Pop Culture

Olivia Pope: Scandal’s Tragic Mulatto

Scandal is a guilty pleasure with its bodice-ripping, twisty-turny Shonda Rhimes storyline. Lauded in many circles as a positive image, Olivia Pope is a familiar tragic trope clad in a power suit. All the blogs say that audiences, particularly women of color, have a love/hate relationship with Olivia Pope, the main character of Scandal, because she’s a two-steps-forward, two-steps-back kinda…

The Politics of Representation: Aliens and Monsters

An aliens and monsters meme floated around Facebook this morning with this annoying cast of images. The meme depicts aliens and monsters in pop culture transforming from ugly and monstrous to attractive and desirous. It asks WTF happened? Here’s my first FB post: “People would rather embrace aliens from outer space than illegal aliens.” My later post: “It’s actually an…

Elisions of Race – Django and Lincoln and the N-Word

In Django Unchained, the “N-Word” occurs 109 times. Occurs? Is used? (Look at how awkward that statement is; it’s an active sentence about a word spoken, but without a speaker doing the action.) I twitch to imagine Tarantino saying the word himself. It just sounds wrong. It sounds like some clumsy white dude trying to sound cool while he hangs…

Allie Beckstrom is My Hero

Paranormal fiction and urban fantasy books are plentiful these days, but a large portion of them are vapid. Allie Beckstrom, the heroine in Devon Monk’s “Magic in the…” series, is a welcome contrast to the genre’s disappointingly passive Twilight female characters.   TV shows such as Buffy, Charmed, and So Weird made common the genre’s kick-ass female characters, and opened…

Wannabe Feminism

The Spice Girls represent “bustier feminism” in the 90s. It is no accident that Enlightened Sexism, Susan J. Douglas’s new book, opens with a discussion of this band. They represent the negation of feminism by commercial cooptation. The Spice Girls are the pinnacle of Girl Power and bustier feminism. They placed Girl Power, a frosted cupcake of an ambiguous message about…

Women in Rock: Some Things Never Change

Baton Rouge has a new radio station: 103.3. Well, not a new radio station, but an old station with a new format. The new format is “Music for Generation X.” The old format was “Divas.” It’s quite a Frankenstein’s monster of genres, playing everything from Nirvana and Guns-n-Roses, to C+C Music Factory, with pit stops at Salt – n- Peppa,…

Top 20 Off the Beaten Path Movies of the 2000s

Here are my top twenty interesting, off-the-beaten-path movies of the decade, in no particular order. Of course, I’m glad this isn’t a job requirement, since a list is too limiting. This  list includes movies that I thought were different and interesting. Not all were critically acclaimed, either. Still, something about each one just stands out. Some of these are action…

Mix Tape Obsolescence

Mix tapes are dead. Among the many dead technologies, I miss the mix tape. The death of a technology and its associated objects and habits can bring regret or relief. Think of letter writing. Often, the only clues to women’s history or the only insights into a previous generation’s thoughts and emotions are found in letters. Writing letters was a habitus,…

Whoopi and Disney

Ever since Whoopi’s Direct From Broadway show aired on HBO many years ago, she’s held a special place in my heart. In the original HBO special, her character Fontaine, who is a junkie, goes to the Anne Frank house. This skit is a profound comment on race and humanity. I was excited to see Whoopi join The View, which is…

Madonna’s Rolling Stone Retrospective, Plus Keith Richards

The latest Rolling Stone has an offensive retrospective on Madonna. Although Madonna’s iconic look is always the subject of dispute, lately, the media has treated her like a clown. The only explanation is that she’s over 50. Fifty year old women, they say, shouldn’t prance around on a stage and spread their legs. It’s unbecoming. Rolling Stone frequently participates in…