My 3 daughters love ‘Supergirl’ so much they made a video about the hero after watching the new show on CBS. I’ll give you my thoughts soon, but will tell you I’m also a big fan. Last night’s episode had no less than 5 major female characters including a villain, a hero, a CEO, a mom, and a sister. I’m so impressed Supergirl is no Minority Feisty!Here’s the video my kids made.
I was so excited when I heard “Supergirl” was coming to TV, and so incredibly bummed when I saw the full page ad in People dedicated to the protagonist’s clothing and appearance. The layout of the ad mimics an article with a “headline” promoting her “super style: the right outfit can save the day.” Apparently, like so many other female characters, Supergirl’s power is in her appearance.
CBS, would you ever advertise a new Superman show promoting his super style? Don’t you get that one of the reasons we’re so desperate for a Supergirl TV show is because we’re sick of narratives about girls and women where the focus is on what we look like?
On either side of Supergirl’s image, there are two columns of “interviews” with the show’s costume designers. Colleen Atwood is quoted: “I think when people feel good in their clothing, it helps to sell them as having presence, if not power.” Kiersten Ronning chimes in: “We are catching Kara and Supergirl at the beginning of her story, so as she learns more about herself and finds her strength, she will also mature in her fashion choices.” CBS, once again, I’ve got to ask: Are these the kinds of quotes you’d choose to promote a story about a male character?
Just weeks after getting rid of gender-segregated toy aisles, Target put out an inspiring new ad showing girl and boy “Star Wars” fans playing together. Check it out.
YAY Target! THANK YOU. I did all of my back to school shopping at your store and will continue to shop the hell out of your chain whenever I need supplies for my children. I’ve got to admit, part of me can’t believe this blog post has to be written at all, that I feel the need to congratulate Target and express my gratitude, that my headline isn’t satire that belongs on The Onion. But sadly, as the mom of 3 daughters, I speak from endless personal experience of the rampant sexism in kidworld where gender equality is hardly allowed to exist even in our imaginations. Here’s a video where my youngest child, like many kids in America, was teased at preschool for wearing “boy shoes” in her case, “Star Wars” sneakers.
It’s kids like her who Target is helping now, because in spite of my daughter’s promise to keep wearing those shoes, and in spite of having a feminist mom, she was “choosing” “gender appropriate” footwear by kindergarten.
In May, I went on Fox News to support Amazon’s similar decision to drop gender categories from its toys. After I was intro-ed by an annoying gender police siren, I was told, as I’m so often told, that children just “pick “the toys they want. I’ve been repeatedly “informed” that girls are just born obsessed with how they look while boys who are denied toy weapons will bite their toast into the shapes of guns. That’s just how we are. As I told Fox News, in nicer words, we don’t have a fucking clue how we are. Our brains are wired up based on actions we engage in, and these connections are never made more rapidly or elaborately than when we’re little kids. Why wouldn’t we want to expose our children to more stories, more experiences, more colors than pink?
Last night, after my husband and I finished watching the last episode of ‘Sense 8,’ I rushed to the computer, Googling the show to see when to expect season 2. Maybe never! Wait, what? According to Think Progress and other sources, the diverse show featuring eight characters from different countries around the world may not be appealing enough to white males. Main characters also include a trans woman and a gay man.
“Sense 8” is visually stunning. Scenes represent places all over the world including Nairobi, Seoul, Mumbai, Reykjavik, and San Francisco. I live in San Francisco and the location scout nailed it. I’ve seen favorite places around town including Dolores Park, Twin Peaks, and Atlas Cafe. The opening sequence featuring cityscapes and landscapes is so gorgeous, my husband and I never get bored of watching, never fast forward the montage the way we usually do when we watch a series. The series is created by the Wachowski siblings of Matrix fame if that helps to explain the film quality.
The actors glow as vibrantly as the scenery. Whoever did the casting must’ve been looking for luminous. But what I love most about the show is watching the women in action. First there is Nomi who is transgender and like no other trans character I’ve seen on TV in that she happens to be trans. Unlike Sophia, played by Laverne Cox, on “Orange is the New Black,” Nomi isn’t passionate about hair or make-up. Her character doesn’t show concern with her appearance or her body, she just is. Nomi is a computer hacker and political blogger, totally in love with her girlfriend, Amanita.
I got into the show early on because of the relationship between Amanita and Nomi. Crazy shit was happening to Nomi. She was seeing things, talking to invisible people, and thinking she was crazy but at the same time, knowing she wasn’t. Surprising me, Amanita doesn’t flinch. She believes and supports Nomi 100%, bravely risking everything to support her lover’s truth and safety.
My favorite character in Sun. She is from Seoul, the daughter of a powerful man, practically invisible because she is female. Her loser brother gets all the coddling and adoration.
