FanX SLC on Gender Double Standards in Comics

This weekend I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours traversing the geekily decked out halls of the Salt Palace for FanX. There is nothing quite as wonderful as getting on the trax and seeing Princess Peach a mere few seats away. And it’s even better when a kid who seemed positively enchanted by this princess character ends up in conversation with Princess Peach.

Overall, my experience at FanX was absolutely fantastic. I’m still fairly new to the full embrace of nerd culture that pervades at FanX and Comic Con, and the last few times I’ve wandered the halls, it’s been with a sense of overwhelming anxiety at how many people are there and how many things and I can’t even process everything at once.

But this time I was actually able to breathe, deal with the crowds, and I even got to check out a few panels: a new achievement in my geekdom!

The panel I was most excited about (to the surprise of no one, I hope): Gender in Comics: Is There a Double Standard?

I am relatively new to the comic book world. The increasing internet conversations about Wonder Woman and Black Widow have had me wanting to get into a medium previously untapped by me, and let me tell you: the spiral has started. From web comic turned book The Adventures of Superhero Girl to Toe Tag Riot to Secret Six….I can’t stop. The conversations about comics and the representation of women in comics have been around me even before I really dove into the books, and now that I’m starting to read and immerse myself in the culture of comics, the gender disparity is obvious.

In seeing that this panel would happen, I built up my expectations. What I was hoping for was a conversation with data, with historical context, with thought as well as passion, and maybe a little advice on continuing the trend toward change in the industry.

What I actually got was unfocused conversation, with a dude who was overly happy to play devil’s advocate, with audience members who came prepared with their thoughts ready to throw at the panel right as the actual discussion started, throwing the panel completely off guard.

Okay. Let me back up. So to catch you up: The panelists included professional SLC Geeks Rebecca Frost and  Danielle  Über Alles–both can be found discussing pop culture and comics on the Hello, Sweetie! Podcast. The panel also included JM Bell, host of SLC’s The Left Show, which covers science, politics, culture, and much more. The moderator of the group was Rich Bonaduce, the VP of the Utah Film Critics Association.

As soon as Frost and  Über Alles introduced themselves and the moderator tried to get things started (he decided the first thing to do was show a slide with the definition of double standard and read it to the audience. Because cliches work?) two ladies in the audience tried throwing their own questions at the panel. They’d come in early and immediately went straight for the front row. Their questions, while interesting for an open circle conversation, derailed both Frost and  Über Alles, and initially they did their best to respond, and finally–after Bell’s late arrival–were able to open the conversation to other questions.

Unfortunately, the tone was set. The panel itself had interesting points, but seemed to focus only on the art for most of the time given. Which while worth noting, only hints at part of the problem when we’re talking about double standards. It’s not JUST how s/he’s drawn, it’s how they are represented overall. Especially when comics are just one of the facets of the double standard of representation of women across media. And the moderator seemed to want to hammer into the audience the idea of “LOOK! Dudes are drawn unrealistically too!” Throughout the panel he kept changing the images on the slide show to fit the unrealistic drawings, which while interesting at first, eventually became distracting.

The good things that came out of the panel: This issue isn’t done being fought. More and more people are getting into comics and more people have the option of buying the stories that they love. So buy the comics by artists/writers you enjoy. Buy the comics with artists/writers/teams who are well known to show women and trans* characters realistically. Don’t waste your money on teams that have been known to draw/write sexist/racist story lines.

Even if you don’t read the comics by writers/artists you’re supporting and they end up living on your shelves collecting dust: at least you’re supporting these stories. And in an industry driven by profit, like any other, that MATTERS. If you can’t afford new comic books (because buying serial comics adds up. I am beginning to see that myself. eep), that’s not the end of the story. Borrow them from friends. Talk ’em up to your fellow nerds. Encourage people to buy more copies. And use your social media to talk about what you’re loving. More and more we have the ability to call out artists/writers and creative teams in comics when they do something wrong. Twitter allows us to get closer than ever to the source of publication. (Always try to be respectful when possible. RAGE for rage’s sake will accomplish little unless backed up by a lot of other similar rage-fueled consumers. Respect may not win over a publisher, but you could easily win supporters in your line of thinking who’ll continue to call out the publisher and build up that momentum.) The industry has the potential to change partially because we have the ability to help direct it in that way.

