Champagne in a Can

Sofia Coppola “canned champagne.” Yes, it really is the best thing in a can. Go buy it at your nearest alcoholic beverages depot now. It’s a tiny pink can filled with bubbly sparkling wine and even has a tiny pink straw attached, picnic-ready. So obviously, I drank all 4 of my 4-pack while watching the Oscars this year. Someone online said to me, “I hope it’s better than her movies.” And if you could hear a guffaw over the internet, I swore I heard one.

Susanne Bier got up there later and accepted the award for Best Foreign Film, awarded to her work, In a Better World. An intense lover of modern Danish film (it’s a specific type of love, I guess), I was shocked (thought Biutiful would win, honestly) but excited. I love all of Bier’s films and felt them all under-appreciated, so this was big. While she gave her speech, I cheered for her, alone on my couch, as everyone in the Kodak Theatre resounded in a unanimous, stiff and silent, “Who the fuck is this?”

Sometimes, I vote for someone in a petty or serious poll just because she’s one female choice out of a handful of male choices (Please note: Sarah Palin is exempt from this juvenile logic of mine). The “girl power” in me says this is not wrong at all, that it is actually 150% right, the most right I could ever be. The other part of me isn’t sure what’s so moral about blindly becoming the cheerleader for anyone with a vagina. But, sometimes, I do it anyway.

In the Barry Jenkins film Medicine for Melancholy, the main female character asks the main male character if he’s ever wondered what her t-shirt means. It reads, simply, “loden.” He shakes his head “no.” She explains to him that she does this for a living – she prints t-shirts with the last names of female directors on them. Hers in particular is a tribute to Barbara Loden, film actress and director of Wanda (1970). Mostly, this scene inspires me – women recognizing and honoring other women’s achievements, out in the open for all to see. It’s kind of cheeky, in a way. But then there’s the tail end of this whole sentiment, where I picture this young woman walking around in these t-shirts lauding lowercase last names that no passersby recognize or care about.

Jo (Tracey Heggins) and Micah (Wyatt Cenac) in Medicine for Melancholy

When Tina Fey accepted her more-than-deserved Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, she said poignantly: “I do hope that women are achieving at a rate these days that we can stop counting what number they are at things.”

Which leads me to wonder: If women’s achievements in predominantly male-dominated roles – especially in the world of entertainment – inspire and encourage a certain group of women, then does it matter if these achievements are whittled down to mere numbers or vaguely cool t-shirts to the rest?

Oh hell, let the men figure it out. Bring me some more champagne.

Tweet-Sized Thoughts on Media-Related Things: p1

In honor of my recent inability to write anything of length, I felt I had to post something for my own sake. So I think I will take a cue from my friend Britt Julious and her Sunday column idea…Though with this blog, it will just be a collection of my recent tweets on Twitter that happen to be media-related. (Note: Hopefully, on another day, some of these tweet-sized bites will grow into essays or articles.)

First impressions of a commercial for Sex and the City 2.

‘Sex and the City 2′ looks like a hackneyed, slightly racist mess. #SATC 8:44 PM May 6th

Update: Solange is still cooler than you, even while singing on one of those LSD-induced kids’ shows.

Dear @solangeknowles: Will you please make a full-length song of this Yo Gabba Gabba! thing? It’s damn catchy. http://bit.ly/cHDOR6 3:45 PM May 8th

A film I revisited and found it’s still one of my all-time favorites: Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas.

“I walked around for months talking to you. Now I don’t know what to say. It was easier when I just imagined you.” Damn good film, Paris, TX 5:31 PM May 8th

Betty White hosting SNL Mother’s Day Episode. I basically live-tweeted the Betty White-hosted SNL episode…along with dozens of my friends. In a nutshell? It was glorious. Undoubtedly one of the best episodes SNL has had in a lonnnnnnng time. Because of Betty White AND the fact that they brought back a lot of the former female favorites for the Mother’s Day episode. They have to know that they can’t really make it any better than that ever again…But we’ll see with the Alec Baldwin episode tonight. (Which, in the promos for, they’ve already made fun of themselves and their one-time success with Betty White.) Key tweets include…

Betty White on #SNL! Awesome already. Just to hear her say, ‘Jay-Z is here!’ 10:40 PM May 8th

NPR ladies!! Muffin!! Betty White!! #SNL 10:49 PM May 8th

TINA!!!! #SNL 11:00 PM May 8th

Jay-Z medley!!! This is the best #SNL episode ever. 11:12 PM May 8th

Omg. Maya’s Whitney impression is always gold. #SNL 11:21 PM May 8th

Cannes Film Festival 2010 starts; French New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard’s new film Socialisme.

