Behold the holiday decorations at the Floating Domicile! There’s a lot of red in the kitchen, but I love my new tinsel tree and the tiniest travel Nativity set you have ever seen, courtesy of my mother. (It closes into a giant wooden bullet. Hardcore.) The holidays mean that the store is very, very busy, so I’m pretty beat. I’m getting towards the end of Louder Than Hell, which has been a really eye-opening read for me.
I’m also at ladybusiness this week, reviewing the second season of Once Upon a Time with Jodie. Yay, ladies! Ugh, Hook.
At Polygon, Tracey Lien asks why video games are aimed at boys. (It’s not the Game Girl, after all.) Her answer touches on the history of the medium, the video game crash of the early eighties, how marketing touches everything we consume, and how marketing can change that.
In this interview promoting The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ezra Miller defines queer beautifully. It’s almost exactly how I personally identify queer. Humanity is just so terribly diverse and brilliant, and love is such a rare, wonderful thing.
Remember that Freddy Mercury biopic that’s been floating around like a ghost for the past year or so? Well, Ben Whishaw will be playing Mercury, taking over from Sasha Baron Cohen. We’ll see how this goes.
Peter Alimunas’ 2009 article from UCLA’s journal of media studies, Mediascape, on the Frat Pack films and their celebration of failure as male masculinity is an intensely interesting read. It also introduced me to several concepts in feminist narrative analysis, such as exscription, defined by its coiner Robert Walser as “total denial of gender anxieties through the articulation of fantastic worlds without women.” How blindingly useful!
At Collector’s Weekly, Hunter Oatman-Stanford interviews Dominic Lutyens, one of the co-writers of 70s Style & Design, to examine the influence of seventies fashion. It really puts it in context for me, especially in how it ties into the eighties. (Check out that Fiorucci poster!)
And Oatman-Stanford, again at Collector’s Weekly, also interviews David L. Chapman about late nineteenth century bodybuilder Eugen Sandow, the first bodybuilder to make a living purely on his looks, not any feats of strength. They touch on the birth of the “hunk” archetype, bodybuilding as a form of resisting colonialization (Sandow’s training method caught on huge in India), the history of gay beefcake magazines, and little old ladies having pictures of the practically nude Sandow on their pianos because it’s okay if he’s made up like a statue!
Ace at the Thinking Asexual offers her thoughts on the introduction to Sally Cline’s Women, Passion, and Celibacy. She talks about dismantling the idea of (heterosexual) romance being the ultimate interpersonal achievement (even among asexuals), the ways coupledom is built into our society, and the fact that celibacy is, of course, a totally valid choice for people of any sexual orientation:
When I was in high school and newly identifying as asexual, I happened to find a phenomenal article in Harper’s magazine where the author basically made the point that we live in a sexually liberal society, not a liberated one. A truly liberated society is one where sex is value-neutral and not having sex is just as acceptable as having a lot of it.
Accepting asexuals as healthy, whole human beings will inevitably force allosexuals to re-evaluate their own messages and beliefs with regards to sex, love, relationships, intimacy, etc. That’s one reason why it’s so difficult for allosexuals to be decent human beings to us. If we’re the ones who are fucked up, they don’t have to do the work of reforming their culture of relationships and sexuality, in order to genuinely support us.
Via Ana, Roxane Gay shares her perspective on being a bad feminist through the lens of a rigid, essentialist feminism that doesn’t make room for human error. I don’t think the piece presses it hard enough, but it does touch on how being a human being and occasionally failing at your own ideals doesn’t mean that your ideals are crap. It just means you’re human. To put it in coach terms, it’s not whether or not you fall down. It’s whether or not you get up.
I find this minimalist block Nativity very intriguing. It boils down the display to its symbolic elements.
I’ve just started getting into 8tracks, because I am secretly an old, but “The Evolution of Pop” is an epic nine hour journey through Billboard Top 100 hits from the 1940s to now. My only nitpick is that the mixer classes the teens with the aughts.
At io9, Annalee Newitz discusses the ascendency of doge over LOLcat and other forms of grammatical humor.
We’ve got our first look at She-Hulk’s self-titled new series with a preview page. It includes Shulkie tearing an airplane in two, outdrinking Tony Stark (while being taller than Thor, eee!), and talking to a little girl with a Shulkie doll. I’m in love.
For the holidays, I always like to donate to a good cause. If you’d like to do the same, GalleyCat has rounded up ten charities that encourage reading. Your local library is also a fantastic place to donate!
Alice Finch, she of the Hogwarts Castle, collaborated with fellow LEGO builder David Frank to create this jaw-dropping rendition of Rivendell out of 200,000 (!) LEGO bricks. Seriously, go through the photoset, because it’s the details that are staggering. Finch and Frank (well, that’s catchy) crammed in as many scenes from both trilogies as possible. You can read an interview with both creators about the piece over at The Brothers Brick.