Additionally, the panel has convinced me that a thought I’d been considering for a while is something I want to make happen. Officially. Comics are awesome. And this conversation is incredibly important. So, Salt Lake City and surrounding neighborhoods. The time is now. Let’s create a feminist comic book group, where our monthly meetings will include conversations about current comics, as well as focused discussions on a monthly comic choice! This way we can keep the comic love and feminist discourse going so we’ll be prepped in September when Comic Con SLC rolls back around.

Questions? Wanna get involved? Find me on twitter or email me at rebelgrrrl.theblog @gmail.com

Final note: Check out Hello, Sweetie podcast and the Left Show, because they are worth supporting. And as unfocused as the conversation was this time around, they each had good reason to be there and are doing great things for the geek community in Salt Lake and beyond.

Final, Final Note (I promise!) Definitely look forward to more comic book related posts here. I’m enjoying them far too much for me not to start writing about them!

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This is What a Feminist Looks Like

A little while ago, a horrible anti-feminist/fat-shaming meme started going around the Internet. If you’ve been online since it started circulating, you’ve probably seen it. The photo–if there had been no text added to it–is a great picture. It’s inspirational. It’s a plus-sized woman facing the camera and proudly holding a  paper that says “This is what a feminist looks like”.

I have similar pictures, of me proudly wearing my This is What a Feminist Looks Like t-shirt. For example: this one, taken when I hosted an amazing event that featured the strong community of women poets and musicians within the Salt Lake community.

Photo by Shauna Brock
Photo by Shauna Brock

Back to the meme.

What on its own is a wonderful picture that speaks volumes of feminist pride and exudes confidence was stolen and the message of power was taken away by a malicious caption:  “That’s pretty much what I expected.”

When I discovered the picture, I found myself unexpectedly crushed by the implication that somehow I, as a plus-sized woman and a feminist myself, was somehow less human. Suddenly I was just as easily worth ridicule and disgust. And it wasn’t just the person (or people) who found the image and added the horrific captioning who shocked me–it was the too-many-to-count commenters who were agreeing with the idea, and carrying on the anti-feminist/fat-shaming/anti-human campaign.

I claim to have little faith in humanity among my group of friends. They hear me day after day complaining about the stupidity of people, it’s a thing that I have been doing for a long time, and it’s second nature really. But honestly, under all the bark, I don’t believe it. I generally feel that people are good, that people are capable of amazing, wonderful things. But then something like this happens. And suddenly, my faith in humanity is actually shaken to its very core. The kind of people who insulted this woman are loathsome, vile creatures. And I find it hard to believe that someone could be so very hurtful, and damaging. But it happened.

Then today, I found something wonderful.

Turns out that the stolen picture is actually of a wonderfully badass feminist activist named Kelly Martin Broderick. And she wrote an amazing post about how horrified she was to discover the picture had been stolen and used as it was. But she didn’t stop at horrified. She fought it as best as she could, trying to get the picture removed from facebook since it had been stolen, but to no avail. But that did not stop her from speaking up and speaking out.

Kelly Martin Broderick: You are absolutely my hero.

I can’t tell you how much your voice made a difference to me today. It takes extreme courage to stand up when people are attacking in droves, powered by the fuel of the internet.

I am inspired by your strength, and grateful that you were able to rise above the awfulness of the Internet-gone-bad and make your statement. Despite the awful behavior of the people behind this meme, something great came out of this. Broderick proved that strength is possible in circumstances beyond one’s own control. That even when things are not working towards our favor, we can turn the tide and remind people that our greatest strength is in fact the power of our voice, and our ability to stand strong—and not take other people’s bullshit. If the people behind the meme can use the powers of the internet for harmful purposes, we can use the internet for good. To remind those that found the meme and grew as disheartened as I did upon first seeing it that the world is not all chaos and awful.