If you read Reel Girl, you know I’m not much interested in seeing sexist fantasy worlds. Been there, done that, live it every day. I’m much more interested in witnessing artists use their imaginations to create new ways of being. “Sense8” delivers this scenario with all of its characters, but especially with Sun. In action scene after scene, she kicks-ass.Her facial expression often shows the submission expected by her culture and her fiery refusal to accept it.
Riley is a DJ from Iceland. I enjoy traveling all over the world while I watch the show, but Iceland is my favorite place to see. It’s different than anywhere I’ve ever been, and now I’m dying to go.
Kala is a pharmacist who can mix all kinds of chemical concoctions. She prays to Ganesha, is a Bollywood fan, and also struggles between being the woman her family expects her to be and taking the risks of being who she wants to become.
The male characters are also compelling. Capheus is from Nairobi, totally dedicated to his brave mom who is sick with HIV. His talent is driving, he can hotwire any car and make it go like a madman. Wolfgang is from Berlin, he’s a scrappy fighter with a big heart. He’s got a crush on Kala. Lito lives in Mexico City, he’s a sexy leading man who is also gay, in a loving relationship that’s tested by his fear of coming out. Will is a police officer from Chicago, haunted by an unsolved mystery from his past.
The premise of “Sense8” is that Nomi, Lito, Wolfgang, and Will—along with four other “sensates” in Nairobi, Seoul, Mumbai, and Reykjavik—are telepathically linked. They are able to feel each other’s emotions, appear in each other’s minds, and even control each other’s bodies…
In sci-fi speak, “Sense8” is about transhumanism—the idea that in the future, as a species, we might become more than we are right now. Julian Huxley, the brother of Aldous, coined the term in a 1927 book called “Religion Without Revelation,” in which he wrote that transhumanism was “man remaining man, but transcending himself, by realizing new possibilities of and for his human nature.”…
Really, though, the point of “Sense8” is to revel in the broadening of empathy—to fantasize about how in-tune with each other we could be. In its own, low-key way, therefore, “Sense8” is a critique of sci-fi. It asks whether, in tying our dreams about human transformation to fantasies of technological development, we might be making an error. The show suggests another path to transcendence: each other.
“Sense8” has gotten some bad reviews for being cheesey and meandering. Maybe part of my love for the show is that I happen to be watching it at the perfect time in my life. I have a strong sense of how we are all connected, that humans are not objects/ subjects but verbs, constantly changing and transforming, affecting each other, magical. “Sense8” depicts the highs, lows, and intensity of this feeling perfectly. It’s funny because when I was a kid, I didn’t even read much fantasy. I was into Laura Ingalls because that was “real.” The older I get, the more I lose my cynicism and skepticism and believe in magic. “Sense8” inspires me. I hope you watch it, and love it as much as I do.
Yes, it’s true! Tucker and I went the same boarding school, though I was expelled sophomore year. Tucker, on the other hand, went on to marry the headmaster’s daughter in the school chapel.
Here’s a blurry pic from the 80’s at a Grateful Dead show. I’m in the front and Tucker is to the left wearing glasses. Jerry Garcia, young, skinny, and two dimensional, is a cardboard cut out.
I don’t know if Tucker was better behaved than me at St. George’s –I was suspended for smoking a cigarette in the dorm and then kicked out the following year for drinking alcohol— or if he, like a lot of boarding school kids who made it to graduation, was just more skilled at appearing to following all those rules (including, for boys, wearing a tie daily.)
If you watch the Fox video, you can see I vehemently disagree with Tucker on Amazon’s decision– and most issues along with probably all of the other hosts on Fox News. Still, at least the network had me on to speak. I got a national platform to address about an issue I care about which is more than CNN or MSNBC has offered me recently.
I’ll leave one with one more nugget of prep school trivia. Julie Bowen, then known as Julie Luetkemeyer, the actress from “Modern Family” (and from kidworld “Planes: Fire and Rescue”) was in our class as well. As brilliant and beautiful then as now, she was probably the smartest kid in our class.
Finally, I didn’t get a chance to mention it in the 3.5 minutes I was on TV, but Amazon didn’t fully drop its filters. Read the details in my update on sexism at Amazon here.
Shopping in Walgreens the other day, I saw the action figure Michonne from “Walking Dead” in the toy aisle. I’m always on the lookout for female action figures and my husband is a huge fan of the show, so I bought Michonne for him and blogged about my purchase:
You probably know how rare it is to find a female action figure, not to mention a non-white female action figure, without her breasts popping out of her shirt, wearing pants even, just sitting there on a shelf in a store and not hiding out on some obscure internet site. Let’s just say she’s far rarer than the unicorn in fantasy figure world…Though, in theory, I’d rather my kids play with Michonne than Barbie, I wasn’t sure if I planned on letting them near her, when she comes with exotic weapons and also a couple severed heads. But when my daughter heard my husband’s joyful cry after he saw the package, I thought all was lost. My concern turned out to be unfounded. Not only did he tell her he’s not sharing, but he’s not even taking her out of the package. He’s worse than the evil dad in “The Lego Movie,” pre-epiphany.
