jlh: Johnny Carson's character, Carnac the Magnificent, holding an envelope to his forehead to read its contents (gents: Carnac the Magnificent)
But first: Does anyone want the three special EW True Blood covers? I got them free at work and am happy to ship out to someone who'd want all three. It's Anna Paquin with Moyer, Skarsgard and Manganiello in poses like American Gothic.

Okay, so you guys have figured out by now that I'm something of a worrier, and that one of the things I worry about pretty consistently is inadvertently doing something that will upset someone else, or inadvertently doing something that is seen to go against like, the rules of engagement on the internet or what people see as cool or whatever. It is a constant and ongoing worry which flares up on some occasions more than others. And if you follow me on twitter you're probably aware that this week was something of a solar flare.

When this happens I try to do a sanity check-in with my pals. This week I got worried about two separate issues, and in this post I'll just talk about one of them. I'd love to hear what you think. (Unless it's "I don't know why you care so much" which isn't helpful and makes me feel kinda bad. I care, and that isn't going to change and in healthy moments I think it's even a good thing; I just have to manage it.)

How much are we responsible for knowing everyone else's contexts? How much should we be able to keep straight the names of people we don't know? )

I happily anticipate your thoughts and suggestions!
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Diana)
Okay so this is the thing: If you have issues with the royal family as a symbol of imperialism, or with weddings in general and particularly Christian ones? Totally valid! Write about it! Share with the class! Some folks on my flist already have done so this week.

But if you're just telling me that you "don't care" about the wedding, without anyone asking you? It doesn't make you look cool; it just makes you look like a jerk. It's a very difficult thing to say that you don't care about something without dismissing the thing entirely, which also sort of dismisses the people who care about it on any level.

And more to the point, you aren't adding anything to the conversation. I don't care that you don't care. I haven't been sitting here wondering why everyone I know isn't talking about the wedding. If you don't care and you stay silent on the matter no one will notice!

We all have frivolous things that we like, and one person's frivolity is another persons couldn't-be-bothered. Which, yay diversity and all of that, but you have to actually act on it.
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
I don't usually post links here (that's more for twitter, or sometimes tumblr) but this essay by Linda Holmes on NPR's Monkey See blog is so excellent that I don't want to spoil it for you by pulling a quote:

In Praise of Cultural Omnivores

Oh, and there will be preliminary color war voting later this evening!
jlh: Erykah Badu smoking (music: Erykah Badu)
I'm hoping my friends who are also older than 35 will chime in on this post! Because this is the thing: when you're young, and you aren't up on the latest hippest new thing, it can be sort of charming. You can choose to be a luddite and people might find it either tiresome or cute. But once you're over a certain age, you just look like you're out of the loop, grandpa. And I fully admit that in the last couple of years I've been worrying about that. I mean, I spent most of my youth in an industry that is relentlessly about the latest hippest new thing, and now I find myself with a lot of fandom friends who are 10-15 years younger than I am, never mind how cutting the internet is generally about middle-aged women.

on the future of narrative, and whether I should be following it. )

In appreciation for your reading this, I give you Boomer and that guy from Ocean's Eleven in swimsuits:

aka Grace Park and Scott Cahn on an Oahu beach )
jlh: MTV sock puppets sifl and olly (duos: sifl and olly)
Took an unannounced internet break for ten days or so (not that anyone noticed, so I'm glad I didn't announce it or now I'd look like quite the egotist!) I'm catching up on a few things, so don't be surprised to get some comments on older entries.