I am so fucking grateful for Broderick’s strength, because it’s reminded me that I too am powerful. And we feminists are everywhere. And taking this kind of bullshit is simply unacceptable. Hatred, mean-spiritedness, and spite will get you nowhere. If you want to be happy, if you want to make a difference in the world, you move past those things. You remember that everyone is human, that everyone has feelings and that EVERYONE REGARDLESS OF DIFFERENCE deserves a chance to be happy and live their lives.

If you haven’t already read Broderick’s piece on xojane, you should definitely go do that. Also, contribute to the tumblr page she set up, We Are What Feminists Look Like. As she explains in the piece on xojane:

The biggest miss the creator of my meme made was not realizing the point of the This is What a Feminist Looks Like campaigns; the point is to draw attention to the fact that feminists are not all the same. We are all different.  

So in response, I am starting a tumblr, We Are What Feminists Look Like. A few friends have already submitted pictures and I hope many more of you folks will submit pictures or thoughts. This experience has taught me that while one cruel person can ruin my morning, I have an entire community of friends, family, and feminists to back me up.  

Zine-fabulous

After a few years of admiring zines and the D.I.Y. ethic behind them-I’ve finally contributed. I feel accomplished. And I think I may have one more fling with the zine-making before the end of the month. More on that later.

Since I did what I do best and wrote about gender/music/riot grrrl, I’ll post a video to whet your appetite for the zine which will be available at the Pride Center (361 N 300 W, SLC) on Saturday the 27th. Note that my contribution is only one small part of the whole thing. The whole zine will be beautiful. A sum of many parts. A written record of many voices come together in the creation of a self-made zine. Artwork. Poetry. Words.

If you can be there on the 27th–do so. I’m thinking it will be a night of pure magic.

Reading Outside the Lines: Ballads of Suburbia

Deciding to read Ballads of Suburbia was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made in a while. I’ve read I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert and absolutely adored it. So when I saw that Ballads… was out, I got it and proceeded to devour it.

Overall, Ballads of Suburbia was a fine follow-up by Kuehnert. It was edgy, full of colorful characters, and had the story missing from my own high school experience. It was almost like I was a voyeur, seeing into a world so far from my own yet central to the experiences of others. Stephanie Kuehnert is absolutely one of my favorite new authors, as she brings so much to the table. In addition to bringing her own experience and excellent storytelling, she brings the passion of music, especially the vibrancy of punk rock. Her themes are the literary equivalent to the teen punk bands starting in a garage near you (only better, as her craft is much more developed.) Learn more about her writing process, how she uses music to write and the inside scoop to the music that inspired Ballads of Suburbia here.

Many reviews you’ll see will have comments questioning the book’s validity as a YA novel. Those reviews will say something along the lines of there being too much drug use, pre-marital sex, and self-injury. These elements, those reviewers will claim, should not be introduced to younger minds, as they may end up following the example in the book.

Anyone who’s actually read the book knows that all of these are deftly handled in Kuehnert’s hands. As a writer, Kuehnert has a wonderful ability to really slip into the voice of her main character, Kara, and make her come alive. The book follows Kara’s high school years while living in the suburbs of Chicago. Instead of living in a suburbia filled with high school sports and homework and college ambition, Kara goes from being a loner to being part of the crowd of Oak Park’s misfit collective. Weekends are spent drinking and getting high.

While drugs are central to the narrative, it is the relationships that keep the book afloat. While Kara’s actual family is falling apart, she finds her family in her friends that frequent Scoville Park. And like they do in real life, the relationships continue to be dynamic, not static.

The book itself is not a straight chronological narrative. While it is mostly from Kara’s perspective, it is broken up by the “ballads” of her friends, each written in first person from the respective character’s point of view. While these sections add some backstory to the supporting cast of characters, the first person narrative feels a little too much like the author telling us their story. The narrative in these ballads isn’t nearly as well developed, which is understandable, as these characters aren’t the Main Character. This is the only real issue I have with the book.