Back again in Walgreens last week, I spotted the action figure of Daenerys Targaryen from “Game of Thrones” in the toy aisle, another show my husband watches.
Though I liked GoT in many ways, it has so much rape, I couldn’t stick with it. When I saw Daenerys at Walgreens, I thought: Who are they marketing to? Surely kids don’t watch GoT? Do other women buy for these their husbands besides me? For themselves? (please, let me know) I have a feeling this “Game of Thrones” heroine will be in my house soon. I’ll buy her for my husband. If he releases her from the package, and the kids come across her, I will let them play with her, in spite of the rape fest of a show. I love the dragon on perched on her arm, and I think my children would use Daenerys to make up some incredible stories. Fingers crossed my husband buys me Jesse (I watched every episode of “Breaking Bad” cringing and biting my nails.) That is, if he can find a store that will sell the toy.
I cannot procrastinate any longer blogging today except to tell you that you must watch “The Honourable Woman.” Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as Nessa Stein, an Israeli businesswoman working towards peace with the Palestinians. Not only is Gyllenhaal amazing in the role, she is not a Minority Feisty.
Other great, complex, and well acted female characters in this series include Janet McTeer as Dame Julia Walsh, the head of MI6, the British intelligence agency.
Genevieve O’Reilly as Francis Persig, adviser to Nessa Stein:
Eve Best as Monica Chatwin, a British Foreign Office tactician working in Washington, D.C
Lubna Azabal as Atika Halibi, the Palestinian nanny to Nessa’s nieces.
The filming is beautiful. Each shot is framed like a painting, so stylized it reminds me of Wes Anderson’s work.
One of my favorite lines by Dame Julia Walsh, the head of MI6, the British intelligence agency: “In a room full of pussies, I’m the only one with a vagina.”
The only downside is after watching this show, you realize nothing else on TV is nearly as good.
“Actually that comment I made jokingly,” he said. “It’s not that I said that it wasn’t Link. It’s that I never said that it was Link. It’s not really the same thing, but I can understand how it could be taken that way.
“It seems like it has kind of taken off where people are saying ‘oh it’s a female character’ and it just kind of grew. But my intent in saying that was humour. You know, you have to show Link when you create a trailer for a Zelda announcement.”
Because who would ever think that a game titled “Zelda” and a show titled “Zelda” would actually feature a female protagonist making the moves, taking the risks, and calling the shots at the center of the action? I, myself, made this same mistake when I let my 5 year old daughter watch “Zelda” because I thought it was a female based spin off of the Mario Brothers. Silly me! Here’s her pissed off reaction:
Here’s the diamond she’s talking about:
I’m holding out from seeing the show or playing the game, or letting my kids do either again, until Zelda is actually in charge.
I love “Nashville.” It’s my favorite show on TV, and I watch it weekly with my husband (who is a musician) and my 10 year old daughter who is an aspiring musician.
I’ve blogged before about the reasons why this show is so great: female protagonist, female supporting roles, complex/ realistic relationships between women, women who are defined, first and foremost, by their professions not love interests, a 40 something woman in her career prime is lusted after by multiple hot men, and the music is great. But I have to do one more blog about this show, because after we watched it last night, I said to my husband, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a female mentor another female on TV.” I’m so used to seeing women stereotyped and pitted against each other. It’s one of the reasons the whole Minority Feisty thing upsets me so much, females are continually isolated from each other– an old, effective tool for domination. I’m not saying women should stand in a circle and sing kumbaya. Not only is that boring, it’s not realistic. But in “Nashville,” you see women work through conflict and then come out on on other side in ways unpredicted and unexpected. It’s really inspiring to watch. If you didn’t know, Callie Khouri of “Thelma and Louise” fame writes the show. It’s great and I encourage you to watch it with your kids (I recommend for age 9 and up, if they know about sex. There are no graphic or long sex scenes but there are brief ones and sex is alluded to.)
Reel Girl rates “Nashville” ***HHH*** (up one H this season to highest heroine rating)
My three kids see the Mario Brothers everywhere, but I dislike this pair of brothers for obvious reasons (but pointed out so well by Anita Sarkeseesian in this video about the perpetual damsel in distress trope played by Princess Peach.) Last night, I decided to let my kids try the also highly advertised “Legend of Zelda.” Both shows/ games are created by the same guy, Shigeru Miyamoto, and often appear together in marketing. Today, while I was making dinner, my 5 year old daughter went on rant about how disappointing “Zelda” was for her. One reason I created Reel Girl, to rate kids’ media for girl empowerment, is because titles can be so misleading to parents. I’m posting this video so that you can be more informed than I was. I’m listening to my daughter and staying away from “Legend of Zelda.” I hope you do too.
Just looked it up, here’s the diamond she’s talking about: