Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chris Rock Makes Up For the Misogyny of "Good Hair"

During an appearance of Jay Leno, Chris Rock expresses dismay over people's defense of Roman Polanski, reminding us that he raped a 13 year old girl and calling rape "barbaric."  His good sense here makes Good Hair that much more disappointing.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism (or, Why Alison is Awesome)

I was supposed to be a part of the blog tour for Alison's latest book, Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism.  In fact, my post was due *weeks* ago. But swine flu and end of the semester craziness has slowed me down considerably.  But in this case, I think that's a good thing.  I've gotten to read the amazing reviews the book has been getting and have gotten to hear what other bloggers and zinesters have to say about the book.  All of these people have been talking about what they take from the book as feminists, as zinesters, as people interested in girl culture.  I'd like to talk about what I take from the book as an academic, as a person who makes her living talking and writing about contemporary culture.

For those unfamilar with zines or are familiar with zines and can't fathom why someone would write a whole book about them, here's a snippet from NYU Press's blurb about the book:

With names like The East Village Inky, Mend My Dress, Dear Stepdad, and I’m So Fucking Beautiful, zines created by girls and women over the past two decades make feminism’s third wave visible. These messy, photocopied do-it-yourself documents cover every imaginable subject matter and are loaded with handwriting, collage art, stickers, and glitter. Though they all reflect the personal style of the creators, they are also sites for constructing narratives, identities, and communities.
Full disclosure: Alison and I are in a writing group together and I got to read Girl Zines as it was coming together.  What I find exciting in this book and in Alison as a scholar is her refusal to look at these quirky, personal, often silly, and just as often brilliant and heartbreaking creations, as either resisting patriarchal capitalism or complicit in female oppression.  She early on threw out the resistant/complicit binary, reading this framework as limited and as limiting our ability to really engage the work these zines do in female communities.  Their very existence, the sheer number of zines and zinesters and the fact that girls will very often make their own zines as soon as they discover their existence, is enough to make them worth our attention.  What do we make of these "messy, photocopied do-it-yourself documents" and the girls who make them?  Alison's response is to talk to these girls, read their work, and take them seriously.  It seems such a simple answer, but it's not a position academics often take, especially when we're talking the cultural work of girls and women.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

They Call Me Back Door Santa

Even though I could listen to Christmas music every single day of the year (I will never tire of the E Street Band's version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" or the Temptations' "Silent Night".  I also cry every single time I see It's A Wonderful Life.  I should be embarassed by these facts, but I'm really not.), Brian insists that Christmas music may only be played from the day after Thanksgiving until the day after Christmas.  It's sore point in out marriage, but we'll probably survive. 

Now that the girls are 9 and 4, I'm having to be extra careful about the music we play.  Very little of Erykah Badu or Outkast is child-safe, for instance.  But you would think that during this month when I'm allowed to listen to as much Christmas music as I want, I'd be safe.  How can you go wrong with songs about Santa and reindeer and angels and Jesus?

Enter once of my very favorite Christmas songs, Clarence Carter's brilliant "Back Door Santa" (the clip is the Black Crowes' version, but still pretty decent).  While Brian's favorite Christmas song, Charles Brown's "Please Come Home for Christmas," is crazy depressing, "Back Door Santa" is *dirty.*  Here are some choice lyrics:

I ain't like old Saint Nick
He don't come but once year
I ain't like old Saint Nick
He don't come but once a year
I come running with my presents
Every time you call me dear
I can't listen to that with the girls in the car.  Can you imagine Cate, who loves music and picks up lyrics and melody amazingly fast, singing that at her preschool?  I will have to content myself with Donny Hathaway.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Cornel West's Recipe for a Lasting Relationship

A colleague forwarded to me a scathing review of Cornel West's most recent book, a memoir called Brother West.  The review contained this choice paragraph from the book:
“The basic problem with my love relationships with women is that my standards are so high -- and they apply equally to both of us. I seek full-blast mutual intensity, fully fledged mutual acceptance, full-blown mutual flourishing, and fully felt peace and joy with each other. This requires a level of physical attraction, personal adoration, and moral admiration that is hard to find. And it shares a depth of trust and openness for a genuine soul-sharing with a mutual respect for a calling to each other and to others. Does such a woman exist for me? Only God knows and I eagerly await this divine unfolding. Like Heathcliff and Catherine’s relationship in Emily Bronte’s remarkable novel Wuthering Heights or Franz Schubert’s tempestuous piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat (D.960) I will not let life or death stand in the way of this sublime and funky love that I crave!”
It's hard to believe he's been divorced four times, isn't it?