To me the relationships felt real, the characters were authentic and multi-faceted. The drug users weren’t just druggies, they were people, they were troubled, they had problems and stories and you felt their pain and as a reader want nothing more than to see them work it out. The main (human) antagonist of the book, Christian, is a stronger antagonist because of the realness of the characters. When you meet Christian he’s sweet, a good guy, an ideal boyfriend. But the dark side comes out and makes him that much more terrifying (and thank goodness, that dark side doesn’t include fangs or fur).

The book was poignant and acts as a great reminder of what family (both the related kind and the chosen kind) means. This book isn’t an easy read, by any means, but it’s worth it.

To parents afraid their children will read this book: get over it. Drug use is not glorified. The cutting is not glorified. And telling a high school kid that he/she can’t read it is not only ridiculous, it’s dangerous. If your high school student gets straight A’s and has a lot of after-school activities such as sports, social clubs, honor societies, reading this book won’t do a hint of damage. If I were to read this book as a teenager, the reaction I would have would be this: Drugs are bad. They mess things up. People lose sight of themselves and the world around them. And that is absolutely not cool. Not something a teenage me would find appealing at all. I’ve got a sister in high school, and if Ballads of Suburbia were mine (instead of a library book), I would absolutely pass it on to her. She’s a smart kid. And I would never insult her intelligence by holding a book like this from her with the excuse that she’s not old enough and I need to protect her. By “protecting” children from themes like this, all we are doing is hiding the reality and making them less able to respond in smart ways. Drugs are the forbidden fruit, but knowledge is power, and with knowledge, kids will learn quickly to say “no”.

Whip It–more than a “Lesbian Fantasy, Disguised.”

Reasons “Whip It” is a fantastic movie:Whip-It-Poster

  1. It shows a believable coming of age story of a girl who goes from being lost to having a backbone
  2. It features a strong cast of women and is very women-centric in production–for goodness sakes, it was directed by Drew Barrymore!
  3. It features one of the best underground sports–ROLLER DERBY–which is defined by its strong women.
  4. It shows one of the healthiest relationships I’ve seen in a movie, ever. “Healthy” defined as “Not Obsessive.

Imagine my disappointment when I find one of my favorite pop-culture websites–After Ellen–happily embracing it as nothing more than what Jeremy Clymen of Psychology Today calls a “Lesbian Fantasy, Disguised.”

Where do I even begin with such an inherently flawed idea? Let’s start at the beginning. Clymen writes:

“This film purports to be the story of a small town adolescent who rebels and finds her genuine identity as roller derby star athlete. But I think this film is also a secret communication to closeted lesbians living in hostile places in which the closet is the only safe place to be. Let’s back up before we get into conspiracy theories. “Whip It” is directed by a female (Barrymore), its protagonist is female (Page), and the story is about a girl who becomes a woman in a female dominated world. There isn’t a serious male character to be seen.”

Really? The reason you’re seeing a lesbian undercurrent is because OMG! the film is directed by a female? The protaganist is female? The setting is dominated by women? All of these equate “Lesbian” for you? Really?

He almost has a point with the lack of serious male character–almost. A quick look at the film and you’ll see most of the guy characters as lacking a lot of those “masculine” qualities. But a further look at “Whip It” as a film type, and you’ll see a lot of women characters who are on equal footing. Have you seen Drew Barrymore’s character? Don’t tell me you take her seriously. And also, it’s funny how easily he puts off the male characters. Razor (played by Andrew Wilson), the coach of the Hurl Scouts, starts off as your average surf dude who doesn’t seem all that impressive, but he ended up as one of my favorite characters. He was smart. He knew how to design plays so the Hurl Scouts could go from the bottom of the barrel to a top notch roller derby team. Way to go Clymen, way to pass superficial judgement. Let’s not forget the hot indie rocker Oliver (played by Landon Pigg). If you’re looking for a serious male character, he is one of the few. His role was honest and not just played for comic relief.