She who walks in beauty like the night, star studies professor Anne Helen Petersen, looks at Christmas movies and the ritual of holiday watching:
In order for a film to become ritualized, however, it must hew to the ideological formula. It can be a little postmodern splintered, like Love Actually, or be filtered through the lens of comedy, like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but it must also work to vivify the understanding of Christmas as about family and love, as opposed to its historic ideological engine (Christ) or its contemporary one (Capital).
Beth Accomando at NPR’s The Salt shares her The Lord of the Rings marathon feast menu to celebrate the release of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. (I’m going Tuesday. TELL ME NOTHING.)
Part of the reason that I am a former theater kid is that I actually didn’t care all that much about theater. This is the only reason why American Psycho: The Musical, starring Matt Smith, slipped past my radar. This a thing that exists.
tumblr user ink-splotch imagines Susan Pevensie’s beautiful, tragic, and powerful life after Narnia, where the faith she finds again is not that of Aslan, but her faith in herself. Shivers.
Disney sees Mattel attempting to lift Ever After High off the ground and has decided to crush it by creating their own second generation high school AU of fairy tale characters. Yes, Descendants is going to be a Disney Channel Original Movie about the children of classic Disney villains attending a prep school with the children of classic Disney heroines. The Evil Queen’s daughter is literally named Evvie. Pass the popcorn and give thanks to the House of Mouse, children, this is going to be awesomely bad.
YouTube user TheFlixx took Richard Swarbrick’s beautiful animated tribute to Doctor Who and set it to “Take On Me.” Flawless.
Disney animator Minkyu Lee put together a portfolio of concept art for a hypothetical Wicked animated film to show off his chops as an intern. This week, he shared that portfolio on tumblr in two posts. It’s beautiful, emotive stuff.
Saturday Night Live recently held a “secret” audition for a black female cast member. Among those auditioning: Bresha Webb, Gabrielle Dennis, Tiffany Haddish, Simone Shepherd, and Darmirra Brunson, who was specifically called out by current cast member Jay Pharoah as the best choice. We’ll see how this goes.
At The Guardian, Gary Taylor looks at the first mention of “white people” in English literature and ponders how white people viewed themselves prior to the invention of a rigid racial category.
Geena Davis (who is head of an Institute on Gender in the Media named after herself, which is awesome) shares with the Hollywood Reporter two simple fixes for the lack of female representation in films, especially family films:
Step 1: Go through the projects you’re already working on and change a bunch of the characters’ first names to women’s names. With one stroke you’ve created some colorful unstereotypical female characters that might turn out to be even more interesting now that they’ve had a gender switch. What if the plumber or pilot or construction foreman is a woman? What if the taxi driver or the scheming politician is a woman? What if both police officers that arrive on the scene are women — and it’s not a big deal?
Step 2: When describing a crowd scene, write in the script, “A crowd gathers, which is half female.” That may seem weird, but I promise you, somehow or other on the set that day the crowd will turn out to be 17 percent female otherwise. Maybe first ADs think women don’t gather, I don’t know.
And there you have it. You have just quickly and easily boosted the female presence in your project without changing a line of dialogue.
(The whole thing is well worth a read.)
Tracie Egan Morrissey at Jezebel reveals the secrets of Lisa Frank—also known as the Rainbow Gulag. It’s both a puncturing of your beloved childhood memories (I distinctly remembering questioning the gendering of animals on my Lisa Frank diary as a very wee lass) and a portrait of a company imploding.
Queen Bey descended from on high to deliver unto us a new album, without any promotion. (Who needs promotion when you’re Beyoncé?) Not only does it boast seventeen music videos (!), but the track “Flawless” samples Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists.”
At Lapham’s Quarterly, Gayatri Devi asks what it means to die a good death as she watches a beloved patient die.
The first female action heroes in the movies were the serial queens of the silent era. Jake Hinkson highlights a few over at Tor.com.
I will go to an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema this week to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. It’s my holiday gift to myself, because of my love of eating while watching movies. They’ve put together an Alamo 100 list, selections from which will begin screening at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas sometime next year.
The Daily Show destroys Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly’s assertion that Santa Claus has to be white because Saint Nicholas was. (A fellow correspondent goes on to say that Jesus being white is a fact, which is hilarious.) Setting aside the fact that Vatican research has determined that St. Nick was from modern-day Turkey, I find the fact that the correspondent thinks her discomfort requires action, while the discomfort of small children of color doesn’t, kind of disgusting. I mean, this is in a response to a cute Salon post asking that we change Santa Claus to a penguin so kids of all colors can connect with him. Because race is utterly incidental to the concept of Santa Claus, fixating on that says something more about that correspondent than “sensitivity agendas.” (Because honestly engaging with someone on a sensitive topic in a respectful way is apparently not something Ms. Kelly values.)