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Spoooooky videos

‘Tis the most wonderful time of the year! Halloweeeeeen season! Here are my favorite spooky videos to watch every fall.

 

skeletondance03

 

An appetizer: The Skeleton Dance, 1929. Disney does it best.

 

First course: The cutest little ducklings visit their stingy Uncle Donald, a perpetual bachelor because he was kind of an asshole, as deftly evidenced here.

Main course: My favorite! We watched this every October when I was a kid. Autumn is so exciting when you’re young. There’s so much adrenaline to be found in everything… you’ve settled into school, it’s homecoming season and you probably have a new crush, the weather is cool and you can play outside for hours, there’s something magical in there air… danger lurks just around the corner and mother nature is setting the mood, but a warm bed and hug are just inside. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, 1949.

Dessert (a Reese’s Cup of a video, obviously): The music video for “The Ghost of Stephen Foster,” by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. This song is The. Best.

Camptown ladies never sang oh dah doo dah day!

To the fruit flies living in my kitchen

I am the Joe to your singing cockroach as you settle in, making a nest of my banana’s ripening skin. Bananas I promised to turn into smoothies a week ago but ordered pizza instead.

Open a cupboard door, and there you all swarm. Your ability for reproduction is admirable, wasting none of your short eight-day life span, 10 if you’re lucky and find a good banana, 12 if you live in my place.

Internet says you are dumb little buggers. Then why can’t I manage to fend you off? You were too smart for my Farmers’ Almanac-found recipe to drown you in simmered milk and sugar and flakes of ground pepper. More probable: I just made the trap wrong. The bad cook is a lonely hunter.

I could make a vinegar trap, but I don’t own vinegar, just bananas longing to be pulverized in my blender. A red wine trap with perforated plastic wrap would do, but who wants to enlist a good Cab to the mercenary business? So cheers to your science and survival. I’ll just squash the stinkbugs instead.

Ain’t no party like a Gatsby party

While looking for something to listen to this morning, I found this website. The Library of Philadelphia offers free podcast downloads on topics of literature, life and culture. If you’re a fan of “The Great Gatsby,” check out the lecture by Maureen Corrigan, an author who has studied F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. The work has lent Corrigan powerful theories on why the book has had such longevity with the American public and on symbols that Fitzgerald worked into the story that are not as obvious as, for example, the eyes of TJ Eckleburg. Not a fan of “The Great Gatsby”? That’s OK–neither were most critics when it first was published. Even more reason to listen. She might convince you to try the the great American UnAmerican novel another go.

gatsby quote

Which bitch is which

 

 

 

 

Does this use of the word bitch offend you?:


kate nash quote

 

 

What about this one?:

 

 

 

highball ad

 

 

The top image is a quote I have in my bedroom. Kate Nash said it. It’s not the real quote. The real quote asks you to call yourself “a badass bitch from hell,” but the scared ex-Catholic girl force in me is strong sometimes. I’m just a badass bitch made from the golden nectar of goddess mother earth, Kate…

The second use of the word bitch is an advertisement that was in Outlook magazine, Columbus’ fantastic pub that reports on issues affecting the LGBT community and its allies. The ad is to promote HighBall Halloween, a Columbus Halloween party that’s way fun by Halloween party standards.

There has been some ado about this ad being offensive and sexist. I don’t get it.

Bitch has many meanings. Here are uses of the word Bitch a HighBall ad that would have been likely to offend me because their intent would be to demean and rooted in the violence of the word:

“Come to HighBall. Don’t be a little bitch.”

“HighBall Halloween: There will be so many drunk bitches here to fuck!”

I understand where the angry perspective comes from. The use of bitch in that ad is an appropriation of gay men’s use of it. But even when saying bitch is used as a means to assume power over it, the word is indeed loaded with dehumanizing intent because of its history of being used to put down women (and gay men or any man who reveals a feminine trait).

Eliminating a word from our lexicon is unrealistic, though. Despite many insightful arguments against this point, I really believe there *is* power to be found in dismantling a word, repurposing it for power, creating a new use of it to be entered into Urban Dictionary for generations to come. It’s like we’re guerrilla marketing the word. We use the tools of the master’s house because it’s what we were given and we found a way to fuck with the master by using his tools—he’ll listen a lot more that way… or feel just as powerless with it as he makes us feel when he uses it against us. I think that’s awesome. I think it levels the playing field. And I think that’s a very resourceful way of fixing a problem.