Next point of interest that Clymen makes:

” A couple points here:  A. “Whip It” is about roller blading, which this movie defines as a group of half-drunk women, in tight athletic gear and rollerblades muscling each other for inside positioning, as a few key teammates weave in and out of the pack. Those that have finesse are chased by those that have strength, somewhat akin to the cat and mouse pursuit of a top and bottom sexual power dynamic (there’s a reason the standard sexual position is missionary). In short, this game is a metaphor for sex.

B. The protagonist, Bliss (Page), behaves in the way that a lesbian might behave before she knows she’s a lesbian. We meet her just as she’s playfully dying her hair blue for a beauty pageant. Her inexplicably love for roller derby is incited by the image of three women pushing each other on rollerblades. She dumps her boyfriend with suspicious ease and celerity. She’s an adolescent who likes to be different, is experimental and puts a boyfriend second to roller derby.”

Point A of Clymen’s theory has absolutely no basis. Clearly he’s unfamiliar with Roller Derby except as a fictional sport portrayed by the film.

So, let’s start with point B. Since when does a girl “playfully dying her hair blue” equal “lesbian”? Answer: It doesn’t. A girl’s hair color is simply that: hair color. It is not a signifier of sexual orientation.

Clymen says that Bliss’s love for roller derby is incited by three women pushing each other on roller blades. What Bliss (as played by Ellen Page) saw was women who didn’t fit into the social standard as she knew it–the social standard being pretty women who were pageant winners and socially acceptable in the school highways. What she saw were women who were like herself–who didn’t fit into that social standard–but were happy and didn’t CARE that they didn’t fit into society’s standards. What she saw was nothing more than women being themselves with no fear of repercussion.

When Bliss goes to her first roller derby, she tells one of the Derby women that they were her new heroes. The response: Be your own hero.Page Victorious

This line is the most important line of the film, and as cliche as it might be, it means the world to a girl who is shy, stuck in a place she doesn’t feel she belongs, and is trying to figure out who she really is. This line may seem simple, but it’s not. As a woman who has been softspoken most of my life and am only now learning to really speak up and make my opinion heard, I’m still trying to apply this mantra of “be your own hero” to my own life. The reason this movie is so wonderful and so necessary is that it’s about a girl learning to take her own strength into her own hands. It’s about a girl learning to live by her own means. And it’s about giving that girl the opportunity to.

And god forbid, in Clymen’s world, that a girl find what she wants to do to the point that her passion for that thing exceeds the point of her relationship status. God Forbid a woman fall so in love with something like the roller derby that she can’t hold onto a relationship. GOD FORBID that she should be able to break up with her boyfriend and NOT be traumatized. Clymen says that Bliss’s break-up is done with “suspicious ease”. Did he miss the parts where Bliss fell apart because she was so upset that he would cheat on her and let some other girl wear her favorite T-Shirt? Is he so dense that he doesn’t understand how important the roller derby became to her? Did he miss the fact that being part of the Hurl Scouts provided Bliss with a sense of belonging, a sense of family and a sense of identity? Clearly he did. Or maybe he’s right. Maybe the only reason she was able to break up with Oliver and move on was that she’s actually a lesbian.

COME ON, people. Grow up. And appreciate this film for what it is: an ode to female empowerment. A much needed film giving voices to girls who’ve been silenced by the hierarchy of high school and family expectations. A film that celebrates that women have passions outside of relationships and outside of shopping.

Thank you, Drew Barrymore, for directing this movie. Thank you, Shauna Cross, for originally penning this story. Thank you for showing that women can be strong and vocal individuals. Thank you for thinking outside the box, even though some people are still missing the point.

Katy Perry-The Postergirl for GLBTIQ Music?

It’s official. Out is completely o-u-t of touch with the LGBTIQ community at large.

Out magazine’s Hot 100 issue features Katy Perry on the cover. And, as a blogger at AfterElton.com says: “It begs the question, ‘What the hell is Katy Perry doing on there?’”

The question is a good one. Perry is a straight performer with a Christian background who really only pretends to go bad on her album, dubiously named One of the Boys. Tracks such as “I Kissed a Girl”, “One of the Boys”, “ur so gay” and “Mannequin” prove that Katy Perry is as heteronormative and homophobic as the Catholic Pope. Only Perry’s a mainstream phenomenon with chart topping hits. That makes her especially dangerous.Katy the Covergirl

So let’s explore the music of Katy Perry a little deeper and find out why, exactly, Out’s choice of Perry as Musician of the Year is like stabbing oneself in the foot.

