Slam Tuesday: A Quickie

Here’s the deal. Writing about the Salt City Slam team made me realize how awesome it is to hear from the poets themselves, to let them talk about their passions and why they do what they do. So I’m going to try to line up some interviews for this segment so that it’s not just me talking about slam poets. It’ll be much cooler that way. But, I will give you a few good pieces of slam poetry so you don’t feel too gipped:

“Black Statue of Liberty”-Jessica Care Moore

and to go with Jessica Care Moore’s poem, we have something equally inspiring–a 5th grader reciting “Black Statue of Liberty” from memory. This is just beautiful

“Instructions for a Body”-Marty mcConnell

“All We Have”–Carlos Andrés Gómez and Savion Glover

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.


How CosmoGirl! saved my life

CG! February 2008As unbelievable as this may sound–there’s a lot more to Cosmo Girl! than fashion, makeup and selling body images to teen girls.

Take the February issue. On the back cover (there’s a special end section featuring Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz) there’s a teaser for “THE NEW F-WORD (AND WHY YOU SHOULD USE IT.)”

Could it be?

An article on feminism?

In Cosmo Girl!?

The little sister of Magazine?

No Way!

But, there it is on page 102 with a bold headine “The F-Word.” The article is unabashedly feminist and features two viewpoints. That of the Mom (Leslie Bennetts, author of The Feminine Mistake) and the Daughter (Emily Gerard). The article is accompanied by pictures of teens–both girls and boys–wearing “This is What a Feminist LFeminists–invading a town near youooks Like” t-shirts.

Really. Who would’ve thought? And–get this–the article on feminsm is not necessarily the most revolutionary article in the magazine.

Thumb through a few back issues and you’ll find discussions on racism (“Could You Be a Racist?” November 2007), saving energy and the environment (“Stay Green, Young Woman! December 2007/January 2008), and the ever important gender (“The Gender Spectrum”, October 2007).

FOUR different issues within a four month span–each containing extremely important subjects.

Could Cosmo Girl! be Ms. jr.? Well…probably not. There’s still far too many emaciated/scantily clad looking women in perfume ads.this…is selling perfume? really?

Could Cosmo Girl! be a good influence on young women?

Yes~most definitely. In addition to the extremely important articles I’ve already mentioned, each issue of CG! is packed with sections that not only encourage health and well being, but also ones that encourage teen girls to be active outside of her immediate environment and make a difference by volunteering. In other words–in the world of Cosmo Girl! there’s more to life than makeup, hair, clothes and, ohmigod, boys.

Speaking of boys, Cosmo Girl! definitely doesn’t go by the “abstinence only” sex-ed fed to most teens thanks to the Bush administration. In the Nov 2007 issue a small article under the Health section called “Condom Conundrum” gave some necessary information on having safe sex.

So bottom line–if you know a teen girl who needs reading material with a little dose of empowerment every month, CG! might not be a bad magazine to go for.

It’s not perfect by any means–but it’s got enough of what matters to really make a difference to young women, possibly impacting not only their futures but also the future of our society.

p.s.: It really doesn’t hurt that each CG! comes with an action packed manga, “The Adventures of Cosmo Girl!” It’s a surprisingly addictive manga. 🙂

The Adventures of Cosmo Girl! Tokyopop manga
(for more info on the manga: check out the CG! manga site