A few weeks ago I made the post on being the bestest little media consumer ever which is a topic I've raised in the past. And as usual, there are much better arguments against the entire trend of cultural creators haranguing consumers about their behavior, posted in mid-January in response to the same post I read, which talk about intellectual property as an arm of cultural imperialism, an argument that doesn't get nearly enough traction in all the self-conscious railing against downloading. [personal profile] troisroyaumes has a linkspam as does [personal profile] starlady, but I would point out particularly [personal profile] colorblue's this is not a post about yoga! which is beyond excellent. Go, read!

my own thoughts )
jlh: Woodward and Bernstein in the Library of Congress from the film All the President's Men (duos: Woodstein in the library)
Introduction to the NewSouth edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

Fantastic reading. If all you've seen of the current controversy is "they're taking out the n-word!" and/or sarcastic comments on Twitter, I urge you to read the introduction. (Particularly because they aren't just removing the word, but replacing it with "slave", and also because they're removing a perjorative term for Native Americans and replacing it with "Indian". They're also replacing "half-breed" with "half-blood.")

I find that I can’t get all that worked up about this. Part of the reason is that if this is what it takes to put one of the books on most people’s shortlist for The Great American Novel* into the hands of more people and off the list of books most frequently removed from school libraries, I’m all for it. Part of it is that we have a certain hysteria over the n-word that means that all historical instances of it need to be painstakingly put into context and even then some students (black and otherwise) refuse to accept the text. (Believe me, I’ve gone through this many a time, teaching American history using mostly primary documents.) In fact, when I was in high school in the 80s, there was a movement of African-American parents to remove the book from schools because of its use of the word. Part of the reason is that this novel has long since passed into the public domain, so it’s not like this particular edition will be the only one that exists—and surely there are somewhat expurgated versions of The Canterbury Tales that get read in schools as well.

What this particular controversy makes me think of, again, is how unfortunate it is that for so many Americans their only exposure to literature, other than the occasional Oprah Book Club selection, is their high school English classes. And I’m just not sure if the average room of 14-year-olds is the right environment for a classroom discussion of the use of the n-word in Huck Finn. It has a tendency, by its mere presence, to overshadow everything else that’s going on in the book, which I think is really too bad. Because otherwise, it’s an incredibly accessible text, funny and clever and narrated by a kid who stands a little outside of the culture he’s observing. And Jim is one of my favorite characters, ever.

So if a few more people get to meet Jim in a book where he’s referred to as a slave rather than the n-word, I really can’t see that as a bad thing.

*My own shortlist is Huck Finn, Gatsby, Moby-Dick, and Beloved.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Default)
Two big links that lead me to two big thoughts on two big issues, but really really, if you care about either issue please follow the links.

First, my pal [livejournal.com profile] kalichan wrote an amazing post about a week ago: What's Love Got To Do With It: My Thoughts on *fail that everyone who's interested in such matters, especially in the way social justice is interacting with fandom, should read right now.

related thoughts on fail and shame and love )

The Pop Culture Happy Hour Podcast this week was at least partially about comics, specifically super hero comics, where the three folks on the podcast who aren't comic readers were given two recent Batman comics by their fourth podcaster, who's the comics editor at NPR, and came back with their reactions. Lots of great conversation about barriers to entry, and within that one of the readers noted that if one wants to get the entire projected 5-year story in these monthly single-issue installments it becomes incredibly expensive, not just as money spent but also in cost for the entertainment gained (at least, in terms of time) when compared to buying movies/music/tv shows/books.

In terms of that, I'll say that I look at the $250 I spent on 23 volumes of Fruits Basket and yeah, I'm not sure I really got my money's worth. I mean, I can't even take those books on the train with me (where I do a lot of my reading) because I can get through a volume in about 20 minutes. I have a whole entry in me about how much culture used to be free or pretty low-cost versus how much we're expected to spend nowadays, but I'm having difficulty framing that conversation in a way that doesn't sound like I'm advocating theft; I'm more saying that the model we are moving toward at the moment where people pay directly (rather than advertiser support) is probably untenable in large ways.
jlh: conan o'brien (gents: Conan O'Brien)
This entry isn't about one thing that one person said, but probably about five different things I've been told, by many different people, in the last little while.

The other day I was at Target, and as I sometimes do, I went over to the music section to see what they put on sale, because sometimes you can get amazing deals since indie rock tends to go unsold at a place like Target. And I found the new CDs by The National and Erykah Badu both on sale for $10, so I bought them.