 

The Music of Katy Perry

If you identify as a feminist or happen to have any feminist beliefs at all, listening—I mean really listening—to Katy Perry’s One of the Boys album will make you feel like you’ve willingly submitted yourself to be tortured. The album is basically the conservative right with a new image. That of the ‘good girl gone bad…but not really’ image. If you don’t believe me…well, let’s go through a few of the album’s tracks.

Take for example the title track, “One of the Boys”. As the very first track on the CD, it makes you wonder if you really want to listen to the rest of the album. (You don’t. believe me.) The opening lines are “I saw a spider I didn’t scream/cuz I can belch the alphabet, just double dog dare me/I chose the guitar over ballet/and I take these suckers down because they just get in my way.”

First of all—how in the world does belching the alphabet help you not scream when you see a spider? Do you mean that by doing that I’ll never scream when I see a spider? And are you stuck in the 70s, Katy? The guitar is more of an equal-opportunity instrument now, it’s really not a “boy” thing. The rest of the song continues in that vein as Perry paints boys as nasty smelling creatures who just wanna make out with girls while the girls are pearly princesses who like reading 17 and shaving their legs so they can make the boys stand in line if they want to date her. Thanks, Katy. We really appreciate all the work you’re doing by putting us boys and girls back into our positions. I’ll go buy my issue of Cosmo now, since I’m a few years too old for 17.

The next track was Katy Perry’s long-lasting chart hit, “I Kissed a Girl.” If you’re still listening to the album, you may want to stop now. It only gets worse from here. This song is a straight guy’s fantasy more than anything else. It’s the musical equivalent of two girls making out with each other so a bouncer can get his kicks and allow them to get in for free. It’s cheap. Easy. And insulting, degrading, and shallow. But that beat is hard to forget once you’ve heard it. And that what makes Katy Perry more dangerous than most neo-conservative fanatics. You can tune them out easily. But trying to tune Katy Perry out… it can be difficult.

Throughout the song Perry assures listeners that she’s straight with the line “I hope my boyfriend won’t mind.” She also assures listeners that while she may be ‘experimenting’, it’s definitely not a serious affair. That girl she’s making out with, the one with the yummy cherry chapstick? Oh, don’t worry. She’s going to be nameless. She was just a pawn in Katy’s game to make herself seem like more of a ‘bad girl’ for her boyfriend. As she sings, “this isn’t what good girls do.”

After that, we have a semblance of a break. “Waking up in Vegas” kills the insults thrown by the earlier songs, as does the not-very-memorable song “Thinking of You.” But thBecause she's so innocent...really.en we have a song Out would have done well to know about before they made Perry Musician of the Year. “Mannequin” is the ultimate in boxed gender/male bashing songs. If Perry identified as a feminist, she would be the kind that Nellie Furtado was referring to. (by the way, if you’re still listening to this album, I’m done warning you. Have fun in your musical torture chamber.)

The second and third verses of “Mannequin” says everything you need to know about the singer’s view of mankind. And then some.  

“[I’m] Usually the queen
At figuring out

Breaking down the man
Is no workout

But I have no clue
How to get through to you
I wanna hit you
Just to see if you cry

Keep knockin on wood
Hopin’ there’s
A real boy inside”

 

 Is this not a warning signal? If this was written and sung by a guy, (“[I’m] usually the king at figuring out/breaking down the woman is no workout”), we’d see a lot of character examination of the artist. But then it helps that “Mannequin” isn’t a hit single. But that’s not the end of the story. One of the Boys hit gold status, meaning the album has sold more than 500,000 copies. The album. Not single tracks.

That means there are thousands of people out there who took the CD home and listened to it and love songs like “Mannequin” because of its great beat. Isn’t it great how a good beat takes precedence over message?

