Seth MacFarlane, you’re a loser

After Tina Fey and Amy Poehler rocked the Golden Globes last month, I hoped Hollywood producers would catch on: putting women in power positions means a high quality show with good ratings. But then, Seth MacFarlane. Last night’s Academy Awards featured the the most sexist, worst Oscars hosting I’ve ever seen.


I get that MacFarlane tried to pre-empt this blog, and many like it, with his boring, stupid, Captain Kirk snore-fest-skit. But, Seth, your fake headlines last night don’t get close to describing what a pig you are. Best Actress nominee Quevenzhane Wallis is nine years old. She was so proud. That was the biggest moment of her life, and you called her George Clooney’s girlfriend? Why would you do that to a kid? How is she supposed to feel when you say that? Are you that insecure that you want to cut down a little girl?


Jessica Chastain had the rare opportunity to play a heroic, female protagonist and you trivialized her character, transforming her lifetime accomplishment into nagging, saying she possessed the innate female ability to never let anything go.

You sang a “boob song” that was more repetitive than my three year old, and you made jokes about domestic violence. That’s all I saw, but apparently, I missed some sexism.

Where were your jokes about men? Part of the reason your jokes were not funny is because women get demeaned and trivialized every day in this country, especially in Hollywood. All you did was jump on the bandwagon and push things a little further in the same, old, tired direction. Watching you tell your sexist jokes at a venue where in 85 years, only 4 women have been nominated for Best Director, was like watching someone point up and say, “The sky is blue,” for three and a half hours. Seth MacFarlane, you are such a bore.

Your performance did help me to explain the meaning of the term “bully pulpit” to some children. So, thanks for that, I guess.

Here’s to hoping Sarah Silverman hosts the Oscars in 2014.


Please Tweet #SarahSilvermanHostOscars




Riding Bitch: new images

More than any other pattern of sexist imagery in the fantasy worlds created for children, I hate the girl on the back of the bike, dragon, or hippogriff. Recently, I posted:

This image of male driving and the girl along for the ride is ubiquitous in the imaginary world. You almost never see a girl in front and a boy behind, or even a girl alone, and also, it’s extremely rare to see a girl on a female magical creature.

After my post, Orlando wrote in this comment:

Shall I share with you the moment when I learned to loathe Kerouac? This is it (from “On the Road”):
“In the empty Houston streets of four o’clock in the morning a motorcycle kid suddenly roared through, all bespangled and bedecked with glittering buttons, visor, slick black jacket, a Texas poet of the night, girl gripped on his back like a papoose, hair flying, onward-going, singing.”
Familiar image? What happened was two people went past; what they saw was one person plus accessories.

The Kerouac quote pretty much epitomizes the poetic subjugation of women in that repetitive image (coupled with the the adventurous title of the book, of course.) Kerouac is such a good writer and he does this image so well. And again, the image/ narrative would not be a problem if it were one of many; it is its dominance over our imaginations, the way other narratives have become restricted and repressed, even in fantasy, that is the tragedy.

I’m going to keep a running tally on Reel Girl of images normalizing what I learned is called “riding bitch.” Please let me know if you see any and PLEASE let me know if you see the reverse gender positions.

Two recent disappointments:


I was very bummed to see the usually feminist Studio Ghibli put out this image to promote “From Up on Poppy Hill”




Who has courage to gender flip a classic hero: Rolling Stone or Disney?

Yesterday, I posted about the excellent and amazing Disney made for TV movie: “Avalon High.” The story is about the reincarnation of heroes and villains from the King Arthur legend of Medieval times to a contemporary high school in the U.S. The protagonist of the show, Allie– brave, smart, strong, and kind– turns out to be…King Arthur. With that gender flip, this Disney movie shows girls and boys that females can be heroic and at the center of the action.

Then, I got this comment from Lesley:

In the book, the Allie character is NOT King Arthur, but the Lady of the Lake, who gives Arthur the powerful Excalibur. Will is Arthur. The twist is that there are hints she is Elaine (her character is called “Ellie” in the book) the weepy victim of unrequited love dumped by Lancelot. So, she turns out to be a crucial element in Will’s development as king but she doesn’t become king herself.

My daughter Callie and I both loved this movie for the same reasons you did, and we were crowing with delight at the changed ending!

As I wrote back to Leslie, I am totally shocked. I can’t think of another time– tell me if you can– where a kid’s book has been changed by the kid’s film (not grown up film) to be more feminist.