The trailers for #Godard‘s new #film just speed up the whole movie in its entirety, instead of highlighting scenes http://bit.ly/9fSymX 10:27 AM May 10th

RT: Racialicious explores Lady Gaga and white privilege.

Great read, fascinating. RT @britticisms Racialicious on how Lady Gaga’s white privilege makes her transgressive: http://bit.ly/gagawoc 2:35 PM May 10th

RT: Salon.com on the 90s MTV show Daria finally being released on DVD.

SalonMedia Remember the old MTV? “Daria” comes out on DVD http://bit.ly/a2ruwh 8:57 AM May 12th

“‘Daria’ could have only happened at that time, during that strange, transitional period after the grunge and gangsta rap of the early ’90s” 9:11 AM May 12th

RT: A friend lets me know about a development in the Polanski case.

DrMcButtcheeks @colleenclaes http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/05/14/polanski.second.accuser/index.html Honestly. Who saw this coming? about 22 hours ago

@DrMcButtcheeks But this just reminds me how I don’t even WANNA know how many old pervo Polanski did this to… about 22 hours ago

And that’s all for now. If you see anything you’d like me to elaborate on, please let me know! (Unfortunately, I don’t think my heart/anxiety can bear doing another lengthy post on Polanski…)

Tina Fey: Victim of ‘Superior’ Feminism

Writers: Do you ever get that feeling when you read something truly spectacular – whether it be a novel, a poem, or a commentary – and think, “Damn! I wish I wrote that…” Most likely you do, and I refer to this as “Writer’s Envy.” (Surely I am not the first to dub it this, and again, I feel that self-loathing setting in…)

Well, I felt that this morning when I read Rebecca Traister’s “The Tina Fey backlash” on Salon.com. (Don’t be put off by the length – it’s totally worth the read.) It was everything I’ve been wanting to say since I read Sady Doyle’s post ripping Tina Fey and her character Liz Lemon to ideological bits and pieces. Though I can never say it better than Rebecca Traister did, I feel the need to add on/give my two cents anyhow.

Back in January, I wrote a post entitled “Liz Lemon: Feminist Icon (Havin’ It All).”Ahh, those were the days when I felt that Liz Lemon as a character on 30 Rock was a favorite amongst feminists, standing out as probably the best female role model on current-day television. Boy, was I wrong!

Turns out, some feminists in the blogosphere are displeased with Tina Fey and Liz Lemon in terms of feminist rank. Because apparently, there’s a hierarchy of feminism now, and the “superior” ones (like Doyle) know far better than the ones who are not quite up to par (like Fey).

In a nutshell: Tina Fey’s satirization of insecurities marked by the independent, career-oriented woman used to be funny and loveable, but are now offensive and non-progressive in the world of feminism. And then the Fey-hosted SNL episode happened, and online commentaries exploded with disappointment – most notably with Fey’s use of the word “whore” when taking jabs at Michelle “Bombshell” McGee. (In my opinion: totally hilarious. Is that so wrong?) If it had only just been creeping in before, the backlash was now officially solidified.

How did we get to this point? As Traister poignantly says:

“While it might be fair to argue that Fey has profited from a feminist embrace, she did not ever pretend to be a standard bearer for contemporary feminism. We’re the ones who made her that, who overidentified with her, or with Liz Lemon, or with the Weekend Update host who declared that bitch was the new black, and attached to her a passel of our highest expectations and ideals.”