But, I digress. After saying how much she’d like to hit the boy she’s with, Perry continues to say how, because he’s not a real man (he’s just a mannequin), he can’t recognize the fact that her love is real. Oh, and if only he’d let her in and be a “Real Man” she’d fix him. Wow, Katy. I can only hope that these lyrics were vomited up and don’t apply to your real relationships. Because if that’s the case, you need to reexamine what a relationship actually is.

Just sayin’.

South Of Nowhere=More Real than Katy Perry
South Of Nowhere=More Real than Katy Perry

Right after “Mannequin” we have the last very-insulting song and Katy’s first big hit. “Ur So Gay.” Bad spelling aside, this is just a bad song. Where networks like the N (Nickelodeon’s teen network that airs shows like Degrassi and South of Nowhere” are trying to fight back on the usage of the word “gay” as synonymous with “stupid”, Katy uses the word unabashedly to insult her ex-boyfriend.

 

“I hope you hang yourself with your H+M scarf,” she says.

“You don’t eat meat and drive electrical cars,” she says.

“I can’t believe I fell in love with someone who wears more make up [than me],” she says.

“You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys,” she says.

At this point it becomes necessary to take a very deep breath and try to remember the one good line of this song: “You’re so sad, maybe you should buy a happy meal.” That’s a funny line. The one good thing about this song.

The rest….well, let’s take a look. Perry starts the song off by saying “I hope you hang yourself with your H+M Scarf.” Wow. Violence seems to be a recurring theme on this CD. Rather, violence towards men.

Out magazine, you should be very proud of your choice. Really.

Like she’s done with gender throughout the album, Perry starts putting gay people into boxes. If you’re gay, you must be driving electrical cars and vegan. You must be wearing more makeup than her. You must be more interested in myspace than anything else. And the list goes on.

It’s one big insult wrapped into one song.

Oh wait—did I say that “Ur So Gay” was the last insulting song? I kind of lied, but I won’t go into the other insulting song in much detail. A quick premise of the non-single “If You Can Afford Me.” Basically it’s what the title suggests. Ms. Perry seems to think herself the “crème de la crop” and admits to being high maintenance, but a guy who dates her is just gonna have to accept that.

Women, in the world of One of the Guys are girly-girls, and if they break against the grain, they’ll find themselves out of luck when it comes to dating and need a complete revamping so they can become super girly. They like pearls. They’re expensive. They’re all about appearance.

Guys, a la One of the Guys are stinky. They want their girls to be homecoming queens and pretty in pearls. They’re expected to indulge in buying their girlfriends lots of stuff if they want to have a relationship. Oh, and if they don’t fall under these preset conditions…they’re gay.

And queer people, what little time they have throughout the album are either a)experimenting but not real—which only applies to women and b)stupid.

Essentially, Katy Perry is the best thing the neoconservative movement could ask for. They just don’t know it.

And by making Perry the cover girl and Musician of the Year, Out has proved that it is little more than a stray dog, grasping at whatever scraps it can get from the oppressive owner.

There is good news. On AfterEllen.com, the nominees for best Lesbian/Bi Musician of the Year doesn’t include Katy Perry. And she’s not listed as under the Best Straight Ally, either. Clearly, not everyone is fooled by the “I Kissed a Girl” image.

 

 

 

This sign isn't nearly as effective as the subtext of Katy Perry's message. If only they knew, they could work together again, like they did before she got famous.
This sign isn't nearly as effective as the subtext of Katy Perry's message. If only they knew, they could work together again, like they did before she got famous.

Snow White: A Little More Feminist, Still Homophobic

Like most new movies, I was not expecting much from Sydney White (alternative title: Sydney White and the Seven Dorks), but my sister made me watch it.

And it was, let’s face it, amusing. Maybe a little more than amusing.

For one thing, a girl who can install a water filtration system in less than an hour and expects her going away to college present to be a hammer she’s been wanting–being raised by a single dad who happens to be a plumber can lead to such interests–is pretty much awesome. In addition to her interests in fixing what needs to be fixed, she can also throw a football to make an actual football player jealous. What’s not to love about Sydney White?

