T.V. with children in the room one must keep a finger on the fast forward button at all times. We have taught our kids to yell “BEEP” when something happens with which we disagree. This is a fine time for moral discussions and exploring our family’s stance on _________ (insert: sluttiness, profanity, grandstanding, arrogance, stupid hair cuts), and that’s just the judges.

Case in point: the low light of the night’s episode was a smarmy middle-aged hippy in velour pajamas singing his anthem “I’m a stud, not a dud” while stripping off said pjs. Even in fast forward this was horrifying. I’m slightly disturbed that his profession was listed as “internet blogger.” Are these my people now?

I’m not a complete idiot. My brother-in-law is a big cheese in this industry, so I know that reality shows are not entirely (or even mostly) real. Yet somehow I am willing to overlook the obnoxious shenanigans, shameless self promotion and forced emotion to find the happy ending.

It appeals to our best instincts…

It’s not all hip thrusts and screeching; there are also the highly cheesy but deeply satisfying “diamond in the rough” storylines too. Tonight is was the cute 13 year old who announced to the world that her family “has, like, no money” and then went on to sing like a seasoned pro. And the heavily tattooed garbage man fresh out of rehab trying to prove something to his young son, singing a touching if unfortunately named original song, “Young Homie”.

But the real tear jerker for me was single mom Stacy Francis. After years in an abusive relationship, she began to believe that she was not talented enough, not young enough, not good enough, quite simply not enough.  At 42 she stepped up and said, “I don’t want to die with this music in me.” She sang Natural Woman in front of thousands, if not millions of people, and blew us away. Whether fame and fortune follows or not, she gave the world a moment of pure brilliance.

Was it real? Does it matter? Despite the over the top theatrics, there is something uplifting about watching people succeed, even if it is only for a moment.

So here’s me, with one finger on fast forward and one eye open for the next Susan Boyle (or William Hung, whatever).


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