And that $20 I just spent on CDs that I wanted? Was probably a complete and utter waste on my part.

I am really trying to support the artists I like, and also my friends. )

I don't know, you guys. I have a headache.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Clio Chibi)
ironic product placement is only ok if you take no money & beyond that give all the income to something ironic. like the Klan. —Amanda Palmer

(That link takes you to [livejournal.com profile] sparkymonster's entry, in which there are many photos of the product placement in Lady Gaga's "Telephone" video along with photos of various Klan activities. Work safe, but definitely disturbing.)

I find people who are outrageous for the sake of being outrageous to be seriously uninteresting, even more uninteresting than the people who are boring and middle-of-the-road, because at least those people know who they are and what they're doing. Celine Dion, for example, is very upfront that she's making music to be played in the background of people's lives, and you know, you have to respect that at least she knows where she fits in.

What I find even worse about the outrageous types is that if you're not on their train, then you don't understand art, don't understand their "journey", you're too conventional, whatever. Which I find incredibly, incredibly cowardly, the "you just don't get me" rationale. And that message is very effective, especially for people who think of themselves as open and are actually trying. (The people that don't have already wandered off.) They're the ones who really want the Emperor to be wearing, well, at least a thong.

Which is all to say, I didn't know of Amanda Palmer before she got together with her man, not that I really keep tabs on him either but the union showed up on [livejournal.com profile] fandomsecrets so I heard her name. (Though I do keep confusing it with Laura Palmer from Twin Peaks.) And thanks to a mention about some previous controversy in another post, I found her defensive blog entry about the Evelyn Evelyn matter.

And honestly, I don't want to listen to her music, because I really can't get on board with whatever she thinks her program is. It seems, to me, self-indulgent and attempting to step up to the line of offense without going over—to "make people think" as she says. When she's challenged, she starts hollering about context—when no one gets any context on twitter; that's the genius and the horror of it. Well, I think that she likes playing with fire, but blames her audience when she gets burned. And I don't have a lot of sympathy for that.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Clio Chibi)
There's been a lot of talk about the Super Bowl commercials, especially the creepy Dodge Charger ad—the guys who were at the party I went to were all annoyed by that one. I read a blog discussing the ad and a man commented saying that he didn't think it was misogynous so much as appealing to a wish to be immature, that all the things listed were things that grown-ups do, but the Charger let you be a little boy.

And that got me thinking about how much Mother is the enforcer of growing up, the barrier to fun and adventure (hence her absence from almost every children's story and most YA novels, whether physical or emotional). For adults, that gets extended to women in general—first it was your mother getting you to be mature, and now it's your wife. Boys will be boys means that men want to be boys as much as possible. So maturity and femininity get mixed up

But rare is the ad that appeals to women wanting to be immature. Girls want to be women—they're sexualized early, and most of the advertising targeted to us are about being more sexually appealing or being a better mom, which of course are related.*

Which immediately made me think of the current Electrolux appliance campaign starring Kelly Ripa.

Back when I was in marketing I worked on products that targeted moms, and time saving is a big deal for them; they have a lot on their plate whether they work outside the home or not. But I've never seen an ad that said so blatantly that they wanted to save time on their household chores in order to do more household chores. Usually the time saved was spent having fun with family, connecting with spouse, or grabbing some alone time with a book or favorite TV show—that is, "quality time." But at no moment in this ad is Kelly shown doing anything for herself, or just relaxing; she's always doing things for other people.

I console myself with the knowledge that most cultural products aren't reflective, but normative. They aren't evidence of gender roles as lived, so much as enforcement of societal expectations. Even in the studies and focus groups and such that lead to ads like this people often parrot gender roles as they understand they should be, rather than how they live them.

But mostly I'm just glad that the guys at [livejournal.com profile] calloocallay and [livejournal.com profile] soupkills's Super Bowl party thought a Dodge Charger wasn't enough of a reward for acting like an irresponsible jerk.