On the surface-it’s a brilliant movie. The references to the classic fairy tale are priceless. Rachel Witchburn, the sorority president for Kappa Phi Nu (the infamous all blonde Kappas) takes the place of the evil stepmother in her quest to be the hottest (an online rating for the attractiveness of SAU students–the Hot or Not list), the seven dorks living in the non greek house The Vortex takes the place of the seven dwarves (and yes, all dwarves are represented, but some are more easily spotted than others. Lenny, due to his unfortunate alergies, is obviously Sneezy. Embele, the Nigerian transfer student who is still jet lagged despite having been in the US for about three years, is obviously Sleepy. And if you couldn’t tell that George was supposed to be Dopey…well, I don’t know what to tell you. Samm Levine’s character, Spanky, wasn’t an obvious Happy. but maybe that’s just me. Oh–and Yes, that IS SAMM LEVINE from FREAKS AND GEEKS…and he plays the same type of character!) There is a poisoned apple (watch and see) and yes it does result in putting Sydney White to sleep and yes her boy wakes her up with a kiss, but it’s refreshing to see him not just wake her up to take her away, but to exhault in her and say that people are waiting for HER to save the day.

So where’s the problem?

It’s a tiny one.

Oh so tiny. Like everything else produced in Hollywood, Sydney White is an example of a “this is close but not quite” what I want to see.

The biggest issue I had with Sydney White was when Sydney was running for student president and she was making major efforts to reach out to the various campus groups-the football team, the ROTC members, the Jewish kids and the GLBTIQ campus group. Yay, right?

Not so much. All the groups except for the queer campus group was in full representation. The ROTC members doing their militant routines, the Jewish kids socializing and having fun, and the queer group? Well, it was a pathetic showing. It was like, “Hey, look we have a group of gay kids but it’s small. they really ARE the minority.” Not to mention the main student the group focused in on was a student who looked like he was in very bad drag and read poetry that in the two seconds that he read-asks to be mocked. (And in the credits on imdb he’s Danny the Tranny. Might add a tiny bit more depth to the character, but the name itself is almost annoying….) And he was reading his poetry to a group that included mostly Sydney and her group of friends and a tiny amount of other students.

first of all, if you’re on a campus and there’s a group for gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/intersex/questioning there’s going to be a need for it. Which means there’s gonna be a lot more than, say, 5 students in the group. I’ve been a campus leader so I know there are off years for plenty of groups, but if the campus group in the movie was willing to reserve a big room for their poetry night, they would have marketed to their audience (and beyond) and would have done A LOT better in filling that room than that movie represented.

It’s almost as if the movie execs behind Sydney White were saying, hey, ROTC is cool, Jews are cool, athletes are cool, but really, the gay people don’t really exist except in a tiny number. Hmm. If that idea’s true…where are these funny ideas about same sex marriage coming from? And these funny ideas on protecting you from being bullied based on sexual orientation? Are those really coming from one or two people.

I. Don’t. Think. So.

May I recommend you watch Before Stonewall and After Stonewall if you think the GLBTIQ population is that small.

And another  thing that bugged me about Sydney White…Well, it was definitely a WHITE movie. The only non-white (and non-blonde, for that matter) is one of the seven dorks, Embele. And let me get this out: He’s my favorite of the seven dorks. Seriously. He was snoozing in a Poli-Sci class and the professor asks him a question thinking he wouldn’t answer it, and he answered it straight up. and then went back to sleep. He’s gotta be the smartest of the 7. But again, he spends a good amount of the movie asleep…he gets nowhere near the amount of screentime that Gurkin, Spanky, George or Terrence gets. He’s just there. Token black guy? More than likely. Wouldn’t it be nice if movie execs realized that we’re in 2008 and there’s a lot more diversity?

Oh. and as to the elusive black woman…? She definitely didn’t exist in Sydney White. Apparently Sydney White and her cohorts didn’t have to reach out to a group like UNC’s Black Student Movement.

So yay for Snow White finding white feminism! Now she just needs to go further and find that feminism isn’t (or shouldn’t be) just about white women.