Saying we should never use the word bitch even when it’s a means of empowerment is one-sided at best, classist at worst. It’s like telling poor people to not eat fatty foods even when it’s all they can afford or find available near them. In the gritty day-to-day life of most people, this word is everywhere and trying to shame people into never using it is too academic for something so personal. Regulating language is a move of the elite.

The other day my friend asked me if a woman we grew up with who just got married “was slutty” in high school. I nearly laughed out loud. Not at her, but at how I now felt about that term that once felt incredibly powerful. “Slutty” was a tramp stamp of a word to be avoided in my small town high school. I thought, after she asked me this, “if by slutty you mean having sex outside of wedlock and exploring her sexuality before she was of legal drinking age, then yes, she was slutty. And so was I.”

Slut was a term of endearment for my friends and I during that time. Having been called it enough or become so tired of living in such fear of its label, “hey slut” became powerful because we were mocking how ridiculous and one-sided that word was—we dressed it up to make it less scary, like imagining a crowd is wearing nothing but their underwear. Problematic, sure, but that’s the way social struggles go; calling it sexist would be completely missing the complexity of a young female’s struggle against it and instead just impose even more guilt for having used it in the first place. We refused to use the term as a means of debasing another woman though, and if a guy called a girl slutty we would call the dude she hooked up with slutty right back, even though that felt futile. Never would I call a woman a slut in a derogatory way. It was all about intent.

The intent of this ad was not to demean women. The HighBall ad is an empowered use of the word bitch. To me it says, “You may have been called a bitch before and we fucking love you for it.”

Because I have seen and heard the word bitch used so powerfully and positively (bad bitch, bossy bitch, fierce bitch, you my girl bitch, Bitch magazine), it means less to me when it is used to impose a sense of violence. So even if I were to get called a bitch tomorrow by someone trying to make me feel bad about myself and “put me in my place,” it wouldn’t hurt as bad. I can counteract songs about bitches and hoes with songs about owning and loving everything about myself that makes me a bitch or a hoe. More of that, please!

Realigning our perspective of and thoughtfully using a word to make it work for us and rendering powerless the people who use it negatively is not blanket sexism in my book. I think it’s smart. And taking a powerful or fun use of it and deeming it sexist because it is simply using a word that is often used to subjugate sets up a side that is unattainable and alienates a whole facet of the feminist and ally community. You’re just giving it even more power to be violent.

Why Gone Girl the movie is disappointing

SPOILER HIGH VOLTAGE ALERT

'cuz imma creep....

‘cuz imma creep……………………….just keep it on the down low…

1) The book’s narrative creates tension that the film doesn’t deliver. In the book you believe the husband may have killed his amazing Amy. The first part of the movie, however, he just looks like a dope unwittingly setting himself up to go to jail for a murder he didn’t commit. In the movie, without that tension, the twist doesn’t feel like a twist, just a watered-down strawberry daiquiri presenting itself as a gin and tonic. Instead of an insightful and thrillingly dramatic portrayal of a marriage gone horribly awry with a psychopath at the wheel and a cheating husband, you get a two and a half hour Lifetime movie. Some books just don’t make good movies.

2) The social commentary did more harm than good. Here I point to the recurring role of the cable news host who publicly skewers Nick Dunne, the husband, before he’s been proven guilty. She even hints at incest with his twin sister for ratings. This is clearly a jab at Nancy Grace-types; that very well could have been a segment from a newscast Grace has done before. At one point the mock Grace character interviews Amy’s fake best friend, who’s says, “Amy would really appreciate what you’re doing and how you empower women.” This is a sly nod to the smart audience. “SEeeeEEeeeee! Women say they’re empowering each other but they’re really not! They’re just stoopid! Periods are gross, right?!” This interaction between two minor characters could have been smart and funny if the rest of the film hadn’t felt like a dramatized version of a  Men’s Rights Activist conference topic panel. Instead it just felt like lazy hack.

