Before the event was cancelled, I was due to attend a burlesque show this evening. I was all atwitter worrying about whether or not I would get outraged at the objectification of women, even if they're objectifying themselves. I've been to a burlesque show before, several years ago. I really enjoyed it the first time, finding it empowering and exhilarating, but now...now I'd be bitching about the lack of men taking off their clothes. Now I'd be noticing the comments of men in the audience. Now I'd probably be storming out of the bar, blood boiling. I'm angry all the time these days, simply because I am paying attention.
Examples of television with very small casts, such as The Mighty Boosh and The IT Crowd, would be acceptable forms of entertainment not passing IF it wasn't such a problem everywhere else. If only every media representation of people in the human race (casts) included non-sexist humor, equal numbers of women to men, well-rounded character representations of women, trans-people, racial diversity, sexual orientation, size-variance, and people enduring disabilities of various kinds. I could enjoy so many more things! I would spend all my money buying entertainment! Is this too much to ask? How are we still a humanity that barely includes HALF (women) our human race on television and in movies?! How have we maintained this white dude dictatorship for so long? How have intelligent people such as myself been brainwashed to not see it for so FUCKING LONG?! I'm so outraged to have to live in a culture of obscured truths and obfuscated perceptions. I will always stand up for those being slighted/de-humanized, but it is exhausting to realize how often this needs to be done.
In the last couple of days I've watched five more episodes in my search for my top ten TV shows of all time. Three episodes passed the Bechdel Test, and that's counting Rupaul's Drag Race, a show that includes a cast that is about 98% men.
Most of the time, New Girl is very great about representing race, size, gender, and feminism. Of the five main characters (Jess, Nick, Cece, Winston, and Schmidt) two are women and two are of a race other than white. Often, side characters represent many different aspects of humanity as well. The jokes are usually not sexist and the "minority" characters are represented as well-rounded people with nuance. They're not there to be the butt of jokes, at least not any more so than Nick and Schmidt, the two white dudes on the show.
In an episode called "Jess and Julia", Julia is a lawyer dating Nick who is intimidated and hateful towards Jess because she makes cupcakes and brakes for birds. Julia is a woman that has made her brand of feminism about distancing herself from everything "girly". This is exactly the type of dismissive attitude women like Zooey Deschanel have to endure daily. I am this type of girl. I like unicorns and glitter and Hello Kitty, but I'm also a fierce feminist who will rip you a new asshole if you say something sexist to me. I am not less of a badass bitch because I like hearts and have a baby deer tattooed on my forearm. Don't call us "manic pixie dream girls"! Jess notices this attitude and attempts to be nice and make friends with Julia, being met only with disdain and passive-aggressive insults. Finally, Jess makes this speech:
"Ok, HEY. I've got something to say to you, man! I brake for birds. I rock a lot of polka dots. I have touched glitter in the last 24 hours. I spend my entire day talking to children....and that doesn't mean I'm not smart and tough and strong...I'm about to go and pay this $800 fine and my checks have baby farm animals on them, bitch!"
It sucks to want to put a shit-ton of glitter on your face but feel hindered knowing the comments you'll have to endure by doing so. Because Jess represents the exact type of girl I feel I am in my glittery pink heart, I will always love this show. Also, it's really hilarious most of the time. Lately, they've been stumbling, but I still watch the show every week.
Whatever slight feminist failings New Girl possesses, Parks and Recreation has none that I can see. Passes Bechdel Test? Check. Half the cast is women? Check. Racial diversity? Check. Size diversity? Check. Well-rounded, flawed, nuanced characters of all kinds represented? Check. Non-sexist humor? Check. Feminist agenda? Check. Feminist icon? Check!
The episode of Parks and Rec I rated is called "Pawnee Rangers" and it involves a men-only camping trip headed by Ron versus Leslie's all-girl camping trip. Leslie's is much more fun and eventually all the boys from Ron's group want to join, so they are then initiated as "Pawnee Goddesses". There wasn't a single second of this episode that wasn't enjoyable to me. It's also the one with
|"Just a little prick in the mouth."|
At the very least, this show is eye-opening, gorgeous, and fascinating. At its very best, it's a pun-filled punch of eye candy that humanizes gay men (more than Will and Grace EVER did) and is schooling a nation in acceptance of gay men both as themselves AND as women. If you've never seen this show, it truly is extremely entertaining. These girls are gorgeous and witty and campy and talented and they cry backstage when their parents Skype them telling them they accept them for the first time since they came out two decades ago. It is heartwarming, breathtaking, and hysterical.
You will be amazed at how fishy (feminine, mistaken for women) these queens can be.
I've learned more about charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent from these lady boys than I have from most female icons in the media. I think the way men imitate women can teach us a lot about how very NOT seriously we can take ourselves. Sure, for them it's a costume they can take off, many of them reverting to masculine white men that can "pass" if they wanted to. The "otherness" of gay men, all other things being white, can be hidden. However, there is something refreshing about men doing women better than I can. Being beautiful is baldly an act for these men, but it's an act for women too, only we're supposed to be "authentic". You're not supposed to see beyond our mask, but this show exhibits that mask for what it truly is. It is ARTIFICE, children. Employ it whenever you wish, do as you please, but boys and girls, don't ever forget:
Firefly is a Joss Whedon enterprise. It's basically space cowboys, if you're into that, and who ISN'T, amiright? Don't judge it by the ATROCIOUS theme song. Being a Whedon show, it passes the Bechdel Test with its hands tied behind its back. Nearly every shot involves men and women on equal footing. Women on this show are to be respected, even if they're prostitutes. This show has the most interesting portrayal of a prostitute I've ever seen in television, actually. In this universe, courtesans are trained in a very high class and sophisticated way. In fact, they are considered among the highest class in the caste system. Inara is constantly getting the crew (who are mostly thieves and law-breakers) out of deep shit with her aristocratic influence. She chooses her clients (men and women) very carefully and takes pride in her job. There's this whole involved ritual process in her seduction techniques that sometimes don't even involve sex. Inara has complete control and can back out at any time she feels her work is not progressing to her liking. She's one of the most beautiful (pictured above) women I've ever seen in my life, and she's a PROSTITUTE, but she's not treated with less respect or objectified by the fellow members of her crew. When someone does treat her derisively, she shuts them down. She is principled, funny, and is seen cultivating genuine relationships with other members of the crew.
The show itself is like any other Whedon show. The characters are funny and well-developed. The show is thought-provoking, feminist, and entertaining (did I mention space cowboys?!?). I am among the legion of fans outraged by she show's cancellation after only one short season. We could have had so much more time with this wonderful troop of outlaw space explorers!
|"The One With the Football"|
In conclusion, I like TV a lot, though I'm learning to see the terrible injustices within the things that I love, a fact which is both disappointing and sadly, not surprising. I'll take painful truth over blissful ignorance any day if it makes me appreciate fabulous feminists such as Amy Poehler, Joss Whedon, and Zooey Deschanel even more than I already do.