Ode to Reginka

June 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

Image: Regina Spektor, smiling broadly.

Friends: Regina Spektor! She is just so delightful! And her music is like when you wake up slicked in sweat on a hot summer morning in your stuffy, un-air-conditioned, fourth floor walk-up apartment and open the window and a cold rush of breeze floods in and you feel alive again. Also, she played a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood. Hearts.

Regina’s music is weird. Seriously, it is strange. She is well-known for her odd and original sound play; she often exaggerates her glottal stop, slurs her words, and switches rapidly between a near-whisper and loudly belted notes. This matters because, as has been said about Lady Gaga, I think a woman’s willingness to be strange — and shamelessly so — is a profoundly feminist act in a culture that prefers its ladies to act like robots.

I also have a feminist (and aesthetic) appreciation for Regina’s musical whimsy. Her work has a strong trend of poking fun at sex, love, and gendered interactions. Below, a selection and explanation of my favorite Spektor lyrics.

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Calling All Crows

May 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

My friend (and frequent commenter) Dava passed along this awesome music video, a promotion for the human rights organization Calling All Crows.

The organization was founded by Chad Stokes Urmston, a musician, and Sybil Gallagher, a tour manager, as a social action and advocacy project of the Boston-based band State Radio. Urmston previously earned a place in my heart for his contributions to Dispatch, a delightful and experimental folk rock band that produced one of my favorite songs of all time. His latest venture with his current band is absolutely inspiring:

During their sold out, 25-city tour this past February, the band performed service projects in every town they visited, from serving lunch at a homeless shelter in Houston to building a community garden at an inner city elementary school in Washington, D.C. Calling All Crows…is committed to continuing the group’s socio-political dialogue once the music ends and the lights come up. In less than a year, State Radio and their fans have amassed over 1,800 hours of community service through projects that have local, national, and global impact.

The group sent their “good friend and Knights of Bostonia director Andrew Mudge to South Africa, India, Brazil and lastly, New York City to capture the power and perseverance of women around the globe.”

The music video really is wonderful. I love the overall visual style and, in particular, the dancing bit at the end. Check it out:

Rape Apologists, Celebrity Edition

May 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

You may be a great filmmaker Woody Allen, but you are also a rape apologist.

Bummer.

More Thoughts on Christina Hendricks

March 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

(She’s still on my mind from earlier this week…)

Here are some things that I love about Christina Hendricks: She is a razor-sharp actress; her character Joan is deliciously complex, a tangle of contradictions, the kind of woman you’d be terrified of but simultaneously want to be. She is very beautiful. She knows what’s what about rape; here are her comments on Joan’s rape by her fiance:

“What’s astounding is when people say things like, ‘Well, you know that episode where Joan sort of got raped?’ Or they say rape and use quotation marks with their fingers,” says Hendricks. “I’m like, ‘What is that you are doing? Joan got raped!’ It illustrates how similar people are today, because we’re still questioning whether it’s a rape. It’s almost like, ‘Why didn’t you just say bad date?’ ”

I absolutely love this. It is wonderful that actors are allowed to talk about rape in their interviews, allowed to condemn it, and that such comments go to print without an editor’s fear of “ruining the mood” of the piece.

Here are some things that I dislike, not about Christina, but about the way she’s talked about: Every fucking article in every fucking publication harps on her body. For example, this above-quoted, perfectly normal, perfectly informative New York Magazine article: Dangerous Curves. Even this article — again from NY Mag — all about Christina’s annoyance over all the body talk, is titled Woman of the Hourglass.

Other articles, while not explicitly and entirely about Christina’s body, are peppered with such references. See: “Mad Men star Christina Hendricks is the sexiest woman on TV today—and with her hourglass curves, she’s changing Hollywood’s skewed views of females. Meet the whip-smart, funny (and, yes, va-va-voom) charmer who’s a throwback to the days of Marilyn Monroe.” Or: “Christina, on the set of the award-winning Mad Men, proves her character, Joan Holloway, is the curvy queen bee of the office secretarial pool.”

Paraphrase: “Christina Hendricks is a lady who is an actress and who we think is smokin’ hot and SHE HAS CURVES. HER BODY IS CURVY. LOOK AT HER BOOBS. CHECK OUT THEM HIPS. CURVY CURVY BRAVE CURVY LADY.”

This obsession is outrageously demeaning. It suggests that her talent as an actor is corollary to — or validated by — the shape of her body. Women are more than a collection of body parts, on display for consumption.

For her part, though, Christina isn’t turning a blind eye to this insulting chatter: “It kind of hurt my feelings at first. Anytime someone talks about your figure constantly, you get nervous, you get really self-conscious. I was working my butt off on the show, and then all anyone was talking about was my body!”

It’s game time!

March 14, 2010 § 1 Comment

Let’s play: which one of these is not like the other?

Is it a) the actor Christina Hendricks?

b) Joan Holloway, the character she portrays on Mad Men?

or c) the new Joan Holloway Barbie doll?

Yep, you guessed it! It’s the Barbie doll, whose body is shockingly and deceptively thin when compared to the character’s actual frame.

What’s even more egregious than this body denial is the fact that the dolls are being touted as exceptionally realistic. From the Times:

“The dolls, we feel, do a great job of embodying the series,” said Stephanie Cota, senior vice president for Barbie marketing at Mattel in El Segundo, Calif. “Certain things are appropriate, and certain things aren’t.”

Like making the dolls look like the characters?!

…“Anybody who likes the show for its attention to detail will get that from the dolls,” he added, which earned approval from him; Janie Bryant, the costume designer for “Mad Men”; and Scott Hornbacher, an executive producer.

As an example of their scrutiny, Mr. Weiner said he told Mattel that the sideburns on the Don Draper doll needed “to be higher” and the haircut needed “to be tighter.”

So the producer noticed the Don doll’s wee sideburns, but not the glaring and obvious mistake of whittling down Joan’s body?

Yikes. That’s some “attention to detail.”

Quotable Gabby

March 7, 2010 § Leave a comment

Cherry on top of the ice cream sundae that is all the things I love about Gabby Sidibe…

“If fashion were porn, this dress would be the money shot.”Oscar nominee and beautiful person Gabourey Sidibe

Role Models

January 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

I love this. Miley Cyrus tells Harper’s Bazaar: “My job isn’t to tell your kids how to act or how not to act because I’m still figuring that out for myself.”

Via Feministing.

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