*Part of this is that most of the products that have heavy advertising budgets are the kind of household products that are still mostly bought by women in their role as head of the household—packaged goods, aka everything in the grocery store that isn't fresh; plus beauty/grooming/hygiene products (even those for men are mostly bought by wives/mothers).
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Default)
Hey it's my 2000th Livejournal entry! And in honor of that I'm going to be completely self-indulgent and actually write a long essay of the sort I don't really put on my LJ anymore. You know, for nostalgia's sake.

On taste, genres, awards and popularity. )
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (smokin' matt albie)
We have Bill Kristol to blame for Sarah Palin, apparently. Rove wanted Romney; McCain wanted Lieberman but no one else did.

Idolator doesn't think much of the proposed cover of D.Cook's record and I have to say, neither do I. It makes his head look like an ICBM.

Justin wants you to put something else in the box. Ryan played this on E!News last night and then went on and on about the mustard scarf JT is wearing and the importance of proper accessorizing.

Defamer shows that movie critics are kind of white dumbasses. I want to know what Elvis Mitchell has to say about it. I very much do not want to know what Ben Lyons has to say about it.

I link to this post on Christie Brinkley's ex's possible sex tape less for that and more for the vintage 80s GQ cover. And they wonder why Gen X women keep trying to date gay men.

Gawker calls bullshit on small differences in Playmates having anything to do with economics. I think that stupid skirt theory was disproven, too.

Christopher Buckley, son of the original neocon God William F. Buckley, decides to endorse Obama because McCain ain't no neocon. After all the hate mail columnnist Kathleen Parker got for calling on Palin to resign for the good of the party because she was bringing McCain down, Buckley puts his endorsement not on the website of the National Review, that stalwart conservative magazine founded by his father at which he is still an editor, but at Tina Brown's brand spanking new website. Hate mail arrives anyway, and eventually a pink slip from said National Review. One wonders what Buckley pere would have said about all this.

Jezebel doesn't have a lot of time for that stupid New York Observer cover story about how what career women really want is Don Draper. However, I think I need to get my hands on the first season, don't I, as apparently season 2 is available on On Demand.

Thanks to Jezebel I found out that Katy Sparks, the chef from my old favorite Quilty's, is back to restaurant cooking in New York at Compass on the UWS. It's a little pricey, but not save-for-months pricey, so I'll be putting my loose change toward that $35 tasting menu, I think.

Finally, from late last week, Jezebel breaks down the social dynamics and political economy behind The Long Winter. A fascinating read.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (privilege)
From What Privileges Do You Have?, based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

I've bolded what applies to me. )

So I really appreciate this list, but it feels like it has a very strong urban and large suburban bias. I don't think many of the questions catch the rural kind of poverty that was around me as a child, where people were cash-poor but time-rich (and often land-rich) and made a lot of things by hand and that sort of thing. I mean, as a child I knew a lot of families who were on food stamps and other kinds of assistance, but I didn't know anyone who lived in an apartment--everyone lived in single family homes because we were in the country, and even a trailer is a single family home. Apartments were where people on TV lived. This worries me because rural poverty and semi-poverty is frequently ignored in this country--by republicans who like to ignore poverty in general, and by democrats because their base is more urban. And let's face it, the urban poor is much more visible than the rural poor who mostly live in "flyover" states.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Clio Dolly)
Reminder to self to join [livejournal.com profile] deadbrowalking, [livejournal.com profile] bobthehaitian, and [livejournal.com profile] fanficofcolor after my HP hiatus.

First, great thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. You've given me hope and energy to keep posting about race as best I can, and see where it leads us. Particular thanks to those of you who are mixed race, because I feel more and more that being mixed is even it's own weird little bag, and also to all you PoC's who left messages of support.

Through the recent and excellent PoC SF Carnival #1, which I recommend to everyone, I found a link to a cartoon that is the story of my life: This Is Dedicated to That One Black Kid, by Keith Knight. Seriously, if one more person I don't know asks to touch my hair … never mind that it makes me sad to think that there ARE people saying that because they know me, they can't possibly be a racist. It makes me want to say, "I am not the black girl you're looking for."