I thought of that moment in the movie this weekend while comparing two comedy bits I saw on TV  Saturday night. I always feel defensive against the anti-feminist remark that we can’t take a joke. We can. It just has to be smart, something we’ve never heard before. I watched part of a set by Jerrod Carmichael and after a couple minutes of pretty blasé jokes about women making less than men and Beyonce setting women’s standards too high, he says something like, “One more thing about women. How is the WNBA still a thing?” UGH. Dude. Hack. Not original. And so demeaning of people who could kick your ass. But I always feel pressure to question my initial reaction that I don’t think it’s funny because I don’t want to be a humorless feminist. Well, fuck that. Because about an hour later I watched SNL do a hilarious sketch that  *was* funny and making fun of how far left off the deep end feminism can go. This, Garage + Her, is how you make fun of feminists. Progress the conversation forward in a thoughtful, non-counterproductive way, and we can take a joke.

3) So how did this movie feel like an MRA circle jerk? Everything about Amy was a threat to men, a realization of their worst fears—trap pregnancy, fake rape, fake stalking. The situations where Amy faces violence are all brought on herself or her perpetrating violence against herself. Her “kidnapping” is a result of her faking her death; she’s a victim of her own choices. Yes, her husband cheats on her with a younger woman, but that’s easy to forgive when you see the crazy shit she does. At worst it’s misogynistic, at best it’s disappointing as fuck. This movie is really, really popular, and that’s fine, but it’s disheartening that it’s a portrayal of very real female experiences faked in a time where we’re still struggling for equality on the social front. Women are human and can be just as vile as men, sure, but stories like this—mixed into such an already shaky, volatile social equality struggle—can create seeds of doubt when women report that they’ve been raped, stalked or hit in the real world. It also creates a seed of doubt in the women and girls (and boys and men!) when considering reporting violence against them… lest they unknowingly be crazy Amys or considered as such. We can see the deeply rooted, overbearing trees these seeds create in our own backyards. All of that is counterproductive to a cause the author, Gillian Flynn, says she is for.

4) SO Gone Girl starts this infighting. Flynn also wrote the screenplay for the movie. She has stated in interviews that she’s tired of the cheerleader-y types of feminism. Isn’t it more feminist to buck the trend and show women as a people with diverse experiences, even psychopathic experiences? Yes! But this one just felt like more crap to add to the pile of brain candy, not a feminist overture. The fact that some are calling Gone Girl “the most feminist movie of the year” while others say it is misogynistic garbage just underscores how confused we are about what that word even means anymore. Gone girl? Gone feminism.

*****

Kind of related: Twilight is getting a feminist reboot. Le sigh.

Life is a highway

Get off my ass.

Your big red truck

does not impress me.

I’ll pull one lane over so you can pass.

I want to give you a finger as you do

my favorite one

but I see you wave,

flash that country boy smile

your Levi’s held up by twine and a bible belt.

You might’ve been mine in a different life

where big red trucks and

a hard day’s dirt under your nails and

sitting passenger side and

making wishes on stars in a moonlit field

impressed me.

I might wish that they did

On stars shooting blanks.

Here we’re just destined

to pass each other on the highway.

I’ll honk when you pull out

at your exit and

I’ll wonder if strangers ever

pull over to gas stations to steal a kiss

by the vacuum cleaner — 25 cents please —

and hope the other doesn’t follow them home.

 

 

Seeing through Bette Davis’ badass eyes

Funny enough I was just distracting myself at work the other day reading about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s weird intertwined love life.

joan and bette

I think often about how strange it is that everyone that came before me, even normal non-movie-star peons (gasp!), were consumed everyday with concerns and entanglements and fears and silly little worries about silly little happenstances. Everyone’s got some shit that feels so big when they’re living it, and so did the people long gone. When you consider that, it’s easier to see the humanity in the inhumanity that plagues our history. Also, don’t worry so much (NOTE TO SELF!). Because you’ll die someday and a young adult living on Neptune will space vlog about how thinking about you thinking about quaint little ancient love troubles gives her life perspective and a chance for meaning.

But, my point. Today, through the magic of the Twitters, I found this great Blank on Blank episode with Ms. Davis. Blank on Blank takes old recorded audio with artists, writers, comedians and actors and sets it to cartoons. They’re so fun and insightfully editing and just a really creative way to tell a story. Bette’s of course struck me because of her subject matter and because her and Joan’s little troubles and big troubles and meaningful struggles were already on my brain. Watch it.