I am amazed Disney did this. Really. And also, Meg Cabot, the writer: WTF? Lady of the Lake? She is not cool, powerful, or that important in the story. If you are seeking remnants of evidence of female power, she will do, but obviously, King Arthur is the central figure in the legend. The best line of the movie is when Mordred says to Allie something like: “You? I thought maybe you could be Lady of the Lake, but Arthur?”

The translation of that quote goes way beyond the specific characters of Arthur and Lady of the Lake: Mordred is saying that a girl can’t be a hero and Allie shows that villain how wrong he is. I love how that is done here, through the characters and action, and not in the usual, boring way where the bad guy says something to the effect of– ew, you’re a girl. That, to me, kind of reinforces sexism: we’re all supposed to get the insult is wrong but too often, we don’t see it in the story beyond a moral/ ethical issue. Here, we get it: Don’t underestimate me. I won’t underestimate myself either.

It’s interesting because right after we saw the movie, I went to Amazon to buy my daughter the book, and I didn’t buy it. I wasn’t sure exactly why I didn’t want to. The cover didn’t grab me. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, but  Meg Cabot’s other books looked very pink and seemed to be about girls who were mostly interested in boys. Of course, that could easily be the marketing department who designs the cover. Maybe I thought I needed to do more research, and I didn’t have time right then. Whatever the reason, I didn’t click “buy.” Thank goodness Lesley commented because if I got that book, I would have been so pissed and disappointed. Though Lesley is more considerate than me with her spoiler alert, I feel it is my duty to warn you : )

I NEVER thought I would say this but KUDOS TO DISNEY. I am quite curious to know the story behind this adaptation. And also, Hollywood: Are you listening? Here is an example of how to use some imagination and innovation– 2 things you are, after all, supposed to be known for, supposed to encourage– to remake a classic without girls going missing. This gender flip is not about “girls being boys” or “girls acting like boys” or any other ridiculous justification to keep girls on the sidelines because that’s just where they belong as we recycle the same narratives, generation after generation.

After I read Lesley’s comment, I saw something quite incredible posted by Sara on Reel Girl’s FB page. Here is the new Rolling Stone cover, and quoting Vulture: “Why is Tina Fey Lois Lane?”


Why is Tina Fey riding bitch? This same old image of the male driving, the girl along for the ride is ubiquitous in the imaginary world. Why did Rolling Stone put Tina Fey, one of the most successful women in the world, in that position?

Vulture writes:

Tina Fey co-hosted the Golden Globes to universal praise. Her seven-season critical darling 30 Rock — which is still really damn funny — is ending in two weeks. She has seven Emmys, two Golden Globes, three Producers Guild awards, four SAG awards, and a Mark Twain prize. She’s synonymous with contemporary humor. Out of curiosity, Rolling Stone, what would it take for her to be Superman on the cover?
Do you see how fucked up it is for women to continually contort themselves into the sidekick? The distortion is not in the gender flip, in the rare times it is actually made, but in continually keeping women secondary to men. Our cultural imaginary (to borrow a phrase from Lucy Irigaray) is so warped that Tina Fey is cast in the sidekick/ girlfriend role here. If Tina Fey isn’t a superhero, I don’t know who is.
The real world and the imaginary world are endlessly intertwined. What is happening to Tina Fey, on Rolling Stone, happens every day to all women everywhere in the world: Move over lady, a man wants to fly.
Who would have thought that Rolling Stone magazine would be so pathetically conventional and a Disney made for TV movie could be so radical?



Tina Fey, Amy Poehler hosting Golden Globes WHOO-HOO!

In 2013, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host the Golden Globes. Here’s the NY Daily News sub headline:

“The comedic duo will be taking over for Ricky Gervais, who manned the hosting duties for three years.”

Not sure if that humor is intended, but this hosting gig is a huge victory for women. Fey and Poehler will become the first female duo ever to host this high profile awards show.

Tina Fey is a pioneer. She was the first female head writer ever of “Saturday Night Live,” a notoriously male dominated show that launched the career of many high profile male comedians from John Belushi to Adam Sandler. Fey’s brilliant book, Bossypants, was a best-seller. One of my favorite sections was her beautiful prayer for her daughter. Like Fey, Amy Poehler is a groundbreaker as well; she’s funny, smart, beautiful, a mom, and the star of her own show. Even cooler, both women are…FRIENDS.

Winning this hosting job helps to repudiate ridiculous but persistent myths about women, mainly: (1) Women aren’t funny (2) “Pretty” women aren’t funny (3) Women aren’t friends (4) Women can’t work together (5) Moms aren’t high-profile, breadwinners, funny, smart, or sexy.


Tina Fey’s prayer for her daughter:

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be beautiful but not damaged, for it’s the damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with beer.

Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from acting but not all the way to finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes and not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the drums to the fiery rhythm of her own heart with the sinewy strength of her own arms, so she need not lie with drummers.

Grant her a rough patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, for childhood is short – a tiger flower blooming magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, for I will not have that shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. My mother did this for me once, she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a mental note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with your God eyes.



ReelGirl star of the week: Tina Fey

Tina Fey defines crazy in The New Yorker:

Science show that fertility and movie offers drop off steeply for women after forty. The baby-versus-work life questions keep the writer up at night. She has observed that women, at least in comedy, are labeled “crazy” after a certain age. The writer has the suspicion that the definition of “crazy” in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore. The fastest remedy for this “women are crazy” situation is for more women to become producers and hire diverse women of various ages. That is why the writer feels obligated to stay in the business, and that is why she can’t possibly take time off for a second baby, unless she does, in which case that is nobody’s business. Does the writer want to have another baby? Or does she just want to turn back time and have her daughter be a baby again?

Thank you Tina Fey for being smart, funny, and beautiful. Who knew a woman could be all 3? And did I mention, she’s a mom?

Fey is also right on about producers. I’m really beginning to feel (partly because of this blog) like there’s little significant difference between fiction and non-fiction. Before I felt like non-fiction writing really mattered. But the fantasy world shapes our reality, what we expect, and what we hope for, which in turn shapes our fantasy world again. If women can find ways to get their stories out there– as producers, writers, publishers, whatever– the world will change.

Sarah Palin gets ‘Foxified’ in new SNL skit

Last night Tina Fey reprised her Sarah Palin role on Saturday Night Live. I’m psyched Tina Fey’s brilliant parody is back. Not only is she hilarious, but her portrayals of the politician in 2008 were instrumental in turning America on to the silliness of Palin’s candidacy.

Tina Fey as  Sarah Plain

Tina Fey was funny last night as usual, but here’s a new idea: instead of depicting Sarah Palin in her signature updo, Fey should show her losing her look because now she’s joined Fox, home of the pornstar/ anchor.

Here’s the skit.


Tina Fey is in her dressing room at Fox News. She’s got big, blonde Fox woman anchor hair, a bright pink suit with cleavage and new, large breasts. She’s surrounded by make up artists, hairdressers, stylists etc, all putting the finishing touches on her new look.

Make-up artist: “For your debut on Fox News, we want to keep it kind of natural. We’re just going with some rouge, some foundation, a little concealer, some blush, some mascara, some eyeshadow, some lipstick, some powder, some bronzer…”

Sarah Palin trying to wait patiently, finally interrupts, still looking at herself in the mirror: “I’m just not sure about the hair.”

Hairdresser: “Oh, it’s great! I’ve done lots of famous people– Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton, Heidi Montag, Denise Richards, Kate Gosselin. Not a lot of people know this…” He bends down to her, “But they all had lots of problems. Their hair was…brown.”

SP: “What’s the matter with brown hair?”

HD: “Oh, nothing, honey. It’s just, you know, sometimes it can make you look… smart.”

Other make up people and stylist people nod.

SP: (Pats her hair) “Does everyone here get this kind of treatment?”


MA: “Oh, yes, sure. Although with guests, sometimes we just make suggestions. You know Anne Coulter? She used to weigh over 100 pounds.”

Bald and fat Fox News president, Roger Ailes enters, saying, “We’re so happy to have you here, Sarah. Come on out, lets meet your colleagues.”

RA puts his hand on SP’s back and leads her out of hair/make-up room.

There’s a group of blonde haired, big breasted, heavily made up women. Sarah Palin starts shaking their hands, smiling.

SP: “I’m so happy to meet you. I’m so excited to be part of the team.”

RA: “No, Sarah. Those are Tiger Woods mistresses. They’re about to go on Greta’s show.”

SP: “Oh.” (Looking confused)

RA: “Here are your colleagues.” He gestures to as second group of women, identical in look and dress to the first.

SP excitedly shakes hands.

RA: “You really look great Sarah. As you know, presentation is a big part of making the Fox Network a success. Hey look, here’s the star of the network!”

Enter Bill O’Reilly, looking slovenly and bald.

SP: “I’m a big fan!” She pumps Bill’s hand.

Other male stars get introduced until there’s a crowd of old, fat balding men. Sarah stands in front of women and men, everyone clapping and patting her on the back. Sarah faces the audience, smiling triumphantly. SP: “I’m so proud to be a part of this network! I can’t wait for my show go out to all 60 states! From Quebec all the way to Juneau, to tell America for the first time, Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night Fever!”

Please read my related post When women join the Fair and Balanced network, they get FOXIFIED.