On feeling uncomfortable or unqualified to talk about race. )

On spoiling everyone's fun by talking about race. )
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Clio Chibi)
(Just a reminder that this icon is a chibi of me, drawn by [livejournal.com profile] bhanesidhe.)

Last week there was an excellent series on National Public Radio about the fortieth anniversary of the Loving decision. For those of you that haven't heard of it, in 1967 the Supreme Court ruled that a state (in this case, Virginia) could not nullify a marriage on the basis of race.

The Lovings had got married in DC in 1958, where they could be legally married, and then went back to their Virginia home town. In the middle of the night, the cops woke them up, arrested them, and charged them with violating Virginia law. Their sentence was suspended on the condition that they leave the state and not return for 25 years, so they moved back to DC. Missing their family, they decided to sue in 1963. In 1967 the Supreme Court overturns the conviction in a unanimous decision based on the Fourteenth Amendment.

The other thing that happened in 1967 was "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner." As a kid I used to watch this movie, in which a white girl presents her black fiancee to her liberal parents, and pretend that the couple were my own birth parents. (The timing is right; I was born in 1969, and I'm biracial.) The Hays Code, which delineated morality in film from the mid-thirties until the implementation of the MPAA ratings system in the 1960s, specifically prevented interracial romance that did not have an unhappy ending so as to discourage miscegenation. So "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" was the first film with an interracial couple who got their happy ending.

In their story on the decision NPR talked to an interracial couple living in the Loving's Virginia hometown now, and they talked about the verbal and physical violence that they have to deal with on a daily basis. In 1998 the law against interracial marriage in South Carolina, unenforceable since 1967 but still on the books, was struck down even though a poll found that 22% were against the removal of the law. It took Alabama until 2000 to get rid of their law. Heck, I'm in New York City and my own racial ambiguity makes people nervous all the time. So let's hear it for the Lovings and their bravery, and the bravery of all the interracial couples around us, because it still is a brave act, and remember that even certain kinds of heterosexual love are under attack from many in this country.

In fandom we have so much difficulty talking about race, perhaps because fandom is generally white, whiter even than the American and British cultures at large, and white guilt gets in the way. I don't know; I'm not white. I only know that when I talk about race, I don't get many comments, or the sense that many of you are listening. Given our ability to rally around issues of sexual orientation, I find that to be both sad and frustrating. If I felt that my lone voice in the wilderness was really making a difference—if I thought that even one person would link to this, or stop and think about how far we as a culture have and have not come around issues of miscegenation, which is so much at the very heart of what racism means—I'd be happy to make more race posts. I'd like to say that this isn't begging for comments, but to be honest, it is. On the one hand, it's upsetting to feel only five people care about these matters, and on the other hand, it's upsetting to post about them and confirm that only five people care.


Jun. 20th, 2007 09:16 am
jlh: Ryan Seacrest with his hand up, text says "talk to the hand" (gents: Ryan talk to the hand)
So I'm sitting here listening to the BBC and they are planning on having a debate on the existence of God. I find those debates to be fairly ridiculous anyway, but the real problem here is the person representing the atheists. Now, I know that he wrote a book about it, and I know that he does these little debates all the time, but still.


