Wednesday, September 28, 2011


To those of you with slow internet connections: I'M SORRY

There has been a whole lot of text in between this post and the bottom of the page. I like colors and things, so here are some GIFs.


How much of the 60's do we want back in our lives?

This post was inspired by a comment I left on a thread over at Pajiba. I was so pleased with myself I decided to re-post a more filled-out version over here, apropos of this being my blog and a more appropriate forum for going out on tangents.

With regards to Pan Am and The Playboy Club, I'm fairly certain that the initial feeling of many people, after learning that these shows were to premier this fall, was that they were trying to capitalize on the Mad Men phenomenon. People without extended cable may have never seen Mad Men, but they've surely heard of it winning tons of Emmys and influencing fashion by re-introducing several flourishes reminiscent of the 1960's. My immediate concern was that these shows would capture all of the visual flair of Mad Men without any of the depth or critique of the era. The review of the two shows, appropriately written as one comparative piece, more or less confirms my suspicions but allows Pan Am the distinction of being the better show.

Without having watched the pilots, what strikes me about the descriptions of both shows is how much they give away about their protagonists in the first episode. One thing that I love about Mad Men is how each episode helps to review a new detail about the character, but it's a very small detail. You have to look at the show cumulatively to even come close to understanding him or her. These shows have taken the much more flashy approach of "she's married, but they're both gay!" and "she's a stewardess, but she's actually a spy!" which, though immediately interesting, is ultimately superficial and causes writers to work backwards and fill in details behind the already big reveal.

Ultimately, the popularity of either The Playboy Club or Pan Am could be an interesting case study in what works on American network television. Though anyone who actually brought their brain with them to a remedial high school course analyzing media and/or literature could see that Mad Men is a better show, it wouldn't be in the least surprising if the instant-gratification aspect of the new network shows garners them more immediate success.

That success could, as a feminist and as someone interested in social commentaries, be frustrating or even devastating. It is too early to tell if either The Playboy Club or Pan Am is going to sacrifice the dignity of its female characters and racial/ethnic minority characters by glamorizing an era which was, as we generally understand now, pretty unapologetically shitty to those classes of people. What Mad Men does right is that it allows us the visual pleasure of looking back in time, but it certainly doesn't valorize the social and cultural mores of the time. It's pretty frank in its portrayal of how women and people of color were openly treated as second-class citizens (compared to today, in which explicit racism and sometimes sexism are unacceptable, but insidious forms of both still shape our culture.) I'm unsure that the network shows will be able to be as constructively critical. That they are network is damning enough, as much of network television tends to be superficial and banking on cheap thrills. The fact that both shows are ostensibly set in particularly oppressive fields for women at the time doesn't help matters, even if marketing wants us to believe that the female protagonists are "empowered" despite their subjugated positions in the workforce. Protip: sexualizing your character is not the same as making her "sexual." The former objectifies her; the latter gives her personal agency and generally respects her as a human being. There is time yet to see if these shows can get it right, but in the meantime I won't be holding my breath.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cement blocks for feet

I think my body and mind might be at war with each other, and within themselves. I've been getting in better shape, slowly, but every day is still a struggle to get in the gym and to stay in the gym for long enough to get a decent workout.

This is my body: Flabby, out of shape, too big for most of my pants. That is, in a nutshell, both my motivation to work out and a source of my difficulty in working out. I just can't do what I used to.

This is my mind: I know that fitness is important. I know that the health benefits of exercise are innumerable. But I hate working out. If I could afford to go back to dance class, I would. Even though I would suck, because (technical) dance isn't just something you can drop and pick back up again, and even though it would be endlessly frustrating to be so crappy at something I used to be pretty decent at, I'd enjoy it. I wouldn't have a problem working at it. But for now, I've got this whole self-demotivation complex and even thinking about going to the gym is endlessly torturous.

Also? I have this recurring dream. It's that I'm playing soccer, but I'm slower than everyone else. I get the ball, everything seems great, and then all the sudden the ball is too fast for me and I can't keep up. The defense takes it away from me, every time, and I let down my team again. Is this trying to tell me something? I mean, I'm no professional dream analyist, but the most literal interpretation I can think of is that my body is incapable of doing what I want.