Yes, WE projected this feminist role model onto her ourselves. Hence, my blog post in January. Though at the time, it was a light-hearted, short and sweet kind of post embracing Lemon’s differences from other female TV icons (i.e.: Carrie Bradshaw), as well as her relatability.

Here’s the thing though: I should not have to feel ashamed for liking Liz Lemon and being a feminist at the same time. I should also not have to be ashamed for thinking Liz is a good female character on TV right now. But most people who have the “Liz Lemon is not a true feminist” debate have this holier-than-thou attitude, thinking they possess some secret, hidden key to “real, truer” feminism – something that Tina Fey is supposedly failing at implementing.

It’s annoying. It’s also pretty insulting, because the arguer is most likely assuming that Tina Fey and her fans are too shallow or stupid to comprehend this “truer” version of feminism. It’s kind of like, “You know, even though I also watch 30 Rock regularly and probably laugh throughout the episodes, I am a distinguished feminist amongst you all for dissecting Liz Lemon and outing her as a fake.”

These feminists expect too much of Tina Fey. Realistically, how can anyone expect a comedy like 30 Rock to be politically correct and perfect in ideology when it’s whole premise is based upon calling out stereotypes by employing them comedically? Traister beautifully ponders this notion of “where to draw the line” between feminism and humor, saying point blank:

Tina Fey is a professional comedian. She is not a professional feminist.

Thank God. Someone finally said what I was thinking in two succinct sentences. Rebecca Traister, I might just start projecting a feminist role model onto you.

The last thing that bothers me about this backlash? Liz Lemon is growing as a character. Because – imagine that – most main characters grow as the show goes on! (The idea!) So why are we expecting perfection and feminist-to-a-tee behaviors and decisions from a character who is clearly still figuring her shit out in her late thirties? This is another reason why some of us women love Liz Lemon: She’s figuring it out, just like the rest of us. No one is a textbook feminist at all times. (And if you think you are, don’t kid yourself.) Liz becomes more confident as time goes on. She refuses to settle. She starts to realize her true worth. I believe the last few episodes of this season have started to point towards that.

A feminist is not just born; she is grown into throughout life. And who’s to say that by age such-and-such (late thirties, in Fey’s case), you need to have developed all capabilities of the ideal feminist? Regardless, every woman is an individual, and I think sometimes feminism forgets that. Or ceases to care, at least when trying to prove its point.

Hell, maybe I’m a bad feminist for all I know. But for me, feminism should never have hierarchies. This isn’t a goddamned hazing initiation, after all. It’s not about weeding out the bad feminists from the good ones, and it’s not about shaming other feminists for not being feminist “enough.” Let’s all learn from one another, yes. I’m glad that articles like these help me to engage in discourse on women’s issues. And trust me, it’s complicated and difficult when writing a feminist post criticizing feminists who critize women for not being feminist enough.

Last time I checked though, feminism was about equality. And one would hope that a group aspiring towards true equality would at least cheer on and support the ones who are trying – in whatever way that is their own – to break the mold in places where there was little room to make a dent in the first place.

Instead, we find part of that group tearing apart one of the few women in entertainment today who profoundly resonates with us.

And you wanna talk about progressiveness?

Liz Lemon: Feminist Icon (Havin’ it All)

I got to thinking about female television characters after reading Salon.com: Broadsheet’s commentary, “Carrie Bradshaw: Feminist Icon?” I recommend giving it a read whenever you get the chance, but basically: Writer Tracy Clark-Flory debates whether or not the character of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City (played by Sarah Jessica Parker, of course) can be considered a role model for modern-day women.

And then it occurred to me…Liz Lemon (played by Tina Fey, of course) of 30 Rock has to be, truly, one of the best female icons on television right now.

Essentially, Liz Lemon is a lot like Tina Fey (except “more of a loser,” as Fey herself once said.) But they seem to represent the same concepts and ideas, and the similarities are obvious when comparing Lemon and Fey’s careers and histories. (For instance, Fey started out in improv in Chicago, and this is often mentioned on 30 Rock in regards to Lemon’s past.)