I mean, really, BBC, there are a whole bunch of people who could have represented that side of the debate much better. Why do you encourage him? Yick.
jlh: Donyelle from So you think you can dance season 2 (ladies: Donnyelle)
  1. The Belmont Stakes, which was yesterday, is the third and final race of the Triple Crown. I have no idea how I caught the race itself, but Rags to Riches became the first filly to win the Belmont since 1905, and the first one ever to win at the mile-and-a-half length. Go her!
  2. For complicated reasons, earlier this week I caught a glimpse of an all-animated Kangaroo Jack movie, in which Jack was in a boxing ring and then started rapping "Mama Said Knock You Out" at which point the movie turned into a mini-video. Which, fine, whatever, except that suddenly three (human) women, clad only in tank tops and boxing shorts and gloves, with those hyperfeminized curvy bodies, were shaking their asses in the camera. Now, in no other way was this an "authentic" hip hop video, nor did it need to be as it was silly straight-to-cable children's movie, and these girls weren't even like, the ring girls that wear swimsuits and hold the "Round 1" cards over their heads. So why were they there? Must we indoctrinate this early that women are for display?
  3. Re FHM: Where's my ridiculous countdown of hot men? Where's my magazine for cutie pie pix of minor male celebs? I mean, if every woman on television has to appear in FHM in a two-piece, like Kari from Mythbusters, where's my pin up of Grant? Because I would so put that in my locker at school. (No, really. I have a locker, in the department at grad school.) Of course, what I'd rather is like, not objectifying anyone, but given the capitalist imperative, it might be more realistic to get equal opportunity objectification.
jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Clooney)
E! has a useful listing of January premieres, in case you were wondering when Studio 60 was coming back. Meanwhile, now that the creator of the wrap dress, which infamously looks good no matter what your body type, is the president of the CFDA, looks like New York Fashion Week is getting model guidelines after all. Oh, and following in the footsteps of Time and Spin, AdAge craps out on choosing an Agency of the Year. Talk to the hand, Jonah.

There aren't a ton of historical events I would actually want to go back in time for, partly because I can't imagine going back as anything other than the biracial woman I am, and gender and race cause problems for, say, hanging about the palace in 14th c. Spain. But now I want to fancy it up and go to Truman Capote's infamous Black and White Ball. I always have just because everyone, and I mean everyone, was there. Capote threw it in honor of Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, whose autobiography I completely adored. Besides, who wouldn't want to go to a party where Lillian Hellman and Norman Podhoretz step in to prevent a fist fight between Norman Mailer and McGeorge Bundy?
jlh: Alexander Hamilton, with a banner that says "Federalist" (gents: Alexander Hamilton)
Wasn't it nice, last week, to have a national day of mourning for a president we can all agree was a good man we kind of liked? No one had to make parody icons saying "today is a national day of mourning … for James Brown," after all. Gerald Ford is the first president I remember. When I was born, Nixon was president, but I don't remember him; I only remember my father being Very Grouchy Indeed. But Ford, him I remember.

His opening sentence after his inauguration, "Our long national nightmare is over" is a stock sarcastic phrase of mine. The title of this entry, which I often mangle by changing the president for my own ridiculous ends, is from a John Updike novel about a historian who spent those years writing a biography of President Buchanan while trying in vain not to be a complete fuckwit.

As he was president for just two and a half years, Ford was known for only a few things: I didn't vote for you; what, me WIN?; Drop Dead yourself; Pardon him?; I'm still not voting for you )
Ford's son, Stephen, is an actor who had a major role on The Young and the Restless in the 1980s and was Joe, the man who didn't want to marry Sally, in When Harry Met Sally. But his most famous relative was his wife, Betty, whose sparkling personality somewhat outshone her husband. She fought breast cancer while First Lady and helped start National Breast Cancer Awareness so you can thank her for the pink ribbons and the fundraising. She also fought alcohol addiction, which led her to found The Betty Ford Center, which has only the Malibu-based Promises as a rival for celebs trying to kick their habit du jour.

So follow this circle. In June 1975, President Ford slips on the steps getting off Air Force One in Egypt. In October 1975, Saturday Night Live premieres on NBC. Cast member Chevy Chase, who bore no real resemblance to President Ford, nevertheless gets the job of impersonating him, which mostly entails a lot of pratfalls, referencing the slip down the steps. Ford, who had been a top football player and probably the most athletic president, gets an unwarranted reputation as a klutz. Years later, Chevy Chase admits that he has an addiction to painkillers, because he hurt his back during all those falls playing Gerald Ford. And where does Chase seek treatment? Yep, the Betty Ford Clinic.


jlh: Chibi of me in an apron with a cocktail glass and shaker. (Default)
Clio, a vibrating mass of YES!

October 2017



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