There are oh so many reasons why us women looooove Liz Lemon. She strives and struggles to “have it all!” as a creative writer, business woman, single woman on the New York dating scene, and a sometimes “clock-a-tickin’” wannabe mother. While jokes are made about Lemon attempting to “have it all,” she fairs pretty well, while also pointing out to us – comically – the hardships of a successful urban woman having to date, maintain friendships, and be respected as a boss and a professional.

Women say they can relate to Lemon because they “eat like her,” or are “dorky” like she is. Or they get nervous around men like she frequently does. We can relate to her. We see her at home, not made-up, hair a mess and lounging around in un-sexy sweats eating blocks of cheese late in the night. In fact, she’s a welcome relief with her eating habits. Because unlike the Sex and the City women, you’ll never find her ordering a salad. (But instead: a meatball sub.)

Liz Lemon may be what we call an “accidental hero”: She never really set out to become a positive role model for women, but she’s become one anyway. And she’s my personal pick for the feminist icon of the small screen. Hell, maybe even beating out anyone on the big screen at this rate.

She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s independent. She’s not perfect. And she’s like us. What more could you ask for in a fictional feminist icon?

Why ‘Audition Day’ is One of the Best ’30 Rock’ Episodes…Ever

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ll admit it – I just got into 30 Rock. But to be fair, in about two weeks’ time, I became officially caught up with all past three seasons. And I’m currently watching the fourth one as it comes on every Thursday. In case you’re still questioning my true devotion, I’ve watched maybe half of all the episodes at least twice.

SPOILER ALERT! This post contains spoilers for anyone who has not seen “Audition Day,” episode 4 in the fourth season of 30 Rock.

'30 Rock' title card screenshot, Wikipedia Commons

I can’t think of many other shows that utilize the art of “cultural referencing” as often and as successfully as 30 Rock. One of the things that makes the show so uniquely funny is its nod to relevant pop and daily culture.

I’ve been hearing people say that the show is “not that funny” this season. Seeing as how I was doubled over with laughter while finishing the third, these comments worried me. But once I started catching up with the current season, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was laughing just as hard as I was in season three.

“Audition Day” – the fourth episode – is already a favorite of mine. I’ve watched it about five times since it aired. (Thank God for Hulu.) There are so many reasons why this particular episode makes that embarrassing snort escape from my nostrils while laughing too hard.

And trust me, I know that it’s not funny to point out why something is funny. So in the below list, I’ll try to just commentate briefly on my favorite moments:

  • The Liz Lemon audition tape from 1996: As Liz and Pete attempt to “rig” the auditioning system to get Jack to pick the actor they want, Liz expresses that she feels a little guilty using the other actors in this process. “So much rejection,” she reflects, as the flashback cuts in and we see an old audition tape of her trying out for a carpet cleaner commercial. “My name is Liz Lemon, and I am represented by Suzanne’s B+ Talent.”
  • Jack has bed bugs: And because of this, he is ostracized from the office and meetings. (“Did you just MUTE me?!”)
  • “Beat it, Grizz or Dot Com” – Jenna, to Dot Com
  • Jack on the subway, where he does the “homeless guy” speech, reworded to fit his own bed bug sufferings.
  • The whiny violin music behind all of “rejection” scenes. Very reminiscent of the sad Charlie Brown music.
  • “I’m not gay – I’m biiiiii-laarrrrrioussss!“: While gay humor does not…humor…me, I felt this was actually funny because it pointed to the ridiculousness of the “Funny Gay” stereotype. For another example, Tracy Morgan yelling, “I repeat, all funny gays into the car!”
  • The doughnut-eating woman “Hmmm-mmmmm”-ing onstage: This is the most random and nonsensically hilarious thing I’ve seen on TV in a long time.
  • And last, but certainly not least, dowdy Kathy Geiss doing the Susan Boyle “I Dreamed a Dream.” At this, I laughed so hard I cried as I watched this…on Hulu…alone in my apartment.

So there you have it. So much comedy and so many references packed into 30 (well, more like 21 with commercials) minutes. Yes, I say – 30 Rock’s still got it.